Brutal Honesty: Self-Control

broken-walls

“A person without self-control
    is like a city with broken-down walls.”

Proverbs 25:28

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

There is no harder subject for me to broach than this one. It splits wide open a Number 10 “can of worms.” The issue is this: what is my mental illness, and what is my “flesh?” I suffer from Bipolar Disorder (and a mild form of epilepsy). But I am also an evangelical Christian believer.

So what is what? If this BP is causing extreme behavior, am I somehow exempt from the control of the Holy Spirit in my life? (Now this maybe easy for some of you to figure out, but I’m still contemplating here. Please bear with me on this.) I like things explained to me.

People are very complicated, and there are seldom any lines drawn between emotion/spirit/body. At any given time we all operate on different levels. For instance, my body maybe cold; but I’m praying quite fervently in the spirit. I can have a toothache and be really angry at Lynn (my wife). I never feel the need to analyze these actions.

Having zilch self-control is one of many bipolar symptoms. Believe me, my life has been completely devastated by snap decisions that carry terrible implications. I also habitually excuse my impulsive behavior by…

  • compartmentalizing, (categorizing everything as different)
  • rationalizing, (reasons behind ‘bad’ behavior)
  • and justifying my bad choices, (The devil made me do it).

My Bible tells me that the Holy Spirit is present to give me self-control. I believe this truly. But way too often (actually, most of the time) I’m focusing on trying to eliminate the negatives like bingeing, isolating, obsessing or plotting. I completely ignore the positives, like worshipping, praying, reading devotionally, or fellowshipping.

The vaunted “fruit of the Spirit” cannot be found in my carnal life. (If I may, allow me to change metaphors on you.) Suppose you had a real nice car sitting in your drive-way. It’s a real beaut. But since you don’t have the key, you must push it to make it go. It’s really tiring and you feel like giving it up all the time. (A trip to the store takes hours and hours.)

Silly you say? Yes. But no sillier than trying to live a Christian  life without the Holy Spirit. You see its his presence that allows you to live an impossible Christian life. My mental illness causes me a lot of grief. It affects me tremendously, as well as my friends and family. I must take meds to ease the worst of its disturbing symptoms. But there is supernatural help.

16 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Galatians 5:16-17, NLT

To be guided into the “fruits of the Spirit” is imperative (see Gal. 5:22-23). We’ve a tendency to accentuate the “deeds of the flesh” to our own detriment. As mentally ill people we must turn this on its head and invite the Holy Spirit to energize us.

My BP symptoms are no match for His presence. If anything they force me to helplessly call out to Him. This is a supernatural transaction that is mandatory to becoming Christlike. My physical weakness can be the backdrop for walking out convincing discipleship. Trust me, to live like a “receiver” is far better than trying to live like a “generator.” (But you  probably already knew that.)

aabryscript

Are You a Half-Shekel Short?

The Jerusalem shekel
How much money a person has can make a big difference in many things in life. It can mean the difference between shopping for groceries as Whole Foods or WinCo, or not being able to shop at all but having to go to a food bank instead.

Money can mean the difference between driving a BMW, or a 30-year-old “beater car”, or not being able to have a car at all. Money can mean the difference between having designer clothes and a nice house or wearing hand-me-down clothes and living in a one-room shack, or not having but the clothes on your back and a cardboard box to keep you warm at night.

But there is one thing that’s available to all regardless of financial circumstances. The rich have no more claim to it than the poor. And that is the gift of salvation offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Once when I was reading through Luke, I came to the story of when Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. Describing His conversation with them, Luke says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.

When I read that, I realized that all of the Old Testament, and not just the New Testament, is about Jesus. He existed before the world began and His story is the story of God’s relationship with His people. At that time, I prayed and asked God to show me where Jesus was revealed in the Old Testament scriptures as I read them.

Another time, in answer to that prayer, God revealed an interesting passage to me in Exodus. Generally, the book of Exodus is considered the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and their subsequent wanderings in the desert of Sinai. This is not a book where one normally would think to find reference to Jesus. But it is there nonethless.

Then the LORD said to Moses, ”When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. . . . Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.”

Exodus 30:11-15, NIV

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p>When I read this, it became clear that the price to ransom every person’s life is the same. Whether we are rich or poor, the price to pay for all our sins and redeem us, to reconcile us with God, is the same. And that price was the life of Jesus Christ; He is the half shekel. The price has been paid. Satan seeks to hold us captive, but God paid the kidnapper’s ransom 2000 years ago on Calvary.

The rich are no better off because they could give more; the poor are not at a disadvantage because they cannot pay the price themselves. Standing before God on our judgment day, rich or poor stand in the same position. The only question is whether you and I will claim we have paid the price ourselves by our good deeds and works, or whether we will accept the offer of Jesus to take care of our debt and to pay our ransom price.

So are you feeling like you are a half-shekel short in life? Look to Jesus who is our half-shekel who ransomed us all for God.

ysic, Linda

Please check out Linda’s blog. It’s found at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

The Blood: A Crash Course

I believe there are three things contained in the Blood of Jesusforgiveness, deliverance and protection. Many Christians only know about the first one – forgiveness. They have no idea that there are two other things available to them that will enable them to live a victorious and overcoming life in the Lord while still living down here on this earth. I will briefly discuss each of these three things: forgiveness, deliverance, and protection.

1. Forgiveness

As Christians, we all know there is definitely forgiveness in the Blood of Jesus. This is the basic central message of true Christianity – that God the Father sent His one and only begotten Son Jesus Christ down to our earth in the flesh to physically die on a cross in order to save us and give us total and permanent forgiveness for all of our sins.

Without Jesus dying and shedding His blood on the cross, there would be no forgiveness and no remission of any of our sins. Here are some extremely powerful verses from Scripture specifically telling us this:

  • “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
  • “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)
  • “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)
  • “For the life of the flesh is in the blood … for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

Notice the emphasis on the word “blood” in these verses. There is no question that in these verses, and others in the Bible, that the blood that Jesus personally shed for us on the cross, which caused His physical death, is what leads us to being able to receive eternal salvation, the forgiveness of all of our sins, and entrance into heaven when we die and cross over.

2. Deliverance

Now what are the Scriptural grounds that will give us the legal right to be able to use Jesus’ Blood when taking on any attacks that may come our way? As you will see in some of the stories in the Testimonies section of our site, you can Plead the Blood of Jesus against specific types of attacks such as attacks from demons or other evil people, any kind of physical illness or disease, or any kind of addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Many Christians are not aware of this second component that is in the Blood of Jesus which will entitle us to be able to use His Blood to go on the offensive against any adversity that may come our way.

Something else happened that day when Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. The Bible tells us that Jesus also defeated Satan and all of the powers of darkness that day! Here are several good verses from Scripture proving this point to you:

  • “… that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14)
  • “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13)
  • “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15)
  • “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
  • “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

What defeated Satan and all his dark powers? The physical death of Jesus on the cross. And what did Jesus do when He died that day on the cross for all of us? He shed His Blood!

This is why pleading the Blood of Jesus works so well in real life combat situations when it really is needed to defeat attacks that are coming against us from the dark side.

Many Christians are not fully aware of this second fact about the Blood of Jesus – that the Blood of Jesus can also be used to engage with our enemies when they do try to launch any kind of an attack against us. I believe that all of the above Scripture verses definitely tell us that the blood that Jesus shed that day on the cross has totally defeated Satan and all of his dark powers.

The only thing remaining is for all Christians to fully realize this incredible fact, and to grab a hold of this powerful truth and not to be afraid to use when they need it – especially when demons or other bad and evil people are attempting to come against them with any type of unjust action or attack.

Continue reading “The Blood: A Crash Course”

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