Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

Screamers

The HOUNDS of HELL were calling me the Child of the Devil…

I was walking during lunch. I usually try to walk downtown for the hour, taking different streets and seeing different faces. Downtown London can be scary. I’m 6’5 and I’ve eaten enough in my life to look a bit intimidating and I cover of my face with a sizeable beard so people usually don’t bother me too much. Not that it’s my intention, it’s just the way the cookie has crumbled. Today was different. It was quarter to, and I thought I’d better take a left and head back.

As I crossed the street I saw London Ontario’s screaming street preachers with massive sandwich boards over their bodies with KJV scripture all over it. I ran in to them the previous week where they heard that I was a Christian but called me a vile demonic child of satan (one of their reasons was because I was wearing shorts which was “women’s underwear”). They screamed from their megaphone the threats of coming wrath and how evil we all were. I decided not to pass at their corner as I was late on time and I needed to get back. I didn’t care to get into an argument with them… the vile demonic creature that I was. So I just kept going straight until for some reason at the last second I turned, it was an awkward turn so last minute that I just about hit the building standing at the corner. I don’t know why I turned but as I walked past the screaming preachers, I passed a man that was behind them who was shaking his head and looking right at me trying to make contact. He was short, maybe mid 40’s, roughly shaven, a cigarette between each ear, dirty clothes and he smelled of strong alcohol.

His name was Brian. The screaming preachers never asked him that, but his name was Brian. He reached his hand out for me as I passed and I grabbed it. Extra firm. Coarse as sandpaper, and firm. I took out my earbuds and asked him how he was doing. His face dropped and he was upset. The screamers had just spent the past 30 minutes berating him, calling him out for the struggles he was clearly well aware of, and hammering on ministries he had been a part of in the past when he was trying to get clean.

Brian let go of my hand and asked me if I was a Christian. I said “yes”. He stepped back a bit, seemed surprised and then asked “like them?” to which I replied. “I don’t know… but I doubt it.” He rubbed his face, his eyes were strained and he was fairly upset. He started to ramble for a bit, so I leaned against the broken brick wall on the corner and zeroed in. He had a lot to say and I was happy to just listen.

Brian was once a graduate from an amazing… AMAZING organization called Teen Challenge. If you don’t know it, look it up. Brian has relapsed a dozen times in his life. “Over and Over again I keep failing. Over and over again I keep failing God.” He repeated with real shame in his eyes. I could only console him with the words “me too Brian, me too”.

My heart broke for Brian. I’m absolutely no different. My sin overwhelms me daily and over and over again I fail to live up to the faith to which I subscribe. Brian seems to wear his struggles on his sleeve a little more than I. The world can see, smell and hear Brian’s struggles. His mouth wasn’t tamed, his words were raw and crass. His clothes were worn and stained. His breath was thick with alcohol. What an amazing guy this was. So bold to say he was struggling and broken to someone he’d never met. So bold to list his failures, his shame, his emptiness, and his frustrations. This guy was amazing.

The screamers looked over to me, saw me talking to the man they spent 30 minutes berating and raised their voices. Over their megaphone they started to almost curse us, and threaten spiritual consequences at me while telling Brian I was spawn of the devil (actual words)

The noise they squawked by divine intervention literally faded away as Brian’s ramblings continued. He spoke of a desperation to have God “come lift him up from this s#i+”. He would say “how the hell can… oops heck, how the heck can I find some hope when I can’t stop drinking”. Brian spoke of being old school and getting into fights in the same breath that he spoke of reading the Bible this morning. Matthew 11 and Philippians 4:6 he kept quoting. He actually knew his Bible, he seemed to have a real love for it. “I have a beginners Bible Marshal. I have a beginners bible and I read it every day. I know Jesus. I love Jesus but I can’t fight this addiction. I can’t win this thing”. In a huff of frustration he said “all these tornados, all these floods, all these addictions, all these people hurting… sometimes I think God has just given up on us. He’s just given up.” Only to counter himself in the next sentence “But it’s me, he’s still there, he’s still God, He’s never changed, I have. I’ve walked away, and I’m too embarrassed to come back, I don’t even know how to come back”….on he went.

I just sat and listened. He needed to be heard and I wanted to hear.

The preachers came close. Borderline intimidating (if I found Tilly hats, Khaki cargos and sandwich boards intimidating). They tried to jump in a few times and he just kept rolling. I paid them no attention, ignored them completely and like a good dog they backed off.

Brian ended his rant. He looked and felt depleted. We talked a bit, I gave him some comforting words of scripture. I reminded him that we are all struggling, we are all broken, but we are forgiven and we need to keep fighting and praying and reading and talking to God, crying out for help and surrender our failures and weaknesses to him because in our weakness HE is made strong. Some of the basic stuff, as I type this I wonder if I said or did enough. I wonder if it was all to cliché.

I asked Brian if I could pray with him. He instantly dropped his head and clenched his fists and closed his eyes. Hands on his shoulder, on the street with people screaming from behind I prayed with Brian. We prayed for direction, for help, for a strengthened prayer life, for strength of the will to overcome temptations, for strength in the body to overcome addictions.

After a few minutes I looked up and Brian was still head down. Tears dripping on the pavement. It seemed like a silent moment. We ended our prayer and I looked at my phone. It was still quarter to. Don’t ask me how, but not a moment had passed since I last minute turned that corner and grabbed Brian’s strong hand.

The hounds of hell came closer now. Like his sandwich board was rubbing my shoulder. I looked at Brian and said find a church (which they HATED, because they think all churches are corrupt), so they screamed in protest calling me the “mouth of the devil” I shook Brian’s hand, and said I will see him again, we will pray again. I asked if he wanted to walk with me back but he had a bus coming. As I left the Screaming preachers chased me down.

Screamer: “I see you have a tattoo”

Me: “I have 9”

Screamer: “what you are doing is wrong, you are violating the purity of scripture, you will be held accountable for your false prayer and false teachings against this man”

Me: “How?”

Screamer: “You are perverting truth with worldly sin” (all this on the megaphone) “his friend chimed in calling me a “vile, vile man of the devil, with words of hell written on you” (my ankle says “SAVED”, so….)

They both continued to walk with me and try to berate me. I put in my headphones, pressed play and one of my favorite songs came on. “No Longer Slaves” (Timely) I smiled at them as their mouths flapped but all I heard was the fantastic harmonies of Shane and Shane. And I moved on.

Love God… Love Others. I hope to see Brian again, but not the two screaming preacher meatheads.

Love God…. Love Others.  I’m not going to spend time writing about why they were wrong. I can tell you where I was wrong. Where I didn’t pray for those guys as they were clearly lost, where I didn’t stand for scripture, where I didn’t expose darkness…. but I won’t.  the story says enough. I’ve failed, I’m a failure but I’ll keep trying to love.  I need to love LOUDER than their megaphones and more actively than their sandwich boards.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

(IF YOU WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHO THESE GUYS ARE AND WHAT THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE  Check out my second post The Cult Behind the Screaming)

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(Click, Shutter Opens) It’s absolutely pitch black.  There isn’t a sound except for the wolves miles away calling into the dark.  I’m freezing cold. my fingers are numb as I fumble through the menu for the right settings on my camera.  My breath in the frigid -42 freezes to my beard instantly as my lungs struggle to breathe in the shards of icy oxygen.  In this moment time is irrelevant. the world is behind me and there is nothing but myself staring into the mind of the creator himself.  There is no where in the world I’d rather be. Alone in the darkness, miles away from civilization standing on the side of the only desolate northern highway in the Yukon in the middle of the night I point my camera to the sky trying desperately to catch this rare moment… (Click, shutter opens.)

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Above me, I watch God paint his latest masterpiece in real time directly onto the canvass of heaven.  Maybe it’s the frozen air or maybe I’m struck by the intense beauty of it all,  but for a moment my breath is stolen from me.  Its hard to breathe. I stand silently between the snaps of the camera almost convincing myself the distant sound of the wind is actually the roar of the emerald fire above me.

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Like a green and yellow fire His strokes spread across the sky dancing around the stars in a continually moving masterpiece of perfection.  Every few seconds a completely new design, different lines and curls, new colours and shading, shapes and patterns.  I never knew it was like this.  I never knew the brilliant Aurora Borealis could dance and move across the sky like a herd of a billion shooting stars.

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Frustration sets in.  What I’m seeing above me, all around me, what I’m experiencing is not being captured on my little display screen.  I’m trying to squeeze this life changing moment, this miracle of the heavens into a digital display to share but I’m failing wildly.  I can’t stop from shooting. To think that I can’t share this beauty with those around me in life kills me.  I need to capture all this… It has to be shared.

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My shutter opens.  This moment reminds me of what it’s like to know my Creator and desperately want to share that experience.  To have all this life changing experience.  To walk and talk to be in a living relationship with my God is wildly overwhelming, but when I try to share it, when I try to capture it into words or posts, shares or status’ it becomes some cliché or mundane old newspaper headline.  It kills me inside a little.  If only the entire world could experience these lights.  If only the entire world could experience the beauty, depth, the majesty of this one moment and be forever changed, they would know true joy in the face of sorrow. Life in the face of loss. Hope in the face of darkness. If they could experience God like I experience these lights everything would change. If only I could capture it into that one perfect picture, status, or post. That perfect message or sentence.  If only I had the gift to make someone experience it… things would be different.

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but I can’t can I… I can’t.  That experience can’t be forced it needs to be a decision.   Not many people want to come to the Yukon mid winter, go out in the middle of the night on a work week, bundle up for a violent -42, sit and wait, to drive out to a desolate highway.  Not many people want to remove the city lights and sounds and venture into the cold and dark highway to look up and just see some lights. But for those who have seen them who have sat and stared into the heart of these beautiful lights, every single one of them will tell you that it’s worth everything to get there.  I’m blessed and in these moments I recognize it more then ever.  I’m blessed to see creation and know the one that made the stars, then asked them to dance.  I’m blessed because I’ve found purpose and understanding to the “who am I” question because I know the maker of the stars.   I’m blessed because I took that risk to get away from the man made lights and seek the most amazing God made Northern lights.  Blessed to know the creator. blessed to know that there is Hope in the Darkness

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Be Blessed.

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If you want to see the LIGHTS IN ACTION… watch this clip I made by merging hundreds of pictures together, This way you can see what I see.  Enjoy LIGHTS IN ACTION

If you haven’t noticed, things globally are falling apart. In the name of: religion, tradition, culture, God, war, peace, and mostly hate, this world is slowly being dismantled piece by piece. Most that know me, know that I claim a faith (not a religion) in Jesus. I don’t make it a secret, but often I fail at making it evident. My actions don’t always, and haven’t always represented my faith as well as I’d hoped. However in the midst of all the horror and be-headings, and rapes and murders in the name of some god going on in the world right now as I type this, I would fail you all who read this even more if I didn’t offer this truth:

Hope has a name.
Joy has a name.
Peace has a name.
Love has a name.

JESUS.

Maybe you don’t know what that means.
Maybe you agree and you feel elated.
Maybe it makes you shutter with fear.
Maybe it makes you laugh out loud.
Maybe it makes you quietly curious.
Worse, maybe it makes you furious.

I don’t know. I don’t know where you are, who you are, or why you are the way you are, but I know one thing. That name… the name “Jesus” has not left you without emotion. Right now the name of Jesus has stirred some emotion in you for better or for worse. No name in the history of mankind has stirred more emotions, more curiosity, more hate and more joy then the name of Jesus Christ.

I don’t say this to start or cause debate – even though I know it will.

I don’t say this to be demeaning to other faiths, even though I know it is.

I don’t say this to be divisive to my friends or family, even though I know it will divide.

I say this because we are standing on the very edge of a cliff, and we are all are going to fall off.

We all face life with one constant – we all know it will end! Today, tomorrow, or 100 years from now we will all one day lean over that cliff and fall off. Some are hoping their paper wings will carry them to destinations unknown. Some are hoping they will land safely on their bed good deeds hoping the lesser good deeds are forgotten. Some don’t even have a hope. I say all this… I bring it all up in a time of global turmoil because I’m tied to a life line. I have information about the only life line, and it’s available to you (free of charge). I’m standing here with the ability to point you in the direction to that which can save you from your eternal fall. Why would I not tell you? Who am I to withhold any truth, that offers hope and rescue. Often my pride, and my sense of self-preservation will keep or beg me quiet, but this is a failing request. My love for fellow humanity wants to scream to everyone of their possible redemption, salvation, hope, eternal security. Regardless of my passionate plea, I know people won’t want to hear it, but a few will. A few will realize the desperate position they are in and turn and run for safety… So I type on. But I’m not alone. While I know speaking the name of Jesus in a non-cursing format will bring hate and dissension, Jesus was also plenty aware of the affect He was bringing to earth.

Luke 12:51 tells us Jesus was well aware that the message, the truth that he was bringing would cause division, in Mathew 10:34 he acknowledged that it would split apart families, friends, cities and nations. Jesus came to bring new hope, and new way of living, a new system of grace, and forgiveness that this world wasn’t accustomed to. He came to teach that the powerful held no power, that the “spiritual” weren’t filled with the spirit. He came to teach that it wasn’t by our actions, it wasn’t by our “goodness” or our pursuit in religious studies or memorization of the scripture that would save us…(Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God). It was Him… Jesus. His blood, his sacrifice. (John 14:6 Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the father except through me”) Jesus came to turn the political, religious and social world upside down by preaching that He was the only way to God the Father and He knew that this teaching would get him beaten to near death, mocked and ridiculed, and hung on a cross to die. Jesus also knew that because of this truth He would rise again from that death, and conquer the grave – death….for us. (Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”)

Jesus would take the comfortable and make them uncomfortable. He came to take the acceptable and make it unacceptable . He came to make the unforgiving, forgiven. The hopeless, hopeful. The broken, healed. The dead… alive.

Our world is hopeless, broken, lost, and most certainly dying. We as a human race are not beyond redemption, we are not beyond being saved, forgiven, and rescued. For decades signs and posters, and billboards have lifted the verse “John 3:16” high into the air from ball games, to political rallies, from parades, to times of war. This verse in John is mostly known by its address and rarely by its truth. It’s a verse that brings hope and healing, a verse that offers the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his ONE and ONLY Son so that WHOEVER Believes in Him shall not die, but have Everlasting life.” Without Jesus we will all perish, we will all die, we will spend eternity away from God, away from heaven, suffering eternally much worse then we suffer now. So all we need to do is confess our brokenness. Confess our sinful state and that we can’t make it here alone, we need to be rescued. We acknowledge the life Jesus lived and the words he spoke. We accept that He is the only risen Son of the one and only true God. We accept all the forgiveness, all the love, all the grace, all the security of Jesus and begin a daily relationship with our creator. No one is alone in their darkness (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God). We all need to be rescued. I’m praying this will help some realize they need it, before they go under.

Isaiah 43: 1) Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – YOU ARE MINE. (2) When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you, your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. (3) For I am the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you.”

I’m not ashamed to raise that banner still. I’m not afraid to say that the name of Jesus – the name that to the world fears, hates, mocks, curses, belittles and demeans- the same name that religion has used to insult, defeat, destroy and abuse … I’m not afraid to say that name because contrary to the world, for those who know him, He is a saviour, a healer, a redeemer, he is my God, My Rescuer, my Hope my Salvation, my Friend. To those who call upon his name… You Will Be Saved.

If you want to know more, contact me. If you want to read more, read about Jesus and his mission in the Bible maybe start with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. If you need a bible contact me, I’ll shop one to you asap.

For more about me and my journey please check out my book at http://www.raiseyourgloves.com or check out Amazon and search for Raise Your Gloves by Marshal Burnham
Marshal Burnham