Progressing Downward

A couple weeks ago I talked about Reader’s Digest Christianity, and how it reduced the Christian faith to pithy, easily-achievable goals that ensure our personal improvement. Here, I have a different (though depressingly similar) target: “LiveStrong” Christianity. LiveStrong bracelets are today even more popular than the infamous WWJD bracelets were 10 years ago, despite the public fall from grace of their namesake, Lance Armstrong.

In the minds of many people inside the church, “Livestrong” is the essence and goal of Christianity. You hear this obsession in our lingo: We talk about someone having “strong faith,” about someone being a “strong Christian,” a “prayer warrior,” or a “mighty man/woman of God.”  We want to believe that we can do it all, handle it all. We desperately want to think that we are competent and capable— we’ve concluded that our life and our witness depend on our strength. No one wants to declare deficiency. We even turn the commands that seem to have nothing to do with strength (“Blessed are the meek” or “Turn the other cheek”) into opportunities to showcase our spiritual might. I saw a church billboard the other day that said, “Think being meek is weak? Try being meek for a week!”

We like our Christianity to be muscular, triumphant. We’ve come to believe that the Christian life is a progression from weakness to strength—“Started from the bottom, now we’re here” (Drake) seems to be the victory chant of modern Christianity. We are all by nature, in the terminology of Martin Luther, theologians of glory—not God’s glory, but our own.

But is the progression from weakness to strength the pattern we see throughout the Bible? Continue reading

How to Try the Spirits

by A.W.Tozer (Man – The Dwelling Place of God)

THESE ARE THE TIMES that try men’s souls. The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.

Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God’s best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness. Continue reading

SUKKOT 2013

SUKKOT - Feast of TabernaclesSUKKOT 2013 (by Terri Geisel)

Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) begins tonight at sundown. Also called “Festival of the Ingathering” (harvest), it is the 7th feast and is celebrated for 8 days; men make huts or tents and dwell in these during the festival, memorializing the Israelites freedom from the Egyptians when they dwelled in tents in the wilderness with their God, YHVH. (Tabernacle means “mishkan” – “to dwell” or “reside” in Hebrew).

In the New Testament we find John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh (Jesus Christ) & dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we have seen His Glory, Glory as of the only Son from the Father (YHVH), full of grace and truth.” We also know from the gospels that Jesus celebrated Feast of Tabernacles.

Our Lord will once again tabernacle or dwell among men when, after the Great Tribulation (soon to hit the earth according to all the signs), Jesus Christ will descend on clouds of Glory and reign for 1000 years (during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) ~ Praise God! Let’s celebrate the good news that our Living God wants to not only associate with us, His Children, but DWELL among us, and IN us! Hallelujah!

(Discover Terri’s music ministry on her website Soaking In His Presence)

Arts and the journey to wholeness

Healing is a strong dimension of my experience with music and the Arts. Arts are a canvas for the soul, where emotions, ideas and inspirations can be projected, even randomly, meditated upon and often somehow deciphered, at least by some part of us, as dots are connected.

Where artistic exploration joins with a personal journey of discovery of our hidden selves, Arts reveal the human soul and its experience of life. This website is here for all to draw from. It represents a sum of ideas and thoughts, artistic works, experiences about life and creativity, as well as a number of creative works I (and my wife Kimberly) have done so far: music, writing and graphics.

Past events are still with us today as they contributed to form who we are. They have given us insight, strength, wisdom, love, self-esteem, a sense of identity, etc. However, certain traumatic events have overloaded our emotional tank and most of those have been stored in regions of our being and seem all but forgotten. As we continue living, there is a constant flow of energy diverted toward that pocket of stored emotions to keep it from coming to the surface and overwhelm us again. Rather, what worked then, is put to work every time this memory surfaces: shock, agony, anger, bitterness, rage, hate, unforgiveness, etc. These are often expressed through addictions, self-destructive behavior, toxic relationships, physical sicknesses and health conditions, depression, lack of boundaries, manipulation and control, criminal activities, etc.

Then one day, out of the blue, someone says or does something and we catch ourselves in the act of having again the same inner dialogue. Only this time, it is more than rambling, it is revealing, as we speak we become aware of something very wrong with us. We can become acquainted, according to life’s seasons, with these fragments of our selves that are not integrated, but are lingering at different points of interruption. This systemic denial is a defense mechanism that should have been temporary. But a great number of sicknesses and health conditions can be directly related to past unhealed traumas. Unhealed because our response to them was interrupted, because we had probably had more questions than answers, more pain than we could endure, and surviving the moment was everything. Revisiting these can be a major key in opening the door for healing of our body and soul.

Continue reading

The sacred blessing of creativity

There is enough noise around us in our cities and our media, as well as visual stimuli and chaotic soundscapes that invade our homes and workplaces. And anywhere we go there is a radio station playing music and there’s no way to shut it off… too many voices speaking out to us, uninvited, arrogant and boastful, mechanically enticing us with words and images. They vie for our attention, our devotion, our time and resources.

Because Arts call forth that which is most alive in us, the natural and the spiritual, connecting us to the essence of who we are, and because it bypasses any barrier and touches the very skin of our souls, arts are used by the powers of this world to try and inlfuence, even shape the masses in a way that is predictable and yeld a world that will function in the way they want it to. If they could. And so artists are the ones hired to create the marketing tools of what we now culturally refer to as “the Matrix.” While our culture is a testimony to the mind-boggling talents we are blessed with, it is also a landscape wherein the heart and soul of most of the work we are exposed to is designed to illicite a response from our heart that will make us reach for out wallet and assent.

I would argue that this is basically violating an unspoken oath that artists should be aware of, if they would but turn their heads away form the voices that keep enticing them to serve a system that is heartless, cold and calculating. The sheer power and the edge inherent to art and artistic ability calls the artist to a level of accountability: “Not only do we have gifts, we are also a gift to our people.” There should be integrity…

Continue reading

How to Pray Life Against Death

by John Eldredge

Friends, a few days ago I posted a blog on the Newtown massacre. Crucial as that alert is, this is even more important than that one. I need to help you pray a shield of Life around your households.

About a month ago I experienced a very strong spiritual attack. It was quite dark, and took serious prayer to break off. It was, in fact, a spirit of death. As I prayed against it I sensed that it was not something specifically against me, but rather, it was a death attack that had been released upon the earth. I soon discovered that at the same time I was battling, a number of our friends were slammed with something similar, though they might not have identified it with death. It came as a malaise, a crushing, physical affliction, various “fruits” but the same spirit. God began to reveal even more; I just found out this week that during this same time period my son was praying for students at his school battling with suicidal thoughts, or even attempted suicide. Then came the massacre at Newtown, CT. That same week there was a shooting in an Oregon mall. Our dentist was killed with his father in a small plane accident. At this same time the nephew of a dear friend overdosed. All within hours of each other. The stories go on.

I hope this information begins to fill in a picture for you. Not fear, but awareness. As Paul said, “For we are not unaware of [Satan’s] schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).

I want to encourage and equip you to be praying Life over your households. Some sort of death assignment and/or spirit has been released, and we need to bring the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ against it. We have a prayer here on our website we call the Life Prayer.  It is the perfect tool for this moment. You can find it here.

Please share this post, pass it on to your circles and email lists so that we can get folks protected, and get the saints united in praying Life. If you read my post on Newtown, this is Part II—this is how we unite to bring Life at this very moment. This is the far more important part.

United with you for Life,

John

Before you pray, wait

Before you pray, bow quietly before God, just to remember and realize who He is, how near He is, how certainly He can and will help. Just be still before Him, and allow His Holy Spirit to waken and stir up in your soul the child-like disposition of absolute dependence and confident expectation. Wait upon God as a Living Being, as the Living God, who notices you, and is just longing to fill you with His salvation. Wait on God till you know you have met Him; prayer will then become so different.

And when you are praying, let there be intervals of silence, reverent stillness of soul, in which you yield yourself to God, in case He may have aught He wishes to teach you or to work in you. Waiting on Him will become the most blessed part of prayer, and the blessing thus obtained will be doubly precious as the fruit or such fellowship with the Holy One, God has so ordained it, in harmony with His holy nature, and with ours, that waiting on Him should be the honor we give Him. Let us bring Him the service gladly and truthfully; He will reward it abundantly.

— Andrew Murray – Waiting on God