God’s Word is my Woobie

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I came of age in the 80s.  So 80s movies kind of stuck in my mind.  And some things from those movies were also kind of memorable. The first time I heard the word was from Michael Keaton in the movie Mr.  Mom.  He was trying to convince his toddler to give up his comfort blanket, but he called it a ‘woobie’.  This is apparently a common term in the U.S.  I looked up the origin of the word however, and even Rambo figured his woobie was his best friend according to this article.  Here is an excerpt.

Ask any soldier or Marine, especially those in the infantry, how he feels about his woobie, and his eyes will light up and then mist over as he waxes lyrically over the virtues of this item. Hard-bitten combat veterans grow poetic and wistful, declaring their love for this piece of equipment. If you don’t believe me, read the Amazon reviews. It is perhaps the single most-loved item in the armed forces.

What is it, and why does it inspire this fanatical devotion?

The “liner, wet weather, poncho” as it’s officially called, consists of two layers of nylon surrounding a polyester filling, sewn up along the sides and crosswise to ensure a very tough and durable piece of equipment. Army logistics manuals fail to say what magic spells are cast over poncho liners when they are made to make them so efficient at trapping heat in and keeping the cold out. They were originally produced in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, when U.S. soldiers and Marines were engaged in jungle fighting. The troops needed a lightweight poncho to keep them relatively dry in the wet jungles and rice paddies, but also something to keep them warm during the cool nights. Thus the poncho and poncho liner were born. While the poncho liner was almost an afterthought to the poncho, it was the liner that would steal troops’ hearts.

Human beings have always needed comfort.  This is something God honours.  I will never forget reading this scripture from Psalm 94  for the first time, it had a huge effect on me.

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
18 If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Verse 19 is the big revelation for me.

David confesses the multitude of his anxieties.  And David was the man after God’s own heart remember.  David is God’s favourite king, if I may make so bold.  His love for his people caused him to rise up against the enemy Goliath and fight  where not one hardened military man in Israel had the courage.  David was a shepherd and anointed from his youth to be King, yet he didn’t let this go to his head.  He just took his job seriously, wrestled bears and lions (no small feat) and then giants.  Goliath was not totally human, he was the result of a past union between fallen angels and humans.  So, this was not just a big man, it was a big demonic man.  Hence the unnatural fear of the Israelites. They were facing a supernatural enemy.  But to David it was “What? You are cursing our God? You have the cheek to come against God’s people?  God will smite you!”

Yet here is David confessing to a multitude of anxieties.  However, his first call is to his God.  “Your comforts delight my soul”.

I have a question to ask you.

Have you ever spent a day just putting aside all of your comforts, the things you use to make yourself feel better, whatever they are, and we all have them, and just let God’s comforts delight your soul.

I tried it once.  WOW.  That’s all I can say.  God’s word is true.  God’s comforts literally delight your soul.  If you cling to Him and Him alone, without your woobie, He will bless you with His comfort.  I am not going to tell you exactly how that works –  you will have to discover it for yourself. I don’t want to rob you of the delights God has in store for you!

Mr. Mom tried to get his little kid to give up his woobie, but the little guy was not ready to trust his dad.  It took the whole movie, and finally he let his Dad take his blanket.  Next step to growing up is to believe that you can get through life without the thing you are totally dedicated to, believing that this thing and this thing alone will save you.

We are not little kids.  But deep down, we still cling to things that God wants to take from us, lovingly, gently, so that His comforts will delight our souls.

Take my advice.  Let Him do it.  You will NEVER regret it.  AND, big bonus, you will grow up, bear fruit, bless Him, give HIM glory. And who doesn’t want to do what God has created us for!

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By Hook Or By Crook

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You don’t have to be in Kansas anymore for bad stuff to happen. Just ask Dorothy.

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

We all develop methods of surviving in a harsh world.  Divination should not be one of them, and I am not just speaking to Christians.  As you can see from the above paragraph, divination comes only by one source and that is Satanic.  You might have great powers but they are not yours and any power of this sort is usually got by illegal means (God’s law not man’s).  Satan’s power was given to him by God but he fell and now uses that power to attempt to destroy the church.  The whole world might be under the sway of the evil one, but he does what he does in his own name, not God’s. Therefore, his authority is illegitimate, and so is anything he gives human beings.  It will not be blessed by God, the righteous One.

Astrology and tea-leaf reading aside, we all have means to ‘predict’ the future, but unless God gives us a prophetic word we are engaging in divination.  Divination is witchcraft which is rebellion which is sin.  Scripture does not get any clearer on this.  Divination can be described as the premeditated choice to seek out means to know the future which are empowered by demonic forces. It is the fleshly desire to know the future which opens the door to the demonic. I should just point out that praying and asking God for clarity on a situation is not divination.  He is the legitimate authority, and James tells us if we need wisdom He will give liberally to all men and without reproach.  That is a very important verse. It means God knows we need help to live our lives and will give it to us.  It’s depending on anything other than God which is the problem. However, the means by which we can engage in divination can be fuzzy especially if we are well-meaning.  Let me explain.

I grew up in an abusive household. Every one of my siblings has the same problems because we had one parent who was a narcissist and the other who was an enabler.  Some of us grew up more like our parents than others, but all of us developed habitually  crooked ways of coping.  When I became a Christian, I continued using these coping methods because I had not developed my relationship with Lord enough to learn that this was not only unacceptable to Him, but was also sinful.  Some things aren’t obvious as I said, other things we keep doing because we just don’t know how to stop.  In my case, I kept doing them because my need to feel safe and in control was more important than trusting God.

God is trustworthy, men are not, and sometimes women in particular tend to conflate the two.  We put our trust in men; our husbands, our pastors, other Christian leaders and speakers.  And it can be a snare and a downfall to our relationship with God.  If you put men in the place of God you will inevitably stumble, and in fact this is idol worship by another name.  So it is one thing to talk about trusting God, but being able to trust God alone is something else. I needed a revelation of the love of God and His trustworthiness.

I developed in my childhood the habit of predicting what would happen that day and finding ways of dealing with it.  I was bullied a lot at school because I was a weird little kid and didn’t know how to relate to other little kids. I knew how to relate to adults (pull forelock and act like a suck-up) but I didn’t know about peer groups.  Therefore, going to school was a scary prospect.  I spent most of the first half an hour in bed in the mornings working out ways to deal with the various kids who I knew were going to pick on me the moment I got to school.  Sometimes all I could tell myself was ‘at least I can have marmalade on my toast this morning’.  Marmalade on toast was my favourite breakfast.  I learned ways to comfort myself, and food was one of them.

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If Toto can make it out alive anything is possible…

As an adult this translated into mentally preparing myself for what I thought might have been coming the next day, or far into the future.  For the most part it didn’t work, but for most of my life, I figured if I knew how to imagine myself getting it right then I would be better at getting it right when it actually happened.  This, in my experience, disproves all of the ‘name it and claim it’ messages that psychologists and life coaches like Tony Robbins have worked on for years.  You do not create your own future.  If you did, then my whole life should have looked like a Hollywood movie.  I certainly was good at directing them in my head.  “They will say this, then I will say that.  Then they will do this and then I will do that, and it will all end thusly”.  It never did.  Inevitably, I forgot the script, or they just didn’t do what I thought they would.

I was trying to predict the future.  It was not entirely accurate.  OK, it was not accurate at all, but the fact that I was trying to work out what was going to happen based on what I knew of the situation was still prediction.

You might say, ‘but wait a minute didn’t you just define divination as using methods which are empowered by satanic forces?  Imagining what would happen is not satanic is it?”.  I know right?  It doesn’t come across as evil or wicked or engaging in witchcraft.  But wait…

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 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, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians)

Paul is talking here about not warring in the flesh.  In Ephesians 6 he talks about the fact that we war against spiritual forces.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand

I might also add here my favouritest verse of all time Romans 12:1-2

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

All of this tells me that our minds need to be transformed so that we can deal with the flesh and also the spiritual battle which comes against us.  If Satan is encouraging us to mentally prepare for the future by rehearsing events which may or may not happen then we are not walking in faith. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive.  It means every sinful thought.  It is impossible to take every thought captive per se. So spending hours (and I did) mentally rehearsing events, conversations and outcomes is not taking every thought captive to God.  If our minds need to be renewed its because our minds are the place where sin is conceived.  If we sin habitually through mentally trying to control what happens, which is witchcraft, then we need to repent and deal with life a different way, God’s way.

When you come from an abusive background, whether that is from a family of origin or from another source such as marrying a psychopath (and I say this with respect, the internet is full of testimonies from partners of deranged humans), or from being exposed long-term to abuse from pastors or bosses or others, the thing you want the most is to ensure that this NEVER happens again.  So you do what you need to do in order to avoid it. For many of us, it is controlling the outcome.  Of everything.

We PREDICT our futures, in order to PREPARE for any future abuse or pain and thereby PROTECT ourselves and stay safe.  It makes perfect sense when you are in there.  But living like this is walking in the flesh, it is NOT trusting in God, it is trusting in your own ability to prepare for the next onslaught even if there isn’t one.  You think you are doing yourself a favour, but all you are doing is setting yourself up for failure.  Nobody ever gets divination right every time.  You only have to fail half of the time in a situation like this and you make yourself crazy.  WHY, you ask yourself, did I not see that coming?  You end up getting more and more and more distressed which in turn gives you even more energy to try that much harder next time to prepare for the next crazy turn of events.

Let’s face it.  Life is unpredictable, it is getting even more unpredictable as the world turns.  Or not, I personally believe we live in a geocentric universe.  Finding that out actually changed my life, I am not kidding.  Have you ever seen or felt the earth spinning?  I won’t go on, that would be a whole blog post on its own.  Anyway, even realising that God made the earth first because of His great plans for us and His great love for His people and that He will also make a new heaven and earth for our future enjoyment didn’t stop me from trying to plot for my own success.

Look, it doesn’t matter why we do it.  You don’t have to have come from an abusive background.  Every human being wants to know the future.  It’s why we talk about time travel. The thought that this might actually be scientifically possible (it isn’t and will never be) gets us all excited.  Knowing the future is not the answer.  Preparing for possible difficulty pain or trauma is not the answer either. As anyone who has ever paid for insurance for years and then found out that the insurance company won’t pay up because the fine print said that this particular disaster wasn’t applicable finds out….you can’t cover every eventuality and the odds are that the thing you never even imagined is the thing that eventually happens.

Having said that, we still need to deal with that very human need for preparation and protection right?  Look at Noah.  He prepared as God told him to and was protected from God’s wrath.  God knows the end from the beginning and He will tell us what to do in every eventuality.  We do not need to run around as the rest of the world does as though we have no God, and as though God isn’t in control but expects us to somehow know what to do because we have intelligence.  I actually heard a very young pastor say that once.  He said where scripture doesn’t tell us what to do specifically, then we ‘have the freedom’ to do whatever seems to be good to us at the time because that is why God gave us brains.  Somebody needs to tell this young guy that stuff not specifically covered in scripture leaves out about 50% of the issues of modern life.  That is NOT the gospel.  We have been given the Holy Spirit who is our GUIDE, counselor, comforter and teacher and will lead us and help us as Jesus helped his disciples when He was on earth. Added to this, while scripture may not specifically address issues such as, say, birth control, scripture still gives us the markers for our spiritual and moral compass.  God loves children, children are a blessing, some people can’t have children, God heals barrenness etc.  You get where I am going with this.  I hope. The generalities are there even if the specifics are not.  God wants us to know what His will is for our lives (Romans 12:2) and therefore it is not up to us to determine our futures.

It’s when we act as though this is not the case, or simply forget that this is the case, that we end up getting ourselves tangled up in knots literally and figuratively.  If you are suffering constant headaches and anxiety or even panic attacks because your stress levels are through the roof,  you might consider that you may actually be trying to manipulate and control your life, and other people’s, for their own good of course.  This may well be a common problem for women, but it is NOT a godly response to life.  We walk by faith, NOT by hook or by crook.

Next post, I will talk about the antidote to this PREDICT, PREPARE and PROTECT problem.

Dan’s Discourse – What is Grace?

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What is Grace?

We use the term quite liberally, especially in sermons preached from the pulpit when talking about the ‘Grace of God’, but do we truly know what it actually means? According to the original Greek versions of Scripture, the term ‘grace’ generally tends to be translated as favour or good-will. This, in terms of the Father’s grace towards us, means that His favour towards us allowed us to receive His mercy and Salvation when we have done nothing to deserve it.

Another meaning of ‘grace’ is unmerited favour. This is fairly self-explanatory, but I believe that it fits very well with our lives as Christians, and the fact that we are able to be Christians at all. Unmerited favour means that God has looked upon us with unsurpassed kindness and compassion and given us His Son to die for us on the cross, despite the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to earn it, and are so undeserving of such staggering love it defies description. So many churches these days preach that we need to do certain things to add to Christ’s unmerited sacrifice, in order to please the Father and get into heaven. One of the biggest offenders in this area is the Catholic church, which tells the members of its congregation that they need to go to confessional, or pray a certain prayer a certain number of times in order to be ‘absolved’ of their sins, or even pray for those in ‘purgatory’, so that they can earn enough favour to enter heaven.

This is nothing but a lie. We, the human race are unworthy sinners, and nothing that we can do will ever make up for the fact that we cannot enter heaven on our own merit. I know it. You know it. Every single person on the entire planet knows it, despite all protestations to the contrary. This is why it is the unmerited, unsurpassed kindness and compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father that allows us to even have a chance of standing before the Father on Judgment Day without being vaporised by His holy Presence. God’s grace, which he gives to the truly humble, is the epitome of unmerited favour upon those that have done and can do absolutely nothing to ever be worthy of such a gift.

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (KJV)

The above passage demonstrates another facet of the grace of God, namely that which refers to the blessing part of the definition. Paul was beset by the devil at a time where he was being given so many revelations of God’s Word through His Holy Spirit. The Lord allowed this thorn in Paul’s flesh, in order to show him that His grace, His unmerited blessing, was sufficient for him to see him through the trials that he faced. This is no more relevant to us today than it was back in the time of the nascent Church. Whenever we face strife, or trials, or anything that the evil one throws at us on a daily basis, we can look to this Scripture, and many others like it, and know that God’s grace, His favour and blessing, are there for us in order to bring us through the fire and make us all the stronger for it. All we need to do is look to our Father for all our needs; not just when we happen to face a particularly difficult time in our lives, but in everyday living as well.

Satan isn’t going to limit his attacks against the children of God to certain times when he thinks, “Oh, I think I’m going to cause this particular person an inordinate amount of strife and difficulty for this period of time, and then leave them alone afterwards”. No; Satan can and will come against us every single day, and will take obscene pleasure in watching us flounder. He wants us to fail; he wants us to get so caught up in looking at the storm and the waves and trying to fix things in our flesh so that he can have some semblance of victory. But look at Paul, look at David, look at any person in Scripture where they had to go through the trials and difficulties of their lives and you will see that when they put their trust in the Heavenly Father, His grace was sufficient for them every single time.

The grace of God is an amazing and powerful thing, and I’ve only just scratched the surface of what it actually means myself. But I cannot deny the power of His grace in my life, and in the lives of those around me. All you have to do is trust in the Lord, pray to Him, and His grace will fill you and see you through each and every day.

May the Lord bless you and keep you by His abundant grace!

God Loves Us But Does Not Need Us

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God is perfect…in need of nothing. He does not sleep nor eat therefore he does not become hungry or tired. He does not wear clothes and he does not live in houses. Therefore he does not need to make or buy anything. He is utterly without lack. He is not human, therefore he is not fallen, and that which is perfect is entirely whole and without flaw. A created thing which is without flaw and is whole does the thing it is created for perfectly. God, who is not created but created all things, is perfect in everything he thinks, says and does. He does not have to cast around for the right word, or reconsider his actions, or regret his past choices.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17)

Consider then…if we are in Him we too have no lack.

Like God, we will not have need. In Him we live and move and have our being. If our life is hidden in Christ, we will never have need again. (Col. 3:3)

Practically speaking, we will get tired and we will get hungry. But Scripture is full of comfort regarding these things. In peace I will both lie down and sleep for you alone O Lord make me lie down in safety (Psalm 4:8). We will be able to sleep because there is no anxiety, nothing troubling us. And Christ himself said that those who hunger and thirst will be filled in Him. He also said that God will provide what we need in the same way He provides for the living things around us, birds and flowers. (Matthew 12:29)

What are the things which cause us anxiety? Mostly our anxieties centre on our needs. We do not have enough of something so we fret. Not enough money, no job, no car etc. We also fret about relationships. Our parents or our husbands or wives do not love us enough, or even at all. Our friends betray us. Our bosses are bullies. Our children disobey us. God likewise has to face all of these things. We have betrayed and rebelled against Him. Yet, He still sits in serene perfection in heaven on his throne. He has not fallen off nor will He ever. He has need of nothing, not even for us to get right with Him. His provision on the Cross was enough. ‘It is finished’ were Christ’s last words. The final and greatest sacrifice was from God himself. He has given us everything that is necessary for life and godliness.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter)

We also can be perfect as He is perfect. When we are in Him, we have need of nothing. If we so choose. If we do not choose, then we will have lives of chaotic anguish. There is nothing God can do about that. He has provided everything for us, if we do not wish to live in this place of abiding where there is no need, we will suffer the consequences. I do not say this to be harsh, it is simply a fact. Since God has given us free will, it is up to us to come to God our heavenly Father, and receive all He has provided. Christ as our high priest and final sacrifice bled for us so we may receive cleansing, freedom from sin and victory over death. Christ is also our brother and suffered as we have suffered. Not only does God provide for us physically, he provides for us emotionally, spiritually and in all other ways.

You might say, ‘But wait a minute, what about our health people have serious illnesses, they can be badly hurt in car accidents, what about those needs?’ Jesus has, does and will heal his people. Yet even in the midst of an illness which has not been healed, there is provision. We hurt physically and we need pain relief. We have medicine in this day and age which can do that for us. Yet even in the midst of our weakness, His grace is sufficient for us.

I do not know fully how this truth affects our lives. I only know how it affects mine and I have only begun to understand it. There are always questions and seeming paradoxes in this life, mostly because we humans have limited understanding and faith. But I can lean on the authority of scripture. There are some things that I am absolutely sure of because God himself has told me these things.

He is perfect and has no need. Our lives are hidden with Christ, we have His life and received it in exchange for ours when we accepted His death on the Cross and His resurrection and conquest of death itself. In Him, who is our provider, there is no need.