Our minds are extremely powerful, capable of incredible feats of deep thinking, absorbing knowledge and understanding, and making innovative discoveries. Yet for many of us with a creative mind, which is so often accompanied with manic thought patterns laced with insecurity, our minds may at times begin to feel like an enemy that we cannot always trust to have our best interests at heart. This concept lies at the heart of Inner Angels and Enemies.
During our journey in faith we become aware of God’s ever present and watchful eye upon us. Even if we somehow managed to avoid and drown it out previously, we soon find ourselves very aware of its constancy as we pursue righteousness and Christ likeness.
I realised recently that my regular overthinking patterns are severely impacted by the pursuit of righteousness and the undoubtable fact that God’s eye never leaves me, plus my constant awareness of Him and ALL that He is. Which is wonderful when considering His abundant Love, Protection and Provision. Yet when concerning the wicked hidden intentions of our hearts, our pride and our selfishness, knowing that God is always watching can become something to shy away from, leading to self-condemnation and excess guilt.
Inner Enemies are always trying to convince us of God’s apparent tyranny. Using our vulnerability under God’s watchful eye, to emphasize our flaws and failings, in an aim to use our shame to motivate us to HIDE from God’s sight. This scheme goes back to the beginning of mankind when Adam and Eve first tried to HIDE from God in the Garden of Eden.
“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”… (Genesis 3: 8-10)
Thinking on this we see that they hid themselves because they were ashamed. Yet God is well aware of our hidden flaws, and the things we are ashamed of, there is no hiding no matter how much we try. We can only distance ourselves from Him at our end, by closing our hearts off to Him and by trying to ignore His presence, leaving us separated from His covenant protection, and provision. Is that really what we want?
I was prompted to ponder this in more detail recently when I read this scripture.
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” (Psalms 33:18)
When we read that word FEAR we immediately begin to conjure up images in our heads of being afraid, scared, perhaps of someone unfair, selfish and even evil. This is The Enemy once again suggesting that God is an intimidating bully of some description. Yet that word Fear has interpretations meaning to “Cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe, and to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe” This fear is the automatic response of our heart when we are deeply rooted in respect and admiration for God’s omnipotence. Just as any respectful child has high esteem looking up to those in a loving but firm position of authority over them, such as a parent, a guardian, a mentor, or coach. Therefore, we can have this same awed fealty when we return God’s gaze with our own.
Then we read about ‘those who hope in God’s unfailing love’. Those who have spent enough time in true relationship with the Almighty will have plenty of evidence of His goodness to find hope in His unfailing Love. The Holy Spirit who has been growing within us, guides us to depend on the truth of God’s Love, which God’s very nature and power are established in. It is only our Inner Enemies that hold up our shame and guilt as reasons to doubt the truth of His love.
But what about all those flaws that we are ashamed of? Doesn’t He want us to improve our character towards righteousness?
ABSOLUTELY! It is the most important task He has assigned each of us in the entire universe!
But righteousness only truly happens in us when we press into HIM. He offers us a way through His loving grace to develop a character like Christ. Under His watchful eye He purges our deepest hidden wickedness and replaces it with His very own spirit, He removes our shame and replaces it with freedom. When we constantly reciprocate His gaze by keeping our eyes focused on Him miracles within us begin to happen!
If we had valid reasons to HIDE from Him this whole system would fail!
Isn’t it about time we asked ourselves which entity has the most to gain from the consensus that God is someone to hide from?
The Enemy of God’s whole purpose in existence is to dethrone God and take his place, not just in the Kingdoms of the Universe but most importantly inside each of us. If God is not seated in the highest position of our hearts then the Enemy is, usually in the form of one of his worldly distractions. There is no 3rd option!
What better way to dethrone God than to undermine God’s unfailing love and righteousness, by giving us suggestions of God’s tyranny and reasons to hide our hearts from Him? These are lies in a devious attempt to keep us imprisoned in our own selfish prideful flesh so we may not seek to discover the abundant growth that comes from an intimate relationship with the Awesome Almighty Creator of the Universe who just want to be close to us!
After everything God and I have been through together, He has unfailingly convinced me that He operates in this system of Love & Grace, reassuring me that there is NO need to HIDE from Him! My spirit grows in trusting Him each time I fall at His feet and He uses my failings and flaws to humble my heart and then uses me to glorify Him!! Amen!!
Therefore I am so utterly grateful for His ever watchful eye. :’) Aren’t you?
Let us not then hide in shame from the God who watches over us, let us reciprocate his loving gaze with our own and keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him. You will never regret it!
“Now the Serpent was the most cunning than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1-9 NKJV)
Inner Enemies certainly impact us all, and those called of God even more-so. Who else can testify, that once God’s calling is put on your heart, the whispers follow quickly? … We become bombarded by LIES that Jump from one end of the spectrum to the other, making them hard to identify and navigate.
The first wave of lies are overly positive and full of compliments, trying to encourage us to take credit for everything that God generously provides. Attempting to develop behaviours and responses rooted in pride, and trying to build our worth by our works.
The next wave of lies are overwhelmingly negative and brutal, full of put downs and pointing out every little mistake. Trying to encourage us to doubt our worth, and our ability to get anything right. Pushing us to give up completely and ruining our testimony along the way.
The first wave of lies are easy to fall for, for we have become a culture saturated in “congratulations” for every achievement, insignificant or otherwise. We have been forced to take credit and gain worth for doing anything good, and for reaching each and every ordinary milestone.
Yet these are lies, subtle and supported with evidence, but lies to be sure. For GOD is responsible for ALL the good in us and ALL our abilities!
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” (James 1:17)
The second wave of lies are also easy to fall for, for many of us are well aware of our numerous failings, our mistakes are obvious, our weaknesses abundant. Our judgemental culture has forced us to second guess our worth and our ability to be useful, even by God!
Yet these are also lies, powerful and toxic, but lies to be sure. For we know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!”
But then He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
See the point of the lies, both positive and negative is to prevent the progression and development of the calling. If the positive lies succeed in their goal to root our responses and actions in pride, then the calling becomes tainted, and loses humility and integrity. We try to fulfill the calling ourselves, rather than being completely dependent upon God.
If the negative lies succeed in their goal to convince us of our uselessness and defeat, then the calling loses flavour and never reaches the potential God has in mind, (if it ever even gets off the ground). We try to fulfill the calling ourselves and allow our failings and weaknesses to dispute the promise of the calling, rather than being completely reliant upon God.
Somehow we must navigate these waters with some anchors in place for when the lying waves begin to hit. So let’s call on His Mighty Name and our Inner Angels to not be swayed by the lies.
Some ways to counteract both of these waves is to accept that the calling is God’s!
His Promises are His not ours. We must recognise when we are trying to do for God, what He has promised to do for us, and through us.
We must resist doing it in our own steam, with our own skills and our own abilities. Every compliment we receive, we can give God two in return! Every opportunity to rely on ourselves, we can turn on our heel and TRUST HIM instead! Every step made in weakness, we can trust in His strength, and Every doubt in ourselves, big or small, is an opportunity to BELIEVE IN HIM!
We do serve the One True God Almighty! Capable of miracles beyond our wildest dreams, and it is an honour to serve Him. For those who have a heart that longs only to please God, to bring Him Glory and do His will, these waves are a certainty. Through His word we can watch our hearts and guard our thoughts, keep our intentions pure, focused only on the faithfulness of God’s promises, and centered on helping those who are lost or struggling and need an introduction to the Mighty Saviour.
We pray for discernment to see through these lies, and that our ministries gain increase for God’s Kingdom and God’s Glory! In Yeshua’s Name! Amen!!
Sometimes when it comes up in conversation that I write a blog on faith and mental illness, or when I share my experience with learning to manage mental illness, the subject of medication is brought up. I am not a Doctor and am not qualified to give any medical advice, I am simply here to share my thoughts, and my experiences, and to ask you to consider these theories logically for yourselves.
Certainly there are many arguments for use of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers etc, (though I have become distrusting of how many are actually valid). If we experience long-term sadness, or episodes of extreme fear, if our children’s behaviour is unsettlingly out of hand, if we find it hard to concentrate or sleep, then it seems the first response from the medical world is a prescription. Yet the Scriptures are filled with guidance on all these issues. These are all classic attacks from Inner Enemies, and God has provided the way to overcome. This doesn’t mean I am opposed to all prescriptions, far from it, I have used them as my first port of call for many years, and still would if my investigation supports it, however it is only now that I am aware of the bigger picture and hope you are also…..
While I believe it is up to each of us to decide if medication is an option for us, we must do so with prayer and wisdom. We must consider the side effects, the risks verses the benefits, especially consider the cost of long term use, decide how long we are willing to be dependant on them, and to also research alternative options. We must take our health seriously and begin to make hard but necessary changes when are bodies begin to warn us. It has become far too common practice to seek out a prescription to bypass our symptomatic struggles, and accept the easiest option, rather than taking the symptoms as warnings that something else is going on that must be addressed.
Prescriptions offered in a mind-altering context are done so without any scientific diagnosis, no blood tests, minimal follow-up and the results are not as reassuring as you or I may like to believe, just check out this link to discover the hidden evils within this drug fuelled money making system.
That being said….Pharmaceuticals have certainly come a long way in recent decades, and some amazing benefits are being discovered. My concern is simply that as a society we have come to rely on medication to help us manage a countless amount of health concerns. We have become accustomed to numbing our pain, and bandaid-ing any underlying issues. Many long-term side effects have begun to surface after extended use of many pills and potions. The consequences of pharmaceuticals are reaping havoc on our bodies, and our minds, as I will share on personal level a bit later in this post. I am not suggesting anyone ignore medical advice or to neglect to take responsible steps towards managing any issues, mental, health or otherwise. I am saying that much more evidence has come to light recently that support natural therapies, diet, and dedication to non-pharmaceutical treatments. All of which are impacting countless conditions that we have become reliant on using medication to try to control.
By hiding our symptoms beneath a mask of medication, are we trying to take our health out of God’s control and put all our faith in Medicine?
Our beautifully wonderfully made bodies are a gift we need to take responsibility for, and ultimate responsibility comes when we put our trust in God. God intends his children to be taken care of and every need supplied.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Here is the point to understand in regard to illnesses………
He uses our suffering to change us for the better, to help us come into close unity with the scriptures.
We need to keep an understanding of faith systems in order to make the most from every situation as God will us to. Otherwise isn’t all suffering just a waste of time, and feels like punishment instead of opportunity for miraculous transformations?
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Throughout my life I have leaned heavily on any type of pill or potion that claimed to help my various conditions. I have self-medicated in order to tame my symptoms. I too felt unable to cope with the health issues and mental issues I have had to go through. Yet somewhere beneath my desire to avoid illness and pain, I knew I didn’t want to be ignorant to the true underlying cause.
Through my most severe episodes, after my car accident, my lawyers encouraged me into therapy. I saw a psychiatrist for my mood instability and a psychologist for my car-phobia issues. The psychiatrist was quite inept at managing my state of mind, his only course of action was to prescribe mood stabilizing medication. I took the medication to help narrow the peaks and troughs of my emotional reactions, hoping it would give me temporary support and confidence until I could work to find the deeper causes with my psychologist. Yet I felt little relief while taking the pills, at one point I even had suicidal thoughts, thoughts that had never ever crossed my mind in my depressed state before being medicated.
Along with my regular psychology sessions, I invested my time and energy on inviting God to move me towards the type of healing He could give me, towards the hidden truth inside me. I began to gain a clear understanding of myself and how to face up to and deal with my deepest issues. Issues I had no awareness of prior to therapy. I slowly reduced my medications until I came off them completely. This was in no way the EASY option. Medication offers a ‘quick fix’ yet none of the healing, while God’s healing is permanent and has all our best interests at heart, even if it is more laborious.
God showed me that He was using these situations to develop my trust in His plan, to show me His amazing might in my weakest moments, and to guide my steps towards the healing that He wanted for me. He used these situations to teach me priceless lessons about myself in each stage of the process.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” (Psalm 119:67)
I also had a physical condition a couple of years ago that resulted in numerous hospital visits, and many weeks spent bed ridden. Of course the first suggestion was strong medication, which I willingly took for many months, until surgery could resolve the symptoms more permanently. Yet the underlying issue was not discovered in a Doctors surgery or a hospital. The medication and the surgery only managed the symptoms, yet just like with my mental health, I felt the urge to discover what caused the issue in the first place.
Sadly many medical doctors seem to have issue sharing information with natural therapists, both trying to deny the value of the other, and we are the ones who get caught in the middle, unsure of who we can trust. After much research and dedication to my illness both inside and outside the Doctors office, I began to discover some answers. With the help of a Naturopath and Nutritionist I began to understand that taking antibiotics for sinus infections and a dependence on the convenience of junk food since my teen years, both led to an imbalance of my digestive bacteria, this threw my hormonal balance out of whack and I became seriously unwell. Since then I have refused antibiotics, using amazing colloidal silver to keep infections at bay, and changed my diet to a much healthier organic one. For a period of time I detoxed and used supplements to repopulate the lost natural enzymes and re-boot my immune system. Not only have my symptoms ceased almost entirely and my health improved dramatically, but also I received understanding on a new level about how my choices and my actions affect my life.
I guess my point here is this…. You are responsible for your own health, and cannot rely on one Dr or Specialist or Guru to take that responsibility, for they are not the ones who must live with the consequences.
We have been placed on this planet for a temporary period of time. Given a lifetime of issues purposed to draw out our hidden curses and develop character in the process. If we simply mask the inner enemies and smother our understanding in ignorance, we fail to receive the abundant blessings and miraculous transformations that God intended for our GOOD! All the things God has placed at our disposal to help us through this life are to be used in moderation, with wisdom and prayer, while God’s love and faithfulness can be indulged upon to the full extent that we can muster.
In western culture, obtaining wholeness of mind, body and spirit has been considered for many generations as an ancient ‘pagan’ practice. Aligned with Eastern Religion… Buddhist & Hindu beliefs, Chinese medicine, Japanese fitness, and so on. As a child growing up in the modern Christian community, I heard that wholeness (Oneness) practices were ‘New Age’, ‘Inviting in Evil’, “Anti-Christian’ and so on.
Have we become so crippled by fear of everything which is not completely understood, that we have learned to avoid exploring the various forgotten gifts that God has generously given us?
Just as the counterfeit tries to use our Godly gifts for evil, so we have authority in Christ to turn to all things beneficial to our Christian walk as God intended, with God’s guidance. Just as evil intended the internet to be used to fill the world with debauchery and all manner of deception, here I am using the internet to share my truth and the Good News of Christ…And here you are reading it.🙂
Being present amidst rushing time, and finding stillness in God’s presence, is a most Christ-like quality, and the enemy knows this. So what if he took this gift, and corrupted the message of the One True God in the process, so that future generations of Christians would avoid all mediation and mindfulness practices?
This is not to say that all meditation practices or mindfulness techniques are completely trustworthy for Christians. If, during a guided mediation, the instructor starts asking you to connect to a spiritual system that is not congruent with the truths of the One True God, then a conscious decision to reject falsehood and reapplication of Godly armour is necessary, we then need to seek God’s guidance about continuing, or we may indeed leave ourselves exposed to unwanted spiritual activity. But that is true for ALL things under the sun, discernment is crucial.
Mindfulness gives us a chance to escape earthly bonds and quieten our endless mind-wandering so that we may become open to hear and understand the still small voice of God.
“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)
As God’s people we are inflicted with various conditions that we might lose confidence in the strength of our bodies and our self-reliance, that we may seek out and rely upon the Lord, so that He may receive ALL glory for our witness. Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9…
“Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
My particular psychological condition, cyclothymia, has manic tendencies, which makes it extremely hard to focus and wait for the still small voice of God. I have an extremely fast nervous system as a result of increased adrenaline, which is common throughout our family’s bloodline. The speeds of the nervous system can affect numerous issues aside from a fast/easily distracted mind, such as heart issues, arrhythmia, mood disorders, digestive and hormonal issues, and so on. The fall out of these conditions usually swing us towards a Doctor’s office, followed by some form of medication to attempt to override symptoms, yet not addressing the problem of the speed within. I write more on this topic in a post to follow. My point is that, over the 10 years since being diagnosed with this condition, I have found that I can significantly slow my nervous system through relaxation and meditation techniques. Practicing mindfulness has become one of the most beneficial ways for me to connect with God and hand my speedy nervous system into His calming care.
“Be Still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
“Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:3)
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The scriptures guide us towards meditation, to focusing the mind, to take time to dwell on good things worthy of praise. There is so much new evidence coming to light regarding the healing benefits of mindfulness and alternative treatments, all which reflect Godly principles and scripture. I have come to depend on those moments of stillness in the presence of God, and I am so thankful for the revelation of it.
God has been showing me some crazy similarities between destructive patterns in relationships and the common themes in Religion. The Enemy isn’t very creative really, replaying the same tired old accusations in all areas of life. The most blatant being “You can’t really trust Love, can you?”.
Who can say, in our current generation, that they have never heard a woman complain about the things she hopes to change about her man?
Who can say they have never heard a man complain about being in trouble with their wife?
There is an epidemic of families being broken all over the globe and in our western culture this theme seems to be the most common.
Many women share with me their frustrations over the things about their men that they want to alter. I’m sure many of you ladies can understand, we are all sinners after all. Maybe these men are selfish. Maybe they are unreliable. Can you relate? Maybe they stay out too late while you are stuck at home with the children. Maybe they don’t help enough around the house or with the children. Maybe they aren’t romantic any more. Maybe they spend money irresponsibly. Maybe they drink too much or play Playstation too much. Maybe they don’t work hard. Maybe they go to strip clubs or look at pornography or stray physically. Maybe arguments are often and the connection is wearing thin.
In this recent social phase, Inner Enemies have heightened the emotional atmosphere, they empower us women with the accusation, “You can’t really trust Love, Can you?”, encouraging us to become nasty and emotional when our expectations are not met. We become controlling, manipulative, restrictive. We might lay down the law, use ultimatums, make threats, yell, belittle, cry, all in order to get them to alter their ways, to satisfy us.
Men in these situations too have frustrations, they feel penned in by an emotionally unstable relationship. They feel their manhood, their authority, is being challenged, being overpowered. They often hide their hearts away and continue to make their own decisions about how to spend their time and their money, without letting her reactions sway these decisions, in a way to feel like they are still in charge over themselves and not submitting to the control of someone dominating and often unreasonable. The emotional reaction of the women is often the very thing that pushes the men further into these ‘frustrating’ behaviours. In many cases these dynamics cause division in relationships, and at the very least can cause a lack of deep connection and contentment.
Making a choice and a commitment to love someone is not a decision to give up our freedom, even though many mistake this as the case. For without the freedom to decide every day if you want to be in the relationship there is only more pressure to create division. We think once someone says they love us, they commit to us then ‘CLICK’ the magical handcuffs are on. We own them, and the right to demand that they make us happy. This is toxic thinking. Any behavioural changes that are made in this scenario cannot be trusted completely, they haven’t been genuinely made out of love, they are made out of fear and control.
Conversely there are those whose Inner Angels help them to accept their loved ones imperfections. They try to be patient to wait for hearts to adjust and behaviours to settle into a united rhythm. They want their mate to be free to choose to love them, to be free to want to do right by them out of love not out of fear. They recognise that forced compliance has short term rewards, for lasting unity there needs to be alterations of the heart. This goes for both men and women.
As an example, these women give grace when their men are late. They give forgiveness when their men make mistakes. They use every opportunity to try to show love when they could show anger. They choose to give freedom rather than control. Kindness instead of attack. Consequently, very often the men in these relationships are eventually driven by their own motivation to want to do right by their woman. They would rather call and let her know they will be late, because they know she will worry, and they know they have the freedom to stay as long as they want. Suddenly they can’t wait to come home. They would rather resist the temptation to stray because they appreciate the constant approachable love their woman gives them. They choose to do right because they don’t want to hurt her, they want to love her back. Not because of the promise, not because of the words, not because of the certificate, because their heart has been altered by the love and grace and freedom and forgiveness they have received.
This is exactly how God’s Grace works as opposed to the Law. Picture these previous relationship responses as metaphors for the Christian systems of Law and Grace.
Under the Law our freedom is taken captive. Religiosity points out our flaws, condemns us, threatens us. Through fear and guilt, religion expects us to change. You are given no freedom to choose God’s will, it is expected, demanded, forced. Any changes made in this scenario are made without the strength of love, and they often are only temporary changes at best. The changes aren’t written in hearts, only in works. The connection between us and God is fragile and unstable. Any significant test and it will crumble, tempting us to hide and compare sins.
Under Grace freedom is given and love is abundant. Every day you get to choose if you want a relationship with God. Everyday God gives us our own free will to decide for ourselves if we want to grow in our commitment to Him. When we slip and fall and we turn to Him we are not belittled or condemned, we are met with Forgiveness and Love, Strength and Help. He is always waiting for us to come to Him no matter how many times we fall. His spirit that grows inside us, is what writes His laws on our hearts because we have chosen to soften our hearts every time we choose Him. This creates humility and self-awareness, altering our behaviour and our hearts, and builds a connection with God that nothing can break.
Inner Enemies have confused our twisted emotional version of Love with God’s version of Love. We know how we feel when our loved ones disappoint or hurt us and so we assume God must feel that way about us when we sin.
However God is Love!
We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. Love is not proud. It does not dishonour others. Love is not Self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
We expect this kind of love from others and yet we rarely are able to give it ourselves. We assume God must have this same flaw. But God IS Love, His spirit gives us the ability to love others in this way. So then let’s swap His name for ‘Love’ in that previous scripture.
God is PATIENT, God is KIND. He does not envy. He does not boast. God is not proud. He does not DISHONOUR others. God is not SELF-SEEKING. God is NOT EASILY ANGERED. God KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in TRUTH. He always PROTECTS. Always TRUSTS, Always HOPES, Always PERSEVERES. God never fails!
So it becomes clear that the Enemy has been using this accusation “You can’t really trust Love, can you?” in our relationships, but he has also been using it in Christianity. “You can’t really trust God, can you?” The Law has been used as a tool to condemn us, pushing us away from God’s love, from God’s Grace. We must realise the deception in this practice and accept the abounding Grace Christ came to share with us. Grace that makes us want to grow closer to Him, the closer we get, the more alterations He shines through in our behaviour.
Please don’t misunderstand here, no one is saying that it is okay to stray, to neglect, to be selfish in a relationship. However nor is it okay to condemn the faults of those we love, and expect them to change just to suit us. In this way the Law has its purpose, it is God’s way of communicating to us what sin looks like. In the same way we can communicate with our loved ones which behaviours cause us to pull away and protect our hearts. Keeping in mind all the principles of what LOVE IS, as stated above. Just as God stands firmly behind the truth of the Law, we also stand firmly behind the conviction of our Christ-centered expectations in our relationships. But Love, LOVE is the key!
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Simply put…..If freedom is given, mercy is abundant, then love becomes the powerful force that encourages our hearts to want to change!
I have this friend, a friend who is more like family. I have a longing in my heart to undo all the damage that Religion has done to him and replace it with the Love of God. Sadly it has become a taboo subject. He knows I have an abundance of faith and yet he finds it laughable.
You see his only memories of God, Christ and the Bible are tainted by an abusive and legalistic school system. Forced to believe in a God he could not identify with, and expected to behave in ways completely foreign to his nature. He was told to accept teachings that made no sense to him or God would send him to an unending place of torment and fire. Now this is bad enough in itself, yet he was abused further for asking challenging questions when he had doubts about the teachings he was being held captive by.
For those of us who have also experienced this type of controlling religiosity, and because the scriptures are often confusing for us in our immaturity, it is no wonder many pull away from God, from Christ and from the Bible. Especially as the basis of any faith comes from a place of what makes sense to us, not just what we are told, otherwise it simply unravels as we grow in understanding and maturity. We begin to realise that the theories we have been taught no longer line up with our reasoning and comprehension. Just as Santa Claus is easy to believe when we are very young, as we grow, we start to have doubts, we begin to ask intelligent, rational, and reasonable questions such as, *How does he reach every house in only 24hrs? Or *How does he get to the Christmas tree of houses that have no chimney. *Why do we let someone we have never met into our homes when we sleep? *Why did I get all these presents when I have been naughty?
This friend of mine is extremely intelligent. He values wisdom and historical knowledge and reason. So when he was punished for investigating the parts of religion that made no sense to him, he gave up any shred of faith he may have had in the God of the Bible. His rational doubts were met with irrational responses, which gave him few other options than to conclude that they were all talking a load of rubbish.
His teachers were afraid of his challenges, they were angry at his doubts, and yet the truth has no need to fear investigation.
In this fantastic message which I heard recently, came this insightful quote. “Doubt creates a space for faith to exist, for without doubt, faith is irrelevant”
Doubt is a vital and important part of developing the stability of faith. Without doubt, God becomes a concept only for the naive and the ignorant. Without doubt there would be no challenge to pursue truth. Without doubt we would believe every lie. There is an enemy of God out there, deceiving and lying, and as far as I can see, those who aren’t allowed to doubt, and aren’t allowed to question, end up either accepting the concept of a God different to the One True God. Or they give up on God and try to get as far away from the notion of God entirely.
Once we begin to ask the right questions we can begin to piece together what makes sense to us, and that forms the foundation of our beliefs. Religion tells us to believe what we have been told no questions asked, but God wants us to ask and ask and ask. To never stop asking, never settle on a belief until we find the answers that match the still quiet voice of reason deep within our core.
Here is a place to start… Why would God want us to ask the hard questions instead of just simply believing what we have been told? – The answer is genuine connection and Love!
To prove that we are all made in God’s image He put the desire to be loved, not just the desire but the necessity. Not just to be loved but to connect on a deep level with something other than our own conscious ego. Because He is Love, because he wants to connect, He needs to connect.
Look at it this way, if you found someone you wanted to connect with, someone you wanted to love you, and you gave them a love potion. Sure enough you have their attention, their confessions of love, their attraction, their passion. Yet your trust, your connection, is not based on the genuine truth of their love, it is based on your trust of the potion.
This is why He wants us to question and to discover reasons that make sense to us to Love Him, to decide of our own free will to love, to connect, to trust, to revere. So that He can have trust in our love for Him. Then and only then is true unity, euphoric connection, ultimate fulfillment, possible for both us and for God!
Points to ponder….
*Truth can handle being reasonably investigated
*Lies are abundant and deception is rife
*Doubt is essential and discernment crucial
*God loves us and wants to connect with us
*Why not ask the tough questions
The scriptures say that God is Love. God is full of Truth. Let us not become naive about our beliefs, swallowing whole the lies of the enemy that seek to corrupt the virtue of God’s Love. Seek out the truth, discover what makes sense to you in your pursuit of God’s Love through His word, through a personal relationship with Him, questioning all who claim to understand Him. Its time we did away with these poisonous teachings of an abusive and unreasonable God, determined to send us to our unending torture, when the reality is that His love is the only way we can overcome all that seeks to destroy us. Lets no longer be like children who misunderstand the loving authority of their parents. Lets build a reasonable and rational foundation for our faith starting with the truth that God is Love!
Those gifted with faith have always been in the enemy’s firing line, and it is very obvious when someone else persecutes you. But this blog has always been devoted to revealing the hidden enemy, the inner enemies. One area that has impressed itself on my heart recently is the fine line between certainty in faith and arrogance.
Beth Moore said this in a recent series “I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but you may believe that I only think I know Christ. Let me assure you that I KNOW HIM, I may not have seen Him with my eyes, but every promise has been kept to heal my wounds into marks of Christ. I have a personal relationship with Him. No imaginary friend could have done all He has done for me.”
There is nothing else that compares to the feeling of being certain in faith. Those times when there is nothing anyone can say to make you doubt what you have experienced to be true. Especially the times God has aligned numerous perfect signs, or given prophesies before they appear, or fulfilled promises when obedience brought them to reality. Certainty in faith like that can be the most wonderful experience known to mankind, and yet it is not without its potential drawbacks.
Inner Enemies seek to destroy all testimony of a loving God with us and in us, doing all they can to cause us to doubt God, to resist Him, to prevent us from having these experiences of certainty. Then, once we experience certainty in faith, they push us further into it. They empower ego and pride, conceit and prejudice. The weakness of our flesh is real, and the lies of the enemy are subtle enough that they are easy to believe. It could be as simple as wishing others believed us, and defending ourselves when they don’t. It could be that our experiences don’t line up with another’s so we may dismiss or doubt the beliefs of another. Inner Enemies attempt to weaken our self-awareness and corrupt our humility, or at the very worse end of the spectrum, may encourage the violent atrocities carried out across the world in the name of religion. Even the Enemies of God have learned how to imitate God so well that many are convinced of their certainty when it is in fact a counterfeit. Just another way to fill the world with confusion about the One True God.
Our desire to know all things is both our passion and our down fall, from the fruit to the future, human’s greed for understanding has been misleading the world. It has driven science to make adamant claims to have discovered a vital new piece of ‘truth’, only to realise much later how far from truth it was. It has driven Christians to divide up into various denominations, each one disputing the beliefs of the next, watering down the effectiveness of God’s message with each new dispute.
In order for us to stay on the fine line towards our Godly calling, my Dad used to explain it like tacking into the wind in sailing.
The Enemies attempt to push us off course, a slight nudge here and slight nudge there, knowing that even just a tiny deviation off course will end us up a long way from our calling. If the Enemies use doubt, guilt, and resistance to keep us on this side of the course we must tack towards the line by seeking out God’s word, God’s truth, building up and exercising our faith. Alternatively during those times we experience certainty in faith, the Enemies push us right over to the other side and use pride to attempt to convince us that there is no longer a need to change, not much more need for growth. Subtle lies that say we have grown enough and we know enough. One side of the course keeps us dull to insights and understanding, while the other pushes us into the arrogance of knowledge. All is a strategy to keep us from pursuing the truth in the word of God, and this is when many may start comparing sins and sinlessness, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It doesn’t take a genius to see that if radicals saw themselves as equal sinners there would be no one to judge, no one to condemn, no one to make an example of. Only Compassion and the Unity of a world full of sinners who ALL need a Saviour.
Self-awareness and a close relationship with God is the safest way to navigate the course to our destiny. Keeping our humility, recognising that we always have more to learn is vital if we are to tack back away from arrogance. An arrogant testimony is more likely to dissuade unity, and yet we must have confidence if our testimony is to carry any weight. In order to walk the fine line towards our destiny and give compelling testimony along the way, we must stay in the constant presence of God. I pray we all keep up our armour and keep vigilantly tacking against the winds of our Inner Enemies, until God’s purpose is reached in each of our lives.
When I was a young adult I made all my decisions based on what I felt was right. I trusted my feelings above all else. I truly believed that I was upstanding, that I was honourable, that I was right. Aren’t we all so good at self-delusion?
In my mid twenties I welcomed my Dad back into my life, and he introduced me to God and His word with new perspective. I began to see how the words on the pages cut through the lies the enemy had been using to hide my intentions from me. Lies that encouraged me to compare myself to others so I could deem myself to be better, smarter, kinder, more organised, more loving, more righteous than those around me. Easy enough when I compared myself to those who appeared to be lacking in areas I was adept in. A labyrinth of lies stood between the intentions of my heart and my conscious thoughts. Each secret pathway was filled with excuses, with comparisons, with emotions. I was completely unaware of the truth in my heart.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
I had yet to learn how to investigate the heart of the girl in the mirror, without the rose coloured glasses Inner Enemies had placed over my eyes.
The word of God did just as the scriptures said it would. It cut through to the bone and exposed my hidden intentions that I had been completely oblivious to.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Hebrews 4:12
Seeing the truth about my wicked heart was a turning point in my life. I was shocked into self-awareness, ripped from the false sense of security the labyrinth of deceptions had given. I saw a heart that was self-seeking, dishonest, and emotionally manipulative. Yet the hardest blow came when I saw that not only were my emotions manipulating those around me, those I ‘loved’, they had also been manipulating me!
In my youth I had a gift of twisting my own lies into the most believable display, I was very good at convincing others of my mis-truths, sometimes I was so persuasive I began to believe my own lies. Once I felt the conviction of how clearly I had been deluded and how easily I had fooled myself, I began to distrust my feelings, rather than allowing them to make all my decisions, I gave in and let the word of God do it’s healing work in me. I began instead to despise deception and I developed a love and pursuit of truth, as a result God has used the sharp edge of the sword to cut away each segment of that labyrinth of lies. I came to understand that this is how God uses our sin, plus His word and His grace, to sew His laws into our hearts.
“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
Facing up to the true wickedness of our own heart, which has so well worn a righteous mask, is one of the most self-damning experiences, and Inner Enemies love to overplay their hand. They will try to use this awareness to shroud us in guilt, guilt that is so hideous we become afraid to enter into God’s presence. Inner Enemies tell us that our sins are too appauling to forgive. However when we learn that God’s grace is far more abundant than our sin, if we recognise this trick and learn that so long as we confess our sin to God He is faithful and swift to forgive us. He will bring us into a new covenant where another level of Holy Spirit is given to us, to fight against the lies, against the guilt, so that God may do a miraculous work on our hearts. God can then fulfil His intentions to circumcise the hard and wicked outer case of our hearts, to reveal a soft place for His voice to be established, and malleable hearts that bend to His will. Then He can give us all the blessings a righteous heart deserves and more.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
“For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favour You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalms 5:12
“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalms 34:17
“LORD, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart;” Psalms 15:1-2
“Behold, I will lay your stones with colourful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.” Isaiah 54:11-14
When a fellow believer unifies their heart to mine and to God’s presence in prayer it is an amazing event, and I have been blessed enough to experience this kind of unity a number of times just recently in fact. Yet sharing in verbal prayer is not a practice that I always find as comforting as some may think I should. Over the years I have noticed that some prayers don’t always sit quite right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate verbal or group prayers’ certain place within the body of Christ, I listen intently to the words offered aloud, agreeing deep in my spirit when my heart harmonizes with what is being said. I am aware of the miraculous power sharing prayers can have, and yet sadly sometimes I notice that prayers can feel recited, watered down, and even at times heretic.
I wonder if perhaps I have an aversion to people praying aloud over me, from when I fell in with a false prophet for a brief period of time. At the time I had no idea she was a false prophet, as the evidence came to light later on. I was just thrilled to have made a friend who accepted me in all my faults, who at the lowest point of my life did not condemn me, who openly professed her belief in God and was happy to talk about the Bible and faith. Yet when she asked if she could pray over me I felt awkward, I noticed that her words didn’t line up with the Will of God as I understood it. She was trying to override His control, trying to get Him to change the circumstances He had put me in, rather than asking Him to empower me to accept His will, to guide my steps, to learn through the trials, to trust Him through the storm. No gratitude, No praise, No humility. As she prayed over me it made my skin crawl, and even though I fought myself trying to be polite and ride it out, I couldn’t and had to ask her to stop.
In Matthew 6:5-6 Jesus gives us direct guidance not to pray out loud and in public.
5 And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.
Have we forgotten how to value the purest communication with Our Heavenly Father? How intimate and wholehearted it should be?
Praying allowed, sixteen times a day, regardless of who is present, may seem like the most righteous practice around, and yet it is so simple to perform without righteousness. Careless use of prayer can be more harmful than good especially if God’s Will is not at the center, it may even push some away from the unity God’s people are intended to have. It won’t resonate the abundant power prayer can have when true unity is felt. Careless prayer may even guide some out of God’s will, if specific guidance is given when not prophesied directly from God.
Maybe my heart pulls this way because most of my experience with verbal prayer always came from my Dear Dad, who used to pray aloud with me whenever I desperately needed it. He always knew how to line up his heart with mine, and connect us in unity with Gods presence. Maybe it’s simply because I was spoiled to have shared that and I just miss his fervent prayers?
This post was not an easy one to publish, as it has the potential to be misinterpreted or taken out of context. It is tough to expose and put into words exactly how or why my spirit interprets prayer in this way. I guess I’d just hope to use this post as a gentle nudge to ask ourselves some honest questions about the true nature of our verbal prayers and to be wary of using them rashly, repetitively or without deep consideration.
One of the major reasons I have avoided religious institutions during my faith walk, is due to the abundance of Imitation Faith which I have witnessed, and I realise I am not alone in this. While I thoroughly love being part of a faith-group where I can share in worship, and servitude, which challenges me, and yet supports me in my faith walk, I have found it difficult to find lasting support for the type of relationship I have with my Lord and Saviour. Still I keep an open heart, an open mind, and a willing spirit to go wherever He directs me. The true test is to be completely myself and not contort into someone I feel the church might support, I must focus on the promise that God supports me, and that is all I need. That being said, I have been blessed many times within church walls as God has moved me in and about. In fact I am currently befriending a new congregation and excited to see how God moves there.
Evidence of Imitation Faith disheartens and upsets me. Sometimes the imitation is glaringly obvious, you can tell within one interaction. Often the imitation appears so similar to the genuine article, making it difficult to identify, and it can take quite some time to recognise. If there is the possibility of hearing from the Lord through a Donkey, we have to have open ears no matter our whereabouts. It’s hard to explain how to tell the fake, because it’s not always due to behaviour, or language, or anything exterior. Sometimes it can be genuine for a season and then become corrupted. It is a constant battle of discernment. Genuine faith is an internal, private journey with submission to the specific, individual guidance from God, with opportunities to exercise our faith and obedience to fulfill each request, developing and maintaining a covenant with Him. Through each unique relationship, God reveals Himself to us, this is how we develop a familiarity with God’s Character so we can recognise, trust and truly love Him. Imitation faith attempts to push us all onto one same narrow path, it fails to grasp how vastly unique each of us is and which level our faith is at, or what is required to gain the next perfect level. It can severely mislead believers away from their God given path with guilt, than towards it with support. It’s no wonder that it can be something to be wary of. Much evidence throughout the bible states that within the Nation of believers there were only ever a remnant who obeyed God, only a remnant who trusted Him. Something else to remember is that Christ spoke in parables for a reason, to hide the truth, to prevent the imitation from knowing the secrets of the gospel. For good reason….
9 He that hath ears, let him hear. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.13 Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not.
Recently during a great conversation, I was reminded of a metaphor which my Dad used to explain imitation faith to me when I first began my adult faith walk. It was invaluable for me as a ‘Baby Christian’ to understand how easily we can be deceived into building imitation faith as apposed to genuine faith.
There was once a man who was flat broke, he had many bills to pay and debt collectors breathing down his neck. During a moment of extreme desperation he fell to his knees and prayed “If there is a God, please help me pay my bills”. The next week he was walking along the road on his way to a job interview for a job he would rather not do, when he discovered a briefcase, unlocked, full of money. Now the money was counterfeit, but the man didn’t care to wonder nor check. He went to the post office and paid his bills, it worked. His debt was cleared, he thanked “God” and he decided not to go to the job interview after-all.
The metaphor is that the pursuit of faith is just like the man’s pursuit of money, he needed it, he prayed for it, yet he found something less than perfection, less than righteous, less than true and he accepted it. He accepted it because it was an easier ‘answer’ to his prayer than the job interview God had actually provided, for a job that would have taught him priceless lessons about himself, about hard work, about responsibility, about the character of God and how to develop true faith in Him. He would have received an abundance of Godly blessings that would not only have covered his debts, but given him a lifetime without worry of money. He didn’t push past the imitation in order to search out the genuine, and settled for much less.
Lord, cover our mind with the amour of your salvation, that we may see and perceive, and hear and understand. That we never settle for the easier false options in our walk, and that we are blessed to be privy to your hidden truths, which fall on the soft soil of our hearts and not be stolen away, or overgrown with falsehood. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I Pray! Amen!