Journey to the Cross - Day 33 - WWJW
Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross 2006
Day 33: WWJW
Have you seen people wearing shirts and bracelets that say WWJD? This stands for the popular words, “What Would Jesus Do?” When my children and nephews were small, I held Camp Touchton at my home most summers. My children and nephews were allowed to bring a friend and spend a week playing, swimming, hiking, singing, and learning about Jesus. They bunked all over my house, got demerits and merits, and even had KP duty.
Each Camp Touchton had a spiritual theme. One year, we made our theme WWJD. Each child had a t-shirt and a bracelet with those letters. As we traveled to parks, nursing homes, malls, and swimming pools, we put the WWJD test to each activity. It became a game to make sure everyone was acting like Jesus.
Around Day 6, campers usually grew restless and rowdy and Camp Director Aunt Cheryle grew tired and grumpy. Invariably, on the dreaded Day 6, Aunt Cheryle lost her temper and spoke sharply to a rebellious child. It always surprised the children, who were quick to obey and help Aunt Cheryle back into her usual playful mood. On the year we asked WWDJ, one brave child asked, “Aunt Cheryle, would Jesus get angry with us?”
The answer is yes. Instead of talking about WWJD, this devotion is about WWJW or “What Would Jesus Whip?”
Read Psalms 78:57-39.
Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols. When God heard them, he was very angry; NIV
• Think about the world around you. What would make God angry?
• Allow God to search your heart and activities for anything that would raise his wrath.
• Surrender to God’s anger and allow it to teach you.
• Ask God if there is anything in your life that angers Him.
• Listen carefully to His answer.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
For most, discussing God’s anger or wrath is troubling. We all want to believe in a loving and forgiving God and rightfully so. After all, Jesus came and was sacrificed for our sin. But, just as any loving parent gets angry at aberrant or dangerous behavior, the Bible is clear, both in the New and Old Testament, that God does get angry.
Read Ezra 5:12.
But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. NIV
• What did God do when he was angry with Israel?
• What did King of Babylon do?
Even as a young boy, Jesus loved the temple. He and his family visited Jerusalem once a year at Passover to offer sacrifices to God. Many traveled great distances. If the journey was long, it was inconvenient to bring the animals from home so families purchased them in Jerusalem. Booths rose up in the temple courts to provide these sacrificial animals at a substantial profit.
The priests examined these sacrificial offerings and certified them fit or unfit for sacrifice. It wasn’t uncommon for a priest to be in collusion with the crooked entrepreneurs in the temple courts. If someone dared to bring an animal from home rather than purchase one at the temple, some priests declared their offerings unfit, thus creating a sale for the temple merchants and a commission for the priest. This practice was a profitable one for the merchants and priests.
When Jesus arrived at the temple and saw what was going on, we see a different side of Jesus as he made a whip and used it. Read John 2:13-16.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" NIV
• What did Jesus find in the temple courts?
• How do you think He felt?
• What did He do?
We see many examples in the Bible and our world of the wrath of God. When Jesus breathed His last, God literally shook the world. Biblical words written after the death and resurrection of Christ warn about God’s wrath. Read Ephesians 5:6-7.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. NIV
• What are we warned about?
• What happens when we are disobedient?
While God’s wrath is a reality, His wrath is not what He wants for us. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
1 Thess 5:9
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV
• What does God prefer to wrath?
Many Christians live in fear of God’s wrath and misinterpret much of what happens to them and others. God isn’t a punishing God just waiting to rain down His gloom and doom but He does get angry when appropriate. He always prefers grace. For us as Christians, it’s important to know what Jesus would whip. Because we have the Bible, we don’t have to guess about right and wrong. Even when we make mistakes, God is waiting and longing to forgive those who ask. If we suffer the wrath of God, it is because we refused the grace of God.
Have you ever seen a street corner evangelist? I’m talking about the kind that have wild eyes and long stringy hair, wear tattered white robes, and carry signs with pictures of flames and words condemning you hell. Walking the strip of Las Vegas, I suddenly had a glimpse of how someone becomes one of those. I saw lots of things that Jesus would whip.
First, for the record, God told me to go to Vegas. No, He didn’t send me there to gamble. I love big cities but after spending the previous couple of weeks in the peaceful serene mountains and valleys of the west, the lights and noise were a shock to my senses.
I drove into the concrete KOA campground behind Circus Circus. I pulled Happy into what looked like an ordinary parking place, hooked up the electricity, and walked to the Circus Circus casinos on my way to the strip. I noticed a woman with glazed eyes and smoky face, cigarette burning in a cup, sticking coin after coin in a slot machine. I tried to say hello and she glared.
I took a taxi to the center of the strip and started walking around. I got out of the car to see what looked like a 14-year-old boy propositioning a prostitute. Thankfully, she turned him down. Everywhere I looked, I saw women, younger than my daughter, dressed in fishnet hose, black tight dresses, shiny tight skirts, or spiked heels. I saw men having their pictures made with 2 or 3 women at a time. I passed people with open alcohol containers on the streets, laughing, and sloshing alcohol on everyone around them.
The neon lights blinked bright as water shows danced and babies squealed with delight. People from Japan snapped pictures; hassled moms chased children, and wives glared as men ogled the perfect bodies walking by. A gay man pranced down the streets, swaying his hips from side to side. A giant sign, the size of a building, advertised a show by revealing a perfectly formed exposed backside of a young woman. When her mother walks down this street, does she recognize that as the bottom she diapered? I wondered.
I walked and walked and walked. A sore foot had plagued me for weeks and this night was no different. The dry heat drained the energy from my body. God, why am I here? I could be in the Grand Canyon. Everyone here is drunk. No one wants to talk to me.
I walked over to buy a ticket to a family show my son had recommended. When they asked for $125, I almost fainted. This had better be good or he is dead, I thought as I handed this woman my credit card. I thought the show was in 3 hours but I was in Pacific Time so I still had 4 hours to walk the strip.
I stopped inside what looked like a civilized restaurant for a $13.99 Prime Rib Special. Sitting at the table in front of me, were 3 generations of men, out for a wild weekend in Vegas. Male bonding at its best. The middle generation decided the loaf of bread could talk if he cut a mouth in it. He sliced a wide mouth with his knife and spent the rest of the meal talking through the bread.
I tried not to watch this spectacle but my table faced his and there was no place else to look. He thought it was hilarious that I’d noticed his antics and started mocking me with the talking bread. I laughed nervously, trying to be a good sport but it made it worse. I wanted to ask if he’d noticed that his son was mortified but decided that wasn’t the best strategy. I finally did what all women know to do when men are being rude or gross. I stuck my nose in the air and blatantly ignored him. It worked like a charm.
I found my way back to the strip and looked for shopping areas. Bob had suggested visiting The Venetian. When I finally arrived, I collapsed in the mall attached to The Venetian and enjoyed their musicians and what I thought was a deep blue night sky. The man next to me said, “This sky looks so real. I can’t believe it.” I looked up and realized the sky was an amazing replica of the one God created. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
When I was rested, I left the mall without entering one store. I got back on the strip and headed to the location of my show. I hadn’t found anyone to talk with. When I get there, I’ll just sit and wait. Shocked that I’d walked so far, I wasn’t sure I could keep going in the heat. I spotted an escalator and rode it up, in search of air conditioning.
I reached a balcony where drunk people were hanging over the rail, watching a light show below. He’s going to fall, I fretted. She just spilled her drink on him. Does he care? Did he even notice?
I looked to my left to see two scantily clad women hanging on to a businessman, twice their age. Does he have a wife back home? I worried. Did my body ever look like that? Isn’t that black leather hot?
I was hot, exhausted, and my foot hurt. Suddenly, it was all too much. I had visions of myself screaming, “Stop this. Don’t you know you’re ruining your life? Don’t you know there’s a better way? You don’t have to live like this. Jesus is the answer.”
Determinedly, I headed for my show. When I finally got there, I still had an hour to kill. I collapsed at a telephone bank in a smoking room that had chairs and called Bob. Did I mention I’d left my cell phone back at Happy? “Bob,” I said. “I think it’s time for me to come home. If I don’t come home soon, I’m going to be one of those people carrying signs that condemn people to hell.” When I get crazy, Bob just ignores me, knowing a power greater than he and I both will eventually restore me to sanity.
A beautiful teenager with sweet large brown eyes and curly brown hair collapsed in the chair next to me. She weighed what I’d guess was about 350 pounds. She tried to make a phone call but didn’t get her party. Like I had done, she buried her face in her hands.
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said. “I’m hot and tired.”
“Are you here alone?”
“No, my dad brought me.”
“You look like a student,” I said. “How old are you?”
“I’m 17. I’m a senior in high school. I’m from Missouri. Dad brought me here for my birthday.”
About that time, her Dad walked up. “Are you coming?” he demanded.
“Dad,” she sighed. “I can’t. I have to sit here.” He stomped off. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “We’ve been walking in this heat for hours. As you can see, I’m not exactly built for it and I can’t keep up.” She rubbed her hand over the rolls on her body. “He’s mad at me.”
“I understand,” I said gently. “In my 20’s, I was obese. I remember feeling like you’re feeling. There’s hope, you know. There is an answer to your problem. God showed me how to be released from that jail and he can do the same for you.”
Her name was Nina and I shared with her about God and my recovery from food addiction. She listened carefully, with hope in her eyes. I suddenly knew why I was in Las Vegas. God had sent me there to talk to a lonely troubled girl from Missouri.
When we finished talking, I felt God whisper, You can go back to Happy now.
But I’ve paid $125 for that show, I argued.
That’s up to you, God said. Go if you want. I enjoyed the show and caught a taxi back to Happy. I stayed in Vegas another night, talking to people at the campground, but never felt compelled to go on the strip again. The streets of Las Vegas were safe from any street-corner evangelist signs designed by me but the people walking those streets were not safe from the wrath of God.
God loved everyone I saw on those streets but their actions had consequences that I understood only to well after losing a son to AIDS. I ached for all of the troubled people I had passed, knowing they probably had families that were worried about them. I prayed that they would allow the grace of God to replace the wrath of God.
Today, carefully examine your life. What would Jesus whip? There are no vacations or hall passes from the will of God. Accept His loving offer of grace. For today, live in grace and obey the voice of God.