Category Archives: Grace2U

Confessions of a Happy, Confident Wife

Leslie Chambers

Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not somehow more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos, but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes…

It literally astounds me that there are some who would still point Alan, or other same-sex attracted people, towards “heterosexuality”. Heterosexuality by definition is “sexual relations or attractions between opposite sexes”. Alan has openly admitted his same-sex attractions. As his wife, I can honestly say that the last thing I want him to pursue is heterosexuality. Why, you ask? How am I not threatened by my husband’s same sex attractions? If he pursued heterosexuality, wouldn’t I be more fulfilled in my marriage? Truthfully, I know plenty of marriages where “heterosexual” men and women have made very poor choices as they endeavored to fulfill their heterosexual desires. I do not want Alan to be more attracted to people of the opposite sex. I am thrilled that he is attracted to me and that I am the only person he chooses to direct his attraction toward. What wife doesn’t want that from her husband? Heterosexuality doesn’t guarantee that in any marriage. What would happen to the divorce rate if it did? He is a man after God’s own heart. He is the head of our household. He is my very best friend, my lover and he knows all of me. He is the father of my children, the very best son and son-in-law to our parents. Pursuing “heterosexuality” wouldn’t help him do any of those things better. None of them.

While we are talking about our marriage, there is a consensus between two polarized groups of people as to the probability of the demise of our marriage. Their differences lie in what will cause that demise. Some say it will be the inevitability of Alan’s inability to repress his “true gay identity”. Of these folks, some have pitied me. Some say the demise will come as a result of a “hyper-grace” mentality and at any moment Alan will take advantage of God’s good grace and sin all over the place. Of these folks, some have said that I must be on the verge of a total breakdown.

The truth is that both groups are making these assumptions based on the reality of their own personal lives.

I actually don’t need pity because I’m incredibly fulfilled in my marriage. As for “hyper-grace,” how can being in awe of God’s grace destroy my marriage? It is the hope for my marriage. The peace that comes with knowing that I am a daughter and Alan is a son of the King, the peace that comes with knowing I can trust the God who is in Alan and trust the God who is in me, far exceeds any insecurities that come with unrighteous thoughts or deeds either of us experience in our flesh. It is in God’s grace that our marriage is secure.

While we are talking about God’s grace, I’d like to comment on the belief that true repentance and forgiveness and right standing with God only come when we desperately seek Jesus and desperately try to or at least want to fix what is broken. This simply does not logically fit into my heart and mind as a mother. I do not need my children’s desperate pleas for forgiveness in order to forgive them. I do not require them to fix anything they break in order for them to be in right standing with me. Do I want them to recognize when they have done wrong. Yes. Is it good for them to apologize? Yes. Is it good for them to try to fix things they have broken? Yes. Is it good for them to change their minds, learn from their mistakes in hopes of not making them again? YES!! All the while, none of that is required for them to be my children. The moment they became mine, they became MINE and nothing can change that! If I, as an earthly mother feel this way about my children, how much more so does our Heavenly Father feel this way about us? There isn’t anything hyper about that. It’s simply giving God credit for being at least as good a parent as I am…. Knowing all the while He is infinitely better!

When it comes right down to it, I don’t feel “desperate” for Jesus at all. I am not desperate to fix things that I have broken or what is broken in my flesh. I have no ability to do either, even if I “desperately” wanted to. The definition of desperate is “without hope.” Microsoft Word lists the following words as synonyms for desperate: frantic, anxious, despairing, worried, and fraught to name a few. A Google search for desperate synonyms lists “atrocious, careless, dangerous, fool hardy, frantic, frenzied, heinous, and violent”. That does not represent how I feel towards my Savior. I seek Him with hope! Because of God’s good grace, I’m actually in agreement with the antonyms listed for desperate. They are: confident, content, satisfied, secure and unworried.

I am unworried about who Jesus is and who I am in Him. I am unworried about who Alan is in Him. Jesus in Alan is the hope for my marriage. That is Alan’s hope concerning me. That is my hope for my children. That is my hope for my friends and neighbors. That is the hope for the Church and for Exodus…. I am cleansed by God’s grace even if my efforts towards repentance of sin and my conscious need for Jesus falls short of what they should be. We can be confident, content, satisfied, and secure in Him. If we are relying on anything within our flesh or on anything we can do to earn or to receive any part of what He has to give away… we are without hope and should feel desperate!

Instead, show me a rooftop where I can shout… THANK YOU JESUS! Christ in me … I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me and in Alan and in all of us who believe in Him, He will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!! He will do it. He has done it. Amen!

Come Soar with Me

Barbara Watts

 

I am absolutely astounded that God, the Great Three in One, knows me so personally and has such delight and desire for me and to live His life in me.

I have lived in a place of union and intimacy with Abba for some years but this revelation continues to grow day by day.  He really does think I’m special.

He has the ability to make each one of us think that we are His favorite.  It sets my heart to singing and my feet to dancing.  Sometimes it seems like I’m literally dancing with Jesus even though I’m sitting in my chair.  How can that be?

He feels the same way about you too!  He loves to sing and dance with you even when you are crying.  He loves to embrace and love on you.

Recently He showed me that He really knows me.  I’m totally known by Him.  He knows every thought and desire, loves me and calls me His treasured possession.   Wow, what an awesome realization.

Somehow He knows when I’m ready to give up.  Yet, He is like the shepherd who left the herd (the ninety-nine so to speak) to come to me, embrace me, and let me know I’m His own!

It seems like the revelation of Abba’s love goes further into my spirit and emotions as the days go by.  Because He so loves me I can come to Him and fall madly in love with Him.  I find it helpful to drop all guards, walls, and veils and say, yes Lord here I come.  I trust you!  I love you too!

He knows you too.  I mean He really knows you and loves you and calls you His treasured possession.

I recently felt the Lord speaking the following words to me.  I pray they speak to your heart in the same way they did mine.

My dear one I delight in you.  My desire is toward you.  I love you with an everlasting, unfailing love.  I will surprise you.  I will fascinate you.  I will never leave you.  You are never alone.  I am so much better than you could ever imagine or expect!  Better than wine!  Better than life!  Come soar with Me in the things of the Spirit.  I will thrill your heart.  I will astound you.  There is so much more I have to show you.  Come soar with Me.  I will fill you with wonders.  Rest in Me, I have won the war!  You are My treasured possession.  My Heart is for you, and My desire is for you.   Love, Abba.

From Death to Life: A.K.A. Old vs. New

Bill Snell

 

Most have heard it taught that Christians are not under law but under grace (refer to Romans 6:14).  Grace teaching seeks to help the body of Christ understand why this is true, and why this is such incredibly good news.

Meanwhile, others point fingers reacting negatively because they believe that grace teachers are soft on sin, and serve to aid immature Christians to live lives of compromise and sin.

Since “truth sets us free” (Jn. 8:32), let’s compare the Law (Old Covenant) to the New, because the contrast is startling.  Understanding this contrast will help you walk in all that Christ died to give you.

The Bible calls the Old Covenant, “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).  But, it was given by God, so why would it be classified such?

The Mosaic Law, also known in the Bible as the “law of sin and death”, was given by God to govern spiritually dead people.  The Law was never given to save.  Its role was to clearly present a holy standard that sinful man could never satisfy.  It awakened sin and condemned the sinner.  It is also discovered that it served as a tutor to reveal the sinner’s desperate need for the Savior.

Hear this well – the Old Covenant was never designed for the New Covenant believer, but only for those dead in spirit.

Ephesians 2 shows that those dead in spirit (sinners) are those under the governance of the Devil.  Sin and death itself are repercussions of being dead in spirit and are considered adversarial to God and His Kingdom – neither originated from the throne of God.

Continue to contrast the New Covenant with the Old and you will discover the following:

  • The Old is called the law of sin and death – the New is called “the law of the spirit of life” (Romans 8:2).
  • The Old was given to spiritually dead men and women – the New was given to those who are fully alive (believers).
  • The Old was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats, serving only to cover sin (Hebrews 10:4) – the New was sealed by the precious, sinless blood of God’s beloved Son to cleanse the believer of sin (removing its claim, punishment, condemnation, and death once and for all – Hebrews 10:10-12).
  • The Old was perfectly satisfied by Christ in every way and thus set aside (Matt. 5:17) – the New is given as a gift from God to all who would believe and is permanent and everlasting in nature, never to be replaced or improved upon (Eph. 2:8).
  • The Old had performance requirements for those it was intended, yet all failed – the New has no fleshly performance requirements whatsoever (it cannot be earned or purchased by any human effort or earthly currency; it is a gift from God by means of His unmerited favor).
  • The Old placed men in bondage to their sin – the New frees the believer from that bondage once and for all.
  • The Old contained over six hundred laws, all of which served to condemn – the New contains only one law, the law of love.
  • The Old was designed for natural, fallen man – the New is for supernatural spiritual man.
  • The Old is for those led by their fallen senses – the New is for those who live by the Spirit.
  • The Old is for the unrighteous, unjustified, unredeemed, non-sanctified “old man” – the New is for the righteous, justified, redeemed, and sanctified “New Creation”.

 

You get the idea!  The Old Covenant is not for the Christian.  It is as unnatural to the Christian as sin is.  They are like grave clothes for those who are alive and well.

Finally, the law of love that governs the New Covenant believer is not a law of “do anything you want without concern of repercussion”, nor is it a law of “my behavior doesn’t matter since God has forgiven me”.

Anyone who entertains these thoughts simply does not understand the Father’s heart, nor does he comprehend the extreme yet perfect substitutionary sacrifice of His Son.  Or, they simply are outside the camp all together.

Being under grace rather than the law is absolutely fundamental to growing and maturing as believers.

Dear friends, learn to walk by faith in the liberty that Christ died to give you as New Covenant citizens, and you will not be entangled again in the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).

Hybrid Gospel

Jeff Fitzgerald

 

Technology is always advancing in this country. One of the more popular advances is the Hybrid automobile. If you haven’t heard of this you probably have been living in a basement somewhere for the last 10 years or so. Basically hybrid vehicle uses two different modes of fuel; one being the traditional gasoline powered and the other electricity. This technology has allowed people to save money on the ever rising cost of fuel in this country. The beauty of it is once the electricity runs out, you can switch on over to good old gasoline. Just as you can switch back and forth between the two sources, many preachers and teachers are using the same method when it comes to the gospel. They typically use a little bit of law or performance based preaching and also a little bit of Jesus. Unfortunately it works for the car, but not when it comes to the gospel.

One thing that we as New Covenant believers must understand is we were only invited to one covenant, not a mixture of the two. In the Old Covenant God only recognized two groups of people; Jews & Gentiles. There was not this “hybrid” race of people that God created hiding out somewhere in the hills of Israel. The Gentiles were never invited by the Jewish people to come and adhere to their laws. The Jewish people never took their law and evangelized the Gentiles. The law was strictly for the Jewish people. Period. Now God only recognizes two types of people; believers and unbelievers. What many people believe and teach is we need the law, not for salvation, but for daily living. Really? So if that is the case, why would we need Jesus? We could just pick right up where Moses left off. No thank you! Ok, back to the hybrid car. People can switch over to gasoline once their electricity runs out. In the same way, many believers attempt to switch over to Jesus when they feel dirty and distant. Once they do enough repenting, confessing, fasting, etc.. then they switch right back to their attempt at the law. This type of mentality is exactly what the Apostle Paul was fighting against with the Galatian church. Paul writes in Galatians 3:1-3, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (NASB)

I found that when I attempted to live by the law I never focused on Christ and what He accomplished for me. That is the intention of the law! It has nothing to do with faith because it takes no faith to live by rules and regulations (Galatians 3:12). It takes faith to actually believe you are the righteousness of God 100% of the time! Yes even in the act of sinning!! I can see the eyebrows going up now! In fact, you will NEVER be more righteous than the day you received Christ! This “hybrid gospel” is not the gospel at all because it attempts to diminish the work of Christ by mixing it with the law. Want to know if you are being fed a hybrid gospel? Ask yourself this question as you are listening to the message; does this message make me Son conscious or does it make me sin conscious? If your answer is sin conscious, then you are being fed a hybrid gospel. I encourage you to really seek out messages and ministries that exalt Christ, not behavior modification. Here is a truth to meditate on today, “Old Testament prophets call your sin to remembrance, while New Testament preachers call your righteousness to remembrance. Old Testament preachers tell you what’s wrong with you, while New Testament preachers tell you what is right with you because of what Jesus has done, in spite of what is wrong with you.”- Joseph Prince

Grace is neither “hyper”, nor “dangerous”

Bill Snell

A recent article featured in Charisma news online, by Dr. Michael Brown, sounds an alarm vilifying the theology of the finished work of Christ (grace message), calling it “hyper grace”.  One or more quotes appear to have come from Pastor Whitten’s book, Pure Grace.

It is important to know that Dr. Brown has not seen fit to contact us, nor has he bothered to dialogue with us in anyway before making his slanderous statements.  His conclusions are false, and his theology lacks an understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us.

Below you will find my edited response to that online article.  My goal is not to be defensive, but to defend the truth.  That is the nature of true apologetics.

I have included a brief portion of Dr. Brown’s article in “italics” below, with my response following.

Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace – Dr. Michael Brown

The biblical message of grace is wonderful, glorious and life-transforming. We can’t live without it for one second of our lives. But there is a message being preached today in the name of a new grace reformation, mixing powerful truth with dangerous error. I call it hyper-grace.

One of the foundational doctrines of the hyper-grace message is that God does not see the sins of his children, since we have already been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and since all of our sins, past, present and future, have already been forgiven.

That means that the Holy Spirit never convicts believers of sin, that believers never need to confess their sins to God, and that believers never need to repent of their sins, since God sees them as perfect in his sight.

It is easy to see how such teaching can be dangerous, especially to a believer being tempted to compromise.

One hyper-grace teacher wrote this: “When God looks at me, He doesn’t see me through the blood of Christ, He sees me—cleansed! Likewise, He sees us as holy and righteous. He sees us, and He loves what He sees!”

Really? Always? 24-7? God always loves what he sees when he looks at his people?

Edited Online Response by Pastor Bill Snell (below)

After 30-years of pastoral ministry, I for one am convinced that there is indeed a new reformation confronting the church regarding her understanding of law and grace.

With due respect, Dr. Brown, I do not agree with your assessment by calling it “hyper”.   Removing that comment, I basically agree with your statement in your recent article on “hyper-grace” which says, “One of the foundational doctrines of the hyper-grace message is that God does not see the sins of his children, since we have already been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and since all of our sins, past, present and future, have already been forgiven.”

Amen!  To be clear, it isn’t that God can’t or doesn’t observe when Christians sin, but more importantly, He doesn’t see the Christian as a sinner.  Our sins have been permanently removed as far  as the East is from the West.  Forgiven!  Cleansed!  Fully dealt with! To see a relationship with God otherwise requires that one mix the law with grace.  This is a huge problem for the church, because the two simply don’t mix.  Not in the least!  What men have called “balance”, God calls “mixture”.

By the law, sins were at best “covered”, but by the perfect and complete New Covenant performed solely between the Father and the Son, believers’ sins are “cleansed” – past, present, and future.  If this were not so, we are at best left with some level of needed performance to somehow meet a holy, perfect standard.  If this were true then preaching out of necessity should and must center on “behavior management”.

But, is a relationship with God in the New Covenant based on anything other than Christ’s “performance” on our behalf?  Even as a pastor, father, grandfather, faithful husband, and law-abiding citizen, I wouldn’t want to base my eternal security or relational acceptance on my best 15-minutes.  Either Jesus satisfied the Father’s demands of holiness, obedience, sinlessness, righteousness, etc., or He didn’t.  Either it is a completed work on our behalf or it isn’t.

The fact of the matter is, we have been brought into “union” with God by the finished work of Christ (Jn 17:21-23; Eph. 2:5); a union equal to that which the Father and the Son share.  This relationship can only be a consequence of a new covenant between God and Son, complete with better promises to every believer – better than the old had to offer (much better!).

As Paul Harvey would say, here is “the rest of the story”, so if you will hang in here a few minutes I will provide a brief positional statement from our “grace” perspective, which you will discover does not give a theological license to sin, nor diminishes earthly consequence of sinful behavior as you have portrayed as “hyper-grace”.

Firstly, it is important to know that the law was given as an intermediary to the advent of Grace. While it revealed an aspect of God’s holiness, it did not reveal His mercy or redemptive plan. Just as importantly, the law did not have the power to forgive or to change the heart.

When Christ fulfilled the law, and atoned for our sin through His death, the holiness of God as well as His righteousness and purity became engraved upon the hearts of all who would believe (notice the scripture does not say “of all who would behave”).

“Now He (Jesus) said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)

The Old Covenant “law keeping” became nullified for the Christian under the New Covenant. We are no longer under the law, but under grace.

Paul said that the law is not for the righteous. He was referring to those who are made righteous in Christ by faith. Paul also instructed believers to consider themselves to be dead to the law.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4)

Thankfully, it is the role of the Spirit living within each believer, not the law, that leads the children of God in their new identity as the “righteousness of God in Christ”. Behavioral changes reflecting the standards required by the law would now be out of a motivation of acceptance and love, rather than a fear of judgment and condemnation due to inevitable failure.

“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7-9)

Where the law says, “thou shalt not kill”, or “thou shalt not steal”, or “thou shalt not commit adultery”, the Spirit not only leads the believer to not commit murder, but to be willing to lay down his life; instead of stealing, giving; rather than committing adultery, choosing to love sacrificially while receiving one’s spouse in a manner which brings them to a place of security, comfort, and joy.

The law set a standard outwardly that the flesh was simply unable to satisfy. This was not a mistake. God intended for the law to instruct us by means of our failure in order that we might trust God’s perfect provision for all aspects of life, including holiness and happiness. Christ is our life in all its fullness, living in our hearts by faith.

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4)

Therefore, the law serves to bring us to Christ, while continuing to reveal our utter dependence upon the indwelling life of Christ, serving to make us holy, righteous, justified, and eternally secure before the Father.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4)

When reading and studying the Old Testament, it is important to remember that to unearth its incredible wealth and value it must be interpreted through the spiritual-lens of the “finished work of Christ”. It has been said, “the Old Testament is the finished work of Christ concealed, and the New Testament is the finished work of Christ revealed”. It is good to be reminded that we are built upon the foundation of the prophets (Old Testament) and the apostles (New Testament), with Jesus being the “chief cornerstone”. (Luke 20:17)

Are there consequences to sin for a Christian?

Yes, and on two levels. In this natural world a Christian will be arrested and go to jail if he is caught robbing a bank. Peter writes that believers should not suffer as an “evil-doer” by stealing.

“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15)

Paul writes that the courts and police officers are there by God’s design, and that “they bear not the sword in vain.” Natural man must have law in order for there to be a measure of peace in this world and that law is designed to modify the behavior of the unbeliever through fear of punishment. So in this world there are consequences to sin for a Christian if that sin is a violation of the laws of this world.

On another level, in the spiritual world, the believer will experience the corrupting power of sin in spiritual matters as a consequence of a lifestyle of sin. As Paul wrote the Galatians,

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8)

Notice that Paul does not say that if a believer sows to the flesh he shall reap “judgment” – just corruption. There is no judgment from God for the sins of a believer. God’s judgment for all the sins of the believer, past, present, and future, fell fully upon Jesus. That is the Gospel in its essence. That is the good news!

The sins of believers are no longer counted against them because of the death of Jesus. But there is a corrupting power that sin, or the flesh, has on the mind of a believer. While the Spirit seeks to renew the mind to unseen realities in Christ thereby releasing the “new creation” in Christ to manifest his righteous identity in word and deed, it is the flesh and the power of sin in the flesh that seeks to corrupt the mind and causes a spiritual “blindness or near-sightedness”. While the “new creation in Christ” can be hindered from manifesting his/her identity by means of sinful behavior, inwardly the corrupting power of sin in the flesh is powerless to affect the inward, invisible reality of the “new creation”.

Bottom line? Sin is trouble! Yet, God has set us free from the power of sin as we are positioned in Christ, and the believer’s new heart desires to be like the Father in word and deed. The believer has been made a partaker of the “divine nature” and that new nature desires to walk in righteousness, not because of the fear of consequence similar to the unbeliever, but rather from a motivation of love and knowledge of who we really are.

“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4)

Dr. Brown, if you have read to this point, I am really impressed and thankful too.  While we may not agree on some things, I hope that you will take into consideration further dialogue – not with an attempt to convince one another, but to enjoy the challenge of investigating the bases of our faith.

Blessings,

Bill Snell
Exec.  Pastor
Grace Church
Longwood, FL

Traveler’s comment from Interstate 4

Comment:

I see the billboard on I-4 East which says “God is not angry”. What do you mean by this? I am a Christian, and I know God is love, but I also read Malachi 2:16 where God says “I hate divorce”. It seems to me that God is angry with divorce. Is God angry about things like child abuse? Is He angry about the rape of nursing home residents? Is He angry about abortion? I reaffirm that God’s primary characteristic is love, but He is also just-He cannot abide sin. If the few examples above make me angry (and I’m not sinless), is it not fair to conclude that some things make God angry?

Your billboard, lacking context, leaves me scratching my head. I really would like to know what you meant. Thank you for your time.

Reply:

Rudy,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the message on the billboard.  We stand with you regarding the horrible slaughter of innocent, unborn children, and don’t disagree that abortion flies in the face of all that is good and holy. Yet, even the commitment of that horrid practice, along with others that you mentioned was dealt with fully on the cross.  All of God’s righteous anger against sin was placed fully on His beloved Son so that cleansing and forgiveness of sin would be granted for all who will believe.

Our desire with this billboard is to attract attention and conversation where we can communicate the glorious plan of salvation.  While God can be angry, His primary motivation toward believers and unbelievers is “love”.

The Word does not say, “For God was so angry with the world that He sent His only begotten Son”.  No, what it does say is, “For God so loved the world…”.  Even in the midst of wickedness, stubbornness, and rebellion, God’s purpose was to seek and save the lost – not to condemn us, but to save us.

Love was, and is God’s motivation toward sinner and saint.  The life, ministry, and sacrifice of Jesus make this perfectly clear.

So, the real question that is before all men is, “will the individual receive God’s love or reject it”.

I have attached my deeper explanation of this with hope you will read – http://www.graceorlando.com/is-god-angry-with-me

Bill Snell

Exec. Pastor

Grace Church

RELIGION vs. JESUS

James Barron


Religion is of this world.  Jesus is from heaven.

Religion tells us to do.  Jesus tells us it is done.

Religion tells us to focus on sin in the flesh in order to modify our behavior.  Jesus tells us to focus on Him in the Spirit in order to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Religion says our heart as a believer is evil still.  Jesus says our heart as a believer is new and good, with no evil.

Religion is all about the outward and seen.  Jesus is all about the inward and unseen.

Religion tries to repair and fix the old creation.  Jesus made us a New Creation!

Religion’s yoke is hard work.   Jesus said His yoke was easy.

Religion uses fear to manipulate people to act.   Jesus’ love compels people to act, with joy!

Religion is proud.  Jesus is humble.

Religion says we must continually confess our sins to stay cleansed and righteous.  Jesus says our sins have been taken away, past, present and future, and they are no longer being counted against us!

Religion says that sins are being counted against the believer.  Jesus says His righteousness is being counted for the believer!

Religion is blind.  Jesus gives us new eyes to see the unseen.

Religion is all about the knowledge of good and evil.  Jesus is all about His Life in us!

Religion is boring.  Jesus is an unexpected journey and adventure!

Religion is an old cell phone where the service has been cancelled.  Jesus is a new cell phone with new service!

Religion is insecure.  Jesus is confident and secure.

Religion is competitive and envious.  Jesus is a rest.

Religion says we must love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength first!  Jesus said He first loved us and that we are to believe first that He loves us with all His heart, soul, mind and strength!

Religion thinks itself wise.  Jesus thinks Religion is foolish.

Religion is a dead end.  Jesus is an open door to endless possibilities!

Religion is man-centered.  Jesus is God-centered.

Religion wants to control other men.  Jesus wants to set men free to live by Him.

Religion is death.  Jesus is Life!

Religion is depressing.  Jesus is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Religion keeps people in a boat that is sinking.  Jesus empowers people to walk out of the boat onto the water to Him!

Religion’s gospel is “fear the Lord and obey His commandments!”  Jesus’ gospel is “believe on Me and fear not, for I give you my righteousness!”

Religion is about rules to keep.  Jesus is about His love to receive.

Religion tries to get people to keep God’s laws so that the people will be righteous.   Jesus tries to get people to see that He kept all the laws for them and they need only believe in Him to be righteous.

Religion is bondage.  Jesus is freedom!

Religion needs money to exist.  Jesus’ life needs no silver or gold to live and prosper!

Religion is mean to you when you do not agree with it.  Jesus is kind even to those who nailed His hands and feet.

Religion says to change you must see your sin!  Jesus says to change you must look away from your sin and see Him!

Religion is Satan’s tool.  Jesus is God’s Son!

I’m not praying for Revival Anymore

Jeff Fitzgerald

 

Weird sounding title isn’t it?

I’ve found that praying for revival is not found anywhere in the New Covenant. Are you surprised? Does the idea throw you off your theological wires?

When I first heard a similar statement, it definitely messed with me, but upon personal investigation I found there is nowhere that we as believers are commanded to “cry out to God” for our cities and to beg God to have mercy on our nation.

When someone says “God have mercy on our city”, that person is trying to convince a God who is perceived to be angry so as to change His mind. But look at Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.” God isn’t holding back his grace and mercy, nor is it possible that we could want revival more than He wants to give it?

It’s probable that the average Christian thinks about revival while associating it with a modern day “revivalist”, holding nightly meetings, accompanied by “pack the pew nights”. Unfortunately the common message which is communicated in these revival meetings is reduced to two words – stop sinning!

The conventional religious mentality is that if we can just get the sin out of the church then revival would come. If you were to ask legalistic believers what keeps God from moving in renewal or revival, most would say that it was “sin”. I say that is impossible because if sin could stop God from moving than no one could even be born again! The Bible says that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Sin has NEVER stopped revival. Have you ever been in gathering where there no one had issues with sin –anyone?

Performance generated revival simply won’t last. Even though Israel saw the glory and presence of God, it was not enough to keep them from building the golden calf!
Consider changing your mind regarding the key to revival. Instead of focusing on sin, I suggest we do as the Apostle Paul proclaimed, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Instead of praying for revival based on an acute awareness of sin, we should be praying for a revelation of Christ and Him crucified. When we receive this revelation of grace, and our identity in Christ, that revelation comes with a New Covenant reality that never fades away. It will never wear off and it won’t need to be repeated.

Jesus never commanded His disciples to “fast and pray” for revival. Why? Because while they were in His presence they were in revival! The Presence of God lives within each believer, and it is the Holy Spirit’s desire to teach us all things thereby exalting Christ.

May we be more effective in our pursuit of knowing and acknowledging Christ’s dynamic presence in us – that will be revival!

Fears, Peace and Phone Calls

By Abigail Dolbear

“Hello!” I answered excitedly as my phone rang.  “I just don’t know how to deal with this.”  Was all my friend said, and then there was silence.  I didn’t know quite what she was talking about, with so many things today that we find hard to rationalize or to settle in our minds.  Is she talking about some relationship issue, or the current status of our government, did something happen with her job?   I wasn’t quite sure so I asked.  “What do you mean?”  Immediately she said, “I can’t wrap my head around the shooting in Connecticut!  How could this happen!”

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had this interchange; certainly we all have made some mention of this tragedy in our recent conversations.  Perhaps making mention of unbelief or sorrow.  This conversation along with unbelief and sorrow was riddled with fear.

When I first heard of the shooting, I was faced with fear as well.  As a Mom of three children, with our youngest in first grade, my first reaction was to protect them.  I immediately thought, I should pull my kids out of school.  Maybe I could work from home, we could figure it out.  Maybe we could take turns with other concerned parents.  My thoughts kind of spiraled out of control.  A little ridiculous as I think back on it!

As immediate as that first thought came to my head, another one followed.  It was a simple thought, DO NOT LET FEAR AND WORRY GUIDE YOU.  That was all.

The simple truth of this statement brought me peace.  I realized in a moment, that if I choose to be led around by fear, the enemy has won.  I choose the Spirit! I choose life!  I choose God’s perspective and will seek to move on his word alone.  I will not be moved by the worry and fear that the circumstances of this world bring!

As children of heaven, we’ve received not only a place in heaven with him, but also a place here, now, on earth.  This is a place of rest and peace that is secured by God himself.  A place where no matter what we face, we know that God never changes, that He is forever good and that His love for us is more than we can imagine.

I shared with my friend my own journey of thoughts and revelations and as our conversation concluded she felt relieved and secure.  She saw a tangible way to judge thoughts and motivations.  She concluded, if a motivation is inspired out of a feeling of fear or worry, it brings more fear and worry and will never bring peace.  However, when the Spirit inspires thoughts and motivations it will always bring life!

 

 

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. 

Romans 8: 5-6

 

 

Holidays of Yesteryear

Bill Snell

Ah, the memories of Christmas holidays.

As a child, I remember the relief I felt with school ending for a few weeks.  I remember the anticipation of travel with the family – frequently touching the window of the car to see if it was getting colder the further north we traveled.  I remember the joy of bundling up in additional layers of clothing.  I remember watching football with a plate loaded with all types of delicious foods, and I remember the excitement I felt knowing that in the pre-dawn hours I would be shouldering a rifle in the quietness of the wood where I would be shivering not only because of the cold, but because of the sound of a branch snapping somewhere in the shadows suggesting that a trophy buck may be moving in my direction.

Like many families, we have developed some simple traditions over the years.  Each one selects one present to be opened on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas day we prepare a large country breakfast complete with flour dusted bacon (you have got to try it), eggs, biscuits and gravy (tomato gravy is preferred by all), coffee and juice.  Then we proceed to the living room to open the rest of the presents.

On more than one occasion we have worked with others to provide a fresh cooked meal (menu of their choosing) for on-duty first responders – fire-fighting personnel, law enforcement, and emergency responders.  Many don’t realize that these duties continue 24-hours a day, seven days a week, holidays included.

This year will be similar for the Snell family – relaxed, laid back, enjoying one another, our grandkids’ loud cries of excitement turning to arguments of who gets to play with what, and plenty of food.

Jesus of course is the center of it all.  He is the reason for our joy and celebration, and we have much to be thankful for.

On behalf of Tammy, our daughter Kimberly and husband Mark, grandsons Aiden, Austin and Cashton (due in three weeks), sons, Tim, Chris, and Clay, Bailey (our black lab grand-pooch), and Sundae Kinda Luv (our rescued greyhound), we wish you the warmth, joy, and peace we have found as a family in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Merry Christmas!

Bill Snell