Plan ‘B’

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Living in chaos from earliest memory, it has been important to have a Plan B in place for all contingencies.  Some people have called this Defensive Pessimism, or more recently a Pre-mortem.  It involves examining all possibilities, usually negative ones and then working out what you will do if those possibilities become realities.  Like a postmortem you need to carefully look at what could happen – rather than what did happen – and work backwards.

The trouble with Plan B’s is that you are not living in reality you are living in possibility and worse, you are living in negative possibilities.  So if all you are seeing is the negative, you are not seeing the good stuff.  Moreover, you are not interpreting what happens from a godly perspective.

If God made you and put you here, and He did, then what happens to you is His concern, not yours.  Your concern is to respond to God, your creator.  If your response is gratitude, love and worship, coming from a heart which has been changed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, then you are going to know God’s love to you in a much deeper way.  You are going to experience the peace and joy that comes from knowing and SEEING God work in your life.

This is actually the trouble that a lot of unsaved, or unbelievers, experience.  They say ‘If God loves me then why did he let this terrible thing happen to me’.  They don’t, and I hesitate to use this phrase, ‘feel the love’.  They don’t feel it, because they don’t know it.  Scripture tells us that God’s love abides in us and we know that because we have ‘love for the brethren’.  In other words, if you love God’s people, then the love of God is present in you.  If you don’t love God’s people, and that covers most unbelievers, then God’s love is not in you.  If God’s love is not in you, then you are not going to either see God the way He is, nor are you going to understand why God allows things to happen to you. Nor are you going to recognise that a lot of what happens to unbelievers is because they are walking in disobedience to and rebellion against God.  God does love unbelievers in the same way He always has.  But if you are not interested in God’s love and work actively against God and His people, then you had better watch out.  No.  God is not going to ‘get’ you.  But the principle or law of sowing and reaping is always active in the world.  God won’t get you, but the results of your own actions will. Also, God’s word tells us that vengeance belongs to Him.  If you attack him, and attacking His people is the same thing, then He will take vengeance. (Psalm 34:21)

It is interesting that many Christians will also ask this question or express the concern that they are not ‘feeling’ the love of God.  God helped me see the reason for this some time ago.  I had been getting more and more agitated that I didn’t feel loved by God. I wanted God to somehow show me that He loved me and was really looking for some kind of overwhelming tsunami of emotion to hit me to prove that I was being supernaturally loved.  What God showed me was that this is not love.  Human beings think love acts a certain way and they tend most of the time to think that it has something to do with feeling emotionally excited the same way they would if they had just ‘fallen in love’ with somebody.  In fact, this ‘falling in love’ thing is not love at all, it is a mixture of a lot of emotions, and a lot of the emotion is lust not love.  Genuine love is not an overwhelming feeling, or at least not most of the time, it is a steady, strong sense of an open heart full of affection, adoration (in the right sense), the desire to bless and edify, belonging and loyalty as well as a host of others.  It is almost impossible to describe genuine love in anything other than a very long complex description because it is an incredibly rich sense, and I would not call it an emotion, but a way of seeing somebody.

In God’s kingdom, His love is encapsulated in the fact that He gives His people the Spirit of Adoption which cries ‘Abba’, Father. This is the term Jesus himself used when addressing the Father just before His crucifixion.

36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Mark 14 NKJV

Paul also encouraged both the Galatians and the Romans by exhorting us to cry out to God the same way, to our Father in heaven, not just a name, but an actual, in fact the very first ever, creator and progenitor of children.

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8 NKJV

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 4 NKJV

He has made us His own.  That is a very special feeling.  It is the epitome of His love, the sense not just of belonging to God’s family but of being cared for.  If your father was a good man who loved you affectionately and openly, you can thank God for that.  You have a good inheritance to pass on to your children. If not, you can still thank God.  Psalm 27:10 tells us that when our mother and father forsake us, the Lord will take us up.  David, the writer of the psalm, knew what that meant.  His family forsook him, yet God anointed him as king of Israel when he was just a boy, and the youngest boy in the family at that.  The others saw him as just a shepherd boy, the least important and least vital member of the family.  But God made him king because he had a ‘heart after God’.

God showed me that I did indeed know the love of God. He asked me whether I loved Him.  When I examined my heart, I realised I did indeed love Him.  That, He said, was His love.  We can’t love God unless He has put a love for Him in our hearts first. And that genuinely is love, it has all the attributes of the love we have for the human beings we care deeply for and it also has a supernatural quality, but it’s not something I can describe, you have to experience it for yourself.

Some unbelievers at this point might say well if God is the one who puts the love in your heart then what’s the point?  It’s up to God isn’t it?  God tells us that He knows His own, and also that His people know His voice.  But in order to come to God, you still have a choice.  If you truly want to know God and want to know His love in your heart, all you have to do is come to Jesus.  Talk to Him!  Tell Him what is in the depths of your heart.  There is no sinner on the face of the earth that will be turned away by God if they truly come with an open heart and wish to do business with Him.  Only God can show you what is in your heart, and only God can cleanse you from what is in there.  If you know that your heart is filled with dirt and filth, and if you are honest you will know what kinds of dirt and filth you have been playing with all your life, then the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from that filth so that we can come before God with clean hands and a pure heart.  Every true believer wants to have a pure heart.  Even David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba came before God with a repentant heart and cried out “Cast me not away from your presence O God, take not your Holy Spirit from me!”.  He had known the presence of God and His blessings.  But he also knew that, in the time before Christ, he had to come to God and make confession so that he could be made clean and the proper sacrifices made to cleanse him.  In the Old Testament, men laid their hands on the animal to be sacrificed to transfer their sin to the animal and the animal was then killed and its blood sprinkled on the altar.  God cleanses us today through the final sacrifice of His Son upon the altar of Gethsemane, and if we come to Him and recognise that He bore our sins that day on the cross, we will be cleansed, made whole, made clean and made acceptable to God.

God sent Jesus because He so loved the world that He was willing to die for us.

We don’t need any more proof of God’s love than this, and it is this single most important event in the history of Humankind that will determine whether we will know God’s love within our own heart.  We Christians can tell you that God loves you til we are blue in the face, but you won’t know that love in your heart until you are first made clean by God himself and then filled with His love and His Spirit.

If you want to make that choice, all you need to do is understand and accept the final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God and ask Him to cleanse you from your unworthiness.

We are all unworthy before God.  There is none good, not one.  We have all sinned and fallen from the perfection God meant every human being to have.  There is no need for me to be making Plan B’s.  God doesn’t need a Plan B.  His Plan A, Jesus Christ, is the only provision I need.  It is only my flesh, my old nature, the nature I was born with that pushes me to anxiously analyse and plan.  It is not peace and joy, it is torment and agitation. This is not God’s plan for me or for anyone.

 

 

 

 

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A Two-Edged Sword

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I had something of a revelation this morning.

After working on the previous post yesterday regarding the inerrancy and efficacy of the scriptures, I was in a conundrum.  There is a particular physical issue I have prayed about over and over for the last two years asking God to heal me.  During that time I had to go back to the scriptures and pray. I really wanted to know what God said about healing. Does God heal today?  Is God not unchanging and without a shadow of turning? Did Jesus ever turn away anyone who came to Him for healing with an “oh it’s not God’s will that you be healed right now”?   After many months I came to the conclusion that I do believe God heals, I am not a cessationist and I know because the scriptures tell me God heals and nowhere does it say that God has stopped healing.  I read many testimonies from various Christians, some from a more extreme Charismatic background and others who were not extreme at all. I even read a testimony from a guy who used to be cessationist but had a friend who believed God healed and gradually changed his mind on the subject simply because his friend was so unflinching in his belief, yet so joyful in his faith.  So in the end, it was the scriptures coupled with the testimony of the saints which caused me to know in my heart that Jesus heals.

But if I did not have the scriptures to give me historical accounts of what Jesus actually did on earth, and what His people experienced and testified to in the years after his ascension, I would have nothing but other people’s stories.  Our testimonies are important, scripture tells us we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of the saints (Rev:12:11). But if all we have are subjective stories, you can be tossed too and fro by other people’s contradictory accounts.  One person has prayed and never been healed (like Joni Earekson Tada) others have prayed and been instantly healed, others slowly over time etc. How do you account for such things?  You will never know what God thinks about this subject unless you go the scriptures.  If you don’t believe the scriptures are inerrant and that God’s spirit has inspired the words and that they testify of God, then you have nothing left. I mean literally nothing except feelings and stories, yours and other people’s. There has to be an authoritative source which tells us what God’s nature is, and how He intervenes in people’s lives.  Jesus healed when He was on earth, He heals now. Steve has been to India and spent a number of months on two separate occasions.  He worked with the people there, helping to build an orphanage, and also preaching the gospel. He saw the signs following; salvation, deliverance from demons, physical healings, the same things that happened when Jesus walked the earth.  There were no weird manifestations, nothing different from the biblical account.  Jesus heals.

Yet I was struggling this morning with my faith on this matter of healing despite the fact that God has given me dreams, words from others, words from Scripture and the scriptures themselves testify that God heals.  I was getting panicky and wanting God to give me another sign.  It was an attack of the enemy, but at the time, I was overwhelmed and not thinking straight.  Finally, I sat down in at the coffee table and my eye was caught by the bible in front of me. Of course!  I realised, the bible tells me over and over again that God heals.  His word says he came to heal the brokenhearted.  Jesus said that this was His ministry.  Not only does He heal the broken heart, but he heals the bodies of the brokenhearted and their souls as well.   But He doesn’t change, His word never changes and is sharper than a two-edged sword. I have it here in black and white.  A book of God’s laws and God’s nature and God’s commands.  So if this book is not what Jesus said it was, then Jesus is not who He said He was and it all just implodes.  You have nothing left. So when I am not sure, when I doubt God’s word to me, I go back to the black and white version and I read what Jesus said.

It is one thing to disagree over the meaning of certain scriptures while both parties still believe that the Word of God is in fact God’s word.  However, to cast doubt on the scriptures or to claim that they are not inerrant or even make outrageous claims that what is contained in the Word of God is in fact not true at all in any part, and is all ‘symbolic’ or worse is completely sadistic.  If you don’t believe, keep it to yourself, don’t cause other people’s faith in the Word of God, or in God himself to be shipwrecked simply because you don’t share it or have succumbed to an attack of the enemy yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Sucker Punches

jo.._peooooo Most would know what a sucker punch is but for clarity I will insert an excerpt from a website on self defence which describes it.

As the name implies, the sucker-punch, also known as the ‘king-hit’, relies on the attacker’s ability to dupe his victim into a false sense of security, lowering their fight-awareness. The practised thug will do this through engaging the victim’s mind with words or movement, meanwhile closing the distance and getting into a good striking position, to then deliver one — and only one — almighty punch. This punch is delivered with full speed and full power to do one thing and one thing only: knock out the victim. In such situations, there is no fight. There is only an ambush, brutality and violence. There is not a loser as such, only a victi

Source: (click to link) While the above paragraph is about physical punches, I want to talk about what happens when you get an emotional or psychological sucker punch. The pain is very similar I believe. I also am convinced that you can get sucker punched in the heart and gut and you can feel the effect of these in the midriff area around or just below the stomach, the same place that you get ‘gut feelings’. Many of us have carried these punches to our hearts all our lives. The result of this kind of emotional bruising is wide spread. Every kind of addiction and obsession can be traced, I believe, to the heart condition of mankind. A hardness of heart can ensure which creates angry hostile people and a world where kindness has become very uncommon. You can get all kinds of emotional sucker punches and they are exactly like the physical kind. You are taken unawares because you believe or trust in the person who attacks you. You have no idea that somebody actually is a ‘practised thug’ as they turn on the charm and convince you that they are the good guy. Alternately, a sucker punch can come from long time friends or trusted authority figures. Often sucker punches come from somebody who you have no reason to believe would betray or hurt you. As the old T.V. ad used to say ‘one punch can kill’. You can be sent flying by just one well placed hit to the heart, say the infidelity of a partner, that you had never suspected. Imagine if you will a life of sucker punches. Many of us have lived them. What happens to your heart and your soul? They become calloused and distrustful. Why should you trust the world when it has rained only continual cursing and hostility down upon you. This, I believe, is the situation in which many find themselves. I also believe that this is why so many have lamented the fact that the world has become increasingly devoid of courtesy and consideration for others. What a couple of generations ago would have been a world of comparable kindness of strangers is now a world where aggression and rudeness are the order of the day. I want to briefly mention here that there are in fact people who are deeply character disordered and actually enjoy giving sucker punches. Psychologists call them ‘malignant narcissists’ or ‘psychopaths’ and claim these ones are often the criminal types who get away with all kinds of rule breaking because they think the rules don’t apply to them. While this may be some kind of comfort to those who are not character disordered, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them. And the punches to the heart do not heal any quicker simply by understanding that there are dangerous predatory types who are simply waiting for the unsuspecting to take their bait. Scripture tells us what is happening and in fact prophesied that this would happen two thousand years ago.

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

(2 Timothy 3) While it is important to recognise what is going on in our world, it is far more important to know how to deal with the aching void within which results from trying to deal with the pain and shame of the sucker punch. For here is the problem. We are not only dealing with other people’s sin against us, we are dealing with the shame of being victims of other people’s sin. You would think that there is no shame in being a victim, but ask anyone who has been abused physically or sexually and they will tell you that they feel overwhelming shame. Human beings try anything and everything to fill the void. They fill their stomachs, they fill their minds and they fill their lives with activity. They empty their bank accounts, they empty their minds, they empty their lives of friends and family because their obsessive and self-destructive behaviour is too hard to live with. I have experienced this kind of shame. It is debilitating. But the flesh, which is temporal, will never be able to fill the void because as scripture tells us, the flesh is a bottomless pit of need. Solomon said it best.

The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: 16 The grave,[a] The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough”

I would add that the flesh is never satisfied. If you make the flesh your master, it will drive you to hell. It will never be sated, it will never say ‘enough’, it will never leave you alone. Your only hope is to go to God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the healer of the brokenhearted, as this is in fact the scriptural term for those who have been sucker-punched too many times. Your heart breaks, your spirit becomes sickened. Scripture also tells us that a man’s spirit bears him up in illness, but a broken spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14) It also says that the Lord is near to the broken hearted and those of a contrite spirit he will hear.(Psalm 34:18) While this verse focuses on repentance, I believe it is also true of those who have been the victims of other’s violence.

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.”

(Psalm 147:3)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

(Luke 4:18) The sucker-punch is the hallmark of those who have lived in this world for any length of time. I don’t believe there is a human being alive who has not had one of these at some point. The biggest problem is for those of us who have had too many of them. You can become ‘punch drunk’, to continue the metaphor.

  1. Showing signs of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. Used especially of a boxer.
  2. Behaving in a bewildered,confused, or dazed manner

(Free Dictionary) There is only one thing to sober you up in this situation, and that is the truth, the life and the way. One person can heal you, give you peace, give you direction and protect you from further punches and that person is Jesus Christ. If you come to Him and seek comfort and help from the Saviour, you will no longer be a sucker, and the hits, though perhaps still surprising, will no longer be delivered to an unsuspecting victim. You will be a prayer warrior, a child of God, in His keeping and hedged around behind and before by God’s own hand.

With love,

Steve and Anita