Faith Builders

It's Time for Joel's Perspective: Promises Fulfilled

Our cities (and our personal lives) may seem like those in Canaan, surrounded by walls that reach up to heaven -- walled in by unbelief. But -- let's not forget -- the walls of Jericho fell. The walls of unbelief are beginning to crumble. What is long overdue is the shout of the people of God.

I grew up near the mouth of the river Elbe in North Germany where I used to see huge flat-bottom river barges set fast in the mud banks. No tug or marine engine could shift them. But the tide quietly rippled in, hardly perceptible, creeping higher and higher up the sides of those immovable hulks. Soon those hundreds of tons were floating. From the quay I could move them with the slightest kick.

Our Perceptions Govern Our Lives

"It is all about how you look at things." Ever hear that expression? We're often advised to think positively, to believe in ourselves and to have faith in God. All of these things speak to our perspective on any life issue. All of these pieces of advice can feel like they're easier to say than be lived, right?

When I was a little girl, living on the farm, come late summer and early autumn, our farmstead was besieged with grasshoppers. I tell you, it was a tiny snapshot of what any locust plague must have looked like. It was hard to walk anywhere without there being a grasshopper right there, almost crunched by my foot.

Seeking Christ Crucified

"Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus which was crucified." Matthew 28:5


THIS was the address of an angel to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, that had come to see the sepulcher before break of day They were last at the Cross, and first at the tomb. Favors are given sovereignly by the Lord, but honor is conferred according to a rule; and the rule is this: "Them that honor me, I will honor." These women were informed of his resurrection before the apostles; the apostles received the intelligence from them, but they received it from an angel.

At first these pious visitants were afraid. And what wonder when we consider that they were females; that all their sensibilities were alive; that they were in another's garden; that they were alone; that the earth was reeling under them; that the guards were fleeing, and perhaps shrieking; that it was early in the morning, and the remaining darkness rendered more visible and awful the divine messenger sitting at the door of the tomb -- his countenance as lightning, and his raiment white as snow!

Taking it to the Briar Patch

For those who don't know the Disney's story "Song of The South" a character named Brer Rabbit, who after being captured by old Brer Fox and bear, began to plead with them "...you can do anything to me, but please don't throw me in the Briar Patch!"

When these two old fools heard his pleads for mercy they threw him into the briar patch, it was then that old Brer Rabbit begin to chant, "BORN AND BRED IN THE BRIAR PATCH!"

The point was he used strategy to out think them. They thought they were hurting him, when in actuality they were hurling him into a safe and profitable place.

When Our Beliefs are Called into Question

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Disciplines

Speaking from experience, Philip Yancey writes, "For nearly everyone, doubt follows pain quickly and surely, like a reflex action. Suffering calls our most basic beliefs about God into question." Suffering often causes us to doubt, to question our beliefs, to wrestle with everything we ever thought we knew about God: about who He is, about what He is up to, about the very nature of His heart. All these doubts and questions can be fertile ground for spiritual growth. Go ahead and out, question, wrestle – just be sure to use this time and out to seek to know him desperately. He will keep your heart open to God so that you can hear the answers to those questions.

How do we keep our hearts open? How do we grow closer to God in our trials, instead of crashing down into bitterness and despair? That is where the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines come in.

The Physical Disciplines

Taking care of our bodies

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

It's the Waiting in Recovery

Recently, I chatted with a young girl I've been mentoring. She's currently in an eating disorder treatment facility- and fighting her treatment. She has flat out refused to eat, drink or take any medication. She's been closely monitored, mainly due to a recent episode in which she swallowed glass.

Yes, you heard me right; she swallowed glass.

I asked her what brought this on and she responded she wanted to feel pain and she was tired of waiting for her recovery. I don't think it has sunken in that recovery is very much a process, not an instant cure.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

As We Understood Him - Taking Step 3

In our 3rd step "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

One very interesting fact of this step is that the amount or degree of our lives and will, we are able to turn over to God, will be determined by the amount or degree of our understanding of Him.

Many of our brothers and sisters came into the program as Atheists or Agnostics. In the 4th chapter of the Big Book of A.A, titled "We Agnostics" we read the following "Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn't it? We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion."

Uncondemned

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1


My immediate reaction when I read this verse is, Hallelujah!!! If there's any reason for the children of God to praise the Lord - and there are many reasons piled on top of each other - this must be it. If we were to list our blessings, as the old hymn exhorts us to do, surely the first in line would be the fact that if we're in Christ Jesus, we are uncondemned.

Only those who understand our state outside of Christ can truly grasp what that simple phrase - no condemnation - means. Anyone who lacks a clear vision of human depravity simply doesn't have the background to understand the fundamental importance of this verse. We must first understand, in the words of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, that:

God Fights for His People

There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Joshua 10:14


We don't have to attack and subdue physical cities - which in any care aren't walled today, military technology having changed since Joshua's day. Paul said that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" 2 Cor. 10:4, and that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Eph. 6:12 We fight, we struggle, but not against physical enemies. Even when the church faces persecution from human beings, with very real guns, very real prisons, very real torturers, and very real executioners, the very real struggle isn't against those tools of Satan, but against the spiritual wickedness which impels men to act so barbarically.

And we're not in the fight alone. There may be no armed and armored armies beside us, and there may be no massive forces to back us up, but we're not alone. On the contrary, the Lord fights for us.

Simple and Pure Devotion = Nurture

Were you nurtured? Are you presently embracing nurture? Are you a nurturer? Let's define nurture...

    ...to support by way of encouragement, (as one does for another during a period of training or development) ensuring its success

    ...to coach what is the fore seen in another (as with destiny, potential and promising giftedness), calling it forth to completion

    ...to feed or protect one's offspring (as a parent does for a child) until empowered to care for oneself and another


Who among us doesn't need nurture? Who among us doesn't fit somewhere; at any given time, in one of these definitions? Who among us has made it to maturity (in any given area of life) apart from the "nurture" of spiritual parents, mentors and/or friends? Wow! I am blessed with all three!

As the scripture says; The end of all things is near; therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-8, NIV emphasis mine. These difficult "end" times call for the Body of Christ to cover each other-not expose or exploit one another's weaknesses.

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