Joseph’s Example of Godly Character

“‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save hisJoseph people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” – Matthew 1:21-25

Most of us have heard this passage of Scripture before; it is commonly read and proclaimed this time of the year, and usually our attention is drawn to Mary and Jesus, as it should be. However, this time something really different stood out to me, which was the amazing example of godly character that Joseph demonstrated here.

In Joseph and Mary’s day, Hebrew marriage customs dictated that after the negotiations of the arranged marriage, the bride and groom would live separately for one year, each in their own parents’ homes. This was done to verify the purity of the bride. If she was found to be pregnant during that year, she was obviously considered not pure. The marriage could then be annulled, and the woman could also face the penalty of being stoned to death. On the other hand, if she were found pure after the year, her groom would go get her and, in a large processional, bring her back to his home; the two would consummate their marriage and begin to live together as husband and wife.

In the passage of Scripture above, Mary and Joseph were in that one-year waiting period. So, one could imagine the disappointment and heartache Joseph must have felt when he received the news that Mary was pregnant. Thus, it’s Joseph’s response to this situation that I most admire.

Backing up two verses to Matthew 1:19, before the angel even came to speak to Joseph, he had already decided to divorce her quietly, which meant he had no intention of dragging her to the city gate judges, which would have resulted in public humiliation and quite possibly her death. To me this demonstrates Joseph’s godly character. He most certainly was hurt and disappointed, but he had no intention of seeking revenge or bringing any kind of public disgrace on her.

Just for a moment bring this story into our modern day world, and put yourself in Joseph’s shoes:  Imagine you are engaged. You’re planning your wedding day; the venue, the food, the cake, the flowers, and every other little detail has been thought out and prepared. You’re anticipating and dreaming about being married. And then your bride-to-be tells you that she’s pregnant, and you know you’re definitely not the father!

How would you react?

While we might not face this exact circumstance, we all will experience situations where someone will disappoint or hurt us. Unfortunately, many of us might possibly respond in a way that’s anything but “quiet.” However, we see a different reaction in Joseph’s response, and we too should desire to respond to these kinds of circumstances in the same manner—with godly character.

So how do we do that?

I often have conversations with people about the importance of reading God’s Word daily, because I know when I’m continuously absorbing Scripture and meditating on God’s Word, it begins to transform my heart and mind, so like Joseph, I too can respond to the unpleasant circumstances in my life in a manner that brings glory to God.

(Published on the ROCKHARBOR Blog 12/02/13)


Brett McCracken Interview: Hipster Christianity

This is a very interesting interview of author Brett McCracken, by Dr. Joe Hellerman of Hipster ChristianityTalbot School of Theology.  In this interview Brett discusses two of his books, Hipster Christianity and Gray Matters. In these two books he explores what he calls “cool Christianity,” which pertains to hipster  churches, edgy pastors, Bible studies in bars, tattooed youth pastors, etc.

I haven’t read either of these books yet, but I’m looking forward to it!


Embracing Suffering

Martyrdom of Polycarp
Martyrdom of Polycarp

We don’t have to look very far to see people being affected by all kinds of suffering; people are affected every day, in every part of the world by suffering; whether from disease, famine, addiction, depression, or death, no human is immune.  When I see all this undeserved suffering around me, I can’t help but ask God, “Why do you allow good, innocent people to suffer?”

For some, the question of suffering is an obstacle to overcome in understanding why anyone would believe or trust in a God that allows suffering in the world. Some people wonder if there were a God as sovereign and powerful as Christians claim, then He would be able to end suffering.

For others, suffering calls into question God’s love. Some would ask, “If God is so loving, why does He let people suffer, especially innocent people, like children?  If He really loved us, wouldn’t He would put an end to all suffering?” These are great questions that demand answers.

Let’s start with love. It’s true that God is love, but it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love us even though He allows suffering. In His love, God created a world where there was no sin and, therefore, no suffering. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sinned; their disobedience to God altered the entire human race, allowing sin to enter in, thereby, affecting all of creation. Unfortunately, the byproduct of sin is suffering.

Secondly, God is omnipotent and could remove all suffering. However, if He did that, we would have no frame of reference for understanding the gravity of sin. So one of the reasons He allows suffering is for us to have a constant reminder of the horrific power and affect sin has on humanity. Nevertheless, He uses our pain and suffering for our good. For instance, He can use it to build our faith and our character, to reveal Himself to us, or to give us something to hope for.

I’m not saying that God allows suffering so that He can use it for our benefit, or that we suffer because we sin, nor that we should seek out suffering. What I am saying is that suffering is the consequence or byproduct of original sin; and in the midst of something that is so unpleasant, God can bring about something that is beautiful and life changing.

There are several philosophical and theological explanations as to why suffering exists; however, in the midst of our suffering, this usually isn’t very comforting. What I find gives me the strength and endurance during these times, is knowing that God is in control, and He is going to create something amazing from it.  I believe this is why James could state with such confidence that we should embrace and find joy in our own suffering because from it comes forth faith, perseverance, and spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).

I have experienced great periods of suffering, as everyone has; and while I didn’t find these times pleasurable, in the end I found them beneficial. God has turned many of my times of suffering into lifelong lessons of learning to lean on Him, trust Him, love others, show mercy, and extend forgiveness.

Thus, the point is, God transforms us in our suffering!  I have a hunch that if you ask around in the Christian community you will find many people that have experienced the greatest amount of transformation and revelation in the midst of suffering. Therefore, my own personal challenge, and something that I challenge each of you with, is not to run from suffering, but to embrace it, and to ask God, “What are you teaching me or revealing to me about You or about myself?”  Sometimes, He just wants to reveal His love, His goodness, or His faithfulness to us; and other times He wants to transform an area of our character to be more of a reflection of Him. Therefore, allow Him to work in you, even in the midst of suffering. You will not be disappointed!

Mother Teresa once said, “When suffering comes to you, welcome it with a smile. It is the greatest gift God can give you.”

(Published on the ROCKHARBOR Blog 10/25/13)

-Suzette Mascarenas

Is Believing Enough?


I’m wondering if others have experienced, as I have, believing that Jesus is who the Bible claims He is—the Son of God; believing He died on the cross as a substitution for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day; believing He performed miracles, cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead; believing He is omniscient, omnipresent, and all the other omnies; yet there is still a part of you that doesn’t believe. One of the biggest questions I have wrestled with in my mind is:

“If I truly believe that Jesus is all of these things, why don’t I trust Him with every area of my life?”

What the Holy Spirit eventually revealed to me was that I had “belief,” but I was lacking “trust.” This insight was the catalyst for an 8-month journey of God stepping into my life during a time when I was facing my greatest fears. The situation presented itself in such a way that there was no one, including myself, who I could trust to get me through this time. It became evident to me that even though I had a relationship with Christ, I trusted myself to be in control of certain things in my life. I truly believed that I could manage certain areas of my life better than God could.

Needless to say, gaining a deeper trust in God has had a profound impact on my life; my 23-year struggle with debilitating anxiety has subsided; relationships that I saw as destroyed have been reconciled; and peace has been restored! I’m sure there are many people who don’t struggle with trust; on the other hand, I know there are numerous people, like me, who struggle with trusting God.

Interestingly, in the original Greek the same word, πιστος (pistos), is used for both believing and trusting. Therefore, it seems there is this expectation that to believe in Christ is to trust Him.

Therefore, as we grow deeper in our relationship with Christ, we are expected to move beyond merely believing, to completely trusting God. This means trusting that His plans and His will for our life far outweigh any plans of our own. Honestly, this was the scary part for me. I wanted God’s will for my life as long as His will aligned with mine. My prayers were a reflection of this; I tried to control and manipulate God through them to get my way.

So, how do we move from believing to trusting? First, this isn’t something we generate in ourselves; it’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Second, God works uniquely in each of us; therefore, He knows the circumstances and the timing of what it will take for each us to trust Him. Nevertheless, there is something that each of us can do, which is to ask the Holy Spirit to search us, and reveal whether we are trusting in someone or something other than God; it could be ourselves, a spouse, a friend, a job, money, or medical advancements. I find that my lack of trust is usually evident in the areas of my life where my greatest fears lie. Ironically, these should be the areas where I completely depend on God.

Additionally, we can ask God to help us with our unbelief.  A great example of this is found in Mark 9:24 when a man humbly and honestly exclaims to Jesus, “I do believe; help me with my unbelief!”  This may seem like an oxymoron, but the statement here is merely a reflection of the weakness of this man’s faith.  So, to answer our original question, “Is believing enough?” Believing is enough for salvation; the Bible affirms this in several places. However, there is so much more contentment, peace, joy, and freedom found in giving up control and entrusting every area of our life to God.

(Published on the RockHarbor Blog 8/30/13)

–Suzette Mascarenas

If you liked this article, check out this other on my blog: Salvation

The Secret Of Being Content

July 12

ContentmentAccording to, the definition of the word content is “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.”  I think it’s true of many of us, especially here in Southern California, that we are not satisfied with who we are or what we have. Many of us are trying to satisfy ourselves by striving to make more money, improve our status, enhance our appearance, or be romanced. Ironically, the more we strive and pursue these things, the more we want. It’s a vicious circle. Why is this?

I believe these things do not satisfy us because there is a part of us at the very core of our being, which is our soul, that is eternal; and these things that we are trying to use to satisfy our eternal desires with, are temporal. Let me ask you this. If you had an absolute craving for chocolate, would you go and buy a new pair of shoes to try and satisfy your sweet tooth? Of course not…You would go to See’s and buy you some chocolate! So why is it that we have such difficulty discerning and knowing how to satisfy our spiritual cravings, but we have no problem in recognizing our physical cravings, and satisfy them very easily?

What I’m suggesting is that our craving for things such as money, status, appearance, or romance stems from our spiritual desire to be content, and I don’t think many of us even realize that the desire to be content is of a spiritual nature. I suppose this may be why we try, in vain, over and over again to satisfy these desires with temporary pleasures. In Philippians 4:12 Paul writes,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the    secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” 

So, what is the secret to being content? Paul gives us the answer in verse 13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” In other words, we find our contentment for life in a relationship with Jesus. It cannot be found in anyone or anything else. One of the things I find most encouraging in this passage in Philippians is knowing that Paul was in prison when he wrote these words. Therefore, we should find encouragement in knowing that no matter what situation we find ourselves in life, we can be content.

So how do we allow Jesus to be the source of our contentment? I believe it begins by examining our thoughts, which is merely a reflection of what’s in our heart. When I need a heart check-up I usually pray Psalm 139:23-24,

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” 

Then I wait with anticipation for the Holy Spirit to reveal my heart to me. He may do it immediately, or maybe over a period of time; He will reveal the depth of our heart to us when we ask.

Second, I believe we must be intentional about being eternally minded. If I’m not intentional in this, my mind naturally wanders to what’s easy, what I can see right in front of me, what’s tangible, or what will give me instant gratification. When my thoughts and desires begin to get caught up in the things of this world I pray that every thought would be taken captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Lastly, I just want to say that even though we can experience a certain amount contentment in this life, one day when we are standing in the presence of God our satisfaction will be complete. Nevertheless, for now, we get a little taste of it, but again we must be intentional in obtaining it because so many other things vie for our attention; these should be considered distractions or decoys, which rob us of finding contentment in Christ.

The things of this world will rot and perish; however, the things found in Christ have eternal value. Therefore, my encouragement for all of us is not to give into the temptation of gratifying ourselves with temporal pleasures, which fade away; but instead fight for the true satisfaction found in Jesus. Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:7 that we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out.

Prayer–Lord, help us to be satisfied with who we are and with what we have. Teach us to focus on spiritual things–things that are eternal, and not to be caught up in the things of this world–the things that will perish.  Lord, we know that only You can satisfy us; I ask that You would give each of us the wisdom to see this and to desire more of You.

(Published on the RockHarbor Blog 7/12/13)

–Suzette Mascarenas

If you liked this article, check out these others on my blog: Trials, Bearing Fruit

Witchcraft and Christianity (Part 2 of 2)

Wicca Part III want to begin by saying that there are many issues that could be discussed in great depth in regards to this topic; however, in this article I will only give a little taste of the contrast between Wicca and Christianity.

The first issue that I would like to address is that Wicca’s teachings and rituals are rooted in witchcraft. If you recall in Part I of this article, I mentioned that their opening hymn affirmed witches and sorceries; as mentioned also, they practice magic, casting spells, and divination.  With that said, let’s take a look at several places in Scripture where these practices are addressed:

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 – This passage gives a list of several practices that are “detestable” to God, which include divination, witchcraft, sorcery, spells, et al.

Leviticus 19:31 – This verse commands that we do not seek mediums or spiritists, so not to be “defiled” by them.  Defiled here means not to become unclean, polluted, or impure.[1]

Leviticus 20:60 – Here God says that He will set His face against those that turn to mediums or spiritists.

Leviticus 20:27 – In this verse God commanded the Israelites to put to death anyone among them who was a medium or a spiritist. Here we can really see how detestable these practices are to God. Let me clarify here that this command to “put to death” is only for the Israelites at that time in history; therefore, we should not act out on this command today.

Nevertheless, we are still to take away the principle that the Bible teaches here, which is that we are to seek Him for answers, for wisdom, and for knowledge. For He is the only One that is omniscient, and to submit that power and authority to any other person or spirit is to fail to depend on God.

New Testament

Revelation 21:8 – In this verse, sorcerers are named as one group of several that will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but instead will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is eternal death.

Revelation 22:15 – Again, Scripture affirms that sorcerers will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Acts 13:8-10 – From this passage of Scripture we can see that those who practice magic are considered by God to be deceitful, in opposition to God, of the devil, an enemy of righteousness, and someone who steers us away from the Lord.

The Wiccan practitioner that I heard speak, repeatedly stated that they (Wiccans) do not worship the devil, nor are they practicing anything evil. The rationale she used for these statements basically hinged on the fact that the spells they cast are good or beneficial, rather than harmful.  Therefore, how could it be evil or of the devil?  However, we can clearly see from the passages above that Scripture makes no distinction between good spells, sorcerers, witches, etc. It just simply states that these practices, for whatever purpose, are not of God, and as a matter of fact are in opposition to God.

I would like to sum up by saying, “BEWARE!”  Beware of recycled lies by the devil to entice us to accept things in opposition to the Word of God.  Today in our culture, we call the friendship between Christianity and Wiccans “New Age” or “Tolerance.” In biblical times it was referred to as “Paganism.” Hence, the reason we can read about these practices in a book that was written more than 2,000 years ago—it’s nothing new!!

Christ calls us to many things; however, placating to our culture by accepting Wicca or any other teaching, philosophy, or religion as an alternate way to God, is not one of them! Jesus clearly states in John 14:6, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (NASB) [emphasis added].  Therefore, there is no other way to God, except through a relationship with Jesus.

My last “beware” is that we (Christians) do not buy into the lie that we are ignorant, foolish, narrow-minded, or intolerant by not accepting other religions as an alternate way to God. If we believe this then we quit living out the “Great Commission,” whereby Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). This line of thinking is exactly what I heard from Reverend Halverson last Sunday morning. She made it very clear to those in attendance that they are a non-proselytizing church. My friends, this should not be!

In Luke 19:37-38, as Jesus is making the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, His disciples are yelling out, praising God for all the miracles they had seen Jesus perform, and declaring Him the King who has come in the name of the LORD. Some of the Jewish leaders, called Pharisees, were telling Jesus to shut them up, but Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40, NASB).


[1]  Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius Gesenius’s Lexicon. Translated and edited by S. P. Tregelles in 1847, 1857.

Witchcraft and Christianity (Part 1 of 2)

Wicca and ChristianityMy curiosity was peaked a few mornings ago by the words I read on the marquee of a local church: “INTERFAITH DIALOGUE—WICCA AND CHRISTIANITY, Sunday 10AM.” Theologically, they are in such stark contrast to each other that I couldn’t immediately wrap my mind around what I had just read.  The only thought that came to mind was, “I have to go to this!” I was curious as to how witchcraft and Christianity would even be in the same dialogue or room together.

For those who aren’t familiar with Wicca, allow me to give a very brief explanation here. Wicca is a modern religion rooted in Witchcraft. Wiccans hold to a duotheistic view of God, which means that there are two supreme gods, a goddess (feminine) and a god (masculine). They also hold to a pantheistic view of deity, which means they believe God is everything and everyone. Thus they believe that mankind is not superior to anything else on earth; mankind is merely a part of the whole harmony of nature. They also practice magic, which they see as part of this harmony with nature and the universe. Some Wiccans believe that magic is a law of nature; they do not view it as supernatural.

With that explanation, one should be able to see how any Christian’s theological curiosity would and should be intrigued by this “interfaith dialogue.”  Below is a summary of my experience at the interfaith dialogue that took place this past Sunday morning.

It started off as any other church gathering, they greeted people, they made announcements, and they sang worship songs. There were about 75 people in attendance that day. There were a few younger families with children; however most of the people seemed to be in their golden years. They were a very friendly, inviting group of people.

They began with a hymn of affirmation joining together with their “Wiccan friends” in the many principles of life they share in. The worship songs they sang identified God mostly as a feminine deity; God was described as being like a mother. God was also addressed as “Goddess Spirit.”

Immediately following the worship songs, the children in the congregation were called up front to sit on the floor around the stage for “Kids’ Time.”  At this point, the Wiccan practitioner addressed the children while the adults listened in. First, she showed them her divination tool called a pendulum.  It was a crystal charm attached to a long chain necklace. She described it as being similar to something like a rosary. She explained that you could use the charm to ask a question of discernment to the universe.

For instance, she told the children if you forget where you put your shoes, the pendulum could help you find them. She demonstrated this by asking a question of the universe and if the answer was “no” the crystal would swing one way, and if the answer was “yes” the crystal would swing the other way.

She also showed the children her “fairy cards.” These, she explained, were another way of asking for God’s guidance, or how to discern the answer to any question one might have. She demonstrated how you could ask a question and then choose one of the fairy cards. There is a book that explains the answer to your question depending upon the word written on the bottom of the fairy card you choose.

After the kids were released to their class, the Wiccan practitioner read a passage from Wiccan writings, sort of like Scripture; however, none of their writings are canonical.  The keywords or phrases that I was able to jot down from the passage were: witches, sorceries, ecstasy of the spirit, wine of life, youth, mortality, eternal, no sacrifice needed, goddess, soul of nature who gives life, and been with us from the beginning.

She then took the congregation through a Wiccan meditation.  She instructed everyone to put their feet flat on the floor, hands on their lap, and take 6 deep breaths. While in this relaxed state, she talked them through more breathing exercises and the feeling of being one with the earth. She also used the imagery of different colors and what they represented. For instance, she would tell everyone to imagine yellow–this is the color of joy. Then after the next breath, the color green–this is the heart; the meditation continued on like this for several minutes.

After the meditation, the pastor of the congregation, Reverend Dr. Sarah Halverson, joined her guest on stage for the dialogue portion of the service, which consisted of about 30 minutes of Q&A.  During the discussion the Wiccan practitioner explained that Wicca is a new religion consisting of many different traditions, which she described as being similar to Christianity’s different denominations. As the discussion progressed, she confirmed her tradition’s pantheistic view of God and the casting of spells by Wiccans, but only to benefit themselves. They operate on the three-fold law, which states whatever you do, comes back to you three-fold; hence, the reason they only cast spells that are beneficial, rather than harmful.

Reverend Halverson asked the practitioner to explain why she believed such negative imagery is associated with witches.  The Practitioner explained that during the pre-biblical days women were worshiped as Goddesses, and over time male-dominated theology sought to disempower women, which is why so many female witches in the past centuries were discriminated against. It is her belief that a wise woman that was knowledgeable in herbology and natural medicine was seen as a threat, and therefore a target of discrimination.

Finally, the big question that was asked by the Reverend, which was prompted by an email sent to the church due to the marquee on the street corner, was “Why do Wiccans and Christians even want to have a conversation?”  In the email the writer stated that it was their opinion that the only reason a Wiccan should be given a platform at a Christian church was for the sole purpose of converting them. The Reverend made reference to the response that she had written to this email printed in the newspaper the previous day. The Reverend wondered why Wiccans were being perceived as anti-Christian, and further asked the question, “Can you be both a Wiccan and a Christian?”

According to the Wiccan practitioner, the answer is “Yes, you can be a Christian witch!” In fact, it is only “fake” Christians that hurt Wiccans and the LGBT with their anti-Christian theology towards witches and homosexuals.  At this point Reverend Halverson felt compelled to apologize on behalf of all Christians because they have hurt witches over the centuries. In conclusion of the dialogue, the practitioner merely summed up what Wiccans believe about the after life, explained their religious celebrations, and drove home the point that Wiccans aren’t evil, they don’t worship Satan, and they love animals, especially cats.

In Part II of this topic I will address some of the tension between Wicca and orthodox Christianity.


Mike Erre Apologizes to the LGBTQ Community on Behalf of the Church

Mike Erre is causing a bit of a stir from the letter that he posted on his Facebook page last week. In his letter, Mike apologizes for the hypocrisy and the anger of the Church towards homosexuals. Read his letterMike Erre and the comments posted on G-A-Y’s (Good As You) website. I found it to be very interesting and provocative!

What it Means to “Bear Fruit”–John 15:5,8

vinebranchgrapes-1“I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5,8).

I want to focus in on some key words in these verses to help us better understand the message that Jesus was conveying to His followers. The first one is the word “remain.”  What does it mean to “remain” in Christ?

First, I don’t believe that to remain in Christ is at all tied to our salvation; therefore, there is no threat that true believers can lose their salvation. The Greek word used here for “remain” is μείνατε (meinate). The word “remain” in the original Greek demands to be understood as continuance or perseverance. Therefore, the best rendering here for μείνατε (meinate) is a reamining that is A) connected and B) continuous. Thus, we are to be continually connected to Christ; here are some ways that we can do this:

  • Through prayer. To know the will of God is to be in constant communication with Him.
  • Through obedience to God’s commandments. Our disobedience to God’s instructions for our lives can create distance.
  • Through the Word of God. This teaches us, encourages us, and trasforms us to the will of God.

Second, we are told that if we “remain” in Christ we “will bear much fruit.” The Greek word used for “fruit” is καρπός (karpos). Obviously it is being used as a metaphor in this passage of Scripture. Judaic literature often used καρπός (karpos) to descrie a result.[1] It was also a common term found in Homer’s literature, in Diodorus Siculus, in Josephus’ writings, and in Pseudo-Phocylides with the meaning of “the product or outcome of something.”[2] Therefore, “bearing fruit” is the result of doing something, namely remaining in the vine. So just what is the “fruit” or “results” of remaining in the vine?

Since “fruit” is interpreted figuratively here, I think we can argue that the fruit that is produced is a moral image (spiritual). Paul also uses this moral imagery in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Therefore, John 15:5,8 is helping us to understand that we constantly need to be remaining in Christ, so that we will bear the results of spiritual righteousness that glorifies God. Hence, the questions that we must all ask ourselves on an ongoing basis are:

1) Am I presently abiding in Him?

2) Am I choosing to do what is necessary to be connected and totally dependent on Christ?

3) Am I glorifying God by bearing much fruit?

[1] Gerhard Kittel, Volumes 3 and 4 of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Translated and  Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley and D. Litt. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.

[2] Walter Bauer, A Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Revised and Edited by F.W. Danker based on W. Bauer’s 6th edition. 3rd Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.


Jump Threat Inconveniences Drivers on the 405 Freeway

The traffic on the 405 Freeway was a little heavier than usual last week as my husband made his way home from L.A. As he neared his exit, it became clear why the traffic had slowed. When he arrived home, he showed me a shocking photo he shot of a man sitting on the side of one of the freeway’s overpasses. The man was threatening to jump off into the traffic on the street below.  In the photo you can see a police officer trying to coax the man off the ledge—a disturbing photo to say the least.

Several days had passed and I found my mind wondering, “What happened to that man?”  So I did a quick search of our local online newspaper, and there I found the entire story. As I began to read the story, I was quickly relieved to found out that the man had not jumped!  However, as I continued to read the story I was deeply disturbed.  What disturbed me was not any “shocking” reason why this man had contemplated taking his life that day; rather, I was disturbed by the comments hurled at the man by passerby on the freeway.  According to the article, one driver yelled at the man, “jump already” while cursing what an inconvenience this was causing.  Another driver yelled to him [the fall], “isn’t that bad; just do it”  (Williams et al., 2012).

Really?? I was deeply saddened when I read this!! Are we really that selfish of a society? Do we really care that much more about our own agendas than the life of our fellow man? I fear the answer to these questions might be “Yes.” Needless to say, I really hope I’m wrong; but if I’m not, I wonder how we got to this place of being so cold? So uncaring?

Research suggests that there is a lot of stigma associated with suicide. Therefore, people are afraid to share their suicidal thoughts in order to get help since they may be labeled as “weak, lacking faith, coming from bad families, or indeed ‘mad’ if they were to declare their suicidal thoughts” (Tadros and Jolley, 2001).  I don’t believe that those who contemplate suicide are any of these things. What I have concluded, from my own personal experience counseling those who have suicidal thoughts, is that they feel a great sense of hopelessness, they have some deep pain that seems too unbearable to live with; hence, they see no other solution than to take their own life and stop the pain.

I am always shocked by the callousness towards people who struggle with suicidal thoughts, by people who have never had thoughts of suicide. Time and time again I hear the same comments, “I can’t understand why someone would take their own life; it’s stupid; it’s selfish; they just want attention.”

My plea for those who are impatient and unsympathetic towards those who struggle with suicidal thoughts is to be empathetic to the deep, dark, hopeless place that these men and women are at. Having empathy towards someone doesn’t mean we completely understand their thoughts and emotions; it means that we are sensitive to THEIR feelings, and we try to put ourselves in THEIR shoes. When we are empathetic towards others, it is much easier for us to then express compassion.

The people that struggle with suicide are all around us; they’re our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors, our family, and even our own kids; and by chance, when we do encounter a complete stranger in a place of hopelessness, like the man on the 405 freeway, let’s be empathetic and show concern and compassion for him too. Every life has worth because we all the bear the image of our Creator—God.

Furthermore, the hopelessness and pain of others should not be an inconvenience to us. It should be seen as an opportunity to help another person realize that there is purpose and value in their life; they have unique gifts to offer the world that only they can give. And most importantly, there is hope and healing, and it’s found in our complete trust and hope in Jesus. He not only offers us hope for eternity, but hope for everyday as well.




Tadros, G. and Jolley, D.  (2001) The British Journal of Psychiatry 179: 178 doi: 10.1192/bjp.179.2.178.

Williams, Lauren, and Don Leach. The Daily Pilot, “Harbor Boulevard Closed After Jump Threat.” Last modified 2012. Accessed November 12, 2012.,0,300087.story.