I need to correct myself in this post fear-love-forgiveness.html I wrote: “Jesus’ love is unconditional, but His forgiveness requires belief in Him as the Holy Son of God & spotless lamb of sacrifice for our sins & eternal life in Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
After reflecting upon this Muslim man, Afshin Javier’s amazing conversion testimony of Christ’s forgiveness:
I am reminded that Jesus’ forgiveness comes WITH His love --a gift He’s already given to everyone. To be received, Jesus’ gift (just as all gifts) must be accepted. As a devout man (& member of the Basij), Afshin was faithful in his pursuit of Allah but instead he met Jesus who showed him his unholiness! Jesus told Afshin, “I forgive you” before Afshin even knew the Gospel. Afshin says after his encounter with Christ, he received a Bible written in English, a language he didn’t know, but “the words came alive & I could read & understand”. Afshin knows Jesus as the Living God & Living Waters --a miraculous example of what Matthew tells us: “…when we seek, we will find…” (Matthew 7:7).
Those who do not earnestly seek after God (but instead focus on all the reasons it doesn’t make sense to believe), likely have difficulty accepting the foundations of the Gospel 1). that they need forgiveness & 2). the truth & significance of Jesus’ crucifixion & resurrection. I pray Lord for those who are held in cognitive stronghold against the Gospel that You please release them & reveal Yourself to them in Your infinite wisdom. Open their minds to receive you & their hearts to accept & experience You as our Heavenly Father & Prince of Peace! In Jesus precious name, amen 🙏
There are many ongoing theological debates amongst Christians, one of which I've been looking into lately is: can Christians be possessed by the devil, demons & evil spirits? Jim Osman, in his series, Spiritual Warfare: Truth or Territory (American Gospel); Justin Peters Ministries (Christ Alone: American Gospel), Matt Mcmillan Ministries & Doreen Virtue all say an emphatic "No!" & advise against deliverance ministries. Quoting scripture such as:
...having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise...(Eph. 1:13)
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18)
"...does not sin..." is the key phrase in the second verse (I'll briefly touch on the first verse later). Jesus is the only one born of God who does not sin! Therefore, Jesus is the only one not touched by the evil one. Living in this fallen, sinful world of duality, we can't avoid being influenced & impacted by the knowledge of both good & evil.
While I definitely also have major concerns about large, showy deliverance ministries, I also can't help but wonder & even doubt that those advising against 'deliverance ministries' in general, have contended with extremely painful/limiting & persistent circumstances or experiences not sorted out by other means, either secular (e.g. psychological & medical help) or 'ordinary' Christian practices (e.g. repentance, Bible study, prayer & obedience). The 'out there' intensity of massive healing gatherings at mega churches (e.g. Benny Hinn; Kenneth Copeland & Joel Osteen) demonstrate how greedy, power-hungry so called Christian leaders, take advantage of people who are desperate for health & freedom. We must understand that while it's true that Christians are FREE IN SPIRIT with eternal life in Christ ("...sealed with the Holy Spirit...) we are not yet fully free in body & soul. The Holy Spirit indwelling, works His way into all our dark parts (those damaged by evil & sin) to heal & resurrect us whole, amen!
I want to add a contrasting point to what I've said above that I haven't heard from those advising against deliverance ministries: the value of the concept of deliverance. It can be very empowering for people who are ill, injured, disabled or struggling with addiction, to have an external force to fight against to help them overcome their situation rather than let whatever hardship they are going through, kill them. To frame cancer as ‘an attack of the devil’ can help people rally & fight for their life instead of easily becoming too passive to survive in the face of extremely challenging symptoms & medications that makes them feel even worse.
These well-known deliverance leaders I've mentioned above are simply 'moving peoples' energy'. By that, I mean they are re-arranging a person's broken pieces, which looks fancy & dramatic. It's possible that a few people get lasting healing from the belief that it will help but what about those who pay large sums of money to bring their dying child but get nothing in return?
Backing up a bit, on the other hand, a constant, long term battle against ‘the enemy’ can can be exhausting & demoralizing. How does one reconcile dying in peace if they succumb to being 'defeated by the devil' as Beni Johnson died of cancer last year, for example? Furthermore, we are taught by Jesus to: “…love your enemies…” (Matthew 5:44). Yet it is true that Amos said: “Hate evil & love good…” (5:15). I conclude like Paul (Philippians 4:8) that we must look for, submit to, find, create & focus on God & all that is good, especially in our most challenging situations & by doing this, we resist (squash/minimize the effects of) evil (James 4:7).
The evil one, also called ‘the thief’ (John 10:10) & ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44) is not omnipresent (as God is) but he doesn’t have to be to do his work of stealing, killing & destroying. He doesn’t have to possess or even ‘infest’ people to oppress & destroy them. He works by stealing the TRUTH & convincing people of that which brings suffering & quickens death. Using physiological & psychological (somatic) means, he creates "strongholds" which confirm peoples’ worst nightmares. He uses common human experiences of accidents/injuries, illness, bullying/abuse, poverty, isolation, physical & emotional pain (e.g. fear, shame, guilt, loneliness, frustration, & anger) to get us to destroy ourselves by believing lies such as the following (these 'thoughts' come from somatic imprints):
1. This illness will continue because it’s impossible to completely stop sinning (& be untouchable by the wicked one).
Biblical Truth that opposes this lie:
And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:2-3)
2. I’ll never be ‘good enough’ to be well or well enough to do enough good.
Biblical truth that combats this lie:
Thankfully God has given us clear instructions on how to 'overcome ourselves' by inviting Him in rather than by trying to be 'good enough'. The sense of not being good enough runs deep, probably into our DNA, causing all kinds of problems such as working to exhaustion, addiction & other forms of idolatry.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Eph. 2:8)
Now may the God of peace ... equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 20-21)
3. Life isn’t worth living with such ongoing pain. I'm useless much of the time yet taking up God's valuable resources.
Biblical Truth against this lie:
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:18
The evil one ‘reminds’ those like me who’ve been sick for a long time that we're 'good for nothing wastes of space' --more lies! Over the course of life, through our experiences, evil & sin plant ‘seeds of lies’ within our bodies & psyches & then can pretty much leave us to it except for checking in from time to time to make sure we stay on their 'program'. Unintentionally, we unfortunately often make some lies come 'true' to some degree.
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Matthew 13:25)
These lies can fester & infect us, especially when we’re caught up in difficult circumstances. And, if we don’t have enough TRUTH already planted, rooted & well established within good soil, these ‘seeds of lies’ grow into massive, invasive weeds (e.g. parts of our personality & more difficult life circumstances such as poverty & addiction), that choke out truth, take over & eventually can take us down & out of life. The ultimate goal of satan's lies is our total destruction.
We should aim to hear & know God's Biblical word of TRUTH at least one hundred fold more often as a positive 'counterweight' to the lies of the wicked one. To live from a place of: "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” we must not let our experiences dominate or dictate reality or tell us what is true. Instead, we must renew our mind by letting the TRUTH of scripture inform our experience. For instance, these two Bible verses surely tell us we can & ought to "move mountains" from getting in our way of living a gloriously Godly life.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 1-:23-24)
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it (the demon) out?” And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matthew 17:20)
Many of satan's ‘seeds of lies’ get planted early in life & most of the time seem harmless or dormant while our lives are going well. They germinate & grow quickly when things don’t go as we hope & especially if we become disabled by pain & other symptoms. Regardless of whether these lies are inactive or wreaking havoc, whenever we get ourselves into harmonious union with God, we are blessed to be having a 'Garden of Eden' moment. As soon as we listen to the temptations (e.g. lies, 'God-doubts') of the evil one & choose to eat whichever 'forbidden fruit' he's selling us, we (once again) fall from the place of deep presence with the Lord. Fortunately, we do not fall out of God's hands or out of His mercy & grace! For we know the TRUTH:
...that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
And we hold fast to:
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)
Over & over through out scripture, God teaches us, especially in times of troubles, to listen for His instruction & obey as an act of faith. This likely means we must first clear away distractions & let God write our to-do list. Jesus offered up a small amount of food & praised God for multiplying it to feed thousands (in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). Lord, I lift up the food You graciously provide to me. I praise Your blessing of it satisfies all who are hungry, thank You our Great Giving Father!
How did the woman who had bled for twelve years, suffering under the care of many doctors (& spending all she had), how did she come to know: 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." (Mark 5:28)? According to Jewish Law, anything or anyone she touched became unclean, but because Jesus came to fulfill the law, he cleansed her. Jesus gave her the instruction she needed to heal. He knew she would touch Him before it happened.
After Peter ASKED Him to, Jesus told Peter to "Come" walk on the stormy sea to Him (Matthew 14:25-33). Obviously, it was not that walking was difficult for Peter. The tricky part was believing he could walk on a non-solid substance in the midst of a storm! This story tells me that when the Lord says "Come" I might be called to do an something I already know how to do within a context that seems impossible. This type of act of faith, I have been practicing when my energy is extremely low or scattered or when a feeling of overwhelm tries to take over. Rather than elaborate plans, God knows these acts of faith often need to be very simple, such as raising my arms up & reciting a health confession: "This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me" (Psalm 119:50).
When Jesus healed people, He often gave them a simple instruction:
"Bring the boy here to me." (Matthew 17:17)
When praying for healing, I encourage myself & those I am praying for to listen for an instruction from the Lord. It may be a very simply action (yet still often requires great faith, like "walking on water"). The receiving of an instruction is not about testing the Lord or "testing out" His healing. By listening, we are practicing & honing our ability to hear God! & act-ivating our faith, healing & discipleship, amen!
This seven minute animation (Retelling the Good Story) is where I got the two art images above. This video is a beautiful artistic version of two Gospel stories told from a First Nations cultural perspective. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)
God loves everyone unconditionally, meaning no matter what we do, He loves us, wanting the best for us. He knows what the best for each of us is, since we are His creation & children. He is patient, wanting everyone to come to Him for repentance. More about Jesus’ forgiveness here: because-he-first-loved-us.html
Many times in the Bible, we are told "Do not fear" also 1 John 4:18 says "Perfect love casts out fear". Yet, it is also written: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." (Proverbs 9:10) which seems a contradiction but it's not. When we have rightful fear of the Lord, we need not live in fear of the evil in the world. The Lord goes about His way of inspiring each of us toward His forgiveness & will. Allowing the "heat" of this world to intensify our life experience until (ideally) we drop to our knees in surrendered reverence to Him. This type of genuflect happens often from fear (illness, pain, conviction of sin) & awe as God's love provides profound moments of relief. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; it's not our only/final destination!
It makes sense to fear the One who is "all love" & therefore, all powerful. He protects us from that which is "all evil". While evil is a much limited force compared to love, it's damaging. Whereas agape, like parental love, doesn't always feel good, but it is good for us: "I am the Lord, & there is no other .... Causing well-being & creating calamity..." (Isa. 45:5 & 7). Most everyone longs for love, yet we also fear it to some degree because it means obliteration of little 's' self (our version of death on the cross). There is no hiding anything from the crucible of God's love. His love reveals, in ways that lead us to repent, our self-defeating/inflating & vengeful behaviors as well as our prideful, selfish, jealous & otherwise sinful natures. It's not easy; it's the warriors' way of the cross, fitting through the narrow gate unto resurrection.
A YouTube short I made on this topic:
A clip from a Youtube video about masculinity & the Way of the Cross:
Thank You Father for giving us Your word. May everyone hear the word of the Lord & give ear to the instruction of our God (1:10). Guide each of us to cease evil, learn to do good & seek justice (1:16-17). Thank You for taking our sins as scarlet & making them as white as snow (1:18). Urge us Lord, our rulers & companions also, to be righteous in Your eyes (1:23 & 26). To all who forsake the Lord, I command their hearts & minds open to You, so that they shall not come to an end (1:28). Oh God, without You as our living water, even a strong man will become tinder, his work also a spark (1:31).
Thank You God for teaching us concerning Your ways so that we may walk in Your paths (2:3). Nation no longer lifts up sword against nation. Never again do we learn war! Praise God, we walk in the light of the Lord (2:4-5). Our pride & loftiness is humbled, You are exalted & idols completely vanish (2:17-18), praise the Lord!
In You, we do not oppress each other but we uplift & lovingly guide each other to You (3:5) through speech & actions that are for & not against You (3:8). Thank You dear God for providing shade from the heat & a refuge from storms (4:6).
Give us strength & courage to stop with truth, those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood & sin as if with cart ropes (5:18). Thank You God for straightening out any confusion among us about what is evil & what is good (5:20). Keep us relying on You instead of being wise in our own eyes & clever in our own sight (5:21). Thank You for bringing us to work together to establish Your peace & light in the darkness & distress of this land (5:30).
Lord, we see You with our eyes, hear You with our ears, understand You with our hearts & return to You, the lost & sick & we are healed (6:10). In Your word, You tell us: "Take care, be calm, have no fear & do not be fainthearted ..."(7:4). Almighty Father, You gave us a sign! A virgin bore a son & she called His name Immanuel. Praise the Lord, He knows to refuse evil & choose good (7:14-15).
Dear God, Thank You for being with us (8:10). You tell us that we are not to fear what the world fears or be in dread of it (8:12). You shall be our fear then You shall become a sanctuary (8:13-14). Commit Your work of good & truth among all mediums & spiritists to consult You rather than the dead on behalf of the living (8:19).
Thank You Father for making all people who walk in darkness see a great light (9:2) & for breaking the yoke of their burden (9:4). I pray that the government rest's well on the shoulders of Your Son, our Lord Jesus, who was given to us. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, praise the Lord that there is no end to the increase of Your government or of peace (9:6-7).
In Jesus name, I cast away false teachings that try to lead us astray (9:16). Thank you for burning up & dissolving the wickedness within each of us. Consume with fire the briars & thorns that entangle, oppress & hurt us (9:18). Faithful Father, Your hand is still stretched out & we praise You (9:21)! Woe to those who deprive the needy of justice & rob the poor of their rights. Urge us to protect & care for the widows & orphans, Lord (10:2) like You do, as one gathers abandoned eggs, You gather all the earth, (10:14), glory be to God. Blessed is the day we all truly rely on the Lord (10:20) & delight in the fear of the Lord (11:3).
Praise You Father, deciding with fairness for the afflicted of the earth & with the breath of Your lips, slaying the wicked (11:4). We will not hurt or destroy in all Your holy mountain as the earth is filled up with the knowledge of the Lord (11:9). I give thanks to Thee, O Lord; Thine anger is turned away & Thou comforts me (12:1). You are my salvation; I trust & am not afraid. For the Lord God is my strength & song (12:2).
We learn from long ago, in the day of the Lord, when hands fell limp, hearts melted, pains & anguish took hold (13:6-8) & sinners were exterminated from the land (13:9). You punished the world for its evil, the wicked for their iniquity & put an end to the arrogance of the proud (13:11). Mortal man became scarcer than pure gold (13:12) in the day of Your burning anger (13:13).
Blessed is the day Lord, when You give us rest from pain, turmoil & harsh service (14:3). The whole earth is at rest & is quiet, breaking forth into shouts of joy (14:7)! Those who are most helpless, eat & the needy lie down in security (14:30). The afflicted of Your people, find refuge (14:32). Amen! Thank You God for establishing Your throne of loving-kindness (16:5).
I pray that all people have regard for You, their Maker (17:7). Because we know You are God of salvation & the rock of refuge (17:10), the harvest will not be a heap in a day of sickliness & incurable pain (17:11). Thanks be to God for sending a Savior & a Champion to deliver us (19:20). Striking Egypt but healing, they returned to You (19:22).
Your power within me overcomes pain that attempts to seize me. Once so bewildered, I could not hear, so terrified I could not see; mind reeling, horror overwhelming (21:3-4) --No more; it is finished! I've turned up the volume of Your Holy Spirit in me & turn down the volume of my flesh. Pain is gone now in the name of Jesus. Chronic pain & illness have no place in my life. Yes, I want to be well Lord & I'm ready; thank You for healing me, amen!
The earth, polluted by its inhabitants' transgressing laws, violating statutes & breaking everlasting covenants (24:5), has been washed in the curse-breaking blood of Jesus. He has redeemed us & now we work earnestly, cleaning up & stewarding God's creation righteously. Thank you God for swallowing up death for all time & wiping tears away from all faces (25:8). You are our God for whom we waited & now you've saved us. We rejoice & are glad in Your salvation (25:9)!
The steadfast of mind, Thou keeps in perfect peace because he trusts in Thee (26:3). I trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock (26:4). The way of the righteous is smooth (26:7). Indeed my spirit seeks Thee diligently (26:9).
When earth experiences Thy judgements, inhabitants of the world learn righteousness, especially the wicked & everyone perceives the majesty of the Lord (26:9-10). When Your chastising is upon us & we seek Thee in distress, only whispering a prayer (26:16), please have mercy Lord, in just the right amount. For You know each of our hearts better than we know ourselves. Hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers (28:14). The multitude of the ruthless ones are like the chaff which blows away (29:5).
Thank You God for laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed (28:16). Bless You for instructing & teaching us properly (28:26). Your counsel is wonderful & Your wisdom is great (28:29).
Help us not get ourselves into trouble with You Lord pouring over us a spirit of deep sleep, shutting prophets eyes & covering the heads of seers (29:10). Walking in obedience of Your way, with Your healing power, the deaf hear words in a book & out of their darkness, the eyes of the blind, see (29:18). Praise the Lord! Today is the day that the afflicted increase their gladness in the Lord & the needy rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (29:19). All who are intent on doing evil are cut off (29:20), those who err in mind now know the truth & those who criticize, accept instruction (29:24). Woe to those who execute plans that are not Yours & make alliance not of Your Spirit, adding sin to sin (30:1).
Bless God that it is so, in repentance & rest we are saved; in quietness & trust is Your strength (30:15). You long to be gracious to us. You wait on high to have compassion on us. For You are a God of justice. How blessed are all those who long for You (30:18). Although Lord, You gave us bread of privation & water of oppression, You, our Teacher no longer hide Yourself. Our eyes behold You, our Teacher & our ears hear a word behind us "This is the way, walk in it" whenever we turn to the right or to the left (30:20-21). We say to graven images "Be gone!" (30:22). Thank you God for binding up the fracture of Your people & healing the bruise You inflicted (30:26). You Lord cause the voice of Your authority to be heard, amen (30:30)!
Your Spirit is poured out upon us from on high (32:15). The work of righteousness is peace & the service of righteousness, quietness & confidence forever (32:17). Blessed are we who sow beside all waters (32:20). God, You are the stability of our times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom & knowledge. The fear of the Lord is our treasure (33:6). Sinners are terrified, Lord. Trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" (33:14). Let us take Your strength, courage & words leading them to Your salvation.
Glory to God that all who walk righteously, speak with sincerity & reject unjust gain (33:15), dwell on the heights. Our refuge is the impregnable rock. Our bread is given & our water is sure (33:16). Lord, You are our judge, our lawgiver, our King & You save us (33:22)! No resident says "I am sick." The people who dwell here are forgiven their iniquity (33:24). We encourage the exhausted & strengthen the feeble (35:3). We say to those with anxious heart: "Take courage, fear not. Behold, God comes with vengeance & saves you." (35:4). The eyes of the blind are opened. The ears of the deaf are unstopped (35:5). The lame leap like a dear. The tongues of those who can not speak, shout for joy (35:6). Thirsty ground springs of water (35:7). This Highway of Holiness is for all who walk this way (35:8). The redeemed walk here (35:9). Gladness & joy are found & sorrow & sighing flee away (35:10).
Thou art God of all kingdoms on earth. Thou has made heaven & earth (37:16). In Your name, we deliver ourselves & others from evil & all kingdoms of earth know that Thou alone, Lord, art God (37:20). You know our sitting down, our going out & our coming in (37:28). Because of our arrogance, You put Your hook in our noses & Your bridle in our lips (37:29).
As Hezekiah prayed, I pray also: "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee. I have walked before Thee in truth, with a whole heart & have done what is good in Thy sight." (38:3). You heard his prayer, saw his tears & behold, You added fifteen years to his life (38:5). Likewise, You heal my body of physical disease making me the long-living, healthy new creation You created me to be! When any of us moan like doves & feel oppressed, be our security (38:14). Restore us to health & let us live (38:16)! Thank You for keeping my soul from the pit of nothingness & casting all my sins behind Thy back (38:17). Thank You Father for these days of peace & truth (39:8). Amen!
Our soul is the place deep within that unites our psyche & spirit with our body. The healing of the soul from sin is the innermost, profound (even pervasive) type of healing we can go through, somewhat like the process of physical birth.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:5-7
The degree to which sin has invaded one's self, soul healing salvation is self-destructive & as such, makes personal the crucifixion & resurrection of Jesus Christ:
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31)
Many don't understand the need for soul healing and confuse it for other needs. The realization of the need for salvation is not something one person rightly can push upon another. The desire for a free soul: eternal life (knowing God as Jesus Christ), comes from within, hearing His knocking & calling us home.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)
Purification of the soul is on continuous offer from God Almighty to everyone alive, as the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Accepting God's gift of redemption means entering into covenant relationship with God & surrendering to His Word & to His Ways:
"...whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)
As the Light of the Lord (Holy Spirit) goes to work within an individual's spirit when their soul is saved, full healing of body & mind is activated & nothing can stop it (not even physical death). Even that which seems like an obstacle (e.g. illness) becomes part of one's healing journey. God has a plan & always makes His Ways straight, uplifting us from darkness.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
I remember laughing out loud, likely through tears, when I read this Bible passage above. Wait a minute, I thought ... Your yoke is easy & Your burden is light? Come now, really ... why then is it so painful?
While salvation happens the instant we first believe, its effects have our whole lives & beyond (eternity) to penetrate & permeate throughout our being. That God has us for such a long while (forever!) is a very good thing because we humans are very dense & so it can take Light a long time & some pretty intense pain to make its healing ways through us. The Holy Spirit clears us out; all that is not of God must go so He can fill us entirely. Iniquities, infirmities & afflictions - be gone, in Jesus name.
Throughout Jesus' ministry He demonstrated much compassion towards those oppressed by illness; healing all who came to him, even those with little faith! The testimonies of physical healing did such a great work of spreading the "Good News" of Jesus like an underground fire erupting in places & never going out. Jesus healed the sick when He was God-made-flesh on earth & He continues healing people to the present day; we know this because it is written:
“I the LORD do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Just as salvation can be a sensitive topic in the secular world so to is the topic of physical healing, or "Faith Healing", even among Christians. Why is it that some people heal quickly while other faithful folk remain sick for years, despite much prayer?
It is so important that we be wise to etiquette around the topic of faith healing so as to not create more disappointment (where there is already much suffering) and push people away from ourselves and from God. I know firsthand how devastating it can be to be prayed over so many times & not feel any better physically, it's heartbreaking! I understand more now & there is much faith, joy (& even delight) in the renewing of my mind & softening of my heart, that I want to pass along. So now, here are some of the rules I pledge to live by regarding this topic:
1. Educate others about faith healing and let the understanding & the desire for it come from them (from God within them). When they are ready, they will come to it!
2. Do not assume everyone with a disability/illness wants/requires physical healing. Often people know subconsciously when it is their time to pass on or to remain in the condition they are in. In addition, many people with disabilities do not want to be fixed or cured. Never judge anyone who has "not yet healed" (e.g. as having too little faith etc.). The matter is between that person & God (& me or you, if they allow it).
3. All healing is from God; He made us healing "bio-machines". When praying for healing, rather than use the phrase:
"If it be your will..." (If you are not sure that it is God's will to heal you will you possibly go against God's Will by asking the doctor to figure out what is going wrong, taking medication or getting surgery?);
PRAY (something like): "Thank you Lord for hearing my prayer & healing me, in Jesus name, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." AMEN!
4. One of the biggest lessons to understanding faith healing comes from this verse (& there are others like it):
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)
This is where people with chronic illness need Noah's ark & mustard seed moving mountains & the thief on the cross next to Jesus saying "Remember me...", type of faith. Once we've asked for health, we must believe it is so despite possible lingering symptoms. For this is what faith is, believing that which we do not have empirical evidence for. Believing what is not, into reality--not on the basis of new age sayings and positive psychology but on the authority of God & His promises throughout scripture.
This is a huge revelation in that, rather than getting disappointed after prayer & continued symptoms, we can instead take action to cultivate more faith, such as, by making confession: "Jesus is the Lord of my life. Sickness & disease have no power over me." (Charles Capps). Each confession is like lifting weights; it's going to take many repetitions to become stronger & see our "faith muscles" increase. Similarly, it may take many repetitions to see health replace symptoms after years of the brain subconsciously "rehearsing" certain sensations over & over.
Furthermore, there are reasons other than what I've mentioned so far (e.g. timing, faith) as to why one's physical healing may be delayed. I have more to share and will do so in another blog, another time. Thank you for reading & happy healing, amen!
I’m encouraged by the increasing numbers of individuals, myself included, who realize we are being blinded to faith & are overcoming that. By faith I mean trusting the principles & promises of The Word; that the Bible is true, holy & sacred, from & of God, amen.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
What I mean by ‘blinded to faith’ is analogous to growing up in darkness & silence. If that were the case, being exposed later in life to visual & auditory stimuli wouldn’t make sense, especially at first. In fact, one would likely deliberately close their eyes & plug their ears to reduce the confusing effects of the new types of information.
We would default to using our sense of touch, taste & smell to try to ‘see & hear’ but obviously that wouldn’t work. It is the same for faith. Especially at first, we can't rely our usual ways of sensing & thinking to come to faith. Faith has everything to do with the immaterial, spiritual realm (which includes but is not limited to the confines of the material world) to which many of us are not only unaccustomed to but are also hostile against.
So how do people acquire faith? There are several factors at hand in this matter. First & foremost:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44) & "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
Furthermore, our sense of faith develops in the light of the faith of others. I pray in the name of Jesus, this blog will ignite a fire of faith in each of the readers hearts so that they share their faith in fitting ways with others, amen.
The Bible says: “So faith comes from hearing & hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Notice here, as Bill Johnson of Bethel Church points out, that it doesn’t say: “So faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.” No, first, we hear through The Word of Christ & then faith comes. “The point is, according to The Message, before you trust, you have to listen.” If we close off to hearing what Christ says, faith can't flourish within the soil of our hearts.
Two other important factors regarding the acquisition of faith: the renewed mind & heart of flesh.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
I like the way Bill Johnson sums up this point by saying: "Faith doesn’t come from the mind, we know that. Faith comes from the heart but the renewed mind is like the banks of a river; it creates the context for faith to flow in .... And the renewed mind anchors into what God has said above every other voice.” AMEN!
I'm so pleased to write that a keto diet has greatly reduced my debilitating symptoms. I have better mental & physical energy & less muscle pain (especially first two weeks of the diet). I pray I can keep it up and that this info helps others who are struggling with ME/CFS. Please God, help scientists figure out who with ME/CFS can benefit & why it is effective. Cheers to ketones (not carbs) for energy!
My aunt got me onto monitoring my blood glucose levels over a month ago. While I couldn't see that I am in immediate danger of diabetes (yet), my blood sugar levels were quite unstable & spiked uncomfortably high after eating. Someday I will try using an interstitial fluid continuous glucose monitor to get an more data on this. Based on how my body reacts to carbs (not well!) it it pretty clear that my glucose metabolism isn't working properly. I think it is quite likely that my cells have some resistance to insulin. Thank you Lord Jesus for guiding me to improved health, in your precious name, amen.
I want to highlight what others have said about the juiciest book in Bible, Song of Solomon. I highly recommend listening to Christopher West (Theology of the Body) on this topic. He states: "The Bible from beginning to end tells a story about marriage. It begins with the marriage of man & woman. It ends with the marriage of Christ & the Church. And the whole purpose of this marriage at the start of the story, is to point us to this marriage: the eternal union of God with humanity ... that is why we are sexual beings." Amen! :)
He goes on to read these two paragraphs by Saint Gregory of Nyssa:
"Let us come within the Holy of Holies, the Song of Songs. The exalted word promises to teach us the mystery of mysteries through the Song of Songs....
Human nature can neither discover nor entertain anything greater than the Song of Songs. This is why the most intense of pleasurable activities, I mean here, the passion of erotic love, is set as a figure at the very fore of this teaching so that we may learn that it is necessary for the soul to boil with love in the Holy Spirit because it is heated by that fire which the Lord came to cast upon the earth."
God wants us to experience His "soul boiling love" that waters cannot quench & rivers cannot overflow (SoS 8:7) so that it pours out all around us & into others.
Mr. West explains, here: youtu.be/PBlvgybm3L0 (starting at 4:50) using a crumpled piece of paper, what original sin did to sexuality - I love this analogy so much! Key phrases to listen for:
"Eros expresses agape."
"The Holy is still in there."
"The devil doesn't have his own clay."
"The gift of redemption is to untwist it ..."
Father Mike Schmitz (Ascension Presents) shares a very similar view to Mr. West in pointing out how the Song of Solomon illustrates Saint Thomas Aquinas' statement: “As often as a husband and wife enter into the sexual embrace in a state of grace, they are growing in grace and in glory.”
Furthermore, this next YouTube video showing a dance rendition of Song of Songs: The Bible Explained (Spoken Gospel) emphasizes:
Not to "awaken love until its proper time". I interpret this to mean, do not awaken the fullest intensity of God's love with another without first & continuously being fully awake to God alone. youtu.be/FH4kaV5D5dM
We are fortunate for the gift of love in our lives. How dull would life be without it? Yet we are bound to feel 'beaten up' at times with "love-sickness" in a variety of relationships, not just in the throes of romantic love. The price of human love is the unavoidable experiences of worry, jealousy, grief & heartbreak: "...For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are the flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord." (SoS 8:6)
We are attachment-oriented creatures but relationships & circumstances are impermanent. This conundrum isn't a design flaw! Rather, our longing for the safety, belonging & love of secure attachment is placed, by design as the "God shaped hole" inside each of us that cannot be completely filled by anything but God (try as we might). The good news is that IN JESUS, love is everlasting. Love is STRONGER than death! God raised Christ from death, canceling our sins & sorrows as we say "I do" to eternal life with Him, our glorious Bridegroom forever, amen!
A short clip I made for the verse Song of Solomon 6:10 "Who is this that grows like the dawn..." May God bless you & all your loved ones, amen.
Other translations of Ecclesiastes 1:2
*Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (KJV & ASV)
*"Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "completely meaningless!" (NLT)
*Hevel, havalim, saith Kohelet, hevel havalim; all is hevel. (OJB)
*"It is of no use," says the Preacher. "It is of no use! All is for nothing." (NLV)
*"Futility of futilities," says the Preacher, futility of futilities! All is futility (NASB)
*"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher. "Vanity of vanities! All (that is done without God's guidance) is vanity (futile, meaningless--a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind)." (AMP)
Similar to being mesmerized by a campfire, I love watching steam rise & swirl from a hot beverage. The random fluidity of vapor can be simultaneously mysterious, calmly frantic & delicately serene. A beautiful dance of nature--unrepeating, fleeting & wonderfully artistic. When I read the different translations of Ecclesiastes 1:2, I think of these enjoyable encounters I've had with "hevel" (steam). In saying "All is vanity" the Teacher/Preacher, at least in part, is describing the not so uncommon feeling of being 'stuck in a hamster wheel' ... but there is a bit more to it than that.
The Amplified Bible translation (AMP), with its explanation in brackets, makes sense of this verse in light of the whole twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes. The Preacher says "And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor ... and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun." (2:10-11) It makes sense to listen to this wisdom learned because even after literally having everything one's heart could possibly desire and more, the Preacher proclaims the pointlessness of all of it "under the sun" but what about "in the Son" (as in, in God's way): "For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?" (2:25)
A common question, is the Preacher depressed or just pessimistic? He shares that even wisdom is futile, "...in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain." (1:18) It is God's help through grief & pain that brings the Preacher the Truth of God. Although this does not relieve his own suffering, the Truth continues to come through, from him, to help others, as God allows. Seeing 'the glass as half empty OR half full' is not nearly as important as honoring the One who provides the glass & drinking the living water within it that eternally quenches our thirst.
So first and foremost, meaning & enjoyment (yes, it's fun!) come through a Godly life: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (12:13-14)
"A generation goes and a generation comes ..." (1:4); the fleeting nature of life, like steam, reminds us to put our faith not in people or things but in the Lord, for "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" (KJV) & "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing" (NIV). We are to want, not what we want, but what God wants. When we take this Godly perspective, we live in appreciation of all the beautiful things God provides, such as enjoying the breeze (rather than chasing the wind, lol) & we ask Lord, "Please remove or fulfill my unmet needs & desires in ways that are glorifying to You, amen!" This is not repression, rather it frees & makes us lighter.
I pray God that we do not get caught up in self importance & the pursuit of happiness. I pray for all who are ensnared in the traps of this world; the never ending striving for success on our own terms. Help us put You first & not just give you the time we have leftover after everything else gets done or to turn to You only when we're in dire straits. The Preacher cautions us to: "Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;" (12:6) Just as a ship needs an anchor onboard before leaving the dock, we are to know & honor "God, the Eternal" before befalling into the pit of despair and before crawling desperately dehydrated upon a well to find only a shattered pitcher there. For a moment of separation from God is (like) an eternity in hell that only ONE lived through & triumphs over. Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God Almighty, In Jesus name, amen!