More Of The Holy Spirit: A Quote By Simon Ponsonby

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“The Holy Spirit does not want to be a marble statue at the entrance of our souls – he wants to fill every room, he wants to articulate himself, and he wants to distribute all his gifts to and through us. When I pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit,’ or ask for more, I am not thinking of external visitation, but an internal total occupation and expression of the Spirit.” – Simon Ponsonby, More

Strangers In A Foreign Land Of Digital Delights

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I must admit that I’m happy in what author Mark Sayers calls “Non-Places.”(1) These are places where I have access to my digital world of music downloads, podcast, and my favorite T.V. dramas. Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook (even though Facebook can be stressful!) are ways to escape the harsh realities of the real world. Just give me a good book and a coffee shop and I’m content. I like to escape reality and retreat to my comfortable world. While these things can be good in moderation, they can also dry out our souls and distract us from God. The early Christians had to face the stark reality of death daily. The early Church, for the most part, was fearless. While I’m in no hurry to die and leave all my comforts – they lived like pilgrims, just passing through.

The  Church Father John Chrysostom said; “We are strangers and sojourners. Let us not grieve over  any of the world’s painful things. For if you come from a renowned country and from illustrious ancestors, and find yourself in a distant land, known to no one, having neither servants nor wealth, and then someone insults you, would you grieve as though these things had taken place at home? The knowledge that you were in a strange and foreign land would persuade you to bear all easily, and to despise hunger, thirst, and any suffering. So consider that you are a stranger and a pilgrim, and do not let anything bother you in foreign territory. You have a city whose builder and creator is God, and the journey is but for a short and little time. Let whoever wishes strike, insult, revile. We are in foreign territory, and live there in difficulty.“(2)

So instead of losing ourselves in this digital utopia we have created – maybe we need to let go of it – just a little. It might be a good idea to consider ourselves as foreigners in a strange land. And just maybe seek God for a heavenly and eternal perspective on life.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” – Philippians 3:20 (NKJV)

(1) I recommend Mark Sayers book, Strange Days: Life In The Spirit In A Time Of Upheaval .

(2.) Learning Theology With The Church Fathers, Christopher A. Hall, page 198.

Politics And The Fear Of God

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“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – (Proverbs 9:10) ESV

Many evangelicals in America have never had a significant encounter with the Holy Spirit. Some of us seem to be content with accepting Jesus as Savior and avoiding hell, without a real emphasis on spiritual  growth. I’m not saying that most Christian’s in the United States are not genuine believers. But, that we have embraced a form of godliness while neglecting the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. This has contributed to a carnal version of Christianity in our Country.

The removal of the supernatural element of our faith has produced many shallow and materialistic believers. And we have come to trust in and pursue political power over spiritual power.

“The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – (Proverbs 29:25) ESV

We need to stop fearing the political left and rediscover the fear of the Lord. It’s not that we are to be afraid of God – but we must rediscover our awe and respect for him. We need to regain our  trust and confidence in His sovereignty.  I’m convinced there is no political solution to be found over this nations’ political divide. Christians must return to the spiritual roots of early Christianity,  when believers joyfully served God in a hostile culture.

Sadly, some evangelicals in America are more influenced by a political spirit than by the Holy Spirit. Our nation may never return to the way that many of us would like it to be. But, if we embrace the Kingdom of God (God’s rule) – we can walk in peace amid the political chaos of our day.

Remember the Kingdom of God is within us. And we take King Jesus wherever we go. Peace.

The Spiritual Nature Of Political Chaos

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” For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

We are living in very dark times in America today. Political division is causing great anxiety in this country. Many in the evangelical community have lost sight of the spiritual nature of this battle. Social media and the news media has been weaponized and used to divide our nation.

We are now deeply entrenched in a political civil war that is the result of  cultural chaos. We could blame the Russians, the Chinese or middle eastern countries that hate us. While there are forces outside this country that want to bring us down; our biggest enemy is us.

We’ve allowed spiritual darkness into our Churches and our culture. In fact there is very little difference in the lifestyle choices of those of us who claim to follow Jesus and those who don’t.  I could give multiple examples of this, but I won’t in this post.

The fact of the matter is we live in a materialistic culture that understands very little about supernatural cosmic beings. And the consequences of opening spiritual doors through rebellion to God’s revealed truth and authority. This has given dark powers greater access to the very soul of our nation.

Quite simply, much of the cultural and political chaos we are now experiencing is the result of a anti-supernatural worldview in the American church. Many of us have been more focused on the political landscape than what is going on in the spiritual realm.

A return to prayer is desperately needed. And following Jesus’ example of blessing and serving those who hate us. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics. But that we need to understand the ‘powers’ behind political ideologies on the right and the left. As followers of Jesus we must come to terms with what the Apostle Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood..”

Getting Cranked Up: Morning Prayer

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“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” – (Psalm 5:3 NIV)

I get up early in the morning five days a week for work. And, honestly, my first thought is often more about coffee than God! But, I do grab my Bible and journals as I make my way to my first cup. I have to be at work early so I have very little time to waste.

As I was reflecting on morning prayer recently – I came to this conclusion; that my experience in morning prayer is much like trying to crank up an old car. Sometimes I feel like just when I’m getting ‘cranked up’ – its time to leave and go to work. Other times, I enter into prayer easily and quickly. But, the key to prayer is; consistency, and endurance, even when we feel nothing.

The men and women of God in the past and the present that I admire most, are people who value prayer. Effective prayer warriors have this in common; their prayers are saturated with Scriptures. Praying God-breathed words will transform our vocabulary and our thinking. And, it helps us to pray the will of God more effectively.

It’s vitally important to study the prayer life of Paul and to follow his example in prayer. He prayed for the spiritual transformation (which is on-going) of the Church. His prayers were positive and not focused on the negative. It’s understandable for us to pray against evil, because it is all around us. And Jesus (who is the chief Apostle and High Priest of our faith) taught us to pray for deliverance from evil.  The Apostle Paul taught us about the nature of our adversary and how to stand in the power of God against evil.

Below are a few prayers from the book of Ephesians that I pray for myself and others on a regular basis.

Ephesians 1

Heavenly Father, I ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know Jesus better.

I ask that you would enlighten the eyes of ____heart. So that they may know your glorious inheritance and great power that you’ve made available to your children.

Ephesians 3

Heavenly Father, strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being. Help me to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. And fill me with all the fulness of God. Amen

Praying Scripture: The Lord’s Prayer

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In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  – (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJ)

“Six brief, single-sentence petitions compose this prayer. Each verb is an imperative, a call for action. Prayer is not passive. Prayer is not resignation. God is active. As Jesus prays he enters the action of God. As he prays with us, he implicitly invites us into the action. As we pray with him we volunteer ourselves into the action.” (1)

The most effective way to learn how to pray is found in the Bible. Many of us struggle in our prayer lives because we’re not familiar with the language of prayer. To develop a good vocabulary for prayer, we first need to examine the prayers of Jesus.

Historically, the Christian Church has prayed the Psalms, the prayers of Jesus, and of his Apostles. Scripture provides fuel for the fire we need in our inner being, and it’s effective in both corporate and personal prayer times.

Jesus is our High priest and gives us his model prayer as an example of how to pray in God’s will. When we pray what some call “the Lord’s Prayer,” there is a sense in which we are praying with him.

It’s one of the few biblical prayers that most people in the history of the Christian Church, and today, know by heart. But often we take this powerful prayer that Jesus taught his disciples for granted. We’ve become so over-familiar with it, that we often repeat it without comprehending its’ power.

We need the revelatory work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to reveal to us the power that is released as we pray, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Through this prayer, Jesus is inviting us into action, as we ask for God to be glorified and the advancement of his Kingdom.

This is also a prayer for our daily needs to be met, the forgiveness of sins, and protection from evil.

So, we need to pray it every day.

(1) Eugene H. Peterson. Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers (Kindle Locations 1903-1905). Kindle Edition.

Practicing Ressurection: Eugene Peterson

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“Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Eugene Peterson’s Five “Conversations” in Spiritual Theology)” by Eugene H. Peterson –

“Following Jesus’ resurrection, his followers had forty days to be present with him and listen to his voice, listen to him “speaking about the kingdom of God.” They needed every single day they had with him in order to thoroughly assimilate the here-and-now, flesh-and-blood, body-and-soul, on-the-ground details and implications of resurrection, not only for Jesus but for themselves – resurrection not only as a promise of life beyond death but as a presence now. Hallucinations can’t be maintained for forty days. Dreams don’t last forty days. Religious hysteria cannot be sustained for forty days. Those forty days grounded Jesus’ resurrection as a life to be lived on streets, in homes, with families and neighbors – a life they, his followers, will live. And not as a private “spiritual” experience, but historically in the company of all of Jesus’ followers in workplace and politics, in the carnage of war and the quietness of worship.”

Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/5QjRstz

A Prophetic Picture

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“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” – Jesus (Revelation 2:4 NASB)

‘I gave her (Jezebel) time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.” – Jesus (Revelation 2:21 NASB)

The old Church pictured above is where the Church in America is headed if we don’t return to our first love. This is a physical picture of  a spiritual reality. A picture of the damage done by allowing spiritual apathy to invade the Church.

Without spiritual renewal the visible Church will become overrun with weeds and deteriorate beyond recognition. Many have become numb upon hearing of the fall of mega-church pastors and the sins of so many Catholic priests.

God is exposing those demonic things that have been hidden in the darkness. And He’s doing this so that we would cry out for mercy, turn from our sins, and receive forgiveness. God even gave Jezebel time to repent. (Revelation 2:21)

But the hour is late and Jesus is calling his Church to return to our first love. We are called to walk with Jesus and allow him to teach us as he opens the Word of life to us. Our hearts need to burn like the disciples who walked with Him on the Emmaus road. (Luke 24:32)

It’s time to give up on Church growth techniques that have no transformational power to change us. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and following him will restore our souls. We must simply accept the call to follow Him again.

Spiritual Barrenness

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“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  – Isaiah 40:29 ESV

 

Some of you who may be reading this post are going through a season of spiritual barrenness. All of us feel a distance between God and ourselves from time to time. I’ve been recovering from shoulder surgery over the past four months. And, during this time I’ve been limited to what I’m able to do, physically. Also, most of my recovery time has taken place during the winter months.

The lack of physical activity in our lives often causes depression. The same is true when we don’t feel like we are engaging spiritually with God. This is called spiritual depression. God gave us the four seasons in nature as a gift so that the earth can flourish. God deals with his children in much the same way.

During those times when we don’t feel God’s nearness, we often discover how much we’ve actually matured in our faith. When we find ourselves in the mist of a spiritually dry season, we need to seek God daily out of obedience. We need to remind ourselves that our spiritual journey is a marathon, not a forty-yard dash.  And we must consistently sink our roots deeper into God’s word, until we can once again discern his presence.

My Doctor prescribed exercises so that I could regain my strength, and to recover from the effects of surgery. God likewise has prescribed Biblical meditation and prayer to sustain us during seasons of spiritual barrenness. There is a sense in which God does surgery on our souls. He wants to heal our broken-ness but we must first acknowledge our need.

What seems dead and barren in the winter months will ultimately (like springtime) turn into renewed life. We must keep approaching God daily until our season of barrenness ends. While our outer bodies will eventually waste away, our inner persons’ spiritual growth is unlimited. God is calling his people to remain faithful during hard times and to not lose hope.