Monthly Archives: June 2013

Standing Firm (Part 1)

War is raging all around us and most Christians would rather look the other way. They don’t want to consider it, much less acknowledge its reality. For many believers, their response is to dig a foxhole and pull the dirt in on top of their heads, while praying really hard for the return of Christ, That’s not a foxhole, that’s a grave. Fear, uncertainty, and a desire for peace at all costs has caused many to compromise their long-held biblical beliefs, resulting in the mentality that one must go along to get along. The term “toleration” has for many become a synonym for the surrender of their core values, and this surrender will eventually result in slavery.

This war is not a physical war with tanks, planes, and Star War-like weapon systems. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. It is not a rogue nation or despotic dictator. No, this war is a spiritual war being fought on various fronts. Open your eyes and you can see the battles taking place all around you in the various theaters of operation—the cultural, societal, political, religious, entertainment, media, technological, medical, educational, scientific, philosophical, and judicial theaters. This battlefield is multifaceted and the face of the battle being waged changes moment by moment. There is an all-out assault being waged against the Judeo-Christian world view as taught in both the Old and New Testaments. Again let’s be clear—our battle is not against people, our battle is against a spiritual enemy known as Satan. His desire is to steal, kill, and destroy the children of God. And unless we stand firm against him, he will succeed.

We can no longer ignore this war because we live on its battlefield no matter where your subdivision, rural route number, or cul-de-sac is located. Walls, dogs, security systems, and guards cannot keep it out. It will eventually find you no matter where you hide. The time has come to wake up, get up, and stand firm. The time has come for the body of Christ—the Church—to get a bucket of guts and straighten her backbone and stand up. We were not called to go along like a jellyfish riding the ocean’s currents; we are called to stand up for what is right and to stand firm against what is wrong—both of which have already been decided, determined, and declared by a holy God, not by legislators, judges, or nameless, faceless crowds of tweeters. Right and wrong can never be determined by democratic mobs, but only by an omnipotent, omniscient, and righteous Creator.

If the present day church hopes to be victorious, she must begin waging a spiritual warfare that it grounded in biblical truth rather than passive ignorance and utter stupidity. Acting like nothing is wrong, or that everything will eventually get better is the height of ignorance. No, we must join the battle in the power of the Holy Spirit and war against this ancient enemy in Jesus name. We can learn warfare, engage the enemy, and walk in the victory of Christ, or we can remain passionless, powerless, and passive, while we watch everything we love and hold dear go straight to hell in a hand-basket.

This is our choice—yours and mine! As for me, I choose to stand firm—to hold the ground God has given me and await his command to take ground. I choose to resist the devil in Jesus name, and then he will flee from me.

So…what about you?

Thank You!

Two of the most important words in all the world are “thank you.” They mean so much when spoken from the heart, but sadly they often go unsaid until it’s too late. That is an oversight I never want to happen in my life, ministry, or journey through this world. Without you, my ministry and life is lacking. So today, I want to thank you for taking your time to read the words that I write. Your willingness to take time from your busy day to read the words I write humbles me and fires a desire to write with more passion and power.

There are many voices out there clamoring to be heard. But you have chosen to consider mine…thank you! My desire in my writing is to always glorify God and lead my readers into a deeper relationship with him and a greater experience of him. I have no desire to be preachy or condescending. I have witnessed that for a much of my life and that experience leads only to death. It has no ability to bring life.

Jesus was a marvelous teacher who told amazing stories. He has called me to do the same. In my writing, my goal is that you will see Jesus and not me. I am only a tool in his hand, the ink on his pen. Thank you for encouraging me and thank you for pursuing the heart of Christ. If we seek him with all our heart, his promise is we will find him!

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 21)

The final step in total forgiveness is the hardest one. It requires a supernatural amount of God’s grace and a little time. Total forgiveness ultimately requires us to pray for the one who has offended, hurt, or wounded us. “No way!” you may be thinking, “That just too hard! I have been praying since this happened that God would get them—that he would give them what they deserve—that he would judge them for all the pain I have endured. Hey, the shepherd David prayed that way, so why can’t I?”

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:43-45a: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”

What?

Jesus said to pray for them. No one else will know—just you and God. Try it and feel the freedom as it pours into your soul. Ask God to forgive them, bring them to repentance, and eventually to salvation. Ask God to bless them and yes—even prosper them. This will be very, very tough at first. You may have to go slow, but go no matter what.

There is a progression you can follow that might help you do this. First, pray out of duty. God says do it, so obey. Next, pray out of debt because you understand what Christ did for you. As you do these two things, you will eventually begin to pray out of desire—because you want to. As you obey, God will change your heart and give you his love for the offender. This will soon lead you to pray with delight as love and joy take control. And eventually, your prayers for that person will achieve durability—it will become second nature.

When this happens total forgiveness has occurred. The offense, the wound, or the hurt has been fully healed.

This is a process—something you must choose to do every day. Get ready, the devil will do his best to stir up those old emotions, to convince you to replay the event in your mind, to have a pity party, feel sorry for yourself, and allow the bitterness to creep back in. You must stay vigilant. Remember—forgiveness always comes with a cost. It will cost you a great deal, but the freedom it purchases is priceless!

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 20)

The process of forgiveness gets harder, humanly speaking, the deeper it goes. But, the good news is God will give us the ability and the power to do what he requires if we will simply obey. The last few steps don’t happen overnight, but they can happen if we will place our pain in his hands and trust his heart to fully heal us.

The next step is to start seeing the person who has offended or hurt us through God’s eyes. This means whenever we see that person or hear their name, we refuse to allow what is past to rule the present. This means we must remind ourselves over and over we have forgiven this person.

Very often when someone has hurt you, it is normal to have certain physical reactions like anger, fear, sweating, dread, nervousness, or a churning stomach when we see or think about that person. Our soul is afraid to go where our spirit wants to lead. So it reacts by creating physical issues we are forced to deal with.  We must bring these reactions under the truth of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. That person is no longer our enemy. We must remind ourselves that the offender is also made in the image and the likeness of God. That person is someone God created and Jesus died for. We must remind ourselves of that as often as it takes.

Over time, the feelings we experience will subside and come under the authority of the truth. We have forgiven that person, therefore we don’t have to be filled with fear, or dread, or whatever the emotion.

On note here—forgiving does not mean you have to be that person’s bosom buddy or friend ever again. It simply means that person is no longer your enemy. You don’t have to resume a relationship but you must release them to God. This happens as you begin to see them through God’s eyes.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 19)

 

Our sin drove this nail.

 

The first step has been taken. Now the final steps are achieved through our obedience and God’s empowering grace. This process will seem insurmountable at first glance, but as you surrender God will bring each step in the process to fruition.

Total forgiveness requires us to make a conscious decision every day not to publicize the offense. That means we will no longer share it with every person who comes along. No more telling our story to the poor guy behind us in the Wal-Mart checkout line. No more posting tidbits of it on Facebook or as a prayer request at church. (The exception to this is sharing it with a trusted counselor who is an instrument of God’s healing.) We choose to no longer verbally crucify the offender for what they’ve done no matter how many chances we get.

Talking to everyone who comes along simply will not help. “But it helps me get it out,” you may be thinking. No, it only makes you think you are getting some measure of revenge or justice by telling everyone about it. It gets a little pity here and there, but we don’t need pity, we need healing. All it really does is cause our mind and soul to re-live the event over and over—like scratching a scab off a wound that has started to heal. That wound will never heal if the process is interrupted over and over with the scratching nails of gossip and condemnation. This is a choice we make, but God empowers. It is a daily partnership.

Total forgiveness is also a commitment never to use what was done to us against that person in the future. We choose not to punish that person any longer—to release the guilt for the offense. This means they no longer owe us anything. The offender has been forgiven—the penalty, the guilt, the debt, and the condemnation are released—gone! When God forgives us—the offense is no longer sin. The guilt, penalty, and condemnation of our sin is gone (this is the meaning of “no condemnation” in Romans 8:1). A forgiven person is no longer guilty. Therefore we must stop dredging the old offense up over and over.

This step is tough, but we have Jesus as our example. This is the way he forgave us on the cross. Our sin flogged his body, its malignancy nailed his hands and feet to the cross, and the awful weight of it crushed his life out drop by drop. In that moment, his words were both simple and profound—“Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

What we have received from Christ we are called to give to others.