Musings on the Tragic Life and Death of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston died tragically on February 2nd, 2012. Much has been written and examined related to the life and death of Whitney Houston. Many thoughts and statements have been made regarding Whitney. Some have even commented on her standing with Jesus, easily concluding that she rejected Jesus. Barry McGuire made such statements in an opinion piece: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020066.htm suggesting that Whitney rejected the judgmental Jesus of the fundamental church. However, personally not really certain that Whitney rejected Jesus as she has given performances singing boldly of Jesus love including the snippet of her short duet with Kelly Price and the performance in Brazil in 1994 that are readily available on YouTube.

She knew of the love of Jesus. She grew up learning of the love of Jesus at New Hope Church pastored by Joe A. Carter. Her first solo performance was at age 11 when she sang “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah.” So she knew and was exposed to the love of Jesus and personally don’t think her story is one of rejecting Jesus, but rather getting lost and distracted by the things of this world and looking for love in places other than Jesus. She was hurt and turned to things that lead to death led by her own desires. While Whitney grew up in the church, she also group up in a family that valued music and entertainment. Her mother was Cissy Houston. Her cousins were Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick, and Darlene Love. Her honorary Aunt was Aretha Franklin. Music was central to her family and Whitney Houston was created and gifted with a beautiful voice. Her voice opened doors and brought her fame and fortune. However, all that she received did not fulfill her and she was lost and hurting. Yet, at the base level she knew of Jesus love. However, that knowledge appeared to be something that she knew intellectually but did not experience at the core of her being. She knew of the love of Jesus, but did not seem to experience it.

There is a reason that Whitney Houston gravitated toward the simple song, Jesus Loves Me. The words state “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And that appears to be the level of Whitney’s knowledge of Jesus love. She was told it was true. She sang of the truth but her experience of it was limited. It is clear that Whitney craved deeply love. Her words deeply touched on the human perspectives of love and longing, yet ever missing the true love. Yet, at core she knew that Jesus was where there was true love, yet couldn’t break from the pain and loss and hurt coming from the wounds caused by others. She got hooked into the poison of alcohol and drugs that give momentary relief of those pains, yet she did not experience the healing of Jesus love in this life. She walked a path that lead to death and fully embraced the poison.

Whitney is really not any different than anyone else, other than being famous. She experienced hurt and pain. She wanted love, but what she experienced didn’t measure up. She lived a life that pursued her desires and she was able to have a lot of her desires fulfilled. However, one desire was not fulfilled, to be able to live free from pain and experience love deeply. She craved, it wanted it, sang beautifully about it, yet she did not let the words of her first solo be her path. She chose her own way and it came easy, for she had “THAT VOICE.” We also readily choose our own way and pursue the things that come easy. We go after our desires and do not surrender to God or look to Him for strength. We also at times only have knowledge that Jesus loves us because of what we are told. There is more. Jesus love is real and can be experienced. Jesus love is beyond measure. It can touch one beyond the deep levels of pain and hurt living in the fallen world brings. We all too often go ways that seem right to us, that give us all we think we want but in reality ensare us and trade the promise of love into pain as the promise turns to a cruel and abusive master.

So there is much to be learned from the life and death of Whitney Houston. We all have a story and paths to choose. We can follow God and surrender or we can walk the path of self. Each path has pain and joy. Each path has difficulties. One path leads to full life, one leads to death. Whitney is one of many who only grasp things at a superficial level and go looking for the answers in ways that seem right but are death. Our natural inclination is to choose paths that do seem right, yet are our own destruction. The choice to follow God is always difficult for it involves given up of what I think I want, for we fear giving of self will result in being denied goodness and pleasure. However, it is only truly in the giving of what we think we want that we can receive all that is of good. Whitney missed out in this life, for she walked the path of self. Walking the path of God brings more than can be imagined but it requires all, but in that is true goodness, pleasure, and life. So please, take time and lament the death of Whitney Houston, then examine own life. Open up to surrender to God and being able to truly experience the love of Jesus so it moves beyond knowing about it because one was told about it, but rather that love is experienced moment by moment.

Two Years of Writing This Blog

As of June 10th this blog has been active for two years. In those two years writing in this blog has been a good place to examine and grow. Writing this blog has been part of God’s way of drawing me into deeper maturity and using what He is putting on my heart and mind with others.

Two years ago was a time of personal awakening. No longer was there denial or ignorance of deception in the church. An ever growing awareness of how vitally lost we are.  Writing this blog was a step in my growing in use of voice, something that had been long stilled.  Starting this blog took over a year to make. Actually God put it on my heart and mind while watching the movie Knocked-up. It was an unpleasant experience and the depth of how lost the world is in darkness was clear. However, the obedience was slow in coming until God really hit home that time is short and delay is a loss. The writing was a step of obedience. The two years of writing this blog have been a challenge and a vehicle for spurring growth.

One thing is clear; the blog provides a good measure of looking back of the ebbs and flows during the past two years. There are periods of increased writing and times of writing less. When the time have written less and pulled back are times of greatest personal struggle and are likely times where need to be more intentional and find time to write something. This year the goal was to engage in more daily intentional writing and that intentionality has dropped off. The year has been tough with seeing those around me struggle and reaching a point of emotional pain which tends to push toward own retreat. 

Question is, is my own personal state a product of fear and apprehension of what is a head, or of being worn down from pain and suffering of those around me, or of being impacted by the world’s perspective and darkness around me?  Actually, thinking of those aspects they all do seem interconnected. All I know, is God is acting and moving in the midst.  Perhaps some of it is the feeling of aloneness. I have those suffering around me, I have my own struggles, and I see the struggles in the world.  Yet, I cannot manage all this on my own. Yet, sometimes the feeling is just that, of being on an island, just depending on what God will do and looking to him. Family, friends, and church while are there, never truly touches the need of support. Yet in the midst of this, the call is still there.  So carry on and write. Sometimes the writing level drops off, and when it does so please keep me more in prayer, for the quieter the blog is, the quieter I am on the forum, the more likely in a point of emotional storm.
The hardest thing about writing is there is rarely any feedback.  Sure I can see the #’s of folks who stop by and which posts draw more traffic. Sometimes the posts I think are more important get less traffic.  I have no idea who get’s impacted by what I write, but yet the call is sure. The need is there to write what God puts on my heart. Hopefully, there is blessing and growth spurred on in other, but even if no one else read a word, this blog has served what God wants because it brings me into deeper maturity and growth in God as seek to grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Kingdom and being an ambassador of the King of Kings in a dark place. 

Now who knows what the New Year will bring. I know there are articles and projects that have been ideas that have yet to make it to words. There are posts mentioned that have yet to be written, so there is needed growth in finishing some of those projects and ideas as well as writing to things going on in the moment. Some things that may make it to press:  Publishing Work on the Foundations of Strong Delusion, analysis of Entertainment Media and the messages of the world, biblical response to conspiracy thinking, more on faith, suffering, and growth, and varied other threads. It is up to me to obey and write intently in the areas God leads.  I hope you have been blessed by what is written and always appreciate any feedback, even if it is feedback on ways I need to grow. So for this blog, there is much that may be written in the year ahead. May God bless you the reader and may God touch you and spur you on to growth, build you up in love, and lead you to serving God in both word and deed.

Personal reflections: My responses when difficulties build- giving voice to burdens

This past week have been way to silent on the blog and falter in intentionality.  It seems likely to stem from the pattern that exists of pulling back when things get too tough emotionally. There are a number of things going on and certainly could use prayer for.

1. The ongoing difficulties of wife. The issues with her having wifes that really do not let up continue, then to top it off she picks up some bug.  It pains me to see her suffering. It pains me to see  her suffering reach the point of bringing into question God’s love for her and His willingness to listen.  She is reaching a breaking point and it bothers me to see it and there is nothing I can say or do that can help. 

2.  The week resulted in exposing how to assured of things that I should not be assured.  This involves having important documents stored on a flash drive with already prior experience of the fragility of a flash drive. I had ignored the wisdom of needing to back up and have paid for it. This in spite of already knowing difficulties others have had. So this put me into a real personal funk  with anxiety, uncertainty, and other things.  Now I have found a place that looks like they are capable of restoring data but the anxiety builds none-the-less.

3. Personally have growing frustration over the communication difficulties and hard feelings when theologically disagree with brother and sisters over issues that have no bearing on matters of faith.  Personally have been hurt about things others have said and likely responded in ways that reflect that without really intending to do so. My intent is always to communicate in love, but sometimes things happen or are said that brings out ways of communicating that are hurtful, even to the point of possible severing of relationship, all related to theological perspectives. 

4. Also am aware of lack of steps taken further to move into private practice.  Are there fears or other elements of self getting in the way?  Am I holding back out of lack of faith, protection of self, and fears?  Is it the same dynamics that resulted in my putting off starting the blog for over a year? Fears of putting myself out there as needed in order to network?  Am I waiting, or simply failing to engage?  If holding back from failing to engage why do I do that?

So these difficulties mount and the frustration grows, and so in turn my human natural response is a bit of withdrawal.  It is not looking to God for defense or strength, it is engaging in the human natural.  Personally have a long way to go in my own life in regards to the principles for transcending suffering.  For me resting in God and letting Him work things out in his time is tough. It takes a lot of faith and can see how limited my faith is in all these circumstances.  Now I know in my head that all this leads to greater faith and leads to growing and maturing at a greater level. All I know is right now personally, am tired, hurt, and know the extent of my own limitations and weaknesses.  All I can say and ask here is to pray.  This blog post in away is sharing some burdens that I personally feel and am going through.

Fellowship of Maceio English service 9-26-2009: Worship in spirit.

On September 26th, 2009 I spoke at Fellowship of Maceió Church, in Portuguese, Igreja Batista da Comunhão, after my brother-in-law, Pastor Lon Davidson asked me to speak at there English service.  I will post here the thoughts I shared while speaking. It probably is not a perfect replication of all I said but the essential points are included. 

Good evening, I was surprised when Pastor Lon asked me to speak at the service but am glad to be doing so. After being asked to speak, I prayed and asked God what to speak about and the direction he pointed me was to speak about what it means to worship in spirit and truth.  Tonight we focus on worship in spirit. 

 The main text for this topic is John 4:20-24 and it is where Jesus talks about worshiping in spirit and truth.  

John 4:20-24   Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 Now in order to understand what it is to worship in spirit and truth we first need to have an understanding of worship. There are two passages that point to the essential meaning of worship.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 

John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease”

For the purpose of this study worship is defined as putting God at the forefront and involves elevating God and surrendering self.  Now there can be whole sermons written on the nature of worship but this simple definition is central to what we are examining.

It is also good to be aware of what the issue was that Jesus was responding to.  Samaritans and Jews had significant issue of who held the proper place of temple and followed God truly. Samaritans believed that the temple belonged at Mount Gerizim, Jews in Jerusalem. They really were at strong conflict; they did not like each other at all.   So, yes Jesus response was contrary to both views.  True worshipers worship in spirit and truth.  Today we are examining worship in spirit. 

In order to understand what it means to worship in spirit first we  need to understand what is spirit?  The bible has multiple references to spirit. 348 references in the  Old testament, 350 references in the new testament. Now not all those references are referring to the human spirit, some reference the Holy Spirit, some reference evil spirits. But the bible does speak specifically about the human spirit. Here are some verses to give an example:

Psalm 51:11 “Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”

Matthew 5:3 “blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Mark 14:38 “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

 Rom 8:16  “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”

The spirit is the inner most part of man.  The bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  If you think about it, the Holy of Holies is symbolic of the human spirit.  The spirit is the deepest part of humanity. The spirit is the place that Holy Spirit indwells:

1Co 6:19  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

 

Worship in spirit is all about God with us. It is about being indwelt with the Holy God in our spirit. It takes things away from rightness of place and into being indwelt and surrendering to the Holy Spirit.

It is all about a covenant relationship with the almighty God, where God is within us, leading us daily.
Now to understand the nature of this relationship it is important to understand the past covenants, in particular with Israel.

Do you what we refer to as the law was not the first covenant.  Rather it was the second option.

God first simply wanted Israel to hear his voice and obey. The biblical reference for this is Exodus 19:5.  However, the voice of God scared them and they wanted to renegotiate the terms.  This is found in Exodus 20:18-19.

 God agreed to renegotiate and this resulted in God using a mediator or intercessor: Moses, priests, and prophets.  It resulted in the Torah, what we call the law: mediated instructions. This can be found in Deuteronomy 18:15-19

 But now because of Jesus Christ we no longer need a mediator. We have a relationship with access to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not just hearing God’s voice. It is not just following God’s mediated instructions.  It is being indwelt by the Holy and living God through the Holy Spirit. There are three passages that really explain how this works:

Colossians  1:27  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

This indicates that it is Christ in us that everything points to, it is the essential point. Yet, we know Jesus is in heaven as indicated in the next verse;

 Hebrews 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

So Jesus is described as in us, yet He is in Heaven with the father.  How can both be true? This is answered in the next verse;

Eph 3:16, 17a  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-

Jesus is in us, through the Holy Spirit residing in our spirit. 

So here is how it works.  Jesus is in heaven with the father, interceding on our behalf. Our faith enables us to be redeemed through his sacrifice for our sins.  This enables us to be filled with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in our spirit. This is the dynamic of worship in the spirit. We have the Holy Spirit who communicates to Jesus who goes before the father. It is really an amazing thing to have all aspects of God interacting when we worship in spirit. 

God is truly with us. His presence abides in us.  So since the Holy Spirit resides in us we can begin to understand worship in spirit.  It really is about an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit and as such with God. 

Let’s look at understanding relating with the Holy Spirit a little bit more, how do relate with the Holy Spirit?

 Four passages help explain this better:

Ephesians 5:19  Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but be being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We all know what it is like to be drunk with wine. It is a loss of self control.  The imagery stands in contrast to being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves a release of self, and letting the Holy Spirit fill.  It is an ongoing process. Actually most English translations describe the passage as be filled with the Holy Spirit but if you look at what the actually translation is, it is be being filled. As I stated it is an ongoing process.  Now lets look at the next verse that helps understand relating with the Holy Spirit.

Mat 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yokupon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Now you may be thinking what that verse has to do with the Holy Spirit. Well, if you examine the meaning of yoke it is clear it points to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to the right way of living.  There are actually two ways the word yoke was used that help us to understand this. A Rabbi’s (teacher) instruction for students is called a yoke. It is how a Rabbi expects his disciples to live. Now we have a more common understanding of a yoke in relations to animals. A yoke guides them in the right path or direction and keeps them from heading their own way or direction.  In the same way the Holy Spirit is our guide and leads in the right path.

The next passage is really two separate verses but they really emphasize the point.

Galatians 5:16 & 25 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” & “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

We always have a choice, walk in self or live by Spirit.  Go our own way, or follow the Holy Spirit. It is up to us, choose to submit to the Holy Spirit, God within, or we follow the way of self. Let’s look at this in another verse:

 John 15:4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

How do we abide in Christ, what was Jesus talking about here. Well, it is worship in the Spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Worship in spirit is daily following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is daily surrendering self to His presence. It is abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When we engage in such daily surrender God gives us many benefits. It is not about some external manifestation. It is not about some internal mystical experience. It is about God with us and daily abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits.

First the Holy Spirit gives testimony to our New Identity.  Romans 8:16-17 states:

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The Holy Spirit also teaches us as seen in John 14:26:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

It is also seen in John 16:13:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Both those passages actually show the Holy Spirits function here on earth and in our relationship. Leading us and teaching us truth is one of those roles. Not only does He lead us into truth, when we ask for wisdom the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into Wisdom.

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Holy Spirit  leads us to repentance and helps us overcome our flesh. I already referenced

 Galatians 5:16  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

and it clearly shows the Holy Spirit has a role in our overcoming sin.

 When we worship in spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit we receive fruit. This is seen in Galatians 5:22-23 which should be familiar to you.   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

When we worship in spirit and surrender we receive these things in the midst of our circumstances. They come from  surrender to the Holy Spirit.

 Also the Holy Spirit gives us gifts, things to use to make disciples as seen in:

 1 Corinthians 12:7-11  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. So you can see surrender to the Holy Spirit and walking in worship in spirit has many benefits.  Now I want to bring this to a close and give you some questions as an application point.

 In summary, worship in spirit is surrendering to God on a daily basis and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is ongoing relating with God.  It is God dwelling in us and leading us on His path. Now it can involve righteous behavior. It can involve internal, mystical experience. It can involve outpouring and external manifestations. It can involve supernatural activity. There are places where we sense the Holy Spirit active, such as in this church. But none of these are worship in spirit. Worship in spirit is daily, ongoing surrender of self to the Holy Spirit. So for application thing about these questions:

 What is more evident in your life?

Are you walking in flesh or walking in the Spirit?

Are you depending on self or things of this world for what is described as fruit of Spirit?

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today that you need to change to walk in the Spirit and live out worshiping in Spirit?

Now I will close in prayer, take a few minutes to think about those questions and I will then pray.

 

 

Dear heavenly father, thank you for sending the gift of your Son. Thanks for sending us your Holy Spirit and truly being with us.  Lord, make us aware of when we are walking in flesh and not the Holy Spirit.  Draw us into deeper worship in spirit while we release self and fill us with your Holy presence through the Holy Spirit. Thank you father, for making this way for us, help us to surrender. In your name, Amen.

General Prayer: On writing and managing blog, forum, and portal

Hey folks, if you not my posting original articles has dropped off as late. The main reason for that is I get to the point of getting overwhelmed with a project and distracted. Often get home with no real energy to write or when I sit down to organize an article realize it is becoming drawn out and then fail to get started. 

I need prayer for me to have the motivation and energy to write. Pray that God puts things in me to write that I will not be at peace until it is written. I have no shortage of material to write about. I know I need to find ways to write some simple, short, and helpful articles.

Also it is easy, when just writing on own with no deadlines, to keep setting things aside.  Pray for God to work in me for greater writing consistency as well.  I have found this to use the voice God has given me, just need to improve my reliability and get written the things God puts on my heart.

Pray for the forum that good, edifying interactions occur and that the discussions result in building up one another. Pray for God to draw folks to the discussion that will have needs met and be built up and help build up others.  Pray for folks to feel comfortable sharing what God has going on in their lifes.

As to the portal project, I have made little progress on that, and failure to do so means the porting of the Blog to www.peacebringer.net keeps getting put off. 

Thanks for you prayers. It would be nice if you dropped a comment to let me know I can count on your prayers.