You Are Just a Prayer Away [Witness]

 

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An ‘open letter’ to my friend:

As believers in Him who passionately loves the world, we are on our knees asking that the Father would bring you salvation.  We lift you up in our prayers, so that you will have an immediate and definite contact with the Holy Spirit.  We have consecrated you to Him.  You are now marked and set apart, as we await further instructions from our Father. 

There is no happiness, no real satisfaction apart from Him.  Just stop trying, you are getting nowhere.  The pain and guilt are real, aren’t they?  There is in you a deep sadness–a grief.  But the Lord sees it, and absorbs it for you.  He sets you free, not for you to duplicate the sin, but to set you free from it.  His action on your life is meant to liberate you.

Dear one, you struggle so intensely and have so many issues.  We know this, but we have prayed, and we gathered you up to Him.  (You are now a real target, thanks to us.)  All of the issues you face from now on, have been initiated by God, and us who pray. I hope they won’t be too many. That you’ll respond to them, and turn to Him.

You are welcome to join us, we are indeed waiting just for you.

So enter into the grim arena.  Already we have stepped into its ugly locales.  You can meet us there.  We know that there is no one who can keep us from His Spirit.  You will find us standing against gladiator, and lion and sin.  You are welcome to join us, we are indeed waiting just for you.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6

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A More Comfortable Discipleship

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” 

Matt. 16:24, NLT

This is a head scratcher. The issue for me is that it is the disciples who are being addressed.  Jesus has words with them.  And what He shares is intense and demanding.  He invalidates any discipleship that doesn’t say “No!” to oneself. This what is meant by self denial.

The desire to follow must be present, a true longing to walk with Jesus.  We must be willing, but this is only the starting point.  This would-be-follower is to go a step further.  He must put to death his attitudes, actions, wants and wishes.  This disciple is to turn her back on the very things she has grown and cultivated all these years as important and worthwhile.  These things are self centered and will only nullify a disciple’s walk..

There must be a major upheaval of things.  An excavation of your goals and reasons.  It all must be torn down and hauled away.  We are only following mentally, or emotionally if we will not make an end to this “natural” life.

Jesus talks about personalized crosses.  Each disciple has his own.  It is custom-made, with your monogram on it.  It is part of the discipleship attire, and many say it is out-of-style.  But each individual disciple must pick it up, settle it on his shoulder, and then step out into the crowded street.

Some say cross-carrying is a dubious and an eccentric take on Christian ethics.  Church is where we go to fulfill a religious duty we feel is necessary. Others, get a spiritual buzz from singing chorus’ or “Amazing Grace”.  But it is Christianity without a cross.

Pick it up.  Fit it on your shoulder, and focus on Jesus.  Set your gaze on Him and step into the crowd.  You are a disciple and a witness to the world and the world-system.  You who are denying self now, become real to the will of God.

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Limits of Mental Illness

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Mental illness is so limited,

It cannot cripple love, 

It cannot shatter hope.

It cannot corrode our faith.

It will never destroy peace.

It cannot.

It will never kill friendship, 

It cannot suppress memories. 

It cannot invade the soul.

It cannot steal eternal life.

It cannot conquer eternal life.

It cannot conquer your spirit.

Amen.

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 P.S. I have received some criticism over the contents of this post. The argument is that mental illness is very destructive, and that I’m misleading others by suggesting it isn’t. The thinking is that we dwell on the past and how it effects the present moment. I believe we have a mental illness. But I also believe more strongly so that Christ redeems us completely. “Because he lives,” goes the old hymn, “I can face tomorrow.”

In the “heat of the moment” the situation can seem overwhelming. Our illness can be completely devastating. However the Holy Spirit is yet to fully redeem us, yet we still must view this coming event as something triumphant and total. This life is not the end. What a relief to shed this mortal darkness!

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4

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Low Sodium Christians

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”

Luke 14:34

 Our distinctiveness for God is first evident in our communication.  The way we talk is the primary way we share; and it’s in the tone we use, the inflection of our voices, the vocabulary we utilize, and the way we articulate.  And all of this is communicated in just a few seconds of time.

We should be aware that when we say something it is instinctively and instantly examined. People, deep within want to know its veracity and authenticity.  But the above list is lacking one vital thing– grace, pieces of it, that break off and sprinkles all over our words and thoughts.  We added it all to our conversations, like salt on ‘french fries’.  This takes a ministry of grace, and we ourselves are made into a direct witness.

But not everyone of us is articulate, or gifted to speak.  But we are all salty!  Each of us has a savory presence of grace.  Every believer has it.  I’ve gotten to know two deaf brothers at my church.  They are sometimes neglected and avoided.  (But I think that is just fear.)  They use a ‘sign language‘ with gestures and hand motions.  They are actually quite articulate.  One of the young men has an opening door to Russia to do evangelism.

I guess I’m a bit taken aback by this.  A man who cannot hear or speak being used by the Holy Spirit in this way.  He jokes about being the ‘first evangelist to the deaf community in Russia’.  He is an inspiration to me.  My issue is with mental illness.  But handicapped people do quite well, they are particularly ‘salty’ and you’ll notice the difference.

Learning to communicate with grace is a lot like learning any foreign language.  My wife and I went to learn Spanish at an institute.  We learned so much I felt I was leaking out my ears.  Learning to speak “Grace” will be a challenge as well.  But we have the promised Holy Spirit.  He is the Helper.  He will show how to speak with grace to every person and situation.

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