Prodigal at the Takeaway

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I saw my old friend Graham down at our local fish and chip shop the other day. My husband and I were in on a Friday night on our own for a change, the kids had all gone out, and we thought we would whoop it up and get some takeaway. I was talking to Steve about what looked nice, and glanced up suddenly and there to my surprise was Graham. For a brief moment I nearly forgot everything that had happened. The words were on the tip of my tongue except they weren’t released. “How are you Graham? Good to see you’.

Then I realised. Graham wasn’t allowed to talk to me. He attended a church which didn’t let him talk to people who had left. I wondered if Graham knew why he wasn’t talking to me. It was clear by his face – the jaw set, the eyes staring straight ahead, that expressionless yet so expressive look which I had come to connect with ‘them’ – that to talk to him would have caused him embarrassment. We hadn’t spoken in over ten years. But I couldn’t ask about his wife and children. I had to pretend that we didn’t know each other. Or care. It was ridiculous.

Yet, if I had spoken to Graham out of determination not to allow his scruples to affect me, I would have offended him, embarrassed him as well probably. He was the ‘weaker brother’ in this situation. I didn’t want to make him any more anxious and distressed than he obviously was. Nobody else in the shop, which was pretty crowded, would have seen his distress, but I knew from experience that his heart would have been pounding and his mind racing just because he was in the same room as us.

Of course, there was every possibility that he didn’t even see or recognise me. Graham was a bit vague like that. He was the absent-minded professor type. He was a very clever man and his mind was always on other things. But we had been friends. We had been friends before the takeover by the cult. We had used to sing, laugh, talk and enjoy church together. We even used to have meals together, our families, our kids, without the hard-faced, hard-heartedness which I was now confronted with.

Ironically, this shunning, this sword into the heart twisting and pulling, was being done without much forethought. For a man who was used to thinking a lot, he had become a zombie; a Stepford Wife. He was married to the church, his wife came second, his children third, his friends a very faint fourth if there was such a position. And God? God was the elders of the church and Graham was being a good Christian. He was doing what he was told, and what he thought was necessary for our salvation, in the hope that we would one day come back to the fold and once again submit ourselves to the insanity which had forced us out in the first place. Yet, Graham would not have read his bible, would not have realised that this sort of discipline was reserved for the heartless, wicked, rebellious person who had refused God time and again and refused to change their ways when they had been repeatedly confronted. Graham thought that he was helping us see the error of our ways, he didn’t realise that we had left because of the error of the ways of the church he attended. He was told we were no longer ‘of them’, therefore, he treated us the way so many of his type treated us. He was the superior person for removing himself from us. We were to be treated as though we were not even present.

So Steve and I bought our fish and chips and went and sat in the car and ate, laughed, talked and lamented about poor old Graham. Graham took his takeaway, and sat with his little boy looking out at the sea, on a bench by himself, lonely and devoid of the presence of God, like all rebellious men are, yet still thinking that he had done the right thing by pretending we didn’t exist.

It’s strange, I would have thought people like this were hardly rebellious. They were always being accused of such by the men who led them. But this was because the men who led them were rebellious. There was an ‘older son’ mentality at this church. It looked down it’s nose at those who did not ‘get it’ and became envious and jealous of everything the younger son appeared to be getting which by their reckoning was completely undeserved. Yet they were like dogs in the manger. They didn’t want what the Father had given them, but they didn’t want anyone else to get it either. No feasting, no rejoicing, no love over the return of the prodigal, or concern for the lost who are perishing, just hard, arrogant, patronising refusal to let God melt their hearts. Rebellion does that to people. It hardens their hearts and makes them angry and bitter.

Graham and his friends would attend church that Sunday and believe all was right with the world. We wouldn’t attend church at all, but we would pray with our kids, read our bibles, and be free of the religious accoutrement which men like Graham take for granted. We would not be yelled at by controlling, perfidious men with greedy hearts and ugly manners. We would not join with those who destroyed marriages and families and praised God all in the same week. We would remove ourselves, yet our punishment was to be bereft of people we cared about and loved. This was their way of telling us we were wrong. If they thought this was going to make a difference, they were right.
We would be wounded because of the terrible loss and because of the terrible pain which the loss created. But we would not regret having walked away from the cult, and we would not regret having the scales lifted from our eyes and the hardness from our hearts. We would know for sure that our lives were changed. Graham would continue coldly ignoring friends who had left. He would think all was the way it should be. But he would be ignoring the still small voice of God in his own heart which told him that it really wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. He would become, had become, spiritually atrophied.

We love you Graham. We won’t forget you. We mourn the loss, we miss the friendship and we hope you leave the pigsty before it’s too late.

Enjoy your fish and chips matey, but we hope fervently you don’t miss out on the marriage supper of the lamb.

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Changing The Way We Think 2

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Paul has written, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a list of things that we should meditate on.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

1. Whatever things are true.

In scripture we are encouraged to speak the truth in love. To be able to do this we first need to know the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘I am the Truth.’

The opposite of that which is true is that which is false or a lie.

Ephesians 4:25 says, ‘Put away lying…’ That is to say, put away that which is a lie, that which is false or opposes the true.

Satan is called the father of lies. He is also referred to as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). His very nature is that of being opposite to all that is holy, clean, pure, righteous, honest.

Jesus said of the Pharisees (the religious system), ‘you are of your father the devil.’ (John 8:44)

These religious people who lived by a law that they themselves had changed and tweaked to suit themselves throughout the ages were full on opposing Christ and everything He was doing and saying. These people were His main protagonists and as we know it was eventually the religious system of His day that crucified Him. As an aside, it will again be, in these last days, the religious system which we see so much evidence of all over the world, that will oppose the true Church as she stands up for the truth of the gospel.

Everything of all or any religious system opposes God and Jesus Christ. These men hated Christ and crucified Him, they were of their father the devil who opposes all that is true.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

Ephesians 4:25 goes on to say, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour.

Ephesians 4:15, ‘Speak the truth in love.’

Zechariah 8:16-17 says, “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour: Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbour; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”

To do this we need to know the truth for ourselves.

Abide in the word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ John 8:31

Paul said meditate on that which is true. Meditate on Christ, on who He is.

2. Whatever things are noble.

The word ‘noble’ has in its meaning: that which is of exalted moral or mental character or excellence,- of an admirably high quality, notably superior, excellent.

Another word for noble is honourable; that which is worthy of respect.

Here we could speak of things such that are dignified, reverent, not crass, not trashy, not unclean or dirty, not disrespectful but full of excellence.

In Philippians 1 Paul says that he prays for the saints in Philippi, v9 ‘that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (why?) v10, that you may approve the things that are excellent (so) that you may be sincere and without offence.’

Proverbs 8:1-7a says, ‘Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart. Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.’

We could so easily fit the word honourable in here instead of excellent, ‘I will speak of honourable things..’

Honourable means worthy of honour and high respect, dignity and distinction.

Whenever I look at this I automatically think of the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all of this and so much more.

Worship is to give reverent honour to God.

Whatever is worthy of worship is summed up as God the Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi and us today to think on the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Whatever things are just.

We could easily insert the word ‘righteous’ here instead of ‘just’.

Abraham believed God and he was justified by faith and it was accounted to him as righteousness.

The just (righteous) shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

Romans 3:24-26 says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

We are justified by faith.

Romans 4:9b says, “for we say that faith was accounted to Abraham as righteousness.”

Romans 5:1 says, “having been justified (made just) by faith

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

What is Righteousness?

I have read it summed up like this,

“The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behaviour and every word and thought.” (http://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html)

Man’s own righteousness is measured against the clear Holy Spirit inspired plumb line of God’s Word. There is nothing we can think, do or say of ourselves that can match up to the life of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is itself the plumb line we are compared to.

The righteousness of God is the very life of Jesus Christ.

We must meditate on the life of Christ, He is the example we are to follow.

Deuteronomy 16:20 says, “You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

4. Whatever things are Pure.

We live in a day and age where to a large degree morality does not exist. Once upon a time society lived by moral standards that were based on the truths of the Bible. There is a flood of darkness pouring out over the earth like never before. All of the things spoken of in scripture that are foretold to happen in the last days leading up to the second coming of Christ are happening now right in front of our eyes.

Lets read what these scriptures say,

Romans 1: ” And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”

2 Peter 3:3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,”

Jude 1:17-18 “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.”
Jesus Himself foretold that in the last days lawlessness would abound and the love of many will grow cold.” Matt 24:12

The first thing to look at is the ‘Lawless’ issue. What is Lawlessness?

Daily we see more and more evidence worldwide of people ignoring the laws of the land they live in. Many on our roads no longer care about sticking to the rules. Many are now a law unto themselves.

The dictionary has this to say about the word ‘Lawless’.

-having no laws; not obeying the law, contrary to or without regard for the law, uncontrolled, unrestrained, unbridled, and unruly.

Lawless people are those who choose to live outside of the established boundaries or those who may even acknowledge boundaries but ignore them most of the time anyway.
Lawless people are unrestrained, out of control with no one or nothing to rein them in ie no boundaries. Anything goes, if it feels good do it, limitless promiscuity, pornography/sexual immorality etc etc.

These works of darkness are out of control all over the world at present and the situation is not getting any better. No matter how hard the law enforcement agencies work the flood of darkness continues to increase. The worlds legal systems cannot stop this flood of darkness. And let me say, this filth and darkness is rampant in the church also. Satan has infiltrated the church and so much of what is detailed in the Word of God as being ungodly and sinful is now accepted as normal in the church.

Man in general has chosen to discard and reject God and His Word and in so doing have thrown away the plumb line, the guide, the handbook telling us what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

God is Holy, Righteous, True and Pure.

We need to turn to Him and His Word, allow the Word by the Power of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgement which in turn will lead us to repentance from sin and into a holy pure relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

5. Whatever things are lovely.

The dictionary sums up lovely as this;

whatever is sweet, gracious, generous or patient
beautiful, especially in a pleasing or charming way
delightful for beauty, harmony or grace
someone or something attractive
inspires love

I like the last one, inspires love.

Again this can be so aptly summed up in one person, Jesus Christ. Lets look at what else scripture speaks about in relation to inspirational love. Song of Solomon is full of dialogue between the Groom and His Bride.

S of S 1:9, “I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold.”

S of S 1:15 “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes.”

S of S 2:2 “Like a lily among thorns,So is my love among the daughters.”

S of S 2:8-14 “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledoves heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away! “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon speaks of the love affair between Christ and His Church. There is a deep growing relationship here between the Groom and His Bride. They speak of the love they have for each other.

May I say respectfully that Christ our Bridegroom is lovely, pleasing, someone who is attractive though not in a physical or sensual way. He is the One who first loved us even though we were yet sinners. He is the One who is altogether lovely.

6. Whatever things are of good report.

The ESV uses the word ‘commendable’. We could also use instead, ‘of good reputation’ or ‘reputable.’ When we consider what we read, what we look at or listen to on our smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV’s, or in magazines, when we consider what we feed our minds and hearts with via our eyes and ears, do we stop to think whether these things are of good report. Are they reputable? Would we recommend any of these things to our wives, husbands, sons, daughters or even to our pastors???

As this post is written primarily to Christians I put that same question to each of you. Would you recommend any of this ‘stuff’ that you are into to Jesus Himself? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to work in your life? If you say yes then there should be no hidden sin in your life.

Have you allowed the spotlight of the Holy Spirit to shine into every recess of your heart and soul to purge out all that is of darkness? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to lead you through your house to point out all the idols that should not be there? Is there still secret sin in your life? ‘Stuff’ that you are hiding from others?

Remember, God sees everything. God hears everything. Are you into what God calls ‘wholesome’?

As I have sat here and considered what I have been writing it becomes all the more clear to me that the relationship I have with my Saviour is the most important relationship I will ever have. There is nothing on this earth, nothing in the spiritual realm that can give me what Jesus Christ can give me. All of what I have been writing about can only come out of the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Our focus needs to be Christ at all times. You may think to yourself, How is that possible? Well it is possible through Christ alone. Christ has made it possible for all of us to change the way we think. As we dig deeper and deeper into His Word and feed spiritually on what is contained therein we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

His Word will wash and regenerate our entire being. We will be able to say that our minds are set on things above. We will be able to say that we have the mind of Christ. This will be true because we have learnt to know His mind through His Word. As a man thinks in his heart (soul: mind, will and emotions) so is he. Proverbs 23:7

Now when I find myself in any situation will I go straight to my own way of seeing things, will I interpret it according to my thinking based on what the world has taught me, or the way I was trained by my parents and all those other influences that were upon my life as I grew up, up until I came to Christ or will I turn to the Lord and what His Word says?

Will my automatic response be, How would you have me to handle this Lord?, or What should I say here Lord?, or Lord the ways of Your Kingdom are the only way, please lead me and guide me according to the Life and principles of Your Kingdom, in the way of your Righteousness.

It is all about changing the way we think.

Steve.

Changing The Way We Think

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Now I need to say right from the get go that this is not a promo for positive thinking or positive confession, the old ‘name it and claim it’ rubbish that was preached ardently throughout the 70’s and 80’s.

What I feel motivated to write has nothing to do with worldly wealth, gain, prestige, human endeavour or anything of the like.

In actual fact if you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit you are more likely to loose what you have and gain something extraordinary instead. You are likely to gain something of greater wealth than anything this world could ever give you.

That extraordinary something is actually Christ Himself.

Let me explain:

Our main text today is from Romans. Lets have a look at Chapter 12 verses 1+2, in particular the portion “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

As I sat here and pondered this I had the distinct impression that the Holy Spirit was saying to me that the way forward for us as believers is to be being transformed and that this takes place through the changing of our minds ie changing the way we think.

Consider the following scriptures.

Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..”

1 Corinthians 2:16 says: “For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ“.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says: “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,…”

So, these few verses speak very clearly to us about our thoughts and our minds being fixed on Jesus. I think it right to quote Paul again here when he says:

Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…..”

Other translations put ‘looking to Jesus’ like this; in the NASB and the NIV it reads ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’ and in the ISV it reads ‘fixing our attention on Jesus’.

Now I am sure that the writer to the Hebrews was not talking about our physical eyes. Here he was speaking about our spiritual eyes and our minds. There is so much spoken of in the New Testament regarding this issue. It is I think important that we grasp what is written about on this topic as it will change the way we do and see everything.

Let us now look at why we need our thinking changed.

Firstly, the Cause:

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

So much of what we think, do and say was dictated to us by parents, the TV, the teachers we had in our school years and for some, many years of looking into all sorts of alternative religions etc before being found by Christ. Other influences can be the teaching and doctrine in churches that were full of deception and I am not just talking about cults, I am also referring to the many churches, some referred to as traditional, out there today that in some way are presenting other gospels promoted by seducing spirits and doctrinal demons. I included godly parents in the above breakdown, which is not exhaustive by any stretch of imagination because I know for myself that like me there are parents out there who though walking with the Lord have made many mistakes in the way they trained up their children. There is not a person in all of history, save Jesus Christ, who has not been affected in some way by the above.

To sum up the cause, all we really need say is, All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

Philippians 3:18-19 says: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Galatians 5:17 says: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another….”

Romans 8:6 says: “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

There is also clear evidence from scripture that the opposition we receive in relation to walking in the Spirit comes at us from the world, the flesh and the devil.

1 John 2:15-16 says: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 says: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

Our carnal or natural minds work hard against us to confuse, distort and cloud out that of the Spirit. Our minds need to be renewed.

Secondly, the Solution,

I quoted earlier the following:

Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..”

When Paul wrote to the Colossians he made it very clear what their role and ours is in this. He said that we are to SET OUR MINDS ON THINGS ABOVE. We are to actually do something. We are to make a conscious choice and in so doing change what we are thinking about and how we think.

Also, we see in Proverbs 22:6 that training was used when we were children to instruct us in a certain way of living. For many this was not a christian way or lifestyle.  Because of this it is important that we realise the need for change, for retraining.

In so many ways we all have been tainted by the thinking and philosophies of the generations who went before us, those who laid down the framework for what and who we are today.

So, in varying degrees we all need to be retrained. We all need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

What should we do to have our minds renewed?

What is the process and what should we feed our minds with?

What should we be focusing on?

In Ephesians Paul says:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

And also,

Titus 3:4-6 says: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior……”

In both of these verses Paul speaks clearly about washing and cleansing and sanctification, regeneration and renewing.

And this is done by and through the WORD.

The washing of the water of the WORD.

Having grown up in an ungodly household, been trained by ungodly parents, been fed much through the ungodly content on the TV, been taught at school by ungodly teachers and so on, there is much flowing around in my mind that still needs to be cleansed.

The environment that I grew up in formed who I am. As the old saying goes,’The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’
I still need to be retrained in so many things because this world has had such a massive influence on my life all these years.
This will happen as I continue to dig into God’s Word and feed on what He says is the right way to live, in word and action, the right way to think and so on.

The Holy Spirit is my teacher, John 14:26 and ‘He will teach me all things and bring to remembrance all things…..’

If the Holy Spirit is going to bring all things to my remembrance, firstly He needs to teach me ‘all things’, so that He can remind me of these things.

It is so important for us to feed on God’s Word as this is the tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and sanctify, to wash and renew.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

In my next post we will look at these things that Paul encourages us to meditate on.

Steve

Holy Fear

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Following is an excerpt from Chris Poblete’s Book ‘The Two Fears’. In the chapter ‘Defining the Two Fears’ he describes the difference between holy and unholy fear.

How do we really tell, in a particular situation, if a fear we face is holy or unholy? To me, Charles Spurgeon offers the simplest, cleanest, most useful distinction when he talks about holy fear driving us to God and unholy fear driving us away. In other words, holy fear says, “Whatever else may be going on, no matter how bad it looks, I know my salvation in this situation lies in God.” Unholy fear says, “God can’t or won’t help you with this problem – at least, not in the way you might prefer – so you had better find some other saviour, some other means of escape.”

Let’s look at the difference between holy and unholyfear from several slightly different angles to try round out the picture:

• Holy fear compels us to run to God as our only hope. Unholy fear drives us away from God and toward whatever false saviour seems close at hand.
• Holy fear is the relationship of a child to a good and loving father. Unholy fear is the relationship of servant or slave to an unking and unpredictable master.
• Holy fear is based in a family relationship that you treasure and want to cultivate. Unholy fear is based in a merely legal relationship that you dislike but can’t escape.
• Holy fear sees God as your Father who is loving and omnipotent. Unholy faer sees God as either not Father, not loving, and/or not omnipotent.

Holy fear acknowledges power that God has over us, but that acknowledgement is informed by the knowledge that we are his beloved children. Holy fear rules over all other fears and sends us running to the Lord as our only true hope.

The Way of Escape

Understanding the difference between the two fears will go a great distance to give us the tools we need to move away from unholy fear and toward holy fear. Godly fear reminds us that God is bigger, more powerful and more trustworthy than any circumstance our fallen world ahs to offer. It reminds us that God’s provision in Jesus was great enough to justify us before him. It reminds us that his mercy is great enough that we may safely run to Him and rightfully expect Him to welcome us with open arms. It reminds us that God is faithful to His character and His promises. Godly fear reminds us that God is our only hope.

Asaph finally realised this about halfway through Psalm 73 when he wrote , “But when I thought how to understand [the prosperity of the wicked], it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went in to the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end” (Psalm 73:17).

What happens in a sanctuary? You meet God. You draw near to Him. You behold Him for who He is. And you worship. The remedy for all sinful fear is reminding ourselves who God is, what He has done, and what He will do, so that we might turn to Him in worship.
Chris Poblete “The Two Fears” (Pages 64-66)

Christian speakers and authors often tell us that the fear of God is really just an ‘awe’ that we feel for God and it is not really a fear. I disagree wholeheartedly. In these last couple of weeks I have spent time alone with God and discovered a godly fear that I have not had before. That fear, even in its most infinitesimal measure, is enough to spark not just worship but stunned silence. When you are confronted with the God of the universe and all eternity, there are literally no words in any human language to describe what you see (metaphorically). I want more of that. I believe that true godly fear is not just awe, people who say that reduce God to something like a human being who is given respect and awe like the President of the United States. God made the whole universe from nothing and yet was made by nobody, needs nothing, is complete, perfect, holy and changeless in his total power over everything. Yet we blame God for being unfair, uncaring and unknowing. We reduce Him to an easily digested phrase, and His fear to something which in the end is not even biblical. Don’t try and describe the fear of God. Instead, read Scripture and recognise what God says about the fear of God. Here are some starters.

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.

(Proverbs 2:1-9)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,[b]!
And strength[c] to your bones.

(Proverbs 3:5-8)

How many times have I cried out to God, “If God loved me He would have stopped this from happening”. Yet, I also know that to blame God for anything is to have an incomplete understanding of His blamelessness and utter innocence of all wrongdoing. It is easy to become disenchanted, depressed even, by the circumstances you live with. Sometimes things happen which make absolutely no sense, and we have all been sent into stunned disbelief when something comes to us out of left field, something we didn’t expect and which leaves us floored, literally. Sometimes the pain is too much to process all at once, and it can fester and grow if we are not careful. Job understood the pain of loss compounded by the dismay of illness and disillusionment on top of everything else. He had lost everything he owned and loved and his own wife told him to ‘curse God and die’. A real understanding of God begins with a genuine fear of His power, His control over our lives, and His utter mercy towards us. Job finally understood who God was only after he had confronted God on His apparent unfairness and been profoundly chastised by his maker.

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
6 Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”

(Job 42:5,6)

God is not opposed to honesty, only pride and rebellion. Only when we get to know Him more will we learn to both fear and love Him in proper proportions.

I have spent huge tracts of time being bound by unholy fear. When I was a teenager, I went through panic attacks, and it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I really understood what that was about. I know about fear and it’s stranglehold on your minds, will and emotions. I also know about how fear of man can warp and distort your faith. People become bigger than God. Pastors, elders, older Christians you trust and look up to can be worshipped by individuals and congregations to the point of treating them as though they were like God. My former pastors and their minions expected their congregation to actually address them as though they were God. Their messages were ‘God’s word to you’. They were insane. A genuine fear of God would have produced a proper relationship not only with God but with their church and fellow believers. This holds for all of us. We can only relate to others with the mind of Christ in order to be one with them. Yet, so many Christians these days see God as only loving, or kind or gracious and forget that he is all-powerful, righteous, utterly holy and perfect as well. Scripture tells us that the demons believe and tremble, clearly they have more sense than most of us.

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

(James 2:19)

Genuine holy fear of God is not something I have been familiar with. It took a couple of readings of Chris Poblete’s excellent treatise on this subject and much meditation and prayer for me to even begin to understand what it was. Yet, as I said, even the tiniest glimse of God’s immensity and power is enough to make you understand why even the demons tremble. We should all be trembling and learn to appreciate that if our God can cause us to fear Him, He is also big enough to deal with every single one of our little bitty problems. Because our problems tend to shrink down to their proper size when we see everything through the lens of scripture and the eyes of God.

I pray that everyone who reads this finds the fear of God. Chapters two and three of Proverbs are perfect places to start meditating on God’s word and bathing your minds in the truth of His character. Not only that, but these words inform us regarding the nature of God’s blessings. He rewards those who diligently seek Him and He provides such benefits as health and long life to those who fear Him.

Ask God for a holy fear of Him, as strange as it sounds. I have done this myself and found that He really does give you what you ask for. It has taken a lot for me to come to this place. And I have only just begun to fear Him! I was saved at the age of 13, and have figured for the longest time that I knew all about what being a Christian was all about. I was completely wrong. I was also full of the pride of life and my own righteousness. I tell you all that a genuine fear of God, the trembling kind, not the ‘God is so great’ kind, was the only thing to kick my unreality in the pants and broom my attitude to the kerb. We all need some reality checks, and the revelation we experience in God’s word is the best way I know to literally ‘blow our minds’ free of the worldly thinking and religious mindset which has plagued the church for centuries, and our own individual lives.

 

With love,

Anita

A Call To Prayer

Hi everybody,

We have set up this blog because we want to share our urgent message with other Christians in Australia and particularly in Brisbane.

We are sure there are many of you out there praying for our city, for revival, for renewal, for growth. We believe revival comes through prayer, fasting, repentance from sin, deep heart level changes in our lives. As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, as we obey His voice, as we submit to His leading and being to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, He draws near to us. If we don’t have clean hands, if we are allowing sin to have its way in our lives, we will be grieving the Holy Spirit and He will not be able to bless us as richly as only He is able to.

Of course He says He will never leave us nor forsake us, and He will always provide for our needs. But there is a huge difference in our lives when we are walking with clean hands and pure hearts. We can feel the weight off our shoulders when our consciences no longer convict us. When we begin to seek His face, when we begin to walk in His ways, we will be assured that we will know His will for our lives.

Romans 12:2 tells us “do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.

We need to stop conforming to the world, and have our minds renewed BEFORE He will transform us and THEN we will be able to prove the will of God in our lives. God promises great blessings for those who will turn away from their sins, those besetting sins which so easily ensnare us. Yet so many preachers in this city just want to share the good news of God’s blessing with their congregations and forget that we need to stop walking in the flesh, that we need to turn away from our sins and recognise that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.

We are no longer slaves of sin. So let’s walk perfectly before God. We believe that when we do this, God begins to draw closer to us and begins to work in an unprecedented way in our lives. We have proven in for ourselves in our own lives and in those of our children’s.

Our family is being transformed before our very eyes, and we want to share the good news of this gospel with the rest of the Body of Christ.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

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