Category Archives: empathy

Questions answered

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

The answers to all the questions a person might have, regarding Christianity, can be found in The Bible.

A lot of questions are answered directly, but if not, then indirectly.

Because of one particular truth, we can have insight into another.

Life is full of questions, especially about the hereafter. The answers are either crystal clear in the Bible, or shrouded in mystery.

Some questions are difficult to answer, others simple.

A lot of us get stumped regarding such hereafter questions, and indeed questions on how to behave and what to believe in – in this life – never mind the one to come.

Then also, people’s spiritual experiences differ from person to person. Differ, either in kind, or in intensity.

Many are either confused or open to everything and anything under the ‘spiritual’ label, going astray in their desperate quest for the right and real thing. The real McCoy as we say.

Some gullible, fall prey to evil disguised as good, attaching themselves to some ‘ulterior motive-type’ cult.

We need to exercise great caution about what we ‘sign up to’ spiritually.

Yet we can close ourselves – out of hand – to anything ‘spiritual’, without due consideration and proper search/research.

Perhaps one of the most common reasons that non-Christian folks do not entertain the gospel message, is because of the failure of it’s adherents.

All sincere Christians who are found confessing Christ as their Saviour, wish that it were true, that they lived as perfectly as others expect them too, because of the profession and confession they are often heard verbalising to others, in the hope that they too might become followers.

Christians with their imperfections and shortcomings, are a hindrance to others believing in Christ. The reasoning of the unbelievers can go something like this:

“You call yourself a Christian, but you are clearly a hypocrite, that doesn’t practice what you preach and yet lay on others…”

In response to this reasoning, we can say that there is sincere failure, and hypocritical failure.

But the whole good news premise of the gospel is that: yes we will fail daily, but we find forgiveness and acceptance through genuine confession of sin.

It is often true that the most difficult person to forgive is oneself.

In a particular incident the very thing that Christ’s audience accused Him of and rejected Him for – was the very thing He did for the wholeness of mankind. (Matthew 9):

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.

So God being willing to forgive was shunned. God in Christ standing before them was unrecognised and rejected.

So the true Christian, very much aware of his own sins, has come to Christ and asked for forgiveness. Christ Jesus is faithful and willing to forgive, regardless of how many times we drop the ball, whether in a major or minor way.

But because we profess to Follow Jesus Christ, – others simply want to reject us because something is missing in our ‘performance’, in their eyes.

We don’t conform exactly to their expectations. We may have idiosyncrasies, not necessarily to do with morality, we may worship in a manner not appealing to them. We may have made a real mistake and are post-forgiveness, but they will never forget it, and hold it against us. They may hear of something in our pre-Christian believing life, and they hold this against us still.

Others pick on minor faults that we still have, to justify themselves in their rejection of Christ and His message.

Christians availing themselves of God’s unmerited favour and finding forgiveness when they fail – and yes sometimes though failing miserably – need to know in whom they have believed. And realise that:

Romans 8:31

[ God’s Everlasting Love ] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God the supreme judge of the universe is willing to forgive us, we can with Paul humbly say:

1 Corinthians 4:2-4 King James Version (KJV)

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

There is a time when we must stand in the confidence of sins forgiven and in God’s promises, regardless of what others might think of us or hold against us.

This privilege have those who truly and sincerely give their lives over to the God-man Christ Jesus, who will ever – be lovingly correcting us, but has totally accepted us – when we accept Him as Lord of our lives.

Proverbs 24/16

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,

But the wicked stumble in time of disaster and collapse.

 

 

Heaviness

HEAVINESS

We all experience different emotions in an average day. Christians experience also varying degrees of spiritual discernment.

For example, we can sense that God is grieved by our, or other peoples actions.

It’s true also that Christians or non-Christians can be repulsed by various acts of evil, that they find out, have taken place.

We can feel sorry and aggrieved that certain things have happened to friends or loved ones.

Being aggrieved by the actions of others and affronted by their awful behaviour, is both an intellectual and emotional experience.

Intellectually we become aware of the awful facts and process them with the accompanying emotions.

It is true also that we become accustomed to awful news and can become indifferent to it. Usually out of a sense that there is seemingly nothing we can do about the situation – and our sense of human powerlessness can have a numbing effect.

When bad stuff is up close and personal – of course this creates an even more difficult scenario to deal with.

And we have to handle the personal hurt we feel.

Again this is different for the true Christian because there is a spiritual sensing involved that adds to the intellectual and emotional negative experience we may be having.

Paul the apostle tells us of his personal heartfelt – intellectual/emotional/spiritual experience when he says:

Romans 9:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

Israel’s Rejection of Christ

9 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

This was not just being sorrowful over someones situation, condition or experience, but he was also sharing God’s burden. Entering in to sharing God’s heart.

Jesus reveals His burden to us, as the Son of God,  when He gives us insight into His heart of love and concern for His people. On this occasion regarding the Jews blindness to the Messiah:

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

He was also speaking prophetically as one who knew the future and their future.

So this was not just the heart of the human Jesus breaking, but the heart of The Son of God also.

That which is coming upon the earth – is increasing the spiritual heaviness, and the spiritual dearth, and Christians are conscious of this, sometimes more than others.

As a response to these negative and spiritually heavy times, we can only set ourselves to endure. Set ourselves to remain faithful to seek our solace in Christ through prayer and worship and fellowship, searching out true believers, and real genuine friends.

Regardless of how many times we are disappointed by the behaviour of others, Christian and non-Christian alike, we must set ourselves to seek first the kingdom of God. Take strength from the many great biblical examples of true men and women of God – the cloud of witnesses who have endured and gone before us into the eternal presence of God.

Hebrews 12:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Human effort

HUMAN EFFORT

As human beings our lives consist of three things:

Things we think, things we say, and things we do.

I don’t know of any others – do you? Things we see, hear and smell – yes.

But these – activate the mind or open the mouth or cause the response of action.

As we look back at our lives – have we thought some good thoughts, said some good things, or carried out some good deeds?

In my self-analysis mode – I’m afraid if it were left to me to judge my ‘performance’ in this, it would be of miniscule achievement. Judging by my perceived standard of ‘good’ that is.

‘Don’t be too hard on yourself.’ I hear that empathetic person say.

No? I’m not being too hard on myself. It’s just that the standard I have in mind I have only seen in one person. And I always fall short of His example. Fall short because I am still trying to give way to Him. I’m still learning how to let His life reign in me.

How much harder must it be for those who have not invited Him to be their friend and mentor.

Most who have glanced at this blog, know of whom I speak.

Here’s what He tells me: 

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

This completeness is achieved by accepting the gift of Himself. Free fellowship in spirit and truth.

I am complete, not because my thoughts, words and deeds satisfy, but because I have believed in the One who satisfies my desire to know His goodness and mercy. They shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in God’s house forever.

(Psalm 23/6)

Remaining Option

REMAINING OPTION

Sometimes we encounter a person who seems totally insensitive, regarding how they treat their fellow human beings.

We could mention – i.e. explore – delve into – the many reasons they have ended up like this in their character and lifestyle.

The challenge when we are on the receiving end of their folly and they treat us unjustly, unfairly, without due consideration of where we are at – is to ask the above person(s), questions in an attempt to find reasons (usually underlying unresolved hurts) why we are receiving their unacceptable attitude and behaviour.

Empathetically responding when we are on the receiving end of their immaturity. This ain’t easy to do – is it?

We, left to our own devices will react and put them right. An angry exchange usually takes place as we unnecessarily defend ourselves in response to their false accusations or attack.

At the same time we must consider the possibility that some folks are hell-bent on not changing. They don’t want help, and don’t perhaps even see the need for it.

From a Christian point of view when they refuse to entertain our helping hand or calm reason – we have one remaining option. 

Pray for them.

Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Failure

Failure

I think it is safe to say that every human being suffers from a sense of failure in their life, at some point.

We can say that this is real or imaginary.

Questions get ravelled-up together. Questions such as – what is the purpose of life anyway? Or what have I really done with my life? Why have I not been more successful? Why do I not get invited to the party? Why can I not pass this driving test?

And so on…

Most of these have a sense of failure pending or following.

Not wanting to be boastful/big headed – we can be the first to admit that others seem to excel where we have failed.

But if we are at all logical – then we can add to the mix – ‘well what is success anyway?’

We have raised two or three children who are all doing well, who are solid and not neurotic or dysfunctional, but who perhaps themselves, lead a good home with balanced offspring.

Whereas over here the head of a multi-million pound/dollar conglomerate – a millionaire – well, his children are rebellious and in rehab.

So who has been successful in this scenario?

We learn then that success is comparative.

Truth is, we are all failures. And can still find acceptance in Christ. Who clears the conscience, and loves the unlovely me.

But in these days what is put forward as important and representing real success, has changed. And will go on changing. Not for the better – in it’s abandonment of what is of real value.

The predominant values of the society we live in are the result of the majority-held views. Views that build up in the psyche of the citizens of the place we dwell in. Then there is the world view.

There comes a mental blindness with this. When common decency is replaced with something else, building up to confusion running rampant.

The words of the old classic hymn come to mind:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

I stand appreciating The Victor who took my place on a cross, and who offers the gift of His success and acceptance, making such as I, a king and a priest unto God.

Revelation 1/6

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Out of the frying pan…

Out of the frying pan…

I recently listened to four individuals on YouTube sharing their stories publicly in front of an audience.

Two shared their unrelated stories about being in – and leaving – a cult

The other two shared about addiction. One guy was addicted to pornography. The other girl suffered from bulimia, alcoholism and drug abuse.

One common denominator characterised the four, they each confessed/related how they had left…

Left the cult or the habitual dependence.

One thing I noticed was that they did not spend time telling us what they had found to replace what they had left.

Just the very fact of leaving behind their situation or lifestyle, seemed to be enough to celebrate.

If someone has worn handcuffs for months – there is bound to be a great sense of relief and freedom when those handcuffs are removed. There is nothing to take the place of the handcuffs – except the freedom of release. And surely it is enough.

What they do with their free hands is now the anticipated ongoing story.

Two of these victims of cult abuse, found freedom from what they unfortunately referred to as Evangelical fundamentalist Christianity.

Why unfortunately you might ask? Well because the label blackens the true meanings of the words.

How quickly we can throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to labels.

To hear their stories produces empathetic responses from any right minded ‘common sense’ endued public – listening to such stories.

They elicited readily a similar response from me.

But there was no mention of the ‘real thing’ – true biblical Christianity.

Cults can rise from all religions, where misrepresentation of said religions can run rampant.

Anyone adhering to what is commonly referred to as a ‘religion’, will usually be very slow to doubt their ‘fundamental’ beliefs – all ‘religions’ have these foundational doctrines.

So any word can either be heard for what it really refers to  or can be heard through the biased sieve of those to whom that word means something else.

The something else being certain behaviour that they associate immediately with that word, without giving the word a second thought, and accepting that it may in fact mean something else in a different context.

Thus out goes the baby with the bathwater, and everyone is tarred with the same  brush, the brush that ‘they’ associate with a given word.

I’m thinking of such words as ‘evangelical’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘christianity’, which happen to be the words used by those who were telling of their escape from a particular cult.

The immediate impression given (without them trying to present an alternative) is that all of Christianity is a cult, or that ‘evangelical’ is synonymous with manipulation cruelty and control. The things that they experienced in the cult.

Whereas nothing could be further from the truth in real Christianity. In fact true evangelicals are the first in line to empathise with what these folks experienced in the cult that gives Christianity a bad name.

Truth is – these cults were Christianity without Christ.

Without Christ, because they were ‘religious’ in the Pharisaical bad sense of the word. They corrupted the word of God – by making it whatever served their selfish ends.

The result is Christianity without Christ Jesus, and the Bible without God in it.

Rules made-up by man adding to the Word of God. Adding to it in order to corrupt it. And imposing their perverted rules in order to dominate the ‘flock’ – i.e. members of the cult.

The following Scripture must be taken in context, but I simply quote it, to emphasise that man can/does corrupt the bible, especially it is the case – in these abhorrent cults.

Revelation 22/

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Often in these cults – The application of the bible to try to control people’s behaviour or allegiances, is done so without proper understanding of the great balance of truth found in scripture (to say the least).

Cults operate under the influence of a demonic spirit – but all in the name of Christianity.

What’s the result? Many turn-off from even considering the real thing, by virtue of it’s mis-representation by those who lead cults and have no right to call themselves Christian.

These cult leaders misrepresent Christ Jesus manifest by the fruit of their living.

People – bound by the manipulation and control of these pseudo shepherds with their own private, invented, perverted Christianity, – when they get ‘free’ – can allow (if unwise) their pendulum to swing in the opposite direction, understandably I hasten to add. But caution should be exercised that they don’t come out of the frying pan into the fire. Do not shed one set of shackles for another kind.

Don’t celebrate your freedom with a mouthful of swear words because you are now free to say what you like.

Swearing is an interesting subject. It is censored on television until a certain time of the day, yet is freely indulged in afterwards.

So it’s not right for our children to hear – but it’s ok for us to use. (Sounds like hypocrisy to me).

Swearing some will tell us is just ‘words’. But normally someone out to put down, victimise, belittle, reject, dump their anger and threats upon others, look for words suitably appropriate to describe their disgust for their fellow-man, and therefore seek the assistance of expletives. But then tell us they are just words?

Anyway – getting off the subject I realise.

My encouragement to all is to soberly consider the claims of Christ by searching the scriptures for yourself.

Realise there is the false and true in every sphere of life. Don’t settle for anything that falls short of 100% authenticity.

It may take time I know. But seek and you will find!

Wisdom responses

(see John 4)

WISDOM RESPONSES

It’s an interesting study to note Jesus’ response to various situations and scenarios.

We see Him speaking to a Samaritan woman at a well. Not the done thing – as 

…Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

So He cut across the socially accepted norms and prophetically gave insight into this woman’s life

She was never the same again – so accurate was the information He gave her. We are not told all that He said to her. Did He in fact give a comprehensive history of her life – so much so that she exclaimed?: 

“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

Was she so overwhelmed by what He said regarding her lack of marital status – that it seemed He had insight into everything to do with her life? (And of course He had – as He has with regard to our lives).

Was she so astounded – she exaggerated her message? She would not be the first person to be astounded by what Christ did for her. I too am in that company of people.

40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.

Notice the Samaritans response to this demonstration of supernatural knowledge, that could not have been known, any other way – it started them on their quest to find out more.

Then having heard Christ preach – they became believers in The Son of God, The Messiah, themselves.

They wanted Jesus to stay with them. So He stayed another two days.

On another occasion the disciples went to prepare a place for Jesus as a stopover on a fuller journey. A stopover place amongst the Samaritans. But these Samaritans refused to receive Him.

The disciples acting wrongly and ‘inspired’ by the devil – wanted the Samaritans destroyed in response to this refusal to receive The Messiah:

Luke 9/54

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

They had a scriptural precedent, (so they thought) to repeat history. But Jesus pointed out how wrong they were. Teaching us that it is not what we say – but the spirit by which we speak.

We must discern what is behind and inspiring religions, or cults. By their fruits we shall know them.

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.

It was all right for Elijah – why not them? Many twist the Word of God, and use it as the letter that kills, because they are moving in their unaided understanding or are demonically inspired to adulterate The Word of God.

Join with me in asking ourselves:

…what manner of spirit you (we) are of…?

On another occasion Jesus responded to a Samaritan woman and gave her what she requested even though…

John 4/22

22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

Mark 7:27-29

27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

If we pray, we trust that as we move wisely the Son of God will be impressed by our requests, as He was with this woman and we shall (believing) receive the answer to our prayers.

When the Samaritans refused Jesus although He would not sanction ‘the fire from heaven’ destruction of His rejectors. Nevertheless we note the weighty consequence, in contrast, to the Samaritans who responded to the woman at the well:

And they went to another village.

Jesus looks for one thing above all – our acceptance of Him into our lives. He must have a welcoming embrace from us. He will not force Himself into our lives. He will influence us, draw us, speak to us, work in our conscience, all to bring us to Himself.

But that’s it – unless we embrace Him wholeheartedly –

He will go…

to another village.

The Real Deal

THE REAL DEAL

There is either such a thing as sin – or there isn’t.

And quite clearly there is such a thing.

It’s as plain as the nose on your face. We can see the results of sin all around us. Often in epidemic proportions.

Sin is one of the most obvious phenomena on the planet. And yet it is explained away under many guises.

The problem for preachers is – they too are subject to and can be guilty of – sinning.

So how can they stand in pulpits and preach against what they themselves are engaged in? Or so the commonly held view is expressed, by some.

“Is this not hypocrisy?” reasons the person who tries to say – no one should ‘judge’ others.

They perceive preachers as hypocritical Pharisees who love to castigate everyone but themselves. Bringing people under their rule and control, as ‘holier than thou’ – potentates.

However, have you noticed that those who say: “we shouldn’t judge”, are also those who can lose their temper and hit out with swear words, at the unknown person whole stole their car? They wouldn’t be trying to ‘judge’ them would they?

Quite clearly proper judgement is necessary in life. Else why not close down all the courtrooms throughout the land, and allow anarchy to rule ok!

The fact that unjust judgements are made, and hypocrites can be found in places of moral responsibility, does not negate the need for proper, sound, just judgement.

Problem is, at a time of increasing moral decay – the hypocrites seem to ‘rule ok’ in responsible positions, rather than the sincere just-persons, who should take up these roles.

Those preachers, who have moral integrity, are automatically lambasted by those who don’t want their sins found out. They tar these preachers with the same brush,  branding them as hypocrites. Condemned usually without trial or examined evidence.

The result of accepting or listening to no-one – is confusion (and often every evil work).

So in societies – corrupt officials take bribes, and the unjust sinner goes free for the right price.

The almost automatic way to portray anyone of ‘the cloth’, in drama productions on television or cinema – is to create a character who has a snivelling, hypocritical, judgemental, narrow minded, self-centred cowardly personality. Such types find their way onto the playwright’s script  when a character is needed to ‘represent’ the church.

And the non-believing but ‘good’ villain who spares a dime for the beggar in the street – is the ‘real deal’. Even though he has killed and robbed.

So society relieves itself from any responsibility to take notice of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Cause after all ‘they are not hypocrites’, like those religious types.

They don’t ‘pretend’ to be good or religious, or better than others. And so in all of this they spend their lives missing completely the ‘real deal’ of the Gospel.

So who is going to tell us we are sinners when all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?

Well the answer is – God Himself.

The Holy Spirit’s job is to make me aware that I, who write this post – am a sinner.

And to be always talking about sin, without the rest of the message that makes the messenger’s feet beautiful (post on beautiful feet to appear later) is to get out of balance in presenting the whole gospel.

The whole gospel summed up is – we can have our mess (sins) removed. We can know God the Father through Jesus the Son, and we can know the ‘real deal’ of fellowship with God.

To be liberated inside – in a way you have never experienced before is the result of receiving and obeying the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve just summed it up briefly, (to accommodate the need for a short post).

REAL DEAL GOOD NEWS:

…Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

….Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

And so on….and so on…and so on….🙂

Confusion

CONFUSION

As human beings we can get terribly confused.

As a result of – innumerous scenarios we experience in life. We end up confused about all sorts of things,

When in a state of confusion with our thoughts spiralling left right and centre, not knowing what to do for the best, – how to respond, who to talk to, how to find answers to our dilemma, we must seek truth.

Truth as it stands alone. Truth that is not contaminated by our emotional state.

A tall order indeed.

Also in the mix is the diverse opinions of others. One advises this, and another – or others, come from a completely different angle than those we previously sought advice from.

We may read things – visit online testimonies of others in a similar situation, and how they came through.

It’s true there is ‘safety in many counsellors’, – but the counsellors must be of a sound character, having obtained wisdom by reliable means.

There is one thing that provides concrete and reliable wisdom. And those who visit this blog will know that I’m about to mention and highlight the desirability of The Word of God (the bible).

The thing about the word of God is – it becomes a starting point that is totally reliable.

Not everyone will believe this of course. And that’s why their alternative conclusions regarding a course of action is often faulty, not being based on God’s infallibility. No one else is infallible except Christ.

But if we start with what cannot be broken or changed (the word of God) – and start to subject all our thoughts, experiences, words and deeds, hurts, emotional traumas to the scrutiny of this word. Then this word of God will provide a reliable rock in the storm. A safe haven in the midst of the earthquake. A place of quietness and confidence amidst the turmoil, and so on.

But for this word to be all that it can be – we must first be convinced that it is inerrant (incapable of being wrong) and that every other word of advice is potentially (at least) out-of-sync, except for this word.

Many are so tossed to and fro by every wind of opinion, that they continue in that state having nothing concrete and reliable to totally rely on.

If they do not believe that the word of God is inerrant how can it be inerrant to them?  And how can it provide the refuge and direction that will lead them out of their confusion, if they don’t believe it?

In a confused situation. Part of the confusion is knowing what is right and what is wrong. What’s the right thing to do and what isn’t. Where do we begin to find a solution?

Well, look at this truth for instance:-

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Now God can do anything and of course He can cause His enemies to be driven back which may result in them being confused.

Psalm 70:1-3 King James Version (KJV)

70 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord.

Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

In situations that seem impossible, God can send deliverance supernaturally, influencing circumstances, often with the sending of angels, so that those opposed to Him and His children are left confused as the small triumph over the big, the few triumph over the many.

There are many examples of this in scripture. So though God isn’t confusing them, His help for others – leaves them confused.

David against Goliath, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, escape of children of Israel from Egyptians at the red sea, feeding of the five thousand, Elijah with the prophets of Baal and so on. All examples of God’s deliverance through His word to the hearts of men. Causing His enemies to be defeated and left – well – confused? 

But evil in varying degrees, is present in violent conflicts, and God can favour whom he sees fit to favour according to the divine dictates of His own wisdom.

In my view divinely intervening at times and at times not.

But in the church (which is the context of the above verse) when confusion creeps in – it is man-made and demonic. And man-made in most other situations and scenarios, in life.

And God rather than causing it – provides stability and a way out of the confusion.

That’s why when His truth ‘goes marching on’ into our hearts – it produces freedom. Freedom in this context from confusion. John 8/32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Often ‘where to start’ is lost in the milieu of adversity. A big part of the problem is who or what do I rely on, when all around seems like sinking sand?

There’s a story/illustration given by The Lord Jesus, in the scriptures, of a man building his house.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, (God’s word) and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

One person (let’s say confused person) built on the ‘rock-sayings’. 

Whilst another took no heed to the certainty of Christ’s Words and he continued in confusion, taking on board the ‘sand-sayings’, from wherever and whoever – instead. 

With the ‘sand sayings’ a sinking will take place, because there is no absolute certainty about these man-made philosophies.

Whereas the ‘rock sayings’ can be trusted completely. Often the lack of instant answers as we act on the rock sayings, causes many to doubt and to turn to the sand again.

There are often complex situations full of grey areas that people find themselves embroiled in. And to find a way out or through these, is challenging or disconcerting or even devastating mentally and emotionally.

In the midst of these complex scenarios, what can be trusted, when everything is in array and confusion rules the day?

I offer you The Word of God.

You/I must find the right word for the right situation.

Starting with it – we move out into answers through prayer and perseverance of faith.

Knowing we love God – there is light at the end of the tunnel. But it takes time to get through the tunnel. Dark and ominous though the tunnel may be – God’s Word – Psalm 119/105 –

… is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

If we love God – here is one of those words – 

Romans 8/28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things working together for good – doesn’t exactly seem like a solution to a given, specific problem situation you may find yourself in. And it calls for a lot within – to cling to such words.

But it is a promise.

First condition – love and trust God, whilst second – persevering with the ‘rock saying’ til the light dawns.

What else or who else can be trusted implicitly? The only thing on earth that doesn’t lie is God’s word.

But it isn’t a press button solution. Instead of going through options about what to do. Let the option of God’s Word go through you.

Even if the circumstance doesn’t change – you will, by clinging to this word of God, have a rock to stand on, keeping you from slipping further into despondency.

This word of God provides truth, strength, purity, single-mindedness, and is life-giving. But it must be clung to tenaciously.

Prayer – Lord thank you for this wonderful Word of God. Write it indelibly on my heart and mind.

The Wheat from the Chaff

THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF

The wheat will be sorted from the chaff.

There is coming a day when God will sort out the wheat from the chaff – big style!

But because for many ‘this is pie in the sky bye and bye’ there is no sense of the weightiness of this statement.

They think – 

‘’After all what has changed? Tomorrow I will do this and tomorrow I will do that. God doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother him. Some future judgement – who knows?’’

And so it’s ‘water off a duck’s back’ when someone like me suggests to you that the evil – with participation in the evil remaining unabated, – will some day be judged.

‘Well that’s what you say ‘preacher man’. You are not one of those hell-type people are you?’

Firstly I prefer to be Mr. Logical.

We still have courts and prisons, law enforcement, we mostly are aghast at the crimes being committed, fuelled by greed and corruption. But most folks see the need for punishment regarding the crimes in society – do they not?

And of course ‘most folks’ is not the justification for justice. Justice speaks for itself in a right-minded world. 

Justice and compassion. Stating the obvious – no one can keep the balance in this – better than The Lord Jesus Christ, as He often demonstrated.

So law and order, justice and compassion and forgiveness, acceptable in this present world.

But then to suddenly not get’ punishment for people guilty of gross rebellion against God in the afterlife? For me that defies logic.

We might keep thinking if only they would increase the police force or ban all guns – then suddenly everything would right itself. Ban the guns, ban the bomb, ban racial prejudice, ban political incorrectness, ban drugs, and then see how right everything becomes (?).

Banning all these and things of a similar vein might improve the situation, but it doesn’t cure the ills of society.

We see our world in mental madness. Truth becomes the latest lie and the new definition of lying is when someone else holds another point of view, other than our own.

Presumption without due examination says: “We are right and they are wrong – so they must be liars. (giving us fake news)”

However when we lie – suddenly – there is no such thing as lying?

So Mr. Logical asks: “Do you see any of this?”

Do you see the mess?

When on one of those fair ground helter-skelter ‘contraptions’, nothing stands still – everything becomes a blur of motion, difficult to sort out in our mental comprehensions i.e. where are we going?

There are many analogies we could use to illustrate that ‘it’s a mad mad mad world…’

The average person just gets on with the things at hand. We all must survive. Earn a wage. Keep a house running. Love our kith and kin. Get our fair share of entertainment. Have that holiday once a year. Enjoy culture.

Spiritually speaking? Does it take a lot to move you there? There is so much hypocrisy and self-serving in guilt-ridden religion – right?

So how am I going to sort out the wheat from the chaff in all this?

It begins with an inner need that you and I have. It begins with a long sober look at the world. It begins with self-analysis. It begins with research into the Bible.

It begins with you….

I painted a somewhat unusual triptych painting.

First painting – it depicted someone buried alive – symbolic tears fell, we can imagine how awful that is – to be buried alive.

Next painting – a glimmer of hope as he realised it wasn’t all that deep and the lid of the box began to respond to his pushing up against the covering soil. 

Next painting – liberty – as he crawls out of his underground ‘dungeon’.

Can we apply this to the claustrophobic world of increasingly unbridled immorality – and can it motivate us to crawl out into the arms of The Son of God, as we open ourselves to Him, shedding the dust of sin?

Seeking help through those who already know Him.

There are many who really know Him, who blog on WordPress – talk to someone about getting to know Jesus.

God bless you in your endeavours.

Let’s allow God to sort out the wheat from the chaff in our individual lives.

Matthew 3/12

His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.

II Peter 1/4

By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

…and correction?

…and correction?

Most Christian bloggers like to edify, exhort positively, and comfort us all, in our journey through this fallen world.

I have received from a number of Christian blogs, the encouragement I needed for a certain ‘day in the life’.

It would seem though, that some subject matter is best avoided if your goal is to be popular, when blogging.

However most Christians would agree that we are not called to win popularity competitions, and yet they love the ‘amen’ to their posts, and often (or mostly) it is genuinely given.

They are glad when others are edified, and rightly so. We all need encouragement.

But again I often wonder if anyone wants to address the mess?

Sometimes we need to repent and return to the first works – indeed repentance from ‘dead’ works returning to our first love of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering into a closer walk with Him.

For this to happen we need to be corrected.

The human heart and mind is prone to wander. And sometimes in the midst of our convicted conscience –  the last thing we need is someone laying heavies upon us that point out our faults and failings.

But conversely – does this mean this should never be done? We live in a world where no one wants to listen to correction.

Does that include the Christians? Who are told:

NKJV – Hebrews 12/5 …do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him…

Amplified version – 

My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,

And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him;

Going on to say:

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,…

This is like a foreign language to some Christians, who have been fed on daily bread that is only buttered on one side and coated with sugar.

Having said that – some have suffered dry bread with no butter or sugar!

If you get the analogy – I refer to an unbalanced diet. Too much or too little of one thing. Christians who are ‘unexposed’ to necessary teaching to enable proper spiritual growth.

You see we all need different sustenance. We all need a different word from The Lord, according to our developmental requirements.

God the Father has one priority, like any good father, He wants to raise His children well, and allow them to reflect more perfectly the image of their brother – The Lord Jesus Christ.

We by inheritance are also children of God. There is only one ‘Only Begotten’, but:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

So correction is very much a part of a good wholesome growth plan for a child’s life.

Not some harsh unfair manipulation or provoking of children, through abuse – but a balanced diet of edification, exhortation, and comfort – and correction.

But what about God’s adult children, who are still children in grown-up bodies manifesting self-absorption and injuring others?

This is a big subject I know. And I am not going to do it justice in this short post.

But let’s remember we are meant to grow in grace (thank God it’s grace!) and be changed from glory to glory, as by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who might just tell us from time to time:

 ‘You are wrong’.

I don’t find correction easy to take – do you? Especially if it comes from a source other than God. But that’s where we must step away and examine and discern if it is just our own flesh and self-will that doesn’t like the truth, or if in fact the devil is trying (as we say) ‘to do a number on us’. Usually his condemnation has a tiny reference to something true and a whole deluge of lies. Know the difference.

 

Prayer: Lord help us to hear the still small voice of edification or correction. Amen

 

Falling

FALLING

Unfortunately we hear of prominent and not so prominent Christians falling into sin.

We know of those on the front line, presenting themselves as leaders and wanting to please God in all things, who fall into sin. (usually sexual in nature).

Others who are depending on their leadership, are startled and disappointed and feel betrayed.

When this happens it creates the idea that in leadership, there seems to be no one to trust, no one living  according to God’s right way. There seems to be a dearth of victorious Christian Living, starting with leaders.

However we wrestle not against flesh and blood. And those in the front line are first to stand in the gun sights of the devil.

We must first therefore realise this fact, and cover them with prayer.

No one in leadership is any more ‘impenetrable’ than others. They are human and subject to the same like passions as anyone else.

Things of protocol must be put into place and the need to be covered with answerability to a plural leadership of their fellow eldership – lived out practically.

The wicked have drawn the sword

And have bent their bow,

To cast down the poor and needy,

To slay those who are of upright conduct.

We see from these verses who is in line for the ‘roaring lions’ attention – those of upright conduct. (I Peter 5/8)

Often before they fell they were men or women of upright conduct. We often forget quickly the character they have shown, and the good they have accomplished. The body of Christ (the church) killing their own wounded.

At the same time we must keep before us the standard God’s word clearly spells out. And not slide into moral laxity.

There is one paramount way to keep our hearts from the demands of the prince of the power of the air – and it is by having presence of mind to appropriate continuously what the Grace of God has provided.

Our God in calling us to forgive 70×7 per day – gives us a glimpse into the fact that He too will practice what He preaches. Plenteous in mercy and forgiveness.

He will not respond to pretenders however, who think to laughingly avail themselves of this promise of forgiveness, whilst they carry on sinning, as though it was acceptable to do so.

That’s called hypocrisy.

Grace is a revelation. It is a revelation not just for salvation – but that through the grace of God we can LIVE!

Always availing ourselves of His promises and His strength to maintain our hearts in good condition before Him.

Let’s pray for those who have fallen. And if they were in a position of leadership and injured others in their fall, let’s still allow them into fellowship with forgiving embrace – but only where we find the sincerity of humility and true repentance. Otherwise if they continue in sin, we become guilty of bidding them God’s-speed in their misdemeanours.

This calls for good discernment. The bible warns about wolves in sheep’s clothing:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

We shall (we are told) know them (the sincere men and women of God) by their fruits. The actions they take, the attitude they carry, the character they show, their speech, prayer life, fairness, empathy, and so on.

Prayer:

Lord help us to stand dependant on you alone. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.