Kamis, 31 Desember 2009

'AVATAR' and PAGANISM - Movie Review

'AVATAR' and PAGANISM - Movie Review
-by Andrew Strom.

'Avatar' is an enormous worldwide blockbuster movie - the first to
use truly lifelike 3D - a huge leap forward that is sure to revolutionize
the entire industry. I managed to see the movie in 3D this week,
and like everyone I was utterly wowed by the lifelike 3D images
and special effects. But there were some things about the film
that truly disturbed me.

Maybe we should expect spiritual outrageousness from Hollywood
by now. After all, they hardly seem to be able to make a spiritual
statement in their movies without alienating every Christian in
the audience. (They have been warned about this before. As
Michael Medved has stated, Hollywood loses billions of dollars
simply by offending Christians and church-goers - who number in
the hundreds of millions in America). They often don't seem to care.

But Avatar takes this to a new extreme. Many critics have
commented that it has a deeply pro-environmentalist message.
And indeed, it seems almost loaded with every touchy-feely New
Age environmentalist theme that you can imagine. Some critics
are calling it "Dances With Wolves in space." But it sure does
look amazing - in fact, stunningly real. It truly is a work of art.

The futuristic story revolves around an ex-marine posted to a planet
with rich mining deposits - who has to inhabit an alien "avatar"
body so he can infiltrate the local tribe that opposes the mining.
Thus he becomes one of these blue-colored humanoids.

Though the film's images are stunning audiences worldwide, the
spirituality in it is at the far extreme of New Age. And it is not
"subtle" either. It is a huge part of the story. More and more you
see the "Gaia"-type 'Earth-goddess' stuff - plus pagan or wicca-like
rituals - until half the film seems almost saturated with them.

As I said, most people have grown to expect this stuff from
politically-correct and spiritually-weird Hollywood by now. But we
are talking here about the most expensive ($300 million) and most
revolutionary new film in history. Surely they have to be concerned
that preaching such a message may lose them hundreds of
millions of dollars in potential revenue? Apparently not.

It always strikes me as sad when these great breakthroughs in
the arts fail to glorify the One who gave us creativity in the first
place. And sadly, this is one of those times. And I guess that is
why, even after the awe and wonder of seeing one of the greatest
visual spectacles of our age, I left the theatre feeling pretty flat.
And I wonder how many others felt the same - even non-Christians.
I wonder how many left sensing there was something very wrong
at the core of this story. I would guess it might be quite a few.
(There have been a lot of complaints about the storyline). Even
many non-Christians may not like seeing the "Earth mother
goddess" getting all the glory. Which is why I think this movie will
never take top spot as the most-watched film in history - despite
all the money spent on it. And also why I think the sequel will
never earn the kind of money that they hope for.

Will Hollywood learn its lesson? I strongly doubt it.

Sabtu, 26 Desember 2009


-by Steve Goodyear.

To those that KNOW their God and HEAR His voice.. there is a
true Spiritual Revival going on. You won't see it on TV or hear it
on the radio or read about it in the newspapers. It is not being
publicized or even talked about in most "churches" but it is truly
happening in the hearts of individuals who are sold out.

Its just like the story Samson, near the end when his HAIR that
was SHORN, his perfect covering, his righteousness before God,
the source of his power and authority was completely cut off by
the woman he LOVED AND TRUSTED! (Yes. Her name was
Delilah and she's a type of this endtime APOSTATE supposedly
SPIRITUAL, counterfeit CHURCH). The motive of her heart was
never really to serve and love him but to find out the SECRET to
his power and strength and to CAPITALIZE on it so SHE could
buy a BIGGER HOUSE and live an ABUNDANT LIFE of
THE WORLD as her friends and allies!

She feigned love and thus entered in to the SECRET of his
fellowship, but she betrayed him, like Aiken or Jezebel. Like
Uzza or Judas. Her TRUE motives were exposed and she
couldn't help seeking the GOLD and the SILVER instead of
the creator of Heaven and Earth! And for a moment it looked
like she'd won. No doubt she thought so. But in the darkness
of the prison, alone, reviled and persecuted, Samson's hair
began to grow back!!

The unsuspecting Philistines celebrating their "temporary"
VICTORY (and no doubt, Delilah with her newfound
PROSPERITY!) were OBLIVIOUS, caught up in their own
deception and totally unsuspecting when Samson revealed the
REAL power of Godliness and toppled their entire kingdom.
What he gave up in love was given back to him pressed down
shaken together and running over and his END was greater than
his beginning. Samson is indeed a pattern of Christ and the
Resurrection, but he also presents a very vivid picture of the
end time overcomers. Those who are willing to lay down their lives
and their "lifestyles" for the Kingdom of God! Those like Daniel
and his three Hebrew friends who KNEW THEIR GOD and who
against all odds refused to compromise or bow down to the
King, his "IMAGE" or the Kingdom of this world! No matter what
the apparent consequences. They each, like Abraham, believed
that it was GOD who gave them life and it was GOD alone who
could RAISE THEM BACK UP AGAIN! "Whoever seeks to
SAVE his life WILL LOSE IT! and Whoever LOSES his life for
my name's sake will FIND IT!"

The Bible is replete with examples of God moving OUTSIDE the
city or outside the church! Samson, whose life is a true prophetic
timeline for end time events, clearly reveals this. Notice when
He was with the "prostitute" he only stayed until the middle of
the night! Then he got up, in the midst of the darkness, took hold
of the door and the doorpost at the gateway to the city, a clear
type of Jesus (the door) hanging on the cross (the posts.) He
uprooted it and carried it away on his shoulders where he
Doesn't that seem like a pretty clear picture of someone's
"candlestick" being removed?

WE need to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His
Righteousness! Wherever it takes us. Even if its to a high hill
OUTSIDE the hustling and bustling big city! We need to return
to the true GOSPEL, the Cross and the Blood of Jesus.

The Prostitute in this story represents a people interested only
in a LEGALISTIC contractual agreement with God. What's in it
for me? What do I have to do to get MY REWARD or MY profit!
She's more interested in the BENEFITS than the BENEFACTOR!!
She's in it for The GIFTS and not for the GIVER! SHE wants the
"fruit of her labors" for herself, not as an offering to the Lord.

This is indeed a STERN warning to true Christian Believers.
WAKE UP or lose everything you thought you had! THIS IS
WHAT it TRULY MEANS WHEN IT SAYS.. "Give and it shall be
GIVEN BACK TO YOU!! Pressed down, shaken together and
running over.." That's NOT a prosperity message - its the
GOSPEL!! Train your eyes on JESUS and let go of all you are
holding onto.

Look at Jacob who in the end had to GIVE UP EVERYTHING
before he could face the angel of the Lord and receive his NEW
NAME. He first GAVE UP his flocks and herds. His servants
and his wives and children. EVERYTHING he'd gained under
the Blessing he'd received from his father, everything he'd
worked so long and hard to acquire while serving Laban. THEN
he approached God and laid down his life in order to obtain the
blessing! In the end not only did he receive the new name but
everything he gave up was restored to him as well as his LIFE
and his relationship with his older brother! Only by surrendering
his ALL and falling on the rock of humility before God and being
broken could he face his older brother (a TYPE OF JESUS at
the second coming and judgment). He received GRACE and
RESTORATION instead of judgment and the sure Death that
was DUE him for his sin against his brother years earlier!

This process is the eye of the needle! That small place we all
must enter in by. The STRAIGHT AND NARROW GATE which
FEW find.

-Steve Goodyear,

Jumat, 18 Desember 2009

Feed the Hungry!

Feed the Hungry!

When you come to hear the voice of the Lord for yourself it becomes a way of life. Yet others who have not learned to do this are STARVED. They hunger to hear the Lord speak to them. Just the knowledge that you have gained in this course so far has enabled you to feed that hunger in others. In our Way of Freedom Course in AMI-TC we teach how to identify a person's problem and help them find solutions in the Word.

Add the power of the spirit to that and you will be a mighty tool in the Lord's hand to feed many others! Right now I want to take you step by step on how to minister to someone else. Perhaps someone gives you their dream to interpret. Perhaps someone asks you for prayer or shares a vision with you.

How do you approach the subject?

Should you pray?

How should you handle this situation?

I have already given you clear direction on how to do this for dream interpretation in the Way of Dreams and Visions book in the chapter on "Interpreting for others", so I am not going to repeat that here. Instead I am going to give you some key secrets in ministering to any person, any time, with any need! This can apply to any sort of ministry, but I am going to apply it specifically to the Gift of Visions!

Case Scenario:
A friend of yours comes over for a visit. She is having a really bad week. She had a fight with her husband and with her children. Her life seems a mess. She asks you to pray with her so that she can have peace. What do you do?

Step 1: You CAN do this!
Now if you are not used to ministering to someone, I want you to realize that if you are born again that you have the ability to minister! This kind of encouragement is not just for spiritual leaders. God can use you too!

Step 2: Give it to the Lord
As you come to pray (using my story as an example) simply give the situation to the Lord. As the Holy Spirit to give you revelation and wisdom. Then, wait a little for the Lord to speak.

Step 3: Visions
As the person has reached out to you in faith, realize that the Lord will give you something to share with them. It is now your turn to reach out to the Lord and ask for something to pour out! Last week we spoke about hearing God through all your five senses. Now you get to practice that project in real life! It is very likely though that you will see pictures in your mind as you pray. Visions.

Ok, now here is the first thing to remember if you get a vision: DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING! Do not try to understand or put your own ideas into what you see in the spirit. Instead just share your vision with your friend.

Say for example you see a big stone blocking a well of water. You would then say to your friend,

"I see a big stone blocking a well of water in the spirit, do you know if that means anything to you?"

Often the Lord has begun to speak to that person already and it will make perfect sense. However if it does not mean anything to them, THEN is the time to share what you feel. If you look at the Word, the scripture speaks of rivers of living water being inside of us. This is the well in the vision! However there is a blockage...there is a stone on the well. So you could share with your friend,

"I believe that the Lord is saying that there is something blocking your spiritual life and stopping the joy and peace you need inside of you."

Step 4: Speaking it out.
It is important to finish your time of prayer by applying what you see. Getting revelation alone is not good enough! You can then flow as you are led. If you get no further revelation you could simply pray that the Holy Spirit reveals the blockage to the person and pray that He would remove it so that they can hear from Him and walk in peace again.

You might 'feel your way around' at first, but after that you will flow more and more.

Final Note:
On a final note, do not feel condemned if you do not get any revelation. It is for the person who is coming to you for ministry to come in faith. It is THEIR faith that will license the Holy Spirit to give you revelation just like Paul tells us in: 1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these are operated by exactly the same Spirit, distributing to everyone separately as he wills. (AMIV)

If you do not get anything at all, then simply speak blessing over your friend in faith and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in her life that He wants to change.

Minggu, 13 Desember 2009

The Eros Shift

The Eros Shift
By Bob Mumford www.lifechangers.org

Moses saw that the people were unruly and unrestrained.

The eros shift began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The shift carries with it the idea of breaking loose because in that act, the human heart changed directions. When Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, he found the people out of control. They had melted all their gold and built a golden calf to worship. The people had become an object of shame among their enemies and Aaron, as the leader in Moses’ absence, was held responsible for the actual breaking loose.
An eros shift is a move toward man-centered, ungoverned desires, individualism,

anarchy, and entitlement. It involves all levels and units of society–individual, family, church, society, and government. In the appendix I have diagrammed the eros Shift as we have experienced over the last 200 years.

There are five progressive steps in an eros shift:
1. Ungoverned desires that have matured into passion.
2. Ungoverned desires that are unswervingly committed to having their own way.
3. Ungoverned desires that emerge as a predator or parasite that is willing and eager to use violence to have their own way.
4. Ungoverned desires that mature in the skills of intrigue and deception.
5. Ungoverned desire manifested as obsessive-compulsive behavior, addiction, and hopelessness.
Spiritual death is the inevitable and unavoidable consequences of any society that breaks loose. Once society is increasingly living without effective restraint, it is most difficult to get it back under control. Most often, it requires serious or cataclysmic events.

• What can you identify that tends to draw you off the Agape Road?
• Describe your experience with the five progressive steps of the eros Shift.
• Once a society breaks loose, why is spiritual death inevitable?

Selasa, 01 Desember 2009

Loving the Lost

Loving the Lost

By David Wilkerson www.worldchallenge.org

There is much talk right now about the fearful situation our world is in. Nation after nation is troubled, on the brink of economic disaster. Yet amid all the fear and turmoil gripping the world, God is still loving and saving lost souls.
His marvelous work of salvation never changes. It isn’t affected by the economy. His wooing, convicting Holy Spirit isn’t hindered by conditions on Wall Street or by teetering global finances. God’s saving power has never been limited by shrinking bank accounts.
The fact is, our Lord never amends his promises. They are always “yea and amen,” at all times and in every circumstance. God didn’t promise to provide all our needs except when we’re unemployed. He didn’t promise to be Jehovah Jireh, our provider, except when economic times get scary.
Our Lord’s promises never change. And that includes his promise about saving the lost.
When God commanded us to go into all the world to win the lost, he didn't include an exemption clause. He didn't say, “Preach the gospel of my Son Jesus Christ to all nations — except in hard times.” He never said, “Believe for the salvation of many — except when there is a great shaking in the world.”
Thank God, he has never said the world is too wicked, too hardhearted, too given over to lust to be reached by his Good News. At no time in history did the Lord ever limit his tender mercies — and he never will. Right now, America and the rest of the world could still be spared judgment — if there is true repentance. Of course, such repentance would require a great humbling and a mass return to the Lord. But our God has never rescinded his amazing offer of mercy.
Indeed, the Lord has made provision that no one need perish. Scripture tells us God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. On the contrary, he gave his own Son so that none should perish and all would have everlasting life.
In spite of God's great gift, the world hates the Christ who loves them.
Jesus declared that he came to seek and to save the lost. He who had power to subdue the winds and waves, who could send fire down from heaven to destroy the wicked, who embodied righteousness — this same Jesus came as a humble servant.
And he brought healing to the people. Christ listened patiently as broken, suffering multitudes pleaded for deliverance from their afflictions. He opened blind eyes. He caused cripples to walk. He made the sick whole. He loosed tied tongues and unstopped deaf ears. Jesus even raised the dead. Simply put, Christ set captives free just as he claimed he would. He faithfully broke every form of bondage he encountered.
The truth is no human being ever loved the lost more than Jesus did. He grieved over them as scattered, confused sheep in need of a shepherd. He wept over their spiritual blindness. And he poured out his very life for them at the cross. No person in history should have been more loved or respected. Christ should have been honored and esteemed by all. Yet despite all his outpourings of sacrificial love, the world hated him without a cause.
There were thousands upon thousands of reasons to love Jesus, and not a single reason to hate him. What did he do that he should be so hated and despised? The gospels speak of Christ as kind, patient, longsuffering, forgiving, full of tenderness and mercy, willing that no one should perish. He is called a shepherd, a teacher, a brother, a light in darkness, a physician, an advocate, a reconciler. He went about doing only good. No one ever had cause to hate him. So why the deep, vicious hatred toward Christ? Why the violence done to him and his name?
Jesus was hated by the world because he came as a light to deliver the world from darkness. John writes, “This is the condemnation [their reason for hating him], that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved [discovered]” (John 3:19–20).
Jesus declared of himself, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (8:12). This explains the one reason Jesus was so hated. His gospel is a call to the world to “cast off the works of darkness, and…put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).
Here is the world’s reason for hating Christ, both then and now.
Jesus promised to deliver sinners from the chains of darkness, to set them free from all satanic power. But they didn’t want that. Why? What a Christian sees as freedom, the world sees as bondage.
“Freedom? What freedom?” they ask when offered freedom in Christ. “I’m already free. I’ve been freed from all restrictions, all sexual taboos. And I'm freed from the bondage of the Bible. I am free to worship a god of my own choosing, and in my case that is no god at all.”
The simple fact is the world loves the things of this world. And they love the pleasures of sin. As Jesus put it, they prefer the darkness. Therefore, as Christ warned his disciples, “Because I have chosen you out of the world, the world is going to hate you just as they have hated me.”
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). Why is this so? Why the hatred toward us, simply for loving the Lord? Jesus explains, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (15:18).
This is why society has unleashed massive efforts to stamp out all that pertains to Jesus…why there is such disdain for his followers…why courts try to outlaw the very mention of his name…why there is such abhorrence, even outrage, toward those who claim the Bible as their moral compass. It all has to do with our mission as the bearers of his light.
Think of it: As Christ’s witnesses, we are called to a seemingly impossible task. We are asking the world to lay down the things that are most dear to them: their sins. In their eyes, the Christian walk — a life of purity and holiness — looks like a form of slavery. Our idea of heaven seems to them more like hell. When they hear us talk about the gospel, it is an offence to their lifestyle. Christ’s gospel calls them to repent of the sins they love, to repent of rejecting the God who died for them on a cross. It calls for a life of holiness, when for years they’ve tried to silence their conscience, to kill any notion there might be a coming day of reckoning.
Christ’s gospel also tells them their own personal goodness can’t merit eternal life. It asks the self-made man to die to himself and his selfish ambitions, and to give his life for others. It declares that his own sense of integrity is nothing in God’s sight. Such a gospel is a threat to his pearl of great price: his personal achievements, the things he has worked long and hard to obtain. If you tell him his righteousness does not merit salvation, he’ll despise you.
At the Last Supper Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you” (John 13:34).
During his final time with the disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus warned, “Some of you will be rejected, some will be imprisoned, some will be killed. All of you will be persecuted” (see John 16:2). What a send-off message. The disciples were going to be hated, seen as the off-scouring of the earth!
Yet Jesus gave them a word of direction at this same time. What was his final instruction? It was about how to reach their generation after he was gone. This word of direction had nothing to do with methods for evangelism. Jesus had already told the disciples they were to go into all the world preaching the gospel, and that they would need the power of the Holy Ghost to do that. These two things were already clear to them.
Now, he said, “I give you a new commandment.” Jesus told them plainly: “If you obey this new commandment, all men will know who you are. And they’ll know exactly where you stand. They may hate you. They may call you fanatics and turn you out of their synagogues. But they will know you are mine.”
Here was Jesus’ commandment to the disciples: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (13:34, my italics). Note this is not an option; it is Jesus’ commandment. And it is where every evangelistic effort must begin.
You see, Scripture makes clear we are to feed the poor, and the church will always do so faithfully. We are to do many good works, through which we preach Christ boldly. But to penetrate the “gross darkness,” we need to lay hold of this new commandment from Jesus. Why is our obedience to this command necessary to break through darkness? Christ explains: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35, my italics).
According to Jesus, only this particular love — a love for fellow believers — will gain the attention of a lost generation. It is the same kind of self-denying, sacrificial love that Jesus shows to each of us. And such love for our kin in Christ cannot be accomplished in word alone, but must be in deed.
This commandment accomplishes two things. First, it is the only way to respond to the hatred that comes from the world: “As I have loved you…love one another” (13:34). Our love for each other is a refuge and safe haven for all in the body of Christ.
Second, through this commandment the Holy Spirit reveals to our generation their great sense of need. Why have so many young people turned to mindless binge drinking? Why have multitudes turned to drugs as never before? Why is the rate of suicide on the rise? The explanation is simple: People everywhere are hurting. There is sin-sickness among the masses, with multitudes plagued by emptiness.
People today have so little to trust in. Long-trusted institutions are crumbling. Economic and moral structures have disintegrated. There is no security, financial or personal. To whom can people turn? Where can they find examples of real, enduring love in such a shaky, perilous time?
The world needs illustrated sermons — powerful personal examples — of God’s love.
In John 17:21, Jesus made this prayer: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (my italics).
Think of it: Even in his final hours, Jesus was still yearning over lost humanity. And he was giving his church specific direction on how to win those lost multitudes. Consider his final words on the subject: “Be as one! Put aside all strife and division, that the world may believe in me.”
You may think, “This sounds so simplistic. Is that really how the church is going to reach hardened hearts? Is it how we’re supposed to battle gross darkness? Does simply loving each other truly provide supernatural power to combat hatred?”
The answer is yes, yes and yes, absolutely! According to Jesus, the powerful love of God is revealed most clearly to the world by the unconditional love between his people.
Right now, one of Satan’s primary strategies against the church is to plant division and strife. Everywhere I look in the body of Christ worldwide, I am convinced hordes of demons have been sent on assignment within church walls. And their aim is to destroy the love of Christians for one another.
The devil’s strategy is subtle: He pits race against race and rich against poor in the body of Christ. The racial strife, specifically, is being fed worldwide through television and other media. I have not seen such racial hatred spewed forth in years, and now it is infiltrating the walls of God’s house.
I thank God that Times Square Church was raised up with no color lines and no distinction between rich or poor. All who come through our doors are treated with the same respect and welcoming love. We have enjoyed God’s blessing for twenty-two years now, and I believe this is partly because we have obeyed Christ’s command to love one another as he has loved us.
Of course, every Christian claims not to have prejudice. But if we don’t obey God on this matter — if we do not cry out to him to remove from our hearts the slightest seed of division — our witness to the world will lose its power. We’ll have nothing to impact the gross darkness. And the testimony God has entrusted to us will be lost.
Tragically, the religious world has been divided for centuries.
Down through the generations, terrible divisions have pitted Christians against each other. Brother has come against brother, sister against sister, and entire denominations have been ruined.
The truth is, I truly love my brother only when I can stand side by side with him in worship of Jesus. I know I truly love my brother when I can stand confidently before Christ’s throne knowing I have nothing in my heart against him. I know I truly love my brother when I have the same love for him that Jesus has shown to me.
How do we truly love one another as Christ loves us?
It happens when we forgive those who have hurt us, just as Christ has forgiven us.
It happens when we reach out to the backslidden, doing all in our power to restore them.
It happens when we esteem others better than ourselves.
Dear saint, I plead with you today: Lay down all bitterness, strife and disrespect. Do not hinder the blessing of God in your life and home. Obey his new commandment to you and remember his Word: “By this shall all men know you are mine — when you love one another!” Then the lost will see and know God’s love, through his obedient, joyful, sacrificing people — the church. Amen!
Copyright/Reproduction Limitations: This data file/publication is the sole property of World Challenge, Inc. It may be printed in its entirety for the reader's personal use or to pass on to family and friends. It may not be altered or edited in any way and all reproductions of this data file/publication must contain this copyright notice. This material is not to be posted or transmitted publicly/electronically on any Web site, Web page or FTP site other than: worldchallenge.org, davidwilkerson.org or tscpulpitseries.org
© 2009 World Challenge, Inc., PO Box 260, Lindale, Texas 75771

Kamis, 19 November 2009

Wanted: Hazardous Men & Women

Wanted: Hazardous Men & Women
By James Ryle www.truthworks.org

“Men who have hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:26).

Perhaps one of the greatest compliments ever paid one Christian by another occurred almost 2,000 years ago during a strategic meeting of the first disciples.

The spread of Christianity had been explosive, with new churches springing up all throughout the Roman Empire. The challenge of balancing dynamic growth with uncompromising quality was very real—and continues to be so today.

As the leaders in Jerusalem pondered how best to address this challenge, they chose two men to go forth with their blessings to represent Christ and His Gospel in the best possible way. They chose Barnabas and Paul, men who, as the record shows, “hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26).

They “hazarded their lives.” O that such a thing could be said of you and me today!

The Greek meaning is “to surrender, i.e. to yield up, entrust, cast, commit, deliver up, give over.” Inherent to the word is the idea of risk, especially in the face of danger. It means that another is now in control; another is now calling all the shots.

May I ask when was the last time you took a risk for Christ? Can others tell by how you live that your life has been “handed over” to Jesus? Wouldn't that be something you would want them to know. And more importantly for their sakes, isn't that something you would want to inspire them to do for themselves by your own example?

Hand it over. Your life, hand it over to Jesus and watch what He does with it.

Paul and Barnabas hazarded their lives for the name and fame of Jesus. Contrary to what one may think this does not mean to be reckless or irresponsible. While there is unquestionable risk involved in “handing over your life to Christ,” it is in fact the ultimate act of personal responsibility.

Biblical endorsement comes from Jesus Himself. “Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it, but whoever insists on keeping his life will lose it” (Luke 9:24, Living Bible). If you hold on and try to keep it for yourself -- you lose it all. If you let go and place it in the hands of Jesus -- you gain everything.

So, what are you going to do?

Paul said, "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering.

"Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.

"Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:1-2, The Message).

May your day be filled with God's presence as He leads you on the upward way!

The noble spirit of true disciples does not seek the pampered, risk-free environment of a lifeless faith. No! It begs for challenge, and cries out for significance! You and I were created by God with an inner passion to live a life that makes a difference. But this will not happen until we “hand our lives over to Christ.”

Only in His hands will we find the eternal security that emboldens us in this world to dare to think the unthinkable, to dream the unimaginable, and to do the impossible.

Like the songwriter said, we are those who “dream the impossible dream, fight the unbeatable foe, bear with unbearable sorrow, and run where the brave dare not go.”

We are those who will always seek “to right the unrightable wrong, and to fight for the right without question or pause; to be willing to pass into hell for a heavenly cause!

"And the world will be better for this, that one man scorned and covered in scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star—and to dream the impossible dream!” (from the Broadway Musical, Man of La Mancha, lyrics by Joe Darion).

Whether it be the fictional Don Quixote, or actual people that we ourselves know—we are faced daily with the stories of those who strive with all their heart to achieve the spectacular in life, or in sports, or in business, or in education, or in exploration. These individuals have hazarded their lives for the sake of career, wealth, fame, fashion, or glory.

Isn’t it time that we hazarded our lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Jumat, 23 Oktober 2009

Jumat, 25 September 2009

Living In Resurrection Hope

Living In Resurrection Hope

By Terry Somerville www.totalchange.org

Dear friends

After my last newsletter a friend from England responded and said I should read Surprised By Hope, by N.T. Wright. WOW What a great book. It focuses mainly on the hope of bodily resurrection, which I'll get to shortly. For those of us who suffered through the bizzare education of liberal theology, you know they teach that the resurrection of Jesus, and ultimately ourselves is a myth, or an inner experience only. Wright delightfully answers their arguments with skill and humor.

Just as an aside for those of you who avoided liberal theology, I'll give an example. One of my professors in seminary taught "modern science tells us people can't rise from the dead, therefore we know Jesus didn't rise from the dead." I and my friends just sat there going, "Duhhhh.Thats why it's a miracle!" But don't put that on a term paper! Such is modern liberal theology. Anyway, it made me dig in to my faith and become stronger in Christ!
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.....
Romans 1:28

As I talk about resurrection I am not going to touch on things like the anti-Christ, the rapture and millennium. Let me focus on the life we will enjoy eternally with the Lord.
Our Hope Of Resurrection
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I Peter 1:3
Until now, the only time I would articulate our hope of resurrection was when I conducted a funeral. But Jesus resurrection, and our own, has everything to do with the Kingdom of God. Here are twenty five important points.

1. Death is still an enemy, the last enemy to be defeated. 1 Cor. 15:26

2. Jesus' death and resurrection took "the sting of death" (sin) away, so we can enter eternal life. 1 Cor. 15:56

3. All who belong to Christ have entered into Kingdom life now, here on earth.

4. The fullness of the Kingdom will be realized when Jesus creates the new heaven and earth and rules here.

5. Never the less, Jesus is Lord of ALL THINGS NOW. He rules on earth now, though man lives in rebellion. He is served on earth now by those who are born again and have His Spirit. We still see wickedness because He extends grace not wanting any to perish.

6. Jesus will return and set up His Kingdom in the new heaven and earth. He will be seen. He will rule with justice and judgment.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Revelation of John 1:7

7. Heaven is not in the sky. Up and down is part of this creation. To use a science fiction explanation, the Kingdom of Heaven is more like a co-existing parallel universe that is here with us now. We walk in the Spirit here with us.

8. Heavenly reality (the spirit realm) is MORE REAL than earthly reality. We don't see it because we are limited in our creation, and by sin. (we cannot see God and live) Jesus resurrection body is physical but MORE than our experience of physicality.

9. When Jesus returns, and creates the New Heaven and Earth, heaven and earth come together.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Rev. 21:3

10. The disembodied soul going to a disembodied spiritual heaven is a pagan idea. It mixed into Christianity over many centuries.

11. Eternal life in Heaven is when we will live eternally in bodies on a new earth having bodies like Jesus had at His resurrection.
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Philippians 3:21

12. The Holy Spirit has been given to us now as a down payment of our coming resurrection!
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

13. There is a time of waiting with the Lord after a Christian dies, and before the resurrection day. This the "many mansions" and "today you will be with me in paradise" spoken of in scripture. The words in Greek literally means a temporary place of abode, a garden. But Heaven is life after life after death.

14. The resurrection day will be a day of justice. All will be set right by our Lord ON THIS NEW EARTH. All things that cause offense will be removed, all wrongs will be righted.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; Matthew 13:41

15. The physics of the new creation will not be subject to decay. The cosmos itself will be resurrected like we will be.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its will, but_because of the One having subjected [it] in hope 21 because even the creation itself will be set free from the slavery of the corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that all the creation groans together and labors together in birth-pains until now.23 But not only [this], but_even ourselves, having the first-fruit of the Spirit, we_also ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting the redemption of our body! Romans 8

16. We will enjoy physical life on earth in the resurrection. Look at what Jesus did after he rose from the dead.
• We will touch (Thomas touched the resurrected Jesus)
• We can build a fire ( Jesus built a fire and cooked fish)
• We will eat (Jesus ate fish, and other meals with the disciples)
• We will walk and talk together ( Jesus walked and talked on the road to Emmaus)
• We can meet and share with one another (Jesus explained the scriptures)
• We will reign with Him - have meaningful things to do!
I like this great hope. As I grow older there are many things I would like to do. I love the tropics and diving on reefs. I'll be able to enjoy that as much as I like in the resurrection. Creation will be perfect and wonderful. We can enjoy the rivers, and fish and trees spoken of in Rev. 22. There are many losses that will be recovered.

Finally, have you ever wondered at some of the visions people receive? My daughter Megan is handicapped. A number of times when people have prayed for her they have seen her running and playing in a vision. She has had many miracles, but so far is unable to walk without difficulty. I believe these visions are of the resurrection. She WILL run and play. The resurrection is the only hope and sense we can make of life and it's painful times.

Friends, we have entered this Kingdom life now. The Kingdom is forever. Enter in and enjoy the hope.

Kamis, 17 September 2009


-by Lee Grady.

From reading some old books I've discovered a missing spiritual
dimension. The Lord is inviting us to reclaim it.

A few months ago I went on a special diet. I put aside all newly
published books and limited my reading to a small collection of
Christian classics, mostly devotional works by Andrew Murray,
Watchman Nee, E.M. Bounds, Charles Spurgeon, A.B. Simpson
and Corrie Ten Boom. I knew God had a message for me in those
musty pages.

I had noticed a similar theme in all these books, but it took me a
while to crack the code. These writers from the 19th and 20th
centuries wrote from a spiritual depth that I rarely see in the
church today, and I wanted to know their secret. I slowly began
to figure things out while reading A.B. Simpson's book, A Larger
Christian Life, which he wrote in 1890 when the Holiness
Movement was at its zenith in the United States.

Simpson often preached about Abraham's offering of his son Isaac
on the altar at Mount Moriah, and he called Christians to the place
of self-sacrifice. Mount Moriah, Simpson wrote, "signifies the deeper
spiritual experience into which the fully consecrated person must
come. In this act of obedience, the sanctified self is laid on the
altar just as Isaac was."

I read similar comments about consecration, or full surrender, in
Watchman Nee's The Release of the Spirit, which was first
published in China in 1955. Nee taught us that the path to
spiritual fruitfulness—and to true, intimate knowledge of the
Lord —is the brokenness of the outward man. He explained that
God uses tests and trials in our lives to break our selfish nature
so that Christ's nature can flow through us.

Nee wrote: "No life manifests more beauty than the one who is
broken! Stubbornness and self-love have given way to beauty in
the one who is broken by God."

Perhaps the reason I find so much nourishment in these old words
is that I don't hear much today about the crucified life, suffering,
brokenness or surrender. We rarely talk of altars and we avoid
altar calls. We don't invite people to a deeper spiritual realm
because few even know about such a place; often even our leaders
are too busy using God to boost their egos or to amass personal

Today's shallow, "evangelical lite" culture focuses on self, self and
more self. Christian books today are mostly about self-improvement,
not self- sacrifice. We teach people to claim their "best life now"—
and to claim it on their terms. Our message is one of self-
empowerment: God wants to make you happy, so just add a
little bit of God to your life (on your terms of course) and He will
bless you, prosper you and make all your dreams come true.

How strange that message seems when contrasted with the old
hymns Christians used to sing back in the days of holiness
revivals. This song written by Adelaide Pollard in 1907 seems
eerily foreign today:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

The woman who penned those words was an itinerant Bible teacher
who was discouraged because she didn't have the funds to make
a missionary journey to Africa. She found great comfort when she
put all her plans and desires on the altar and freshly surrendered
to God's will for her life. The song that sprung from her anguish
blessed millions, but today it has lost its popularity because we
simply don't relate.

I believe we must reclaim the forgotten message of consecration.
It is not enough to know Christian doctrines or to paint a nice
Christian veneer on the surface of our lives. God wants our hearts.
We must embrace the cross daily. It is not enough to simply avoid
the sins that our Christian culture says are the "worst"; we must
also allow God's knife to slay the pride, the self-will, the self-
confidence and the self-glorification that our backslidden Christian
culture encourages.

I invite you to reclaim this lost message by praying a "dangerous
prayer" of consecration. Let God assume the throne of your life
while you abdicate. You can pray something like this:

"Lord, You are the potter and I am the clay. Forgive me for my
selfishness. I consecrate my life to You afresh today. I give You
permission to break me, mold me, bend me and make me
according to Your perfect will. This is all the work of Your grace.
I choose to embrace whatever circumstances You must send into
my life in order to rid me of pride and self-will. I choose to live
on Your altar. As I empty myself, I ask You to fill me with Your
Holy Spirit. Amen"

-J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

SOURCE- http://charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/

Kamis, 10 September 2009

How Human Society Advanced

How Human Society Advanced
by Gerald Chester www.strategieswork.com

The first man on earth was a farmer. His name was Adam. Adam and his heirs were created to rule God's physical universe (Genesis 1:26–28). This work started in a garden.
Adam's specific assignment was to “work the ground” (Genesis 2:5 NIV). The Hebrew word used in this text is abad, which is also translated in other texts worship and serve. From the beginning, therefore, the idea of work was rooted in the mandate to rule God's creation and was a vehicle to serve and worship God. This is known by many as the "Creation Mandate" and gives work dignity, purpose, and significance.
For most of mankind's known history, as with Adam, farming has been the main work activity. Farming is the seminal work activity, that is, farming is the most basic of all work activities. People must have food. Other than air and water, everything else is optional.
Over the centuries, farming has mostly been performed manually with little help from mechanization. Widely accepted epistemology (the theory of knowledge) is one of the reasons.
Since the time of Aristotle in the fourth century BC, epistemology has been shaped by the assumption that knowledge is solely deduced from ideas. There was no value placed on empirical methodology.
For us living in the twenty-first century AD and who have seen the value of empiricism, it is hard to understand how Aristotle's presupposition could have been so widely accepted, but it was. Through most of human history, the basis for epistemology was limited to deductive reasoning—thought experiments. Starting with concepts, philosophers would deduce conclusions about reality but never submitted their conclusions to empirical testing. This view was widely accepted before and after Christ, and even the Christian community largely embraced it.
Sadly, the Christian community did not understand the implications of Psalm 19:1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV). This text suggests that we can gain knowledge about God by studying the physical universe inductively. Inductive means that we can learn empirically through observation and experimentation.
When the Christian community fails to recognize truth, others will. During the seventeenth century, a new approach to epistemology began to take root. Francis Bacon challenged the conventional theory of epistemology and introduced the idea that knowledge could be gained not only deductively but also inductively. This new approach became known as “the scientific method.”
The scientific method is a four-step methodology. First, there is a hypothesis or a theory about reality. Second, an empirical test is developed and applied to validate the theory. Third, the results of the test are compared to the theory. And fourth, the theory is validated or adjustments are made to the theory to better understand the results.
Since the eighteenth century, virtually all scientific training has been based on the scientific method, which led to the technology breakthroughs that fueled the industrial revolution. Metaphorically speaking, the industrial revolution enabled Adam to leave the farm.
Some of the first fruits of the industrial revolution were farm equipment. With the advent of mechanized farm equipment, one farmer could do the work of ten, enabling the other nine to perform other work activities. Hence, the scientific method facilitated the development of technology that greatly enhanced man's ability to fulfill the Creation Mandate.
But the scientific method found application beyond the physical sciences. It also reshaped the science of business and management.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the industrial revolution was expanding rapidly in the United States. Automobiles, railroads, telephones, electricity, and department stores were becoming ubiquitous. J. C. Penney and John Wanamaker pioneered the modern department store model. Asa Candler turned Coca Cola into a worldwide beverage. The Mayo Brothers built the most prestigious medical facility in the world. Anthony Rossi turned orange juice into a premium breakfast drink. Henry Parsons Crowell helped make oatmeal a human food, not just horse feed. All of these men were strong Christians committed to living their faith at work and they used the scientific method to help them master and grow their businesses.
The scientific method enabled these men and others to consistently produce quality products. To achieve consistency required controlled reproducible business and manufacturing processes that were developed empirically using the scientific method. The need to develop these controlled processes led to the development of a new field of study known as “statistical quality control” (SQC).
Dr. Walter Shewhart, a physicist who worked for Bell Labs, pioneered SQC. During the 1920s, the nascent nationwide telephone system was expanding rapidly and there was a tremendous need for quality telephone equipment. Dr. Shewhart realized that to produce consistent quality required controlled manufacturing processes. The empirical tools developed by Dr. Shewhart to facilitate the control of manufacturing processes were based on statistical methods.
During World War II, companies taught and utilized SQC, with great success, to produce high quality products to support the war effort. Altruism emboldened companies during the war to focus on quality before profit. After the war, however, the priorities changed.
The economy of post-war America boomed and companies turned their attention from altruism to greed. They saw opportunities to make big profits, so they disregarded SQC techniques. In other words, they chose quantity over quality, thinking that it would produce more profit.
After World War II, one of Dr. Shewhart’s disciples, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, also a physicist, founded his own management consulting practice based on SQC. Soon he became discouraged by the lack of interest in SQC. Companies driven by greed showed little interest.
Dr. Deming found a more interested audience in Japan. Struggling to recover from the war, the Japanese needed help to restart their industrial economy. Though they were skeptical of SQC, they listened and learned. The Japanese tried SQC and soon developed a competitive edge. By the late 1970s, the Japanese had taken a large share of the electronics and automobile markets away from US companies.
The fact that SQC was a key to the success of the Japanese companies went largely unnoticed until 1980. Finally NBC aired a special on Dr. Deming and SQC, which proved to be a turning point. From 1980 to the end of his life in 1993, he worked tirelessly helping American companies learn and apply SQC techniques.
Deming's approach was rooted in the scientific method and in a profound sense that there was a higher purpose to work than just to make money. No doubt he knew that mankind was under the Creation Mandate to rule God's universe though mastery of the physical world utilizing all means including work activities. And for work activities to be efficacious required well-managed organizations following excellent empirically based processes.
So mastery of the physical sciences and business was facilitated by a more accurate epistemology—an epistemology that valued not only deductive reasoning but also inductive reasoning. What a gift to mankind that knowledge of God’s universe can be gained through the scientific method. The heavens do, indeed, declare the glory of God (Psalms 19:1).
For man to fulfill the Creation Mandate, epistemology and motive are important. When a biblically sound epistemology that embraces both deductive and inductive methods is utilized by people working with the right motivation (obedience to the will of God not money), then amazing advancements can be made. Just look at the advances in technology in the past three hundred years.

Selasa, 08 September 2009

great quotes


“All I can say is I look for perpetual conflicts and struggles in this
life, and I hope for no other peace, only a cross, while on this side
of eternity.”
-George Whitefield

"God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love
and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst."
-George Whitefield

"If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours
through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to
make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that
He may squeeze the sweetness out of us."
- Oswald Chambers

"Nothing is more contrary to a heavenly hope than an earthly heart."
-William Gurnall

"I wouldn't cross the street to hear Ingersoll preach on the mistakes
of Moses, but I'd love to hear Moses preach on the mistakes of
-Vance Havner

"Consecrate, then concentrate..."
- Dwight L. Moody

"At the day of judgment we shall all meet again."
-George Whitfield

"Dare, dare, my dear brethren in Christ, to follow the Captain of
your salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings."
-George Whitefield

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God
has forgiven the inexcusable in you."
-C.S. Lewis

Minggu, 06 September 2009

Tottaly Grace

Totally Grace

By Terry Somerville www.totalchange.org

What a contrast between law and grace!

The Old Testament ends with the book of Malachi. It is a prophetic statement of Israel’s inability to keep the law of God, the curses they experienced, and a call to faithfulness. Kingdom mindedness in the New Testament means we live as those under the grace of the cross and the wonders of God’s love.

Probably the best-known passage is Malachi 3:7-10. This is often preached concerning tithing. To contrast law and grace I’ve underlined and numbered the things that have significantly changed now that we are in Christ.

From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from mine ordinances (1). and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith Jehovah of hosts. But ye say, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with the curse(2); for ye rob me, even this whole nation. Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house (3), and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven (4), and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:7-10

Jewish Religious Systems Replaced Grace
Between Malachi and Matthew amazing changes took place in Israel as the people became more religious, but not necessarily more faithful. By the time Jesus was born, Israel was transformed from a nation of chronic idol worshippers to being solidly monotheistic. New places of religious instruction called synagogues were now found throughout the land. The common people spoke Aramaic so Scribes and experts in the law appear on the scene, teaching from the original Hebrew language. Another new group, the Pharisees, developed a great body of religious tradition concerning application of the law to everyday life. We need to understand that even though these institutions of righteousness developed, the Lord gave no instruction to develop this religious system. It was a work of man designed to establish proper religious behavior in the nation.

Similar systems have found their way into the church as well adopting features such as the four I've highlighted in Malachi. Into this milieu of the religious establishment Jesus came preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. How different things are in Christ. Lets compare this new life of grace to the four points of law I've highlighted in Malachi 3.
"ye have turned aside from mine ordinances"

In the book of Malachi, the Israelites had turned aside from God’s laws and ordinances and they were being admonished to keep them once again. But the truth is that "no flesh can be justified by works of the law". For believers “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.” Rom 10:4

We are not made righteous by any work. He is our righteousness.
• The law of God is written in our heart by the Holy Spirit. Heb 8:10
• We are called to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:2
• And we have one new law, the law of love. Rom. 13:8 Gal. 5:12


"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1-4

"Ye are cursed with the curse"

Here is a simple fact. Christians are redeemed from the curse, and blessed in Christ. The problem is that many continue to teach that Christians are cursed, usually for a failure to keep some law, such as the law of the tithe spoken of in this passage.

But we are strongly warned not to return to the law! “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?” Gal 3:3 Lets be clear about our redemption. It is complete! Let us not make void the cross of Christ! He took the entire curse from us.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone having been hanged on a tree”); so that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Jesus Christ, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith"
Galatians 3:13-14

This means freedom from financial curses, generational curses, and witchcraft curses.
All curses. So how is it that these things seem to affect us? If we believe curses control our life, then we willingly submit again to a yoke of bondage. (Romans 6:16) rather than walking in newness of life.

Far beyond the removal of the curse, there is the great promise that we are blessed with all the fullness of Christ! We did not simply have our curses wiped out, On the contrary, all that Christ purchased is credited to my account! In Christ I am literally overloaded with blessings to pour out to others. These heavenly blessings are to be manifested through us on earth. “Thy Kingdom Come!” Healing and miracles, deliverance from devils, provisions, peace and life are ours to give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing even to the nations of the earth!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" Eph 1:3

"that there may be food in my house"

What a change from the days when a few select priests would minister in a physical building on our behalf. It is finished! Today, the Lord has determined that the house of God is not a building or organization. It is our physical bodies. Yet we still ask the Lord to fill a building the way He wants to fills us! What are we thinking? We are missing the greatest of blessings. Our own spirits are the Holy Place where the Lord dwells!

"Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body." 1 Co 6:19, 20

• We are the house of God, not a building or an organization. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in us, and is present all the time!
• We are a Royal Priesthood ministering to the Lord. We need no special training or permission
• We worship in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, not by regulations and ordinances.

We manifest the glory of the Lord in our bodies! The power of God is to be seen in us and ministered to a needy world by us.

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers”. John 4:23
Many today are teaching that the heavens are normally closed to Christians. They say the heavens open only in a special move of God or obedience to the law of tithing spoken of in Malachi. The simple truth is, Christ already opened the windows of heaven to every Christian. This was His mission at the cross! The veil separating man from God was torn in two by God Himself! We now have unhindered access to the Father!

"Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.... Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need". Heb. 14:14, 16

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." Heb 12:22-24

We have been raised together with Christ. Col. 3:1 The very same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you! It doesn’t get more open than this! We have total access!

"...and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Eph 2:6,7

Religion will always limit us to the level of our own performance and mans program. How great the plan of God is. It is TOTALLY GRACE. We are no longer limited by our religious ability. We no longer are confined to a geographical place and ancestral priesthood. We are the priesthood. We have been delivered from EVERY curse and now are blessed. Heaven is no longer closed by our sin and failures. We now have open heaven access to the Father, Jesus opened the way. How small our faith has been, but how great is His salvation!

Rabu, 02 September 2009

When the Chips are Down

When the Chips are Down

By James Ryle www.truthworks.org

"Did you teach hawks to fly south for the winter?" (Job 39:26).

There once was a bird that lived in Canada. One winter he announced to the other birds, “I’m not flying south for the winter. I’m staying right here!” All the other birds said he was crazy, but he answered, “You’re the ones that are crazy. You’ll get down south, turn around and fly right back up here again next year. What’s the point?!”

The other birds shook their heads, shrugged their shoulders, and took to flight; leavig him behind.

Wondering what winter in Canada would be like, the lone bird was pleasantly surprised at the stretch of Indian Summer that lingered long into the fall. “Aha!” he said to himself, “I was right to stay. This is wonderful!” But then, winter hit full force in the middle of December. Shuddering in the cold the silly bird finally realized, “I must hurry and leave before I freeze to death!”

He took to flight and made it as far as Montana. There, in mid-air, he froze up and tumbled to the ground; landing in a farmer’s barnyard. “Oh, what a stupid bird I am,” he moaned to himself. “I should’ve flown south with all the other birds, but now I am about to die.”

Just then a cow in the barnyard strolled past the fallen bird and without realizing it dropped a big cow-plop right on top of him! “Oh, this is just great,” mumbled the buried bird. “It’s not bad enough that I’m about to die; now I’m covered with cow manure!”

But then he noticed something he had not expected. The warmth of the plop actually began to thaw him out and restore him to life. “Why, what do you know about that?” said the bird. “This ain’t so bad after all!” Then he began chirping and singing under the pile of poop.

Meanwhile, the barnyard cat was passing by and heard the sound of singing coming from the pile. Curious as a cat can be, he pawed around in the pile and uncovered the thawed bird. Their eyes met, there was a silent moment of suspense, and then the cat ate the bird.

The moral of the story is three-fold. First, not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy. Second, not everyone who cleans it off is your friend. Third, when you do get dumped on, it is best to keep your mouth shut. The bottom line is this. When the chips are down, the Lord is up to something good. Take heart, and place your trust in Him. You’ll be blessed in every way.

Minggu, 30 Agustus 2009

The 21 Laws of Relationship

The 21 Laws of Relationship
by Junior deSouza www.juniordesouza.com

In society, if we break certain laws we go to prison. In relationships also, if we break certain laws we end up in a prison--a prison of loneliness, isolation, and frustration. I call this Relationship Prison. I've been incarcerated there too many times! Weren't you my cellmate?
Most of the time we go on our own. We do not understand concrete laws that govern relationships, and therefore, we break them unknowingly and repeatedly--landing us in prison time and time again. We don't have to go or stay in Relationship Prison!
Happy relationships follow laws, unhappy ones are, more or less, lawless. God strengthen us.

Relationship Pre-Laws
The twenty-one laws to follow pertain to relationships already in progress. These three pre-laws, however, are simply guides for the selection process, before relationships happen.
Pre-law #1: Relationships are abundant, not scarce --- Being in Relationship Prison too long or too often makes one feel that relationships are rare, that there is simply not enough love to go around. Consequently, we cling to whatever mediocre or malicious person that floats into our orbit. Why settle? There's plenty of good relationships to go around, if you know and follow relationship laws (Ps 34:9,10, 84:11).
Pre-law #2: Know what you're looking for --- Where there is no vision people perish (Pr 29:18 KJV). Know the type of relationship you want. Many wander from person to person hoping to be saved from themselves, their past, and their sense of nothingness and emptiness. Consequently, they become a string puppet in someone else's theater. Understand yourself and enjoy your own company, and from this knowledge establish clear values for what you want in a relationship. You can only love a neighbor as you love yourself (Mk 12:31).
Pre-law #3: Break the pattern --- Don't keep drifting to subpar people! This repetition compulsion is a subconscious phenomenon whereby we keep repeating disappointing relationships until we "fix it" and "make it right". Make a conscious effort by the Holy Spirit to engage different, more wholesome, people. Be choosy. Intentionally go against the pattern and break it. Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV): The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Relationships flourish when comprehensively founded on the person, principles, and presence of Jesus Christ.
Any relationship's outcome will depend on its deepest foundation, its truest center, its strongest motivation for existence and continuance. No other foundation exists other than Jesus Christ (1Co 3:11). Anything built upon Him and His Word is sturdy, steady, and secure, while any other foundation will prove disillusioning when visited by life's ferocious realities (Lk 6:46-49).
For a relationship to fully flourish under God's pleasure, each person must contribute a personal spirituality founded on the Lord Jesus Christ. This means a daily, vibrant, growing relationship with Him and His kingdom. The deceptive counterfeit is when a person has a mere intellectual agreement with Christianity. This is NOT being founded on the Lord, but simply a person smart enough to recognize truth. A person founded on Christ is a born-again organism that is perpetually breathing, feeding, growing, and reproducing in Him in obvious ways.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the inner wellbeing of each person.
Whole individuals make happy relationships, while broken individuals make unhappy ones. The more emotionally sound the individuals are, the more relaxed and enjoyable the relationship. The stronger the individuals' sense of personal worth and identity, the stronger the relationship. The equation is pretty common sense.
It is a fool's game expecting someone else to be responsible for our happiness. Relationships often go belly-up because one person is unwhole and unhappy internally, yet blames their partner. Your life is your own stewardship! Become emotionally whole and filled with a sense of identity in Christ (Isa 61:1-3, Lk 4:18 NKJV). Then, and only then, will you be able to pull your weight toward a great relationship.
Relationships flourish in proportion to personality understanding and empathy.
We all were divinely designed in uniqueness and difference (Ps 33:15, 139:13-16, Eph 2:10). This means each individual contains a distinct set of passions, values, opinions, and behaviors stemming from their personal nature. Relationships crumble when individuals compromise their basic personality, or when it is not understood, appreciated, and encouraged. On the other hand, relationships soar when individuality and empathy abound.
The Bible gives us enlightening truths about human personality, which is ultimately traced back to divine personality. Some people are naturally powerful and strong-willed, like Paul the intense leader (Ac 23:2,3, Gal 2:11,14). Some are naturally peaceable and submissive, like Abraham, the compliant partner (Gen 16:1,2,6, 23:16). Some are naturally playful and sanguine, like Elijah, the sarcastic provocateur (1Ki 18:27). Some are naturally pensive and serious, like Jeremiah, the brutally realistic and weepy prophet (Jer 20: 14-18, 15:10, Lam 1:16,20,21, 2:11, 3:48).
Understand yourself and be yourself. Though a part of you will form a new identity with this individual(s), your basic person must remain intact. Some need to discover (or rediscover) themselves before they seek to discover another. In discovering another, celebrate what you find, though it differ from you.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the functional biblical knowledge of each person.
Functional knowledge is "knowledge that is performing." It is acting on what we know. It is the application of information. In God's kingdom, it is putting biblical knowledge to work. Functional biblical knowledge goes beyond hearing, reading, and learning Scripture, into doing, practicing, and experiencing it (Jas 1:22-25). God told Joshua his success in conquering the Promised Land depended on his functional knowledge of the Scriptures (Jsh 1:7,8). The psalmist said whoever lives by the Law of Lord will be like a fruitful tree planted by rivers of living water, prospering in anything and everything (Ps 1:2,3). God's Word! Relationships depend on it as a light and lamp to illuminate the best way (119:105). Biblical ignorance and inaction have left many promising relationships withering and wandering in a hot, dry desert.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the role integrity and faithfulness of each person.
Role refers to the specific "job" each person performs in the relationship to make it succeed. Therefore, role integrity refers to faithfully practicing and fulfilling that particular job.
For example, in a biblical marriage, the husband is appointed the role of leader, the wife the role of helper (Gen 2: 18, Eph 5:22-24). If they are faithful and efficient in these roles and their implications, the relationship can succeed. If not, role confusion and role reversal will give way to disorder, conflict, even termination.
Also consider friendships. Some friendships are vertical; one person is clearly the leader, mentor, and teacher, while the other is clearly the follower, learner, and protégé. If this is truly the best scenario for both persons, then the relationship can flourish only if they are both faithfully fulfilling their roles. This does not mean the relationship cannot graduate into a horizontal friendship (walking side by side as "equals", with no distinct leader or follower), it simply means that in each particular season both persons must discern and fulfill their roles for the welfare of the relationship.
For example, Jesus had a vertical relationship with the disciples for most of His ministry. He had the clear role of rabbi and they the role of students. Then, at the end of His life, He declared them no longer servants, but friends, upgrading the relationship to a side-by-side friendship and partnership (Jn 15:15).
All relationships come with roles, even professional ones. Each person must assess the nature and intent of the relationship, and, what role they must fulfill to ensure the relationship's wellbeing and success.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the commitment of each person.
The modern proverb is true, It takes two to tango! A relationship flourishes when all individuals involved are equally committed and contributive. Different types of ongoing investments will be required for different types of relationships (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, financial/material, marital, etc.). The nature and intent of the relationship will determine what investments are appropriate and relevant. Are all persons willing to invest and give, and do so ongoingly? If so, there can be success. If not, the relationship deadlocks and becomes a one-sided project. Ecclesiastes 9:10: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the trust and security level present.
Trust and security, like many of these laws, grow progressively over time with positive experiences. Everyone needs the assurance they are relating with someone dependable, faithful, loyal, and reliable. Within such a safe relationship, persons feel liberal with honesty and vulnerability, resulting in a high level of intimacy and fulfillment. Relating persons must take extreme measures and exert meticulous efforts to perfect trust and security. Without it, suspicions, accusations, and paranoia threaten to swallow the relationship whole, making us hear what is not said and imagine what is not real.
Proverbs 20:6 (NKJV): ...but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 25:19 (NIV): Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble. Luke 16:10-12: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?
Relationships flourish in proportion to love deficit and provision.
Love deficit refers to the specific type of love each person feels they need most. These "love languages" are well summarized in The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, though each language has subtle "dialects" (variations) from person to person. Love provision refers to the other person's cognizance and willingness to regularly provide that specific type of love.
For example, David had a tremendous love deficit from the ongoing shame and rejection from his brothers (1Sam 17:28,29). God sent Jonathan as a brother-type to provide the very type of love he needed to balance his emotional debt (ch20). Instead of shaming David, Jonathan admired and affirmed him. Instead of rejecting him, he embraced and loved him as himself.
All people, to differing degrees, pursue decisions and relationships by their love deficit, with the hopes of finding the corresponding love provision and rebalancing their heart. Emotional relationships (family, romances, close friendships) are the most susceptible to the power of love deficit, yet possess an equal capability to provide for, heal, and bring balance to those very debts. When people's love deficits are overlooked and not provided for, anger, depression, conflict, retaliation, manipulation, and chaos loom. Relationships are a place where God pays off our emotional debts. Be sensitive to this and discern what role you are to play, healer or being healed or both.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the change-inclination of each person.
Change-inclination refers to a person's level of desire and willingness to change attitudes and behaviors detrimental to intimacy, or, certain benign habits that simply hinder or retard greater intimacy. This translates into flexibility, adjustment, and sacrifice in any and every way necessary to ensure mutual fulfillment.
Besides other purposes, relationships were intended to change us (Pr 27:17, Ro 15:14). A stubborn goat unwilling to change will never enjoy relational happiness. They will forever remain in Relationship Prison wondering what's wrong with everyone else. Don't you be that goat!
Relationship is the merging of two (or more) worlds and the creation of a new one. Some of the elements of these worlds are beautifully compatible, some can be made compatible with patience and wisdom, and some must be sacrificed totally. A wise person who enjoys Eden-type relationships understands change-inclination very well. They are ever ready to change themselves, willing to adapt, adjust, bend, compromise, submit, and sacrifice to walk in Eden with others. Not weak-willed, but soft-willed.
We cannot change others. You know that right? Many become obsessed with rearranging or fixing others, and fail to see this is codependence at best, manipulation at worst. Personal transformation is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit and the person's freewill alone. Certainly we can apply the power of example, humility, love, truth-speaking, confrontation, and other provocative agents to motivate change, but our efforts have limits, limits we must respect and accept. When each person in a relationship has a high change-inclination, their bond will never stop ascending into greater and greater intimacy and joy.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the peace-orientation of each person.
Peace-orientation refers to a person's level of zeal to achieve and maintain unity and harmony in a relationship. I am not referring to a false peace or an avoidant peace-faking, whereby one person indulges or enables another person's evils. Peace-orientation is a bentness for true, interpersonal peace that inspires one to be solution-oriented, negotiable, and most of all, loving and humble. This quality is determined largely by the spiritual and emotional maturity of the person.
Scripture has a mouthful to say about peace-orientation. Paul said to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3, emp added). In the verse before he tells us to be completely humble, gentle, patient, and loving. He also said, "If it possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Ro 12:18). Jesus said, "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other" (Mk 9:50). Salt preserves...preserve peace. God's Word is commanding us to have a high peace-orientation.
Those with a low peace-orientation are constant perpetrators of chaos, drama, and conflict. Scripture frowns on them. Proverbs 29:8,9: Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. Psalm 120:5-7: Woe to me that I dwell in Meshach, that I live among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war.
Relationships flourish in proportion to how each person wields their blueprint.
A blueprint is a preconceived model. Architects use blueprints to guide their construction of buildings. The imagination conceives it, the paper records it, and the workers build it.
Similarly, each person has a relational blueprint, a mental model of what they envision the relationship to be. This blueprint guides their attitudes, behaviors, and words, in minor and major ways. Most people refer to this simply as "expectations". It is, though, a blueprint. Their blueprint.
Relational blueprints are not wrong in and of themselves, but how people use them often is. First of all, we need to downgrade our blueprint from an expectation to simply a request. Venerating our blueprint too highly makes us selfish and self-absorbed, preoccupied with my wants and my needs. Intimacy, though, is always give first and receive last. We all have wants and needs, most of them legitimate and fair. But if we become experts at satisfying the other person's blueprint first, our faithful God will take up our case Himself and do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine to satisfy our blueprint.
Philippians 2:3,4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Relationships flourish in proportion to a positive atmosphere.
Every relationship has a felt atmosphere, and this atmosphere imposes moods and compulsions on the individuals involved. An atmosphere of tension and nervousness typically provokes angry outbursts. An atmosphere of depression and hopelessness typically provokes secretive scheming. On the other hand, a sunshine atmosphere of hope, optimism, laughter, and friendliness provokes reactions of life, enthusiasm, friendship, and want-to-change.
Whatever we focus on in others we bring out in them. If we focus on their negative points, immaturities, and shortcomings--and constantly let them know about it--you can be sure that mess will increase. Bad attention is always better than no attention to the nonmature. When we focus on the good we want to draw out of people, the better they feel about themselves, us, and the relationship. The less they need to act out to be attended to. Proverbs 18:20,21, life and death is in your verbal focus!
If a sunny atmosphere prevails long enough, some negativities will dissipate on their own. Soften your face (Ecc 8:1), smile more (Pr 15:30 NIV), and keep laughing (Pr 15:15)! Someone will have to dig deep, rise up, and set a new mood in the relationship.
Relationships flourish in proportion to how the individuals fight, disagree, and conflict.
Some cannot conflict without personalizing the matter. They bypass the issue at hand and digress into personal insults, cheap shots, and disrespect. They attack the person, not the problem. This leaves broken feelings and broken trust in its wake. Few people are mature and resilient enough to walk on this kind of water repeatedly.
Others talk agreeably in disputes, yet resort to behind-the-scenes scheming and manipulation for revenge. These are the "guerilla fighters" of relationships. They do not conflict directly, usually because they hate conflict, yet find their payback in secret. This happens often in marriages where one spouse cheats secretly to "get back" at their partner, yet still comes home and plays the Cleavers. Many husbands justify pornography in this way, seeing it simply as payback for wrongs inflicted.
The above examples are war crimes, inhumane and illegitimate battle tactics. They destroy relationships faster than you can say, "That's not fair!" Here are a few tips for conflicting respectfully:
Discern the conflict's nature: emotional vs intellectual Some conflicts center on feelings--then talk emotionally, honestly, and vulnerably. Some center on differing opinions--then debate facts. Talk on the same level. Crisscrossing brings confusion and misunderstanding. If the conflict contains elements of both, then talk emotionally first (validating feelings), intellectually second (discussing facts and solutions).
Always give a fair trial Everyone has a right to explain themselves. Let them. Don't assign motives. Never assume. Delay verdicts until all the evidence is in. Listen to Solomon, Proverbs 25:7,8: ...What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?
Stay on topic Don't bounce around from issue to issue (women especially). Address the most pressing issue thoroughly until mutual satisfaction is reached. Yahweh dismantled Egypt one god at a time, not all at once.
Be solution-oriented; negotiate You can obsess over being right or you can choose to have a happy relationship. Seek solutions, not self-justification. Do you want to be right or alone? Let gray areas be gray areas, and let disputable matters remain disputable (Ro 14:1).
Open-endedness Some conflicts do not have an immediate resolution. Recognize this and be content to let time and the Lord unfold the best outcome (Ps 37:7,34).
Reassure Relational battles can make us question whether we are truly loved or not. Ignore ego and always reaffirm your love and commitment. Sometimes this is really at the root of it all--a simple need for loving reassurance (Ro 13:8, 2Co 2:7,8).
Relationships flourish in proportion to the forgiveness aptitude of each person.
Matthew 18:32-35: Then the master called the servant in. "You wicked servant," he said, "I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.
The above scripture makes me tremble.Forgiveness is a spiritual aptitude developed through prayer, time, and practice. I will not say much here because I have written a thorough teaching on the subject posted on my website (Forgiveness..can I truly forgive? http://www.juniordesouza.com/teachingsi.htm ).
I will say, holding grudges, harboring offenses, keeping a record of wrongs, silently stewing and brewing, and planning counterattacks is sin, sin, sin. It will destroy the relationship, and according to Jesus in Matthew 18:34,35, God will "turn us over to the jailers to be tortured" if we refuse to forgive from the heart and let go forever. Hard words from a very forgiving Savior.
Relationships flourish in proportion to communication quality.
This is probably the most well-known fact, but least-practiced act. All relationships crumble or soar by communication, even non-emotional ones, since the tongue is every ship's rudder (Jms 3:3-5).
Communication is the act of conveying information. Everything living depends on incoming and outgoing information to survive and thrive--animals, plants, humans, nations, organizations, armies, businesses. Conveying information in its various forms (intellectual, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual, etc...) is the nervous system of relationship. How many relationships are paralyzed and handicapped because of a malfunctional nervous system?
Soul dialects Being a great relational communicator, first and foremost, means understanding that each individual communicates for different reasons and with different vocabulary. In other words, everyone has their own unique "soul dialect". Soul dialects can be discerned by listening with genuine interest and thoughtfulness. Conversely, when conveying information, good relational communicators use the soul dialect of the listener (as much as possible), increasing their understanding and receptivity.
Jesus often used agricultural terminology to connect with a very agricultural Jewish mind. The typical Jew had a soul dialect filled with such imagery and vocabulary. When Jesus recruited Peter and Andrew, he spoke their soul's dialect also, paralleling their fishing experience with their evangelistic calling (Mt 4:18-20). Even in the Lazarus incident did Jesus speak Martha's language, helping her grasp the greater reality of spiritual life versus spiritual death through the death of her brother (Jn 11:17-27). Just as God speaks our inner language to reach us, so also good communicators are multilingual, able to discern and dialogue with the inner language of their loved ones.
Soul dialects are the foundation of all relational communication. Upon this though, there are other communicational building blocks.
Approach Everyone communicates relationally in one of three ways: parent-to-child (talking down; directing, instructing, counseling), child-to-parent (talking up; revering, complying, deferring), or adult-to-adult (talking across; dialoguing, negotiating, co-creating). If the relationship is a mentorship, communicating parent-to-child/child-to-parent is appropriate and fitting. If it is a friendship or romance, communicating adult-to-adult is crucial. Relationships should be prayerfully pondered as to which approach is healthiest and ideal for all involved.
Meaningfulness Communication should go beyond clichés and facts (men especially). It should be meaningful, revealing honest feelings, reactions, and needs (especially in friendships and romance).
Much more could be said about communication's intricacies. However, soul dialects, approach, and meaningfulness are the central pieces upon which the rest is built.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the process-mentality of each person.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Oak trees mature in 10-15 years. Little by little Israel took the promised land (Ex 23:29,30). Some things are developed only through time, like a healthy body, a successful company, or an amazing relationship. The more of a process-mentality each individual has, the more steadily the relationship grows, the faster it will reach a seasoned, fulfilling zenith.
Relational development is seasonal. This means each season has certain challenges and pleasures. The relationship only grows as it successfully assimilates these seasonal elements. If it does not, the relationship will come to a standstill, a stagnancy, a redundancy, remaining in that very season until it successfully assimilates the elements. Like Israel wandering in the desert, the relationship will wander in its present season until it does so.
Therefore, relational development is also sequential. As the relationship successfully assimilates its seasonal elements, it graduates into a new season and evolves. The relationship deepens, expands, and matures that much more. Intimacy and fulfillment increases that much more.
A process-mentality welcomes the fact that the relationship does not have to be "There" overnight. It does not have to be ideal or amazing right now. It does understand, however, that the assimilation and accumulation of seasons will lead there. The marathon perspective of a process-mentality silences I-want-it-now demands and calms us with the fruit of patience.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the teamwork approach of each person.
In relationships we do not lose individuality, but we must lose individualism. Individuality is our personal uniqueness, while individualism is a bent to hyperindependent behavior. Many in Relationship Prison have not understood or embraced this fine distinction.
A relationship is a team in every way imaginable, and the goal is for the team to win. When the team wins, each team member wins. Everything--literally everything--that is felt, thought, said, or done must be in consideration of our teammate. This is often a struggle for alpha males in marriage, whose tendency is toward a detached lifestyle and individualistic decision-making. However, through repentance, truth, and Spirit-powered rehabituation, he can become the interdependent team-player God commands him to be. Philippians 2:2-4: Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the fairness and efficiency of task distribution.
Every relationship has a "housekeeping" side. Certain tasks and responsibilities need to be assigned fairly and carried out efficiently. Who will pay what bills? Who will buy the food? Who will clean, and when? Who will pay for gas? Who will pick up the kids? Emotional intimacy is euphoric, but it will quickly dissipate under the frustrations of unfair or inefficient task distribution. Little foxes ruin the vineyard (SS 2:15). Make and keep good practical arrangements satisfying to all.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the overall life experience of each person.
Life experience is not necessarily a sign of spiritual maturity. Practically, though, it is incredibly beneficial to a relationship's rhythm and flow. For example, managing personal resources, dealing well with different types of people, navigating change, social confidence, cultural literacy, physical health and excellence, understanding basic economics, and other life practicalities all affect the daily rhythm and flow between people. Most of Proverbs is devoted to this.
Many spiritual Christians continue having relational frustrations simply because they are inexperienced at life in general. They can pray for hours but can't balance a checkbook. They can quote Scripture but can't conversate gracefully or intelligently. They can name every ringleader in their spiritual movement but they can't count calories. I've been there.
All this translates into life experience, or wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but have you ever wondered about the middle and end of wisdom? The beginning of all wisdom is indeed spiritual, a reverent relationship with God yielding godly attitudes and behaviors (Jas 3:13-18). From there, however, it expands to every area of our life, even the most mundane. The outer reaches of wisdom deal with informed and insightful daily living. The longer we live on this earth, if we are open to new information, the wiser we become in life's intricate nooks and crannies. This Proverbs-type wisdom makes relationships flow a million times smoother. One less conflict about anything means one more opportunity for joy...apply that to several areas of life and you have a relationship sidestepping many difficult days.
Relationships flourish in proportion to the social involvement of each person.
Everyone requires relational and social connections beyond the immediate relationship--friends, loved ones, and quality acquaintances. Perhaps the most prominent trait of a religious cult is that it seeks to isolate members from outside relationships. Though most of us have never been so steeped in a cult, we have all known people highly possessive, controlling, and cult-like in their relationships. This type of suffocation is very dangerous. Not only does it snuff out the sparkle and joy from relationships, but any abuse happening can go undetected and unreported for years until something tragic blows the cover.
Several years ago I counseled a lady in her mid-30s who had been abused in every way by her husband. They attended church every week. She was not allowed to speak in Sunday School unless spoken to. She was not allowed any outside connections, not even family, until finally one day she called her father from a motel room. Her husband had threatened to grind her up in farming equipment, leaving no trace of her whatsoever.
Here's the lesson: he did not begin the relationship that way. From the beginning he gave abusive clues, speaking negatively of her friends and family, planting seeds to disconnect. Little by little he closed off her social involvements until she was totally isolated and terrified of resisting or running. Never ignore abusive clues. Anything accommodated grows.
Relationships are living organisms, they must breathe in and breathe out fresh air to be healthy and growing. Good social involvement with others keeps fresh winds blowing in and blowing out. Proverbs 27:10: Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you-better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another...
Relationships are subject to distance or termination when the immediate or longterm safety and wellbeing of a person is at risk.
The Creator intended relationships to be life-giving, not death-causing. When the immediate or longterm safety and wellbeing of a person is at risk, relational distance or termination becomes a legitimate consideration.
Some have a faulty understanding of unconditional love, forgiveness, and patience. They think God would applaud their relational martyrdom if they let themselves be beaten to a pulp day after day, physically or verbally or whatever way. Essentially, they are licensing a destructive person to destroy them little by little, if not all at once. This is not admirable or biblical; this is fear of being alone, codependence, and struggling self-worth. Even Jesus would not tolerate certain treatment (Jn 2:23-25, Lk 4:28-30).
Harmful vs Hard We need to contrast harmful relationships with simply hard ones. A harmful relationship is one that will cause immediate or eventual damage to our wellbeing. The enemy is often, if not always, directly manifested in such relationships. Psalm 101 and Proverbs 13:20 address such.
Hard relationships are just that--hard--but not ultimately harmful. They carry the fingerprints of the Sanctifier, who organizes such uphill relationships to develop our spirituality and personality. At times we'd like to swear such relationships are "harmful", giving us excuse to cut n run, but deep down we know the Spirit is using that person like sandpaper to smooth our rough edges. We instinctively know that in the end it will produce new, life-giving relational patterns in us. Paul had a hard time with John Mark (Ac 15:37-40), but they both grew and eventually got it right (2Ti 4:11).