Easy Way Out is a Bad Choice

I recently met Pastor Viliame Kolikata, a Fijian pastor from Sydney who died and returned to life in October 2007 at the huge prayer event in Parliament House, Canberra. He had some startling things to say about death, including suicide. And so suicide is my topic in this post.

Raised from the Dead

Pastor Kolikata was not feeling like going to the meeting on that October morning in 2007. The event was a day of prayer to break the drought in Australia, convened at the Great Hall of Parliament House, in response to a call from the then Prime Minister, John Howard. Pastor Bill (as he is known) decided he would go, despite the very early morning start from Sydney to get to Canberra for the morning start. He drove down to the event and expected to enjoy a day of effective prayer.

Sitting close to the back of the meeting Pastor Bill collapsed suddenly and died on the spot. Experienced medical people attending the event quickly attended to him and the paramedics were called, but he was pronounced dead. The event organisers called the gathering to pray for Pastor Bill and concerted prayer went up on his behalf.

After approximately 20 minutes vital signs returned and Pastor Bill returned to life.

After Death Experiences

What makes Pastor Bill’s experience more significant than some others who have returned to life is that while he was dead on earth Bill experienced after death encounters with heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ. He was shown things and told that he would return to life.

Pastor Kolikata now travels Australia and overseas sharing what he has seen and heard. I will possibly share some of the provocative insights he received with you in future posts. He was shown a huge church built on sand. The Lord told him that this is how the modern church on earth is in reality, although the leaders don’t realise it. So that and other insights make for some serious reflection.

Seeing Death in a New Way

I have been told by someone who was bankrupted by a business failure that once you have experienced bankruptcy and recovered you lose the fear of financial ruin. By experiencing something that most people hope never to face we are able to see that experience through different eyes.

That is what Viliame Kolikata has found by having died and come back to life. He has a completely different attitude toward death and also toward life. Many things that captivated his attention he now sees as of much less worth. He no longer thinks in terms of avoiding death, but of being productive in the things that will count after death.

Suicide is Not a Solution

One key reflection which Pastor Bill makes is that death is not a “way out” of problems, nor a “short cut” to a solution. People under pressure can think of death as an “escape”. But Pastor Bill realises as he never understood it before, that the realities awaiting people after they die can be far more traumatic than anything they are experiencing in life.

The Bible warns us that we are all appointed to die and then we will face the judgement of God.

“And as it is appointed to men to die once, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27

Pastor Bill warns that once a person faces the final judgement of God and is cast into hell they will realise that it is much better to be alive and to live for God, than to bail out and face eternal judgement.

Pastor Bill proclaims that suicide is not a solution to a problem, but a step into the biggest problems people could ever imagine. The “easy” solution is a bad choice.

You are much better off staying alive and finding faith in Jesus, living for God and then passing into eternity as God’s child, rather than as a doomed soul.

I Command You to Live!

Don’t give up on life. Live the years that God has allotted to you. If things are tough, find God’s help and grace. No matter how bad you think things are they are far better than eternity in hell. Your “easy way out” is a disastrous step to take if it does not bring you into the arms of your loving Saviour.

Are Curses Genetic?

Now that researchers have been able to observe chemical changes within a person, directly linked to that person’s past experiences, there is a better understanding of how experiences can be translated into genetic changes. Those genetic changes may then be passed down to descendents.

Are these findings bringing us closer to understanding how curses are passed down from one generation to the next? Are curses genetic, and is there any scientific basis for understanding how they work?

I teach in my family seminars and explain in my flagship text, Family Horizons – Creating Families of Destiny (available from Family Horizons – www.FamilyHorizons.net) that the Bible teaches the reality of curses and of family curses. The Biblical case is for curses becoming part of the genetic inheritance of the family.

Here is a quick summary of some Biblical points to show that curses are genetic. At the giving of the Ten Commandments God specifically describes Himself as ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me’ (Exodus 20:5). This process is clearly one of passing to the children some form of curse or negative outcome, which continues for four generations. This is effectively a genetic curse.

When Eli the priest failed to give honour to God, but supported his sons’ evil activities instead, God pronounced a curse on Eli’s family that would be there ‘for ever’ (see 1Samuel 2:31-33). That curse was confirmed a few years later when the young lad, Samuel, first heard God’s voice. God told Samuel that Eli and his sons were going to die for their sins and that a curse would be on Eli’s family for ever (1Samuel 3:13).

Eli’s curse is that none of the males will grow into old age. They will all die in the prime of their life. This curse was not going to work for three or four generations, but would persist for ever.

Some evangelical Christians find it very hard to accept that curses could exist today. My answer is to ask, Is the curse of sin and death still operating in the world? The answer is, Yes. Where does it come from? The answer is, Adam. What is your connection to Adam? The answer is, I am his descendent. So, there you have it. Every evangelical clearly believes in family curses. We all believe that the curse of sin and death comes upon all people today, even after the resurrection of Jesus, as a curse we receive from our ancestor. This is a family curse!

Allow me to leave the doctrinal case there. The question I have posed is, Are Curses Genetic? Since the Bible clearly shows that they are, we should expect there to be some scientific clue to a physiological reality. That clue is now uncovered.

Since our DNA prescribes the range of options available to us in our species, and even limits us to the collection of features that have been successfully passed to us from our immediate ancestors, it could be argued that there is no real room for a ‘curse’ to impact the DNA. Dominant genes will assert themselves over passive genes. It is completely unlikely that some new gene will suddenly appear in the DNA as response to some ‘curse’ being placed on our life.

But genetics has moved beyond DNA as the sole prescriptor of our genetic options. Related genetic process work on the DNA to cause various genes to be activated (expressed), or not. A simple protein molecule might be all that is required to switch on or off some genetic capacity. The consequence can be such things as disease, mental instability, personality changes and so on.

Recent findings indicate that suicide is being triggered in some men who have been abuse victims in childhood. Brain research on 18 such men indicates that, while the essential DNA is OK, the methylation process accompanying gene activity is different in these men, compared with non-abused men.

This finding points to the importance of the switching process. A curse can theoretically be switched on or off in your life, by a basic act of cell chemistry. Your genetic DNA won’t change but the function of your genes will.

And that may very well be how God goes about the process of activating a curse in a person’s life, which is passed down through the family.

So, are curses genetic? I can’t be adamant in my answer, but I can see how it is possible in the light of current genetic understanding. One thing is for sure, family curses are Biblical and real.

My book, Family Horizons, does explain how to break curses. So please don’t have sleepless nights trying to protect your DNA from rebel proteins.

Genetics – Nurture or Nature?

A long-term debate has raged on the question of whether we are ‘born’ a certain way, such as happy, lucky, blessed or successful, or ‘made’ that way by our circumstances. Are we who we are because of the ‘nature’ of our being, such as something built into our DNA, or because of the things we are taught and the ‘nurture’ we receive in our formative years? This is the debate over whether it is Nurture or Nature that forms us.

Expert opinions and diverse theories have spoken to both positions. Life experience also argues both ways. We see people who seem to have innate advantage over others in the same situation. We also see how the right input makes a profound impact on people.

Elizabeth Kotlowski, in her book on Australia’s early history, points out that the convict parents of the colony’s children seemed irreparable in their nature, yet their children were recognized by an early judge as being of the highest integrity. This transformation was not embedded in the genetic ‘nature’ of the children, but came from the ‘nurture’ they received from the colony’s early church schools.

Similar transformation was noted by Charles Darwin on his second visit to Tierra del Fuego. He originally deemed the natives of that area to be so reprobate as to be incapable of nobility. On his second visit there, some years later, he discovered that the simple process of taking the Bible to these people had positively transformed them. Nurture, external impact from a quality source, has undoubted profound effect.

Recent genetics research now indicates a synthesis of the ‘nurture or nature’ ingredients. The science works like this. While we each have a unique DNA specifying our genetic potential and influencing all the many features of our being, we also have a unique set of control switches that activate or de-activate those underlying genetic choices. So there’s a double stream of genetic dice rolling that impacts who and what we are.

While the underlying DNA may prove to be strictly a matter of ‘nature’ – passed to us by our parents and resilient to the conditions under which we are raised – the genetic switches prove to be influenced by the ‘nurture’ we receive.

Recent scientific findings were reported in the Public Library of Science Journal, ‘PLoS ONE’. Moshe Szyf of McGill University in Montreal studied the brains of men who came from abuse or neglect backgrounds and who later committed suicide. These brains were compared with the brains of men who died of natural causes and who did not have an abuse background.

The genetic material of the suicide victims displayed changes in all 18 cases. While the genes were unchanged the related genetic material functioned differently. A cellular process called methylation, involving the RNA within the cell, is engaged in turning the genes ‘on’ or ‘off’. The observed changes in the cell indicate that the genetic function was being switched differently as a consequence of past abuse.

So, nature and nurture work together, not independent of each other.

Now that some discernible physiological change at a genetic level can be associated with nurture it will be interesting to see where science takes us in our further confirmation of what God’s Word says.

Britney Spears the Red-Rubber-Ball!

The buzz is “Britney”. Britney this, Britney that. Singer, dancer, actress, author and songwriter. Pop diva with a suicide note. Fallen star. Rehab. Troubled singer. Out of control. It’s a feeding frenzy for the gossip columns and total dismay for her fans. She has sold over 83 million records and been idolised around the world – yet she is a divorcee who allegedly talks of killing herself and her sons. She apparently thinks things could be better if she were dead!

So what’s really going on? Who is Britney? I believe Britney Spears is two things at the moment. She is a red-rubber-ball. And she is a sign to her fans. Let me discuss them both quickly for you.

Britney set off on a course that was to deliver her just about everything a young girl could want. Fame, expression for her talent, success, adoration, love, children, money. Britney has enjoyed it all. But in the process she tried to anchor her life in these very things. And they are not anchors at all. Many of them are illusions. Her deep heart cry is for meaning that goes deeper than money can buy. She wants to be loved – not by adoring fans but by people who value the shriveled -p person on the inside of her, not the arrogant and defiant persona of success she has had to maintain for many years.

Without an anchor, life has picked Britney up and bounced her around, like a red-rubber-ball. She has bounced one way and the next. She has bounced off people and bounced off the walls. She is ‘out of control’ because she can’t stop the bouncing. She once thought she could be master of her own destiny, but now she is mocked and taunted by her own failure. Without an anchor the only way out is death. I, for one, pray that she does not end it all in such failure and folly. I want her to find the reality that money can’t buy her. I want her to find the kind of loving commitment that only God can give her.

At the same time as being a red rubber ball, Britney Spears is a sign to millions of young people looking on. Her life is a very clear signal to those who will stop to observe. All that Britney has achieved, that millions of young girls would love to match, is illusory. Yet the spell of the smoke, music and magic has intoxicated a generation who wish to move as Britney moves and feel what she feels. So God is sending all those precious lives a signal. It’s as clear as the moon in the sky, unless the smoke has kept it from your view. There is no reward in the Britney road! There is no prize for becoming a cigarette butt. The pain of Britney’s super-star existence far outweighs the rewards of the journey.

3,000 years ago, the wisest man that ever lived, who outclasses Confucius and Nostradumus, said that there is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends up on the road to death (Proverbs 14:12). Britney, with suicide note on hand, is on that road. All she did was follow what seemed right at the time. Others supported her in the exploitation of her success. She thought these things would make her happy. She thought he was in love with her. She thought a baby would change everything. She thought all those things were ‘right’. Now she treads an unsteady path, with her heart filled with thoughts of death.

Keep an eye on the red rubber ball. Britney Spears – the red rubber ball! Pray for the poor kid. She desperately needs the grace that God is ready to give to her. But also watch and learn. She is a sign to a whole generation. Watch the signs – because they help you understand things that loud music, smoke, sex and drugs make hard to see.