Battle of the Mind

**If you find yourself here, PLEASE take time to consider what you can learn from this transcribed message I gave at my brother, Jonathan Franklin Pugh’s Graveside Service, after he tragically took his own life. If you want to watch a rough video of this you can see it below. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am having to “practice what I preached” since my personal tragedy following 04-16-07 (

‘The Battle of the Mind’


Jonathan Franklin Pugh was an intelligent young man.  He had a memory that confounded us.  His ability to remember facts and figures allowed him to master sports statistics.  He could tell you whatever you wanted to know about the Carolina Tarheels, or most other teams for that matter.  Jonathan loved history.  He even read multiple thousands of pages of biographies and memoirs, and he had command of what he read.  He could give you a factual answer to most any historical or political question.


Jonathan understood the most important question early on.  He knew he was a sinner and that only Jesus Christ could save him, and at a tender young age he accepted Jesus as his Savior!  He knew that Jesus died for his sin and rose from the grave, and he told his classmates at school.  I remember talking to Jonathan one day about (several) how several of his friends had also trusted Christ as Savior, while he was in Kindergarten and First Grade!  He knew that life in Jesus Christ is the only life worth living.  He knew that, ‘for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’

Heaven is not the place where people automatically go upon death (much to the scenes that we see on the media and other places).  Heaven is where God is in all of His glory, and this Holy God cannot live with sin.  Sin is anything that’s contrary to God’s nature.  Each one of us is born with a sinful nature and lives, at least in moments, contrary to God’s nature and His will’we choose to sin.  God wants each of us to be with Him, but God cannot live with sin.  This is a tough reality.  We are sinners, so we’re lost, and we’re apart from God.

Being apart from God is a hopeless place, because God is the Creator; but I can tell you friends, that there is hope!  God is Holy, but God is also Love.  So, what does God do?  God gives.  He (giv-He) gives us His Son; He gives us Himself.  The Lord Jesus Christ enters His Creation and gives us His life!  He was buried, but He conquered the power of death, when He rose from the grave.  Jesus is now in heaven, and through His sacrifice, anyone who believes in Him is given eternal life and will never perish.

Through faith in the Person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, anyone can be saved from eternal death.  At the moment one believes in Jesus, he or she is united with God, in Jesus Christ.  They will never lose this position, because a transaction was made and eternal life was given.

So, what happens when a person takes his or her life (in-) into their own hands?  Are they destined then to be apart from God in hell?  (That’s a popular concept; a notion that people have, but) No, they’re not, not if they have eternal life through Jesus Christ!  They will go to be with God if there was a time when they personally trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Jonathan knew he was saved.  He trusted Jesus Christ (as his Sa-) as his Savior at an early age, and he was not ashamed to speak of his faith in Jesus Christ, whether to his classmates in school, his pastor at church, or his professors in college.  He even wrote about this recently in a paper entitled, ‘My Siblings/Myself’ in his favorite college class’an honors English class in Expository Writing.  He spoke of the similarities and differences that we five siblings shared, and in that paper, which I have with me, I’ll read what he said:


‘Whatever differences we five had, we have always been able to use our shared faith in Jesus Christ to bring us together.  Our parents did an excellent job in guiding us as we all came to the point wherein we trusted in Jesus for our salvation.  Furthermore, we [wil- we] were all encouraged to explore the Bible in order to increase our understanding of our purposes in life.’


Whatever differences that we five had, we were able to use that, just as Jonathan said, to be together and united because of Jesus Christ.


Jonathan knew the Lord and he knew his purpose in life, and he knew it could only be fully understood in studying God’s Word’the Bible.  He (r- he) read his Bible every day.  He faithfully attended church and gave to the ministry there.  He was attentive to the messages from God’s Word and he interacted some in an adult Sunday School class there.  I attended his church yesterday, and I didn’t know it, but I sat in the same place that Jonathan usually sits.  I was comforted by (th-) the application of the truth of the Word of God, and I was emotionally moved by one hymn in particular; and I only wished that Jonathan would have waited’that he would have waited a little longer.  The hymn is ‘His Way With Thee’:


‘Would you live for Jesus and be always pure and good?

Would you walk with Him, within the narrow road?

Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?

Let Him have His way with thee.


His power can make you what you ought to be;

His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;

His love can fill your soul, and you will see

T’was best for Him to have His way with thee.


Would you have Him make you free and follow at His call?

Would you know the peace that comes by giving all?

Would you have Him save you, so that you need never fall?

Let Him have His way with thee.

Would you in His kingdom find a place of constant rest?

Would you prove Him true in providential test?

Would you in His service labor always at your best?

Let Him have His way with thee.


His power can make you what you ought to be;

His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;

His love can fill your soul, and you will see

T’was best for Him to have His way with thee.’


Jonathan had made the most important decision in his life, but he, with all of his intelligence and knowledge, could not find the way to bear the burdens that he felt.  We all struggle with this task.  We all have difficulty giving our burdens to God.


At Jonathan’s church, Temple Baptist, they were in the process of a Missions Conference with the theme: ‘By (gra- By) faith, through grace.’  Now, Jonathan knew that his salvation was by grace through faith, according to Ephesians 2:8: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ ‘Not of works, lest any man should boast.’  But, he failed to see that the Christian life must be lived by faith’by trust in, by adherence to, by applying the living Word’surrendering to God all the burdens and pains in life.  He was not able to see God’s grace, though he recognized that this was the case.  He wrote about it in letters that he left for us.  In his own words, in a letter to ‘My Family’ he said,


‘The fact that ultimately I was unwilling or unable to receive strength from God indicates such a problem.  I am still unsure what the problem was.  I look forward to asking Him [that is the Lord] about it.’


He knows now.


Jonathan understood that the battle was in his mind, but he didn’t see the way to win the battle.  Satan won that battle with Jonathan; but the war was won by Jesus Christ, and Jonathan is with Him now.


Jonathan wrote these three special letters before his death’the one to ‘My Family,’ the one to ‘My School,’ and one as to ‘Why?’  There’s a few thoughts that I gleaned from these letters: First, Jonathan felt badly about how this shock would effect his family, friends, and those who knew him’you read his letter, you see that (he-) he constantly said, ‘I regret,’ ‘I’m so sorry,’ (he) ‘my poor family”many places (h-) he felt very badly about what this would do.  Jonathan wanted us to know that he was with the Lord in heaven.  Third, Jonathan wanted us to remember the happier times that we had together; and fourth, Jonathan knew God had called him to be a teacher.


We sorrow today, but not as others who have no hope.  In God’s Word, in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Scripture says,


‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them [thach-] that are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’


He concluded in his letter to ‘My Family’ at the end of that letter’he was very concerned at what people may wonder, and he said:


‘Before I finish, I feel that it is ABSOLUTELY [capitalized] necessary to confirm to all of you that I am, indeed, a born-again Christian.  For those of you who do not know, I was saved over 15 years ago.  While I was watching cartoons [apparently, a biblical cartoon program], the Holy Spirit flipped a switch in me.  [and] I knew that I HAD [emphasized] to pray to ask God to forgive me of my sins.  I knew that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for my sins.  I knew that Jesus’ resurrection meant that He had conquered death for me.  I knelt down on our couch, confessed that Jesus was Lord, thanked God for sending Jesus to die on the cross to pay for my sins, said that I was sorry for my sins and wanted to be forgiven, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior.  I know that He did.  Whoever reads this note needs to know that He saved me.  We will all be together again very soon.’  ‘I [love you] love you all [he concluded that].’


We don’t know when we will be together, but it may be today!  We do not know.


Jonathan wanted us to remember the good times.  I remember the times that our family had together, as we grew up, and even though I’m older than Jonathan, (and-) I remember some times that we were all together.  I remember singing together with mom playing the piano; and I remember a more recent time when we as brothers sang in a car, driving somewhere’I don’t remember’Timothy and Jonathan and I.  I remember going to Jonathan for statistics on sporting events, or asking his viewpoint of some historical event, or the current political scene (which is seemingly a mess, as our world is).  He wanted us to remember, and (I-) I would like to allow for a moment for any of you to share something that you remember about Jonathan, (if-) if you would like to.  Would anyone like to do that?  [‘silence, as no public comments were made’].


Well, Jonathan would now want us all to know and remember that the God who will save us, will also sustain us.  He would want us to remember that the battle is in our mind, and that we must give this to the Lord, and have ‘the mind of Christ.’  In Philippians chapter 2, a great passage of Scripture, it talks about this ‘mind of Christ’:


‘If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the

Spirit, if any affections and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own thing, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mindbe in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’


^And He being in the form of God, did not think it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, but He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death’the death of the cross.  And the Scripture says that God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and if not now, they will in the future.^  Jonathan would want us to remember to have faith, so we can experience God’s grace.


Jonathan said, in his letter, ‘I was born to be a teacher,”in a letter to ‘My School’ and though he never made it through school to be a professor, his tragic death can surely teach us.  What would God want us to learn?  What is He saying to you now in this tender moment?


‘        God wants us to know Him through Christ.  He want us to experience His grace.  The hymn, ‘Grace Greater Than All Our Sin’ is a hymn that reminds me of this:


‘Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured’

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!


Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,

Threaten the soul with infinite loss;

Grace that is greater’yes, grace untold’

Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide’

What can avail to wash it away?

Look!  There is flowing a crimson tide’

Whiter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,

Will you this moment His grace receive?


Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!’


‘        God also wants us to remember and respond by surrendering everything to Him’to ‘Let Him have His way with You.’

‘        God wants us to remember, and to remember these lessons that Jonathan has freshly taught us.

‘        God wants us to experience His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

‘        God wants us to come to Him with all our burdens and leave it there.  [In]Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Himself said:


‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light.’


‘        God wants us to have Victory today’to have Victory in Jesus.


(And) Let’s conclude this difficult and somber time by singing the hymn, ‘Victory in Jesus.’  This was one of Jonathan’s favorite songs.  He sang this song when he was in Kindergarten’in school.  And, though he couldn’t find victory in his daily life, he is singing Victory in Jesus now!  (As soon as all of you get a copy of this, we will sing through this song and be concluded today).  Victory in Jesus, it says here, ‘He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,’ because He conquered the power of death through His resurrection.


‘I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,

How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me:

I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,

Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.


O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever,

He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.


I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing,

How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;

And then I cried, ‘Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,’

And somehow Jesus came and bro’t to me the victory.


O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever,

He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.


I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory,

And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea;

About the angels singing, and the old redemption story,

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there the song of victory.


O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever,

He sought me and bo’t me with His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.’


May God speak to each of our hearts through His Word and through Jonathan’Jonathan’s life as a teacher!