Tuesday, October 12, 2021

I May Not Get It, But I Know that God Has Got It

 



It's all about knowing that hes already taken care of everything. This was the revelation that I received when I was in Las Vegas. So Lord, opened the arm Of my heart so that I could see where you are taking me.

I do not have to do something extra to be taken care of.

I do not have to look over my shoulders.

I do not have to wonder if God is on my side anymore.

No longer do I have to add something to everything that Jesus has accomplished for me at the Cross.

No longer do I feel compelled to "do something" so that everything else will be OK in my life.

There are no longer any demands, any "states of mind" which have to be reached in order for Daddy God to bless me, for the Son to work in me, for the Holy Spirit to Guide me.

Jesus, You were so crystal clear when You comforted and exhorted the Israelites of your day:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

I struggled with this simple command for so long, because I was so convinced, after years and years or wrong teaching and wrong believing, that there had to be a "my part" that I had to take care of. Am I really supposed to rest and let Him take care of everything.

YES!

"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:11)

and

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:" (Hebrews 8:10)

There is it! The New Covenant, and it could not be any clearer!

For the longest time, I kept thinking that I had to "Get something something done" or "I got to do something" in order to make it work out.

I was all wrong.

I was taught so many wrong things about my Daddy God. I was taught that God could come or go in my life depending on what I was thinking or feeling. I was taught that I needed to be hard on myself so that I would not fail, do wrong, miss our, or wrongly let someone get away with doing something wrong to me.

Now, I get all of it. It all makes sense to me. The fact that there were these unfounded demands placed on me kept convincing me that I had to "do something."

That is the flesh problem that Pastor Prince talks about at great length in a number of sermons. This flesh issue is this idea that we need to do something, think something to make everything happen around us.

Today, because I understand fully that the Law has been fulfilled, and that Grace is a person, I therefore have nothing to worry about. Life is not some 007 Secrecy plot, in which I have to guess whether I am going in the right direction or the wrong direction.

Life does not start with me. Life starts with Him!

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)

and

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)

and also

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:4)

There is it!

This is not a life of trying to figure everything out. This is not a life in which I have to get everything. He is my life, and He has got it all under control. AMEN!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

More Revelations About Succumbing and Not Succumbing

 Yesterday, I was thinking about all the struggles that I used to deal with.

God is showing me the thought patterns and the other struggles that were going on in my mind.

I had a bad host of bad believing, simple as that. It really is true, and it really is that simple.

I was not believing the Gospel in its fullest. It takes time to get there, for all of us are transformed from glory to glory as we behold HIM! (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

The fact is that none of us will ever understand the Gospel to the fullest because there is so much to understand:

"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:19)

So, another revelation came to me yesterday:

Why did I struggle with temptations, nasty thoughts, bad feelings?

I would fall into this pit of asking myself some really unpleasant questions:

How did I get out of this bad set of emotions last time?

What do I do if I have those bad memories next time?

What will I do tomorrow if I have those illicit desires again?

Those questions are all predicated on this lie: "I have to do something. I have to maintain something" in order to be OK with Daddy God.

That is all wrong. Jesus has completed the work (John 19:30)! There is nothing more that I have to add. If I have a thought, a memory, a painful reflection from the past, it does not matter.

I don't have to do anything about it, because Jesus has already done everything that needs to be done about it! YES! AMEN!

I do not worry about tomorrow or the next day or the next day. He has all those days taken care of. Tomorrow is already cared for because He has promised to be a God to me, based on the New Covenant:

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)


We can rest assured that He is Our God because "I will be merciful (lit. propitious) to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

That is good for good! That is ever in our favor forever! There is nothing more that needs to be added to that. All the questions that used to assault my mind "What are you going to do tomorrow, the next day?" are all answered: "He remembers my sins NO MORE!"

I does not matter if I sin tomorrow, the next day, if I fail tomorrow, the next day.

He is My God, and He is on my side forever ... BECAUSE OF HIS SON JESUS!

BOOM!

All of these verses I have heard and reheard, rehearsed many times over.  Now it is made more manifest. It takes time, but He indeed has come through for me. JESUS!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Righteousness: A Gift, Not a Work (So Stop Telling Me It's "His Way of Doing Things"!)

  This is one of the most frustrating stumbling blocks that I am hearing in the churches today.

They keep talking about righteousness as if it means "God's Way of Doing Things."

That is patently untrue. I am so tried of hearing that. I am so tired of people not paying attention to what God's Word says.

Consider this passage:

"In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee." (Isaiah 54:14)

Could it not be any clearer? Righteousness is something that we are established in. It is not something that we do, but rather somenthing that is done to us.

Let's go back to the Father of Faith, our beloved Abraham:

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

What more do modern-day preachers need? How more clearly can God make it?

Going back to Isaiah 54, we find this verse:

"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17)

Our righteousness comes from Him! We do not create it, we do not manufacture it.

And why stop there?

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:" (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Christ IS our righteousness. What else do you need to understand that righteousness is not "His way of doing things"?

How about this?!

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

That's all you need to know. 

When Jesus said to the Israelites of His day during His earthly ministry "See ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness," He was talking about the perfect standing before God, in which we are no longer condemned for our sins, but justified from all things (Acts 13:38)

Consider this passage, too:



"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

It's a gift! IT'S A GIFT! How much more plainly can Paul make it?!

I am done. I will not settle for any pastor or preacher who continues to push this canard that righteousness is something that we do. No! It is something that Jesus has done, that He has bestowed as a gift to all who will receive it, who will receive Him!

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Church of Laodicea: Revelation of the Grace and God and the Gift of Righteousness

A while back, I received a profound revelation about the Church of Laodicea.

Granted, it may not seem at first glance that there is any good news to glean from this account. Of the seven church whom Jesus communicated to in the early chapters of Revelation, five of the churches receive correction from Jesus--and the Laodicean church receives the harshest.

Today, there are many pastors and preachers which are warning about churches becoming like the Laodicean church.

However, I did some research on the church in Laodicea, and I found some very good news!

From Biblical Archaeology:

Yet the Laodicean church’s “lukewarm” legacy was not its final legacy.

The church at Laodicea survived Domitian’s reign. The city became a bishopric (seat of a Christian bishop), and a Christian council was even held there in the fourth century C.E. Archaeologists have discovered about 20 ancient Christian chapels and churches at the site. The largest church at Laodicea, called the Church of Laodicea took up an entire city block and dates to the beginning of the fourth century.

church-of-laodicea

The Church of Laodicea. Dated to the beginning of the fourth century C.E., the Church of Laodicea spanned an entire city block. The church faced east and was decorated with marble floors. Photo: © Mark R. Fairchild, Huntington University.

Laodicea remained an important city until the seventh century C.E. when it was struck by a devastating earthquake and subsequently abandoned. 

Imagine that? Jesus had some harsh words for this church, but in this revelation that I received from Daddy God, you will find that there is great grace even in our worst failings, and even for a church which was so summarily chastised as the church in Laodicea.

First, let's look at the passage as a whole.

14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

First, it is important to establish that when Jesus communicates with the Seven Churches, He speaks specifically, directly to the "angel" of the church, i.e. the minister or the pastor of the church. Second, in other letters, Jesus does say that if the angels, the ministers do not repent, He will take their candle out (Revelation 2:5). This does not mean that the pastor or the members of the church will lose their salvation, It does mean that the pastor will lose his place and the church will close.

Around the world and over many decades, we have witnesses many churches close. They no longer preach the Gospel, the focus on man-made causes and concerns. They do not focus on Jesus, but rather on man and his efforts, or the perfection of man through his efforts. All of this is a clear abandon of the Gospel of Grace (Galatians 1:6) which we receive through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Now, let's look at what Jesus says to the church of Laodicea.

First, about the word "Laodicea" itself, the word means "The people rule." This name speaks to the types of churches in which the pastor panders to the people, giving into their demands, and also to the types of churches where man's interests, where the interests of the population, what is popular, take precendence instead of the Word of God. 

What is the first thing that Jesus says to Laodicean church?

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Many of construed this passage to indicate that the church members were not on fire for God or cool and refreshing in what they had to offer.

Let's look further:

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The word "lukewarm" in the Original Greek is:

chliaros: tepid, warm

Original Word: χλιαρός, ά, όν
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: chliaros
Phonetic Spelling: (khlee-ar-os')
Definition: tepid, warm
Usage: warm, tepid; of persons: lukewarm.

Thayer's dictionary provides more information:

χιλιαροςχιλιαραχιλιαρον (χλίω, to become warm, liquefy, melt), tepid, lukewarm: metaphorically, of the condition of a soul wretchedly fluctuating between a torpor and a fervor of love, Revelation 3:16. (HerodotusPindarDiodorusPlutarchAthen.Geoponica.)

What we have here is a church that is wavering, that is going back and forth between two extremes. A clear example of this occurs in the Galatian church, in which the Galatians went from grace back to law (Galatians 1:6, 3:3)

James warns about men who are double-minded, as well (James 1:8).

This wavering is all about going from grace to law, from faith to works, from trusting in the Lord's Finished Work to man's self-effort. That is what is happening here!

Then comes this very harsh pronunciation from our Lord Jesus:

[B]ecause thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The King James Version gives off a harsh, inexorable stance from Jesus. The Greek more accurately reads "I am about to spit you out of my mouth,"

Jesus is about to, but He does not! Right away, that should inspire relief and respite for all who read this. Think aboout it, besides: if Jesus was going to spit out the pastor at the Church of Laodicea, why would He have bothered to send them a letter in the first place?

Consider how the New International Version renders this verse:

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Even when Jesus has to issue a stern warning to a pastor, He is all about grace. He wants to help them--He wants to help all of us even when we are lost in our self-serving delusions.

Next, Jesus says:

17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Ouch! Quite an indictment!

It does sound like some of the churches we see in our world today. Church leaders are talking a great deal about "Name it and Claim it," they share a great deal on tithe, tithing, and tithers. They even make the case that God does not bless you unless you give first. Of course, even the first mention of tithing in the Bible clearly illustrates that God blesses us, and then we tithe in response to His goodness! (Genesis 14)

Sadly, there are so many pastors and church leaders who assume that they are great and are all taken care of simply because they are wealthy, have lots of stuff, and they really think that they don't need anything. And yet they are:

1. Wretched: 5005 talaípōros (an adjective, derived from talaō, "to bear, undergo" and pōros, "a callous," J. Thayer) – properly, wretched (beaten-down) from continued strain, leaving a person literally full of callouses (deep misery) – describing a person with severe side-effects from great, ongoing strain (significant hardships).

Many people who boast in their wealth have relied on their own strength and have harmed themselves, their health, their families in the process. God's kind of prosperity never causes such harm:

"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22)

Amen! How silly for people to boast in their wealth, when it cost them so much more attain it through their own means. Besides, God's heart is for all of us to prosper and be in health--even as our soul prospers (3 John2).

2. Miserable: Cognate: 1652 eleeinós (from 1656, eleos, "mercy") – pitiable, wretched; in great need of mercy (because desperate).

This church leader thinks that they do not need more mercy, more grace, and yet Paul urges us to receive--and keep receiving--the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). Peter's last words urge his readers to "Grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord." (2 Peter 3:18).

3. Poor: 4434 ptōs (from ptōssō, "to crouch or cower like a beggar") – properly, bent over; (figuratively) deeply destitute, completely lacking resources (earthly wealth) – i.e. helpless as a beggar4434 (ptōxós) relates to "the pauper rather than the mere peasant, the extreme opposite of the rich" (WP, 1, 371).

Wow! What we find, then, is that this Laodicean church was truly "all talk." They said that they were rich, but in fact they actually were not! They had lots of pride, but in reality they were in great need!

4. blind: Thayer's Greek Lexicon

STRONGS NT 5185: τυφλός
τυφλόςτυφλοῦ (τύφω, to raise a smoke; hence, properly, 'darkened by smoke'), from Homer down, the Sept. for עִוֵּרblind;

Throughout the Bible, blindness is a sign not just of someone who cannot physically see, but more importantly represents someone who has forgotten that all of his sins have been forgiven:

"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." (2 Peter 1:9)

5. Nake: gumnos: naked, poorly clothed
Original Word: γυμνός, ή, όν
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: gumnos
Phonetic Spelling: (goom-nos')
Definition: naked, poorly clothed
Usage: rarely: stark-naked; generally: wearing only the under-garment; bare, open, manifest; mere.

When we think of nakedness, what comes to mind is not merely a lack of clothing in itself, but it reminds me of Adam and Eve, who became naked because their eyes were no longer looking at God's goodness and provision, but rather at themselves and their inadequacies in themselves. They wanted to depend on their own knowledge and wisdom, and what they found was inevitably inadequate.

Nakedness speaks to our sinful state in ourselves, our weakness on our own without Christ. In trusting ourselves with everything, we find ourselves lost, losing, and lacking in so many ways.

But Jesus does not stop there and just shame them for their current status.

18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 

Now, this passage is confusing!

First, Jesus tells the messenger of the church that he is poor and blind and wretched (might as well as throw in 'sloppy, dumpy, and stupid.') And now Jesus is telling him to buy something from Him? And not just anything, but "gold tried in the fire" and "white raiment" and "eyesalve."

We are not talking about cheap goods here.

Let's take a look at the first part of the verse "I counsel thee to buy ..."

Counsel:

sumbouleuó: to take counsel together, advise
Original Word: συμβουλεύω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: sumbouleuó
Phonetic Spelling: (soom-bool-yoo'-o)
Definition: to take counsel together, advise
Usage: I give advice, exhort; mid: I take counsel together, consult.
HELPS Word-studies

4823 symbouleúō (from 4862 /sýn, "identify with" and 1011 /bouleúō, "to plan," which is derived from 1012 /boulḗ, "a resolute plan") – properly, to consult (counsel) together, like when people plan something out together with high resolve (keeping to their pre-set goals).

Jesus was not just on the outside giving advice. Here, Jesus is working with the pastor: "Let's do this together."

And what about that word "buy"?

agorazó: to buy in the marketplace, purchase

Original Word: ἀγοράζω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: agorazó
Phonetic Spelling: (ag-or-ad'-zo)
Definition: to buy in the marketplace, purchase
Usage: I buy.

HELPS Word-studies

59 agorázō (from 58 /agorá, "the ancient marketplace, town-center") – properly, to make purchases in the marketplace ("agora"), i.e. as ownership transfers from seller to buyer.

59 /agorázō ("acquire by purchasing") stresses transfer – i.e. where something becomes another's belonging (possession). In salvation-contexts, 59 (agorázō) is not redeeming ("buying back"), but rather focuses on how the believer now belongs to the Lord as His unique possession (J. Thayer). Indeed, Christ purchases all the privileges and responsibilities that go with belonging to Him (being in Christ).

We are not talking about a mere exchange of goods here. We are talking about a deeper revelation of Christ's redeeming work. In effect, one could more precisely translate the phrase:

"Agree with me to receive from me something that I have bought for you."

This verse, this revelation reminds me of Isaiah 55:

"1Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

2Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

3Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isaiah 55:1-3)

How exactly do we buy something 'without price'? We receive it by grace, through faith! YES!

Now, let's delve more deeply into what Jesus is provided to the Church in Laodicea:

Gold: that speaks of the Gift of righteousness, our sure foundation based on Jesus' Finished Work

The white raiment speaks of the Robe of righteousness, which clothes us, YES!

And what about the eyesalve?

Well, this is a very interesting word in the original Greek:

eyesalve:

kollourion: eye salve.

Original Word: κολλούριον, ου, τό
Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
Transliteration: kollourion
Phonetic Spelling: (kol-loo'-ree-on)
Definition: eye salve
Usage: eye-salve.

kollurion: a small bread roll, an eye salve (shaped like a roll).

Transliteration: kollurion
Definition: a small bread roll, an eye salve (shaped like a roll)

What is the eyesalve for? Obviously, to heal a person's sight, soo that they can see clearly.

Notice also that this eyesale is the same word for bread, a small bread roll specifically. Where have we read about this connection between eating bread and seeing?

In The Gospel of Luke!

"30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight." (Luke 24:30-31)

Here, we have the breaking of the bread, commmunion! When Cleopas and his wife broke the bread with Jesus in their midst, they saw HIM! They did not see their sins, they did not see their failures, they did not see their losses. They saw HIM!

And that is what Jesus is so determined to restore to the Laodicean church. They need to see Him. They need to see all their needs can only be met in Him. Their needs are far greater than food and cleathing. Consider what Jesus said to the Israelites of His day during His earthly ministry:

"25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  ...33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:25, 33)

The issue is righteousness! This righteousness is something that Jesus has purchased for us! In fact, not just any status of righteousness, but because of Jesus, we have been made the righteousness of God in Him! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What was plaguing the Laodicean church? They thought that they were righteousness becaused of their great wealth and status. They were depending on their own efforts, and boasting in their own works. They did not have a revelation of the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). They had works, and they thought they were alive, but they were actually dead.


They were mixing up law and grace, trusting in their own efforts. This Galatian errror receives the harshest rebuke, and yet let us not forget that this church not only learned the lesson, received correction, but thrived for centuries afterwards. AMEN!



Starting the Day With Nothing But Gratitude

 LORD JESUS!

Today, I am just so thankful, so grateful.

When I woke up this morning, I woke up at a more normal time, as I used to in the past.

Instead of struggling with sleep and waking up groggy at 4am or 5am, I woke up at about 7:45am.

WOW! This has been pretty consistent for the past week. AMEN! 

For the last year and a half, I have struggled with sleep. It started in late 2019, when I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier. I was just tired a great deal.

Then I found myself getting up at 2am, 3am, 4am. It was really bad. There were days that I just felt like a zombie going through the day. My "time clock" was off, so to speak.

For the last two weeks, though, I have been receiving a greater, fuller revelation that Jesus has taken care of everything. I understand more fully what it means to grow in grace, to understand His unmerited favor. God is at work in my life, not because I have done or am doing something, but because He is at work and doing everything.

When we rest in Him, He works in us. AMEN! YES!




"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

This is no fantasy. This is not something that I have to work on to make sure that He keeps working. 

WOW!

And so, I am waking up with greater gratitude than I ever have before. I know that I am not stepping into this world on my own. I am not trying to create the day for me. I know that He is my Perfect Peace (Isaiah 26:3), and everything is taken care of.

That has taken a great deal of the weight off my shoulders. I no longer feel tired. I know longer dread waking up in the face of some considerable challenges or demands on my time.

And I sleep better. There is no longer this nagging voice in the back of my head that is telling me "Don't forget to do this!" and "Don't forget to do that," and so on.

This is really something.

Even today, I found that I had a little trouble going to sleep, but I did not worry about it. I know that the next day, this day, did not depend on me and my mood. That took so much of the strain off of me. Thank you, Jesus!

And even this morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I was just thanking God for this beautiful home where I live. I pay below market rent in a great city, in a very good climate. While so many people complain about the weather or the price of housing or the cost of living, I am nothing but blessed.

THANK YOU JESUS!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

When We Receive Salem, It's Easy to Reject Sodom


I have learned so much about the ministries that help people escape from unnatural affection (same-sex temptations, etc). For too long, however, in the Body of Christ, there is still an insistence on what we must do to get right with the Lord. It's all about our efforts, and in all too many cases, there are so many Christians who still believe that they need to stop doing the wrong so that they can be in the right and receive all that they need from Jesus.

In fact, the Bible is Christ-al (crystal) clear that the Holy Spirit transforms us, not we ourselves:

"18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

and

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2)

Notice that we receive the transformation. This is not something that we do. This is something that the Holy Spirit does.

Now, to the specific issue for those who struggle with unnatural affection.

In Genesis 14, we read about an incredible victory wrought by our father of faith Abraham (at the time, he was still called Abram):

"13And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." (Genesis 14:13-16)

With only 318 men, Abram defeated four kings, and he rescued all the people who had been captured, and reclaimed all the goods that had been looted by those kings.

Now, who was the first person to reach out to Abram after this incredible victory?

"17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale." (Genesis 14:17)

The King of Sodom arrived first. This king is the picture of our flesh, and for those who struggle with unnatural temptations, that struggle. 

Then who comes to Abraham?

"18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God." (Genesis 14:18)

First, there is the King of Sodom, but then comes the King of Salem. This Melchizedek is a type of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

"18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God." (Psalm 110:4)

and

"14For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." (Hebrews 7:14-16)

More comparisons ...

"Sodom" means "scorching" or "burning fire." This name is appropriate, since the LORD God would destroy Sodom in fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24-25)

Lusts, fleshy demands in our minds and in our bodies, war against us, like a consuming fire:

"15The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

16The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough." (Proverbs 30:15-16)

and

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" (1 Peter 2:11)

That fire also speaks of the fiery darts of the Enemy, who seeks to condemn us for our wrong thinking and feeling, the lusts in our flesh (Ephesians 6:16)

"Salem" means "peace" or "paid for." Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), for He has paid for our sins--and all the sins of the world (1 John 2:2)

Now, notice that Melchizedek (which means "King of Righteousness") not only comes to Abraham, but he brings bread and wine.



He also blesses Abraham--and he blesses him before he blesses the Most High God! (Genesis 14:19-20)

Then Abraham tithed to Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods that he secured from the four kings.

Then consider what he says to the King of Sodom after this burning king asks for the people whom Abraham had rescued:

22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:" (Genesis 14:22-23)

Here are a few wonderful revelations which Daddy God showed me in this passage, which can help people who still struggle with unnatural affection:

1. The King of Sodom did come to Abraham first, but Melchizedek did follow. In the same way, all of us who are saved, who are called by God to great things, will find these struggles burning at our flesh from the outset, but Jesus comes to us. Again, notice that Abraham did not go to Melchizedek, but rather this wonderful King of Righteousness came to Abraham first.

2. The King of Righteousness and Peace blessed Abraham, and the word "bless" is used three times in the passage. We must rest in this gracious truth that our Savior, our High Priest Forever at the order of Melchizedek has a priesthood that blesses only, that does not curse.

3. Then this revelation came to me: Melchizedek provided Abraham bread and wine, and he blessed him--but at no time did Melchizedek tell Abraham to break off his meeting with the King of Sodom first. In other words, Melchizedek was ministering to Father Abraham all the while that the King of Sodom was right there with him!

The revelation for all of us today, which we must share with fellow brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who still find themselves mired in certain temptations: Jesus ministers to us, serves us, blesses us with His goodness even when we still struggle with unnatural affections. He does not go away. He does not tell us to get our acts together, to stop sinning, so to speak.

He blesses us first, He fulfills us first, he pays for all our sins and gives us His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Then, and only then, are we able to say to the King of Sodom "I am not taking anything from you. I receive everything I need from the Most High God, who is also the Possessor of Heaven and Earth." Who need what the world has to offer, when He who spoke the worlds into existence can give you all things with His Son?!

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Paul writes about this beautifully to the Romans:

"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4)

He later writes:

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" (Titus 2:11-13)

First, through Christ Jesus we are justified from all things (Acts 13:38) Then, because we see more of Jesus, He transforms us!

Too many Christians who struggle withing lingering sins are trying to get their acts together first, then come to Jesus. That is not how it works. We cannot change ourselves, we cannot save ourselves. If we could find a way to fix ourselves, then Jesus did not have to come our way and be the Way, as well as the Truth and the Life.

When we receive Salem, it's easy to reject Sodom!



When people receive Jesus as their King of Peace and their King of Righteousness, as they continue to receive revelation of His Finished Work (the bread and wine, i.e. Holy Communion), as they continue to receive His blessings and favor, for Jesus is Grace Personified (John 1:14), then Christians can say to the temptations in their flesh: "I won't take anything from you. I receive all I need from my High Priest forever.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Dealing with Sexual Brokenness, and Where the Church is Still Missing It

 I just saw this article on CBN News:

From Ravi Zacharias to Josh Duggar, Why Leaders Fall toSexual Brokenness


It was written by Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett. They are two powerhouses of the faith, especially in the realms of apologetics and doctrine, especially to a secular age overwhelmed with anti-Christian sentiment.

The headline poses a worthy question: why are leaders in Christendom falling into sexual sin? Why is there this explosion of sexual perversion in the church, or at least so it seems?

Ravi Zacharias, Carl Lentz, Josh Duggar ... the list goes on. Why do leaders continue to fall into extramarital affairs, sexual abuse, and porn?

Why is this happening? Some research suggests that 40% of Christians are still struggling with porn addiction. This is in the Body of Christ! What is going on?

The aftershocks have been devastating, causing feelings of betrayal, deep pain, and trauma that make life in this new normal even more unbearable, uncertain, and confusing. This pain has led many into skepticism resulting in abandoning their faith.

I do understand the feelings of pain, but betrayal? Honestly, fellow believers in the Body of Christ need to stop putting their hope and trust in their pastors, in other people. This is a magnified problem. We are called to One Person: Jesus Christ. We are not called to princes, pastors, or potentates. We are called to One Prince of Peace.

Are these crises simply a matter of broken human nature, and might we be just a moment away from similar acts? Or is the reality more complex?

We would like to propose that many people suffer from a significant growth gap—a tendency to focus more on spiritual activity than spiritual identity. Many churches have a typical growth model where people are thought to grow primarily by external activity–-serving in church, praying, and Bible reading. There is a better way: one of internal maturation spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. We must deal with our pain and the unhealthy relational and family dynamics we grew up in, move from isolation to connection, and grow into who God has made us to be so that we will be able to love Him and others.

This is a profoundly correct assessment. Too many of us will think that someone is spiritually mature because they are doing a lot of "stuff." The issue is indeed identity! Who are we?

Do we see ourselves as Beloved Children of the Living God?

"And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God." (Romans 9:26)

Do we know that we are accepted (highly favored) in the Beloved Son, Jesus Christ? (Ephesians 1:6)

I submit that many Christians do not know this, or they do not believe it:

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)

How often do we hear about God's love for us preached? How often do we hear about Jesus in our churches and in our pulpits?

After being sexually abused as a child and experiencing pain from my dysfunctional family, I (Josh) harbored deep hurts. When I became a Christian many things did improve, but eventually my unresolved pain caught up to me. Even though my ministry thrived, I didn't. I found myself exhausted, angry, and struggling to cope with unhealed emotional wounds. For example, whenever my mom complained about the abuse she received from my father, I bore the responsibility for stopping him and carrying the burden of my mom's emotional distress. Rescuing loved ones became one of the few ways I could gain my family's acceptance and love. Unfortunately, this behavior continued into my adult life; the world's problems were mine to solve. I remember this growth gap well. Do you find this familiar?

Notice how Josh McDowell talks about trying to earn acceptance and love. That is so contrary to the Gospel. We ARE already accepted in Christ Jesus! That is amazing! It takes time for our minds to be renewed to othis revelation. (Romans 12:2)

Although rescuing gave me temporary value and a counterfeit version of the acceptance God longed for me to experience, I was emotionally a wounded little boy in many ways. I had not outgrown that survival mechanism even when I was well into my fifties. My emotional growth was stunted because I hadn't dealt with unresolved parts of my story; this inhibited my relationship with God, myself, and others. Angry, exhausted, and struggling to go on, I needed serious healing.

Abuse in childhood leads to so much wrong believing in adulthood. Yes, indeed.

Similarly, I (Ben) grew up struggling with deep wounds, confusion, and trauma. I felt that I couldn't meet my dad's expectations, and I often faced his disapproval and intense anger. In addition, I was constantly bullied for being overweight and a Christian. Despite the decision I made to follow Christ at a young age, somehow I became a hostage to spiraling fear, anxiety, and depression that, at times, caused me to dissociate from the present.

There is so much condemnation, even in churches. There is such a focus on getting people to change their behavior (i.e. spiritual activity) rather than metanoia, i.e. change one's beliefs, one's thinking (i.e. spiritual identity).

Then came my struggle with food, porn, and alcohol, which unfortunately lasted through my first couple of years in full-time ministry. Although I constantly prayed, studied Scripture, and faithfully served at church, my struggles only escalated. Suicidal thoughts joined the cacophony of chaos inside my head. Could God really heal me and set me free? Could things ever really improve?

Yes, but He changes us, not we ourselves.

Our stories aren't anomalies. After 75+ years of combined ministry, we've seen so much brokenness, hurt, and addiction. The world is in crisis, and we need a radical move of God to heal our brokenness and bring about abundant wholeness. However, we won't experience this better life until we confront the root cause of this widespread brokenness. This is one of the reasons we developed the Wholeness Apologetic Model. Through research and biblical truth, this model details how we heal, experience freedom from unhealthy behaviors, and mature spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Together, we are on a mission to help others break Free to Thrive—to live the abundant Christian life.

Now here come my concerns. There is all this talk about our living the Christian life. Christ is our live. We are called to a Person, folks. Not to principles, precepts, or programs.

Though I (Josh) had a theological degree, best-selling books, and a global ministry that reached millions annually, my own spiritual growth was stunted. On the outside I may have looked like a spiritually mature Christian leader, but that was a superficial appearance. A key principle of the Wholeness Apologetic Model explains that our spiritual maturity isn't determined by our level of knowledge about God nor by the number of good things we do or how much we pray, read the Bible, serve, or go to church. Rather, spiritual maturity is a product of our love for God, ourselves, and others, unmistakably resulting in Christ-likeness. Stated another way, mature Christians are emotionally and relationally whole Christians.

This paragraph is completely wrong. Our maturity is not based on our love for God. 

Spiritual maturity is based on our revelation of God's love for us! We need to understand more of how much He loves us!

This theme could not be made any clearer in Scripture, throughout the New Testament!

"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

and

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

and

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." (1 John 3:1)

Notice that John wants us to behold the Father's love for us! It's not about our love for Him. It's all about His love for us.

And consider -- if someone is bogged down in addictions of some kind, John gives the reason why:

"15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-16)

Why do men and women in ministry still struggle with all kinds of issues, hardships, mental anguish, bondages, and addictions? The love of the Father is not in them.

It's not "The Love for the Father." It's about His love for us!

I am so frustrated that there are so many men and women of the Faith who are not focusing on Jesus and all that He is providing for us. There is such a strong insistence on putting more effort, more work, more struggle on the believer. "You need to love God more!" "You need to do more for God, and not just do more!"

And all this time, they are still missing the basic, wonderful wisdom of God's Word to resolve all these issues.

And let us never forget that Christ is our Wisdom, too, first and foremost! (1 Corinthians 1:30)

In the Bible, we see this model illustrated by Jesus in Luke 2:52: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." In addition, Jesus shows the direct connection between our relationship with God (spiritual), ourselves (emotional), and others (relational) when he sums up the law: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind ... And ... 'Love others as much as you love yourself'" (Matthew 22:37, 39 CEV).

That is the law. That is not grace. That is not the New Covenant. Oh, foolish and slow of heart to believe! (Luke 24:25) It's so frustrating that so many preachers do not rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We are no longer under law, trying to relate to Daddy God based on rules and regulations. It's about relationship, and it is about reality.

So many Christians do not understand this wonderful movement, this wonderful transformation. They want to live under law, they want to still earn goody-goody points, when that is not of faith!

Bottom line, if we don't deal with our own stuff, other people will have to. What isn't healed will be revealed: Whether we knowingly hide our sins and unhealthy habits or are just unaware of the unresolved, unmet needs and pain from our past, everything will be brought to light—possibly with the devastating consequence of having God's name and our unhealthy brokenness publicly strewn across news headlines. Luke 8:17 conveys this principle best: "For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all" (NLT).

Who said anything about us dealing with our own stuff? If we could deal with our own stuff, Josh and Ben, then Jesus would not have needed to die on the Cross in the first place!

All this man-centered pop-psych is causing the church to go "Pop!"

After constantly feeling on the verge of emotional and physical exhaustion, I (Josh) finally hit my breaking point. I called Dr. Henry Cloud, a close friend and the best psychologist I know, and we began meeting weekly. Dr. Cloud helped me understand my heart's deep, unmet longings, which had been compounded since my childhood. Although I thought I had moved beyond my issues, I discovered problems I had buried alive and the wake of destruction that I had left behind.

Those unmet longings are met in Christ. Do they not see Him as real? Do they not recognize that Jesus is alive and is caring for them actively? We need to see more of Him, and know that He is for us. We need to stop doing more, and ask the LORD to help us see more!

"17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," (Ephesians 1:17-18)

and

"16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)

I thank God for providing a friend and therapist to kickstart my journey toward healing and freedom. Henry helped me quench these unwanted behaviors in healthy, satisfying ways. Over several years, God healed me and gave me eyes to see myself as He did. And I also learned how to set healthy boundaries—to give and receive love and acceptance from God and others.

Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with seeking out a Christian counselor to help deal with serious emotional pain. But connection with other people should at its core and mission point people to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)



After hitting bottom, I (Ben) also decided to go all in to overcome my past struggles. After years of trauma therapy, recovery groups, and counseling, I saw God bring understanding, healing, and freedom. My hurts from previous relationships found healing in healthy, new relationships as God and others began to meet my hunger for acceptance, safety, and love. Over time, I was set free from lifelong struggles with food, porn, and alcohol.

I submit that more people need to hear about Jesus. They need to hear about His perfect, unconditional unending love for all of us. They need to understand that God's love for us is not based on fancy or feelings, but is a real, rugged, righteous hug from the eternal Loving Father. We are not in love with a vision statement or a principle. We are called into loving family relationship with Jesus!

Jesus's invitation to us is to seek health and healing today. In turn, our goal is to create healthy communities that value who we're becoming over what we're doing. Finally, remember that Jesus's words tell us to not simply make converts but rather create disciples—"teaching them to obey everything I have commanded" (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, let's endeavor to reproduce mature disciples who are growing spiritually, emotionally, and relationally into the full measure of Christ.

Jesus is our health. Jesus is our healing. It shocks me to what extent men and women in the church still talk about all these other ideas and programs for helping people, when the truth is that we need to see Jesus. We need more favor, we need to understand the full extent of our new righteous standing, identity, and future in Christ Jesus.

I agree with both of the authors that the issues facing us in all our hurts and failures has to do with a lack of understanding of our identity in Christ. However, churches and leaders in the United States are still determined to focus people on themselves when we need them to look at Jesus! How are we supposed to know who we are, if we do not know whose we are?

When I started learning about the Gospel of Grace ten years ago, I had no idea how alive and active Jesus is. I did not see Him who has been from the beginning (1 John 2:13). I was so stuck, so caught in wrong thinking, wrong believing. There was so much baggage, indeed so much abuse from what I had endured, especially spiritual intimidation. My parents did not rightly divide the Word of Truth, and they had no knowledge of Old and New Covenants.

Without the revelation that we are no longer under law, and that the grace of God is superabounding fully in our lives, we are doomed, inevitably, to trust in our own efforts, to think that we struck, left to our own devices. For the longest time, I was convinced that I had to do my part, watch my thinking, feeling, and actions. I had to make sure that I did not lose focus on the Lord. I also did not know how to reconcile my new standing as the righteousness of God in Christ, yet I would still see bad actions, behaviors, and thoughts in my life.

This goes back to spiritual identity. Remember, I give Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett where they deserve it. I did not realize that who I am in Christ does not change, regardless of my behavior. Too many Christians today still judge their standing by their actions, rather than judging their actions by their standing. Worse yet, they do not realize that God is active and alive in their actions and lives. They think that God is still some figment of their imaginations, off somewhere far, far away, not interested in the so-called trivial matters of our lives.

None of this true. God our loving Father is deeply in love with each of us. He wants to commune with us so deeply, so intimately. He is working hard in every aspect of our lives. A life of faith is not about feelings, but it is not fantasy, either. Let's never forget that.

Most importantly, though, our new life in Christ is a new identity. We are now sons and daughters of the Living God. This does not change based on how we feel or what we think. Amen!

If people in the Body of Christ are still suffering with sexual addictions, the answer is Jesus. He is the end of our struggles. We need a greater revelation of Himself and His Finished Work. We need to continue preaching and delivering the grace of God to a heavily-laden, law-weary world stuck in their own efforts and failures.

Final Summary

Yes, the Church has an identity. Christians don't know who they are. But the solution to this problem is not to focus on themselves. If we want to know who we are, we need to focus on Jesus. 

"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)



People really need to start meditating on this revelation. We need to focus on Jesus, not ourselves. Focus on His Finished Work, not our sins. Focus on what He has made us, not what we must do to remake ourselves.