27 December, 2011

God's LOVE is Not Tolerance!

A personal revelation.

Too often, we (Christians) live as though God's love for us is merely some kind of tolerance. As if he's sitting up in heaven, some very great distance away from us, murmuring to himself, "Oh, bother, they've slipped up again. Good thing I'll work that out for good, eventually!...." or "WHEN will they ever LEARN! Good thing they'll die and get to Glory, eventually! I can't wait to finally make them holy; THEN they'll be acceptable...."


As if our God is somehow surprised by our weakness and failure? As if the price of Jesus' blood was somehow insufficient to accomplish the work of securing us in the affection of God for all eternity? Has he not known ALL from the beginning? To the extent that when we see Jesus revealed in his glory, he is described as appearing "as a lamb SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD!" (see Rev. 5:6, 13:8) In God's economy, the cross was already a FINISHED work. We just didn't see that manifest until Jesus made the declaration, hanging there ~ ("It is FINISHED!" see Jn 19:30) ~ the ultimate agony for ecstasy! (see Heb. 12:1-3)

(Or do you think perhaps that "insidious" is too strong a word? Ah, but how much of a prison it has been to me, thinking that I only ever continue to FAIL to please my Father? What is my snare? if not the fact I have failed to realize and receive his LOVE? GOD DOES NOT "TOLERATE" HIS CHILDREN! If God "tolerates" anything, it could be said he TOLERATES evil, he TOLERATES the evil-doer. But God LOVES his children, and in them he is WELL-pleased, because of Jesus! This is absolutely STAGGERING! If we would but grasp it, even if unsee-ingly! nevertheless by Faith! Thank you, Lord!)

No WONDER we continue to give ourselves over to sin as though it still has a death-grip on us! We haven't really reckoned ourselves as dead to sin (see Romans 6), and why? Could it be that we haven't been captivated by the UNFAILING, SUPERCEDING, CROSSING-ALL-SPACE-AND-TIME TO PURSUE AND WOO US LOVE of our Father, God.

Our awareness of our weakness is only intended to fan the flame of our JOYFUL dependence! Our Father does not condemn us; he HIMSELF took on our condemnation, so we are not just free FROM sin, but free TO love HIM!

It's not just "the greatest story ever told." It's the greatest LOVE story ever told!

Oh, Lord God, my good Father, help me ALWAYS remember, I am not merely tolerated, I am dearly BELOVED! because of Jesus ~ for HIS sake, for YOUR glory, and for MY joy!

Yes, only Jesus!

Simple and well-put by Bonnke on his FB account, earlier today. Please read slowly and deliberately:

"The Gospel is like breathing - there's no future in the alternative. Everybody has a right to choose, but the options are pretty limited - live or die. People think they have found alternatives; mind-power, meditation, Buddhism, New Age, healing cults, but they are no more alternatives than a game of chess. They are no answer to the crippling power of sin and do not deliver us from guilt. People need saving and ONLY JESUS SAVES. You may look where you like – there is no other Savior. Yes, only Jesus. God bless you." ~REINHARD BONNKE

19 December, 2011

"...Correct but COLD."

I may have posted on this before, but today's quote by Bonnke on Facebook is worth requoting, with this side-note:

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones once made a similar remark, to the effect that "right doctrine" IS essential; it's equivalent to us building the altar. But we must ALSO call on God to send the FIRE from heaven! Thank you, Lord! ~L

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke:

"Unless we are burning we can never set anybody else on fire. We can be so orderly, doing everything with dignity and decorum but … without fire! Correct but cold. On Mount Carmel the pagans laid everything correctly on the altar ready for the sacrifice but the devil could not bring a spark from hell to light it. Elijah then rebuilt the altar, stones, wood, sacrifice, everything according to the book, and called down fire from heaven. And it came! And it comes!"

"The Spirit of God is Arousing Us Within"


24 I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

12-14 So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 7:24-8:39 from THE MESSAGE

30 November, 2011

Worship is Enjoying the Presence of God

some bits from a really great, thought-provoking article I read today:

"WORSHIP IS [that is, this is the very ESSENCE, the defining nature of worship] ENJOYING THE PRESENCE OF GOD."

"Many Christians, today, do not have the conscious presence of God in their lives."

"The Holy Spirit is to us what the pillar of cloud and of fire were to the children of Israel. The Holy Spirit is God's manifested presence in our lives."

"Many people confess faith in the Lord Jesus, but do not have his presence in their lives; and [consequently,] they do not have the assurance of their salvation."

"Some of the most frightening words in the Bible are found in Exodus 33:1-3 where God gave the children of Israel his Protection, his Provision, and his Promise, but not his PRESENCE...."

"Do not settle for God's protection, his provision, or even the promised land [!] without his presence. When you have the presence of God, you need nothing more; and you should settle for nothing less!"

[note, I do not yet know who the author of this article is ~ but if/when I find, I will add as a comment to this post for future reference.]

Being Built into a Spiritual House

I am still meditating on Monday night's powerful, loaded teaching by the pastor at my church.

We looked at, primarily, 1 Peter 2 ("spiritual house") and 1 Corinthians 2 ("spiritually discerned"), so the following is a kind of a swirl of the overall teaching from the other night, and it's swimming around in my heart and mind as if to suggest this is a SIGNIFICANT truth ~ that is, I can "feel" the Lord really impressing this to my heart:

What does it mean that the [authentic] church is being built into a SPIRITUAL house? We, governed by SPIRITUAL realities; We, having the MIND OF CHRIST; both individually (as living stones) & collectively (as a corporate Body, being "edified" - as in "edifice" - as in BUILT UP INTO) the TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit....

We, the very DWELLING place of God, his PRESENCE manifest AMONG, & IN, & TO & THRU us, making us a CITY ON A HILL, & thus a DECLARATION of GOD'S GLORIOUS GRACE!

We, an authentic church which has not merely the FORM of godliness, but which is unswervingly characterized by God's POWER, operating in dependence on his Holy Spirit, having been dramatically transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of HIS marvelous light!

WE, now, the "place" where God's PRESENCE abides, are both made FOR & (through Jesus Christ alone!) redeemed TO ~ WORSHIPPING GOD FOREVER, in SPIRIT & in TRUTH!

(1 Pet. 2, Eph. 1, 1 Cor. 2:1-5, 10-16, Ex. 33, 2 Tim. 3:1-5, a whirlwind survey thru the book of ACTS, Jn 4:23-24, et al.)

Oh, how we have TASTED, how we SEE that the Lord is GOOD!

17 November, 2011

Perfect Grace!

God's perfect holiness requires our perfect holiness, OR his perfect (eternal!) judgment on us for LACK of it.

But thanks be to God that his perfect LOVE provided a perfect substitute - Jesus! - so that he would pour out his perfect judgment & wrath on the only one who really WAS (& is & is to come) perfectly holy, so that he could pour out his grace & mercy on all of US who would find our lives hidden IN that perfect substitute - Jesus! - & WHY would God do this? Not just so we'd be LIKE him! But so that we could be WITH him! FOREVER!

This isn't fundamentally a "perfecting" story - though we are, in Christ, perfected.

This isn't ultimately a "we WIN!" story - though, in Christ, we do!

It's not a "look at us, we're so great!" story - though Christ is the lifter of our heads, and he will exalt us at the proper time! - or, as some of us tend to think, a "woe is me, if only I could be perfect without Jesus' sacrifice!" story - though our hearts ought to break with what breaks the heart of God.

This is not a "religious" story, or even primarily a "rescue" story - though we are, in Christ, really rescued!

No! This is, first of all!, a LOVE story!

Our holiness is not the END - it's the MEANS! That we might receive and ENJOY, NOT our own perfection!, but GOD HIMSELF!

If we do not have Jesus' perfection - which he FREELY gives to all who would believe on his name! - If Jesus is not our ark of safety, and we do not stand before God clothed in HIS righteousness, we cannot survive the eternal INFERNO of God's GLORY. But he does not give us Jesus' righteousness so we will merely survive; he gives us the nature and heart of Jesus so we could be one with HIM!

HE is our heaven! Glory to God for his perfect grace!

03 November, 2011

Let the Truth Speak for Itself

I needed to receive this word, today...AMEN!

"People filled with the Holy Spirit should be marked with the true features of witnesses. They neither dither nor dogmatize. They are sure of their aim but are not arrogant. They have the cool assurance of knowing that two plus two equals four with no need to prove it - no polemics. They are passionate but not pushy (with a few exceptions). They let the truth speak for itself, no browbeating people into submission. They do not wear boxing gloves. The preaching formula is always 'thus says the Lord,' not 'I’m telling you!' Witnesses just pass on what they had heard and saw. It is not their business to defend it or even to invite questions. It is the Lord’s responsibility to confirm the righteousness of His own Word."

~ (Evangelist) REINHARD BONNKE

02 November, 2011

Does Our "Eschatology" Rescue the Perishing?!

Just thinking out loud. Particularly as the matter of "End Times" theology has paradoxically both excited/intrigued me AND irritated/deflated me....

I LOVE considering Jesus' return! I LOVE the urgency of seeing how current events line up with biblical prophecy.

But I DESPISE how matters of interpretation about prophecies that are still largely mysterious nevertheless manage to cause HUGE divisions in the Body of Christ, and to what end? (no pun intended....) If we are divided, on matters that are NOT intrinsic to the Gospel (see prev post - I am not advocating we abandon clear truths of Scripture - but where we have perhaps loved our TEACHINGS more than the WORD? let us lay those differences aside!), are we not in our division giving up the very ground to the enemy that WE should be conquering? Land that was promised to US?

So, lately, I find myself reading much about and also now in a church that holds to a kind of "end times" perspective that is a) quite different from my previously (albeit loosely) held assumptions, and that b) has VAST implications for how I might live, today, if this is an accurate interpretation of Scripture. So much so, in fact, that I am tempted to say every other "end times" view fits pretty squarely into the "not yet" category whereas this approach with which I now find myself presented is filled to overflowing with a sense of the "already." So, in my zeal, I whipped out the following as a status update on my facebook profile several minutes ago:

What if our "eschatology" - FAR from being a peripheral concern - were to not merely "inform" but absolutely TRANSFORM the way we live our life, NOW? That is, what if our "end times theology" is the wrongly held conviction that God's Kingdom is for THEN, but not NOW? What if the so-called tension between the "already" and "not yet" is so far much more defined by the "not yet" that we LOSE the ALREADY? What if "fixing our eyes on Jesus," and "setting our mind on things above," and praying "THY KINGDOM COME, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is - not some social justice march, per se, but rather the RALLYING cry for an army of Christ-followers who are storming the gates of Hell to take back all those lost and captive to sin, declaring Christ as King and Victor....NOW. ALREADY. AND FOREVER!

I wonder if anyone will have anything to say about this??

O, Church, where is our URGENCY? (And how and where along the line had I lost mine?!) Where is our dependence on God's GRACE and the leading of HIS SPIRIT so that we are STILL able to GO into the ends of the earth? Did he not say we are to make disciples of EVERY nation until the END OF THE AGE? Oh, it's there, right in the text! (cf Matt28) Because his promise is to be WITH us....until when? Do you see? This means AT LEAST until every last perishing one is rescued from the clutches of sin and death! (And of course, the "rest" into which we eventually enter is nothing less than the heaven of HIS PRESENCE, so he will NEVER leave us!)

O, Church, where is our HOLINESS? Where is our relentless mortifying of the sin in our own mortal bodies, so we may WALK in the freedom Christ purchased for us, not allowing the enemy to get strongholds in our thoughts and lives, setting up fortresses in our lives and minds AGAINST the knowledge of God! Where is our pursuit of the prize? Where is the JOYFUL EXPECTATION that our faith, ONCE FOR ALL delivered to us, is that SURE thing, kept and preserved by Christ himself - Do we not know whom we have believed? Are we not persuaded that HE is able to keep that which we've committed unto him against that day? And if we ARE, then why are we weak and whimpering and fattening ourselves in the day of slaughter when we were made MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Christ?!

O, ME of little faith! How I have sat, wearied by my own sin and frailty, longing and frantically searching for Home when I had the ruby slippers all along....GET UP, WOMAN!

You were made for more than this!

His grace IS sufficient for you!

His power IS perfected in your weakness!

Now is not the time for grieving! Now is the time for LAYING HOLD of the promises of God, not in weakness but in the strength of HIS might!

Sit no longer under the weight of merely enduring this life until you can be holy in the next!

O, Church! The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us - Since when do gates launch an attack? Are they not stationary, trying merely to prevent OUR advance?

So what ought we to be doing? Standing STILL??

24 October, 2011

People of the WORD!

I love the internet - there is SO much at my fingertips, as far as good biblical teaching, sermons online, etc. SO many tables at which we can sit, & eat till we are stuffed & overfull, & equally as many outlets for evangelism & ministry.

But, there are also SO many dangers, so much opportunity to proliferate BAD teachings, & all in all, how much of this really aids the Body at large IF WE AREN'T ABIDING IN THE WORD!? There is a very real danger of harm, & the very real presence of spiritual enemies who wish to snatch the truth before we are able to receive it in the good soil of our hearts (cf Luke 8).

And having Twitter & FaceBook saturated attention spans really only continues to ERRODE our patience for careful examination, critical thought, & taking the time to prayerfully seek God's face that he might make HIMSELF known to us, so we aren't so easily tossed about (& often we do not know this is happening!) by every wind of doctrine.

A HELPFUL QUESTION: What is the "trend" of your sermon-listening/book-reading?​ How much of what you hear is SCRIPTURE saturated, and how much is the mere pontificating of this or that teacher/preacher?

In God's wisdom - as an anchor to our souls! - we are to measure & test all things by his WORD, to BE a people of BOOK! This does not mean powerless, spirit-less, merely academic analysis -

This "Book" was Spirit-authored, & our ability to receive it is Spirit-empowered, & our love & application OF it is Spirit-quickened!

If we are HIS, we LOVE his Word! What this does mean? We have, in this span of time from Christ's first coming until he comes again (& forever after!), the GLORIOUS privilege of fellowshipping WITH God & worshipping him in Spirit AND in Truth, such that God himself is our Teacher.

If you have a dark spot in your understanding, ask the Lord for revelation & diligently search the WORD of God, because in his Word you will find the Light which reveals Christ.

(cf 1st John, esp. 2:18-27, & 4:1-6) ....


19 October, 2011

I'm Desperate For You!

Some reflections on last night and this morning, as I am conscious of the fact the Lord has been more about "wrecking" me than (at least as it seems) "refreshing" me in this corporate "revival."


We sing that we are "desperate" for the presence of God, but do we really know what we're singing? I am experientially realizing that genuine revival has to start where the Lord INCREASES OUR DESPERATION. A repeated word being spoken over me these days is in essence that "demolition precedes the rebuilding"....

An analogy from losing weight - because toxins are stored in our fat cells, when we begin to lose weight, especially any significant amount, those toxins get released into our bloodstream, and we begin to experientially FEEL worse, even though we are actually being CLEANSED! These toxins MUST be unlocked from the cells where they've been stored in order to get into the body's transport system so they can be expelled, and the body can....HEAL.

So, I thank you, Lord, for the KINDNESS of your demolishing work in the idol-factory of my heart. However much it increases my DESPERATION, I receive this as your PROMISE that you WILL come and fill the empty places and bring RESTORATION!


Old-Fashioned Camp Meeting ~ Revive us, O Lord!

A Personal Recounting (written Tuesday, 10/18/11):

Unplanned, we have had three meetings so far this week, all pushing 4 hours each, and we're pressing in for another, tonight.

I am afraid I would qualify as genuinely "stiff-necked" about the whole matter. Before last night, I wrote the following note to myself - exposing an attitude of some, *ahem*, suspicion:

Heading to (church) for another night with "Revivalists" (who shall remain nameless for now). We are (I am HOPING FOR THIS) a people desiring to see God move in our midst! So far, having them here has been very reminiscent of an old-fashioned "camp meeting" ~ I find I'm holding myself in reserve; not out of deference to "tradition" but to "test" the spirits and the word being preached so as to discern if this is the word of GOD....but I am so-far feeling that my having this disposition of "wait and see what the Lord will do" has already been an object of some scorn and mockery by this bringer-of-the-word. As if being "conservative" is already a problem? (Are we spiritualizing personalities, now?) Is this akin to Jesus' WOE TO YOU, you Pharisees? And I ought to feel rebuked? Or is this akin to the "demanding spirit" I have sensed from more extreme arms of those with a more "charismatic" bent, as if to say the outward signs I might exhibit of the work the Lord is doing IN me must look THIS or that way, or they can't possibly be real....I LONG for more of God, but I will not abide being manipulated, especially if that looks only like some whipping into an emotional frenzy that is based on half-quoted Scriptures and an adrenalin-rush based zeal that has more to do with chemistry than charisma!....

You might imagine from the above, I have had to engage in not an insignificant amount of battle in my mind to let my heart "get it" - but last night, I believe the Lord stirred me. My resistance was broken (though I did not, for better or for worse, let my "guard" down) when during worship, one of our worship leaders broke out with a prophetic word, picking up from one of the themes recurring through Sunday's meetings in speaking about Jacob who wrestled with God, who was willing to be even a bit belligerent with God if it meant he receive the Lord's blessing - She began to sing, "We won't let go until you bless us!"

As the music continued, another worship leader on the opposite side of the platform began to sing as if the prophetic voice of God in response - and this picked up another thread from Sunday's meetings, the cry of the blind man who had called out to Jesus, and to whom Jesus' response was "What do you seek?" (as if it wasn't obvious? But he would make the man confess it with his own mouth!)....She began to sing, "What do you want from me? Tell me what you want from me?" and proceeded to list off one earthly desire after another, as if God through this woman's song was forcing us to consciously knock down every idol of our hearts.

"Do you want silver? Do you want gold? Do you want riches untold?...Do you want friends? Do you want fame?" and on and on it went. "What do you want from me? Tell me what you want from me!" And we lingered over the same four chords, over and over, crescendoing until as a BODY the most natural response was for our collective, worshipful cry burst out of our hearts, "WE WANT YOU, GOD! WE WANT YOU, GOD! WE WANT MORE, WE WANT MORE OF YOU!"

After what seemed an immeasurable amount of time, and untold repetitions which in a previous life would have irritated me but for some reason tonight was enlarging my heart!, the music finally decrescendoed, and we quieted....Until several individuals peppered throughout the room started laughing, a break-out kind of laughing, some of which could only be described as uncontrollable. This was and would have continued to be, for me, a distraction - even as I with much effort tried to refrain from making any wild assumptions about what was happening (is this legitimate, or is this self-indulgent? artificial to get attention?), I felt the mind-battle creeping in again - one I might not have been able to set aside if Mrs. "Revivalist" (who happened to speak before her husband got up, this time) had not taken the laughter so in stride, as though it was the most natural, Holy Ghost inspired thing, distracting as it was.

Whether her intention or not, she gave sufficient space before really saying anything of import with respect to her own heart, experience with revival, and perhaps most importantly the battles she had to fight in her own life to lay aside her expectations of HOW God would minister to the hearts of his people, so that the laughter, after several minutes, did eventually die down, with only a snickering few still shaking in their seats.

So, I intentionally chose to lay aside my own expectations of HOW God ministers to the hearts of his people, mine included, and tried to listen, with a biblically sensitive ear, keying in as first she, then her husband spoke, to various specific Bible passages with which I was familiar, (and I was chasing down the chapters and verses as they spoke to check what they were saying, did this or that really happen as they are saying?)....And I discovered that despite my familiarity, my "head" knowledge, there is MUCH I have not seen or understood in some of these well-worn paths in the pages of my Bible.

The preaching that followed began breaking up hard soil; we were freed to examine our own hearts, to recognize that we are commanded to HOLD FAST our confession, because we (like John the Baptist who sent messengers to Jesus to ask if he REALLY was the promised Messiah of God, Luke 7:18-35) are prone to LOSE our confession in a sea of doubt which is a thief (like also our own pride, or like our preconceived expectations of what it should look like for God to "show up" to his people) that seeks to steal genuine revival.

Still, we cling to the mercy of God, even as we know he pursues us, and speaks his word for our CONFIDENT EXPECTATION (just as Jesus sent a reassuring word back to John the Baptist) that he IS who he has said he is, and he will DO exactly as he has said he would do! And even now, Jesus intercedes on our behalf before the Father that we would persevere! Lord, we want YOU! and we want to see your glory, your name magnified to the ends of the earth! We want to see people RADICALLY transformed by your Gospel! Healed, delivered, set free, and turned into WORSHIPPERS for your name's sake! Halleluiah!

My mind still fights for dominance as my fledgling spirit and child-like heart are being quickened to a deeper hunger and thirst for the presence of God. This is not, despite (what I would anticipate would be) criticisms from a more doctrine-centric church-world, a battle which requires the surrender of the Word! Quite the contrary. Did I "agree" with every word the man spoke? Or that his wife spoke? Well, I'll answer that THIS way: My normal history has been to take my "discerning" (suspicious?!) ear and pick apart every wrong statement. But even as the preacher said of himself - eat the meat and, if there be any, pull out the bones. So last night, I listened instead for the "spirit" of what was being said moreso than perhaps the "letter" - because the SPIRIT was in the Gospel, and a heart cry for the salvation of lost souls and the glory of Jesus' name to the ends of the earth!

Perhaps there were a few small bones, but there was a lot of meat which nourished my spirit, increasing my expectations for this evening....

18 October, 2011

Made for a Greater Song

"WHAT IF" the text FOLLOWING "ever be filled with the Holy Spirit" in Eph. 5:18 is really Paul's explanation of HOW to be filled? Namely: "Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your ♥ to the Lord...."

"WHAT IF" this kind of music-making and singing with thankFULLness from the ♥ is NOT the mere "emotional self-indulgence" some of us have been told it is -

"WHAT IF" this is at least one of the very ways God designed us to COMMUNE with him in our spirit?

"WHAT IF" I had not "received" the seed of this rebuke when I was young - that I ought not be so emotional in singing my ♥ out in praise and worship, with full abandon!

that, then, wasn't as self-focused, as all about "me" and "my" feelings; but instead was, perhaps, a child-like expression of genuine hunger and a chasing after God? Is it any wonder, then, that now being given "permission" to SING FROM MY TOES! would begin to have a total transforming effect on my ♥ AFFECTION for God?!

the "proper" and "respectful" and "reserved" and "orderly" singing that I grew to treasure as oh-so-reverent (not that there isn't a place for it, but it is only ONE FACET of making music in our ♥'s to God!) was in fact one of the means by which the enemy was stealing the revival of MY ♥, and I didn't even know it?

"WHAT IF" I was made for a GREATER song....

22 September, 2011

Each Church has its own Family Culture

Idealistically, every church wd be "like-minded" w/respect to the Gospel. I realize that they aren't, but for our purposes, let's assume that the Gospel is the undisputed common denominator. (!)

Even if all churches were like-minded with respect to the salvation of Christ and Christ alone, they would, nevertheless, still each have their own "Family Culture."

Recently, it has been impressed upon me that there are at least three other things which I must consider when trying to decide to what church body I am being called to join myself. (And I'll admit, perhaps this is only a luxury such as here in west Michigan where there is a church on every street corner....)

1) Personality,
2) Mission,
3) Community.

A short word about each:

Personality - this is almost equivalent to a "style" question, but that's not all I mean by this. But at least this "corporate personality" has to do with formal versus casual, loud versus quiet. How do we worship? How do we outwardly express our love for God? How do we interact with non-believers both outside and in our midst?

By way of example, in my previous church, the "personality" is more formal, more with a view to the "reverent awe" of God and a more classical approach to the music style (I do not even mean by "classical" merely all hymns, but more like trained musicianship and a love for the polished, more cultivated endeavors whether choir or concert pianists, etc.) which has as its emphasis the offering of excellence to God. In my current church, the "personality" is much more FREE with respect to style - people stand, sit, dance, jump, have arms raised and faces lifted upwards, or sit with their head in their hands; the view is more to "expressive love" for God (which is widely acknowledged as a more subjective thing), and an eager hope to receive FROM him as we worship, which has as its emphasis the enjoyment of God's presence WITH his body.

Mission - this has more to do with the main forward thrust of the church. It COULD be related to Personality, if the primary "mission" of the body is "worship," for example. But I mean by this more - what is the main thing our body has a heart and gifting for? In my previous church, the main "mission" of the church was doctrinal excellence wrapped up with family ministry, so training up children in the solid, doctrinal truths of Scripture is a huge value, and thus the primary "evangelistic" thrust of the church takes the form of, for example, adoption ministries and short-term missions trips for teens with accompanying parents when possible. In the church body I've been attending of late, the main "mission" of the church seems to spring from a very vibrant "First Love" for Christ, so there is a hunger for street evangelism in our own community, and reaching out to the poor - and, in a way that touches me very deeply, this church is (as Paul said of the Macedonians) "giving out of their own poverty."

Community - This could also be perceived as a kind of style or personality thing, but by this I mean at least a couple different things, which again I feel constrained to explain (ooh, nice inner rhyme!) by example. In my previous church, the "community" is so family-centric, that there is a sense in which creating an interdependent community with one another in the body is a very small "felt-need" (unless, as I am, you happen to be single). How you meet one anothers' needs is first from WITHIN your own, immediate family. Only if you fail (mm, yes, I want to use this word) to meet your own needs, do you then reach outside where you will find ready, willing, and able other families who will help you. In my current church, the "community" seems to be far more about individuals coming together in a way that the BODY is the primary family unit, so there is a great emphasis on being intentional about cultivating the church family in thriving, small group get-togethers ("Life Groups"), where as perhaps an extension of the personality and mission of this particular body, these people are very proactive in engaging and ministering to one another. They don't wait for you to come to them with a need - they collectively listen for the Lord's leading and seek each other out to FIND ways to minister to one another. (I am not sure if I am drawing this distinction very well, but I can "intuit" the difference, and it is rather profound!)

So where do you (I) fit - how do you (we) line up?

I have a theory (and you knew I would, didn't you?) -

Were we in a geographical region where we didn't have the luxury of all the other "trappings" of what it means to be a church family, GOSPEL would be THE binding unity, and we would probably be far less likely to SEE other difference cuz we'd be fighting for the basis of our faith life. But as we DO, by God's grace, have the luxury of much more "peace" in our current setting, we have opportunities to grow and expand and explore and think and ponder (let's stay in the positive, for now ;)), and by virtue of not being on the front lines, we get to enjoy certain differences and distinctions - which, I hope to God, do not also divide us unnecessarily.....

In short, my theory is that these 3 things I've just mentioned would "fall away" in importance during times of persecution, and by God's grace it is precisely in seasons of such refining that the Gospel shines the more brilliantly and with a clarity that all true believers will unwaveringly cling to. But while we have the luxury of "exploring" our differences, I hope that they nevertheless do not detract us from fixing our eyes on Jesus, or loving each other well and in a way that honors God, but rather that such explorations would aid us IN these endeavors, as it is, after all, JESUS ALONE whom we are persuing!

I hope, to put it another way, that we are not erring on the side of merely loving God with all of our MIND and SOUL over this way, and all of our HEART over that way, and all of our STRENGTH over there....but that we would endeavor to love God with ALL of our mind, soul, heart and strength - in all ways, in all times, with all people, to the glory of God and the edification and beautification of his Body whom he has purchased by his own blood.

Thank you, Lord!


Like Insurgents

Thank you, Lord, for your mercy! for your patience & the gentleness w/which you discipline (train up!) your children! Empower me to "put on" your love towards others, today.

You are an ENLARGER of territories!

Father, I pray you would continue to gain victory over the territories of my ♥heart♥ ~ You have conquered sin & death, but like Insurgents, they keep rising up as if to overthrow your good work.

Let me not again be subject to a yoke of slavery!


Faith is No Objective!

Without faith it is impossible to please God, but "faith" is no OBJECTIVE!

Faith is the MEANS! and Christ is the END!

a) You say you desire faith? You must know what God SAYS; faith comes by hearing the WORD of God.

b) But what then? Faith is merely your taking God at his word! If you are not doing what he SAYS, how can you think you have faith? If you have not by means of it laid hold of HIM who works IN you to will & to do HIS good pleasure?


09 September, 2011

Squeezed Out

I've long desired to return to school for my Master's degree - especially if said school could be a seminary or ministry school. Though I've recently had occasion to (again) reflect on the events in my life over the past couple years, and I see how the cumulative circumstances of my experiences have been a far more thorough "schooling"....

Experiences which have been exceedingly stressful, emotionally draining if not damaging, and have surfaced in every facet of life from work to church to friendships to family to trying to maximize my singleness for God's glory....

To borrow from some unknown someone, more clever than myself, I've been squeezed like a tube of toothpaste, and much of what has oozed out has not been a sweet aroma before the Lord. Nevertheless, I shall choose to be grateful that he continues to conform me to the likeness of Christ even if I go kicking and screaming in the process. :)

After all, if he squeezes it OUT, it is no longer IN me, right?? Let's hope to God. :)

Lord, let me be faithful, and never cease! to mortify my flesh, to always "be killing sin" so it is not killing me. By the grace of God. Thank you for your unceasing mercy and that you are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!

01 September, 2011

Deceived and Delighting in it

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a friend's dad - this man who has had a tumultous, even abusive relationship with his son from the beginning. I knew, going in, that this was possibly a demonized man, and so had prayed for discernment.

As he spoke, it was as if he had behind him a wardrober FULL of different spirits - all evil - so that he was actually switching from one to the next to the next, changing spirits like cloaks, savoring each one as he would take on a different form, even if only momentarily. The activity seriously resembled insanity as he worked himself into a lather by the end of the conversation, putting on verbally violent theatrics, yelling and screaming like it brought him some deep, perverse pleasure. Which, knowing my own indulgences and susceptibility to temptation, it probably did just that.

I could "see" the spirits, but perhaps more powerfully, I was able, in brief glimpses, to see through to the man who desperately needs Jesus' deliverance. Between "costume changes," I saw a shriveled, weak, frail, broken man, like a survivor of the Holocaust - HIDING behind these spirits because he thought they EMPOWERED him, though they really ensnared him. But he LIKED being their slave. (I suppose as we all once did, before we were given the Spirit of Christ....!)

I saw his deception, and I saw his delight in it.

I wouldn't, yet, have the first idea about how to reach him - but I have recently had occasion to re-read the story in Mark 9 where Jesus tells his disciples that "This kind cannot come out except by praying and fasting." I would need to wait wholly on the Lord to empower me if I am to speak to the man, again.

For now, I was grateful for the "discernment" - I had prayed to the Lord specifically FOR it, but then also needed a couple days AFTER the conversation to "see" clearly what had transpired.

It is a helpful reminder (one I'll try to note for future interactions in a similar vein) that I NOT be overconfident in my own powers of observation, but rather 1) ask the Lord to reveal, and then 2) ask the Lord to SORT the revelation and impress the TRUTH to my understanding.

I do not know if the Lord will yet use me in this man's life, but as for the man's son, my friend, the Lord enabled me (at least!) to comprehend, better, some of the complexity of the influence this abuser has been. My friend has been engaged in full on warfare for his OWN sanity as a result; and he has been trying to "lay hold" of Christ, though he always feels salvation is beyond his grasp. I know I cannot be his assurance, but I long for it for him, nonetheless.

Trusting in God's goodness, that He has promised He will NOT lose any of His own....

18 August, 2011

recent status updates

*Heard elsewhere: "God doesn't call the qualified; God qualifies the called."

*(convicting!) repost from Desiring God: “No worship...that leaves us harsh with our workers on Monday, or contentious with our spouses at home, or self-indulgent in other areas of our lives, is true, God-pleasing worship.” ~John Piper

*‎5 I's of Dishonor (from sermon by Keith Moore): Ignoring, Interrupting, Intruding, Interfering, Insulting.

*Receiving the discipline of God as a GOOD and beautiful thing is not easy, but produces SWEET fruit....Thank you, Lord! (cf Hebrews 12)

*Pride isn't sinful first because it EXALTS self; it only need be PREOCCUPIED with and interpret the world by self.

12 August, 2011

ANY Sip from the Cup of Bitterness

Every conversation replaying an offense, even if to be "prayerful" or "seeking counsel" from a godly listener, will unavoidably step into the territory of gossip and slander. Our simple "talking" stirs up the cup of bitterness so that every sip, however carefully obtained!, is nevertheless tainted.

Rather, empty the cup, be cleansed!, and fill the purified vessel with fresh water ~ so we can pour out refreshing to others.


(This is not to say we can never speak of offenses, but oh how quick I am to speak! ~ what first of getting the LOG out of my own eye! what first of rather being wronged? what first of ensuring that I have already "forgiven" from my heart as Christ has forgiven me, so that if and when I speak, it can be from a merciful disposition? If I must speak at all, why not first let that speaking be of my OWN offense, so that my prayers may not be hindered?)

Led by the Spirit ~ as a true son

The primary way we hear from God is by his WORD, his self-revelation. The Holy Spirit opens our understanding, but the Word gives us the VOICE of our Shepherd so we can know him, and follow where he leads, and enjoy his presence.

This is FIRST what is meant by "being led by the Spirit" or "walking in step with the Spirit" of God ~ Namely, that we come to see JESUS for who he is and worship him AS GOD, because the WORD that testifies to him is TRUE.


(cf Romans 8, John 10)

09 August, 2011

~ BORN AGAIN AGAIN: A Confession ~

Perhaps the most resonant theme of the past year in my life has been my prayer that the Lord would "increase my capacity" to receive more of him, to ENJOY more of him. The Lord has answered, but in such a way (as it seems to happen often) that it exposed my very small expectations, and my very over-blown sense of not only what I meant by such a request, but my own assessment of what my receiving his answer would look like. In short, what follows is my (weak) attempt at a fitting summary.


*Being Exposed ~ God uses both the sharp and powerful sword of his word and the pressure of our external circumstances to pierce even to our marrow, and his word causes us to be "laid bare before him with whom we have to do." (Hebrews 4:12-13) I heard, not long ago, that Christians are like a tube of toothpaste ~ when you squeeze them, you find out what's really inside. I've been squeezed in myriad ways, and I do not like the often rotten content that is being exposed. It is like (look back to first couple lessons from Seeking Him study) the analogy of "breaking up your fallow ground" ~ allowing the plow of God's word and Spirit to get down DEEP to the soft soil under all the hard, sunbaked exterior, and the churning and cutting and grinding and tearing that has to take place to expose the soft underside of the soil so that the word can be planted in it and GROW. If you'll forgive the mixed metaphors, nevertheless, my heart contains many uglinesses of which I have been (and still remain) largely ignorant. But thanks be to God that he is in the business of making his people holy!

*Being Emptied ~ It's not enough to realize the uglinesses in our hearts. God fully expects us to be RID of them. To put sin to death! To not yield ourselves any longer to the lusts of our flesh, but rather to be led by the Spirit. So once pierced, once churned, once exposed, we must now be emptied. But not only of sin, but also of SELF. Oh, self! You have deceived, you have usurped! But you were never meant to be God, you were meant to be in COMMUNION with and submission TO God! In him is your greatest, FULL satisfaction! Why do you buck so, o rebellious soul! But thanks be to God that he is not only able to empty us of self and sin, he does so for our good, so that we may have life to the FULL; and who else is life? "Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!" (Jn. 6:68-69)

*Being Expectant ~ So in keeping with Jesus' promise that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, ALL other needful things will be added (Matt. 6:31-33), in keeping with Jesus' promise that ANYone who comes to him, he will in NO way cast out (Jn. 6:37), I have a godly HOPE ~ that is, I KNOW ~ God will answer me. (Matt. 7:7-12) My "expectation" (even at that!) is far too small! But thanks be to God that he is able to do ABUNDANTLY above and beyond what I can even ask or think! (Eph. 3:14-21) He who has promised will do it!


*Being Encountered ~ I have spent the last several years of my life (most of which unknowingly) in a Romans 7 kind of existence. So much "striving" and "working" to be obedient, righteous, etc. And failing. And let's be honest, MOST of my "striving" and "working" was wimpy at best, and yet I would always manage to convince myself (at times) that I was really making a difference, or really succeeding, only to be confronted with new ways in which I had failed (most of which had to do with failing to convince OTHERS that I was doing right or doing good, so how much was genuinely out of my conscience, and how much was just a failing to win the approval of men?!)...But how kind of God? that he would overlook my offenses and my selfish strivings again and again, that he would even lovingly confront my pride, where in my zeal I felt "At last! I've grasped success in my walk with Christ!" only to fail so miserably, and the Lord would meet me in those moments and whisper forgiveness, lovingly redirect me, sometimes force me to repent, often TO those very "men" from whom I was seeking praise!. How kind of God that he answers our longings to know him by showing up and ministering to us with the presence of his own Spirit? Abiding with us, even comforting us as he makes us over. He may administer a sharp, piercing scalpel as he cuts out our flesh, but he does not do so without anesthetic, he does not do so without himself being the one to nurse the woundings, guard from infection, and set us right again, in SPIRIT, so that even if there must be a scar, we can point to it and confess HIS goodness in having HEALED us so completely!

*Being Enraptured ~ When he meets me in the intimacy of his Word, in the making me aware of his presence by his Spirit, and often in the context of corporate worship with other believers in Christ, I am discovering a whole new kind of euphoric sensation, replacing my former "religious" engagements which would often bear the fruit of self-loathing and condemnation, I have been given new SIGHT! and I find, as I fix my eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2), look full in his wonderful face, truly the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace! He is glorious, he is beautiful, he is extravagant in his love, he is perfect, unyielding, and yet gentle as fierce power which is capable of crushing me is nevertheless reined in so that I can touch his heart in worship. I am ashamed to confess these moments have been few and far between! Much as my spirit LONGS for these moments, I find I have only begun to realize the intimacy possible with God!...But how kind of God? that he would pursue us, that he would promise to see us in secret, to meet us in the privacy of moments of prayer, and to DELIGHT our souls with his presence? HE is the one for whom we have been made! How could we wonder that we would be enraptured by anything less? We were MADE to be WORSHIPPERS! God's glory is our great JOY!

*Being Equipped ~ So now, God willing, I am moving from Romans 7 to Romans 8 and will pursue all the FULLNESS that means for me. I am no longer a slave, but a son! (Gal. 4:1-7) Is it possible? For one born again to be born again again? If so, that is the point to which I have come. I am again an infant ~ what of knowledge? I have been a student of the word, I have loved to dig deep, but that knowledge (though it OUGHT to have produced joy!) only puffed me up! (1 Cor. 8:1-3) I heard this past week, from another preacher of God's word, that we are not called primarily to be students of God's word - though we are to be that - but we are to be WITNESSES, to testify to that which we have seen, namely JESUS! seated on the throne, high and lifted up! I have spent most of my adult life unknowingly aspiring to merely acquiring more knowledge about God. And to be sure, we ARE to love the Lord our God with all our MIND. (Matt. 22:36-40) But that is not all, and it is not even first...But how kind of God? that he does not leave us in our ignorance! My "knowledge" has increasingly obscured my own ignorance, and I am being made a child again, learning to love BEING-WITH Jesus by the power of his Spirit. This life I now live must be ever adding to our faith. Where I have possessed knowledge, I have lacked character. So now, I am requiring a new equipping. (Gal. 5:19-26, 2 Pet. 1:3-11) In some ways, learning to "do over" things I have taken for granted that I already knew. Lord, make me LISTEN! He speaks through the word of God, and I know his voice! (Jn. 10) I LOVE his voice! Not nearly so much as I ought! But thanks be to God! not nearly so much as I WILL!

God HAS answered me ~ He IS "increasing my capacity" for which I am thankful. Even though I see only the acorn, I am confident of the oak tree hiding under its tiny cap! He breaks my heart, but what he gives me in return is so absolutely incomparable. I would desire more of this "breaking" ~ it is the KINDNESS of God that leads us to repentance! ~ if it will yield more of this ENJOYING of God. Something I thought I knew, but had only barely tasted. If God can do this while we are yet in this earthly tent, HOW MUCH MORE will he give us when we come face to face with him in GLORY?


~ P.S. We did complete the below "Seeking Him" series in class, but I wasn't able to keep up with the notes online. So for those who were eagerly waiting for lessons 9-12, my apologies, and perhaps I will yet be able to capture some of what was reviewed ~ it was indeed a GREAT study!

15 March, 2011

Seeking Him, Lesson 8: Clear Conscience ~ Dealing with our Offenses toward Others

Submitted by Leah Page on Tue, 03/15/2011 - 7:58pm humilityPoor in SpiritRepentanceSH011

SEE PREVIOUS ENTRY for the "INTRO" example used - an outward "STINK" as evidence of an inward "ROT".....

The first seven lessons focused primarily on experiencing revival in our hearts and lives as it pertains to our relationship to God. As Nancy put it in our study, the "vertical" aspect. With chapter 8, we turned more to the practical outworking of these truths, of God's reviving our hearts, as it pertains to our relationships with other people.

"When our conscience is clear, we have nothing to be ashamed of."

We have talked about how one of our first reactions when we sin is to hide, or to point fingers to deflect the blame from ourselves. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, demonstrated this in the Garden - they were ASHAMED because of their nakedness, a consequence of their sin. They were vulnerable before God, and with each other.

Sin breaks relationship. It breaks our relationship with God, and it has the same effect in our relationships with each other.

"Having a clear conscience means there is no obstruction in our fellowship with God or anyone else. It means we are careful to avoid sinning against God or others with our words, actions, or attitudes. It also means that when we do sin, we quickly repent, admit our failure to all offended parties, ask their forgiveness, and make whatever restitution is necessary." ~NLDeMoss (p. 149)

Above the Level of Reproach
We looked at the example of Samuel from 1 Samuel 12:1-4 - he stood before the people and welcomed their feedback - he did not, himself, know of any offenses of which he had not been repentant, but he opened the floor for the people of the nation to expose any of his offenses, and their response was that they found him to have lived, in effect, "above the level of reproach"! (see 1 Timothy 3:2)

How would we need to live - to what degree must we always be repenting, always open to correction - if we were to make every effort to live in relationship with other people without any unconfessed sin between us?

We also looked at Matthew 25:37-40, 45 and Acts 9:1-5 together. (see day 3 in your books)

Not only does Jesus identify himself with the church body - to the degree that in Acts he confronts Saul with persecuting HIM because of his breathing threats and murder against the disciples of Jesus. But we see that Jesus measures our actions against "the least of these" - receiving our treatment of others as if we were doing unto HIM.

So - instead of asking, perhaps, WWJD, as if I were standing in Jesus' shoes trying to decide how to behave in this or that situation. What if, instead, I were to see YOU as "in Jesus' shoes" - What If You Were Jesus - how would I treat you? Would I respond to you any differently? How would I seek to serve you? How would I desire your good, and not my own?

How would I worship Jesus in the way that I am treating others?

Don't give the Devil a Foothold
We also looked at Matthew 5:23-24 - how the Lord instructs us to even STOP, to interrupt our service or worship to the Lord if necessary, if we remember that someone has something against us - so seriously does he take our reconcilliation with one another!

See also Ephesians 4:25-28 - Why are we not to let the sun go down on our anger? It is like we saw above - that sin puts a wedge in relationship - it is just enough space for the Devil to get a foothold! And he loves to divide us! To break our trust in one another! To add to our shame, and to break and tear asunder what God has put together! So - we must MAKE HASTE! BE QUICK! Go, as soon as the Lord convicts you, GO, and make things right with your sister or your brother or your husband or your children or your pastor or your friend or your boss or your coworker.

Confession requires humility, and it requires a measure of discernment - reconciliation does not require the exposing of every gawdy detail of your offense. But it does require honesty and a spirit of repentance - in your heart, both desiring and committing to never do thus and such again.

But think of the freedom!! If you have already acknowledged your need for forgiveness - and you have made your confession, you have willingly and even with great zeal embraced the humility that the Lord has granted, what more can the enemy do to you at this point!? You have been on the brink, perhaps, of a word of condemnation, but you have confessed, you have exposed your own shame and relenquished it! The enemy no longer has a hold on you - he can no longer wield this condemnation over your head! MAKE HASTE TO MAKE RIGHT!!

Progression: Private --> Personal --> Public
And lastly, we looked at how to practically apply the steps of seeking forgiveness. The goal of confession is not only our own holiness and freedom, but ultimately the reconciliation of the relationship, if possible and appropriate.

But we must be wise and discerning - reconciliation is not always possible or appropriate.

First, review the matter with the Lord - PRIVATELY - one on one, confess your sin to God. ASK him to show you what you must do. If your sin is against God and against God only, you may not need to go and seek forgiveness from another. If your sin is against another individual, after you have addressed the matter prayerfully and allowed the Lord to search your heart, go - PERSONALLY - to the one you have offended, and do not merely say you are sorry, do not merely apologize, ASK for forgiveness. This requires more from the other person than merely hearing you out - and is necessary for reconciliation. It also requires more from YOU than just an acknowledgement that the other person has been offended. To ask for forgiveness requires you to submit to the other person's response, to humble yourself before the Lord and before the other person. Finally, if your sin is an offense against a greater number, again using wisdom and discretion, the situation may require you to make a - PUBLIC - confession, and seek forgiveness from the whole body (by which I mean any plurality of persons, not necessarily the whole church, unless it is a sin which has affected the whole church).

Pages 157 thru 164 gave some VERY good and helpful, practical steps and advice as to how to proceed, what to be mindful of in the going, etc. If you are in doubt, it may be wise to seek biblical counsel.

Quickly Repent
To All Offended Parties
Ask for Forgiveness
Make Restitution

Keeping in mind ~ we, none of us!, "deserve" forgiveness. We are confessing that we have wrong another, and asking of that person, "Would you have mercy on me as GOD has had mercy on me?"

Next Lesson: FORGIVENESS ~ Dealing with Others' Offenses against Us

SH011, Lesson 8: Clear Conscience - INTRO

Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 03/07/2011 - 3:50pm Lysa TerKeurstSH011

INTRO taken from Lysa TerKeurst's (author of "Made to Crave") blog entry for 3/2/11:


Last week I got all twisted up and bent out of shape. And honey, everyone in my house knew mama wasn’t happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.

I quoted verses.
I rebuked Satan.
I bossed my feelings around with truth.
I even tried to take a nap.
But none of these activities soothed me.
Another of my people had done something crazy that ushered a smell into my home that not even 3 Yankee candles would mask.
And I am super sensitive to smells. Like hyper crazy sensitive.

I had already dealt with the melted microwave smell and the little prizes from an untrained puppy smell. Now, there was this third mysterious, awful smell wafting through my home assaulting my nasal passages. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was or where it was coming from.

I lit candles, I sprayed stuff, I even covered my nose with the edge of my shirt… but I still smelled it.

Finally, I realized my daughter had pulled out a bathroom trashcan with a flip up lid into the middle of my bedroom floor. She propped the lid open so she could throw away scraps of paper as she worked on a school project. Something had obviously been thrown away in that forgotten trashcan that was way past gross and into the final stages of rot.

Or, something had crawled up into that can and died.
I didn’t have the heart to find out what it was; I just knew the can had to go. Immediately.
The smell was an outside indication of an internal situation.
And the trashcan wasn’t the only thing that stunk that night. So did my attitude.
My reaction was an outside indication of an internal situation.

The reason I couldn’t be soothed with Scripture verses, bossing my feelings, rebuking Satan or even a nap is because God wanted me to be aware of my stink… something inside of me that was gross… a place starting to rot.

He didn’t want me to temporarily mask the situation by feeling better in the moment.
He wanted me to address the root of my rot.

God wanted me to see it- admit it- expose it- bring it out- let Him clean it up and shut it down. Immediately.

A little rot can spread fast and furious if not dealt with swiftly and seriously.

That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to our reactions today. How we react is such a crucial gauge on what’s really going on inside us. When people or issues or situations bump into our happy it’s not wrong to feel annoyed. But if that annoyance leads to a reaction out of proportion to the issue at hand… we can bank on the fact this eruption has a root of rot.

Here are some tell tale signs of roots of rot:

* I throw out statements like, “You always… You never… Why can’t we ever…”
* I start gathering ammunition from past situations to build my case.
* I use words and a tone outside my normal character.
* I justify my reaction by illuminating how hard my life is right now.
* I demand an apology all the while knowing I should be giving one.

These are not fun to admit, but here’s the beauty of the situation. The quicker we see a root of rot, the quicker we can get rid of the stink and move forward.

I’m challenging myself to keep a pulse on my level of spiritual maturity right now, not on how many Bible verses I’ve memorized or how many times I’ve done my quiet time this week. Rather, how I’m reacting… how quickly I’m apologizing… and how readily I admit and take ownership of my own stink.


28 February, 2011

GCC Women's study ~ Seeking Him: Lessons 6 & 7 ~ Holiness and Obedience

Seeking Him: Lessons 6 & 7 ~ Holiness (A heart like His) and Obedience (The acid test of love)

Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 02/28/2011 - 9:34pm SH011

Seeking Him: Lessons 6 & 7

HOLINESS: A Heart Like His
"...Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

We have 2 kinds of holiness: Positional and Personal (or "practical")
Positional ~ purchased by God through Christ, imparted to the believer so that his/her faith is "reckoned" as God's righteousness ~ SECURED and so "already" ours
Personal ~ the outworking of the holiness God has reckoned to us as believers ~ evidenced in the way we think and live ~ progressive and increasing as we are made more and more like Christ (conformed to his likeness) ~ effected because God has given us his holy Spirit who empowers us to choose righteousness ~ will be fully realized when we are Glorified (we will be like him for we will see him as he is!)

Imagery: Getting ready for the wedding!
How ridiculous, a bride who would forget her wedding day, showing up disheveled and astonished!
In Ephesians 5:25-27, we see that what Jesus was purchasing FOR the church, his Bride (namely, her holiness), he also accomplishes IN her, "that he might sanctify her [make her holy], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."

So we, the bride, by means of God's grace, and by the power of God's spirit in us, also make ourselves ready. "Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:13-16

This is a transformation that takes place from the INSIDE OUT ~ unlike Jesus' cursing of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 who were clean in their outward appearance like whitewashed tombs, but inside were "full of dead men's bones"! "...God doesn't look on the face of things; he looks at our hearts. He doesn't just glance at our hearts; he searches them." ~NLD

*Suggested assignment: Take some blank paper - in a journal or notebook, or just plain paper, and write out the verses for the "top ten" items in the day 5 inventory list, just 10 or so of the 65 items listed that the Lord brought to your particular attention as areas of your own "personal holiness" for which he is bringing conviction. And ask the Lord to impress these areas in your heart and life so that you might walk faithfully in them.

(ended classtime reading from the end of Revelation, how the Bride appears before God without any blemish, having made herself ready ~ and how our heavenly Groom is revealed in his Glory ~ even so come quickly, Lord!)

OBEDIENCE: The Acid Test of Love
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15

Obedience is the pathway to personal holiness ~ it is the means by which God guards us, effect his BEST for us. (It is not as though God is desiring mere "do's and don'ts," but rather because of his love FOR us, he desires obedience FROM us because his commands are not wearisome or hardships, but rather are his means for blessing us, enabling us to walk his BEST path for our lives.

His love is the basis of his self-revelation - his commands are for our Good! And when we obey out of love for HIM, we walk in greater intimacy WITH him. (Put another way, our obedience doesn't EARN God's favor, it springs forth FROM it!)

portion from a letter penned by John Newton (author of hymn, "Amazing Grace") in which he compares the Believer in his "Scripture-character" state versus his state "from experience," [clarifying comments in brackets].

"To hear a believer speak his apprehensions of the evil of sin, the vanity of the world, the love of Christ, the beauty of holiness, or the importance of eternity, who would not suppose him proof against temptation? [how could such a person, with such a right view of things, fail to walk in obedience?] To hear with what strong arguments he can recommend his watchfulness, prayer, forbearance, and submission when he is teaching or advising others, who would not suppose but he could also teach himself, and influence his own conduct? [clearly, such a one must "have it all together!" when it comes to their own walk with God?] Yet, alas!...The person who rose from his knees, before he left his chamber, a poor indigent, fallible, dependent creature, who saw and acknowledged that he was unworthy to breather the air or to see the light, may meet with many occasions, before the day is closed, to discover the corruptions of his heart, and to show how weak and faint his best principles and clearest convictions are in their actual exercise. And in this view, how vain is man! what a contradiction is a believer to himself! He is a believer emphatically, because he cordially assents to the word of God; but, alas! how often unworthy of the name!

"If I was to describe him from the Scripture-character, I should say, he is one whose heart is athirst for God, for His glory, His image, His presence; his affections are fixed upon an unseen Savior: his treasures, and consequently his thoughts, are on high, beyond the bounds of sense. Having experienced much forgiveness, he is full of bowels of mercy to all around; and having been often deceived by his own heart, he dares trust it no more, but alive by faith in the Son of God, for wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and derives from Him grace for grace; sensible [aware of the fact] that without Him he has not sufficiency even to think a good thought. In short, he is dead to the world, to sin, to self, but alive to God, and lively in His service. Prayer is his breath, the word of God his food, and the ordinances [God's righteous commandments!] more precious to him than the light of the sun. Such is a believer -- in his judgment and prevailing desires.

"But was I to describe him from experience, especially at some times, how different would the picture be! Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so; on the contrary, if duty, conscience, and necessity did not compel, he would leave the throne of grace unvisited from day to day. He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort; yet, perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he feels a secret distaste which prompts him to lay it down, and give his preference to a newspaper. He needs not to be told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun [surely he knows very well that the things of this earthly life are fleeting and temporary!]; and yet [he] is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle, as those who have their portion in this world. He believes that all things shall work together for his good, and that the most high God appoints, adjusts, and over-rules all his concerns; yet he feels the risings of fear, anxiety, and displeasure, as though the contrary [opposite] was true. [!!] He owns [admits] himself ignorant, and liable to be deceived by a thousand fallacies [false arguments]; yet is easily betrayed into positiveness [assurance!] and self-conceit. He feels himself an unprofitable, unfaithful, unthankful servant, and therefore blushes to harbor a thought of desiring the esteem [praise] and commendations of men, yet he cannot suppress it. Finally, for I must observe some bounds, on account of these and many other inconsistencies, he is struck dumb before the Lord, stripped of every hope and plea, but [except] what is provided in the free grace of God, and yet his heart is continually leaning and returning to a covenant of works....

[How then will we be victorious? How can we walk in obedience rather than being forever undercut by our own failings?]

"...I think it safe to use Scriptural language -- The apostles exhort us to give all diligence to resist the devil, to purge ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to give ourselves to reading, meditation, and prayer, to watch, to put on the whole armour of God, and to abstain from all appearance of evil. Faithfulness to light received, and a sincere endeavor to conform to the means prescribed in the word of God, with a humble application to the blood of sprinkling, and the promised Spirit, will undoubtedly be answered by increasing measure of light, faith, strength, and comfort; and we shall know [for in the end we will certainly see him as he is], if we follow on to know the Lord [don't give up! it is he who endures to the end who shall be saved!] ...."

God concerns himself with every detail (consider our study of Exodus 25 and 39-40) ~ And just as when Israel under Moses' leadership built the tabernacle of God according to ALL that the Lord had commanded Moses, and God's glory filled the tabernacle, so our obedience is inextricably linked to walking in intimacy with him.

Video summary: God is God - he has the right to tell us what to do. All nature obeys his commands, evil spirits even must obey his commands. But God gives us the opportunity to obey from "freedom," because God wants lovers. God's commands are always for our good, that it may go well with you - as he says repeatedly throughout the Scriptures. Obedience is a means of our protection, our joy, God's working his best in and for our lives. Disobedience is the pathway of conflict; we want the blessing, but we don't want to obey. Like with illustration from life of Helen Keller, God teaches us to obey him as the means of impressing our hearts with the reality of his goodness and love.

GCC Women's study, Seeking Him: Lessons 4 & 5 ~ Repentance and Grace

Seeking Him: Lessons 4 & 5 ~ Repentance (The Big Turnaround) and Grace (God's provision for every need)

Submitted by Leah Page on Tue, 02/15/2011 - 9:03pm RevivalSH011

From Class Discussion:

"...Humility and honesty provide the fertile ground in which seeds of grace and revival can grow and bear fruit. The next step, then, is responding to God's conviction in genuine repentance." ~NLDeMoss

•Mourning over our sin
•A sense of desperation with regard to "getting the sin out" (as a vile infection must be removed!)
•Turning from sin ~ and Turning (and running full tilt) toward God
•Turning not ONLY from sin, but turning from SELF-EFFORT, to call on God to do what only he can in, for, and through us
•Posture of "face down" worship
•"Poverty of (poor in) spirit"
•Seeing our sin as God sees it ~ Asking God/Allowing God to expose our sin to ourselves in all its ugliness [because we are trusting HIS goodness!]
•Speaking in "agreement" with God about our sin ("confession")
•Turning from "passing the blame" ~ and Turning toward accepting responsibility for our own actions
•Crying out for the Lord's mercy
•Mind/heart = Roots; Doing/behavior = Fruits
•GODLY sorrow ~ vs. WORLDLY sorrow

characteristics of GODLY sorrow include (from 2 Corinthians 7:8-12): leads to repentance, according to the will of God SO THAT suffering of loss is decreased or removed, without regret (though may regret "for a little while"), leads to salvation/life, earnestness [desire to be holy], eagerness [to make things right], indignation [sin is detestable!], fear [a holy "dread", reverence for our God who is offended by sin], longing [intense desire], zeal for holiness [hatred for anything that robs God of his glory!], punishment [making right/restitution], results in INNOCENCE ~ gives evidence that repentance has had its full effect.

Some of the "personal inventory" questions from day 5 of study on Repentance:
~Does sin in my life bother me?
~Do I have an attitude that says, "Lord, everything I know to be sin, and everything You show me in the future to be sin, I am willing to forsake!"?
~Am I willing to call my wrong actions "sin," rather than viewing them as weakness, "struggles," or personality traits?
~Am I willing to accept personal responsibility for my actions, without pointing the finger of blame at anyone else?
~Am I willing to take whatever steps may be necessary to make complete restitution for my sin?
~Am I more concerned about grieving God than about the consequences of my sin?

"Is God calling you to turn away from any particular sin in your life? Responding to God is more important than whatever you were planning on doing next. If God is speaking, the time to respond is NOW. Will you humble yourself and allow Him to being restoring you?....He loves you, offers grace to cover any sin, and longs for you to walk in freedom and joy." ~NLDeMoss

"At this stage in the process, it could be easy to feel overwhelmed with a sense of conviction, failure, and guilt; some may even be tempted to give up on seeking God for revival. The good news is that God does not ask us to meet His requirements on our own -- in fact, He knows we CAN'T live humble, holy, obedient lives without Him." ~NLDeMoss

•God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble
•We weren't SICK, we were DEAD in our sin
•We were children of God's WRATH by nature (born "in Adam")
•Grace is the means by which God SAVES - secures our redemption
•Grace is also the means by which God SANCTIFIES - keeps us and delivers us TO our ultimate redemption
•God, BY GRACE, provides the way of escape in temptation
•God, BY GRACE, provides means of endurance
•God, BY GRACE, readily gives help in time of need
•God, BY GRACE, removes the PENALTY (guilt) of sin, and the POWER (authority/rule) of sin, and progressively even the PRESENCE of sin, realized finally and perfectly once "we shall see him as he is" in Glory!
•God, BY GRACE, trains us to renouce ungodliness and worldly passions
•God, BY GRACE, trains us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in the present age
•God's grace is SUFFICIENT for us, even in suffering - God's power is perfected in our weakness

10 February, 2011

GCC - Seeking Him, Lesson 3: Honesty ~ Silence is Not Always Golden

Seeking Him, Lesson 3: Honesty ~ Silence is Not Always Golden
Submitted by Leah Page on Wed, 02/09/2011 - 5:38pm Revival SH011

Lesson 3: Honesty ~ Silence is Not Always Golden

Guardrails for discussion:
It seems very "trendy" - especially in "mainline" Christianity - to talk about being "honest" these days. It takes different forms, such as being "authentic" or "transparent," etc. But right up front, I'd like to set some "guardrails" for our discussion, with the disclaimer that as always there should be "wisdom" in our disclosures.

Being "authentic" in our post-post-modern culture often resembles far more a kind of "uncertainty" about the truth. As if to be "honest" means you must admit "I don't really know what I think I know about thus and such." But this is not the kind of "honesty" we are talking about today. By way of recommending a good resource for further discussion on this kind of faux "honesty," our book plug for this week's lesson is "Why We Are Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be" - coauthored by Pastor Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. You can actually obtain a copy of the first chapter online for free which in and of itself would be very helpful in considering this topic. CLICK HERE.

As to WHY this appeal to "authenticity" is so attractive, it has largely to do with conveying a humble, teachable spirit. And THIS truly IS desirable - not merely appearing to have such a spirit, but actually BEING humble before God (roofs off!), and with others (walls down!). Humility, however, is not the same thing as "uncertainty." What do we mean?

Guardrail #1: Our Hearts are Deceptive
We know our hearts are deceptive in part because we know ourselves. But we also know this because God has given us the light of his word to shine into our hearts and expose the sin rooted there. So our HUMILITY is a necessary component (as we studied in lesson 2), because we do not in fact always "know" what we think we know. Or act for the reasons we think we are acting. We must always be cultivating a humble dependence on God to search us, to know our hearts, to see if there be any wicked way in us, and to LEAD US in the way everlasting.

Guardrail #2: God's word is SURE
Our reasons for confidence in God's word are many, and it is not the intent of this study to establish those evidences, necessarily. But for our discussion on HONESTY, especially as we are seeking God and asking him to REVIVE us from the inside out, we must be always evaluating our own hearts and intentions, (and the instructions we receive), etc. against the standard of God's self-revelation, God's righteous requirements for our lives, God's work IN us that we might will and do his good pleasure.

Honesty for the sake of mere self-disclosure is not in itself revitalizing! Honestly only exposes the gunk we carry around, it doesn't help REMOVE it! So for that, we need the sure, gentle, unrelenting surgeon's scalpel of God's word (wielded by our good and loving heavenly Father!) to do a deep and penetrating work.

Psalm 15:1-2
Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.

Psalm 24:3-5
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

What does it mean to "speak truth in your heart"?

"Ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God, the tendency to cover our sin has been a part of our sinful human nature....We don't have to be trained how to hide or pretend -- it comes naturally. Even after we are redeemed in Christ and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, we often battle the urge to deceive. But God cannot bless or revive a heart that refuses to acknowledge the truth." ~NLDeMoss

Psalm 32:1-5
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered [by GOD, not by a covering of our own making!]. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

We are not only inclined to hide our sin from each other, and to hide our sin from God, but we hide it even from ourselves. We don't want to believe that we are really "that bad." But God desires truth in our inner man - and as we talked about in our first lesson, he wants to send those plowing blades DEEP to turn up the soil, so our hearts will be soft and receptive and able to bear much fruit, fruit that will last.

One of the main ways the Lord does this work is to bring us to a point of confession, as David committed himself to in the above Psalm. To "confess" is to "speak in agreement with" God over our sin. That is more than just saying/speaking our sin - it is to agree from our heart that this sin is as offensive to us as it is to God. Let's call it what it is! Putrid, rotten, defiling, grotesque, damning, and it MUST MUST MUST be exposed to its root so it can be fully put to death!

How do we know if we are being sanctified? How do we know if we are being revived? We are growing to LOVE what God loves and HATE what God hates, and instead of justifying ourselves, we call sin SIN. We allow the Lord to shine his light into the dark and ugly places of our hearts - not for the sake of condemnation, because if we are in Jesus we are no longer condemned! But because God must cut out ALL the cancer or it grows back and worse than before.

Hebrews 4:13
...And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

"...It is for our good and by God's mercy that He reveals the truth about us, no matter how shameful that truth may be. We learn that the reason God discloses our thoughts, actions, and motives is to bring to us peace (rest; Hebrews 4:11-12). God is not a bully; He is a Savior. He cannot be soft on sin. His justice requires holiness that we, in our humanity, do not have the capacity for. The demands of God's justice have been satisfied through the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. However, we must come clean; we must confess. Silence only condemns us by keeping us guilty.
"Think about this...confessing our sin -- breaking the silence -- ushers in the forgiveness and cleansing of God. So, why hide? Why remain silent?" ~NLDeMoss

One last word ~ One of the greatest weapons in the arsenal of our spiritual enemy is that of ACCUSATION. Satan literally means "The accuser" of the brethren. If, then, we have willingly followed the Lord's Spirit into the deep dark places of our hearts, and we are willingly letting our loving FATHER do the work of digging about, unearthing our hidden sins and shining the light on them so that they begin to shrivel up and one by one be cast aside, what power or authority or right does our Accuser have in heaping guilt upon us?! By walking with God, in humility and honesty and ready confession, we DISARM our enemy!

Proverbs 18:10
The name of the Lord is a strong tower ~ The righteous run into it! and are SAFE.


08 February, 2011

GCC Women's study; Seeking Him, Lesson 2: Humility ~ Coming to God on His Terms

Lesson 2: Humility ~ Coming to God on His Terms

"Humility is a virtue more often praised than sought. Who wants to think little of himself? The world admires the self-confident, the ambitious, yes, even the proud! Yet biblical humility - recognizing oneself as a sinner before the holy God - is a prerequisite for starting down the path to revival."

As we looked at in week one, the work of the Lord in bringing revival begins with breaking up of the fallow groud of our hearts, using the deeply penetrating work of the spears of a powerful plow (the double edged sword of God's word!) which dig down into the tender places of our soul, to turn over the hard soil and bring the nutrient rich soil of a broken and contrite heart to the surface.

One example from our study included looking at Isaiah ch. 6 in which Isaiah recounts his face-to-face encounter with the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, seated on the throne of heaven and appearing in his GLORY. When confronted with the glory and perfection and holiness of our Good God, humility is immediately conscious of its falling short, its imperfections, its "undone-ness" as Isaiah observed, "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips, and I come from a people of unclean lips!"

Which is the exactly necessary disposition to then receive FROM God the very cleansing, merciful work. We see the dispatching of a burning coal to remove Isaiah's obstacle for standing in God's presence, namely, his unholiness, his "woeful" (cursed!) state.

We examined snapshots from the lives of both Rehoboam and Asa in 2 Chronicles. Even acknowledging that these snapshots don't give us all the complexities of the lives of these two Kings of Judah, we nevertheless trace the reverse patterns in each of their lives: Rehoboam ruled from a place of pride, was confronted with the word of the Lord by means of one of God's prophets, and he and the people's response was to humble themselves before God, and so they received deliverance. Asa started well, ruled from a place of humility and even observed first-hand how the Lord gave grace, but when given the opportunity to seek his own solutions rather than being led by the Lord, he exercised his pride, and when he was confronted with the word of the Lord by means of one of God's prophets, he responded with even more pride, angered by the rebuke, and suffered in his own body the consequences of his refusal to seek and depend on the Lord.

Certainly, these summaries aren't the whole of their stories, but they give us, nevertheless, living pictures of God's GRACE even to confront our pride by means of his word!, and yet, how we respond to that "cutting" of God's discerning even between the thoughts and intents of our hearts will determine the path that then we walk.

"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'" ~Isaiah 57:15

"For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do." ~Hebrews 4:12-13 (Amplified)

God opposes, and brings low those who are proud and self-sufficient. But not only does he give grace to the humble, he does so by drawing NEAR to those who have acknowledge that in themselves they are spiritually bankrupt, or as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, they are "poor in spirit." Our God "makes his dwelling place" with us (!) when we surrender our firm grip on our own self-importance and self-exaltation. Loosing our fingers in this way frees us to lay hold of HIM who has laid hold of us.

Next Lesson: HONESTY

17 January, 2011

"Seeking Him" - Lesson One: Revival (What is it and Who needs it?)

"Seeking Him" - Lesson One: Revival (What is it and Who needs it?)
Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 01/17/2011 - 9:24pm RevivalSH011Sovereignty


Key Verse(s): Hosea 10:12-13
"Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, Because you trusted in your own way, In the multitude of your mighty men."

The bulk of our discussion, last week, as we reviewed our study time in lesson one, focused on the questions laid out on pages 16-17 in our book. Based on that discussion, these were some of the main themes we discovered and/or traced throughout:

•Revival is for the BELIEVER ~ We must first have life from God to be able to experience life afresh. This isn't to say that the Lord doesn't newly save individuals in the context of, for example, a "revival meeting," but rather it is to emphasize that "Revival" is not some external activity or event (or something we ourselves can "drum up"). Rather, it is description of a work that takes place from within, and can only be brought about by God, who in Christ Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith.
•Revival is God's gift for his children, to give grace so that we have both the desire and the power to return to him. It's ultimately about our intimacy with our heavenly Father, and how that intimacy changes us from the inside out.
•As Nancy pointed out in the video segment of our study, the first step in the process is to "break up the fallow ground" ~ For us to have hearts that are soft and made ready to receive the good seed so that we may yield a harvest of righteouness, we must first have hearts that have been broken, tilled, plowed. And the plow needs to dig DEEP so that the soft soil underneath can be turned up, and the hard soil on the top can be broken up and made soft. It was by means of this analogy that Nancy warned us that these first few weeks of this study will be the most difficult, perhaps the most painful part. The Lord will begin exposing the soft undersides of our heart, and we will no doubt be disgusted by what he finds there. It makes us unconfortable, but we must be willing to submit to the process if we want to experience revival ~ Lord, we want you to search us and know us and see if there be any wicked way in us and lead us in the way everlasting. (see prayer at end of Ps. 139)
•One of the tools in our lesson, this first week, was a kind of heart "inventory" we took on day 5 ~ examining our own hearts, looking at our lives in light of Scripture, being honest about whatever sin we might be seeing there. Several of us found this very helpful!
•Questions 4 and 5 on pages 16-17 were especially revealing. Both touched on the issue of what other things - often even GOOD things! - in our lives to we hold on to for security, or do we turn to in place of God? And as we discussed, we are quick to depend on our money, our health, our intelligence, our family relationships or friendships, or any number of other GOOD things that can very easily become idols of our hearts. We cling tightly to our expectations (demands?)!, rather than "holding all things," as Pastor Krogh has said, "with an open hand." We become distracted from loving the Lord, deceived even by our own hearts, so we go about "trusting in our own way" rather than fully following after the Lord.
•It was a point of conviction - in keeping with the hard and painful work of "plowing" our hearts - but there is a sweetness to it! We must remember that it is the KINDNESS of the Lord that leads us to repentance! It is for our GOOD that the Lord exposes the uglinesses of our hearts to ourselves, so that these sinful motives, these sinful desires, these self-preserving actions can be seen for how ugly they really are - and WHY are they ugly? Because they keep up from the love of our Father, they keep us from living righteous lives as God desires - and God's desire FOR us in this regard is not only for his glory, but for our JOY.
•Let us keep that JOY before our eyes, even as we humble ourselves to the Spirit's examination of our hearts! Let us, like King Josiah (see "going deeper" corner on p. 1, and text in 2 Kings 22:8-13, 18-20), weep over our sin, to the degree that we would "rend our garments" in mourning over how we have failed to obey the word of the Lord. And let us truly invite the Lord's life-giving work, trusting that he is GOOD, and that he changes us from the inside out because of his great LOVE for us.

Book Recommendation: "The Valley of Vision" compiled/edited by Arthur Bennett

This is a collection of prayers from several writings from many "Puritan" Christians from the past several hundred years. This collection has been SUCH a blessing in my own life, and as I said in class, if I could own only one other book besides the Bible, it would probably be this book.

Like nothing else I've read, I feel this book has taught and is still teaching me how to pray, and the poetic phrases - aside from just being beautiful and worshipful in their expression - contain some of the richest theological truths that in themselves are teachers. These heart-felt prayers encourage us to give our all, and to willingly invite the Lord to do the work that only he can....

This next Wednesday, we will start class with a time of prayer, using p. 18-19 in our book as a guideline.