Sunday, February 19, 2017

Long time; many moons have passed but some things remain, well, they just do...

~~~"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."~~~ 

The path of life, shown by God, is the narrow rugged path, cutting through some of the toughest life has to offer. It plunges down steep canyons of possible despair, rising against soaring mountain peaks of elation and cuts through even the valley laced in shadows of death. But it's the right path; not that smooth wide path leading to the soul's destruction, but rather life eternal, on the heels of the Savior's footsteps. 
In that place; in His presence, joy is consummating, for the believer; the fullness, unblemished by the sorrows of life and beheld in its complete radiance. Beyond that valley, of death's lingering shadow, one can see the reality of pleasure. Not the cheap gaudy substitute of man's lust, but the pleasure of Heaven's eternity in the radiance of God's glory forevermore.
Pick the path you walk carefully, dear saint! 

Our path of late, has grown in severity and challenge. It would be foolish to think that with gray hair, or little of it, we would have a more certain future. But this is not the way God has brought us. Around us, ideas and temptations swirl, like the wind driven mist of mountain clouds moving on the shoulders of the coming storms, or in the aftermath of the passing ones. Is this the beginning of something new, or the end of what was?
It seems fairly apparent, the door in this place is closing little by little; or a least in a series of small slamming motions. Any one of the events, to date, could be rationalized away without much adieu, but together the sum sits firmly and weightily, on only one side of the scale. Today, highlights one such event. We saw a vehicle precariously abandoned on the side of the road; in a dangerous corner, but not damaged, just parked. A mile or two up the road walked a solitary female carrying an armload of stuff, including a bright red plastic gas can. We were moving at a pretty decent rate of speed and passed her, without her making an indication of need for a ride or assistance. Seeing that the nearest gas station was still 2 miles or more away, we swung a quick u-turn and headed back. Rolling down my window, and while asking her if she needed a ride to the gas station, I noticed that this was one of the number of folks who had wandered away into the fold maintained by the cult in town; the cult headed up by the former leaders of our church youth group. The lady, declined the ride and offered a feeble excuse that her boss would soon be along to pick her up down the road, despite the drizzling rain and wet, non shouldered road. The spot she indicated for the potential pickup point was still at least a half mile away, but there was no desire on her part to cut her walk short. Foolish, and telling at the same time! Another slamming door!

The previous slamming motion was just a few weeks ago. A neighbor, our former next to the next door neighbor died. I'd always thought our interactions had been pretty smooth, but the wife also turned to this former church member to conduct her husband's funeral. There's two ways of looking at it for me. One is that since this couple never made their way to church and wanted nothing to do with God, she makes a logical "safe" choice for not hearing the gospel. I doubt his message of works will go far there. The second way of looking at it is more closely related to aforementioned event. God has allowed the inroads we had in this town to crumble and fall away. Mark me, no one is running to Christ; rather a nice cozy message of "anything goes" acceptance is the preached message from that crowd; do what you want as long as you are "loving" while doing it. A wee bit further, the door swings.

For the last twelve years, our former pastor had chosen to continue fellowshipping at our little church. More recently, he has made more and more trips to Los Angeles and a second home they have there. Burdened with a wife's MS, they have found the warmer climates a benefit, and the needs of a small church they grew up in, to be a place where they could fit in. But he still maintained a presence with us here; at least until the last month or so. Most recently, he has stepped up his contacts and visits with the former church folks; never joining in their cult practice, but stopping often at their house and visiting at length. Then he came one Sunday morning, picked up his horn stand and mumbled a few words about helping some other church out; offering a feeble comment that it was down in Paradise, sparing us the supposed agony of assuming he had joined ranks with the other town group. Not a word since; not a hello or goodbye or further explanation, just silence. And the door moves closer to the waiting jam.

Even more recently, I finally responded to what I believe was a God prompted shutdown of my Facebook page. It had become almost like consumption; eating up too many spare moments and even some of the moments that weren't to spare. One of the underlying factors also, was a connection to the sister of the cult leader's wife. She would promptly derail the comment's section on near every devotional post; carrying on about her continuing plethora of illness-related retching, or the sudden drop everything to make an instantaneous trip to the south land, while at the same moment, laying out a string of reasons why she couldn't make the long 1/2 block journey to church. Or telling of her sordid interactions with the neighbor's, that almost always involved sin; usually on their part. But you can read this, for the sake of your own conscience, as a need, on my part, to withdraw from the constant stream of gossip and garbage. Despite her continual pandering about my "place", as her pastor, it only took a day or two after the deactivation of my page, for her sister to come running to her rescue. To save her after being "abandoned" so ruthlessly, by this "unloving" person; namely, me.

And so, I peer off, into the rolling mist of not knowing, ahead; straining to make clarity out of the present and coming moments and what they mean for us. The sheep, entrusted by God to us, will be fed and cared for till a new under-shepherd arrives. Whether we stay or go, rests upon God's direction in many different arenas of life; children, grandchildren and the interaction with them all. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Great Race to Equality....Not!

Equality is a myth.
Equality is impossible.

Equality, as a goal, began in the very throne room of heaven when Lucifer stood up and said, “I am and there is none like me”, in the Presence of his Creator, Who then escorted him to the exit and kicked his butt down from the heavens.

Equality being pursued, found Eve and Adam mimicking Lucifer’s failed attempt at godship, buying into the idea that they too; the two made into one by God, could somehow be equal to the One Who chose to not only create them but also to put them together, choosing one male and one female.

Equality, a mindset of self promotion, self satisfaction and self indulgence brought an almost universal heart set among humanity, visible to God, Who determined that the very intent of man’s heart was evil and declared judgment upon the earth. A mere 8 people away from a true equality in death, as the rising waters choked the life from the demanders of such.

Equality’s vain cry rang out loudly on the streets of the city as the men pursued their lust driven attack on Lot’s male guests; Equality’s sordid answer was seen vividly in the fire and smoke that rose in Sodom’s sundown, for death alone presents the closest grasp of equality.

Equality’s most recent symbol; the red block with white equal sign seeping from the masses of humanity onto the social media pages, provides a clear statement that man will never be satisfied, appetites never satiated and hearts never filled without the intervention of God’s redemption; God’s way, not man’s way!

Equality; a theory whose proclaimer’s say, “we don’t need or want a God, we want what we want, when we want it and we want it now”, destined to repeat it’s cycle over and over; another culture rising, then collapsing from within.

Equality; a religious attempt to mimic that which God makes in perfection, creating instead a distorted, depraved twisting of the intimacy God intended; visible in the lust fueled orgies of every human based religion apart from God and His Word.

Equality; a human pursuit creating a trail of lives littered with failure, heart ache and a never ending demand to be relieved of the consequences of their own actions, at someone else’s expense which can hardly be considered equality in application.

Equality; an idea born on the backs of a representative republic; the idea that all can be equal, when in reality few can be.
  • Equal opportunity? Some days perhaps, as long as all don’t want the same opportunity at the same time.
  • Equal access? Only as long as all don’t try to access it at once.
  • Equal pain? Never going to happen, because humanity will always shift his pain to the next person, as soon as possible.

Equality and being created equal; is this the same? No, for equality assumes the state of being equal in all things such as status, rights and opportunities. Being created equal? This confesses the existence of a Creator, a major point of dissatisfaction for the “equality” crowd and a major dilemma for all mankind. How can humanity be equal to the One Who created it? It can’t…period. Only by “removing” God from all of society (something akin to closing one’s eyes and saying the sky doesn’t exist because you can’t see it) does man have the perceived opportunity to live in equality. Unfortunately, it is only perceived because each time one group asserts their rights, another group is losing a part of theirs.

Only in the state of UN-EQUALITY can we actually function as God intends, because that is where we start and that is where we finish in life on this earth. We will never be equal to the All Powerful God, the All knowing God, the All seeing God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the “I AM THAT I AM”, because no one can ever prove Him otherwise or overcome Him. In this life we are fortunate to be able to see un-equality and do something about it. It requires the absence of perfection for us to turn to the Perfect One. It requires the presence of evil to see that Who actually is Holy. It allows us to demonstrate the reality of Christ by helping our fellow man, when they have less or hurt more. We are empowered to show mercy, when none exists; grace where only condemnation prevails; and love, in the constraints of the love Definer, God where humanity has substituted a cheap imitation.

The part the equality folks can’t stomach is the presence of God in the issue and the idea that He actually defined what is right and what is wrong. Sadly, history provides compelling evidence of this struggle of mankind against God and the results.
That said, there will be some equality in limited terms:
  • The equal right you have to reject Christ as Savior and Lord and the absolute consequence of an eternity without Him.
  • The equal right you have to live life how you want and stand before His judgment after death, the great equalizer.
  • The equal right you have to marginalize this as nothing more than hateful rhetoric, and be proven dreadfully wrong in eternity at your own expense.

But at the end of the day, here is how it wraps up…not so much concerned about what the Supreme Court of the United States decides; they’ve proven their fallibility many times before. The law of what is, what can be or what should be marriage decides only the human definitions of our culture in this snapshot of time. The reality of my marriage is founded on God’s Word alone; regardless of the tax implications or cultural recognitions, it had absolutely nothing to do with a church wedding, a marriage license or a governmental permission…it was and is founded upon a vow before God, lived out everyday regardless of the acceptability or unacceptability that culture may decide. So many of the questions raised about marriage and who should be able to marry today are related to the failure of marriage, not the heart of marriage. If I reject God, then I will eventually reject His template of marriage to advance my own “godship”. But at the heart of marriage the government doesn’t teach husbands how to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it; He does and His Word does. The laws don’t keep me from doing the right thing in how I treat my spouse with respect and love; they just provide penalties for when I don’t do the right thing. If the marriage never fails, there is no issue of child support and custody and in God’s definition, there is no reason for marriage failure. How important your marriage is often reflects how big your God is! Sadly for the church, we’ve shown that we perceived our God as not too big, as the divorce and failure rates are the same as the worlds. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crumbling Walls When No Cracks Are Visible...

Under gently swaying palm trees, amongst rustling bamboo stands and around random clumps of cactus plants are splashed the amazing colors of the native flowers and plants of the La Mesa hills. The sun, rising above the morning fog, soon warms and brings to life the humming hives of bees perched on its palm tree stand. If only focus could remain at this distance, the quiet of the early morning would be a calming force welcoming the visitors to just sit and admire the handiwork of the Creator. 

Too soon, the eyes are drawn to that which sits in stark contrast to the above beauty: the meth addict beginning to stir rising to find the next run of chemical oblivion; the alcoholic senior citizen pondering the sway of internal gyrations and the lure of the elixir to sink life back into numbness; the seller of human pleasures drawing herself back into a state of desire to attract her next fool descending on the stairway Solomon described as leading to death! The users and used begin the dance of fatal attraction and certain demise on the seemingly never ending cycle of the disease of sin.

Plunged into the midst of this chaos and beauty, I stand feeling the almost palatable oppression of Satan’s lie pasted over the truth of God’s creation and salvation. Fortunately, the undeniable truth of God pushes through the clutter and disasters surrounding my circumstances and I take a firm stance on the reality of Christ in me. Victory already belongs to my Savior, my heart is secure in His; this ground I stand upon is just a hospice for the condemned, a last gasp residence on the decent to a Godless eternity if something or someone doesn’t stand up and declare the liberty that comes through the cross. 

A quote I recently saw on a shirt in a photo my aunt posted rings with the challenge of the moment, “Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell” (C.T. Studd) Indeed! Who will rise up to fight? Or will I turn to run away with the certain hope of victory even now promised? 

Remembering Joshua as he stood before the walled fortress of Jericho, the first formidable obstacle on the entrance to the Promised Land. The Angel of the Lord... the Captain of God's Army, declares victory before even the mortar of the walled city began to slip..."And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Even though God had given Jericho into Joshua and the Children of Israel's hand before they ever took a single step, it still took 7 days of obedience and a lot of footsteps to see and experience the victory...reminds me that in many of the challenges we face in life, victory already belongs to the Lord...we've just got to be obedient and KEEP WALKING!! I've got to keep walking...down the long highway from the peaceful refuge of home into this infested stronghold of pending disaster. I've got to keep walking right up to the very massive walled fortification of human lust, sin and disease and shout out the victory of my Savior. Days, weeks, or even years...whatever my Commander and King requires, this is the way to victory!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lepers and Grace; A match made in Heaven

In an incredibly painful contrast, the brilliant morning sun rose into a crystal clear sky of shimmering blue shades shining its golden rays to warm the tattered, skinny shivering frame of the young man waiting for me at the door of the church. He , the latest castoff of the "churchy" crowd from another town that resides here in this town. As he stepped from the front seat of his dented, worn and barely safe to sit in jalopy, I was at once overwhelmed at the picture; the mostly dead car with its mismatched bulging and cracked tires; the stained greasy clothes he has been living in for the last few months hanging loosely over his gaunt body. The smears, of the last month’s worth of scavenged meals clearly visible down the front of the hooded sweatshirt that provided little protection against the elements. A closer look shows that the promised offer of two used tires from another former acquaintance has fallen through; another in the long list of rejections by the wonderful group of “loving” folks who have come to the end of their grace capacity.

After greetings, I realize that he left the pro-offered refuge of a warm place to sleep, have some food and coffee, for the remote isolation of the dark woods. This out of fear of those who had previously offered shelter but then withdrew their offers because of his supposed sins. Even in rejection, he still demonstrates his childlike affection towards, and desire to belong, to these who have discarded him now. A sense of family lost drives him to seek out their company, even if only for a moment, among the others who join in the professed open doors of some offering a remedy for the lost, disenfranchised, marginalized and hurt, as long as you’re not as far gone as this one is perceived to be. He is even willing to stand among those who openly mock him and his inabilities and his disabilities while they are claiming the love of Jesus, just to feel close to belonging. This one’s future resembles a civil war battlefield after an extended campaign; there are no safe places to stand. His mother lying in a bed on “life support” according to one of the town’s local “Christian” gossips; no father and a slew of uncles who are supposedly trying to kill him. He sees only a single opportunity ahead of him and that is to drive to where his mother is to say goodbye…a mere three hours ahead of his present location is as far as he can see. With less gas in his tank than most cars would burn to reach Chico, he has his sights set on Reno to say goodbye while it is possible and then see what happens from there. His desired destination includes the hospital where mom is at and then a tire store down the street to pick up a few used tires that may fit his car, for free hopefully. Never mind the fact that the current tires have little chance of making highway 70, much less the 180 miles to Reno but he has the notion, much like the pioneers that set out with a couple of oxen and a wagon to cross the United States a hundred years ago.

I am greatly disturbed by the offering he makes that I am the only person left here who he can talk to, or who will talk to him, as I know that he has never liked me since he first arrived and I held him accountable for helping his mother with the necessary tasks of procuring firewood and keeping the stove stocked, instead of his, then favorite pastime of video games. How in the world can I offer him anything when I cannot for the life of me even come up with one possible, viable solution to his plight? Why Me, is the question that I direct to heaven, as I frantically attempt to hear a Holy Spirit inspired solution or advice for the moment. I think back on all the wonderful folks that have pronounced judgment on him, as they discarded, rejected or kicked him out of their lives. Labels, like pathetic, liar, druggy and thief top the list. Even the ones fronting a remedy have shown that their remedy comes without the reality of Christ, because this one is in the “untouchable leper” category; well beyond the emotionally shallow healing they prefer for the typical patron, who in their rebellion seeks a sense of belonging and affirmation of their life choices without conviction or accountability at the big Saturday night affair. He seems to be the pariah, beyond salvation; the leper without hope; the harlot with no future.

Only by the grace of God does any solution present any hope, but it truly is so meager in regards to the need that I am afraid that it will probably only compound his future. But God provided the means and the timing with this small gift, so with a short desperate (on my part) prayer for God to miraculously supply beyond the measure of what was given and for Him to even more miraculously keep the car from failing, this child shakes my hand and with genuine gratitude expresses his appreciation and then heads off into the future. His life, without any certainty of anything but the reality of God’s love for him and each aspect of even the most minute detail of his every heartbeat, now hovers above four very deteriorated tires. I can only rest upon the sovereignty of my Heavenly Father in understanding that I was unable to do anything much in my weakness and all glory rests fully upon Jesus for what He will accomplish in this one lost lamb. I pray that the sincerity of my heart and motivation is right before my King and may His grace and mercy be multiplied way beyond any potential even dreamed of by this last chance preacher!   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Future and Faith

Have you ever wondered how faith relates to your future?

Now the quick and immediate answer for a Child of the King would be absolutely! We cannot enter into eternal life, except by faith in Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished on the cross...and we would be right. So then, the real question in view here comes to the surface...with that foundation, how does our understanding of our future relate to our faith. If we believe that God is Sovereign (which He is) and that He has His eye on us (which He does) and that He has a plan, a purpose and a future for us (again, affirmative), how does that translate into daily life?
Here is where it gets a bit sticky, or stickery (painfully poking) my daily decisions reflect what my profession of faith holds?

Let's start with the simple issues; Life. I'll either wake up today by God's grace or be in His presence. As Paul says, "for me to live is Christ and to die, more of the same (Christ)". Our faith requires no real action here, its not tested because we are not in the place to choose whether we wake up here or in heaven. We go to sleep, and we either wake up here or there. 

Let's make it a bit more complicated...Work. Seems real simple; God helps them who helps themselves or so we've been told. Well, here things are a bit out of sorts. First, that phrase is NOT a biblical concept, rather man's invention. Secondly, when Jesus called out the first disciples they LEFT daily work to follow Him, to BE disciples, to MAKE disciples....of course, it took them 3 1/2 years before they were successful and then only by the power of the Holy Spirit; not only reminding them what Jesus said, but also empowering the frail humans to do miraculous things by the power of God. So every morning, 5 or so days a week, we walk out the door and pledge our loyalty, by choice, to an earthly master. We justify this as being necessary, doing it as unto Jesus after all; we all have bills to pay, homes to provide and all those other seemingly important tasks that require a weekly or monthly paycheck. (to say nothing about the monthly expenses we have chosen, that are "essential" for life....cable, cell phones, entertainment, new clothes, car payments, etc). Our faith comes to a screeching, "please wait here while I help God help me" place. It's not in view, it has nothing to do with what we can do or how we view God until we either don't have a job, don't want the one we have or figure its time to retire and then our faith is hoisted up the pole to demonstrate to God that we need Him to provide what we (again) want. If our Father maintains a sparrow's existence and takes even more concern with us, doesn't there remain a real possibility that all the pursuit of life as it relates to a job, income, security, etc has been undertaken by us alone, setting our faith aside as WE provide for our future. Is not our faith then really in ourselves? 

Now let's really make it uncomfortable...our earthly future. It sort of ties into the above ideas, but don't most of us have an idea of what we want to do in life when we retire? Of how we'll travel, or plant a garden, or read a book a day or whatever else we want to do. I keep looking for the earthly retirement system of the New Testament church and I haven't found it yet. The Old Covenant had a retirement system for priests; 50 and out. The nomadic lifestyle of most of the Old Testament folks, meant that the older generation just transitioned to a place of being cared for, as opposed to providing for the others in the family group with the patriarchal life style. But in the Church Jesus bought and paid for with His blood, retirement is much more likely to be death in the process of serving God, while teaching, preaching, making disciples and continuing daily in the Word of God. The church's retirement community seems to be centered around the throne of God where those martyred for the faith seeks God's final solution for the earth.

Okay, enough for making a point. Time fails to allow me to speak of many other areas of life that this question comes to light in, such as insurance, property ownership, comforts of life, bank accounts, "investments", etc. These also would undoubtedly cause too much ire for the average believer in Jesus Christ and really there is no time in our schedule for such considerations....In fact, I am sure that it must be time to head to Starbucks, then shopping for more sundry items at Walmart, Target, etc.  Or maybe it's time to run to work and put in our 8 hours, so we can accrue enough vacation time for that planned holiday this summer. Or maybe its time to eat one of our 3-5 square meals that we'll consume today. Either way, I'm pretty sure that spending the time to consider our faith and the future is not going to fit into our schedule today, anymore that spending time with Jesus will....that's scheduled for Sunday anyway, right? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

What a day brings...

Today, I have been offered much already, and it is only 7:00am! 
A virtual plethora of emails have promised 30 shrimp for only $11.99, a gaggle of health and physical enhancement products, multiple opportunities to engage a new and exciting group of friends or potential future relationships and on and on goes the listing. Turning from the unrequested offerings to the pages of social media reveals a similar potpourri of drivel, useless information and often way too personal revelations from odd characters of the electronic meeting places. These range from the lovelorn mourning of those who are without companionship, or those who are in the process of pursing or ending relationships to the verbal vomit of those who must just say something in fear of silence or the challenge of dealing with their own personal dilemmas, in faint hope that someone will bite the lure and answer their plea. Also prominent on the walls of these personal reflection screens are the rantings of the religion seekers and their counterparts, the internet prophets and prophetesses. These posts usually increase in intensity around the times of acknowledgement of Christ's birth or resurrection and are ever diligent to point out the "error" of making such acknowledgement or celebration by ascribing such activity to the realms of pagans, demons or other such unsavory opponents of what they hold to as true religious beliefs. One such recent comment viewed on a former neighbor's chalkboard (for such are the longevity of their beliefs and or practices) indicated relief that the holidays were over, so that now the world could get back to normal? Another used the recent holiday season to make postings both physical and electronic conveying the earth shattering news that our holiday may be someone's "holy day". And yet others post their newest found and held internet theology sites, somehow hoping to justify their current leanings and to defend their desire to reject the reality of God's Word and their failed adherence to it.
So much junk and so little time! On such days, I have often entertained a notion of answering back each of the noted offerings with an appropriate response: for the shrimp folks...are you really telling me that you aren't ashamed of charging me the outrageous price of 40 cents each for the tiny, freezer burned, over cooked, over salted shrimp, just so I can have some free cheesy bisquits with my dinner? Or for each of the lovelorn: please, quit talking to us about your lost love or desired love or broken love online; get off the computer and go talk to them in person, you might actually end up with a relationship that way!! or for the cultist in training or the false prophet's fishing: Mt. Carmel, up and be prepared. Winner takes all. 
But then I am reminded that:

  • For almost 120 years, Noah built an ark in plain view of all who would perish, in spite of seeing God's provided salvation for the coming flood.
  • For 40 years in the wilderness, Moses preached, taught and reiterated God's Words to a nation, whose then current generation would all die because of their rejection of it, except for two dudes and the next generation born in the wilderness.
  • For 3 1/2 years Christ answered the challenges of the disciples, the religious leaders and His own family without a single sin, yet one of the disciples would deny Him, the religious leaders would prosecute for His crucifixition and His own brothers mocked Him (to the brother's benefit, some did come to understand truth...Jude and James, at least)
  • Paul would spend the early years of his ministry almost exclusively to his own people, the Jews, who rejected the Word of God and whose blood would be on their own hands for their rejection of it.
And in this I am able to exercise another God given gift....the ability to turn the other cheek! The words and taunts of others need not be our constant task to defend and correct; God's Word already has that exclusive power. Our's is to be obedient to what God has called us...specifically, me, to do. 
And so, with so much day and so little time....on to the battle; time to go and tell!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dealing with Judases in life

Many times, as I am reminded of the Judases of life that I have met, I use the opportunity to review my actions and interactions with others to make sure that I am not a Judas in the relationships with others. Beginning here has the cleansing effect of inspecting for logs, before getting down to splinters. Nothing wrong with looking for splinters, just remember that as you look, so God will look as well. Removing the logs in our own eyes, has the benefit of restoring vision that is CAPABLE of looking for splinters. The oft quoted phrase; "Judge not" is too often distanced from its absolutely necessary companion; "lest you be judged". Judgment is a good thing. I'd rather Christ judges my actions now, than to store up a huge list for some point in eternity where nothing can be reconciled. At this point a quick pause to reiterate that this is not about "achieving salvation" or accumulating enough good to outweigh the bad, but rather knowing that as an individual I WILL be held accountable for what I say, do, think and act on at the Judgment seat of Christ. Therefore, it benefits my life now to be under the constant scrutiny of God's Word, His Holy Spirit and His divine judge-ship daily! To quote the psalmist, " how shall a young man cleanse his ways? By giving heed to the Word of God". All that said, it is now time to address the initial question regarding the Judas folks we encounter in life.
For a "Judas" to be capable of his or her calling...some basics have to be in place. First, we must have a relationship with the Judas. This relationship must be one with vulnerability and personal investment. For the Judas's part, there has to be something to steal. They have to see a benefit in going along with the relationship. For Jesus and Judas, this was long as there was a common purse and he (Judas) had control of it, there was something to steal. As long as Jesus was healing and performing miracles, there was also something to steal...fame and the "intimate" position that Judas held as one of the twelve. As soon as the perceived value of these two was diminished, not to say anything about the many other intrinsic benefits of being Christ's disciple, Judas was looking for a way out and another shot at gain. So also the modern Judases of life must find something that they can get to satisfy their lust. Whether it be personal gain, free help with all their troubles or an actual possession to steal, there must be something that keeps the Judas positioned in a relationship that really doesn't matter other than the convenience or the gain possible.  Shut the door on either and the Judas will do what Judases all over the world do....betray!
The Judas's next trait will soon be evident; they are masters at leaving and moving on to the next without sorrow or looking back. You, on the other hand, will be waiting, praying for reconciliation and restoration, wondering how years and years of "friendship" could just end, while they will be merrily on their way to the next new target and way to achieve their lust's fulfillment. Looking back, most of this is visible, unless you are the Judas's first betrayal. Most often there will be betrayal of a former spouse, employer or close friend at an early age, but throughout the life of the Judas, this same trait will be appallingly apparent. Multiple marriages and divorces, family feuds carried into adulthood and beyond, betrayed confidences left unsettled for years and decades; these all are very clear indicators that are too often seen in retrospect.
So what can you do about the Judas? How can you prevent him or her from destroying your ability to trust, to love without barricades or to accept new relationships? Can it be done? In Jesus' case, Judas was well known from the beginning, but also an integral component in prophecies fulfillment. I think Jesus well knew what Judas would do; only Judas was unaware that his natural lust was an eternal rut in the road to Jesus' sacrifice. What he would do, even in stealing from the common purse, was just proof that he would do what he did for 30 pieces of silver years later. I believe the way to deal with Judases is clear in the Word of God; its just that we (collective use) don't let the Word of God have the authority and position in the church that it MUST have. God deals with accountability in relationships; we just want to get along. God deals with accountability in church leadership; we just want the leaders that make us feel good and entertain us. God deals with transparency in relationship; we prefer our facades. God deals with the continual, free working of His Holy Spirit to identify wrong and danger in our lives and churches; we'd prefer to quench Him than to deal with the fires ignited of conviction and correction. God deals with His Word's ability to cut to the heart of the matter; we'd just like a close shave, not too much off the top! In clear terms, our rejection of God's Word as THE authoritative standard for conduct and action of the believer has placed us in jeopardy with the Judases of life. We've invited them in, because we tell all that there will be no accountability here....just love, when in fact, without accountability there is NO love!! The unconditional part of God's love deals with who He loves...the sinner, and how His love pays for our sin; all our sin regardless of "how bad" it may be. It is not unconditional in that, we can do whatever we want when we want and God's love will be permissive. Remember what God said, "those He loves, He disciplines". Period!
One of the "Judases" that I've experienced did much damage. But in looking back, it was my failure to apply God's Word, in every area of the relationship, that allowed the damage to be done. Missing the big clues; three failed marriages, unresolved family issues from rebellion, the constant taking, never giving and much else, were the clues that God's Word would have cut to the heart of the matter and identified as a problem, long before it became the problem it did. And His Word would have always allowed the restoration that now is out of reach, because the Judas has just done what he's always done...moved on to the next usable relationship. The problem was mine; I didn't let God's Word be true. But you better believe that I've learned the lesson; understanding the discipline that my Father has allowed me to experience to get my heart in alignment with His every subject, not just the fun ones!!