Social Media Buttons - Click to Share this Page

31 March, 2014


"God had one Son on earth without sin—but never one without affliction."—Augustine.

"Afflictions are the theology of Christians."—Luther.

"Without adversity grace withers."—Mason.

"God may cast down—but he will never cast off true believers."—Case.

"Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions."—Dodd.

"Time is short; so if your cross is heavy, you have not far to carry it."—Anon.

"Afflictions are blessings to us, when we can bless God for afflictions."—Dyer.

"Christian, has not God taught you, by his word and Spirit, how to read the short-hand of his providence? Do you not know that the saints' afflictions stand for blessings?"—Gurnall.

"No righteous man would, in his right mind, be willing to make an exchange of his sharpest afflictions for a wicked man's prosperity, with all the circumstances attending it. It cannot therefore be bad with the righteous in the worst condition."—Charnock.

"This winter-weather shall be useful to destroy and rot those rank weeds, which the summer of prosperity bred."—Flavel.

"The school of the cross is the school of light."—Anon.

"God's people have often been carried to heaven in the fiery chariot of affliction."—Mrs. Savage.

"Winter leads the sap down into the roots, while summer calls it up into the branches, and displays it in the blossoms and fruit."—Jay.

"The tree of the cross being cast into the waters of affliction, has rendered them wholesome and medicinal."—Owen.

"Our departed Christian friends cannot descend to share with us in our sorrows; but by holy contemplation we may daily ascend, and partake with them in their joys."—Howe.

"In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of God's love."—Bunyan.

"As no temporal blessing is good enough to be a sign of eternal election; so no temporal affliction is bad enough to be an evidence of reprobation."—Arrowsmith.

"What unthankfulness is it to forget our consolations, and to look only upon matter of grievance—to think so much upon two or three crosses as to forget a hundred blessings."—Sibbes.

"Every man has a heaven and a hell. Earth is the sinner's heaven; his hell is to come. The godly have their hell upon earth, when they are vexed with temptations and afflictions by Satan and his accomplices; their heaven is above in endless happiness. If it be ill with me on earth, it is well that my torment is so short and easy; I cannot be so unreasonable as to expect two heavens."—Hall.

"All is well that ends everlastingly well."—Anon.

"It is a blessed thing for the afflicted to wait God's time and determination."—Lightfoot.

"When temporal evils are effectual means to promote our everlasting happiness, the amiableness and excellency of the end changes their nature, and makes these calamities that in themselves are intolerable, to become light and easy."—Anon.

"Crosses and afflictions are God's call to examine our hearts and our lives."—Richardson.

"Too much honey does turn to gall; and too much joy, even spiritual joy—would make us wantons. Happier a great deal is that man's case, whose soul by inward desolation is humbled, than he whose heart is through abundance of spiritual delight lifted up and exalted above measure. Better it is sometimes to go down into the pit with him, who beholding darkness, and bewailing the loss of inward joy and consolation, cries from the bottom of the lowest hell—My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? than continually to walk arm in arm with angels, to sit as it were in Abraham's bosom, and to have no thought, no cogitation, but—I thank my God it is not with me as it is with other men."—Hooker.

"Through Christ's satisfaction for sin, the very nature of affliction is changed, with regard to believers. As death, which was, at first, the wages of sin, is now become a bed of rest (Isaiah 57:2); so afflictions are not the rod of God's anger, but the gentle corrections of a tender father."—Crisp.
"That is always best for us, which is best for our souls."—Phillip Henry.

"Afflictions are sent to stir up prayer. If they have that effect, and, when we are afflicted, we pray more, and pray better, than before, we may hope that God will hear our prayer, and give ear to our cry; for the prayer, which, by his providence, he gives occasion for, and which, by his Spirit of grace, he indites, shall not return void."—M. Henry.

"If we have the kingdom at last—it is no great matter what we suffer on the way to it."—Manton.

"To the poor, humble, and despised believer—the kingdom of heaven exclusively belongs; there his best desires will be eternally satisfied, his tears will be changed for triumphant songs of joy, and his reward will be great in the blessed society of the holy prophets and apostles; and in that of the incarnate Son of God, who passed the same way to his glory."—Thomas Scott.

"No cloud can overshadow a true Christian—but his faith may discern a rainbow in it."—Anon.

"He, who is prepared in whatever state he is therewith to be content, has learned effectually the art of being happy: and possesses the magic stone, which will change every trial into gold."—Dwight.
"I have never met with a single instance of adversity which I have not afterwards seen to be for my good."—Anon.

"I have never heard a Christian on his deathbed complaining of his afflictions."—Anon.

"All the sufferings of the believer are not hell—but they are all the hell he shall suffer."—Mason.
"Christians ought neither to expect nor wish to have suffering with Christ, disconnected with their being glorified with him. The former is a preparation for the latter." Romans 8:17.—Hodge.

"Oh, what must Christ be in himself, when he sweetens heaven, sweetens Scriptures, sweetens ordinances, sweetens earth, and even sweetens trials!"—John Brown of Haddington.

"It is happy for us if we have suffered enough to make us desire a better country, that is a heavenly one; but surely all the painful experiences we have hitherto met with have not been more than sufficient to bring us into this waiting posture."—John Newton.

"God denies a Christian nothing—but with a design to give him something better."—Cecil.

"If the blessed Jesus, who had no sin of his own, bore the wrath of his heavenly Father for a world of sinners; how willingly ought I to endure all the pain I suffer, if my dying example might be but the means of the salvation of one soul."—David Rice

"There is really much more real satisfaction to be found in a crucified world—than in an idolized world."—Witherspoon.

Treating Our Heart for the Treasure It Is

Above all else, guard your heart. We usually hear this with a sense of "Keep an eye on that heart of yours," in the way you'd warn a deputy watching over some dangerous outlaw, or a bad dog the neighbors let run. "Don't let him out of your sight." Having so long believed our hearts are evil, we assume the warning is to keep us out of trouble. So we lock up our hearts and throw away the key and then try to get on with our living. But that isn't the spirit of the command at all. It doesn't say guard your heart because it's criminal; it says guard your heart because it is the wellspring of your life, because it is a treasure, because everything else depends on it. How kind of God to give us this warning, like someone's entrusting to a friend something precious to him, with the words: "Be careful with this—it means a lot to me."
Above all else? Good grief—we don't even do it once in a while. We might as well leave our life savings on the seat of the car with the windows rolled down—we're that careless with our hearts. "If not for my careless heart," sang Roy Orbison, and it might be the anthem for our lives. Things would be different. I would be farther along. My faith would be much deeper. My relationships so much better. My life would be on the path God meant for me . . . if not for my careless heart. We live completely backward. "All else" is above our hearts. I'll wager that caring for your heart isn't even a category you think in. "Let's see—I've got to get the kids to soccer, the car needs to be dropped off at the shop, and I need to take a couple of hours for my heart this week." It probably sounds unbiblical, even after all we've covered.
Seriously now—what do you do on a daily basis to care for your heart? Okay, that wasn't fair. How about weekly? Monthly?
Courtesy of:

29 March, 2014

The Beloved - Excerpt from the book "Sacred Romance"

I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me. 
Song of Song

We will draw our identity from outside ourselves; the question is, from whom? In the End, it will be from those moments and those people with whom we’ve had the biggest impact. Think again about Helen of Troy. Why “of Troy”? Wasn’t she really Helen of Greece, Menelaus’s wife? In calling her “Helen of Troy” we are forever reminded of the impact she had on the Mediterranean world of the tenth century b.c. She is not Helen the Beauty or Helen Like No Other Woman. Those are qualities she could possess alone. 

No, she is Helen of Troy, which really means something like Helen the Fought Over, Helen the Captive and Rescued, Helen the Pursued. Her identity is inseparable from her relationships; it has been bestowed upon her. Maybe she enjoyed the attention, maybe not. Perhaps in the end she merely played the part of the rare art object, stolen from Menelaus’s  palace to be put on display in Troy. I hope that someone in all those thousands was pursuing her for her heart. But whatever else she felt, as the center of an international crisis Helen must have known beyond a shadow of a doubt that she mattered

The gospel says that we, who are God’s beloved, created a cosmic crisis. It says we, too, 
were stolen from our True Love and that he launched the greatest campaign in the history
of the world to get us back. God created us for intimacy with him. When we turned our  
back on him he promised to come for us. He sent personal messengers; he used beauty 
and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring 
of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient 
of Days disguised as a newborn. The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a 
daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and 
we were held in the dungeons of darkness. God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it
that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom
of darkness and on our own idolatries as if on Troy—not to annihilate, but to win us once 
again for himself? This fierce intention, this reckless ambition that shoves all conventions aside,willing literally to move heaven and earth—What does he want from us?

We’ve been offered many explanations. From one religious camp we’re told that what God wants is obedience, or sacrifice, or adherence to the right doctrines, or morality. Those are the answers offered by conservative churches. The more therapeutic churches  suggest that no, God is after our contentment, or happiness, or self­actualization, or  something else along those lines. He is concerned about all these things, of course, but they are not his primary concern. What he is after is us—our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts. Remember his lament in Isaiah, that though his  people were performing all their duties, “their hearts are far from me” (29:13 italics  added). How few of us truly believe this. We’ve never been wanted for our heart, our  truest self, not really, not for long. The thought that God wants our heart seems too good  to be true. 

Sacred Romance is written by by Brent Curtis & John Eldridge

28 March, 2014

Ought Is Not Enough

When the going gets rough, we're going nowhere without desire. And the going will get rough. The world, the minions of darkness, and your own double-mindedness are all set against you. Just try coming alive, try living from your heart for the Sacred Romance and watch how the world responds. 

They will hate you for it and will do everything in their power to get you to fall back into the comfort of the way things were. Your passion will disrupt them, because it sides with their own heart which they've tried so hard to put away. If they can't convince you to live from the safer places they have chosen, they will try intimidation. If that fails, they'll try to kill you if not literally, then at the level of your soul. 

Jeremiah lived the struggle of desire. He knew the deep ambivalence of living for the Sacred Romance. His decision to trust in the love of God and join the battle for the hearts of his people made him an outcast, a pariah. Like the Master he served, he was "despised and rejected by men." After years of opposition, getting tossed naked into the bottom of wells, plots against his life, the shame of false accusations and the loneliness of isolation, Jeremiah has had it. He is ready to throw in the towel. He lets the passion of his soul forth, directly at God:

O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me. . . .
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. (20:7-9)

He says, in effect, "You put this Romance in my heart, you drew me out on this wild adventure—how could I keep from following? But now that I have, it has only brought me the fury of my community. And what's worse, I cannot walk away. I'm trapped by my desire for you." Jeremiah may have become a prophet initially out of a sense of duty, but now he is caught up in the Sacred Romance because he can't help it. When the going gets rough, ought is not enough to keep you going

Courtesy of

26 March, 2014

Walking with God

Walking with God leads to receiving his intimate counsel, and counseling leads to deep restoration. As we learn to walk with God and hear his voice, he is able to bring up issues in our hearts that need speaking to. Some of those wounds were enough to break our hearts, create a rift in the soul, and so we need his healing as well. This is something Jesus walks us into—sometimes through the help of another person who can listen and pray with us, sometimes with God alone. As David said in Psalm 23, he leads us away, to a quiet place, to restore the soul. Our first choice is to go with him there—to slow down, unplug, accept the invitation to come aside. You won't find healing in the midst of the Matrix. We need time in the presence of God. This often comes on the heels of God's raising some issue in our hearts or after we've just relived an event that takes us straight to that broken place, or waking as I did to a raw emotion.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever. (Ps. 86:11-12)
When we are in the presence of God, removed from distractions, we are able to hear him more clearly, and a secure environment has been established for the young and broken places in our hearts to surface.

25 March, 2014

Turning from Attachment to Desire

This piece from Ransomed heart is so beautifully said, I could not do it justice if I had said it with my own words. But, this process to teach us to turn away from self, from the longing to possess stuff, and from building the coveted earthly life that all of us wish for, is not easy to remove. It is so deeply ingrained in us that even Adam and Eve had it and they failed to deal with it properly. We can easily underestimate the self and its desires, goals and plans as we find ways to soothe our consciences to get what we want. This part of us is stronger than anything you know that God has to violently pull it out of us. I said violent because the pain that He has to bring us through to get us there is brutal. It is worse than having heart surgery with eyes wide open. By the time He finishes with you, it is strange to see how you are aware of all the scars in your soul. It is weird because it is an invisible surgery to your invisible soul. But, God is Himself a spirit, so the surgery is as real as any surgery you experience in real life.

One thing that I was grateful for is that before God dealt with me, He taught me to stop seeing the Bible as a story, but to live out in my soul the realness of His word. There are days that I was able to get through the pain as I remember what others before me have gone through. For instance, Moses, when he decided to leave toward the wilderness after He killed the Hebrews. I could literally feel his anguish. I could feel his confusion from the life he was leaving behind to go  toward this God forsaken place in the wilderness where he had no idea where it would lead him.  He had to deal with the uncertainty, the loss of what he was leaving behind, the lost of prestige, the loved ones that you are being separated from. There is pain all over but your mind is working miles an hour to get you nowhere. Strangely through the pain you are also numb all over. As the dust settles because you are too far ahead on this path to go back, you are suddenly becoming aware of God’s working in you. You wish He would stop because you cannot see how this path can be beneficial to you in any way. Then He tells you right there, that’s the attitude you have to lose because it is not about you.

Then, just to come to terms with the idea that it is not about you, is not that simple because you have to learn to lose yourself in Him, accept all that He brings you through, even being able to say ADIEU to everything you are attached to because you might never get them back. He will remain there with you until it is well with your soul. While He is with you, but He cannot work it out for you unless you come to terms with it to a point where your soul learn to cope with the loss and say it is well with my soul. It is funny now, to see how you cannot repeat those words when face with the reality of your life. You fight with everything you have to say “it is well with your soul.” Your soul has to go through the process of accepting there is a God and it is not you. Your soul, has to come to terms with the understanding that you have a master and only His will for your life counts.  Oh lala! It is painful. God does give riches, but only to those He wants to. If in the end all that we are doing is to get His blessings, He can see us coming miles away. Actually, He knows even before we knew we wanted to come to Him for His blessings. I had to lose this attitude of expecting anything from Him in return because He hates it with a passion. By the time God is finished with us, all that is left is His desires for us in our hearts. Our hearts are turned to Him and we find joy and delight in what delights Him.
Whenever I see someone going on and on about getting riches from God, I cringe. The Gospel of prosperity you see going on out there, is simply coming from people who have no idea who God is. They do not know Him personally, nor do they have a relationship with Him. Now it might be difficult for us to believe that is possible and the people coming to us from television with this kind of message are not that legitimate, but remember we can only look at the man on the outside and words are cheap. In the same ways Satan knows the Bible, they know it too. When we are captivated by the message as if we are a bunch of mindless sheep it is because we are not spiritual, so we cannot see what needs to be seen with the eyes of our hearts. The beauty and the captivation that comes from it all comes directly from Satan. Remember, everything that God does, Satan is able to replicate it to a certain degree. Unless we know Him personally and intimately, how do we know we are looking at a knock off? We can’t make that distinction unless we go on with Him through this journey that has room for one only in the furnace of fire and sorrows where we receive ourselves back from Him.

So, even though God has to take us through a process of the surgery of the soul to take that deeply rooted part of us out of the way, we find that it is a daily struggle and we have to live and walk diligently in the Spirit to avoid the temptation of the flesh. I am still struggling, but I am truly working in progress. When you think about how do you think Moses a man so admired by God, a man who loved God so much, a man so meek who has seen God’s glory, that God bragged about him. Yet he was able to sin against God in a moment when he was not watching and let what was happening in his life got the best of him.  I got to stop myself there. Those who are used to me know that I could go on and on….. and on… (LOL)

Take care and here is the Ransomed Heart devotion, below

So much of the journey forward involves a letting go of all that once brought us life. We turn away from the familiar abiding places of the heart, the false selves we have lived out, the strengths we have used to make a place for ourselves and all our false loves, and we venture forth in our hearts to trace the steps of the One who said, "Follow me." In a way, it means that we stop pretending: that life is better than it is, that we are happier than we are, that the false selves we present to the world are really us. We respond to the Haunting, the wooing, the longing for another life. Pilgrim begins his adventure toward redemption with a twofold turning: a turning away from attachment and a turning toward desire. He wanted life and so he stuck his fingers in his ears and ran like a madman ("a fool," to use Paul's term) in search of it. The freedom of heart needed to journey comes in the form of detachment. As Gerald May writes in Addiction and Grace,
Detachment is the word used in spiritual traditions to describe freedom of desire. Not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire . . . An authentic spiritual understanding of detachment devalues neither desire nor the objects of desire. Instead, it "aims at correcting one's own anxious grasping in order to free oneself for committed relationship to God." According to Meister Eckhart, detachment "enkindles the heart, awakens the spirit, stimulates our longings, and shows us where God is."
With an awakened heart, we turn and face the road ahead, knowing that no one can take the trip for us, nor can anyone plan our way.

24 March, 2014

John Bunyan's Quotes

1. Therefore, I bind these lies and slanderous accusations to my person as an ornament; it belongs to my Christian profession to be vilified, slandered, reproached and reviled, and since all this is nothing but that, as God and my conscience testify, I rejoice in being reproached for Christ's sake.

2.  Afflictions make the heart more deep, more experimental, more knowing and profound, and so, more able to hold, to contain, and beat more.

3. There hath not one tear dropped from thy tender eye against thy lusts, the love of this world, or for more communion with Jesus Christ, but as it is now in the bottle of God; so then it shall bring forth such plenty of reward, that it shall return upon thee with abundance of increase

4. He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day

5. In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God

6.  Take heed that the misdeeds for which thou correctest thy children be not learned them by thee. Many children learn that wickedness of their parents for which they beat and chastise them.

7. Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of the Father. What solace then must that soul be filled with, that has the possession of Him to all eternity!

8. If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a glass slipper on a gouty foot.

9.  [Faith] doth not, as doth unbelief and ignorance, show us all things out of order; putting darkness for light, and bitter for sweet; but will set every thing in its proper place before our eyes; God and Christ shall be with it, the chiefest good, the most lovely and amiable; a heavenly life shall be of greater esteem, and more desirable, than all the treasures of Egypt! Righteousness and sanctification will be the thing after which it will most vehemently press; because it seeth not only death and damnation as the fruits of sin, but sin also in itself, distinct from the punishment belonging to it, a detestable, horrible, and odious thing

10 . Look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragements; yea, when I have started, even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one Scripture or another, strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, Were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, for the greater comfort's sake

11.  The people of the Lord in humility are to lay themselves and their prayers, and all that they have, at the foot of their God, to be disposed of by him as he in his heavenly wisdom seeth best. Yet not doubting but God will answer the desire of his people that way that shall be most for their advantage and his glory. When the saints therefore do pray with submission to the will of God, it doth not argue that they are to doubt or question God's love and kindness to them. But because they at all times are not so wise, but that sometimes Satan may get that advantage of them, as to tempt them to pray for that which, if they had it, would neither prove to God's glory nor his people's good

12.  Zeal without knowledge is like a mettled horse without eyes, or like a sword in a madman's hand; and there is no knowledge where there is not the word: for if they reject the word of the Lord, and act not by that, 'What wisdom is in them?' saith the prophet (Jer 8:9; Isa 8:20)

13.  If you do not put a difference between justification wrought by the Man Christ without, and sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ within, you are not able to divide the word aright; but contrariwise, you corrupt the word of God.

14.  Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God. and a scourge for Satan.

15.  The truths that I know best I have learned on my knees. I never know a thing well, till it is burned into my heart by prayer.

16.  It is not the mouth that is the main thing to be looked at in prayer, but whether the heart is so full of affection and earnestness in prayer with God, that it is impossible to express their sense and desire; for then a man desires indeed, when his desires are so strong, many, and mighty, that all the words, tears, and groans that can come from the heart, cannot utter them.

17.  It could be a sign of pride in your life if a word of reproof or admonition is not able to be received with the same grace, whether it be given by the poorest of saints or the most educated person.

18.  Sin is the dare of God's justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.

19. It gave me no pleasure to see people drink in my opinions if they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ and the value of being saved by Him. Sound conviction for sin, especially the sin of unbelief, and a heart set on fire to be saved by Christ, with a strong yearning for a truly sanctified soul-this was what delighted me; those were the souls I considered blessed.

20. The house of the formalist is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor.

23 March, 2014

Life Is a Story

Life, you'll notice, is a story.
Life doesn't come to us like a math problem. It comes to us the way that a story does, scene by scene. You wake up. What will happen next? You don't get to know—you have to enter in, take the journey as it comes. The sun might be shining. There might be a tornado outside. Your friends might call and invite you to go sailing. You might lose your job.
Life unfolds like a drama. Doesn't it? Each day has a beginning and an end. There are all sorts of characters, all sorts of settings. A year goes by like a chapter from a novel. Sometimes it seems like a tragedy. Sometimes like a comedy. Most of it feels like a soap opera. Whatever happens, it's a story through and through.
"All of life is a story," Madeleine L'Engle reminds us.
This is helpful to know. When it comes to figuring out this life you're living, you'd do well to know the rest of the story.
You come home one night to find that your car has been totaled. Now, all you know is that you loaned it for a couple of hours to your teenage daughter, and now here it is, all smashed up. Isn't the first thing out of your mouth, "What happened? " In other words, "Tell me the story."
Somebody has some explaining to do, and that can be done only in hearing the tale they have to tell. Careful now—you might jump to the wrong conclusion. Doesn't it make a difference to know that she wasn't speeding, that in fact the other car ran a red light? It changes the way you feel about the whole thing. Thank God, she's all right.
Truth be told, you need to know the rest of the story if you want to understand just about anything in life. Love affairs, layoffs, the collapse of empires, your child's day at school—none of it makes sense without a story.

21 March, 2014

Genuine Goodness is Captivating - Ransomed Heart!

You can tell a lot about a person by his effect on others. What is he like to be around? What is the aftertaste he leaves in your mouth? Is this someone you’d want to take a long car ride with? We saw Zacchaeus’ reaction. Here are two more, from people quite different from each other and from Zacchaeus:
One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. (Luke 7:36–38 TM)
No comment of mine could add to the beauty of this moment. Nor to this one:
Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution. [...] One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” He said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32–43 TM)
What is stunning to see in these brief accounts is that people who knew themselves to be anything but holy found the holiness of Jesus winsome, open-armed, and utterly compelling.
Is this how you have understood holiness?
It changes everything when you do.

20 March, 2014

We Have No Idea Who We Really Are

We have no idea who we really are. Whatever glory was bestowed, whatever glory is being restored, we thought this whole Christian thing was about . . . something else. Trying not to sin. Going to church. Being nice. Jesus says it is about healing your heart, setting it free, restoring your glory. A religious fog has tried to veil all that, put us under some sort of spell or amnesia, to keep us from coming alive. As Blaise Pascal said, "It is a monstrous thing . . . an incomprehensible enchantment, and a supernatural slumber." And, Paul said, it is time to take that veil away.

When anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

A veil removed, bringing freedom, transformation, glory. Do you see it? I am not making this up—though I have been accused of making the gospel better than it is. The charge is laughable. Could anyone be more generous than God? Could any of us come up with a story that beats the one God has come up with?

Courtesy of Ransomed Heart Devotions

19 March, 2014

Abraham’s Life of Faith — Faith Always Bring with it Radical Changes!

He went out, not knowing where he was going —Hebrews 11:8

Oswald Chambers said  "Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world."

God has been keeping me on this holding and waiting pattern for so long that it is truly discouraging for any human being. If God has not put your whole life on hold to the point where you can see that your life is literally passing away right in front of your eyes, yet nothing, I mean absolutely nothing that you do works, then you have no idea what it means to wait on, upon and for God. For the past 15 years that I have been a Christian, any normal person would let go of Christianity. For me Christianity has been a synonym for being a “looser” big time. Sometimes, I feel I can’t even find the strength to think that God has not forgotten me. Sometimes I console myself with the idea that He put me on a fast track mode for a reason, because I cannot justify the lost, and the unending holding pattern. But, even when He shuts me out after I obey Him, I keep going forward with Him because I know too much to go back. When nothing makes sense and I feel like the biggest loser who has walked this earth, I keep going. When all my life is screaming that He has abandoned me, I keep going, knowing in His time, He will make everything right.

I have gone through phases with Him where He increased my faith more than I can imagine. You see, God has a pattern where He tests you and if you pass the test which means you make use of the amount of faith He allocates you, then He increases your faith. But lately, I have been asking Him, how come you stopped increasing my faith? Have I reached a plateau where I am not in your will or not trusting you enough? He did not answer me, however, a while after I inquired about my faith, He kept giving me a vision which I truly enjoy because it is so soothing to my soul. Today, as I read the devotional, I realized that He actually did answer my question. The visions that I have been getting are my answer to the question. The only thing is, through the vision, what I have been living in my soul is similar to some sort of higher sanctification stage. It is soothing because I can see how I am mellowing in His hands like I am disappearing slowly as He is increasing tenfold.  I can feel that the increase portion is His character being worked in me and I talked about that in my most recent posts.

Today, God opened my eyes to see that Oswald Chambers used the words that express all that I have been experiencing. I did not know this was the final stage of faith. I had tears of joy in my heart because as I reflect back, I know without the shadow of a doubt, that even when everyone told me that my situation could not be of God.  Even when I was told by leaders that I should take matters in my hands and make things happens, I always run things through God’s process and what I knew in my heart was right with the Holy Spirit. So today, I understand with a heart full of excitement, joy and gratitude what it means to walk a steadfast walk.

 True faith will always take us to a place where God calls us friend. This will not be a vague idea that you read about in the Bible or glibly repeat in a song. But the Holy Spirit will take pleasure to witness to your heart that you are now a friend of His. God, will not stop there, He will find an opportunity to share things with you that He would only share with a friend and when He does that, He will tell you that it is the privilege of being a friend of His.

True faith will lead you to a place where you know that it is not up to you to apply the characteristics of Christ within, but up to the Holy Spirit to do it. True faith will bring a radical change in your life and your heart. If it is not working out this radical change, then it is okay for you to question to what extend do you believe in God. A life of radical obedience will always lead you to a place where you can understand through your bones, every word of Christ’s crucifixion. True faith will always take you to a place where you stop imagining what God’s word means because you have become a living protagonist is the play. Until you become a protagonist, you have no idea what true faith means. Faith in God cannot be a vague idea and it cannot be our idea of what faith means. It has to be alive and leading your life because this faith we are called to live out in Him, is not our faith but Christ’s faith in us. Hence why, true faith will always take you through the same process that Christ went through and the same road. Anything short of that, then we can be sure that our faith is a blind faith. If it is a blind faith, it is not anchored in Christ.  Abraham started as a coward, yet he became the father of faith. TRUE FAITH WILL ALWAYS BRING WITH IT A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION.

OSWALD CHAMBERS "The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day—in and day—out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith—a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God. . .” (Romans 4:3)."

18 March, 2014

Will I Bring Myself Up To This Level? – Self–Gratification or Dealing With Our Sexual Urges

In today’s devotion, most of what we need to know about how to be holy and continue on perfecting holiness, Oswald Chambers combined them all neatly on one small page of his devotion book “My Utmost For His Highest.” I could easily take each suggestion the writer made and write a lengthy post on each of them.  But, today I want to talk about how God has led me to understand where He stands vis a vis dealing with sex while being single and the popular, controversial, and “don’t go there”  subject self-gratification

When I was first brought into the Baptist Church I heard my married pastor preaching about self-gratification. Throughout the whole message that lasted about 45 minutes, I was told “don’t do it because it is a sin.” There wasn’t one word about how to deal with it, or when it will end, or what to do about it. It seems that it was all up to me not to please myself, or given into satisfying my sexual urges.  While I knew nothing about God or the Bible, I decided if I were to remain in the Church and did not want to be a hypocrite I needed to walk like I am told to. So, I made the decision to listen to my pastor’s voice. It is easier said than done of course. Even today I am talking about the subject, I still do not understand God fully. It is easy for someone who is married to judge others or stand in front of the pulpit and tell those in the pews: “DON’T” 

Being someone who has gone through a bad marriage, I know too well what it means to have a truly lousy sex life. But, even someone living out a lousy sex life can never understand how hard it is to be single while God is sitting there watching you twitching, hurting and dying slowly inside with the pain of living out this life with all your faculties and heighten sexual desires, intact.

Earlier in my walk with God, He finally gave me the gift of celibacy. I had no idea that such gift even existed until the Holy Spirit told me about it. The gift of celibacy is such an awesome gift and it would solve these nasty sex scandals we have in the Church. It would stop a brother or a sister from running around to find relief while waiting for a godly partner. So, after God gave me the gift of celibacy, He was also working in my heart to bring me to the place where I would devote my life to Him.

Then, all of the sudden in 2007 I was knee deep into the wilderness with God. To my surprise, I was lying in bed by myself (as usual) meditating on my walk with God and how bad life was, in the wilderness, when suddenly, I felt that I had sexual urges. I was shocked because I took for granted that God will give me the gift of celibacy, indefinitely.

 Before I even had time to ask myself what this was about, the Holy Spirit told me that I no longer had the gift of intimacy. The only thing I could answer was “great, just what I needed.” I still remember vividly when the Holy Spirit told me self-gratification was not an option, then to make things worse He said, you are now sharing this body with me. While He was saying that to me, it was as if He stepped out of my body in the same shape that I was laying on the bed, and He looked like a vapour and the colour of the vapour was so white that there is nothing like this whiteness down here on earth.

I knew my body was the temple of God, I knew self-gratification was a sin. I knew I needed to keep myself cleaned from all filthiness of the flesh. I knew everything that I needed to know, yet, I could not understand one thing “why does it have to hurt so much?” Especially when you know you are serving God so deeply, and you are doing your best to be faithful and obedient to His word.

I find that when I am on that mode where I am living a passionate relationship with God, it is easier to fight the sexual urges. Like Oswald Chambers said in March 18 devotion, “I also have the responsibility to keep my spirit in agreement with His Spirit.  And when I do, Jesus gradually lifts me up to the level where He lived”  So when the relationship is at its best, there is no striving to be in agreement with Him and everything is perfect.

I know Oswald Chambers is right and only Christ can get us to a place where we are no longer slaves and bound by our sexual urges. The problem is that, in our relationship to God, like in any relationship, the passion does not burn 24/7, which means you go through times where the emotion of this intense closeness is not there. This does not mean that you are not living a passionate life with Him. But, the emotions subside as life takes over. This is the nature of the Christian life and if we were to live out the Christian life always running on those emotional times when we are in love with Him, we would be like someone on drugs all the time. Then, this life would be way too easy and we would choose God at every turn. 

But, when life gets in the way, things are tedious, and hard. When you have to deal with challenges and hardships, how do you deal with those painful sexual urges?  For most of us I suspect we find solace in responding to those sexual urges right away, so they can at least be taken care of and out of the way. I know, because I have been there and it was one of my biggest challenges to refrain from dealing with my urges in this way. I had to learn to view them like any challenge and temptation that I encounter in the Christian walk.  

I went through a few years where God needed me to learn these things. I learned that I have no control over these urges. I definitely did not go out of my way to be exposed to anything that would have got me there. Yet, those sexual urges came without announcement and without an invitation. I learned to cry myself to sleep because the pain could be so intense. However, I also know what it is like when you fight with everything you have, but your flesh can only take so much before you succumb and sin.

When I failed, I could not go to Him because I did not know how to repent, since I knew if I had to go through these intense periods of pain again, I would do the same thing. By the same token, I learned that I rather go to Him without knowing how to repent and continue my walk with Him. Because when your sin causes you to stay away from God, you will find that it does not take long before your heart starts growing cold toward Him. Therefore, I knew staying away from Him was not the best option, even if I did not know how to repent. Make no mistake, I knew how to ask Him to forgive me, I also had remorse in my heart, but there was no repentance for my sin since I could not understand things for myself. There were times where I was angry at Him for not taking this pain away when it is in His power. There were times I felt if He was not going to take the pain and urges away, then, I did not have to feel guilty. There were times where I felt like a hypocrite because I knew God had already declared me holy in 2008, so why couldn’t I live a holy life? You name the emotion, I am sure I have gone through it. 

In my defense, God asked me to remain celibate; I expected it to come with some sort of special self-control gift, at least, curb my appetite.  I also made sure that I never seek to gratify myself, just because I knew it would feel good. I did not spend time just thinking about sex and entertain the idea in mind. If anything I got deeper into the word of God while in pain. I was serious about my commitment to Him and He came first always, even when the pain was intolerable.

I remember asking God, how Paul did it since he was writing about it. As I read Paul’s advise I felt that he had some sort of self-control, so, I was more upset at myself because I did not have his self control. I kept thinking that Paul advise meant that he did not have sexual urges. “But if they can't control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It's better to marry than to burn with lust.” (1 Corinthians 7:9) One day the Holy Spirit said to me, “where did you get the idea that Paul did not have urges?” He then made me understand the key is found in learning to be tempted and not succumb because I have learned to co-habite with my sexual urges. I think I felt worse, because I had some idea that these urges would go away at one point simply because God would take care of them. Another reason I felt worse is because the Holy Spirit did not tell me more when clearly I needed to know more

Over the years, I found out the key to learning to co-habite with our sexual urges is found exactly in perfecting holiness. The past few years I am finding out, the more you are disappearing in Him through this oneness with Him, the more your life is being absorbed by Him, then you learn to co-habite with those urges along with the pain.  It is as if you get a handle on leaving with being tempted like Christ. You have been so subdued by His life in you, that even when you are tempted for weeks and the pain is constantly there, it becomes part of you and part of your life. But, I cannot say I have anything to do with it because I am watching it happening in me. In the same way I have explained in some of my newest posts that I feel I have reached a much higher level of sanctification with God where I am disappearing slowly while He is increasing big time. If you ask me to explain how I am able to live with my sexual urges, I would say exactly what Oswald said “THE HOLY SPIRIT IS KEEPING ME IN AGREEMENT WITH HIS SPIRIT.”  

Through His grace, I have not had sex since 1999. Yes, I went through rough times, but self-gratification was always my last resort. I am now in my fifties, with all my faculties intact, and I can count on my two hands how many times I have given in to temptation. Through His grace in the past couple of years, He is maintaining me. It’s funny to see how I am constantly aware of the urges because after so long from abstaining from sex, these urges come automatically with pain. And God has never answered as to why the flesh has to hurt so much.

Since I am very candid about my life, I talked to almost everyone that I could talk to who are living the single life. It seems whether you are male or female, after a while the flesh hurts big time. The morale of the story is that learning to co-habitate with those painful urges is not easy and it is a lengthy process. Through it all, I learned to remain close to God, even in those moments when I failed Him. I knew He loved me just the same.

Oswald Chambers March 18th Devotion