Category Archives: Loving One Another

Negotiations in Progress

What is to follow is definitely the most unique blog I have ever written.

what-the-greek-debt-negotiations-are-really-about

I am learning some unexpected truths in recent weeks…

Unless I am missing something, there are only 2 basic ways to resolve conflict? 1) force/domination/control; 2) communication/mutual respect/compromise.

One requires manipulation, intimidation, selfishness, pride, and arrogance; the other requires selflessness, yielding, deferring, showing preference, humility & sobriety.

Which one sounds like Jesus?

Which one requires the Life of Jesus to be manifested, by Grace, in my life?

For any conflict to be resolved, both parties must have an abiding attitude of Biblical repentance: my ways & my thoughts, are NOT God’s ways & God’s thoughts. In fact my ways and thoughts are contradictory to His. Possessing a foundational attitude that my ways and my thoughts are “wrong” will go a long way in resolving conflict. But – as will life in general – we don’t really believe we are wrong… Do we?

No one enjoys conflict. Yet, conflict is clearly a natural part of life.

To see conflict resolved, both parties have to be willing to lay down “self” at the negotiation table and both must approach resolution with a willingness to “take all the blame” (if both are willing, then in the end, neither will have to).

Hidden (or not so hidden) agendas have to be abandoned, and both parties must want the good of the other, above their own good. Coming to the table – reserving force or control as a possible option “if all else fails” – will not produce lasting results (at least not godly results). It is better to come to the table willing to accept your own defeat, than to come resolved that “at all costs” you will settle the matter!

So there are two problems with this: 1) I have to have these qualities in me; 2) The other person has to have these qualities in them (and technically a third problem when we accept that we only have control over our own qualities).

What are we to do then, if we don’t see signs of these qualities in the other party? Seems to me, all I can do is to diligently ask God to work the qualities in me, and as He does – sit back, wait and trust, and see what He does in the other party…

Just sitting here pondering the hurts, pain, wounds and scars of much unresolved conflict around me….

~ Gary

P.S. Also, remember, there is only one Being who can persuade change in the heart of a person, and it isn’t me nor you – we are at the mercy of the Grace of God alone…. Just the way He wants it!

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Prayer of Confession & Intercession for the National Day of Prayer 2015

prayer1On Thursday, May 7, 2015, during Douglas County, Georgia’s National Day of Prayer observance, my dear friend, brother, and mentor, John Brown, offered a eye-opening prayer of confession and intercession for the Church in America.  In many ways it brought a bit of sobering reality to the participants in this gathering – encouraging us to look inward – and not outward – as we prayed that day.

I wanted to share the transcript of that prayer for your edification.  I pray that you might chew on the many morsels of repentant cries herein, as if they were your own:

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Prayer for the National Day of Prayer

“O Lord, great and awesome God, You keep covenant and steadfast love with those who love You and keep Your commandments,

Listen to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
for You are my Lord, my King and my God,
for to You do I pray.

Enable me by Your empowering grace, to pray according to Your will, breath Your living word through me, for You have promised that if we pray anything according to Your will, that You will hear us, and that we will have whatsoever we ask.

O Lord, we – the American church, have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from Your gospel of the Kingdom — Your Reign, and the commandments that our Lord taught us to observe.

We have not listened to Your Son, our Lord Jesus, nor to Your servants the apostles and prophets, who spoke in Your name to our Elders, our pastors, our teachers, and our fathers, and to all the people of the church.

To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us, the American Church, a member of the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn, the bride of Christ, ——— belongs open shame.

To us, O Lord, the American Church — belongs open shame, to our Elders, our pastors, our teachers, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.

To You, O Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against You, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in Your ways, which You set before us by Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets.

For we have played the harlot, sharing our affections — that belong only to You, with this American nation. We have made of her an Idol. Looking to her for our well-being, our security, our health, our lifestyle, and our provision.

Looking to America for our rights to pray, and worship, and to be the people of God. Ignorant of the reality that on the day that we gave to the American Constitution, our rights to pray, and worship, and be the people of God, was the day that we lost those rights.

We have chosen to see ourselves as citizens of America rather than as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God to this fallen nation.

We lift up prayers for our lover, America — at the neglect of prayers for the Kingdom of God and its citizens, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Each denomination, congregation, and man — building his own kingdom at the expense of unity in the body of Christ, which according to our Lord’s prayer for unity, would convince the world that Jesus is the Christ sent from God the Father, and that You, Father, love us even as You have loved Your own Son.

O God, we see the storm that is on the horizon, this calamity that is coming, that You are sending — to cleanse Your Church of all that is not of You. Yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by the truth of Your Word.

And now, O Lord our God, who redeemed us by the blood of the Lamb, as of this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

Because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, the Bride of Christ, Your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Our hypocrisies have made us a laughing-stock.

“O Lord, according to all Your righteous acts, let Your anger and Your wrath turn away from us, Your called out people.

Now therefore, O God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for Your own sake, and Your name’s sake, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon the American Church, which has become desolate.

O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the people that are called by Your name. For we do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your church and your people are called by your name.” 

Now O Lord,

Let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may exult in You.
For You bless the righteous, O Lord;
You cover him with favor as with a shield.

I do pray, with intercession, for Your people,

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

AMEN

What Sort of People Ought You Be?

A_Storm_Coming_by_MikeyStudios

You have likely heard the old adage: “If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, how would you live differently today?” I wonder if anyone has every truly experienced a life change as a result of this concept? So, consider this:

If you knew there was a time of intense persecution, which could not be avoided or escaped, coming to your community – what would you do? How would you live differently? Or…

If you knew that forces were on the verge of a full-scale invasion of your land – and the threat was immanent and verified – how would you react? How would you prepare? Or…

If you knew that a time of judgement was on the immediate horizon – clearly positioned to directly and personally affect every aspect of your day-to-day life – what would you do to ready yourself? What would change?

In our world, events like this are very real, everyday occurrences for much of our planet – except here in “the west”, where, for all of our lives (at least those born after about 1940), the vast majority of us have known ease, freedom, liberties, abundance and rest. But *what if* all that was taken away – or at least highly restricted? How would you react? How would things change?

From a spiritual perspective, The Holy Scriptures have taught us to “come out from among the world”, “be not of the world”, “live in readiness”, “be watchful”, “be alert”, and much more, in the way of preparation for that which will come (maybe many times over) throughout our lives, to test us, try us, prove us and refine us.

So, if this is how we are to live anyway, how much more so, if we are hearing from multiple sources, in a variety of venues, that a storm is coming?

I challenge you to wake up! To step up! To rise up and become the unashamed, passionate, radically devoted, extreme lover of God in Christ, that the Holy Spirit will enable you to be! Why? Because of the storm? Sure… But how about because that is who we who have “been given the gift of Life in Christ” are called to be everyday!

We have been called to be a people who live by radical organic Christ-initiated faith!

Wake up Saints and live!

We have been called to be a people who love one another with an extreme illogical sacrificial love!

Arise Church and love!

We have been called to in passionate intimacy with our Heavenly Father that is unmatched and unbridled that will bring to light an unashamed display of His Glory in our lives!

Step up in prayer people of God and shine!

We have been called to a surrendered life of death to self and life by The Spirit of God that empowers us to demonstrated the fulfillment of Christ’s rule and reign in our lives that proves the Grace of God to a watching cosmos that both desires and hates such a thing!

So yield absolutely and bathe in the Grace that works, that His Name will be magnified.

When these unashamed, passion, radically devoted, extreme lovers of God in Christ come forth, Her radiance will offend the multitudes, but will miraculously cause His glory shown to all the earth. She will be hated by all; but deeply loved by God. Her purity will shine like he dawn; Her countenance like the noonday sun!

So I say to you, in the words of God through the Apostle Peter: “…what sort of people ought you be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for, and hastening the coming of the day of God…?”  

A storm IS coming – but irregardless, we are to be a people – if we are indeed His people – who dress ourselves in readiness, with our lamps lit, every day! Wearing Christ-initiated faith, sacrificial one-another love, Holy Spirit empowered grace and passionate intimacy with the Father, at every moment, in every way. Amen!

\o/ Surrendering Daily,

~ Gary

More on what it means to wear “Christ-initiated faith”, “sacrificial one-another love”, “Holy Spirit empowered grace” and “passionate intimacy with the Father” – coming soon.

Lines Are Being Drawn

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SAINTS OF GOD: Are you watching the news? Are you reading the headlines? Are you paying attention to what world leaders are saying – and what they “are not” saying? It is all becoming so clear. It is not ISIS we need to fear (as if we should fear man anyway). It is not the American government we need to “watch out for.” No, but the table is being set, and it is becoming clearer every day. As it was for our Lord, so shall it be for the people of God, in the days ahead.

 

The US government (even most of the free world for that matter) is clearly establishing its opposition (and intolerance, in the name of tolerance) to “radical religious extremism” – whether ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram or the like.  Meanwhile, “church leadership”, by and large, in epic proportions, is increasingly establishing itself as firmly embracing compromise and unscriptural positions on non-negotiable positions on what they call “social issues”, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion – as well as condemning as “judgmental”, the antiquated notions of morality, truth and faithfulness – and opposing those who firmly embrace Scriptural positions on such matters.

 

Can you see the line being draw?  Soon, with the full support of governmental laws (right here in the good ole’ USA), the vast majority of church leadership (or maybe I should say “pharisaical religious leaders”) will begin to attack those Saints who hold firmly to traditional scriptural principles. (It is happening already, and is rapidly in the increase.). They will call us “radical religious extremist” and “intolerant haters”, and they will use ever-increasing laws against such extremism to silence, reduce or otherwise “eliminate” the faithful. (Thus resulting in a clear distinction between those who are “faithful sons of the Kingdom”, and “the goats” who are wearing a label, but are casual, marginal, and/or insincere.) There will become two camps: those who are firm in their faith in Christ Jesus (and will be “dealt with”), and the rest who will be “accepted” among the “religious” and among “the world”.

 

This is not a call to arms. This is not a warning to run and hide. This is not a plea to step up and attempt to bring about change (it’s long since too late for that – the only change we can bring about is in ourselves). No, rather this is a passionate cry to those “true Christian believers” to prepare yourselves for the coming storm(s) of persecution:

 

  • Establish now where your allegiance lies (the Kingdom of God, or the kingdoms of this world);
  • Devote yourself to abundant prayer (become increasingly certain and familiar with the Father’s voice);
  • Become assured of your personal community of godly support (be clear as to whom you stand with, and who will stand with you);
  • Commit yourself to a life of faith (hearing the Father’s voice, agreeing with Him, and taking obedient grace empowered action according to what you have heard Him speak);
  • Establish your determination to live by the Life of Christ in you, as one who has been set apart for holiness and righteous, to be the light of the world, no matter the cost.

 

Remember… Jesus has said it, and so it shall be:

 

“…a servant is not greater than his master, if they hated me, they will hate you too;”

 

“…a man’s enemies will be those of his own household;”

 

“…father will turn against son and mother against daughter; brother will betray brother…”

 

“…many false teachers will arise and lead many astray;”

 

“…you will be hated for my name’s sake.”

 

The time is now! The days are short! Dress yourself in readiness & keep your lamps lit. Carefully examine and insure your “house” is built upon the Rock.  For there is… a storm coming!

Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

 

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Conscience vs Love, And Assurance vs Deception – Pt 1

Well, if nothing else – that title should have gotten your attention…

This blog may be a bit personal for us all – if we are honest – as most of us, I suspect, deal with the difficulty of reconciling when brothers & sisters in Christ hold tightly to views that are different that our own.  I am not talking about preferences in worship style or dress or the color of the carpet – but things that range from doctrinal matters to matters of conscience.

Part 1: Matters of Conscience vs. Preferential Loving

I suspect for some, the struggle with matters of conscience is not really an issue – but for me it is, and I suspect for many of my readers it is as well.  Fenelon says this: “You must never look down at someone who is not called to walk the way you are. God does what He wants with each one.”  Now I see a couple of truths herein: 1) watch my attitude! And 2) embrace the truth that, as Paul said: “accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-2, 4b)

Paul later, however, tells us:

Vs 13b: “…determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

Vs 15: “if because of food [smoke, drink, language, or any permitted indulgence] your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.” (My amplification in brackets)

Vs. 16: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Vs 20-22: “Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have [j]as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
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And in 1 Thess 5:22, this same Paul writes: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Lastly, on the matter of conscience – Paul writes, not once, but twice:

1 Cor 6:12: “All things are lawful unto me,” but all things are not expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Cor 10:23: “All things to me are lawful, but all things are not profitable; all things to me are lawful, but all things do not build up;”

So here, I see our Lord clearly teaching us that we MUST be sensitive, prudent, careful and loving, with regards to our “matters of conscience”, putting the well-being of the brethren, and the sake of the reputation of the Kingdom on God within us, ahead of our own personal pleasures.

So I guess I am not baffled by our indulging in our permitted pleasures, as much as I am by our seeming lack of concern for the “whomever” that might be hurt by our “practicing, indulging or even flaunting” those pleasures – for though it might be permissible to indulge pleasures according to our own faith – it is NEVER permissible to hurt, offend or cause a brother to stumble. (Remember, faith is not just “what you confidently choose to believe” – it is, in fact, “acting in obedience to the Rhema word that you have heard from the Lord. Romans 10:17)

Let’s chew on this together… please – if not only for your sake, but the sake of The Body of Christ.

~ Gary

Part 2 Coming Soon: Assurance vs Deception