Word

In this world…

It’s very difficult to become a statistic. It’s particularly difficult when you’ve been sold on the completely unbiblical fantasy that being in the Kingdom will somehow shield you from the troubles of the world. It’s even more difficult when you’ve read and applied the concepts from all the Lifeway relationship books, attended counseling and seminars, and prayed with your spouse every night. Still, Christians get divorced, statistically in the same numbers of non-Christians. The daily prayers for my family’s protection, the Shaunti Feldhahn books, and the personal accountability group did nothing to shield me from the announcement that fateful night, three years ago, when my wife said, “I don’t love you anymore”, “I’m leaving”, and “I want a divorce”. There was no way to pray her out of it. There was no way to avoid the constant custody battles over the last three years. There was no amount of claiming the power of the Holy Spirit that would stop the freight train of bitterness and hatred and life-sabotage that is my ex-wife. The fact is, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We were never promised a pass on the shit-train.photo-1477295642034-731bf6bd37e2

Probably the only thing more damaging to faith than the breakup of my family and all of the related trials that have been my daily bread since, was my failed attempt to stand for my marriage. I found Charlene Steinkamp’s podcasts less that 24 hours after that initial announcement. I fasted… from everything. I spent a year taking in nothing but sermons, the Bible and Rejoice Marriage Ministries materials. I didn’t listen to music, watch TV, or play video games. I lived a life of constant prayer and meditation. I put Brother Lawrence’s practices into place in my life and never stopped talking to and listening for God. Admittedly, I experienced some amazing miracles during that season, and I still do. You will never convince me that God isn’t real and that He does not speak to us or act in our lives. After two years of standing, though, I was really struggling with the character of God… You see, He kept making it abundantly clear that my marriage would not be restored.

You see, I think that standing is great. I think that it’s something that honors God and the covenant you made before Him when you said, “I do”. The problem is, You can’t put God in a box that says He will or should restore every marriage. Maybe He has another plan and purpose. The rhetoric that calls anyone else who comes into one’s life after their first spouse a “counterfeit” or a device of the deceiver, sent to ruin your stand, denies God the ability to bless your life through anyone else.

I never thought I would be one of those divorced people, it’s true. I also never thought that anyone existed that could be such a blessing in my life as the woman I’m with now. I could never consider her a counterfeit. I could not have invented her if asked to create my perfect partner. She is nothing short of the most incredible blessing I’ve ever received. A blessing that I never would have experienced without the pain and suffering of divorce. Now, when I look back at my 10 years of marriage, I can see that I was tolerated rather than cherished. I was used rather than loved. I was abused instead of respected.

So, God is bigger than any box that we can put Him in. He loves to work in and through the lives of broken people. He delights to surprise us with joy in the midst of heartache and uncertainty. Take heart! Your marriage my be restored, or you may receive an unexpected and unfathomable upgrade. God. is. good.

…all the time.

Blessings.

Advertisements

Embracing Gods’ Best

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So, I’ve been struggling lately to embrace God’s best. Somewhere along the line, I made the decision to follow Christ, having no idea what that really meant. No one tells you when you sign up for this gig that this means taking up our cross daily, that we will face many trials, and that a lot of them are going to come into our life as a part of God trying to make us more like Christ. The goal is, of course, being used for the kingdom. Apparently if we have anything in this world that we love more than being used for the kingdom, then God loves us too much to allow that to continue.

Léon Bonnat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I first began this stand, I read and listened to a lot of Charlyne Stienkamp, which allowed me to pin this suffering squarely on “the enemy”, Satan and his minions. I read and listened to a lot of Derek Prince. I learned about generational curses and spiritual warfare. Finally, I began to get turned onto the teaching of Charles Stanley. None of these teachers contradict each other, and they all are very well-grounded scripturally. It was when I began to listen to Stanley, though, that I began to realize that while I may have active curses in my life, while I am facing a spiritual battle, while the enemy is attacking my marriage and my family, God is still sovereign. NONE OF THIS HAS COME INTO MY LIFE WITHOUT HIM ALLOWING IT.

  • My spouse’s adultery – allowed by God.
  • This steamroller of a divorce – allowed by God.
  • My wife’s frequent attempts to take our kids away from me – allowed by God.
  • My current financial distress – allowed by God.
  • Every daily attack that comes in (and I mean daily now) – allowed by God.

Why? Apparently this is somehow making me into the man He wants me to be — the man He can use. To get some context of where this is coming from, perhaps you should listen to these messages:

I know that God brings growth and wisdom through pain and suffering. I know that he is looking for my complete surrender. At some point, though, pruning turns into cutting and eventually destroying. I’ve experienced so much growth over this last year and now it’s turned 180°. Now rather than growing me, I feel that the pain is killing me. Each day, for the last two months I’ve become a more hardhearted rebellious and despicable person. While I was approaching my prodigal spouse and her non-covenant partner with love and forgiveness, now I find myself struggling to even look at them.

Meanwhile, I am beginning to have little tolerance for Christian-Kool-Aid-euphemisms, like “His timing is perfect” or how “He loves me too much to let me say in the situation that I was in: being happy in the world”… That doesn’t feel like love it feels like sadism. I’m so glad that my life is allowed to suck so that I can join in His sufferings become more like Him… or so bitter that I want to jump off a bridge and set myself on fire. Before you arrange an intervention, NO, I AM NOT TURNING MY BACK ON GOD. I’m simply asking some hard questions.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be obedient and I want to finish strong. I don’t want to become embittered and fall away. Still with every new beating and every new attack, I’m starting to lose my zeal to bring Glory to His name… In fact I feel a little bit like an idiot; the world’s biggest joke, even bringing it up.

I know it’s selfish. I know it’s incredibly self-centered. I know there are so many people in this world that have it so much worse than me. Still, I hate my very life. Honestly, I don’t want to do this anymore. This doesn’t feel like living. It’s like I’m only living a partial existence, walking around half-dead. After all a big piece of me has been ripped away, and I’m just walking around letting the wound hang open and fester. At least the world’s prescription would patch up the hole little bit and stop the bleeding. Additionally, I get to experience a new wound every week thanks to how much my stand angers my prodigal spouse.

When it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s free will, spiritual warfare, or just the insanity of a broken world. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then nothing happens that is outside of his control. I can whine all I want to, but He is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway. So, pray for me while I try to buckle down, embrace God’s best, and hope that the second coming is scheduled this quarter.

And I know that in all things, God works for the good (from His perspective) of those who love Him (more than His blessings), who have been called according to his purpose, whether it suits them or not. God is in control. I am not.

God bless, let’s be careful out there.

The supernatural, the mundane, and relational strain

The supernatural…

508302228_ae37586ce9_b

Some rights reserved by hickory hardscrabble

My relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know this is common to man in general, but the last month or so has been a doozy. I told God that I need restoration soon or some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. I have to trust that there is some purpose to this mess and that it is not just random pointless pain and suffering at the whims of Satan and his minions, entirely out of God’s control to stop. I have to believe that He cares. I have to believe that he is at work. The truth is, I’m starting to hate myself, so I really need to know that He loves me… I really need to know that, even if I’m not sure that I really love Him… The thing is, that we’re commanded to love him. Further, a friend recently had me watch this brief talk by Brennan Manning, where he espouses the need to believe that God, in fact, loves us. Honestly, I want to believe that. I know it, intellectually, but I just don’t believe it. Manning points out that this is likely a function of my gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred, and despair, which in the context of my circumstances is understandable.

So, my regular readers will know that I struggle a lot with this whole Baptism of the Holy Spirit / Gifts of the Spirit thing, often wondering if I am missing something in my faith and my walk. Perhaps I listen to too much Derek Prince and Jim Cymbala. The problem is, I keep hearing preacher after preacher and scholar after scholar, men for whom I have great respect, say that this is for every believer and that God will freely give it.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

So does the fact that I’m not “filled with the Holy Spirit”, as in I’m not displaying the overflow in any manifestations of the spiritual whatsoever a sign that…

  • I am not really a child of God?
  • I am deficient in some serious way?
  • I am in the midst of some sever disobedience that is blocking the Spirit’s work?
  • my life is still under a curse that is blocking me from receiving the blessing?
  • this is not true, not really Biblical or has somehow been grossly misinterpreted?

The mundane…

Honestly, God shows up in my life a lot. An old friend bought tires for my car recently. I find myself put in numerous situations to extend the love of Christ, from my many chance encounters at Walmart to old ladies along the road to broken down cars in the library parking lot. I constantly have opportunity to share and I receive the most astonishing reactions. A friend and mentor of mine pointed out recently that perhaps I am missing the fact that I am more likely to experience God in the “mundane” than in the “supernatural”. Okay, I get that. I understand that most of my life is made up of the mundane. Yet, I am supposed to live and walk in the spirit, to keep my eyes on the things above, and to live according to the Spirit. Further, I am supposed to be serving a dead-raising, sun-stopping, sea-parting, multitude-feeding, heart-softening, never-changing God. If He doesn’t change, then, presumably, He’s still working through supernatural power today, just as he was in the Bible.

When I focus on the mundane, on that which I perceive through my senses, then all I have is the flesh. The mundane is my court-appointed co-parenting workshop, whose underlying message or theme, which can be summed up in the following statements, two of which were overtly stated and the others frequently implied.

  • Your spouse is never coming back.
  • Emotionally mature people grieve the loss and get someone new.
  • You need to detach from your spouse as quickly as possible because they’re never coming back.
  • Divorce can be very positive if you would just accept it and move on.
  • This is no one’s fault and is very normal.

In the mundane, I feel totally beaten down, rejected, and unworthy. I desperately need the supernatural. That’s why I am here, in the sheepfold. I didn’t sign up for this gig to have friendly folks to hang out with on a Sunday morning.

I can’t seem to get my eyes off of the mundane, lately. There was a time, when this all started, that I could see the big picture from God’s perspective. In October, I was providing encouragement, embracing the radical nature of my stand, and focusing past my discomfort. Now, I feel lonely, tired, rejected, lonely, attacked, abandoned, and lonely. Did I mention lonely? Further, thanks to this dry spell in terms of the Spirit, or the supernatural if you will, I feel not only rejected by my spouse but also by the God of the universe. I begin questioning whether or not I am destined to be used for the purposes of God by simply being a tragic footnote in the pages of history, like Esau or Jonah… someone who should be after God’s heart but is just missing it in some profound way.

In the mundane, I’m starting to loathe and fear the woman my wife has become. This person I’m standing for, out of obedience to God and love for her, is beginning to become a stumbling block to my daily walk. As I receive more and more attacks and the attorney fees mound beyond what I can hope to pay, I have to expend more and more emotional and spiritual energy every day, on my knees before God, praying for help to forgive, to love, and to cherish. Every event for our children becomes an additional turn of the screw as my prodigal spouse tries to push me further out of their lives. My spirit cries out in excruciating pain when I see the OM embrace our children as though they were his, when they tell me that mommy said they could call him “daddy”, and when I see my whole extended family sitting with them while I sit off somewhere else on my own.

The bottom line is, if God doesn’t show up in the supernatural soon and I am left with only the mundane to sustain me, then I cannot stand. I cannot do this in the flesh. This is not possible in the mundane. A friend of mine often says that the enemy wants us dead, insane, or incarcerated, and I can see those as viable possibilities in the life of a stander without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Let’s be honest, do this is not natural, and it certainly is not mundane.

Relationship strain

So, as I said earlier, my relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know that I need to navigate this valley in obedience to Him, open to what He is trying to teach me. I know He is with me. I know that He loves me and wants the “best” for me. I “know” these things, but left to the mundane, it is difficult to feel these truths through the pain, struggle, and exhaustion of daily life. Maintaining a long obedience through this valley in the absence of supernatural strength and the promised “peace that passes understanding“, is tiring to say the least.

I find myself walking through the store, looking at every woman in my age range, not wearing a wedding ring and thinking, “Father, why am I doing this for a woman who has rejected me?” On the weekend when my whole family is with the other man, and I have no one, I find myself alone and often end up turning to an online game for community… I have struggled with this… a lot. I have deleted this game three or four times and repented of even liking it. I have given it up, reinstalled it, and gone whole weekends doing nothing else. I feel like a failure and a fake. I feel like I’m supposed to be stronger than this. I feel like I was never a real Christ follower to begin with.

If I really loved and trusted my Lord, I wouldn’t be so caught up in what I lack, paralyzed by the fear of my “lonely” future, or so self-focused in general. I wouldn’t be upset that I haven’t seen a covenant truck in two months. I want to be focused, serving, obedient, and serene, like Paul was, but I feel like this valley is causing me to regress rather than grow. I just want to throw a childish temper tantrum at the foot of the cross. There’s a ridiculous image for you. I know that this distance and this strain is my fault, but I don’t know how to get beyond it without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Simply pulling myself up by my bootstraps isn’t working.

Somebody pray for me.

Power Ups for you

Fellow standers, how are you doing? If you’re anything like me, you vacillate in any given week between living victoriously and trudging through the slough of despond.  I posted recently that we have been chosen for a special mission of great significance that will save the lives of many others. We are in an epic battle. Occasionally, we need some power ups… Our faith is being tried, stretched, and tested every day. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God… I recently made these scripture cards to keep around as a faith boost. Feel free to print them and place them on your mirror, your refrigerator, your dashboard, and wherever you need encouragement. I will probably make more, but for now, this is all I’ve got.

Printable Verse cards

Printing Instructions

For best results, print these to card stock, though decent quality paper will work just fine. Use the following settings when printing to get two cards per sheet: Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 5.01.59 PM I’ve been wanting to print out some verses to put around my house, on mirrors and such, to proclaim and gain encouragement from. I am too picky to just copy and paste the verses into a word processor and slice them down, but too busy to fire up InDesign or Illustrator and give them the proper treatment. I made these using Canva, which is a free graphic design app for web and iOS. Enjoy.

Adultery, Truth, Convenience, and making God Fun Size

Some rights reserved by dnguy3n

Some rights reserved by dnguy3n

Okay, I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am on a very intimate journey with God as a “Stander“, one who refuses to move on, even though his or her spouse has believed the world’s opinion about marriage and divorce. I’ve shared a lot of scripture here. I’ve shared a lot of prayer. I’ve shared some of my deepest pain.

I have not shared a lot of personal testimony (how God is working specifically in my life). Frankly, I assume that most of you would immediately tune me out if I started sharing what God has been doing in my life since my wife left for the far country. Why? Popular Christianity has diminished God so much that we do not believe that He is who He is. As a result, anything or anyone that speaks against that illusion is marginalized as a little crazy. I know this because that is how I had always felt. Charismatics, Pentecostals, and the like always came off as a bit cult-ish to me. I wanted nothing to do with that mess. Then, my wife left. I decided to wait on God to bring her back. Then He started speaking to me and intervening in my life. How do I share this with others without being labeled as a crazy person?

This Sunday, one of our pastors gave a sermon on the true nature of God, with a focus on how we’ve diminished God, and it occurred to me that this is not only the key to denying truth in our lives to avoid its inconvenience, but also how we can deny the supernatural in our lives. My argument is that both lead to apostasy and set us up beautifully to become servants of the enemy, rather than of the God we profess to know and love.

 

The Truth

If you profess to be a Christian, the truth is not relative. The Word of God is the truth. It does not make suggestions. It was inspired by the being that created all things, that holds all things… That’s scary stuff. It should be very very sobering, particularly if you live like most of us do in the USA.

Incidentally, our culture has programmed us to not see any real awe in anything. So, we put God in a little fun-size package and go on with our life not following the truth and asking Him to bless us in our self-centered pursuit of happiness. After all, our happiness is the most important goal of our whole life…

With this diminishment of GOD, then we experience a decay of TRUTH. For God is truth, true truth, the source of all truth and without God, truth cannot remain. We exchange the truths that would provide the norms for human life for the prevailing lies that are convenient. (Brian Rice)

I agree with Brian Rice, that we get more “truth” today from pop culture than we do from the Bible. We’re practically marinated in it. No wonder so many of our prodigal spouses have said that God wants them to be happy, so they left to pursue happiness with someone else. We have countless pop culture gurus to thank for the pervasive believe that our feelings are paramount and that we can live without sacrifice, self-denial, or discomfort. We just need to focus on what makes us happy. Thanks a lot, Oprah!

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ John 8:31-32

So, we see that truth is intertwined with obedience, obedience to the Word of God, or Christ’s teaching. Further, Jesus connected truth and obedience to our relationship with Him. This is not a doctrine of works, but merely a statement on the reality one will live in if he or she is truly saved.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Notice, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. I spent much of my adult life saying Lord, Lord, every Sunday and failing to do the will of God daily or even weekly. Now my very family is broken and my spouse has been seduced by the enemy. In the middle of this wreckage, God stepped in and reminded me of a few things:

  1. He is real and so much bigger than all of my circumstances.
  2. He bought me with a price.
  3. I’m wasting that gift by not living into it.
  4. He never promised I wouldn’t suffer.

Then I started reading this Bible. The Word of God, after all, is full of inconvenient truth for both standers and prodigals.

11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

In other words, just because your prodigal spouse left before carrying out your affair doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong. It also provides a sobering warning to us.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

In other words, most of us standers are not innocent of this sin that we hate so much.

In fact the Word of God tends, by and large, to move us out of the flesh and into the spirit. It instructs us to move away from a focus on self and into a focus on others. If my goal is to fulfill my own happiness, then I am focused on self. I am against God at that point. If my view of God is appropriate, then how can I be against God without feeling a little uncomfortable?

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:16-26)

So, the acts of the flesh are pretty much what our popular culture tells us leads to happiness. Seriously. Turn on the TV or radio. Listen to some popular music. I remember preachers trying to tell me when I was a kid that Rock music killed house plants so it was destroying my soul. It turns out that it was actually the accumulation of repetitive messages about how to live my life that was killing my soul. The tune to which it was set was largely irrelevant.

Oddly, up until recently, I have found the fruit of the Spirit almost impossible to attain, even in small amounts. Incidentally, what was missing in my equation was the Spirit. Yes, I was saved. Yes I’ve been baptized. Unfortunately, my denial of God’s supernatural power left me unable to embrace the Spirit.

The Supernatural

Some rights reserved by Werner Kunz

Some rights reserved by Werner Kunz

God is either omnipotent or impotent. God is either God, or He is not. We have watered Him down so much. Where is the supernatural in Christianity today? We’ve given it over to the snake handlers and acrobats who do back flips during worship and “flop around like a piece of bacon” (Bill Scott) when the healer forces them to swoon. If you speak of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit as thought they’re alive and active in your life, speaking to you and intervening, people assume that you’re starting to get just a little too radical and should consider finding another church (and some new friends) at best or consider admitting yourself to a local psychiatric facility at worst.

This brings us back to the truth, the Bible, which is either the Word of God or a collection of nice stories. Do you believe the new testament? The existence and prevalence of evil spirits in the new testament is not presented as metaphor or as a reality that is dealt with there, at that time, never to resurface again. It is merely a fact of life. This should concern us, as believers, but it does not. Our cultural coating of Teflon, that Brian Rice notes keeps us from comprehending the reality of God’s greatness, also convinces us that such things all had medical and psychological explanations. It’s all science. There is nothing going on in the spiritual realm, you see. Those people were just backward and primitive. So, is the Bible truth, or is it sort of true once you take out all the primitive supernatural stuff? At that point, how compelling is it?

Fellow standers, how many of us have had a spouse who suddenly went from being a man or woman of God, who was devoted and loving to a completely different person, almost overnight, with no logical explanation? My wife’s Christmas card to me told me that I was her “superhero”. Three months later, she informed me that she never loved me the entirety of our 10 years of marriage. She was suddenly cold and distant and a bit haunted. That is the work of of evil in the heavenly realms, or it’s a sudden onset of insanity. Either way, there is little doubt in my mind that the kingdom of Satan is not behind it. If you’re a stander and you’ve never read the testimony of a returned prodigal, then stop right now and read one of all of these. They will change your view considerably:

This is a spiritual battle. All of life is. Once you professed Christ, you joined the war. You can say you are a pacifist, but you’ll still be attacked. We have been both warned and equipped.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

Again, this is either the Word of God or a collection of nice stories. Jesus was either for real when he was talking about that stuff, or he wasn’t who he said he was. Would the God of the universe, incarnate, make stuff up for the primitives or dumb it down? Like it or not, this stuff is real. Every day, you are in a spiritual battle for your very soul, and often that of your loved ones. You had better put on your armor and work on your Kung Fu because Kansas just went bye bye.

Apostasy

Apostasy is not a word you hear often anymore. “Apostasy in Christianity refers to the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian” (Wikipedia). In practice, it commonly refers to falling away from the truth. So, an apostate is someone who has once believed and then rejected the truth of God. There’s that whole truth thing again. Apostasy, then, is a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against truth. What truth? There’s actually a formal code of primary and secondary essentials, primary non-essentials, etc. The bottom line is, the Word of God is the truth. If you profess to be a Christian, then the truth is not relative. It’s right there. Think it’s okay to leave your spouse for someone you like better. Keep going to church every Sunday and doing devotions with your kids at night, but you are still in rebellion against God.

Remember, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. Further, in the end of the story, victory is only guaranteed to those who overcome (Revelation 2, Revelation 3). The key is to overcome. If we don’t overcome, we are overcome (Derek Prince). There is no middle ground. There is a very real spiritual war going on. Whose side are you on?

That’s all I’ve got…

Being transformed and refusing to whine

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).

Some rights reserved by JD Hancock

The above passage frustrates the heck out of me. Between the words above and James 1:2-8, I find myself perpetually perplexed about how to jive my deepest gut-level feelings with what I know walking in faith looks like. This has been the theme of my last week on this planet. Like many standers in the midst of a divorce, I’m at the place where a new attack of circumstances comes in daily. Sadly, all too often I allow myself to become discouraged and distraught. I share my circumstances with my friends and fellow standers, rather than encouragement received through my deepening relationship with God. Honestly, sometimes you need someone to share your sorrows with, but am I allowing Satan to use me as a tool in a different way from my prodigal? I loved this statement from today’s Charlyne Cares:

Our prodigals are in the “far country” and are being blinded and deceived by Satan, but what about us? Are we allowing Satan to blind and deceive us? Are we allowing Satan to diminish our Savior? Are we allowing Satan to minimize God’s love for us? Are we allowing Satan to define who we are in Christ? Are we allowing him to take our blessing and our victory? (Minerva in Texas)

Again, I think it’s okay and even healthy to feel sorrow and grief over our situation and circumstances. I think, though, that I need to avoid having that become the theme of my life, that I share with others. I think that i have often failed in this regard, in my personal interactions and on this blog.

Romans 12:2 tells us, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. How do I renew my mind?

If we follow the instructions in these verses, our minds WILL be TOTALLY renewed and there’s no way we could have anything but peace! The challenge is retraining our minds to think that way, because anyone standing for marriage restoration knows how much time we spend doing the exact opposite of what these verses tell us, especially when it comes to the things we spend most of our time thinking and talking about! (FAM Blog)

My friend and fellow stander, Bill, said the other day in one of our chats that speaking life over everything is what”renewing” your mind is about. I have a different attitude and I believe due to that, God has torn down more walls for me (Bill). I think that we would all like to see more walls come down. So let’s at least try this. I have no great strategies to share. I will try to take captive every thought of complaining and try to focus on the good in my circumstances. I will try to pour out my grief and grievances to God alone, as He is the only one who can do anything about it anyway…

So let’s take up our Armor of God and step up! We are not standing or fighting FOR the victory; we are standing and fighting IN victory! Remember the promises. Remember that He made the heavens and the earth by speaking it and watching as the sun appeared, the clouds, the stars, the moon. God’s Word went out from His mouth and did not return to Him void; instead the earth and heavens came about. God has sent out His Word for each of our marriages. He has spoken the Word and it will not return to Him void; instead a healed and restored marriage will come about. Know that the circumstances can become overwhelming, but if you keep your eyes on the one being who holds all the answers, who holds all the solutions, who holds the truth, you will see the manifestation of your promise come about. (Minerva in Texas).

Wow! I love the idea that, We are not standing or fighting FOR the victory; we are standing and fighting IN victory. I need to tell myself this daily. I need to let my countenance know. I need to walk in victory and speak life. Will I still cry my guts out to God in the back yard? Yes, of course. My challenge is then not to go to the grocery store and walk around with a rain cloud over my head and talk to everyone I meet like Eeyore. It may be a bit too abstract to think about God’s greater purpose for my pain and about the fact that “it is finished“. My own sanity and my own walk with God, however, is not so abstract.

Finally, I love the idea from Pastor Tim Dilena, of Brooklyn Tabernacle, that the difference between intercession and gossip is whom we share the information with. I need to share my circumstances with my Lord not everyone else. I need to pray more and worry less so that Jesus can show up and get us off the program.

I know that God is working, so I have to get out of His way, and give Him the credit.

Sharing from 1 John, Acts, & Job

I don’t have much to say today… God does.

Hear Gods word:

I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:17b-18)

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. (1 John 5:14-16a)

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
    though no one perceives it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword.

19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
    with constant distress in their bones,
20 so that their body finds food repulsive
    and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
    and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 They draw near to the pit,
    and their life to the messengers of death.
23 Yet if there is an angel at their side,
    a messenger, one out of a thousand,
    sent to tell them how to be upright,
24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God,
    ‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
    I have found a ransom for them—
25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
    let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,
    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
    he will restore them to full well-being. (Job 33:14-26)

Amen.