"For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake."


  Philippians 1:21-24



Desiring to depart? I remember that feeling recently in the Philadelphia airport … a desire to depart. After a long layover going to Salisbury, MD and a longer one returning, the Philadelphia airport was not a pleasant place to be. I wanted out but was willing to stay to finish my job.



When Paul wrote these words he was in a Philippian prison, likely under worse conditions than the Philadelphia airport, probably more filth and harsh surroundings, however Philadelphia’s pretty bad.



He was likely under a sentence that could have brought his death and he knew that. He also knew that his death would be a release into God’s Presence, but he had a job to do. He said he was "hard-pressed" … he was in dire-straits, having a desire to depart and be with the Lord or to stay and do his job. Paul was not a stranger to distress and suffering in this world. Listen to the problems he faced. These are his words.



"In labors more abundant, in stripes above me more frequent, in deaths oft." "I was beaten by the Jews, 5 times, a total of 195 stripes...3 times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, 3 times I suffered shipwreck and spent a day and a half in the waters...In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;...wait, there is more.



In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands." These are Paul’s words from II Corinthians 11:21-33.



He had a desire to depart and be with the Lord, the threat of death was seen by him as only a release, but he said, I have an unfinished call on my life. Was he considering suicide, absolutely not...but I’m sure the weight of his afflictions caused him to think about the end, if death, would be gain!



In my life and in the ministry God has given to me, I have been acquainted with suicide many times. My mother attempted suicide many times in her battle with paranoid-schizophrenia. Both of her sisters did commit suicide, they all loved the Lord. I don’t know what may have happened in their ancestry or childhood that brought about the torment, but I have certainly tried to know. Never can we know what struggles are going on in someone’s mind. The pain and hopelessness in life that drives someone to choose death over life is great torment. Be careful how you judge.



There are some who teach that a person loses their salvation...that suicide is an unforgivable sin and separates one from God. What foolish teaching! What foolish and shallow-minded teaching. I don’t know what goes on in the mind of a person struggling with these thoughts. People feel hopeless. Trapped in their pain. They often feel guilt



and shame of past experiences. They are abuse victims, some are escaping their worthlessness feelings, others trying to erase the drug and alcohol after affects...the list goes on and on. Many are trapped in a mind of non-realty, they are hearing and believing lies from demonic spirits. They are suspicious of others and cannot find peace. They are confused and doubt their self-worth, they have no self-esteem. It’s not the way they want to be!



I met a young man at the altar recently while preaching at a church in Maryland, he proclaimed to me, "I am weak-minded and I need help." During our prayer time and conversation, I asked, "Who told you that you are weak minded.?" "Everyone tells me that…" "You are not weak minded," I said, ""don’t embrace that don’t believe that."



Yet, the sad fact is that some people don’t know how to be strong minded. Many are not able to find truth in the darkness of their world. May I say in kindness, victory is a choice! It is a choice and you are strong enough to make that choice!



When people come to our office we tell them upfront that we are not counselors … we are not advice givers. I really don’t even like the idea of giving advice, most people already know what is right and choose to stay in the false comfort of a lie.



I recall a man drove 400 miles to get me to "bring deliverance to him" of a sin he had no intention of quitting, he wanted my approval and understanding of him having a girlfriend in his marriage...he knew! He didn’t need my advice and I couldn’t help as long as he continued in the relationship. Victory is a choice, if you choose to not submit to God’s way, the consequences are by your choice.



A teenage girl came with suicidal thoughts, she cut herself to "relieve the pain" that she felt in her mind. This is rampant. What was the pain she felt that was so horrible? 195 stripes by the Jews? Ship wreck, had she been stoned? No, her friends "bullied" her at school, her mom be-littled her and she couldn’t gain her dad’s approval...all the other girls had you know how many times I have heard these stories. Many, many, way too many times.



Do you suppose Paul felt rejected. Do you think that Jesus knows the feeling of rejection? He came unto his own and His own received Him not? Rejection is a horrible emotion, it is pain that destroys self worth and confidence. It is something most everyone has experienced. Don’t embrace the feeling, reject rejection!



So many people say to me, "you just don’t know what I’ve been thru…" I have heard a lot of it though. The best approach is, if you have been thru it...thank God you made it thru!



"Thank God you made it thru if you’ve been thru it, thank Him for the grace that helped you do it! Child of God keep walking on, make your trials a stepping stone and thank God you made it thru if you’ve been thru it!



Deliverance is a wonderful thing! God, thru Jesus has provided a way for us to be free from the torment of demon powers. The torment of the mind is a terrible thing. We see hundreds for deliverance and we see many people healed as a result.



As you read this I am in rehab from a total knee replacement and would be very grateful for your prayers. I expect to back in place very soon. Looking for a great New Year and hope you are as well.



Just for Jesus,