Monday, February 17, 2014

Brothers and Sisters of the Covenant

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Brothers and sisters of the Covenant, 

I am honored to be here for you.  Peace be with you.  

Have you now become a powerful Christian?  Are you standing for your faith in multiple arenas?  I hope so.  This war rages endlessly, and only a fool would set up residence in a war zone.  Nothing will remain of the materials acquired in this life, so live for eternity.  Set treasures with your Heavenly Father, and be assured that he keeps careful watch over your inheritance as you make war on the forces of Hell.  

You need not worry, take up the full Armor of God that you may stand firm on this battlefield.  Any mature Christian knows this war affects all things, and all people.  The lie is persistent, and in the west, often all consuming through the lenses of technology.  The god of the air, the evil one, owns the air waves, television, radio, and so on.  It's an amazing thing, the internet, without it, I would be unquestionably quite brainwashed at this very moment!  

God has grace for all our failings, and he has grace for our prayers, and for the defense of the knowledge of his people.  We are his people.  He loves YOU.  God is loving yes, but he loves me directly.  Personally.  And he loves you, not simply as an idea or a concept, but as an emotional response, personally, to you, in response to who you are, and all you are, and for the simple fact that you are his child.  He's shining down on you at this moment, loving you, personally.  

Take heart, our Master has overcome the world.  The enemy is defeated, yet the war rages on.  And we will not be victorious in the physical world in regard to this war.  No.  We are being conformed to the image of Christ.  And the more vocal and open we are with our faith, the more enemy fire we're going to take.  

There is a repeating pattern, an expectation that will not change in regard to the properly lived Christian life.  If I am living it correctly, I will suffer the fate of Jesus Christ.  Jesus spoke the truth, they killed him for it.  Eleven of the twelve disciples all died for their faith.  An attempt was made on John's life, but the poison failed to kill him.  Stephen was stoned by the Jewish authorities.  The Apostle Paul was assaulted by crowds, beaten, arrested, thrown in prison, and brought before the high authorities of Rome.  

Joan of Arc was martyred.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer died attempting to stop Hitler.  

John F Kennedy died while attempting to stop the secret societies from their play on the United States.  Martin Luther King Jr. died in his attempts to make the world a better place for his people.  Polycarp and Justin Martyr, of the early church in ancient Rome.  The list goes on.

It's not a necessity to be killed for your faith as a Christian.  But it is highly possible.  And it is likely to be hated, especially in the United States today.  I live in friendly territory, north-central Wisconsin.  But when I go down to Madison, the capitol, you would be amazed at the powerful hostility, just from where a Christian t-shirt or mentioning the name of Jesus.  

This physical world, the one you're seeing with your eyes at this very moment will not exist for long.  It will slip, slowly, and then quickly, into utter darkness.  The anti-Christ will come, the tribulation will occur, sometime after the tribulation the church may be raptured.  But we will be protected during the tribulation. Scripture says those who are sealed, with the name of God on their forehead will not be harmed by the plagues and destruction.  

And imagine the possibilities.  Imagine the chances at evangelism in the end times.  So many lost souls, seeking answers.  

Jesus Christ left his peace with us.  Let us receive it today, at this moment.  Be in all joy, our savior lives.  He lives in heaven at this very moment, and he dwells within each of his children.  You are secure in the Lord Jesus.  Your salvation is assured, keep the faith til the end.  Place your faith in the Lord Jesus regarding salvation, and also work with the Holy spirit on the mission of sanctification.  Don't torture yourself, but truly continue to work with the Spirit on becoming a bit better person, everyday.  This is not to gain the love of God.  You already have it, to the max.  This is simply to obey, and to be conformed to the image of Christ.  

Easy does it.  Be gentle with yourself. 

I'm not always gentle with myself.  It's been a struggle since I've been on this mission to become a better person with the help of God.  I want to make the maximum impact for my Father.  I want him to be pleased with me.  

A big part of that has been attending support groups.  If you think you might need some help for some big sins in your life, join a support group (sex, drugs, alcohol, food, depression, etc).  Or join a small group at your church, or get some Christian counseling from a non-shaming/condemning counselor/pastor.  That's something I did early on.  God lead me directly to some books to read for my various issues as well.

Let me take a minute to recommend some:

Pain and Pretending - Minirth Meier Clinic  -  Read this one if you dealt with divorce, or serious family problems, emotional or sexual abuse early in life.

Love is a Choice - Minirth Meier Clinic - If you have trouble with healthy relationships, you get too attached, read this one.  It's on healing from codependency.  It seriously helped me so much, I was able to break from some very unhealthy relationships with family and friends.

Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson - This is a great book if you have an inner voice that tends to shame and condemn you constantly.  This is also great if you hear actual voices.  I had a friend who got rid of them by reading some Neil Anderson books.

The Lies We Believe - Minirth Meier Clinic - What lies are you believing?  Don't underestimate Satan's ability to mess with your beliefs and ideas about the world around you.

Worry Free Living - Minirth Meier Clinic - Certainly helped quite a bit with anxiety and worrying issues in my life.

The Shame that Binds by John Bradshaw - This one dabbles a bit into secular psychology, but leaves the door open for spirituality.  It's certainly quite helpful regarding shame.  Did your parents shame you a lot when you did something wrong?  Is shame now your constant companion?  For me, definitely, so it's been helpful in that regard.

Please Let Me know You God by Minirth Meier Clinic - This is one I'm reading right now.  It's about having a Biblically correct conception of God.  So amazing so far.  It talks about four dimensions of understanding of God.  Intellectual, symbolic, spiritual, and emotional, and how to get those straightened out.  

Freedom from Depression Workbook - Minirth Meier Clinic - This one I'm also currently going through.  It's been incredibly helpful regarding my depression.  I'm amazed.  

Depression is an ugly thing.  It's something that has plagued me for the past 15 months.  It's something I wrestle with day and night.  It's just not so much fun..  So I figured it was time to tackle the problem.  Or at least make an attempt on those gates.  I picked up the "Freedom from Depression" workbook.  

Tonight I was reading it, writing in answers, and it came to a part where it said.. Much of the cause of depression relates to series of events that produce a pattern of negative results, leading to an utter assertion that things can never get better.

It was at that point that a sudden anger filled my head and I threw the book at the wall.  I don't normally do that.  But it definitely hit a tender spot.  As the rage filled my heart, and I also remembered that the previous chapter had been on depression often being as a result of anger turned inward...  So true, so true.  

My particular rage was in response to a series of unfortunate failures of will power, as well as tragic circumstances outside my control.  

And yes, a strong strong feeling that justice was not being done.  It just wasn't fair.  Why did my family have to collapse?  I was so angry with my dad, yet why did I have to be so sad when it was the right thing that they split?  And why did I have to bury all the anger and sadness about it within myself?  It nearly destroyed me.  I never discovered a bit of the problem until the final night of my old life.  The night I died to the world.  When I screamed out within, on my knees, Jesus, please save me.  And that call echoed to the very throne of God himself.  It truly did.  I could feel it, and hear it, echo within me.  A true, and desperate call.  And unconditional admission, Jesus, I need you, all I have is neediness to offer, please, save me. 

We all need Jesus.  We really really do.  Even when we don't know it.  Even when that isn't our worldview.  Even when we want to do it on our own.

I wanted to do it on my own.  I didn't understand the powerful significance of Christ.  I paid a mighty price.  

But He paid the mightier price.  The price of my eternal life.

I will never find pretty enough words to convince people who want to believe a lie.  But you believe the truth, so be of good cheer. 

I Peter 1:8. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an expressible and glorious joy.

Perfect evidence, perfect beauty, there is no way to convince someone who cannot receive it.  They are blind.  I was blind.  I know.  It's like having a clear wall between you and the truth, you can see it, but you can't believe it.  

2 Corinthians 11:30-31 (NLT) If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.

There are a million reasons to walk away from the cross of Jesus Christ.  Just like there are a million reasons for me to relapse and die.  Even if there weren't, I could make some up.  I can justify anything in my mind,  I can believe the biggest lie in the universe.  I can believe the universe is the lie.  

God doesn't cut into my free will.  And ironically the things that I thought I was free to do become the things I have to do.  All up in chains I put on myself, out of curiousity and utter foolishness.  But we are no longer in chains.  Jesus Christ has set us free.  We don't believe lies, but we believe the truth.  By grace, we do this.

Psalm 107:10-14 ESV Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

Why is eternal life associated with the image of a butterfly? 

Some curiosities are best left unexplored.  Imagine if the Lord hadn't found me in my delusion.  Imagine if he hadn't sent his butterfly symbols into my stories years ago, to foreshadow his coming move to my heart, influencing me to call on the name of Jesus Christ...

I cannot imagine.  But it reminds me to be thankful, to be utterly grateful.  I want to remind you to be grateful to the Lord for what he has given you.  

I feel bad for the young people, they know not what utter foolish they run into.  They don't know what a liar and a pervert their hearts are.  There is no way to explain it to them either.  They can just as well say I'm trying to rob them of a good time.  

And I am unable to take on the responsibility of changing the indoctrination methods of public schools.  I simply cannot.  Not alone.  Those are strongholds worth breaking.  We must start taking some of these strongholds, my brothers and sisters.  Evolution taught in school.  Why can't we take this stronghold?

The evils of the music industry, why can't we take this stronghold?  

And what about the awful stronghold of legalized abortion?  Why can't we take this stronghold?

The answer is, we can.  We most certainly can.  Believe in God.  Trust in him.  We can do it, together.  The united body of Christ.  We have the numbers, the forces, step out in faith and take action.  Trust in God to guide your steps, as you take on these mighty giants.  God is faithful.  If it is of him, he will be with you every step of the way.

2 Corinthians 10:4 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." 

We have the power.  Our God is all powerful.  We have the Bible.  Trust our Father my family of Christians.  Trust him every step of the way.  And stay in constant prayer, prayer is how we communicate with God.  What could be more important in a relationship than communication?  Well, trust ;)  But communication is vital as well.

I'd like to leave you with an illustration from a wonderful book by a Christian brother.

There is a scene from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, that I just love. There's this woman and shes in heaven, and she lived a life of sharing the gospel and just being kind and loving. So as she walks about heaven there is a personal entourage around her. Angels singing, a parade of images of people she loved, birds and animals she cared for trotting around, beautiful violins and trumpets are being sounded as she walks about the heavenly realm. And in the book there is a bus that the people from hell take to come and see if they can accept heaven. The woman's husband approaches her, all upset, hes dwarf sized, kind of half faded, and will only speak through a shady torso he has chained to himself. She tells him how much she loves him, and offers to help him walk into heaven.  He yells at her, for always complaining at him, and never having enough time for him.  He argues with her.  And he gets so mad he just gets back on the bus back to hell. 

Remember, we all have a choice in this.  As heart breaking as it is to see someone choose hell, choose stubborn resistance to the loving heart of God day in and day out, it is inevitably their choice.  Not yours.  Sometimes we have to let them go.  And remember, the treasures and gatherings of your wise choices and loving relationships will echo in the realms of heaven, at the tree of life in the new city, for all eternity.  Live for that eternity.  Labor day and night for those rewards.  They will never perish.  Those deeds will never be forgotten.  The lies of the world are persistent, but the truth shines through, every time.  Have Faith in our Lord Jesus and his power.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Loving hand of God the Father be working in and about and on your life today and everyday ahead, to eternal life, come daybreak.