Three Main Blocks to Your Healing and Freedom

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As I walk with people, I have noticed 3 major blocks to healing and freedom. These 3 main blocks are like umbrellas that cover us and keep us from truth raining down to seep into our heads and hearts.

Instead, they cover us in lies…

Here are the 3 main blocks:

Pride. : We then become self-serving, self- preserving, and self-exalting. Examples: proud of our sexual orientation, our countries (nationalism), even our church denominations (building our own kingdoms rather than God’s). It all leads to idolatry and slavery, not freedom. Pride is often a strong indicator of our deep hurt or fear. We instead need healing and deliverance.

Prejudice. : We have made up our minds before we hear facts. We are narrow, arrogant and destructive in our thinking.

Preconception. : We think we know something and presume a clear picture in our heads.

How to test if you are stuck in these?

a.) If you are agitated by any of these listed above, you probably operate in these strongholds.

b.) If you do not experience love, joy, peace, patience etc… but instead anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy or envy, you probably have one of these strongholds.

These 3 major strongholds will continue to block healing and freedom in your life.

Ask yourself:

-What have these 3 blocks done to my relationships?
-How have they affected how I feel about myself?

Ask God:  

-What do you say about me and my situation?
-What good thing do you want to give me in my life instead of these blocks that are stealing, killing, and destroying me?

*Make sure your answers agree with the Word of God from the Bible and with God’s heart of compassion for you.

How do you dismantle these blocks or strongholds?

1.) Humble yourself. Surrender your heart, will, mind, and emotions to God – the source of love, healing and freedom. (James 4:10).

2.) Repent. Tell God – “I need you God. Apart from you, I am nothing. I choose to turn from these lies. I nail them to the cross and I turn to you Jesus. I want to receive instead your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc – all the fruits of your Spirit. (John 10:10; John 15; Galatians 5; 1 John 1:9).

3.) Replace lies with God’s Truth. Jesus is the Truth. Invite Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth to come and fill you and replace the lies. Read His Word to get to know who God is and how He loves you. He desires you to be free! So much so, He sent Jesus to die and defeat your sin, death, sorrows and weaknesses. (John 3:16; John 14; Isaiah 53).

Stuck and need help walking through this?

I’d be honoured to help you see what rich inheritance God has for you instead!

Learn more…

Am I Being Deceived?

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This past year, I had the joy of walking with a woman coming out of the New Age movement. In fact, she had once been a New Age teacher. We started with Scriptures in our sessions and took our time before we began asking Jesus questions. Her heart now was so beautifully hungry and thirsty for Truth instead of where the other road had led her to. What Jesus did for her was beautiful. She was set free!

On the other extreme, around the same time, I also walked with a woman so hard on rules from a very religious church tradition and who had very little openness to Holy Spirit. Yet, Jesus led us through healing to remove those blocks and she too experienced some incredible freedom!


We are to worship God in BOTH SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.


“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24 NLT


If we worship God without Spirit, we become legalistic, religious Pharisees.

If we worship with spirit and NO Truth, we go down the road of the New Age.

See both extremes??

Here are some things to remember with Biblical interpretation:


1.  The Holy Spirit bears witness within when you hear the truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who proceeds from the Father, will cause a witness within your heart when you hear truth (Jn. 15:26,27)

2. The Holy Spirit guides you into truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, guides you into all the truth, disclosing things of the Father to you (Jn. 16:13-15).

If you have and keep God’s commandments, you love God, and are loved by God, and God will abide with you and disclose Himself to you through the working of the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you all things (Jn. 14:21,23,26).

3. You will only see what you can handle – God will only reveal to you what you are able to bear. There is more to say to you, but He will wait until you can bear it (Jn. 16:12).

4. You cannot interpret the Bible on your own – Know that apart from Jesus you can do nothing, which includes interpreting the Bible correctly (Jn. 15:5).

5. Pray for God to open your heart – Pray that God opens your heart to respond to Him, and the hearts of those to whom you preach to respond to your preaching (Acts 16:14).



Excerpt above from the short ebook by Mark Virkler…

Am I Being Deceived? (You can click to view a free pdf version below the book.)

If you are stuck in one of these extremes, (religious bondage or spiritual deception), perhaps I can help. Learn more here.

God, our Almighty Nurturer and Protector (Mother’s Day)

baby and eagle

Today, going over this message I once gave on Mother’s Day in 2015 blew me away… I needed to read this once again… to see the way God has THE BEST MOTHER HEART (He created mothers after all!!)

Maybe you need this today too…?

(I changed some of the language to reflect that it’s now 2020 and no longer 2015 but I may have missed spots.)

God, our Almighty Nurturer and Protector
Merri Ellen Giesbrecht
Originally presented on: May 10, 2015

Topic: Mother’s Day

Texts: Isaiah 46:3-4; Isaiah 49:15; Isaiah 66:13; 2 Cor 1:3,4; Psalm 91:4; Psalm 57:1; Deuteronomy 32:10-11

Theme: God is our Almighty Nurturer and Protector

My Aim: I pray you may know that God is like a protective mother and He longs to have you come and nestle into His lap, to draw nourishment from him, to learn to soar under His wings and to catch you when you fall. I pray you may notice and receive God’s loving nurture and to be motivated to show His love to others.

Key words: Nurturer and Protector

Visuals: 2 buckets, shield, rocking chair, baby bottle, picture of an eagle

Intro: One summer my parents asked their neighbour to water their garden while they were on vacation. The neighbour would come in the early evening and turn on the garden hose and was then to return sometime later to turn it off. One night, he forgot to turn off the hose. Thankfully the house was not next to the garden or there would have been a flooded basement. The only result my parents saw was a summer of enormous carrots and zucchinis and tomatoes… and they feasted as a result.

This message was one God had been preaching to me for several months in 2015. It had been so powerful for me, it felt like God left on the garden hose. I have 2 buckets (2 themes) to share with you what I noticed… My prayer is that the fruit of God’s message to me will not only bring me nourishment but you as well.

Bucket Number 1.
God is our Almighty Nurturer; El Shaddai. (He nourishes us.)

One day in 2015 while praying, God reminded me of a childhood memory…

When I was 11 years old, I was asked to speak in my home church on Mother’s Day. It was a small church in the Canadian prairies. Our pastor may have thought I’d give a tribute to my mother. (Which makes me giggle now seeing as I was a strong-willed child. Perhaps this was his way of making me say ‘thank you’ to my mom publicly in the midst of her ongoing parenting battles. My mom deserves a medal. I love her so much. She’s been my primary example of God’s nurturing heart to me.)

This time in front of my church family, I felt a nudge to speak on the nurturing heart of God and how we see a picture of His loving care through the gift of motherhood…and yet how He cares for us all and calls all of us to share His care with others.

After I shared my bit as a little girl, later I spoke to a woman in a wheel chair. She couldn’t speak and once was a powerful, energetic missionary for many years in Madagascar. Lillian was a part of my church fellowship in Saskatchewan now being cared for by a Care Giver named Delinda. Lillian was one of my prayer warriors who faithfully prayed for me. I knew this. Yet, never had the joy of conversation with her. I only met her when she was in this wheel chair, paralyzed, and without speech due to a virus she contracted in the jungles of Madagascar. When I see her in heaven, I can’t wait to visit with her!

On that particular day, I went to Lillian after feeling the nudge. I leaned down and whispered in her ear: “Happy Mother’s Day Lillian! I know you don’t have biological children of your own but I know you were a mother to many!” I was not ready for the emotion and flood of tears that came from her face. Delinda later said that it was the best thing I could have said to her. Years later, after I have discipled hundreds of children myself along with their parents, I can imagine why!

How wonderful that we love, serve and worship a God who is so compassionate. And we are created in His image.

Today is Mother’s Day and yes, we get to honour our mothers. Yet, we honour mothers only because we love, serve and worship God who is loving and compassionate like a Mother.

God gives us the gift of motherhood and He gives all of us the ability to share His compassionate and nurturing heart with others.

What a beautiful thing to ponder that God would call a woman who would never bare children of her own and turn her into a mother of many in the jungles of Madascar. Who knows what all He did through Lillian! And talk about His mercy, to nudge me as an 11 year old little girl to speak to a woman confined to her wheelchair. But, I see that she needed to hear …from a child, an intentional ‘thank you’, much like we parents love it when our children thank us and return our love, as well as a ‘thank you’ from God, Almighty who called her as a missionary in the first place.

God, who is called El Shaddai…

‘El’ means Almighty and Shaddai’ is a word that draws a picture of what happens in the very back of a nursing room where moms go and feed their babies. God is our Shaddai – He nourishes us like a mom feeds her baby. He is our Almighty Nurturer. He gives us safe nourishment.

God’s parental tenderness is beautifully expressed in the picture of motherhood.

Let me show you from the Word…

Isaiah 66:13 (ERV)

“I will comfort you like a mother comforting her child.

You will be comforted in Jerusalem.”

 

Psalm 131:2,3 (NLT)

“I have calmed and quieted myself,

    like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.

    Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—

    now and always.”

 

My son one day was giving me one of his wonderful hugs and he said to me: “Mom, I love the place in your arms.”

God longs for us to say the same to Him. He invites us to nestle into His arms and to receive His goodness, His nourishment, His love.

 

Isaiah 49:15 (NLT)

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?

    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?

But even if that were possible,

    I would not forget you!”

 

“Jesus refers to His deep compassion for us by using the metaphor of Himself as a mother hen.”- Dr Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages

 

 Matthew 23:37  (ERV)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You stone to death those that God has sent to you. Many, many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me.”

 

God sends us messengers to show His love and compassion much like He did for Israel, and too often we aren’t listening – in fact – it’s possible to cut off the messenger! We know that in some parts of the world, prophets today are being killed. Are you listening for His message?

Do you read His Word daily so you can hear His voice? Or do you kill His voice in your life by never opening His Word, and choosing something else to fill your mind? Or maybe you are quicker to choose entertainment before you ever read His Word. God Almighty longs to speak to us and yet, we often shut Him up.

Yet, notice how God loves and longs to carry us through all stages of our life! Whether we have no hair, tons of hair, grey hair, or no hair…

 

Isaiah 46:3-4 (ERV)

“Family, listen! I have carried you since you left your mother’s womb. I carried you when you were born, and I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.”

 

In God’s incredible power, He even uses our troubling stages of life to bring comfort to others. In fact, I have found that those who have experienced the most hardship are the ones whose compassion runs the deepest. Once we come to the end of ourselves, we can certainly be used by God, for His glory.

Years ago, I had one terrible viral infection which affected my ability to focus. I couldn’t even focus my mind enough to read a book. I slept lots and when I didn’t sleep, I stared out the window. I was in bed for 10 days from April 13-23, 2015.

My oldest son asked me how I was feeling and I was lamenting that I was feeling terrible and to top it off, it was so gorgeous out. It was baseball weather and I longed to be playing ball! He then tells me that maybe Jesus wants to use this…that Jesus can take the worst things and turn them into something great. J This as many of you know, is MY HOPE CHILD whose birth brought me hope and protection during a very difficult time in my life! Then he says, “I think your son just preached you a good sermon.” I stood in shock and then gave him the biggest hug. God spoke to me through him in that moment. God used my own son to bring me comfort. That was the Holy Spirit at work in my own son!

My son’s words reminded me of one of my favourite passages when the Apostle Paul himself felt at the end of his rope…in a much greater desperation than any viral infection could give…

 

2 Cor 1:3-4 ERV

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”

 

We can comfort others because God comforts us.

Again, God’s parental tenderness is beautifully expressed in the picture of motherhood. And as I just illustrated, parents can equally be blessed by God’s compassion through their children. The Holy Spirit does not discriminate.  I recall once listening to a man who is called on to do peace and reconciliation between countries and parties who are killing each other. His wife is a Kindergarten teacher and he often goes and sits in her class to be blessed by the children. I can relate. Young children bring us comfort.

Here are some questions for you to ponder…

Reflective Q:

How do you need to invite Jesus to be your El Shaddai, your Almighty Nurturer this morning?

(Pause)

Where in your life do you need His comfort and care?

Or who in your life desperately needs His comfort and care?

And how is God calling you to show His love and care to them?

(Pause)

 

Recap:

Bucket Number 1.
God is our Almighty Nurturer; El Shaddai. (He longs to gather us in His arms, comfort and nourish us.)

Now for…

Bucket Number 2.
God is our Protector (He Gives us the shelter of His Wings)

Beginning in February 2015, God had been preaching to me this 2nd theme…

It seemed that every conversation I had with women in that time, there was grief, despair, illness, anxiety, depression… it became overwhelming… I would go off and pray calling out to God for help, for strength… I love to pray outside in God’s creation…it’s where I feel closest to Him – away from distraction. Over and over I would see eagles flying. By the 3rd or 4th time, I finally clued in and asked God what I could learn from this. Many of you already know where this is going…

All through Scripture, you’ll see a theme, a phrase describing God like an eagle who shelters us with His wings… (feel free to jot down the references if you wish as I will be listing a few off…)

Psalm 17:8 (ESV)

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

 

Ruth 2:12 (NIV)

“May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

 

Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

 

Psalm 57:1 (NIV)

“When David had fled from King Saul into the cave. Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

 

Psalm 63:7 (NIV)

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

 

Psalm 91:4 (NIRV)

“He will cover you with his wings.

    Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.

    He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.”

 

 

Through Scripture, God is pictured as an eagle with wings that provide safety and protection.

God was reminding me that He was covering me and women around me, my sisters in Christ. He was saying, “I’ve got you covered.”

The passage that stood out the most for me was…

 

Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (NiRV)

“The Lord found Israel in a desert.

    He found them in an empty and windy land.

He took care of them and kept them safe.

    He guarded them as he would guard his own eyes.

He was like an eagle that stirs up its nest.”

    It hovers over its little ones.

It spreads out its wings to catch them.

    It carries them up in the air on its feathers.”

 

You’ll notice something incredible in this passage. Not only is it a reminder of God’s love for wandering and complaining Israel who got themselves lost in a desert on a journey that could’ve taken only 40 days but instead took 40 years because they did not fully trust God’s navigational skills… You’ll notice how it applies to you and I.

The eagle’s care for her young is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love, who spread out His wings on the cross, who came to bare your sins and mine in his own body, who swept down and caught us when we were falling.

You and I left the nest and He caught us when we fell. 700 years before Christ came to rescue us…

Isaiah wrote chapter 40- which starts off with… “Comfort, oh comfort my people…” and ends with this…in verse 31…

 

“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

    They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

    They will walk and not faint.”

 

Through the Good News and by the power of the Holy Spirit who is called our Comforter, He is here, so that you and I fly free – if we fully put our trust in Him, allowing His wings to cover …to comfort and to rescue us. Because of Him, we find safety and triumph, and we are able to fly above the world on his back and not fall into it. God offers us this protection daily …through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

Jesus asked the Father to send us the Comforter to be with us forever.

 

John 14:16 (ASV)
“And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever.”

 

Reflective Qs:

  • In what way do you need to ask God for His safety and protection? For yourself or someone you love?
  • What is God speaking to you? As I’m teaching from the Word, are there people or situations that come to mind? What is He saying?
  • Maybe you need protection from a bully, or protection in a work place situation, or protection on a difficult health journey, protection over your failing finances, a failing relationship, over a wandering loved one…

 

I invite you to pray and truly turn your house into a House of Prayer – either asking God for more of His nurturing compassion or more of His safety and protection – for yourself and for your loved ones. Those of you who are visual, may want to picture yourself or your loved one – with one of these objects (a shield, rocking chair, baby bottle, picture of an eagle.) Then trust in the Word of God, His promises to give nurture and protection.

Pray – with 1 or 2 others, or pray on your own. Be okay with awkward silence. Just listen for God’s nudging. Be okay with not even saying a word if you feel out of your element today. That’s okay. You belong today. Others around you can pray…simply let their prayers comfort your own heart… Gather this morning in His arms, and under the shelter of His wings.

Dear friends, you are beautiful. You are mighty warriors this morning. You are family. We belong together under His wings.

Picture me right now with my hands up high about to pray a blessing over you. May you think of Jesus’ wingspan, His protection, His love on the cross for you!


My closing prayer for you:

I pray that every day you would trust in the Lord and find His new strength. That you would know this soaring high on wings like eagles. That you would so trust in His strength and comfort, that you will run without growing weary, you will walk and not faint, because you weren’t relying only on your human weakness.

I pray that you would stay close to our El Shaddai, our Almighty Nurturer, feasting on His Presence all through the stages of your life and nestling in close to His chest for comfort, from no hair, to grey hair, to no hair again!

…and then I pray, that you may share His love and protection with those He brings into your nest, into your area of influence. May the world be drawn to His love and protection because of you! I pray this over you, my brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus, Amen!

 

What does it take for you to grow?

As I meet with my Life Coaching clients, I notice that some lives transform faster than others. Lately, the Lord has been waking me up at 4:33am, 4:11am…

The theme God keeps growing in me is this…

Planting His seeds (His wisdom, revelation, healing…)

…requires first a healthy heart soil (healed heart)
…and a renewed mind.

Trying to plant seeds without good soil (healed heart and a renewed mind), won’t lead to healthy growth.

I drew 2 pictures for you…! 😀

Check them out… Picture #1:

soil to grow1

Picture #2:

Then, out comes the growth and fruit all from abiding in Jesus who is the True Vine (not to mention the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)! And Father God is the Gardener. (John 15:1-2), while Holy Spirit is the Living Water! (John 7:37-39)

Pretty amazing that all 3 beings of the Trinity is carefully attending to your growth – IF you let them. 😀

Look below… (I should have added water being poured out and into the root system to represent Holy Spirit’s living water…)

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Therefore… 😀

Together, on this journey… (Pause and reflect on this.)

  • We invite Jesus to heal our hearts.
  • We read the written Word for our minds to be renewed.
  • In order to receive God’s wisdom and revelation. (Ephesians 1:17-20)

This picture has come to me over and over…!

As you look at this picture and reflect on the Scripture passages, what is God speaking to you?

  • Ask Him: Lord, how would you like to heal my heart today?
  • Ask Him: Lord, what do you want to show me from these passages? (See references and go treasure hunting!)
  • Ask Him: Lord, if I were to invite your healing power, and your Divine wisdom and revelation in my life this week, what would shift for me?

Enjoy this exercise and share your findings in the comments below… 🙂

And if you’d like to join me on this journey with my group coaching circle, learn more here. (New circles are starting seasonally!)

Your church is shut down – due to virus. Now what?

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Photo by Jesse Yelin from Pexels

What do you do when your church is shut down due to the Corona virus or persecution?

The systems may crash, but…

There is actually new opportunity! I see the church shifting in beautiful ways…

***This link below was originally posted in Feb 2018.

Notice the title of the post?

Since the Corona Virus, this has become even more valuable to use in BEing the Church… (and you can EASILY do this interactively via phone or video chat during quarantine as I have been doing with my fellowship groups.)

This is Contagious but in a GREAT way!

How to End Things :(

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I always thought you had to be FOREVER faithful to people, programs, and institutions to the very end. (One of my key values is loyalty and integrity.) Sadly, I learned the hard way some things and relationships must come to an end. Ouch. Sigh. After years of investing in some thing and someone, if there is no fruit, one must seek the Lord on what to do. Sometimes, He calls us to release.

We are called to be faithful to Jesus first and foremost.

“Endings are necessary, but the truth is that we often do not do them well. Although we need them for good results to happen and for bad situations to be resolved, the reality is that most of us humans often avoid them or botch them.

• We hang on too long when we should end something now.
• We do not know if an ending is actually necessary, or if “it” or “he/she” is fixable.
• We are afraid of the unknown.
• We are afraid of hurting someone.
• We are afraid of letting go and the sadness associated with an ending.
• We do not possess the skills to execute the ending.
• We do not even know the right words to use.
• We have had too many and too painful endings in our personal history, so we avoid another one.
• When they are forced upon us, we do not know how to process them, and we swing or flounder.
• We do not learn from them, so we repeat the same mistakes over and over.”

– Dr. Henry Cloud

A few years ago, I read Henry’s book on “Necessary Endings”. It set me free from some slavery to unhealthy situations, after two attempted mediations.

If this sounds like your situation, you may want to read his book too…

How do you know if you’re in a false ‘church’?

720x405.jpgHow do you know if you’re in a false ‘church’ ?

Today’s lent devotional (below) was extremely timely as I walk several clients through ‘church’ abuse in multiple churches in my area. When churches practice witchcraft – control and manipulation, there is even trauma around reading God’s Word.

Breaks my heart.

Thankfully, Jesus loves to heal! His message to a very religious culture of His day was freedom! 

This reminder was good: “…rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power.”

Hmmm…basically : “Do as I say… and give me your money.”

I often find myself saying to clients – “What does the fruit tell you? That gives you clues as to the kind of tree.”

Here’s a refresher on what is good fruit!

My prayer: Jesus, Thank you for freedom through your shed blood on the cross! Pour your Spirit on all churches and burn up what is not of you! Yes & Amen! 

Here was the devotional today… (Source at the bottom.)

WEEK 1: WEDNESDAY

One of the great lies of our time is to suppose that because Jesus brings forgiveness, and urges us to be forgiving people, meek and gentle, there is no sharp edge to his message. To hear some people, you’d think the whole of the Christian message was simply a call to accept one another, never to judge another person. Indeed, doesn’t Jesus himself tell us not to judge, at the start of this very chapter (Matthew 7.1)? That verse is quoted again and again by people who would do well to ponder this present passage.

Jesus is quite clear that there are such persons as false prophets, as people who appear to be his followers but who in fact have never known him. Life would be a lot simpler if we could tell at a glance who the true and the false prophets were, but the only guide Jesus offers is the picture of the tree. Sooner or later — and it may be a lot later, or it may happen quite suddenly — the fruit of someone’s life will appear, and then you can tell whether they were real or whether they were fooling themselves and others.

In Jesus’ own day there was no shortage of such people. Jesus spoke more than once about people who would turn up and declare that they were prophesying in his name, or in God’s name, and would lead people astray. The second and third generation of the church faced the same problem, and developed an interesting rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power. Some false teachers offer their followers sexual licence in contrast to Jesus’ rigorous standard, as in 5.27—30, 15.19—20 and 19.3—12; part of the lie, today, is that Jesus didn’t mind about such things. Others are eager for personal power, as you can tell when someone challenges them. And, yes, some today are in it for the money.

When Jesus uses the image of the tree, he is drawing, as so often, on an ancient biblical picture. The first Psalm speaks of God’s true people like trees planted by streams of water, which will produce fruit at the right time, while the wicked are like chaff blown around by the wind. Jeremiah develops this picture (17.8), thinking of the tree that sends out its roots to look for the water it needs. Lent is a time when we should be doing that: sending out our roots to look for the water of life. The challenge of these verses isn’t simply one of learning to recognize true Christian teaching from false. The challenge is to become, ourselves, trees that bear good fruit, people who not only say ‘Lord, Lord’ when it suits us, but who apply ourselves to the much harder task of discerning and doing God’s will.

Read this beautiful passage below:

(Interestingly, Jesus gave me this passage over and over on my Sabbatical in 2015 when I was in pastoral ministry.)

Here it is… Matthew 7:15-29

PRAYER TODAY:

Gracious Lord, draw our roots to yourself, the living water, so that we may grow strong and bear good fruit.

SOURCE: day 8 of the YouVersion plan ‘Lent For Everyone’. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/83-lent-for-everyone

RELATED POST: Tears of healing began to roll down my face. I didn’t know what was happening in me at the time. I found myself in a culture of honour… https://followingtrusting.com/2019/03/13/a-culture-of-honour-men-and-women/

RELATED: Six Marks of a Church Culture That Deeply Changes Lives
By Peter Scazzero

 

Countdown to the Cross and Open Grave! (Lent 2019)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love the Lenten season! 🙂

Passover (some call it ‘Easter’) is the most important event in our world history, and yet it can sneak up on us. We often spend so much time focusing on Christmas, that we forget Part 2, …the dying to self-part and receiving new life in Christ! Christmas is receiving God’s gift under the tree and Passover / Easter is opening it!

It is a season, not just a week or a day, and it all starts on a Wednesday. The countdown to Easter Sunday is called “Lent” referring to a lengthening of days as the days get longer with Springtime! Lent is a time that we remember to die to our selfishness, and to choose to live free in Christ!

This year I look forward to using the daily verses (see Year C below) and the Divine Reading template. Come and allow Jesus to bring you new life through these daily readings…

1. List of Scriptures – Year C – Lent : Revised Common Lectionary

2. Your Guide – Reflective Reading Template (Lectio Divina) 

Theology: Are you a Settler or Pioneer?

pioneer wagon

This is from Brennan Manning’s book: “Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.”

There are two visions of life, two kinds of people. The first group see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are called settlers. The second group see life as a wild, fantastic, explosive gift. They are called pioneers.

These two types give rise to two kinds of theology: Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. According to Wes Seeliger in his book, Western Theology, the first kind, Settler Theology, is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of Supreme Being, establish the status quo on golden tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life. The Wild West is the setting for both theologies.

In Settler Theology, the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small and this makes things dark inside. Within the courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse is the settler’s symbol of law, order, stability, and—most importantly—security. The mayor’s office is on the top floor. His eagle eye ferrets out the smallest details of town life.

In Pioneer Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but the pioneers don’t mind. They are more into adventure than comfort.

In Settler Theology, God is the mayor. He is a sight to behold. Dressed like a dude from back East, he lounges in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees him or knows him directly, but since there is order in town, who can deny that he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule. The settlers fear the mayor, but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. Peace and quiet are the mayor’s main concerns. That’s why he sends the sheriff to check on the pioneers who ride into town.

In Pioneer Theology, God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged, full of life. He chews tobacco, drinks straight whiskey. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his people. Their sell-being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn’t move; living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon, which often gets stuck. He prods the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.

In Settler Theology, Jesus is the sheriff. He’s the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat, drinks milk, outdraws the bad guys. The sheriff decides who is thrown into jail. There is a saying in town that goes: those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff, and follow the rules, they won’t stay in Boothill when it comes their time.

In Pioneer Theology, Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find our which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians. Through his words and actions he reveals the true intentions of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it means to be a pioneer.

In Settler Theology, the Holy Spirit is the saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely, or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything okay again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace.

In Pioneer Theology, the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the covered wagon and furnishes fresh meat for the pioneers. Without it they would die. The buffalo hunter is a strange character—sort of a wild man. The pioneers can never tell what he will do next.

He scares the hell out of the settlers. He has a big black gun that goes off like a cannon. He rides into town on Sunday to shake up the settlers. You see, every Sunday morning, the settlers have a little ice cream party in the courthouse. With his gun in hand the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows. He fires a tremendous blast that rattles the whole courthouse. Men jump out of their skin, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train shooting up the town as he goes.

In Settler Theology, the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. His concern is to stay on good terms with the mayor and keep out of the sheriff’s way. “Safety first” is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. The settler never misses an ice cream party.

In Pioneer Theology, the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of daring, hungry for a new life. He rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the settlers and tries to tell them of the joy and fulfillment of life on the trail. He dies with his boots on.

In Settler Theology, the clergyman is the banker. Within his vault are locked the values of the town. He is a highly respected man. He has a gun, but keeps it hidden in his desk. He feels that he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

In Pioneer Theology, the clergyman is the cook. He doesn’t furnish the meat. He just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout, or the buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned how to cook. The cook’s job is to help the pioneers pioneer.

In Settler Theology, faith is trusting in the safety of the town: obeying the laws, keeping your nose clean, believing the mayor is in the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, faith is the spirit of adventure: the readiness to move out, to risk everything on the trail. Faith is obedience to the restless voice of the trail boss.

In Settler Theology, sin is breaking one of the town’s ordinances.

In Pioneer Theology, sin is wanting to turn back.

In Settler Theology, salvation is living close to home and hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, salvation is being more afraid of sterile town life than death on the trail. Salvation is joy at the thought of another day to push on into the unknown. It is trusting the trail boss and following his scout while living on the meat furnished by the buffalo hunter.

However, this image below is key…

“Some people want to be slaves…”

…and what it means if we are not yet experiencing freedom…!

(Read the whole page below…)

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Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, Chapter 3, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986.3

Letters to the Church – Francis Chan

Francis Chan – Letters to the Church ( #paradigmshift )

letterstothechurch.francischanA few quotes from Francis Chan that will get you thinking…!

“God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe this and want change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do.

The early church didn’t need the energetic music, great videos, attractive leaders, or elaborate lighting to be excited about being a part of God’s body. The pure gospel was enough to put them in a place of awe.

If you think that sitting back and letting the church staff feed you will bring you the most fulfillment, you are so wrong. God promised that those who give will be most blessed (Acts 20:35).

When the Bible describes the power available to you, doesn’t it sound like hyperbole? It seems so extreme, yet we see so little of this in our own lives and in the Church. The discrepancy could challenge your faith in the Scriptures—how can the Bible promise things we never experience in real life? But are you willing to consider that the Bible is accurate and the Church has domesticated us to the point where we doubt our power?

Church, the answer is not to build bigger and nicer cages. Nor is it to renovate the cages so they look more like the wild. It’s time to open the cages, remind the animals of their God-given instincts and capabilities, and release them into the wild.

Alan Hirsch said, “In so many churches the mission of the church has actually become the maintenance of the institution itself.”

It’s time to train people to live in the wild again.

There are elements of modern churches that on the surface seem like good ideas, but they can actually keep us from the biblical vision of unity, true fellowship, mutual love, and pursuit of the mission. Too many look at these elements and insist you can’t have a church without them.

I believe God is leading a movement in this country toward simple, smaller gatherings, and I long to see this movement gain greater traction. I get so excited when I dream about the Church spreading in small, invigorating expressions that look and feel like the early church. My goal is to get you dreaming about this as well.

My hope is simply to convince you that there are compelling ways of living as the Church that look nothing like our traditional models. My goal is to get you dreaming, to keep you from settling, to affirm that nagging sense you can’t shake that God wants something more for His Church than what you’re experiencing.”

Learn more about the book: ‘Letters to the Church’ by Francis Chan