Instead of Two-Faced, the Church Must be “TrueFaced” — The Cure

What if God isn’t Who you think he is & neither are you? What if taking God’s side against our sinfulness and placing trust in Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God is the Way to knowing God’s unconditional love? What if that reconciled relationship with God means you have a new identity in Jesus… that the old self is gone in God’s eyes and that you are a completely new creation? What if real joy comes from believing you already have perfect standing with God through Jesus? What if the Christian Life is not about trying to be perfect or manage your sin habits BUT learning to receive God’s love and learning to love others with that God-like love? What if true holiness is about having nothing hidden… and (due to trusting safe friends) not being afraid to tell how you really are. What if true holiness is not trying to sin less but partaking in the Nature of God? With Horizon Christian Fellowship Morgan County, you will find safe friends. You can be who you are right now, as we (together) partake in God’s Nature.

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OTHER RESOURCES:

TrueFace YouTube

Why Christians Aren’t “Perfect”

Religion vs. Relationship

Deeper Walk International | Course 1: “Foundations” (free video series)

“Repentance” by Deeper Walk

Mental Health Resource Roundup

4 Restorative Books for The Wounded & Weary Christian

A Proposed Consesus on Articulating Sanctification

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 6

Neither secret (esoteric, theosophic) knowledge, nor ascetic legalism can combat one’s impulses to indulge the flesh [a.k.a. old, corrupted self] (Colossians 2:23). Only the grace of Jesus Christ can wage war with our fleshly (sinful, obsessive or excessive) impulses and lead us to victory.

Why is it important to have victory over these drives and base responses? It is all about maintaining and improving our relationships—our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Sin destroys relationships, isolates us from others and alienates us from God. Even though they may seem to have a measure of wisdom, secret knowledge (Gnosticism) and asceticism (exclusion-based, externals-focused, behaviors-level, shame-driven religion) cannot combat the indulgence of the flesh; and so, cannot maintain or improve your relationship with God and others. Only the grace-filled life and forgiveness of the Supreme Savior, Jesus Christ, can lead us to the victory over fleshly impulses that destroy relationships.

God’s Prescriptions for Navigating Relationships — Putting on the New Self

3:1-4     The Believer’s Mindset about Earthly vs. Heavenly Affections

  • “I am raised with Christ; therefore, I seek the things which are above, where Christ is (at the right hand of the Father).” [position –> affection]
  • “I will set my mind on things that are above, not on the things that are on earth; because the old corrupt, selfish me has died, and my new life is found only with Christ in God.” [identity –> devotion]
  • “When Christ—my life—appears, then I will also appear with Him in glory.” [identity –> reward]

3:5-11     The Believer’s Relationship to God & Other Believers (Negative Aspect): Putting to Death What is Earthly

  • Put to death: Sexual Immorality, Impurity, Passion, Evil Desire, Covetousness (thinking that acquiring things or situation will make your life better)
    • These are the sort of things God judges, and…
    • These are the things which WERE ONCE a part of your life, but now
  • Put away all of these: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk
  • Do not lie to one another, …
    • because you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self (which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of your Creator). [implied: God does not lie; you are God’s new creation; do not lie.]
    • because you are all of equal value to God. Man-made, religious, earthly bounds & prejudices do not exist in Christ.

3:12-17     The Believer’s Relationship to God & Other Believers (Positive Aspect): Putting on What is from Above, Heavenly

  • As God’s chosen one’s, holy and beloved, put on: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (bearing with one another)
  • If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive one another; because as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
  • Above all these, put on (selfless, holy) love! It is that which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • Allow the peace of Christ to rule your hearts (in relation to each other). It was to peace in Christ that you were called in one body. Be thankful about that!
  • Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly by: …
    • Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom
    • Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts toward God
  • Do everything in the name (for the glorious reputation of) the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

3:18-21     The Believer’s Family Relationships

  • Wives: submit yourselves to your husbands, as is befitting for one who is “in the Lord.”
  • Husbands: love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
  • Children: obey your parents in everything, because this is pleasing to the Lord.
  • Fathers: do not provoke (exasperate) your children, so that they do not become discouraged

3:22-25     The Believer’s Role as a Servant to a Master (a.k.a. Boss, Employer)

  • Obey—in everything [moral]—those who are your earthly masters (bosses).
    • not just to make yourself look good, as people pleasers do (approval seeking), but…
    • with sincerity of heart, because you reverence the Lord
  • Whatever you do, work heartily (with a good attitude) as if you are working for the Lord and not for people
    • Knowing that from the Lord you will receive inheritance for reward
    • You are serving the Lord Christ
  • The wrongdoer (boss and/or employee) will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and their is no bias (partiality, bribe favors) with God.

4:1     The Believer’s Role as a Master (a.k.a. Boss, Employer)

  • Treat your employees justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master—in Heaven. [implication: the employer who is not just or fair will be corrected accordingly by their heavenly Master]

4:2-6    Every Believer’s Role as a Minister

  • Continue steadfastly in prayer…
    • watching (for answers) in it
    • with thanksgiving
  • Pray for fellow ministers of the Gospel
    • that God may open a door (avenue of ministry) for the Word
      • to declare the mystery of Christ, no matter what the situation (even imprisonment)
      • to make it straightforward and clear (instead of “watered down” and hidden in part), which is how believers ought to declare it
  • Walk in wisdom (life skill) toward outsiders (non-believers)
    • Make the best use of your time with them [implied: for the Gospel’s sake]
    • Let your speech always be gracious & intriguing (salty, question provoking) …
    • So that you may know how you ought to answer each person

4:7-18  People Matter: Encourage Them, Talk to Them, Remember Them, Love Them (Paul’s Example)

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Previous Series Parts:

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 4

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 5

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 5

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 2

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 3

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 4

So far in this perusal of the Letter to the Colossians, Lamb’s Harbinger has taken a look at Chapter 1 through Chapter 2, verse 15. This part 5 will continue with the next paragraphs.

Chapter 2, verse 15 of the Letter to the Colossians ended the Apostle Paul’s proclamation of the absolute triumph and the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all sins, all humans and all spiritual beings. It stands to reason that Paul will now give the Colossian believers another charge to keep:

2:16-23

Since Jesus Christ is supremely triumphant over all sin and humanity and all spiritual beings, then the Law of Moses (Old Covenant) which gives sin its power to condemn (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56) has also been fulfilled in Christ.

FOR THIS REASON, no believer in Jesus Christ should allow Judaizers to pass judgement on him or her, regarding Old Covenant religious dietary restrictions, or with regard to observing Old Covenant religious festivals or calendar events… OR celebrating worship on a Saturday (Shabbat) vs. a Sunday.

All of the Old Covenant (Testament) observances and rituals and calendar days were (prophetic) shadows of things to come. BUT the real substance of their prophetic importance belongs to CHRIST.

So, Paul further urges the Colossian believers [and us] who are being tempted to go back into Jewish ritualism. The challenge is to “let no one label you as “disqualified,” as the result of their insisting on:

  • Asceticism: severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons
  • Worship of Angels
    • Going on in detail about visions (modern example: Mormons & Joseph Smith)
    • Being puffed up beyond sound reason by his sensuous mind (a.k.a. one’s emotions, feelings, sensory perceptions; ex. “burning in the bosom”)
    • NOT holding fast to the Head — Jesus Christ
      • from Whom the whole body… grows with a growth that is from God…
      • as a result of being nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments

Then, haling back to verse 8 of Chapter 2, Paul continues by challenging those who are being drawn back into Greco pagan thought (Gnosticism):

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world (referring to pagan thought of the worlds order; Gnosticism), WHY—as if you were still alive to the world—do you submit to regulations that are according to man-made teachings, 

such as:

  • Do not handle (certain material objects), Do not taste (certain foods), Do not touch (as in good marital, sexual relationship)
    • referring to things that are all temporal (as apposed to eternal).

Then, Paul levels a death blow to legalism and gnosticism.

These [man-made regulations] indeed have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism, BUT they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.  (Colossians 2:23)

Simply put: even though man-made religious rules seem pious and wise, THEY DON’T DO ANYTHING TO CURE YOUR SINFUL IMPULSES. Asceticism and Special Knowledge cannot stop you from giving in to the flesh.

The implication is better than one could imagine. Jesus is better than special knowledge and asceticism. Unlike gnosticism and legalism,

THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST CAN CURE YOUR SINFUL DESIRES

Colossians: Jesus is Better than Special Knowledge, Part 1

1:1

From a Roman prison cell, of all places, the Apostle Paul writes to the believers and “faithful brothers” (probably church leaders) at Colossae. Next to him sits Timothy, Paul’s partner in ministry even while in holding. Paul writes the letters to Ephesians and to Philemon at about the same time (A.D. 60-62). We know that, because in those letters Paul refers to himself as being in prison, and he also refers to Tychicus (the courier). Yet, neither of these letters refer to the outcome of Paul’s trial at Rome. So, from that inner evidence, one can more than safely say Colossians was written sometime from A.D. 60 – 62. The message God sends to the Colossians through his Apostle Paul is certainly one for our day. The theme of this letter to the Colossians (and to us) is:

JESUS IS BETTER THAN SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE (i.e. Gnosticism)

1:2

“Grace and Peace to you” is always the greeting Christians gave each other in those early days of Christianity. Whether in regions where Christianity was not being persecuted, or in the heat of Christian genocides, only the salutation of “grace and peace to you” would mean anything at all. The grace of God allows us to partake of the Divine nature amid a world that is entirely anti-God in heart. The peace of God is poured over those who trust the Almighty and All-knowing God completely, even those suffering for the name of Jesus Christ, as Paul knew very well. There are times when we forget about our need for and the availability of God’s grace and peace. It is always fitting to wish another Christian, “Grace and Peace (be multiplied) to you.”

1:3-8

The first paragraph of this letter is full of thanksgiving and joy. The Apostle Paul states he and his fellow ministers thank God for the Colossians when praying for them. Why?

  • Paul and company heard of the Colossians’ placing faith in Jesus as the Christ “the Messiah” as a result of hearing the Gospel from Epaphras (vv. 4, 7-8)
  • Paul and company heard of the Colossians’ love for all the saints (v. 4)
  • Paul and company knew of and rejoiced in the hope laid up for the Colossians in Heaven; implied: because of their faith. (v. 5)
  • Paul and company share joy with the Colossians that their faith in Christ is shared among many in the world and is growing! (vv. 6-7)

1:9-20

The second paragraph of this letter is a prayer for the Colossians and an exaltation of Jesus Christ, and this exaltation of the Lord Jesus sets the tone for the rest of the letter. The supremacy of Jesus Christ is the basis of the Colossians’ faith, yes even the Christian faith, against all distractions, deceptions or heresies. What a blessing from God to have these prayers recorded for our learning and use.

Paul prays: ‘We have not ceased to pray these things for you from the day we heard of your faith in Christ:: (v. 9-14)

  • To be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
    • So that, you may walking in a manner worthy of the Lord
      • by being fully pleasing to Jesus
      • by bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
  • To be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might
    • For the purpose of having all endurance and patience with joy
      • resulting in giving thanks to the Father
        • WHO has qualified believers to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
        • WHO has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son
          • in Whom (Jesus) we have redemption — the forgiveness of sins.

Paul Exalts Christ: (v. 5-20)

  • He is the image of the invisible God
  • He is the firstborn (lead and representative) of all creation, because:
    • By Him all things were created
      • in heaven and on earth
        • things visible and invisible
          • whether thrones, or dominions or rulers or authorities
    • He is before all things and in him all things hold together
    • He is the head of the body — the Church.
    • He is the beginning, the firstborn (resurrection to glory) from the dead
      • so that, in everything he might be preeminent
  • In Him all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell, so that through Him all things* would be reconciled^ to God.
    • *All things: whether on the earth or in heaven
    • ^Reconciled: by making peace by the blood of His cross

 

 

AFTER 5 YEARS, WE’RE PREGNANT, AND THERE’S A STORY TO THAT

On January 19, 2016, we found out that Kristi is at most a couple of weeks pregnant.

To those who might say, “oh, they just found out they are pregnant. They shouldn’t say they are pregnant until after the 1st trimester. What if they miscarry?” I can only reply by saying,

“Read the below story. You’ll see that our being pregnant has a ‘God story’ to it… and if it is God’s reputation that has allowed us to become pregnant, then God’s reputation won’t be tarnished by a potential miscarriage. Besides, we’ve come to trust him no matter what regarding this matter of babies. Of course, we will do our part to protect and nurture what we’ve been entrusted; but, whatever HE decides will find us content. That is the point of the story below.”

FOR 5 FULL YEARS,

…we were tempted by nearly everything you can imagine.

We’ve known all of the inner, negative and accusatory thoughts… “There is something wrong with me. Is something wrong with him/her? There is something wrong with us; are we incompatible? Has God cursed us to be childless?”

For 5 full years, we were goaded by all of the presumptions and “should’s & should not’s”—spoken and unspoken—of family, friends and fellow Christians.

Sometimes we wondered why it was so difficult for us compared to those who seem to become effortlessly pregnant, or even those who do not want the unborn child they’ve been given… or yet, those who choose to prevent pregnancy from ever happening. Had we done something wrong?

Oh sure, we contemplated all of the contemporary methods of medical fertility, but we personally never felt comfortable playing God. How ever much our faith had to grow over these past 5 years, we were always certain that God was our God, and that, His Word tells us that HE is the one who “opens the womb” and that “children are an inheritance handed down from God” to a man & wife for them to nurture and raise up in ways glorifying to God. We both decided that methods of fertilization would always leave us with a lack of confidence that God had given us a child/children in HIS time and in line with His grand plan for our part in HIS universe.

By the way, the fact that we are now pregnant does not mean “our faith” is somehow the thing to be praised, but rather, God is the one who gives… and only through trusting Him completely can we be confident that what we receive is from Him. “The justified (in Christ) shall live by faith.” Sometimes God needs to teach us lessons of patient trust in Him. That is what life is about.

The only peace we got these past 5 years was proportionate to our trust in God as the all-wise, all-powerful LORD of our life together. As our view of God got bigger, our trust in Him became more sure; and our peace multiplied in that grace. We became certain that our lives were on His plan… down to the timing of children, or no children at all. We both came to certainty that his plan was absolutely best, even if that meant no children! We became able to praise God with contentment for our life as it was. This is a lesson that not only married couples should learn about children, but it is a lesson that singles must learn about singleness. It is not about you. It is about God and His path for you.

Don’t get me wrong, though. We did not become passive in the matter of asking God for a child. It is a natural desire for a married couple to have children, just as it is a natural desire for a man and woman to become one in holy marriage. If the desire is not there, then that is God’s gift to you. But, if the desire is there, then take it as a sign that God means to fulfill that desire in His time and way. [As an aside, for many, one of God’s ways is adoption. Even now that we are pregnant, we still hope to adopt one day because we see the love of God best displayed in adoption.]

At a certain point, and above all, we decided that we would not listen to any voice but God’s, not even our own. 

“No, there is nothing wrong with us, together or separately. God is well able to work miracles.”

“No, we’re not going to cause ourselves stress and worry by trying to make sex an empty duty of punctual attempts at pro-creation, according to ovulation and temperature and extreme dietary course.”

“NO — Who cares if family, friends or fellow-Christians are imposing their opinions on our faith, timing, intimacy, etc. What does God say?!”

ABOUT THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

At the 3 year mark for us (Dec. 2013), I began to seek the Lord earnestly about what HE was saying regarding our having children. I am the spiritual leader in my home. It was up to me more than any to seek the LORD on this… so that I might obtain blessing for myself and my wife, and bless my wife with truth and words from our God.

At just beyond the 4 year mark (Dec. 2015), my seeking grew more intent. Because I had been dealing (for 4 years) with a set of small but painful cysts above my left testicle, I wanted to seek the Lord for healing and for children. I prayed much and sought books like, “Divine Healing” by R. A. Torrey. I asked God to teach me about his healing power. I had believed for healing for others’ cases in times past, but this was different… this was me, and sometimes selfishness and doubt and sin get in the way.

On January 7th, 2015 I met Candy Gunther Brown [fellow Christian & Religious Studies professor at I.U.] and Dr. Joshua Brown in Bloomington, IN.

In brief, Josh [fellow Christian, brain neurologist and professor at I.U.] had been miraculously healed of an inoperable brain tumor as—again—a result of divine healing in the face of great spiritual warfare. Besides sharing their uplifting story, Josh and Candy also put me onto a book called, “Needless Casualties of War.” These two beloved friends have walked a long and faith-strengthening path, and they quickly became good friends to Kristi and me.

On January 14th, 2015 I attended a scheduled a prayer meeting with the Healing Rooms of Bloomington, where Josh and Candy work to pray for and then document confirmed cases of divine healing to the glory of God.

The following is what I entered in my journal entry for that evening:

………………………………………………..

“Prayer with Candy Brown (and others) at Genesis church for healing. Gen 18:10… prayed about children, among many other blessings.”

That night, I also shared with Kristi what I had prayed about with the brothers and sisters at the Healing Rooms.

On January 15, 2015 my journal reads,

“Email sent to Candy Brown

Candy and friends,

One of the prayers last night centered around “a child in a year’s time” as was promised to Abraham.

This morning, our family Bible reading (in a chronological Bible) was Genesis 18&19. When I read the same passage [Genesis 18:10] about which we prayed last night, I knew it was a promise from the Lord beyond coincidence. May the Lord be exalted, as Kristi and I believe Him for this.”

………………………………………………….

Now, Candy’s response to this email was understandably careful. She essentially stated that she did not specifically receive a word from the Lord to pronounce that Kristi and I would have a child in a year’s time; but that, in the tenor of prayer we were having, it was a passage that she felt drawn to mention.

BUT, as I said, due to the Holy Spirit using the Word to work faith in my heart through illumination, I knew it was beyond coincidence. It was like God saying, “This is for you.” Kristi and I calculated 9 months backward from January 2016 into 2015. We expected to be pregnant by the end of April, 2015 so that we would deliver by about January 2016…thus fulfilling the word of the Lord to us. We did not change any schedule or routine. We simply lived life and loved spontaneously.

The truth is, the months passed and we still were not pregnant. Yes, we were a bit discouraged, not knowing how to meet the expectation of our faith with the reality we were experiencing. Nevertheless, we told God we love Him and trust Him, and that we were willing to say that our selfishness had led us to “force” his Word into what we had been hearing.

We continued living life and loving spontaneously. And, as I state above, we both came to certainty that his plan was absolutely best, even if that meant no children! We became able to praise God with contentment for our life as it was.

Then, January 19, 2016 rolled around—“about a year’s time” from last January 15—and Kristi said, “I’m kinda late, ya know.” She tested, and the results for us are nothing short of a miracle.

How closely do you believe God wishes you to walk with Him? Do you believe he will work miracles for you in your faith and life as he did the patriarchs’ lives? More than working miracles for you, do you value God’s desire to shape and mould your soul by life’s lessons of patient trust in Him—to give Him as much unconditional trust as He gives you unconditional love?

Do you believe your life has its integral part to play in God’s plan for the universe? Wouldn’t that mean you are on his time and plan? Is He still the same today as he was yesterday and forever past? The answer is, of course, yes. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek HIM!

Pregnancy Test Positive -- 1:19:2016