Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moving Forward



I’m following the on going series my friend Art is writing and I wanted to post these two portions that spoke to my heart as I continue to move forward in experiencing His overall unconditional love.

Rich

Is Confession of Sins Necessary in the Ongoing Life of the Christian?

As noted in Part 7, the believer’s confession of sins occurring after salvation is not necessary for forgiveness of sins under Paul’s “gift of the grace of God” (Eph 3:7). This is because ALL sin was forgiven at the moment of salvation – past sins, present sin, and future sins; thus, we were accepted in Christ. The requirement for Christians to practice confession of sins for forgiveness is a false doctrine, as if to say a believer “can fall out of grace”; with the result that one minute you’re saved by grace, and then next you’re not. The grace of God’s forgiveness of our sins is freely given and unconditional, covering ALL our sins for all time.

However, there are a few cases that require our confession of sin(s), but not for forgiveness; rather it is that we might come to “the light” of a restored union and fellowship with the Lord, as well as with those around us. These are serious matters of understanding because they affect our daily walk, not to mention the sanity of our mind.

1) There is a place of confession that is not confession to gain forgiveness of sins. It is confession to God concerning sin toward another, such as forgiveness that we may hold against another. Such an acknowledgment before God releases us from the burden of sin.

2) There’s also a place of confession before another believer that is admission guilt before God for past sin. Such an admission releases us from the choking burden of past sin that we may have long cloaked in the darkness of our hidden self-life for many years. We’ve perhaps been locked into a jail of our own making by some sin(s) that we may think of as unforgivable. Sin makes us fear exposure. Sin wants each of us alone. Sin wants to draw me into myself, and away from God and others. The more isolated I am the more control the Sin nature can have over me. Sin seeks the shadows. Sin holds me in the dark, robbing me of complete fellowship with God and others. Others may sense the wall that keeps me from being genuine with them.

Under such darkness, we are easy prey for the accusations of the Devil, whose goal is to literally destroy us. Though the Devil cannot touch God, he tries to destroy God’s image in us.

Jesus said believers are to be lovers of the light. Jn 12:36 While ye have light, believe (pisteuo, trust in, cling to, and rely upon) in the light, that ye may be the children of light… We have these words from the Apostle James to point us to the remedy. James 5:16 Confess (exomologeo, acknowledge, admit) your faults (paratomah, side slips) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed (iaomai, cured, made whole). The effectual fervent prayer (deesis, petition) of a righteous man availeth much.

Sin toward others brings pain to our own self. Bringing our hidden life into the light of God is not so we may gain forgiveness, but to heal us of sin’s pain. We may be a Christian who is forgiven of ALL sins, and yet be self-condemned due to our supposed unforgivable sin. We may think we were not lovable, not loved of God or by those who we think should love us – all because we don’t accept our self; so we can’t and don’t accept God’s forgiveness.

The problem is our view of our self because we’ve not accepted God’s forgiveness. Since we don’t believe we are forgiven by God, the pain of this is self-inflicted; it’s due to our own forgiveness of ourselves for some sin(s) in our past. The fact is God has long ago forgiven us of ALL our sins, but we have held ourselves as reprehensible.

We are locked into what is a hopeless and helpless condition unless God intervenes. This condition must be brought into the light; therefore God our Father may force the real us to become exposed to our self and/or to others…that we might be healed.

How does the Lord expose us to the light?

The pain rooted in our unacceptance of our self may manifest itself in mental instability and/or physical illness. This may be the end of the road approaching, since our sickness may do for us what we could not do for ourselves, forcing us to be exposed. God does this because He loves us and wants us free of the power of our supposed unforgivable sin(s). The answer is for our self to become exposed, brought under the curative power of the divine radium of God’s light, where it may be confirmed that we are totally forgiven and loved of God, standing blameless before Him in His love.

In the next installment, Part 8B, I will offer my personal testimony of God’s forced exposure of His light upon my needy soul.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Guard Your Heart


I think Jesus once said, ‘Guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life.’

I am thankful and grateful that I have a heavenly Father that continues to make known His compassionate and loving heart toward me that I might show the same love to all.

Religion, any religion has defined defilement basically on outward stuff, do’s and don’ts, but as Jesus said, true defilement is not what goes into a man, but what proceeds from within.

In learning what it encompasses to BE loved and to live loved by the God and Father of love is a living freedom beyond measure, but, this freedom will never be a license for me to act unloving toward anyone else, ever. This inevitably spells impossibility in our own strength, but all things are possible with God!
Regarding this freedom in Christ my heart reflects upon the beauty, wisdom and sobriety of these words from Paul, ‘It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?

One of the liberating traits of His unconditional love is it frees us from the oppressiveness of sin and its torturous assaults.

I found this quote from Kathleen Norris’s book Amazing Grace unpleasantly sobering.
“But oppression is a slippery thing, and labeling a tricky business: the twentieth century has given us plenty of evidence to suggest that the quicker we are to accuse others of oppression, the more we risk becoming oppressors ourselves. The past hundred years has forced us to look straight into the murderous heart of oppression, alerting us to its presence in our most cherished ideals. Over and over, we have seen patriotism turn into fascism, liberation movements solidify into totalitarian regimes, struggles for religious freedom translate into intolerance of the faith of others.”

Father I want to learn what it means to know no person after the flesh, but to receive every person as Christ.

Rich

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Motive and Intent



The intent and focus of our Father's heart and affections are addressed toward our need, and that need above all and everything else is to KNOW-EXPERIENCE His love, that is what we were recreated for.
To this end He ever works. His focus is pure, it is focused without any distractions. Its not our fears, our sense of shame or anything else that detour's Him from ever moving forward in this divine romance, wooing our cold lost hearts into the security and warmth of His forever loving heart.

His gaze is intense, it looks far past my faults/sins and sees my need, and that need is to KNOW some of the depth and intensity of His jealous love 4-me!!
This is the only thing that matters, coming to see that even my ability to respond to all and anything related to His love for me is but His grace actively working in me.

I am seeing ever more clearly that without Papa and His love for me, my life will be defined by something, I was created to be complete in having worth, value, significance, but that will only be possible as a result of experiencing His pure intense jealous love for me.
There are no vacuums, without knowing, experiencing daily His love, I will be either conformed to this worlds currency, performance based living, or I will be transformed into His likeness and image, and that option is totally possible only because of BEING Loved.

Rich

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Impoverished but Enriched

The increased knowledge of the grace and love of the Father at least for me is spelling an intensified awareness of a noticeable limp. You know much like Jacob of old encountered in his wrestling match with an angle.
In the process of this struggle Jacob is adamant; I will not let you go until you
bless me.
The blessing was all about a change of identity, removing his past, formerly known as Jacob, and bringing him into the present, now to be known as Israel!

Here’s the kicker, this transformational wrestling match of identity marked him for the rest of his days in his body, he walked with a limp!

For sure you say that you are craving to see Him in an even greater clarity, why not, go ahead, heck just think of the wonder of it all.
Remember Paul and those out of the body heavenly God encounters, things he saw and heard that he wasn’t permitted to share with anyone, oh, and don’t forget about this, as a result of those close encounters of the most holy kind, his receiving of a most wonderful gift~a messenger of Satan to buffet him lest he become a pontificating peacock.
Interesting how a deepened insight into His love and grace not only frees us, but enslaves us as well.

A question for you, what the heck good is it in being permitted to have these glorious spectacular encounters with the Father, and you can’t say a word (brag about it) about it to anyone?

Rich




Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Status Quo Turbulence


Morpheus: The pill you took is part of a trace program. It's designed to disrupt your input/output carrier signal so we can pinpoint your location.
Neo: What does that mean?
Cypher: It means fasten your seat belt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye.’
Have I ever mentioned that I love the movie, The Matrix~ha!

Luke 1:52-53 these words echo the song of Hannah in First Samuel, as well as the anguish of the prophets. They are a poetic rendering of a theme that pervades the entire narrative---when God comes into our midst; it is to upset the status quo.

Rich

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's a Darn Shame


Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

It’s pithy how such little words as ‘in’ can have such a powerful momentum/impetus. Kind of like my classic illustration of, ‘Even a blind man can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of orchards in a single seed.’

Because there are NO vacuums, if we are not deriving our true identity based completely upon the love of God the Father, then we are going to establish it another way, interesting when you consider that He is the only Way…hmmm?

From the fall of man there has been an indelible stain that his sin has permeated him with, and that is shame. Sin and its fruit sins, are specifics things we have done, but shame, well this is a twisted monster for sure. It has manifested itself in blatant overt ways, and in just as hideous covert ways. Shame is that which has defined all of man kind, and the only hope for man is pointing to that illuminating word ‘IN’ Christ!

None of us know what real love is until it is experienced in a face to face encounter with the God that IS Love, and even then it can take a very long time as the soul is being transformed, weaned from its strangle hold on us, hidden yet within us the under current of sin still trying to dictate-define who we still are, no matter what we say we believe God has said/done.

I am experiencing along with so many others, the slow day in day out transformational workings of the grace and love of this Father who has promised to finish in my life what He alone started.There is NO healthiness or well being outside of His love and its power freeing us from the vicious lies that keep multitudes endlessly trapped in the unnecessary cycle of either seeing themselves as unfit, unworthy, or, ‘hey, look at me I’m mister wonderful.’
If we have (in the natural) come from ‘poor stock-pedigree’ we are always trying to cover up our shame, but those who see themselves coming from ‘good stock-pedigree’ do not as easily recognize their hidden shame. Funny thing is all stock according to the flesh, good and bad has had a collision course encounter at the cross in the person of Gods son Jesus Christ.

The wonder of His love is invading so many hearts and lives and with it bringing in a living message of hope and freedom. In experiencing His love, we are learning to NO longer define our worth, value or significance based on our color of skin, our education, our sex, our financial status, the neighborhood, the car we drive or don’t drive, having friends or no friends, go to church or outside the church, etc!

Rich

Friday, May 02, 2008

Confounded by the Mystery of Grace


Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can't begin to compete with God's "weakness." Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God."

I haven’t really delved into many books in a long time, as I do most of my reading on line, but having discovered Kathleen Norris’s books thanks to Jim over at,
Lord, I believe; Help My Unbelief! I am feasting on sheer ecstasy. This book, Amazing Grace; A Vocabulary Of Faith is almost magical with such wonder filling each page, sometimes to the extent I have to close the book and shut my eyes and just reflect, soak it in, but more often than not I feel like I’m being impaled, rendered helpless with mere words.The abiding under current of humility and profound but simple wisdom and insight in each chapter is enthralling.

The unfolding mystery of grace is most confounding, especially to us humans who have been so deeply discolored within with the stark and haughty insignia of smugness.It seems to be an often repeated event in our lives whereby the Lord seems to deliberately offend the mind, in order to reveal our heart condition, not to shame us, but to expose, make known to us our desperate need for the only one who can heal and make whole our devastated hearts.The following is such a picture, as a matter of fact the content of this quote is something my wife and I were discussing just last week, only this brought so much more insight and clarity with what I tried to think out loud.

“We all need to be told that God loves us, and the mystery of the Annunciation reveals an aspect of that love. But it also suggests that our response to this love is critical. A few verses before the angel appears to Mary in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, another annunciation occurs; an angel announces to an old man, Zachariah, that his equally aged wife is to bear a son who will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” The couple are to name him John; he is known to us as John the Baptist. Zechariah says to the angel, “How will I know this is so?” which is a radically different response from the one Mary makes. She says, “How can this be?”

I interpret this to mean that while Zechariah is seeking knowledge and information, Mary contents herself with wisdom, with pondering a state of being. God’s response to Zechariah is to strike him dumb during the entire term of his son’s gestation, giving him a pregnancy of his own. He does not speak again until after the child is born, and he has written on a tablet what the angel has said to him: “His name is John.” This confounds his relatives, who had expected that the child would be named after his father. I read Zachariah’s punishment as a grace, in that he could not say anything to further compound his initial arrogance when confronted with mystery.When he speaks again, it is to praise God; he’s had nine months to think it over.

Mary’s “How can this be?” is a simpler response than Zachariah’s, and also more profound. She does not lose her voice but finds it. Like any of the prophets, she asserts herself before God, saying, “Here am I.”There is no arrogance, however, but only holy fear and wonder. Mary proceeds---as we must do in life---making her commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead.

I treasure the story because it forces me to ask: When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it? Do I ask of it what it can not answer? Shrugging, do I retreat into facile clich├ęs, the popular but false wisdom of what “we all know”? Or am I virgin enough to respond from my deepest, truest self, and say something new, a “yes” that will change me forever?

Amazing Grace!



Rich