Monday Mornin’ Ministration

rainbow

A quick word of encouragement this wonderfully wet winter Monday morning…

If you are a genuine believer, every single decision of importance that you will ever make will be opposed by somebody else – especially other Christians.

About twelve years ago when we left the abusive religious group we were part of, we had to re-inspect every element of our belief system.  In fact, we had to recognise that a ‘belief system’ is not what Jesus died to give us.  We have a relationship with Him, and a part of the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ.  We are united with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But we had to look at alot of issues we had not previously considered because we had lived in a religious bubble for 15 years. The world was much bigger than we thought.

Did we believe the gifts of the Spirit, miracles, casting out demons, speaking in tongues etc are still active today or not?  Were we cessationists or continuists?  I shake my head as I read that sentence.  We are brothers and sisters.  Thats.  It.  Yet, such is the environment today, there is far more error in the Christian church than we ever thought possible.  Our little cult experience was the thin end of the wedge. We still had to understand the arguments that well meaning believers put forward and understand what scriptures actually taught, rather than what somebody told us they taught.  We had lived in a church which did not practice any kind of faith in God, it was all about faith in men and in erroneous religious traditions.  We had to learn to weigh the arguments and decide for ourselves, a scary thought. So, in the end, we settled in our hearts that yes, we believe the Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He still heals, still delivers us from the enemy, still sets us free, still heals the brokenhearted!

Then there was the old ‘place of women in the church’ issue.  Did we believe it was OK for women to preach in the church or did we believe that women should ‘remain silent’. Having spent 15 years being told everything that went wrong anywhere was the fault of women, more specifically wives not ‘obeying their husbands or the elders’ and watching women’s marriages and families torn apart by controlling meddlers who claimed the right to separate what God had joined together, you can imagine we were not all for ‘submission to men’ by all christian women or anything like it.  I am not a complentarian, nor am I an egalitarian.  I am a woman, filled with the Spirit, who obeys what the Spirit tells me to do.  I don’t go to a church, so I don’t have to worry about offending somebodys religious sensibilities, if God wants me to preach the gospel to somebody I do, if God wants me to teach somebody something from the scriptures I do, and I don’t get hung up about labels.

But here’s the thing.  After 12 years of having to weigh options, pray through and make choices about what we believe, we have realised one very important thing.  Whichever position you take, you need to take it in faith and you need to cling to Jesus with all of your heart and resist the devil because he will oppose you. He will bring doubts, fears and worries about ‘what other people will think’ to you.  These thoughts, my friends, are the same thoughts which assail the unsaved.  Fear of men is universal.  It is NOT from God!

Whichever belief you hold, you will be attacked for it, especially on the internet.  If you are a Calvinist, you will hate Arminians. If you are a Baptist you will hate Pentecostals.  I am obviously making sweeping statements here to make a point.  I am against siding with any dead white theologian of any stripe, with the possible exception of Paul and the Apostles.  I hate the anger and the hostility and the abuse which is thrown around by some of those claiming to be ‘watchmen’ for the body of Christ. If you believed these men everyone who didn’t believe exactly what they believed would be going to hell. In my experience, they need to be ‘watching’ their own attitudes because these often tend to prove their immaturity and fleshly natures more than any amount of ‘discernment’ that they apparently have in exposing other people’s faulty theology.

Be assured my friends, you will be attacked and opposed for saying what you believe.  Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he is having a field day out there.

Search your hearts, search the scriptures, spend huge amounts ot time in prayer and hold fast to your faith.  True brothers and sisters will stand together regardless of whether or not they believe the rapture will happen before or during or after the Tribulation. True lovers of Christ will love the brethren in word and deed and will take very great care not to offend another because of their own beliefs.  We no longer have issues over meat sacrificed to idols, but we are going to be held accountable for starting and/or contributing to feuds over whether or not a woman can teach Sunday school to boys over the age of 13 or not.

Come on, lets remember that Jesus died for us, not for our belief systems.  We are one with Him, and preparing ourselves as a Bride waiting for her Bridegroom!

Lets strap that armour on, and pray for one another earnestly and with love!

Anita Brady

 

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Holy Fear

eye of god

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