Step 11

Peer Pressure & Sin

In Haggai 2:12-19, God drives home a very telling point to the prophet. If we place an unclean thing together with a clean one, the cleanness of the latter will not rub off onto the former. If I rub my dirty and ink-stained hands on a clean towel, the cleanness of the towel will not rub off onto my hands: rather it is dirt that is transferred, and the towel becomes dirty.

By this means the Lord made clear to Haggai and Judah that sin is contagious, but righteousness is not. We are not Christians simply because we belong to a good church, a good family, or a fine community. Moreover, a good profession of faith does not make us holy or godly.

How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?Premium Content

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

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Seizing the Gospel of Grace for YourselfPremium Content

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

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Help My UnbeliefPremium Content

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

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How Can You Help Someone Who Needs You?

How can you help someone who needs you?

A while back I was asked to do a workshop for folks who are working in difficult areas of ministries. Since I’m a wheelchair user, I was supposed to offer a seated perspective of things people have done that have been helpful and some that haven’t.

At the start of a new year I thought the list might be useful. These are some ideas. Hopefully you’ll help me with something I’ve missed.

Show up. I seem to always need help at inconvenient times, and I’m grateful for friends who show up even when they’d rather be somewhere else. There’s a difference between Signing Up And Showing Up.

It’s easy to say, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” It’s hard to ask for help. The real heroes are the folks who show up.

Are You in Passionate Pursuit?

So I got up, went out and roved the city, hunting through streets and down Alleys. I wanted my lover in the worst way! I looked high and low, and didn't find him. And then the night watchmen found me as they patrolled the darkened city. "Have you seen my dear lost love?" I asked. No sooner had I left them than I found Him, found my dear lost love. I threw my arms around Him and held Him tight, wouldn't let Him go until I had Him home again, safe at home beside the fire. Song of Songs 3:2-4, (The Message)

There is always a passionate pursuit in our relationship with Jesus. It begins with Jesus wooing our hearts-without time constraint or performance clauses. It continues by our daily searching and seeking for He who is constantly romancing our heart. The word picture King Solomon portrays in this passage depicts the wholehearted devotion that must accompany authentic relationship with Jesus. Nothing less will do.

The biggest mistake of my life is when I fall away from first-love devotional desire for Jesus. It is the mistake that gives rise to any and all others. Insidious and slowly, it happens almost undetectable over a period of years. I replace my love affair with Jesus with a professional relationship with Him. How does this happen?

What If Christmas Isn’t Merry?


What pops into your mind when you think of Christmas?

Colored lights, tinsel, festive decorations? Familiar music, parties, family gatherings? Joy, the promise of a Savior, God with us?

How about death, loss, and grief? That’s probably not what you expected.

Christmas is a time for glad tidings of great joy, but we also must be sensitive to those for whom the holiday invokes painful memories and highlights difficult circumstances. This isn’t the cheeriest of holiday greetings. I hope you’ll forgive me for reminding us that we’re likely to encounter folks that can’t quite share our holly-jolly spirit.

Are You Living From a Place of Gratitude?

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G. K. Chesterton


Intentional awareness of our countless blessings will always provide fuel for a wildfire of gratitude in our soul! A fitting starting point in our quest for gratitude is to take special note of the Jesus experiences of each day. They will become kindling for that wildfire of thanksgiving. These awesome experiences continually stoke the embers of past experience into the blaze of present blessings and grandeur in Him!

Jesus did not just solve our problems by waving a magic wand from afar. He entered into the middle of the conflict, stepped into the domain of contradiction, entered our hell, faced death itself and from there He conquered. If this doesn't warm your heart and evoke gratitude, it's not likely anything will! As we consciously meditate each day upon the wonder and grandeur of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus our hearts will remain 'strangely warmed'.

Then, as we live from that place of gratitude, we also become enraptured by the moment by moment revelation of Father that Jesus brings. The masses of the world will never be converted by a second rate Christian version of itself. And neither will you or I! They will however, flock to places that give them what nothing else can; a life that won't leave them fatherless and thus thankless.

Looking for God's Answers To Our Prayers

1. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Such longings and prayers are sincere and God loves them and loves to answer them. We do not know ourselves very well, nor the depth or pervasiveness of our sin, nor what it really requires of us in order to receive what we ask for.

2. We can't help but have unreal, romantic imaginations and expectations about what God's answers to our prayers will be. We are often unprepared for the answers we receive from God. They are not what we expect and we often do not see how they correspond to our prayers. Prayer does effect what God does! This is so important for you to grasp! God will do things when we pray that He will not do if we don't pray!

Practicing the Art of ListeningPremium Content

Proverbs 18:13 NRSV
If one gives answer before hearing,
it is folly and shame.


I don't know whether or not I'm a baby boomer, but I do know that I've grown up in the era of psychology. Everything is about learning how to relate to others, learning how to know one's self, figuring out why we are dysfunctional.

One of the psychological "skills" that has been taught a lot is active listening. Wikipedia gives a great definition:

"When interacting, people often are not listening attentively to one another. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next, (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements). Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one's own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening).

It's interesting to me that the Bible was talking about active listening long before we even had psychologists. "If one gives answer before hearing . . ." Even if we hear the sounds that doesn't mean that we are hearing the content. The reality is that if we are thinking about how to respond rather than truly listening, we are focusing (again) on ourselves rather than the other person. We are working on a "defense" for our own position, rather than really caring about how that other person feels (and thinks). We are concerned about protecting ourselves rather than trusting God to protect us.

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