Harmless Doves

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cyn·i·cal

sinikəl/adjective

1.believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. Contemptuous; mocking.
     “her cynical attitude”
     “he gave a cynical laugh”

2. concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.

I want to speak from my heart. I woke up this morning intensely cynical about the world. I hate to think I’m becoming critical or judgmental, but whatever it is I must take it in prayer to Jesus. I feel like I’ve been bit by a snake– a venomous one at that.

When I think of our Lord’s example, it helps a great deal. He who knows every man’s heart and motives didn’t discourage him. He knew when he came what each of us had done, and was capable of doing. There was this incident at the Temple:

2Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:23-25, NIV

People can’t be trusted. Our motives and our desires, although hidden from men, are clear to God. And yet He loves us deeply. And love, “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5.) In his humanity, Jesus was tempted in every way. Discouragement and despair over the sin of men was resisted.

We can become cynical and jaded over the wrongs of others– it’s easy to do. There can become a ‘coarsening’ and a hardness of heart. That is dangerous. It requires a touch from Jesus. It means its time we get on our knees.

dove_peace_black_white_line_art_christmas_xmas_peace_on_earth-1979pxWhen Jesus sent out his disciples he encouraged them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16.) He knew the hostile human heart had its own agendas– people would be like wolves. But though they would see first-hand the deceitfulness of many, they were to be wise, and be completely harmless.

The Holy Spirit will keep us close, as we seek his victory in this matter. We will be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Exchange your attitude with His. He will strengthen you. We can renounce the spirit of judgmentalism that is so pervasive. We will love the way he loves.

I know there is much more to say about this. But now the Spirit is prompting me to pray through this issue myself.

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Feeding the Dogs

A toy I grew up with, they were magnetized pushing against each other.

There is a story of a Native American elder who once described his own inner struggles to understand the Bible and Christianity.

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is black, and the other is white. The black dog is mean and tries to talk me into making the wrong choices. The white dog is good and encourages me to make the right choices. The black dog fights the white dog all day.” When asked by the friend which dog wins, the elder reflected for a moment and replied;

“The one I feed the most.”

White Dog: As a believing Christian, there is a part of us that is Christ-spirited, compassionate, trusting, open, abundant and focused on helping others. We pray and are being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Black Dog: The other part is our flesh. We can be proud, evil, self-centered, greedy, manipulative, sullen, promiscuous, drunken, and only wants to he served by others.

“An analogy is made between the good white dog, our new nature in Christ, and the bad black dog, our old fallen nature. While we cannot eliminate the old nature, we can choose to feed the white dog.”

(From “The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in our Life,” by Billy Graham 1978.)
 

howlingwolf3-300x281The main key for us to remember is that these two parts are in constant struggle.

Two Scriptures to help: One– “If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life.”   Rom. 8:13, NCV

Two– “Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”   Gal. 5:17

In thinking this through this analogy might help.  I’m inclined to think that holiness is not so much like an “on and off” switch.  But I think it’s more like a “dimmer” switch is turned to brighten or darken a room.  I actually think there are times when we should make a deliberate decision for God.  And yet other times we just need to turn up the dimmer from 30% to 80%. Maybe all the way?

I’m just thinking out loud here.

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The Savor of the Lord

suffering1“Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Hebrews 2:18, (NLT)

“Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.”

  Watchman Nee

I remember a time many years ago when I felt like I had a ‘charmed’ life. I had no issues, few problems– life was smooth, there was no ‘roughness.’ I felt like I was God’s favorite, His ‘golden boy.’ I should have known it wouldn’t last :-).

Suffering in the scriptures is often linked with the concept of endurance. Often within the selected verse the writer weaves into it this idea. I believe that to endure something transforms it to good. Believers will suffer, but the issues get transformed into something quite beautiful, if, we add the ingredient of patient endurance.

“We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.”

James 5:11

In many ways, suffering is a tutor teaching us the foreign dialect of the Kingdom. If done under the kind direction of the Holy Spirit, it can give us a working knowledge of patience, endurance and joy. We must learn to speak in another language. A suffering believer will find a new vocabulary in pain that allows him to speak with understanding to those who are also in pain.

I spent several years studying Spanish. Even though I wasn’t really fluent, I discovered it opened a whole new world; being bilingual created new opportunities that I’d never even knew existed. I believe that suffering works under this same principle.

light-end-tunnelDo you speak the language? Can you communicate with love to those who hurt? Learning it can transform you to a person that can speak authoritatively to a wide swath of people. Having had to handle your own pain gives you the privilege of interpreting God’s love into pain and hurt.

From our own hurt (through endurance and joy) we can help others. I can always tell a fellow-sufferer. They are typically gentle and loving people, devoid of pride and control. These are the ones who have learned to speak the idiom of the Kingdom of God.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us… We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:4, 8-9

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Hurt Deeply

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A.W. Tozer seems to have gotten a hold on something here. Those who step forward into discipleship, or ministry will inevitably be hurt in some significant way. I wouldn’t say it was a ‘given’, but it is the common path we take.

The problem is not God’s– He loves us and wants to really bless us. He is all goodness and grace. He has no evil intentions concerning you, and certainly has no desire to see you suffer in a crisis of suffering or trial. Even in times of temptation, He views as a step to strengthen us; He never is out to trip us up.

I think that the issue is us. Our old nature, the sinner inside, delights in things like pride and selfishness (even in religious matters.) Some of the most difficult people I have ever had to work with were in places of oversight within the Church. Could it be that the problem isn’t that we are too weak, rather, it is because we are too strong?

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

Vance Havner

God’s intention is ‘to bless greatly.’ But my pride and self will must be left at the door (repeatedly). My old nature cannot truly work in the Kingdom. Only when these issues are dealt with (repeatedly) will humility and brokenness transform us. Quite simply, there is no way around this.

Becoming broken is often a lifetime of trial, temptation and affliction. You will ‘log-in’ many hours in the desert. Many of His best soldiers have been recruited from that barren place. The Holy Spirit is our best guide through these arid places.

“Before God could bring me to this place He has broken me a thousand times.” 

Smith Wigglesworth

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Follow up with:

http://brokenbelievers.com/2014/05/22/pondering-brokenness/

http://brokenbelievers.com/2014/05/09/vessel-to-vessel-part-1/

The Modern Tax-Collector

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Luke 18:9-14, ESV

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Essentially it would seem, that there are only two kinds of people, (which simplifies things.)  On the right stands the religious man, who has confided  in a level of righteousness that he deems adequate.  But his sin is multi-faceted.  A big chunk has to do with how he perceives others in comparison to himself.  He often despises those who are failures, losers, and criminals.  He points to them only to bolster his own standing. It generates his own feelings of religiousness.

Too many churches have become places were Pharisees come together to congratulate themselves.  These men and women do not operate from brokenness and humility.  They know nothing of tears over their sin.  But they pat themselves on their back because of their progress in the ways of God.  Life seems so wonderful in our churches.  We leave the service comfortably encouraged in our self-righteousness.

The tax-collectors of this world are its drunks, addicts, mentally ill, and the losers.  They stand afar off. And they don’t even have the energy or confidence to turn to God.  They know exactly what they have done, and understand perfectly that they are less then zero.  There is such a gap between these two men, and it has only deepened to this present situation.

Where are the bipolar, the schizophrenic, the person with OCD in our churches?  For that matter, where has is the unwed mother, the crack addict, and the homosexual gone?  I will tell you where, they are “standing afar off”People with ugly secrets and intense issues are often scared to death by religious people.

Please be aware. I didn’t intend for this to be a hard word.  But many of the “rascals” of the Church have gone missing!  We must seek them out and bring them home.  The sinner very often needs our encouragement to “come and dine” with Jesus. The last verse of Jesus’ parable sums up the lesson–

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14

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