Parable of the Prisoner

The Parablethe prisoner

Etched into the barren, stone walls are the words, “I am…”. Two simple words – two words that were once spoken by an Almighty God to describe Himself, as He said, “I am, I am.” But as you sit in the cell, contemplating the words on the wall, you can’t help but assess yourself. “What am I?” – your mind wanders, like one lost in the desert, attempting to make meaning out of the “nothingness” of your existence.

Sitting becomes difficult, as your mind races in a million varying directions, so you begin to pace the small cell – back and forth – until your feet hurt. All the while asking yourself, “What am I?”

Whispers come…

“You are lost…”

“You are worthless…”

The dust beneath your feet becomes wet, and as you look to see if the old pipes in the cell have begun to leak, you realize the wetness is your tears. You believe those whispers.

“You are insignificant…”

“You cannot…”

“No one hears you…”

The dust has become mud now, as your tears cannot stop – they will not stop. You realize that you’re on your knees now, wondering if this is all that you really are. Are those words true? Has it really come to this? Are you truly lost, worthless, insignificant, incapable, and mute? The walls of the cell seem to be closing in on you now, as one final accusation is whispered…

“YOU. ARE. ALONE.”

Although a whisper, the words seem to have a cutting force this time – much deeper and more powerful than the previous blows to your heart. Your vision clouds, and your body seizes, as you collapse – paralyzed by fear. Because you very well believe all that was said – and you are, indeed, alone.

Hours pass, and you attempt to fall asleep. It’s useless, as your mind is taunted by all that was whispered and by the words on the wall that simply say, “I am…”, and find in yourself the desire to answer that question.

Who am I?

What am I?

Who have I become?

Soon, it’s morning, and sunlight shines through the dank cell-window – the light blinding your tired eyes. Footsteps can be heard in the distance. You can finally ask to be released from this torture-chamber. Standing up and brushing yourself off, you prepare to meet your jail-keeper, the one that holds the keys to the prison that you’re in.

The sound of footsteps is much closer now, and anticipation grips your heart, as it beats wildly, ready to plead your case for freedom. At the cell-door now, stands a figure staring back at you. Your heart has stopped, and your feet pace no more.

The individual staring back – the jail-keeper – is you.

The Explanation

If there had been a sign at the entrance of the prison described in the story/parable above, it would have read, “Prison of the Mind”. Unfortunately, many of us are inmates within this prison on a daily-basis. Many of you reading this right now are sitting in that prison, believing yourself to have no power – no freedom to walk out of the cell.

The whisperer – the accuser – was satan. Lurking in the corners of our mind if we allow him to, or simply drifting ideas through the wind of the changing seasons of life, he likes to silently destroy us. If he can keep us silent, then he wins. And if we believe ourselves to be worthless and mute, then we remain silent.

Do not remain silent.

Do not sit imprisoned, listening to lies.

When Jesus conquered death, He conquered sin. The accuser has no power other than that which you give him. When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and bestowed upon the believers there the gifts of the spirit, He gave you and I the power to overcome the evil one – not just power to be defensive, but to go on the offensive as well.

You are NOT powerless. You are NOT alone.

You ARE heirs. You ARE filled with the Spirit (His power to overcome). Most importantly, YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. You are, however, constantly pursued, looked after, loved, cherished, and lead toward redemption.

What are you waiting for? Take the keys. Open the door. Walk out of prison. Walk into the light. Strike your heel upon the serpent – the accuser – the evil one. Fight. Live. Breathe. Love.

YOU. ARE. FREE.

Eyes On Christ

“Our precious Christ can never be made too much of.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Too often I think too little of God. I think to myself, “Well, sure, He is the LORD, He died and rose again. I confess Him with my lips and believe in Him in my heart…But…Can He really come through for me in this situation?” Can He truly, fully redeem my sinful nature? Is it possible to actually attain holiness? Will my mind actually be renewed? And then, I find myself once again deeply considering everything that I lack, whether it be financial resources, abundant character, social stature, Ryan Gosling’s looks, and other silly things. I say, “silly things”, because they are just that, silly. Why do I concern myself with such futile things? They are such distractions from what we should truly be meditating on.

The God of the universe loves me. Give that a minute to sink in. Let me write it again this way…The God of the universe loves [you]. (Incomprehensible, right?)

But why? How could God possibly love you, or me, for that matter? Do we deserve it? Have I earned my salvation, or His love, by attending church, being heavily involved in leadership, writing for the glory of God, teaching the Word of God in a house-church context, and being invested in discipleship relationships? Absolutely not!

My attempts of righteousness could never earn the love of God, nor could they buy me a ticket on Toby Mac’s fabled “J-Train” to Heaven in the final-days. So what good are these actions? Well, they are good in the sense that they are an expression of my love and gratitude for a God who is in the business of Redemption. They are good because they help me pursue my Father, as He has certainly never stopped pursuing my heart, despite my constant forgetfulness of all the good he has already done, is doing, and intends to do, for my benefit, and for the benefit of His Kingdom. In fact, despite my love-affair with sin, He still loves me. Devoted to me (and you), His Bride, He will not take lightly His vows to pursue and make a place for us in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Back to my original question, Why does God love you and I?

Because He is Good. So good. In the context of our earn-it-all culture, I’m not sure it is even possible for us to fully comprehend an unconditional love that breeches all of our set-in-stone expectations for relationships. The way you roll your eyes at Him in prayer, the way you speak poorly of Him and perhaps even deny Him throughout the day among your peers and coworkers, the last time you willfully chose to sin over fleeing to His arms, and all other acts of infidelity and treason against a Sovereign God, paid for on the Cross by His beloved Son, that we may have Life, and that we may be fully loved.

Once again, God is so Good.

Have we lost sight of this simple revelation?

The revelation that God loves us. Truly, He LOVES US! David Crowder Band’s, “How He Loves Us” is a brilliant praise-song on just how much He loves us. “If His love is an ocean, then we’re all sinking.” Consider the vastness of the ocean of His grace. The rains of His mercy are like a torrential downpour, relentlessly washing away our dirt, refreshing our hearts, and the end-result is the bearing of much fruit, raised up by the Life of the Son!

Friends, please join me in taking our eyes off of ourselves. Please walk with me on the narrow-road of praising the LORD in ALL circumstances and holding onto the joy of the Spirit in ANY situation. An exhortation that I have always given the men that I minister to is a simple three-word-phrase, “Eyes On Christ”. If we truly return our eyes to Savior Jesus, the way in which we view the world around us and our own lives will change drastically. We will find ourselves genuinely loving others, enjoying the labor of diligence, and rejoicing in the fruit of planting the seeds of Gospel-centered living in the lives of others. Suddenly, all of the worries about yourself, will have faded away, and been replaced by praise, by gratefulness for all the LORD has already done and will continue to do.

He has not forsaken you. He will not forsake you. He cannot forsake you. It is not in His nature to abandon one of His children. I will leave you with this Facebook post that I shared with my friends on April 9th to consider:

“People often say, ‘I feel distant from God’, well, I promise you He hasn’t gone anywhere.” (Ben Stout) It’s in His nature to relentlessly pursue your heart. He has not given up on you. He has not left you. The question then becomes, Why do you run?

Eyes On Christ,

Justin Meyer

Forgotten Lessons

Brothers & Sisters,

I’ve been reading off and on, “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan throughout the course of this semester. I’ve finally finished the book! Perhaps having to visit the doctor on Saturday was a hidden blessing as it gave me much time alone with God, without many distractions to spend studying, praying, reading, etc. The book is essentially about the power of the Holy Spirit and the way that today’s churches are set up in ways that do not display a dependence or apparent need for the Spirit to come through.

Francis Chan writes, “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.

Challenging perspective, right? Do we live our lives for Christ to such a degree that we are desperate for Him to come through in the body of Christ? More specifically, in our personal lives do we live in such a way?

Read the following passage:

“I think that we all could agree that living ‘according to our sinful flesh’ is not what is intended for us as children of God. Yet even so, we often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God. We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers. While it is true that we are humans like everyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us…”

Here’s the kicker…

…Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, ‘I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them myself.

Personally, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve looked at my problems through this lens, to where I said to God, “but wait a minute, what are you doing, LORD? I think I know a better way…” He must be up there laughing as He patiently waits on me to realize just the opposite, that I need Him to take the reigns.

The truth is that “He desires to do more than ‘help out’ a bit. He wants to completely transform us. He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place–life change just as miraculous as fire coming down from heaven.” A few pages later, Chan writes, “God wants the praise for what we do in our lives. But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them?” O that we would develop a heavier heart for prayer, to seek the LORD for wisdom regarding every matter of our lives. What will it take before we surrender and realize our absolute desperate need for the Creator to assist in the lives of the created?

Finally, I want to share with you a story that I believe we should read and be mindful of, going forward as “the church”…

“A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body. The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.”

Can we, as the church, with confidence, say that this has not happened within the context of our gatherings? Have we loved deeply to the degree that shortcomings and flaws have been overlooked, that we may love unconditionally and share the grace which has been so mercifully shared with us? Unfortunately, I believe that there are times when this is not the reality. Only one thing is capable of changing hardened, apathetic, and stubborn hearts like ours (notice that I include myself), and that is prayer. Prayer, I believe, is the most under-utilized resource that Christians have at their fingertips, yet never seem to fully use it to its’ potential. Let’s pray that God would build His church, an unstoppable force, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit. (Francis Chan)

In conclusion, I have some questions to consider. Will the Holy Spirit continue to be the “Forgotten God” that Chan writes about in his brilliant book? Will we continue to live our lives in such a way that they could have been lived without the LORD? Shall those that witness our lives say that we lived no differently than the rest of the world and that nothing stood out, or set us apart, from the rest? “My prayer as I’ve written this book,” Chan writes, “is that it would not merely add to your knowledge. Maybe that sounds strange, but I mean it. Often in Christian circles we talk about truth in lieu of applying it to our lives. We hear an incisive sermon, discuss at lunch afterward how ‘great’ or ‘powerful’ it was, and then never think about it again, much less allow the Spirit to change us through it.

I pray that we would choose to live in a such a way that truly reflects the glory of the LORD, that leads us to repentance and to a way of life that would truly, desperately, need a Savior to save. LORD, “speak loudly and drown out the other voices calling us to conform to the patterns of this world. You are the Spirit of self-control and love. Give us the self-control needed to deny our flesh and follow You. Give us a love strong enough to motivate courageous action. Manifest Yourself through us that we may serve and love Your bride, the church, as You do.” Amen.

A “Fearless” Conclusion

Today, I finished reading Max Lucado’s book, “Fearless”. First of all, I highly recommend his book to absolutely anyone. It has surely opened my eyes to the incredible amount of fear in our world and renewed my mind according to God’s will, regarding what it is that I should fear, and what it is that I should not. If you are interested at all in what I pondered this afternoon, as I began to draw a few conclusions from what I had read and what I felt God was attempting to teach me, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following journal entry that I ended up writing as a result…

Fear has a way of setting the world on fire; men and women hungrily eat up tidbits of dreadful news through every avenue of media they can. I’ve witnessed this with motherly figures in my life. Women that have positions in which they have nurtured and matured me throughout the years and whom I certainly love. They watch hours of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline, 20/20, and other shows that will remind them of the dangers of the world. It’s like a sick addiction where scary news must be read, shared with others, and fret over, while good news is quickly forgotten.

Forgetting seems to be a common issue that Christians deal with. God constantly reminds us to remember throughout the course of Scripture. Ministry leaders must remind us frequently that God is still there and He still cares. Christians, we have to remember. If we forget who our God is, then who will tell this broken and depraved world that there is indeed someone who can save them!?!?! God is here! Our Savior has come and will surely be coming back.

The old idiom, “you are what you eat,” can be taken quite literally. We will become whatever it is that we fill ourselves up with. If you feed on the fear that media wants to feed you, then you will be fearful. If you read magazines that tell you to worry about the shape and size of your body, then you will care far too much about your looks and potentially become critical of others. If you sip from the sex-crazed goblet of romance novels, pornography, and sensuality in general, then you will indeed become a sexually immoral being.

What if we began to fill ourselves up with the words of God? He says to us, “Be strong and courageous”, “do not fear”, and reminds us that we have “not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood”. If you want the world to change, then change it; one broken heart at a time…starting with yours. Yes, even your heart needs healing and indeed our minds need to be renewed. If you fill yourselves up with God’s Word and His Spirit, then you will surely become more and more Christ-like each day and the people in your life NEED Jesus’ love. Let’s face it, you and I are not capable of loving others to the degree that they need to be loved, especially if we are not filling our cups to overflowing with His gracious, perfect, and merciful love on a daily basis.

Ready for the bottom line? God is God. If one truly reveres (respectfully fears) God, then all other fears cease and courage is born. Max Lucado stated, “Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers.” How incredibly true! “When God is fully revealed to us and we ‘get it’, then we experience the conversion of our fear…’Fear of the Lord’ is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” At the bottom of the same page, Lucado writes, “A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.”

Imagine a country filled with men that actually feared God…Imagine what they would be capable of under the direction of the Holy Spirit…Imagine how much your life would differ if you concluded to live a life that is free from the fears of this world, but maintained a healthy dose of the sobering fear of the LORD. Imagine…how friendships would be deepened, marriages restored, families brought together, nations united. The imagination is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that God has given us. Anyone tired of simply imagining? Who is ready to make their wildest, Christ-centered dreams a reality?

It would appear that Max Lucado shares my love for coffee, as at the end of his chapter, “Caffeinated Life”, he writes, “Eternal glory. I’d like a large cup, please. ‘One venti-sized serving of endless joy in the presence of God. Go heavy on the wonder, and cut all the heartache.’ Go ahead and request it. The Barista is still brewing. For all you know, it could be the next cup you drink.” Christians, it is time to walk away from the paralysis of fear. It is time to truly live. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” (Max Lucado) Lay down your pride, O Christian, fall on your face before the LORD, admit that you are not adequate for the task as your forefathers have (even Jesus relied on prayer, do you think yourselves to be more capable than He?), ask Him for His blessing, and when He touches you, lifts you up, and instructs you to live according to His purpose, free from fear…then do just that. Live obediently.

Continuing the Fight,

Justin

Unveiled

Is it truly living if only half

Of who you are sees the light?

The other half sits in darkness on behalf

Of the hideousness associated with it, what a fright!

 

If people knew you struggled with this

And have a history with that.

How could you possibly be His?

You are repulsive like fat.

 

Blemishes and scars appear

People run and people hide

Cannot stand what they see in the mirror

As they struggle with too much pride.

 

It’s not true, it couldn’t possibly be

That these imperfections and things unseen

Could possibly belong to one like me.

 

Unable to comprehend the notion

That He would love you unconditionally

Leads to empty hearts and lack of emotion

As your lives continue dysfunctional.

 

Imprisoned by fear of being found out

You hide behind walls of busyness

While the Evil One pounds out

Every ounce of strength you have in business.

 

Around “churchy-folk” you’re righteous,

Outside that circle you’re restless

Uncertain whether or not Christ is

Worth all the effort and investments…

 

Folks, it’s time to wipe off the makeup,

Let things unknown come to light,

Remove yourselves from darkness, wake up!

Haven’t your teachers taught you left from right?

 

The Lover is concerned with your heart,

Do not concern yourselves with outer things,

They will only distract and tear your apart,

From the One who gives flight to your wings.

 

Child, are you not tired of running and hiding?

Run to the Father and allow yourself to seek refuge,

No need to remain independent and continue backsliding,

I hear His Love for you and me is rather HUGE!

 

Here’s the deal, the time has come

For you and I, alike and different

To remove our veils and give Him all, not some.

 

Father is not interested in half of your cup,

He already drank it all.

Lay down your pride and lift up

Your faults to the One who delivers us from the fall!

 

Daily you’ll need Him, as do I

Discontinue pretending it is possible alone

Don’t even begin to try

The task is an absolutely colossal one.

 

It is time; we’ve reached the conclusion,

Remove religious makeup, tear away veils,

Authentic hearts and Jesus Christ is the solution,

He is the one to bring momentum to your sails!

Renewed Life

O God, why must I be so hateful?

Destroyed by grief; debatin’ salvation

My heart is sinful and contrite

Wouldn’t recognize it in the darkness of night

My Light has been snuffed

Music no longer buffed.

Ya see, I’m chasin’ affection

But when it’s given, I’m deflectin’

Weazy (and many others) loves and encourages

But Satan’s here and discourages.

Have you ever been “the righteous one”

People believin’ you shine like The Son

But stunned and confused when ya run

From freedom freely given under the guise of fun?

Holy Spirit, reign in my heart, enlighten me

I thirst for when Father shall delight in me.

Shall I squander my inheritance,

And forget my heart’s heritage?

That You made it, You made me,

So why doesn’t Your love fully persuade me?

You see, I sit here brewin’

Not fully trustin’ the pot You’re stewin’.

O but God there’s no turnin’ back!

Andy Mineo is right; sin is whack!

Father, I give You permission

Whip my soul into submission

Illegitimate children are not disciplined

But I’m your son and should’ve listened!

Holy Spirit, renew this depraved mind

Capture lies, open my eyes, I’m blind!

Without You, I’m dead! With You, I’m ALIVE!!!

Give us our daily bread that our hearts may thrive!

Let’s return the old me to the grave,

You can free me from being depraved.

Shackles removed…party begins, a heavenly rave

To Your mission, righteousness, and glory, I’ll gladly be a slave!

My soul was dead and buried but then comes resurrection!

Let joy overflow as You give our hearts direction!

No longer subject to The Accuser’s painful strife,

I thank You so much Father, for renewed life.

Easter Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

First of all, HAPPY EASTER! Jesus Christ IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! There is no doubt. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified, buried, and rose from the grave three days later. All four Gospel accounts make it evidently clear that Jesus resurrected and came back to speak with His disciples, that they may believe and be empowered by the Holy Spirit in order that they could preach the Good News to the nations. You and I have been granted FREEDOM; the power to break the chains of sin and to walk in the Light! Praise

Reppin' that Easter Swag!

God! What a joyous day, filled with celebration, bright colors, laughter, family/friend-bonding, and much more.

Today, MILLIONS of people attended Easter Services! Praise God that so many gathered in my Father’s house today and sang praises to His name. Even more exciting is that hundred of thousands decided to accept Christ, rededicate their lives to Christ, and/or be baptized. Excellent! That is SO GREAT. However….the solemn reality is that many of those people still do not KNOW Jesus Christ as their LORD and SAVIOR.

“WHAT?!?!…Justin, are you judging? How could you possibly know the state of their hearts…why would you say such a terrible thing on Easter of all days…”

Before you click out and return to your Facebook, Twitter, festivities, or homework, hear me out! Please give me a chance. If you read John 15 (do it now if you can), you will see that lives that abide in Christ will bear much fruit! In fact, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:6) Jesus IS alluding to Hell.

I’m going to share with you an excerpt from my personal journal that you may better understand my heart overall on this topic. I wrote this on Friday afternoon as I pondered the holiday of Easter and the salvation of my peers:

“A life that has been granted the Holy Spirit by submission to the Lord, our God will have become a slave to righteousness. Many would object to such blatant terminology, however Romans 6 makes it crystal-clear that we are to be freed from sin, “For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace.” (6:14) Skip ahead a few verses and verse 19 demonstrates the logic behind offering ourselves up for the purposes of righteousness, which is “leading to holiness!”

I’m writing on the approach of Easter, a day that celebrates life renewed! Many will attend a church-service on Sunday, some may rededicate their lives to God, and still others may choose to “accept Christ into their hearts” for the first time. Unfortunately few will allow God to change the course of their lives, leading them right back to the broad path of destruction.” (Justin Meyer)

EXAMINE YOUR HEARTS. Please….please examine your hearts. It is with grave concern, compassionate love, and a deep desire to see your lives radically transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you may live in the Light and walk in freedom that I write to you. God does not care what you wore to church today. Nor does He care whether or not you sat in church and heard an emotionally moving message. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) My God is concerned with the content of your hearts and the way in which you live your life! The old saying, “actions speak louder than words” is appropriate here. ANYONE can say, “Yes, I’m a Christian.” ANYONE can say, “HE IS RISEN” on Easter morning. Few can live obediently.

A trending topic a year or so ago among my social-sphere was love-languages. It is evident that mine is words of affirmation and physical touch (I LOVE HUGS, pats on the back, etc). Throughout my personal relationship with God, I have learned that His love language is OBEDIENCE. I searched BibleGateway.com for “obedience” and found 38 mentions of the word within the Old and New Testaments. The LORD is always calling His Children to obedience. Will you obey? But oh, how unruly we can be! What foolish children; always running back to sin, thinking that this time it will be enough to satisfy! Sometimes even looking to peers to take the place of God! You do realize the individuals you idolize in this world will soon be reduced to dust for they are but flesh and bone. Worship the One that breathes LIFE!

Allow me to humble myself. I am not a pastor. I am not an ordained minister. You have not asked me to counsel you. I understand these things. However, I am your friend and/or family-member and I do believe God has granted me a decent understanding and education of His people, His Word, and His desire for their hearts and lives. And I do believe that if anything will ever satisfy your broken, sad, angry, tired, hearts that it is the love of Jesus Christ.

Are you not tired of fighting against it? Is not His Love the most beautiful, compelling, brilliant, authentic, pure, LOVE that your heart has been desiring? Will you not choose to walk obediently towards His arms. Have you not heard the story of prodigal son; the one who squandered all that had been given him, yet the Father still WELCOMED him home, threw a party in his honor, and relished even more treasure upon him. O how God desires to throw you a party, to rejoice over your radically changed life, to use YOU to change the world!

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Without Him, we’re dead. With Him, we’re ALIVE!!!

Will you choose LIFE?

In Christ,

Justin Meyer