HOW TO GET PAST YOUR PAST

So many people struggle with their past and for many it isn’t pleasant. Tracey and I have talked with men and women who have been abused, been the abusers, had abortions, divorces, addictions, murder, death, betrayal, broken families, etc. Even though all of these things are horrible and painful, the truth is they are in the past. Living in the past is a dangerous place to be and there is nothing you can do about it because it’s as good as it is going to get, whether it’s what you have done or what’s been done to you.

Thinking through life’s problems is a bit like whittling. As you look closer and closer at the problem you will discover what lies at the root is sin. Just who are you anyway? I mean what makes you think you should have it any better than someone else? Are you special? Unique? Or are you just as good a candidate for trouble as the next guy?

When talking about sin, I have discovered there are no favorites and no one is excluded. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The big question then isn’t so much what particular flavor our sin is rather what do we do now that we have identified it? The Bible tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Well, that sounds fine and good but I can’t stop thinking about it.

There are two sides to this subject. One side is the need for us to find forgiveness for our sins and the other is the need for us to forgive those who have sinned against us. This sounds like the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” I think these two go together because it is only when we truly receive forgiveness that we can give it. As long as we struggle with whether or not we ourselves are forgiven, we simply cannot forgive others. I think this is where many live their lives.

Let’s walk through this for a minute. Okay, let’s say you commit a sin such as stealing, lying or even murder and you come with a broken heart and accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness provided by His death, burial and resurrection. You’re heart is made light, your burden is gone and the life of God’s Spirit floods into your spirit. You’re born again! Then someone does something to you, or you remember something from long ago that hurt you deeply, now what?

Jesus told a story in Matthew 18 about a servant who had his debt cancelled but he refused to cancel the debt of someone who owed him. Since he refused to forgive, Jesus said, “his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.” You see when we refuse to forgive others it’s really us who pay the price. The torment of unforgiveness will eat you up inside. Let me walk you through this briefly. Here’s the way this generally works: someone offends you, you don’t forgive them, you become bitter over time and eventually a hardness of heart sets in. The further along this path you go the more difficult it will be to turn around. My suggestion is to simply forgive others. If you don’t do it on any other basis, simply do it because of the great debt you have been forgiven.

Sometimes we can ask for forgiveness and not receive it because forgiveness doesn’t always come with a feeling. We simply have to believe God’s word even if we don’t “feel” forgiven. In fact, sometimes condemnation sets in and we go under it and find ourselves hating ourselves. Norman Grubb said in “The Deep Things of God”, “we must not stay, even temporarily, under condemnation, when Satan has caught us out. It is the easiest thing to do, and our distressed feelings are really self-pity and pride. It is not so much that we have grieved the Lord that disturbs us, as that we have failed. The acceptance of condemnation is a form of self-righteousness. God has told us, when we sin, to get quickly to the light, recognize and confess the sin, and then He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse our consciences from all sense of unrighteousness…To remain in condemnation, therefore, is really disobedience and hurt self.”

In the end, forgiveness is a choice. Either we decide to receive forgiveness for ourselves and forgive others, or we don’t, it’s as simple as that. The good news is through the work of the cross we can have our sins forgiven and not only that we can turn around and forgive others too. After all, this is what the cross is all about. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Louie

 

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THE GOSPEL OF THE GOD WHO IS LOVE

  “Supposing I have accepted this Bible revelation of God as a fact, and the revealed facts are these: God in Himself is nothing but love: we humans are created in His image so that the true ground of our being is the God who is love: but, in the misuse of our freedom, we have turned our backs on our true being in Him, and have been caught up in the illusion of independence and self-loving selves: God has regained us for Himself by becoming one of us as Jesus the Christ: Jesus, as God in the flesh and representing the human race who have their being in Him, by the predetermined plan of God, accepted a death at our hands.

   This death, in our stead, has removed the inevitability of our “death” (everlasting separation from the God of our being), has cleansed away the guilt of our sin-life (continual breakings of the law of love), and has delivered us from “the wrath to come” (the unavoidable effect of our rebellion against the love-law of the universe). Raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the resurrection was the evidence that all that had to be done in our stead has been done; therefore, we can regard ourselves in God’s sight as those who are without sin, justified, righteous in Christ’s righteousness.

   But also this death, as being we who died on that cross, has cut us off from the spirit of self-centeredness, that false god which had immersed humanity in his great delusion, for death is separation of a body from its spirit: and this resurrection, it being we who were buried with Him and raised with Him, was the Spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of love, the God who is that Spirit joining Himself to us, removing the hindrance (the false possessor) to our discovering Him as the God of our being.

 

Taken from Norman Grubb’s “The Spontaneous you”

 

THE ONLY ANSWER IS THIS ONE

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The only answer is this one: that I recognize that self-centered independence is a perversion, a breakaway from the union with the self-giving God for which I was created, and that, therefore, in that condition I can never reach beyond my own self-interest; but I also recognize that God, and He only, the Trinity-in-unity, is love unlimited; and that God through Christ has made a way by which He reunites himself permanently to me. Then in this spontaneous unity, I begin to be this same self-giving love—unlimited: and I am no longer just myself, but I have found the real I in me to be He, and I His means of self expression.

I now need to ask, how can I make this a practical reality? Supposing I have accepted this Bible revelation of God as a fact, and the revealed facts are these: God in Himself is nothing but love: we humans are created in His image so that the true ground of our being is the God who is love: but, in the misuse of our freedom, we have turned our backs on our true being in Him, and have been caught up in the illusion of independence and self-loving selves: God has regained us for Himself by becoming one of us as Jesus the Christ: Jesus, as God in the flesh and representing the human race who have their being in Him, by the predetermined plan of God, accepted a death at our hands.

This death, in our stead, has removed the inevitability of our “death” (everlasting separation from the God of our being), has cleansed away the guilt of our sin-life (continual breakings of the law of love), and has delivered us from “the wrath to come” (the unavoidable effect of our rebellion against the love-law of the universe). Raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the resurrection was the evidence that all that had to be done in our stead has been done; therefore, we can regard ourselves in God’s sight as those who are without sin, justified, righteous in Christ’s righteousness.

But also this death, as being we who died on that cross, has cut us off from the spirit of self-centeredness, that false god which had immersed humanity in his great delusion, for death is separation of a body from its spirit: and this resurrection, it being we who were buried with Him and raised with Him, was the Spirit of self-giving, the Spirit of love, the God who is that Spirit joining Himself to us, removing the hindrance (the false possessor) to our discovering Him as the God of our being.

Taken from “The Spontaneous You” by Norman Grubb

THE WAY A THING WORKS

Norman Grubb
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We have, therefore, to delve deeper to get this into right perspective. We have already said that law can be defined as the way things work, and they don’t work any other way. At the creation only one law was given to man (the way man works)—the law of receptivity—“eat”. But man obeyed that simplest of all laws in reverse, by eating of the tree of self-sufficiency.

Now the situation changed. Instead of eating of the right tree and receiving Him who is love and who would live the love-life through him (which is the fulfillment of all law), he had been taken captive by the huge delusion that he could manage his own life. So now the history of law in our fallen world begins. God in mercy and grace meets man on his new blinded level and says in effect, “You can live your own life? Very well, here is the law. Man is made to love God with all his heart, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself. Obey it.”

In other words, God institutes an elementary and external form of law, suitable to man’s condition—the form of “do this and you will live”. Twice in the Scriptures it is called man’s elementary religion: “we, when we were children, were in bondage to the elements (rudiments) of the world…under the law”: and “wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (elements) of the world, why…are ye subject to ordinances, Touch not; taste not; handle not?”

Law, therefore, was the first form of God’s grace, because it imposed an impossibility on man—that the selfish one should be selfless—and gave him the chance of discovering his truly lost condition.

Man’s response to law has been twofold. The first response damns, the second opens the door to salvation. The first response is hypocrisy, the second honesty. Hypocrisy means pretending to be what we are not. All men, including ourselves, have done that. We have sought to build our own righteousness and maintain our own respectability by pretending we keep God’s law, by keeping a very little of it where convenient: a little religion, a little ethics, and so on. What we really do is to display the one or two commands we do keep, but carefully hide the dozens we break. We cling to an eleventh commandment—Thou shalt not be found out! This attitude finally damns us, because it is not ultimately sin that damns; God has provided for that; it is dishonesty, refusal to admit and confess sin. “This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…and hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.”

Man’s other response to law is honesty. Recognition that we are all law-breakers. That is the one capacity we have—recognition and admission of fact. That is what Jesus meant in the parable of the Sower, when he said the good seed fell into an “honest and good heart”.

Taken from “God Unlimited” by Norman Grubb

METAMORPHOSIS

While I was reading a Norman Grubb booklet this week; I got a revelation about God. Let me quoteNormanand see what happens. “God created man in His own image that He might have a visible means of expression and manifesting Himself, The Invisible in visible form. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” and then he also said, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt5:14).  On the material level, light is invisible electricity which can only manifest in visible form by a lamp. In doing so, the light so possesses the lamp that we don’t say, “turn on the lamp,” but, “Turn on the light.” Thus we humans express Him in a union relationship.”

I don’t know about you, but that hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, I know God is invisible, and yes, I know we are His expression, but ask yourself this. If you were invisible and you wanted to change other people’s lives, how would you do it? God does it by indwelling a born again, washed in the blood of His son Jesus Christ, believer. You have to be changed into a new creature, the kind that God can live in. He provided the only way and it is through and in Jesus, the son of God. The invisible God of the universe can now live in and through Christ in you.

I recorded a video, which didn’t work out, of the transformation that happens in the invisible secret place of a cocoon. Some of the changes are the stomach because it changes from eating plants to eating nectar. The brain is transformed into thinking how to fly instead of crawling. And the best part of the metamorphosis is the heart, it changes as well. This is truly a miracle that takes place that we can’t see until the caterpillar dies to its old life and becomes a magnificent winged creature. In Hebrews 11:3 it says by faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. God uses nature to reveal himself to a waiting, watching world.

Elisha had a servant in 2 Kings 6:15 who was scared of the army of many horses and chariots who were circling them, Elisha prayed and asked God to open his servants’ eyes so he could see the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. Sometimes we have to pray and ask God to open our eyes to see that it is Him keeping us and not us keeping ourselves. So, just because something is invisible doesn’t mean it’s not there. Especially if we are talking about God; He is all around us, in each person we encounter or each part of creation. I am not saying hug a tree, hug God. I am saying it’s His expression of, whom and how big, He is.

God is so big; it takes all of us to express Him. There were eight ministers who came to jail tonight to be of one mind and one Spirit. God did just that in each one of us as we acted out a skit about addiction. The point about the skit was we can not kick any habit on our own. This particular skit was about pop-a-holics who can’t stop popping bubble wrap. It was so hilarious and the ladies laughed so hard it was hitting home with most of them. Once you start popping, you just can’t stop.

Two of the minister who came tonight had never been there before and afterward I asked one of them how she liked it; she responded, “it really opened my eyes.” Twyla Parris and Denise Miller had their hearts touched as they saw the ladies listen, open up and cry when they were told Jesus loves them no matter what they have done. Denise asked me later if I was a minister, I answered, “yes, and so are you.” She thanked me for saying that to her. We don’t realize that when the maker of the universe chose you to redeem and live inside you, you are changed indeed. We need to stop walking around like we haven’t got anything worthy of praise. It’s not about us, but it involves us. We agree with God we are the vessel, and He is the content.

Nancy Ladd and I had so much fun talking with a girl after church about her walk with the Lord.Nancyknows the couple who have her children and was able to encourage this young lady to continue to listen to God’s call. He is ever present in our life, and He is head over heels in love with us. Christ went to great lengths to give us His salvation and to set us free. There is a definite metamorphosis that happens in that place nobody can see until one day, in God’s timing, we emerge with an unspeakable beauty that comes only from God.

Written Tracey Lewis

LOVE MOTIVATES BUT FAITH ACTS

Photo by Tracey Lewis

Have you seen the television show called “Total Blackout?” It’s a show that demonstrates your imagination becoming your own worst enemy. They start the person out in a pitch black room with 3 tanks and all three tanks have 3 distinctly different items in them and the person has a short amount of time to name what it is. For example, the first tank might have a live, slithering snake in it. Anything after that is going to cause you not to put your hand in there. The second tank has a stuffed animal and the third would be something like a human foot coming from the bottom of the tank. I wanted the ladies in jail to experience something similar to make a valid point of how we let our imaginations be our guide and we are deceived. I asked for 4 volunteers to stand facing the crowd while I put a slimy, glittery, silly putty like substance out for them to feel behind their backs and try to name it. I told them it might bite so be careful. One girl said it might be a lizard, another girl guessed GAK. We had a good laugh, they got the point and sat back down.

The passage of scripture that fit my demonstration was Isaiah 26:3 “thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in you.” Also in Phil. 4:7-9 and another verse is “the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart.” What we believe takes faith. I was going to count today how many times I exercised faith, but it is impossible to count. I would venture to say everything takes faith, and we do it all day long without thinking or seeing it. If we could see faith, it wouldn’t be faith.

Love and Faith go together because next to love in importance is faith. “Love is the driving force.” I quote this from Norman Grubb as well when I say, “Love motivates, but faith acts.” Faith is action. Faith carries out the urges of love. Faith works by love. God is love and love gives therefore its only natural that love is the power. What does faith look like in action? I think a good example of this faith-action or taking something is a chair. For instance the chair you are sitting in right now, you took it to sit in, but once you had done that, the chair now takes you.

One other thing I have learned from Norman Grubb is what you fight fights you. It’s impossible to fight with someone who is silent and won’t argue back with you. We could never accomplish this in the flesh, by the flesh; it happens in the spirit and spills out in your life where others can see it. There are a lot of different emotions going on around us all the time and we get caught up in it, don’t we? We don’t have to be controlled by our feelings though because more than likely they will change in just a moment anyway.

There were a couple of girls who wanted to talk if I had enough time. This is my favorite part of the night, really, because you can concentrate on one person. The first girl didn’t have any questions or problems; I think she just wanted to talk, so I enjoyed listening to her and then praying for her as well.

I found out from the second girl, who I will call Bee, is the great granddaughter of a lady who used to go to our church and has since gone on to be with the Lord. She had other good news about her family she shared with me, but most of all, her focus is back on the Lord. It is easy to believe things people say when there is no way to know for sure. Our solution is to believe what God says about us. God said He would never leave you nor forsake you; He is faithful when we are not faithful to Him. I am glad that He is holding on to our hand and not us holding His.

We watched Tony Evan’s daughter, Priscilla Shirer on DVD on sleep walking through your Christian walk. She talked about rushing to the next thing and passing up what God has for you right now. Even through the stuff you don’t like, God is making Himself known. He is head over heels in love with you, and He will stop at nothing to get your attention, because once we fall in love with Him, He takes over and you can’t help it. He already loves us; He first loved us so that we could love Him back.

Written by Tracey

READING HABITS

I was born again in 2001. Since that time I couldn’t tell you how many books I have read. Being born again brought with it a hunger to study the Bible. I had no idea how to go about it so I went to the library and found a book titled, amazingly enough, “How to study the Bible.” It helped me immensely. It was a very simple and basic overview of the whole Bible with an outline of each book and a very basic overview. It was very remedial but it was a great start.

At some point I found myself studying apologetics. For those that don’t know what that is let me just say it is defined as “the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information.” I read books by Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis. The more I read these authors the more I noticed other authors they quoted so I searched out their books too. I read things like Martin Luther’s biography, Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” and R.T. Kendall books. I fell in love with Philip Yancey and bought everyone of his books I could find and devoured them.

It was probably the better part of two or three years that I spent studying apologetics. I learned that there is plenty of evidence at our disposal to give us enough reason to trust what the Bible is telling us. I discovered there are numerous sources outside of the Bible that corroborate what it says. You may laugh at that and say, “Well, of course there are, and I don’t have to have you to tell me that.” I understand, but it is only what we believe for ourselves that truly makes the difference isn’t it?

Moving along my reading habits started to shift a little, and I discovered a Chinese author named Watchman Nee. He spent the last twenty years of his life in a prison for his Christian witness. He had quite a different take on things as far as I was concerned. Apologetics is the study of facts and logical thinking to prove a point. Watchman Nee introduced me to the Apostle Paul’s revelation of “Christ in You.” He spent more time talking about how it was all about Christ in you rather than you understanding it all. This marked quite the shift in my thinking. After spending a considerable amount of time reading Watchman Nee’s writing’s I discovered a disciple of his named Witness Lee. Witness Lee sort of carried on the ministry after the death of his mentor. He was a controversial figure, but who isn’t that has ever made a big impact on the world?

Soon after studying Watchman Nee and Witness Lee I came across an English author and missionary named Norman Grubb. He wrote several books during his long ninety eight year life. He lived as a missionary In the Belgian Congo and translated the New Testament into Bangala. Norman’s underlying theme to his writing is the revelation that Christ is the point. We humans are a vessel, temple and branch. The plan all along is for Christ to dwell in our vessel and express himself through us. We were crucified with Christ, buried, resurrected and ascended to the right hand of God. He said things I have never heard anyone say. He said things like, “God is the only person in the universe.” He came to the conclusion that God is the only person and everything is an expression of him. Some might think this is pantheism but he wasn’t saying God was everything but everything did in fact reveal something of God’s character to us. Of course man being the ultimate expression of God on the earth. While some may scoff at this or disagree there is no way for me to explain to you the impact his books have had on me. He said, “God created man in his own image that he might have a visible means of expressing and manifesting himself, The Invisible in visible form.”

Norman Grubb is just like the rest of us and he was also a reader. He read other authors too such as Soren Kierkegaard, William Law and Jacob Boehme to name a few. Since discovering Norman’s reading habits guess what? You guessed it I too have started reading some of William Law’s and Jacob Boehme’s works.

I could spend hours talking to you of the things I have learned from these and other writers but I won’t. I will simply leave you to dig and hunt on your own. We all have to find our own path and we will if we simply get on with it. I wrote this only to encourage you to expand your level of understanding by way of the books you read. There are so many men and women that have left us such great resources of understanding God and his universe. I would encourage you to read and read with only one thing in mind. No matter what authors or books you read never let anything but the Bible itself be the last word.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

Written by Louie