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Marriage, Authority and Soul Ties

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When two people marry they are united at a far deeper level than just a legal contract.  They are joined emotionally as well as physically.  Jesus explains; “. . . from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)  This means that what affects one affects the other in a deep lasting emotional way that has spiritual implications – the physical bond created in marriage extends deep into the souls of husband and wife.  This bond affects their spiritual health.

body_soul_spiritWe are body, soul and spirit.  Scripture tells us that body, soul and spirit are all connected; “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)  That’s why marriage is of special concern because it’s reach extends carries from one soul to another – it is called a soul tie.  Soul ties are created through deep covenantal intimacy coming out of friendship, family and marriage.

The soul ties arising out of our sexuality can be a blessing or burden to us and those around us.  The Apostle Paul explains the seriousness of sexual sin; “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)  The becoming ‘one flesh’ is in essence a soul tie of the deepest connection between two human beings. marriage triangle

The Apostle Paul explains the deep spiritual ramifications of soul ties.  For Christians when we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour we are joined with Him in the spirit.  Negative soul ties or usurped legitimate soul ties bring a great deal of spiritual damage to us because they are an affront to the purity of the Holy Spirit;  “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a man can commit is outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body”  (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)  How counter-cultural is that!!!!

Not only does a married person sin against their own body, when they fall into sexual sin but because of the soul tie with their partner they drag their spouse into the dirt with them. Both must deal with the emotional baggage and the spiritual poisoning that the resulting resentment brings.  This puts lust and pornography into stark perspective because Jesus says; “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The Holy Spirit in us demands Peace with God  by confession and repentance from sins done in the dark because we are never alone. What we do or fail to do always affects others – especially those closest to us!

As long as husband and wife follow Jesus in their marriage and are guided on a daily basis by the Holy Spirit, all is well; “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.”  (Proverbs 18:22)  The guidelines are simple; “’Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor [including wife or husband],’ for we are members of one another. ’Be angry, and do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”  (Eph 4:25-27) And; “Be careful that no one falls short of the grace of God, so that no root of bitterness will spring up to cause trouble and defile many.”  (Hebrews 12:15)  Notice that God’s Word stresses people don’t just affect themselves but many – ‘we are members of one another’ and ‘defile many’!  Christian community is a fellowship linked by the Holy Spirit.  Deep friendships and love grow out of this extended family and many positive soul ties develop.  A church community of healthy families makes for a vigorous healthy church.

darkness get inBut what happens when things go wrong in a marriage?  Let’s take a look at one of the most dysfunctional marriages in the Bible – King Ahab and Jezebel his Queen! Ahab was the king of passive resistance and Jezebel was the queen of control.    In one particular instance when Ahab wanted something and couldn’t get it he pouted and felt sorry for himself to the point of going to bed refusing to eat.  His wife Jezebel didn’t want anyone to see how childish and weak her husband the king was so she got Ahab what he wanted.  Jezebel used Ahab’s authority in lying manipulative ways to control the situation.  An innocent man was killed and Ahab was ok with it because he got what he wanted.  (1 Kings 21)

The spiritual dynamic between these two infamous characters was the abdication of responsibility and the illegitimate taking of control in the absence of righteous authority.  Ahab and Jezebel fit hand in glove in their wickedness, each feeding off the other.  The spirits of aggressive passivity and the spirit of control is named after this nasty pair and they can plague marriages and communities today.  How?  Ahab had no respect for God and considered holiness trivial.  He was an anointed King but chose to ignore his responsibility and squander his authority to the point of releasing it to his wife Jezebel.  Jezebel didn’t respect Ahab.  She loved the prestige Ahab had as King and manipulated every circumstance to exercise her control over situations so she could usurp his authority for herself and achieve what she thought was best.    When men walk away from the God-given responsibility and authority they have in their family a spiritual vacuum opens up in their marriage.  A door is opened for a spiritual incursion that invites not only the spirit of Ahab into the man’s soul but through the soul tie established with his wife the spirit of Jezebel sees an opportunity to enter.

A few weeks ago at Bible study a sister in the Lord remarked; ‘Women do tend to control!’ We all laughed.  I responded; ‘Men like to do their own thing, and be like big kids!’.  We could all see the humor in these common tendencies.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that neither tendency was all that funny because  it is so commonly working in our own lives that we accept it as normal.  Yet we see a spiritual dynamic at work that has eroded much of the intimacy and quality of our married life.  But since it is not blatant and acute like the antics of Ahab and Jezebel, we don’t notice the spiritual workings of it –  in our souls and relationships.  Our families and fellowships are eaten away.  Our souls are beset, our soul tie becomes a burden not a blessing and our relationship with Jesus is hindered because of the spiritual poisoning resentments bring.  Our family including the church family is affected as this affliction moves through soul ties including those established through the bonds of friendship so often established in close communities.  That is why healthy marriages and Godly relationships are crucial to  the  health of a church.jesus at the centre

How do we contend with these unholy spirits that beset us?  The Holy Spirit will not abide them.  If we ask God for help He will help; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)  The first step is confession.  Confession is confronting – naming our oppressor is to name the demon – name the sin!  The next step is repentance; “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)  Turning back means to turn to Jesus and live according to His Word.   Men, rise up and accept your responsibility so your wives won’t be tempted to take control because of your absenteeism.  Women, respect your husbands and wait upon the Lord!  Jesus leads your husbands. Have faith!   Brothers and sisters, all is possible through Jesus’ strength (Phil. 3:19) Once the Holy Spirit is appealed to –  His presence will drive out all unclean spirits – including the  Ahab and Jezebel spirit; “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6)

This is revival!

Amen

Marriage, Community and Jesus – a message for Bible believing people

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There are three relationships that are the most important anyone can have in life. All three are intimate, life changing and maturing.   The relationship husbands and wives have with each other in marriage is the basis of family.  The relationship people develop within their church is the basis of true lifelong community.  The relationship that people have with Jesus Christ is foundational for both marriage and church fellowship.  Today  marriage is under attack and churches are in drastic decline because few have any real meaningful relationship with Jesus.  Many churches have  lost their  way accommodating the world.  Marriage has become what is fashionable rather than Biblical.  And both institutions  in becoming worldly – church and marriage – are unable to nurture families that produce  the next generation of  Bible believing Christians.marriage triangle

A couple of years ago my wife and I took a course on pastoral counseling and when the teacher came to the topic of marriage, he said the number one relationship killing issue in marriage was the issue of ‘centrality’.  Who is at the center of your marriage –   you, your spouse, your kids, mortgage, finances, possessions or lifestyle?   I believe the real root of  brokenness  in marriage AND church is centrality – Jesus is not at the center.  If a man doesn’t love Jesus first,  he can never love his wife the way God intended.  If a church doesn’t put Jesus first and foremost, that church can never build up true community fellowship and nurture family based Godly marriage.

The devil has taken over many a church and destroyed many marriages by getting people to focus on themselves only – their desires, fun and fitting in with the world – rather than Jesus.  Paul tells the church at Ephesus; “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24).  This is so counter cultural today – few accept it.  How many women balk at submitting to their husbands while professing to submit to Jesus and His Word which includes this instruction?

godly menBefore the women start feeling condemned let me say this – I don’t blame you for balking because men can be absentee husbands – emotionally and spiritually – showing up in the marriage only for physical comforts and preferential treatment.  I was a husband like that. Perhaps you were too?  And many still are today.   Wives put up with it and so does the church! How many husbands come to the altar rail to pray for their wife and family?  How many men take a real interest in the church and come forward on behalf of their church community and family?  When was the last time you heard a father in the church testify to his need for Jesus in his life, marriage and family?  How many young men as sons and young women as daughters see their fathers stand with his peers accountable before Jesus and His church for their family life – and not just for the successes and praise but for their failures and brokenness?   Men will give up their authority so they can do their own thing without being accountable.

Who are we accountable to? Rarely the church and this is very sad because it wasn’t always that way.   In the 1700’s John Wesley’s discipleship groups would remove people from their fellowship if they habitually fell short: “If there be any among us who observe them not [rules of discipleship], who habitually break any of them, let it be made known unto them who watch over that soul as they that must give an account. We will admonish him of the error of his ways; we will bear with him for a season: But then if he repent not, he hath no more place among us. We have delivered our own souls. -Wesley’s Works Vol. 8. pgs 270,271,272-274.”   Some may think that very harsh but which is worse – maintaining a community discipline that protects by  holding  men accountable or the indifference and silent acceptance of absentee  husbands and fathers in order to avoid confrontation?take a stand

As a former school principal I know that order breaks down when the leaders – those in charge of the classroom – are lax and don’t take the rules seriously themselves. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. What havoc is wreaked when the entirety of God’s Word isn’t taken seriously by the Church and by those who God places in authority!  Every institution and the relationships fostered within them decline.  Marriage is in decline and families are falling apart because many churches have lost their way and decline as well.

What instructions does God’s Word have for married men? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) Clearly love in a Godly marriage puts your wife first, after God and above all your own needs.  Ultimately there is no room for selfishness.  How can a man live up to that kind of dedication?  Without Jesus front and center men drift back to the love of their own comforts, leaving wives a distant second at best.  If you won’t submit to Jesus and follow His example in your marriage – what right do you have to expect your wife to submit to you? Men give up all spiritual authority and right because we want to please ourselves and do our own thing.  When we abuse and abdicate the authority placed on  us by God we leave it to the devil by default! And the devil is only too happy to take it and your family!

Church communities that have accommodated to the world’s notions of marriage and family are not Christ centered – How could they be since they don’t follow His Word. Jesus Himself said; “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4,5) . And if the world loving churches are not Christ centered they can’t disciple and support people in Godly marriages.  Ironically, the very society, these accommodating churches deform themselves to get along with, deems them ‘irrelevant’ and ‘silly’. Young people leave the church and live lives of empty fun and materialism in what passes for community in our fake impersonal world.

cost of silenceEven churches that appear to follow  His Word but remain silent about the unholy curriculum of our public schools regarding sexuality, marriage and family run counter to Jesus’ call upon His people; “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) There is much talk of pornography in the pulpit and there should be because that too is a marriage and family killer but we remain silent about sending our children to public schools everyday where they learn about same sex marriages and gender blending.   These churches too will decline because in one generation no one will take God’s Word on family, marriage and sexuality seriously.  The child grown up will say to their parents- that’s not what I learned in school and why should I believe the rest of the Bible either!

I’ll conclude with Paul’s remarks about the mysterious linkage between healthy marriages and the true church.  Paul quotes Jesus;  “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:31-33) When the devil attacked the institution of the family and marriage with the blessing of some churches and the silence of other churches the quality of family life declined, marriage got shakier and now many young people see no need for this covenant relationship.

Where is Jesus in all this mess? Where are the Godly leaders pointing to God’s Word on these important issues? If there is no Jesus in the center, there can never be Godly love or respect in your marriage, your family or in your church.  Respect from the wife is earned by the selfless love a husband gives his wife following Jesus in a Godly marriage – this is the basis of a stable nurturing family.revival

What can we do? Individually we can read and accept all of God’s Word, not just the parts that don’t conflict with our worldly views.  We can accept the responsibility and authority in our churches, marriages and families and not shirk it.  As men we can abide in His Word – really abide in it on a daily basis.  No more absenteeism.  I know God is faithful to forgive our shortcomings if we confess and ask Him (1 John 1:9).  If Jesus isn’t at the centre of your life, your marriage and community – ask Him to be.  He will fill the void  (Rev. 3:20).  He does it for me and he will do it for you.

Corporately as His true church we can repent and pray; “. . . if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)   God saves His people and protects them from the evil one.  Jesus at the centre of the church individually and corporately brings blessings and Godly order to our community, our marriages and our lives.

Amen.

Who should get a second chance?

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Second chances are great but who ‘deserves’ them?  Do we reserve ‘second chances’ for people we like or who are ‘like us’?  Who decides? And how?  These are all really tough questions especially if you have been the victim of a crime or  someone close to you has been hurt or killed in a crime. We like to think we are a tolerant society.  We aren’t.  There are very definite limits to our tolerance.  When those limits are exceeded there is no ‘second chance’ and no forgiveness.13463f986b12192aa04db88409aea635

Alana Syvret’s statement regarding Karla Homolka illustrates the limits of social tolerance; “People like that don’t deserve second chances.”  When a Karla Homolka moves in next door  or sits beside you at a picnic, tolerance goes out the window;

“. . . for all I know, I was sitting next to her last year at the (end-of-classes) picnic.”

“This is scary. What do you tell your children? You never expect something like that here. It’s a calm, collected community.

“I’d like parents to step up and make a stink,” said Syvret, who has two children at Centennial Park. “I don’t think it should be left alone. If it hadn’t surfaced, we would have never known. I could have sent my kids there for a birthday party.

“I feel bad for her kids, but I don’t deserve to be uncomfortable sending my kids to school. People like that don’t deserve second chances.”

Karla Homolka’s return to Châteauguay sends shock waves through Quebec community,   Paul Delean,  Postmedia News | April 19, 2016

Alana Syvret says in an outright way what many hide deep in their heart in the attempt to appear compassionate.  Alana is openly selfish and judgmental;  “I feel bad for her kids, but I don’t deserve to be uncomfortable sending my kids to school. People like that don’t deserve second chances.”  Good for you, Alana, for being so honest about it!  I harbor this selfish judgmental attitude in my own heart as well.  May God have mercy on us!  May God forgive us both!  May God have mercy on us all – including Karla!

forgiveness-quote-2I don’t know what Alana Syvret’s religious beliefs are or if she has any; but I claim to be a Christian.  Alana Syvret reminds me of just who and what I can be – a selfish, unforgiving, judgmental hypocrite.  As a Christian I can talk forgiveness but can I walk it?  Jesus tells us plainly; “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15) And; “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1,2)  Can people change for the better?  When we say ‘no’ we condemn people forever – no second chances for them and for us!

None of us deserve a second chance, yet this is precisely what God provides for us; “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) None of us deserve His Grace; “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

The awful and awesome truth of Christianity is that people do get ‘second chances’.  Everybody does no  matter what they did.  The Bible tells us so:

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:6-10)

This is awesome news because I always need a second chance.  There are many things that I have done that I have needed forgiveness for and received that forgiveness.  And I’m a sinner saved by this grace.    This is awful news because I don’t have the capacity to extend this same grace to everyone else.  I am limited and so is my ‘tolerance’.   I can’t forgive  on my own strength.  God help me!  I need His strength!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Thank you, Jesus!

 

A half truth is the worst kind of lie.

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It’s hard when someone you respect says or writes something that you feel is beneath them.  You ask yourself; ‘Why did they say that?  They know better!’  Then your mind moves towards darker reasoning; ‘If they know better and they said it, what is their purpose? Is it to shock and get more people to read their stuff?  Or do they think that their readers don’t know any better so they can go ahead and build their argument on the sand of ignorance because it sells! ‘  Half truths always leave you in a dark place.

Chris Hedges writes; “The Christian religion embraces the concept of ‘holy war’ as fanatically as Islam does.” This is half true but not all true.  The part that is left out makes the statement the worst kind of lie. It leads you think that the holy war that Christianity embraces is the same kind of war that  supposedly is embraced by Islam. It leads you to think that Islam embraces ‘holy war’ and that is a statement I wouldn’t  care to make given that I am not Islamic.  Let the Muslim people speak for themselves.

Let’s take a look at the context of Chris Hedges statement;

The Christian religion embraces the concept of “holy war” as fanatically as Islam does. Our Crusades are matched by the concept of jihad. Once religion is used to sanctify murder there are no rules. It is a battle between light and dark, good and evil, Satan and God. Rational discourse is banished. And “the sleep of reason,” as Goya said, “brings forth monsters.”

Chris Hedges, We All Are Islamic State,   http://www.Truthdig.com,  Mar 27, 2016

Yes, Christians believe we are in a ‘holy war’.  And no, this belief does not sanctify murder. The Bible tells us;

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

We Christians do believe we are in a pitched battle against spiritual evil in the world.  But our battle is NOT against flesh and blood enemies.  In dealing with ‘flesh and blood’ people who may not think or act as we do, Jesus was very clear about the ‘rules of engagement’;

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; (Matthew 5:43-45)

What weapons do Christians fight with?  Guns? Knives? Swords? Bombs? Fighter jets?  The Bible tells us;

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

The greatest battles we fight are in our own minds, pulling down the very strongholds half-truths establish in us.  Revenge is only an option when we have become completely obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ.

And here is our permitted ‘revenge’:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)

What is irrational about this discourse?  What monster is brought forth from the pages of the Holy Bible. Radicalized Christianity is to follow Jesus into the very place that Chris Hedges says is reviled by Christians who embrace the concept of ‘holy war’.

“‘It is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them,’ Albert Camus, like Immanuel Kant, understood. But the politicians, pundits and mass culture dismiss such wisdom as weakness.”

Chris Hedges, you know better, why do you only tell the half truth about the radicalized Christian’s holy war?

The work of the Cross – what holds us back!

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We are Christians yet, often we don’t live like the work of the Cross is finished.  And it is.  Jesus said; “It is finished!”  Why are there times when we live like we’re finished?

Most everybody has a video library these days with lots of movies that we love.  And we watch our favourite movies over and over again.  My wife and I have a copy of Chevy Chase’s Christmas vacation that we watch every year.  Some movies we watch so many times we can say the dialogue off by heart – ‘Help me Obi Wan Kanobi you’re my only hope!’  We dote on these movies and memorize many  wonderful lines – eagerly reliving the experience by speaking these famous lines; ‘Use the force Luke!

yourwordisalamptomyfeet_bibleWhat about God’s Word?  Do we ‘dote’ on the Bible?  Do we love to read it every season of the year – every day of the year.  How many lines of scripture do you memorize and re-enforce your faith by speaking them daily?  Do you know that Jesus  promised to live with us 24/7 –  if we love Him and keep His Word; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”  (John 14:23)  If there’s little or no room for God’s Word in our house during the week why would we expect Him to be with us on a daily basis?  And why would we expect to meet up with Him in church on Sunday?  If Jesus is a stranger in our home, He’s a stranger to us here on Sunday! The more you get to know His Word the more you get to know Him.  How do I know that – because He said so!  How do I know that He’s as good as His Word? Because when I keep His Word in my living room Jesus is right there with me! Jesus never holds me back.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I’ll get up because I can’t sleep.  Often worries and anxieties will creep into my mind and disturb my peace.  So I’ll get up.  I try not to disturb my wife’s sleep but quite often I’ll be sneaking around in the dark and stub my toe or trip over something.  Crash! Everybody is awake now!  I’ve learned to keep a little flash light by my bed.  If anxiety or worry keeps me from sleeping or disturbs my sleep, I quietly reach for my little light to keep me from stumbling.  When worry drives me to God’s Word which is the Light of my life I know where my help is and I know the way through it.  The Bible tells us; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

When life gets dark and things press in on us do we ‘turn on the light of His Word’?  Or do we stumble around in the dark – stubbing our toes and disturbing our loved ones peace and that of our neighbours?  The prayer of the Psalmist should be our prayer; “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.”  (Psalm 119:106,107)  Walking in the newness of life is walking in faith believing God’s word; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  (2 Corinthians 5:7)dl-mood-family

You can live in fear – walk in fear by staying in the dark and not turning on the light of God’s Word  in your life or you can walk in faith and live by faith; “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)  How wonderful a life of depending on God is if we just take Him at His Word and walk in it; “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  God will never walk away from you but you can walk away from God through your own grudges, covetousness and discontent!

Finally, do you hang on to grudges?  Do you hold your resentments closer to your heart than God?  This is the sneakiest and deadliest from of idolatry because when we feel we’ve been wronged, let down or abandoned we are certain that nobody has ever been as badly hurt as we have –  not even Jesus!  Isaiah knew different, he saw Jesus clearly; “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”  Jesus was wronged by you and by me and by everybody.  Did He nurse a grudge or want to make us pay for what we did?   No! He paid the price for our sins so that we might live.

For many this deadly idolatry of self over God is holds them back from an abundant life now and eternally.  Jesus tells us you must forgive; “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”  (Matthew 6:14,15)  What are you holding on to that is killing you?  If you’re nursing a grudge and have an unforgiving heart there’s no way God will nurse you back to health and life no matter how often you show up on Sunday.  It’s not because God doesn’t want to.  It’s because your pride, anger and resentment blocks His Grace and healing.  God will not force himself upon you.  Nor will He approach unholy pride, hatred and seething resentment – we need repentance and Jesus to overcome our shortcomings.

face_to_face_by_recepgulec-600x395Let us ask God to show us what’s holding us back.  He will honor that prayer; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit”  (Psalm 51:10-12).

Amen!

The work of the Cross – what’s holding us back?

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We live in an incredible reality.  Two thousand years ago an event occurred that changed the fundamental nature of the world and changed everything for us.  God did a work that shook the bedrock of the universe and tore apart all the barriers that stood between us and Him ; “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,  and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;  and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”  (Matthew 27:50-53)   The work of the cross defeated Satan’s hold over us!  Do we live like the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom and the dead are raised? Do we walk as saints in the world and appear to many?  Or do we just appear like many  in the world around us?  If so, what’s holding us back?

romans-6_34-walk-in-newnes-of-lifeThe apostle Paul lays it out; “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3,4)  What does that mean for us?  It means we are not what we were before we came to Jesus; “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.”  (Romans 6:5-7)  We are free of sin and ‘should walk in the newness of life’.  We ‘should’ but do we?

And that means our lives ‘should’ change.  Here on Sunday inside the church building­ and outside the church building – as the  body of Christ –  in our daily lives; “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”  (Romans 6:12-14) ­­­ This presentation is worship 24/7 and if you miss the mark Monday thru Saturday, you’ll miss the mark on Sunday – no matter how good you may look in your ‘Sunday best’.  When I miss the mark during the week I bring that brokenness with me to church. I can hide it or I can admit it and ask Jesus to heal me.   This is the calling we are called to.  Thank you Jesus for grace and Your strength that allows us to get up when we fall down!

God sees deeper than your clothes.  We are all naked before Him!  Do we live like that on Sunday?  Do we live like that on Wednesday – or any day?  Remember how happy kids are in the summer by the beach, running around screeching with joy with nothing on but their swim trunks.  Where is that joy in our lives – that ‘newness of life’? Somewhere along the way we lost it yet it is ours and we can find it again!  If you’re like me sometimes it’s a struggle just trying to act it out to look good.  And not only does God see right through it but most everybody else does too!  What’s dragging us down?  What’s holding us back?  Jesus said; “It is finished!”  (John 19:28-30)  Why do we often live like we’re finished?  It isn’t right! And we don’t have to live that way.

cross_with_deliverance-245101756_stdThe work of His Cross brings Joy, praise, and beauty back into our lives. Jesus came to the Cross;”. . . To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3) The first step is to just praise Him, lift His name up high even if you’re the lowest you’ve ever been!

Here is the Gospel Good News: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We can dance and be glad again again because; ‘It is finished!’

Praise the Lord!

Where there is no vision the people perish

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When politics becomes showmanship and brand loyalty it is taken over by celebrities and self-centered interests.  The left and the right become indistinguishable as far as the misery in the streets is concerned.  And the remaining people of ever more diminishing privilege and number get the ‘leaders’ they clamor for who work harder and harder at dismantling the very scaffold democracy is built upon.

three-blind-voters-300x225The vision of the citizen is just as important as the vision of the leaders they elect.  If the ‘guy in the street’ can’t recognize an empty, shallow and  self serving person who is campaigning for leadership what hope is there that the best leaders will be chosen?  If the ‘guy in the street’ simply wants a change only because he is tired of political correctness and ineffectiveness in the government and has  become so cynical and disengaged with the issues that he will accept any loud noise and flatulence, what wisdom will be demonstrated in the election by the people?  When the citizenry have become emotional and intellectual children what kind of leaders will come forward to capture their fickle hearts and befuddled  minds?  Or if the ‘guy in the street’ prefers a ‘fresh sensitive face with nice hair’ she will vote for any sweet looking guy that says the right things.  We now vote our TV preferences.

An ancient book of great wisdom points out; “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)  We see this happening before our very eyes.  Here in Canada, the people just wanted a change – any change – and we voted for good looks and slogans.  Shawn Katz writes;

We live in a media age where images increasingly pass for reality, where the gloss of marketing manipulation is so thick as to mask entirely what lies beneath. When the standards that reign in the pharmacy aisle are allowed to infiltrate our democratic decision-making, we embrace a dramatic decline in our level of scrutiny that endangers us all.

All parties employ specialists in the art of image-making, and all engage in the politics of spectacle to differing degrees. But in this campaign, it is without a doubt the Liberals who have been the most hyper-savvy — and most cynical — in exploiting many voters’ lack of discernment between a made-for-TV campaign and the lack of substance it can hide. . . .

Despite the boyish charm and buoyant energy of their new leader, the Liberals are still the party of the establishment and corporate elite, which they will surely take no time reminding us of the moment they return to power.

Justin Trudeau and the politics of image

What about our friends to the south?    How’s their ‘eye sight’?  Jen Gerson observes:

No candidate has flapped more wildly than Trump, who has kept himself securely at the front of the pack with a series of increasingly bizarre, outrageous and sometimes frightening statements. From the joys of torture to his jokes about women and ethnic groups, he has established new lows in almost every field of presidential ambition.

He has been aided to no small degree by blanket coverage by an enthralled media, which can’t quite believe what they are seeing. Calculating that exposure would be Trump’s downfall, pundits, reporters and commentators across old media and new have provided non-stop attention, only to discover that a surprising number of viewers liked what they saw. . . .

As the possibility of a Trump triumph has grown, so has the alarm. Open parallels are now being made between Trump and 20th-century demagogues who left ruin in their wake. The open intolerance and xenophobia of his campaign have been compared to the rise of Nazi Germany. His intemperate outbursts are now so frequent there’s hardly time to consider the implications anymore. Trump is not just defeating his fellow Republican candidates, he’s drowning them out.

America approaches a day of reckoning with Trump demagoguery

left-right-shacklesWhen people cast off all restraint of reason and simply vote for their emotional and infantile wish-list tragic results can happen through the democratic process. Democracy doesn’t ensure effective and wise government if the people choose their leaders by magical thinking.

It doesn’t matter which end of the political spectrum people vote for when celebrity and showmanship are the deciding criteria.  Extremism is extreme no matter what end of the political spectrum it exists at. An essayist writing for Sovereign Life points out;

Fascism is a totalitarian system, where big government and big business are in collusion to lord it over ordinary citizens. Private property is allowed “on paper”, but because owners are not free to use or dispose of their property as they wish, the term loses all its meaning. Under a fascist system of government, the individual’s interest is subservient to the national interest.

Communism is also a totalitarian system, where all property belongs to the state. Government and business are the same thing – as the state owns the means of production. Under a communist system of government, the individual’s interest is likewise subservient to the national interest. Both political systems result in effective dictatorship. Both reduce their citizens to the status of serfs – under a ruling class.

There is nothing so extreme as the sound of a hollow drum beating to an audience that dances to its beat with no one wondering where they will be when the party is over.

“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint.”  (Proverbs 29:18)

God help us all.

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