Everyone Follows a Voice

THE SECRET PLACE
Jesus is not a place you go – but a person you know

PART 46

EVERYONE FOLLOWS A VOICE

Is the Lord your Shepherd today? Well brother, I believe in Jesus and doesn’t that automatically make me a sheep of His fold? Well, believing in God is not always the same as following God because the devil believes in God. If we are truly born-again, we are indeed a member of His family however, that also does not mean we are ABIDING in His Spirit. Actually this is a complex subject and presents some interesting questions like; is it possible to be saved and NOT have the nature and characteristics of a (sheep) disciple? Many would say that rebellious individuals who act more like a “goat” would fall under the category of backslidden and lukewarm. In some cases, this might be true if they once were obedient and now have become intentionally rebellious, but what about the ones that profess Christ as Savior but have never embraced Him as their Shepherd? Do you believe it is possible to have an “emotional” salvation experience that “feels” like a spiritual transformation? Do you believe there are many people today that go to church and know all about God but do not actually know Him? I am convinced there is an ETERNAL difference between head knowledge about God – and the spiritual reality of knowing Him as Lord! The majority of people in America say they believe in God and many represent the traditional church, but do all of them know what it means to be a disciple of Christ? Being religious has nothing to do with a personal relationship with Jesus, except that it looks clean and decent on the “outside”. We can tell others we are a Christian and appear to be a moral person of integrity, but as the Pharisees discovered this does not automatically make us a true child of God.

Did you realize that everyone follows some type of voice? Within our free-will is the built-in voice of reason that is connected to our conscience. Proverbs warns us to NOT “lean” on our own understanding, because that is contrary to the idea of salvation about Jesus being our Lord. The reality of being saved includes the genuine trust and obedience that comes from our love for God and the “work” He is doing within us. This spiritual connection transforms our spirit, conscience, attitude, our personality and “changes” the way we think! There is nothing more dangerous than to presume we are saved and have met His requirements, and yet have never been redeemed by the fountain of His blood. In the natural, shepherds lead their sheep and the sheep obediently follow and trust them and the concept in the spiritual realm is very similar. The reason why many people are suffering and are discouraged is because they have made the deliberate decision to NOT follow Jesus! Why? Because He is not their shepherd! We can put a beautiful paint job on it and decorate it with flashing lights in order to lessen the ugly truth – but then all we are left with is a definition of religion. This is a reality that many people refuse to even consider because they know when they do an inventory within their heart they are going to find some disturbing facts and most will avoid reality if they possibly can.

There are many beautiful promises in God’s Word and everyone loves to read them, but most do not embrace and incorporate them into their lives. I have noticed at funerals, there are usually comforting writings on the cards and keepsakes that speak of the loving kindness and mercy of God. However, most people do not have a clue that it is possible to “ABIDE” in this realm as a lifestyle. It is true that we can live in God’s presence constantly and enjoy His overwhelming love and grace every moment! Unfortunately, there is this one small problem – we are so filled with our own carnal way of living, He cannot release His presence. He has designed His beautiful plan of salvation to include the requirements of us becoming a living sacrifice and in turn He will cover us in His glory. He is not a social service organization that supplies all of our desires without us surrendering our will! Humans always cry to Him when they NEED something, but when everything is going fine, He does not even cross their mind. This is NOT Christianity – it is an INSULT to God! This is another example of being deceived into a “distorted” religious lie that believes God can be fooled. Being saved involves the EMPTYING of our old heart, so that God can FILL us with Himself. This may not happen overnight, but these signs of genuine deliverance must be evident – or something is wrong.

In the places of the world where sheep are raised, it is common for two or three different shepherds to bring their herds to a body of water so the sheep can drink. The herds will naturally mingle together and become all mixed up, while the shepherds rest and talk, seemingly unconcerned with what would seem to be an impossible task of sorting and identifying each sheep back to its own fold. After the sheep are finished drinking, the miracle begins when the shepherds begin to walk away in their different directions and start “calling” their sheep. Amazingly, the sheep begin to head in the direction of the shepherd’s voice and eventually, every sheep will be perfectly secure with where they need to be. How does this happen? They have spent so much time with the shepherd and have come to recognize his voice. The sheep have learned to never follow strange voices and do not even trust their “own” sense of direction. They have sacrificed their independence for obedience and this gives them peace. They trust him and love him with everything they have – even their life. Selah.

People have a habit of asking, “How are you doing?” And, most reply that they are doing “fair”. Maybe we are really confessing (without realizing it) just how we are walking in the will of God. This sounds more like our reply if we were living on a deserted island trying to survive on our own! Many times our words reveal the condition of our soul. Our brains and common sense cannot save us, as we were never called to walk in our own will. Remember, we are to be like the sheep that lives completely in FAITH and TRUST. If we are following God and allowing Him to guide our every decision we would be doing WONDERFUL! How much more perfect could we be doing with God leading us along with our determination to submit to Him. We obviously are always looking to the earthly realm and it seems we never consider acknowledging His divine reality. This is one of the most difficult things to do in life, because our nature wants to take control and act on what WE THINK about our flesh! When we lean on our own understanding we have already taken the wrong exit, and very quickly, we can become lost and confused. Thank God this is when Jesus leaves the ninety-nine and goes to search for the one lost sheep. He loves us even when we stumble and is constantly trying to get our attention however, if we continually REFUSE to listen to Him – it can become a very serious situation. If He turns us over to a reprobate mind and allows our conscience to be seared, we will never have the sensitivity to fall on our face to Him. If we take Him for granted and believe He would never do such a thing then maybe we should get to know Him better.

We become aware of His holiness and perfection in our reverential fear of Him. We seldom consider what it would be like to stand before Him because in our minds eye we do not imagine such a place. Our minds wander and drift so much that we can hardly pay attention to a two minute prayer. We are like the disciples that could not stay awake when Jesus was praying in the garden. We are weak and easily distracted and this is the main cause for our lack of spiritual maturity. We must be careful in our assumption of God’s willingness to meet with us and that He demands our highest respect. We may be able to talk with Him casually but that does not mean we lose focus that He is the Almighty God of all things. The holiness and reverential fear of God came from the legitimate teachings and instructions to the earlier followers and was given as an example of how we are to approach Him. Moses was told to remove His shoes because the ground he was standing on was holy and later his countenance was literally glowing from being in God’s presence. In Isaiah the temple was filled with the smoke of God’s presence and on Pentecost the flaming fire of the Holy Spirit was upon their heads. We forget that God spoke the universe into being with the words of His mouth and He rules the kingdoms of an infinite heaven with the power of His majesty. He created an eternal hell for all those who are disobedient to Him and has made every person’s soul to live forever in either heaven or hell. He is compassionate but will not be made into a cosmic vending machine where the blasphemers and deceivers come to get their selfish pleasures. We should teach that God can be approached when we are sincere and in awe of His holiness. Woe to those who are teaching that God will accept any type of offering and any type of disrespectful attitude. We must approach Him with brokenness and a sincere heart of repentance and sorrow. There is an imposter parade that religion has implemented as holy and the churches of man with all of their rituals and ceremony has been an attempt to “display” God’s splendor but much of it has been reduced to the pride of man’s glory. Let us be filled with a clean heart of gratitude, humility and praise for His enduring mercy toward us. It is a privilege and honor to spend time with the God and should be taken with the purest intentions. Some have fallen like dead men at the feet of angels and this should be a hint to how much more serious we should be about His presence.

Peace is a beautiful state of mind and spirit. Many today are filled with fear and anxiety about what is coming because they choose to NOT have Christ as their Shepherd. Asking God for the burden for lost souls, humility, holiness, repentance, and agape love, should be our priorities in this last hour. If He is our Shepherd, we will not want or really need anything else. As we empty ourselves and become filled with His presence, He will bring us to lush, green pastures of abundance and fulfillment. He will lead us with His Holy Spirit, beside His still waters. If we are struggling with stress, fear, discouragement or a crisis, and we are sincere about committing our life completely to Him – He will restore our soul. Breathe deeply and slowly and cast aside all of your doubts and worries. Lay your entire life at His feet and worship Him for who He is. For His patience, love and forgiveness – He is worthy of our praise and adoration forever! Trust His wisdom, and know in your heart that He delights in you and wants the best for you. Selah.

Giving an Account of Our Time

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 16

GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF OUR TIME

It is not a secret or a mystery, that many things in this life can influence and effectively distract us. I realize that we can blame the modern advancement of our culture as an excuse why we are so busy, but we are only justifying our distorted motives. We can live in denial and be convinced that we do not have the time to enjoy the simple things in life, but we are just playing selfish games. If we stand back and pray for the ability to see God’s view, we may notice “we” have actually designed our lifestyle. This is the reason why most people do not enjoy the tranquility of being silent before the Lord and run away from the idea of spending private time with Him. It is easier to hear the whisper of God when we are quiet and this is why many are uncomfortable. We do not want to feel His conviction telling us we are wrong. Many do not want to face the idea of a future occasion where they will stand before God and give an account.

Let us look at an interesting example. The recent gun argument is becoming the hot topic of the day similar to the prohibition war that was raging seventy years ago. (This article is not about my opinions about the right to bear arms or gun control). The parallel I am trying to focus on is; a gun by itself has never killed anyone, just as knives do not stab people or missiles do not blow up cities all by themselves. Likewise, a television or any other communication device is a created, inanimate object that can be used as an instrument to project sin or it can be used to broadcast God’s truth. Each one of us operates with our freewill to choose every minute what we will say, what we listen to, what we watch and how we will act.

I must admit that what I am about to say also includes me. I have spent my fair share of time watching reality television, especially the ones that are about home improvements. I find these interesting because I enjoy working on my home and seeing new ideas and products. I am not saying these programs are corrupting us, but rather they are consuming our time. Who is really in control – the one holding the remote or the one doing all the talking? The other day, someone at work mentioned how the ancient Romans were infatuated with violence and allowed their conscience to become calloused toward watching humans being devoured by wild animals within the confines of a sports arena. I am convinced our curious nature has a built-in capacity to absolutely, “love” to watch others. In addition, it would seem the appetite for entertainment and violence never becomes satisfied. This craving and addiction for human “reality” has been a part of our personality since creation. Most people love to gossip and talk about what everyone else is doing. Soap operas have always enjoyed huge audiences of people who were mesmerized at how other people live. Romance novels are another example of being addicted to the fantasies of love and intimacy and of course, pornography has become nothing less than a social plague. We now have created more opportunities to satisfy the carnal nature to become socially absorbed with things like, surfing the internet, magazines, reading books on our electronic devices, video games, movies, facebook, twitter, texting and e-mail – in addition to being in a trance in front of the television all night long – every night! What is my point? We are surrendering to the temptation of a “spectator” mentality. Who is tempting us? Satan! Why? Because, he desires to distract us from our mission to pray, fast, study, learn, develop and grow strong in the anointing and power of God. We have welcomed the voice of the world to dominate the atmosphere of our home and it has become a form of mental and spiritual “bondage”. “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil (steal) his goods, except he will first BIND THE STRONG MAN; and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:27)

Without firing a shot, Satan has slipped into the homes of God’s people and spiritually tied them up and gagged them. He is subtle; he introduces himself as enjoyment, an innocent, harmless entertainment. Not only are people wasting the entire evening, they stay up so late, they are too tired to pray. This is clearly the sin of omission and since we know better, it is intentional and premeditated. The devil’s strategy is deadly and focused on one thing – if he can prevent the gospel from being sown into the hearts of the lost – they will die without Christ. How is he doing that? Instead of us doing what we need to be doing, we are sitting around indulging in our own pleasure!

Do we really believe our spiritual life can afford spending all our spare time watching how other people live? Are we consumed with a spirit of entertainment? Have we convinced ourselves it is acceptable in the sight of God that we become “absorbed” with trying to see what other people are doing all the time? Well brother, I do not see it as wasting my time; I am doing exactly what I want to do! Yes, I know – that is the problem. Whoever is born of God and professes they are a representative of His Kingdom, should read the fine print about the requirements and responsibilities of being a Christian. When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He established a blood covenant that paid the price to redeem our soul. In exchange for this ultimate sacrifice, He made it clear that we are not our own. Is it possible to say we want to walk with God and yet be determined to live our own life? It seems to be a contradiction of His Word, for the lukewarm lovers of self, to be counted among the pleasing and faithful servants of God. Is it not true; we will do whatever is important to us? Selah. We may complain about being driven to exhaustion and we can make excuses about why we feel empty inside, but maybe it is because we are trying to hold the steering wheel? Jesus being our Lord means that He “leads us”. Many times, we forget we are called His “followers”. This means we only do what He say’s and we stay away from the sin that disappoints Him. There is no such thing as A Christian walk where you live however you want. Everything has to be done His way or it does not count for anything.

I am convinced there are even worse consequences with being lukewarm than just drifting away from Fathers presence. There is a reason we have been commanded to buckle our armor and fasten it tight. It is not a joke to make sure our sword is sharp and that our shield be raised at ALL times. Knowing God’s Word is knowing God Himself – and this is our victory! Our Lord realizes, the enemy watches us and waits for us to become vulnerable. When everything is going good and we become relaxed, it is easy to allow a breech in our spiritual security and become susceptible to demonic attack. The devil capitalizes on our “natural” weaknesses and takes the path of least resistance when it comes to tempting us with sin. For him it’s easy – he knows we love ourselves! We are very simple creatures (sheep) and are usually willing to trade bondage for pleasure. Jesus may try to warn, convict, and chastise us, but He will not force us to repent. Sadly, not just the lost, but also many religious “believers” have been destroyed by their own freewill. “For there shall arise false Christ’s and false prophets, and will show great signs and wonders; in as much that, IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, they would deceive the very elect.” (Mathew 24:24) So, if the time we are wasting with (whatever we love and serve) could be invested into prayer that would bring miracles – then how much are we being held accountable for?

All to Thee My Blessed Savior

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 6

ALL TO THEE MY BLESSED SAVIOR

When we heard the gospel about Jesus dying for us and how His blood was the only thing in the universe that could pay for our sins – we were convicted. The Holy Spirit works together with the Word of God when someone hears the calling of the Lord, and this window of opportunity is called grace. We have heard many sermons over the years, how that no one is invited to salvation or has the desire to repent unless the Father draws him or her to Himself. When we are drawn and we choose to reach out to Jesus by faith and confess with our mouth that we accept Him as the Lord of our heart, He comes to our rescue and saves us. His presence fills our temple and we follow Him in obedience with baptism. We continue to pledge our complete allegiance to Him and His Word as we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice and worship Him with Holy Communion. Now that we have “surrendered all”, we learn that our old spirit has been changed into a brand new spirit and that we have the rest of our lives to learn and develop into the person that God has called us to be. We are told that our old man (nature) is dead and that now we are a brand new creation in Christ Jesus.

I would not think there would be that much disagreement in the Christian world with the above statements. I am currently a seminary student and my major is Christian counseling which is focused on human behavior. It is no secret that the mind is the control center, with the spirit and the body on each side constantly trying to influence. From a Christian perspective, it does not take very long to discover, as we try to “walk the walk”, that our nature is not as “dead” as we thought. We can have a wonderful time in God’s presence in the morning and in the afternoon, we can turn into a fire-breathing dragon. We might not think this is unreasonable except this happens even when we have been saved for 20 or 30 years. I believe much of the problem has been because the realities of salvation are not clearly taught in the church. The basic idea of coming forward and giving your heart to Jesus is perfectly valid, however much of the “fine details” are never explained clearly. It is this lack of education and misunderstanding about salvation that prevents many from realizing their personal responsibility to God. Another reason, is because we are madly in love with our flesh! We are thrilled with the idea of being redeemed from hell, but we do not spend a lot of time examining God’s, “rest of the story” that explains how to be a TRUE follower of Jesus Christ.

In Galatians chapter 4 and verses 4-7, we cling to this very comforting passage, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that was under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And, because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Now you are no longer a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Let us also take a look at this scripture, “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM US FROM ALL INIQUITY, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14) We have no problem with accepting these statements as being filled with God’s compassion, except allow me to ask the question: Does this happen instantly at the time we are born-again? It is true that our (past) sins are washed away when we repent and ask forgiveness, however, being saved does not mean that our mind has automatically been transformed or renewed or that every compartment of our heart has been permanently purified or delivered. There is dancing in the aisles, when someone is preaching about being set free from the bondages of sin, but you can hear a pin drop when the attention is turned to God’s demand that we become a living sacrifice. How can people shout amen on Sunday about their victory over sin, and on Monday find themselves “intentionally” committing the same sin over again?

Have you ever noticed that our prayers are filled with asking God to do miracles about everything except to remove our “pet” sins? Where is our confidence that God can destroy the sins that we adore? In the NIV, Hebrews 11:1, says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and being certain of what we do not see.” The reason why we do not stand boldly in faith as we pray against our “secrets” is that we love them too much to let them go. We definitely should not pray, “If it is His will” because we know that IT IS HIS WILL that we live spotless. Can we say that Jesus redeemed our spirit, but did not remove our freedom to choose sin, which is directly connected to our mind? Could it be, the Christian that has not submitted to having their mind renewed has only been “partially” redeemed?

Let us go deeper with learning about what “redeem” means. The Oxford Dictionary says, “Reclaim, recover, regain, repossess, buy back, save, rescue, deliver from, reinstate, restore, make restitution for, liberate, ransom, release, fulfill, and satisfy.” Again, we have no problem trusting the doctrine of righteousness when it comes to Christ living His life through us. When Adam and Eve fell, all of humanity lost their position as sons of God. The “purchase” that Christ made was to buy us back from being eternally lost. God’s plan was for His people to seek Him with ALL of their heart until they received His personal revelations about how to live in His “image”. Unfortunately, many have become satisfied with this concept of being “bought and paid for” and believe it does not matter what they do or do not do toward their contribution to being “saved”. I fear that the religious world of lukewarm Christians have decided that their ticket to heaven is secure and they can live however they want. Many have allowed the roots of their old life to sprout new vines and have “secretly” went to the graveyard at night, to exhume their old nature. They have cleaned him up and put new clothes on him in the name of carnality, and now enjoy living in the denial and deception that everything is fine. It is this attitude to which we must blow God’s trumpet and declare that remaining in this illusion is very dangerous. Jesus Himself advised those who follow Him to “DIG DEEP” and build their foundations on the ROCK! The Lord does NOT dig our foundation for us; neither does He forcefully renew our mind. He does not make us study, pray or obey, but we CHOOSE our spiritual development as a free-will opportunity to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Yes, we are redeemed in our spirit, however it is amazing how much responsibility we have been given to help “fulfill” what He died for us to be. We are not saved by works but we are influenced and empowered to combine our obedience with faith – BECAUSE we are saved!

“Father, we have no doubt that you can deliver us from our personal problems – help us let go of the things we hold tightly. We believe your blood has redeemed our spirit, and we confess that we desire to be redeemed in our conscience. We allow you to clean out the closets and hidden chambers of our heart and mind. We ask you, to purge us of the iniquities that control our flesh. In the Name of Jesus, we ask You to do, “whatever it takes” that will cause these powerful temptations that stand between us, to make us nauseated. We are sorry that we have hurt you and disappointed you. In Jesus Name we pray, amen.”

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT III

THE WALK
PART 34

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT III

My Father was known to be a neat and organized person and I guess that I inherited the same trait. He kept a manicured yard, well landscaped and beautiful. When he was healthy, he would raise a vegetable garden that had rows so straight that it looked like a postcard. There were never any weeds in the garden and likewise his cars were always clean because he would hand wash them often. His profession was building houses, so to say the least, there was not much he could not repair or create when it came to maintaining a home. My mother, as the other half of the “orderly duo” was a clean-aholic and kept the inside of the house immaculate. I thought about my parent’s character traits this afternoon, (as I was down on my knees in the baking sun pulling crab grass from around my landscape edging) and wondering, “Why in the world am I doing this”? My yard (when it is in top form) reminds me of a state park and I also have my weird quirks about other certain things being orderly, but I must admit that it makes me stop and ponder about what is really important in life. How you might ask? Well, it seems that even though we do not think about it, we are going to be held accountable for our decisions – including how we invest our time. Hardly anyone even sees my backyard because it is barricaded with a tall privacy fence, and when people do come over, most of the time they do not even go back there. So, why does it bother me about getting rid of the weeds and why do I have the “need” to keep everything so perfect? Maybe it is some kind of excessive compulsion syndrome or some other mental hang-up, but couldn’t my time be directed toward something more worthwhile? I look around and most other people never think about weeds – they just mow it and forget about it. What makes the difference between people who care about odd things and others who do not? I believe there are several reasons with everything from just being too busy with higher priorities to those who are just not concerned. Does this make the “neat” people better – of course not! There are just different personality traits that include things like decorating style, music taste, spiritual convictions, political views or value systems. Am I caring “too much” about things that are meaningless? Am I wasting precious time on the menial and not investing enough time in things of eternal significance? Is it normal to run out of the house before you go to bed and dig up a stray dandelion that pops up out of nowhere? Well, a certain amount of pride might be all right because it is a reflection of being responsible but I believe it could be carried too far. Pride in a good way could be used as a way to reach people because they respect the dedication of order. For example, people will respond with more respect toward someone that is wearing a business suit than someone that looks like they have been living under a bridge. This may not be the right thing to do but those who have daughters must admit that first impressions have a strong impact. All of us are vulnerable to first impressions because most of the time we judge according to what we hear and see. On the other hand, pride can be a bad thing, if our motive of being orderly is to give the impression that we deserve to be praised. What if we prayed and talked to God while we pulled weeds, then we could use our neatness as an invitation for divine appointments. Maybe this is an example of how important it is to have constant communion with God no matter what we are doing. It would seem this is the idea of walking in His Spirit, being ready to respond to His voice at work, at the store, driving, pumping gas (or pulling weeds). All of this may sound silly and actually boring to some people but allow me to go a little deeper into trying to realize what is really important in this life and why we think and act the way we do.

I remember an elderly couple a few years ago that lived down the street and how the man was so meticulous with his lawn. He was constantly working on it and I presume he was retired and enjoyed working around his home as a hobby. One day we learned through some other neighbors that he had died suddenly. His wife could not maintain the yard and hired a yard service to do the work but it could not be compared to how her husband could do it. I thought about all the things that he might be remembered for, as I did not know him personally but I could definitely testify that he kept a beautiful yard. It seems we sum people up by what they “do” or have “done” (good or bad) instead of who they are many times. I was at a funeral the other day and it was said the deceased, “really knew how to enjoy life”. Stop and think for a moment about the people you know and how you would comment about them if they were to pass away today. Let’s go a step further; what do you think people would say about you if you were to pass away? It is strange but true that we can remember very easily the negative things, the failures, shortcomings, bad character traits, the nasty attitudes, temper tantrums, the times when others were insensitive and wrong and all their mistakes. Why? Because this is the how the human brain is wired! We need more forgiveness, compassion and understanding instead of holding on to negative resentment and unforgiving attitudes. Carnality means “flesh” and there is never any good that can come out of it because it pertains to not only how others remember what we do or say but also how we perceive and discern others. Selah. The carnal mind stores memories and has its own built-in justice system that sorts out all the evidence and packages it up with judgments and conclusions. This system does exist in all of us and even when we become Christians, we must remember that this way of thinking is NOT a “renewed” mind. We can be spiritually saved and still operate under the old system for a while but eventually the Lord will convict us until we submit under the pressure from the Holy Spirit or we will become hardened with the sin of resisting His discipline and rebelling against His will. Walking in His Spirit is realizing that people are heavy laden with sin and are very weak to fight against it. Having His mind is seeing people with His sorrow and having a burden for them to be set free from the bondage of deception. How can we be strong in the Lord and help others if we also become bogged down with sin and discouragement? It is a dangerous place to become so spiritually dry like the young plants that bake and die in the sun as is told in the parable of the sower and the seed. Selah. Let us go further as we continue to search for the reasons we are the way we are. Do you really desire to know the truth about yourself or do you believe that all is well? Self-exams are like taking a flashlight into the basement to see what is causing those strange noises. It is not uncommon with humans to avoid these “investigations” and just turn the television up louder.

I have always had a good relationship with my Mother-in-law as we had the love of the gospel in common. She lived on her own, was relatively independent, and was constantly reading the Bible and watching religious television broadcasting. She had an aggressive personality and at times was difficult to get along with but overall, is a good person and well liked. This spring she had a stroke out of the clear blue and it has left her a “shell” of who she was. We read stories about those who have suffered devastating problems and we probably know someone that has or is facing a serious storm in their life. We feel helpless because we do not know what to do except pray and help with the practical things that need attention. I do not mean to sound negative but if you have ever known a person that has had a stroke you realize very soon that unless God performs a literal miracle like the ones Jesus did in the New Testament, this person is going to face a very serious uphill battle to just survive – let alone recover. Mary had a beautiful home and it was filled with the treasures she had collected and loved. She loved her independence, had an awesome green thumb with gardens and flowers and was an incredible cook. She is now paralyzed on one side, which has left her unable to walk, go to the bathroom, take a shower on her own etc… She also has trouble with her speech and it is apparent she has trouble thinking clearly. She also experienced some unexpected problems as for example, the tendons in one leg began to draw and pull her toe and foot muscles backward involuntarily which brings excruciating pain. After a while it was obvious that she was not going to be able to live independently again (unless she received the miracle) and plans were made to sell her house and all the contents so that funds could be available to pay for her medical expenses. A lifetime of memories, treasures, keepsakes and experiences all gone in a matter of weeks. I realize this is not uncommon but it does not lessen the sadness. Now she is in a nursing home and shares a small room with another elderly woman. I admit – I am an emotional person and I definitely prefer happy endings rather than sad ones but as we have heard many times – life is what you make it and being happy is a choice. Is she discouraged? Of course, any of us would be, but she had a good life and was blessed in many ways. There are many reasons why things happen. She had faith but was ambushed by the unexpected. What if there is a major crisis in our future, how will we react? I speak positive confessions and I pray for the positive but have I learned when to be content in God’s will and when to fight against the devil – and how to know the difference? Maintaining Christ in our heart is the most important thing whether we are lost at sea, in prison, bankrupt or in the hospital. I am simply trying to learn more about whom God is and what He wants to do in us. Have you ever been involved with an overwhelming situation and struggled with trying to win the victory over it? There may be libraries of textbooks about how to deal with problems but there is a difference between just watching a war and actually being in a war. A crucial part of abandonment is learning that we are not fighting our OWN war. Christians are called to lay down their old carnal plans and embrace a new set of spiritual blueprints. We are abandoning our old ship and boarding His glorious vessel! He bought us and is living in us for the purpose of doing HIS will through us. All glory to God.

WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE II

THE WALK

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who
WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)

PART 2

WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE II

Our heavenly Father did not provide salvation as an “enhancement” to the life we have already made. His intention was for His children to build their lives AROUND HIM! Many are proud of their accomplishments and satisfied with the way they have laid out their destiny but that does not mean they are WALKING in God. Some see the idea of religion as the icing on a cake they have already baked but this is completely missing the idea of grace and redemption. “And He spoke also a parable unto them; No man puts a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new causes a tear and the piece that was taken out of the new does not match with the old. And no man puts new wine into old wineskins; else the new wine will burst the containers and be spilled, and all will be ruined. But NEW WINE must be put into NEW CONTAINERS; and both are PRESERVED.” (Luke 5:36-39) Jesus is not in the business of patching people up He has come to completely transform our heart, conscience and thinking so that He can fill us with His Spirit. He is not the new “engine” on our ship where we remain captain – He IS the new ship, the new engine and most importantly our new CAPTAIN. Selah. “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should WALK in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead – is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:4-8) We all slip up from time to time but that is not what this passage is trying to reveal to us. We are not to be “servants” or SLAVES to sin if we profess to be born again. Unfortunately many who consider themselves Christians have fallen into the bondage of carnality and have not realized that something is seriously wrong. The old mind and nature is supposed to be a corpse but for many it still has a pulse (like a zombie – the walking dead). We are not to live like this! We can call out to God anytime we are fed up with being used by the devil and the Lord will hear our cries and will help us break the chains that hold us. If sin is using you there is no better time than right now to say “no more” and to remove (impeach) whoever or whatever is sitting on the throne of your heart. Whatever is controlling you has become your god! If Jesus is not sitting on the throne of your heart – He is not your Lord! Our determination to be what Jesus has died for us to be includes talking, WALKING, thinking and LIVING holy. “Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin, but ALIVE unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore REIGN in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are ALIVE from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:11-13)

THE WALK OF SELF-CONTROL: Whatever the addiction we realize there is a VICIOUS CYCLE and where there is a habit – there is always a CROSSROAD MOMENT! This is the place of decision that returns on a regular basis where we are faced with the CHOICE to continue going in the same old direction or change course. With food addiction, the “deal” is made when hunger is the most intense. This is when the body raises its awareness and becomes a craving, aggressive predator. In our weakness we are very vulnerable to temptation and where we privately decide if we are going to obey the red light of self-control or the green light of unrestraint. It begins with temptation that comes from a strong desire and ends with us accepting or rejecting its offer. When we “submit” to the yearning, we indulge until we are satisfied and our senses are submerged in a temporary feeling of ecstasy and euphoria. This emotional “dream state” can drift into emotions of sadness, regret, depression and guilt only minutes after we have mesmerized with pleasure. This “merry-go-round” prison of condemnation can become so powerful that some may fall into the pattern of even regurgitating the food along with all of the many different types of psychological eating disorders. The agony of failure remains until the satisfaction wears off, the hunger returns and the “beast” awakes to plan its next feast. We do not need a psychiatrist to help us find the answer to overcoming this deceptive enemy because it does not matter so much “why” we have come to this point – but how can we WALK in God’s perfect will! Even if we could write a book about our past it would not necessarily in itself cause us to automatically live the abundant Christian life. It is not the past that is holding us hostage – it is our inability to realize that we are holding the key to our own prison cell. Selah.

Can God’s power help me overcome my compulsive problems? Well, of course! He is always ready to respond to our faith! No doubt we all need His power to “help” us with everyday trials, but we cannot sit on the couch with a huge bag of potato chips and expect Him to “zap” us with a new sculpted, beach body! The same is true with any type of dependency and addiction – our amount of determination along with His Divine power will directly measure our success. In dealing with human behavior changes, it is more like He has given us the “WILLPOWER” to become determined to change and then in turn He watches over us and bless us with His love and support. He can ENCOURAGE us and INSPIRE us to be the best we can be – but we must have the “vision” and fervent desire to put on our track shoes and begin to run! “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us (attacking, surrounding, harassing) and let us RUN with patience the race that is before us. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:1, 12, 13)

Until the desire to be free from food addiction becomes GREATER than living incarcerated to the quest to fill our belly – there is no hope for deliverance. Those who continue in the over-eating (or bad food selection) addiction cycle have obviously made the decision to remain being CONTROLLED! Since we have the opportunity for instant gratification there is no one that can make us – make the decision to say no. This is the place that separates the talkers from the walkers. We can remain as spoiled children that always get what they cry for or we can finally grow up and become the mature Christian that Jesus gave His life for us to be.

Many, who are overweight eat their food fast and do not give the food time to tell the brain to stop. The perfect formula for “growing larger” is to swallow faster than our sensors can relay the “full capacity” message. The stomach and mind work together but if we swallow it down faster than the mind can receive the message to stop – we become “overloaded”. If we reduce the amount of content – the stomach will naturally shrink back to normal and as a bonus – the less we consume the less we will desire (over a period of time.) You will find yourself not driven by hunger but focusing on other things like enjoying the atmosphere and thanking God for the one you are dining with. I used to fantasize about the food that I had planned while usually not paying much attention to those who were with me. It is terrible to live to eat instead of eating to live. Eating is not to be a “lust filled affair” but rather a blessing that has been given by God for our nourishment and strength. A great idea is to only put food on your plate that you really enjoy. Do not load a spoonful of everything just because it is sitting in front of you. Try an experiment! When you have dipped out your food sit down and look at it very carefully. Many people are guilty of “mindless” eating. They do not think about what they are putting in their mouth they are just ready to devour it. Take small bites and chew it like you are enjoying it – not like you are a wild animal. This will allow you to focus on your favorites and the brain will have plenty of time to blow the internal alarm to stop. Also, do not convince yourself that you need to eat everything on the table just so it will not go to waste. If you are in a restaurant and you must save it, take a leftover box home with you and eat it later. If you are weighing yourself everyday remember that we all fluctuate throughout the day and this can become discouraging. Try peeking at the scales just once per week to reduce anxiety and depression.

The most important key is to meet with God face-to-face and simply ASK HIM to reduce our hunger and our passionate desire for food. It only makes common sense; the reason we gain is because we eat rich delicacies and we eat much more than we should. If our desire levels were to be turned down, our clothing sizes would also go down. If we could “break-up” this romance with food “idolatry” and realize we are being “abused” by our own conscience, we could go to the next level in drawing nearer to Him. Many will say, “Asking God to help me is just too easy”. But, wait a minute; don’t we believe that Father is interested in the little things that concern us? “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear:” (Isaiah 59:1) If our intention is to be a stronger witness through weight loss – HE IS LISTENING! If our motive to be healthier is so that we can serve Him more effectively – HE’S ALWAYS READY TO HELP US BE VICTORIOUS! Nothing is impossible with faith, but it’s not easy. Being “sold out” to HIS perfect plan for us, is being disciplined and under HIS control at ALL times! “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27)

WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE

THE WALK
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who
WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” ((Romans 8:4))

PART 1

WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE

In 1985 I was in Freemont Ohio to attend a prophetic worship conference. I had just ministered a song the Lord had given to me called “unmeasured love” and went down to go sit in my seat. The music started and it was just a time of soft free-worship, when the symposium leader (Larry Dempsey) called me back to the stage. He asked for Cheryl to also come up along with my pastor (Mark Workman) that had brought us to the meetings and for them to lay hands on me while they prophesied over me. I received lengthy words of wisdom and encouragement from two of the prophets and another from the pastor of the church that was hosting the event. The heart of the message was that God had given me the new song of His Spirit and put His Word into my spirit to write and release to the body of Christ. There was a personal warning included – I would have to WALK OUT every word that I write, and it was said openly that, “it would be some hard walking”! Since then I have been sensitive to the word “walk” and have inscribed “Walking Thru Ministries” on everything I have released for many years. The point is the same with all of God’s children; our journey with God in this life is to be much more than just TALK, or as many have said just “talking the talk”. It is easy to write a book of our own opinions about every topic in the world (whether we really know much about it or not). The real proof of our devotion and conviction is when we WALK according to Father’s will no matter how much our flesh cries or how much the world hates us. It is putting feet on our faith and actually living according to the words we are speaking. WALKING THE WALK separates the doers from the pretenders, the workers from the couch potatoes. The churches are filled with lazy complainers and negative, prideful opinions of how things should be and then there are the ones that have decided to labor and sacrifice because they desire to be faithful to God. The “WALKERS” are not waiting on a church organizations approval, a sign in the stars, a tax exemption or a media endorsement – they just want to listen to God’s voice and do His will! The church is moving forward and on the rise – it just might not be the one sitting on the hill with the steeple!

DO NOT WALK LIKE THE UNBELIEVER:

Most all of you that read these articles either have worked or still do work a regular job. How many of you have wondered about the genuineness of individuals you have worked with that professed to be Christians? I know – we are not to judge their heart – unless their actions reveal who they really are and prove the type of fruit they bear! If a stranger began to work in your place of employment, would they be able to tell if you were a Christian? When people cannot notice a difference between the lost and the saved, do you think something is wrong? “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth WALK NOT as other Gentiles walk, in the VANITY of their MIND. Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:17-18)

“But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the OLD MAN with his deeds; and have put on the NEW MAN, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” (Colossians 3:8-10)

IF YOU HAVE THE REAL THING – WALK IT:

I realize that when we are first born-again, it is exciting and it seems we have no pride or embarrassment. But after a while our old nature regains its composure and tells us to stop acting like a fool because people are staring. This is the last hour of the age and if we are ever going to stand for our faith it is now. Do not be ashamed to be counted as a full-blown disciple of Jesus and count it an honor to be called a peculiar – freak!
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so WALK in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and WALK in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, say’s the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, say’s the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:16-18)

WALKING IN HIS SPIRIT:

Abiding in God’s divine reality is a constant theme with our spiritual journey. Staying in the awareness of His presence is a revelation that is crucial in our understanding of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We may hear these statements thousands of times before all of a sudden it dawns on us what it actually means. This is called a personal revelation and is something each one of us must have if we are to progress into spiritual wisdom. The law is just paper and ink unless they are absorbed into our spirit and mind through spiritual enlightenment which is the difference between empty religion and knowing Father intimately. As I have said before speaking in tongues is not evidence of being filled with His Spirit. The evidence of being filled with God is talking, walking and living like Jesus. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:3-6)

WALKING IN HIS WISDOM:

“WALK in WISDOM toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:5-6) It has been said that you may be the only Jesus that someone may ever see. How important is it for all of us to live right, say the right things and do what Jesus is calling us to do? It could mean the difference between a soul finding Christ and that is what us being a light and salt is all about. When we speak of being aware of God’s presence we are talking about being keenly sensitive in the spirit realm. When our antennas are up and functioning we can hear what God is saying about others around us. Divine appointments are very special occurrences that Father arranges so that He can use His agents to say and do special things at certain times. This is all for the purpose of ministering to people directly and revealing Himself as a revelation to them. If we are not walking in the Spirit we cannot be used in these special assignments because we are not tuned in to the right frequency and have no clue as to what God’s desires are. The closer we live with Father the more He will use us to do His will. “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all WISDOM; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:14-17)

WALKING WITH SPIRIT EYES:

Faith is such a giant word in the language of the spirit. We as Christians throw it around like we throw the other popular words of prayer and love, but its difficult to know what it means. We can believe and hope but faith is even deeper. Faith is KNOWING that we have heard what God is saying. Faith is standing in the face of fear and not being afraid. Faith is a confidence that does not come from this realm. It is being one with God. Selah. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. But without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:3, 6) “We having the same spirit of FAITH of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:13, 18) We have seen a small glimpse into sanctification and how the dividing line is becoming more defined. As the days grow nearer to the coming of the Lord we will no longer be able to straddle the spiritual fence and expect the principals of God to operate in our lives. The humanistic world is becoming more aggressive and harsh against those who believe in the Word of God and His holy doctrines. We will WALK together, unified in the faith and the absolute perfection of His truth, because we are grounded and established forever in His covenant love. May we WALK out this coming year – what we already know – for His honor and glory. Selah.