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Nancy LaPointe

Nancy LaPointe

Monday, 18 March 2013 16:05

The state of affairs in the church

Wanted to share a blog from someone I highly respect in the Christian world.  Welcome any comments.

 

MICHAEL BOLDEA -DIMITRU DUDUMAN'S GRANDSON -THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE CHURCH

Friday, March 15, 2013

The State of Affairs

If I write one more article on the state of the world or the state of the church for that matter, I think I may need a cup of hot cocoa and a quiet chair to sit in for a few hours. The alternative to that would be clawing at my own head and mumbling to no one in particular, ‘why don’t they get it? Why can’t they see?’

Even to my own ears the words of warning seem to ring hollow because try as the few might to stir the hearts and open the eyes of the many, the pull toward compromise, indifference and a feigned imitation of true worship are just too strong.

It has come to the point that men are openly mocking the one true God while claiming to be His servants and followers. We try to justify their actions, we try to find the good in their endeavors, but all we’re really doing is finding excuses to put off confrontation or heaven forbid stand for truth.

It hasn’t come to blows, it hasn’t come to prison terms or the threats of violence, and the church is already caving in, and averting its gaze from the monstrosity it is becoming. We can pretend all we want. Reality is stubborn and unmoving, and eventually we will have to face it.

Maybe I’m missing it. Tell me if I am, but the way I see it, the church has actively been silenced by a handful of entitled, obnoxious, overly loud and in-your-face proponents of sin, and not much else.

As yet, we’ve not seen the legislation that is soon to come making it a crime to speak out against sin, as yet we’ve not seen pastors imprisoned, churches shut down, and militant activists turn violent, and we’ve already given up the battle, acquiesced to the enemy, all the while telling ourselves we just need to pick a better spot, bide our time and find a better opportunity to stand our ground.

With everything that’s happening and the speed with which it is happening, the church is alarmingly indifferent, sedated by the promise of wealth transfers, and pre-tribulation rapture. The household of faith seems too busy packing their bags to raise their voice, and too busy counting their money to see the darkness spilling into their homes, and churches, and communities.

How many times and in how many ways do you try to wake someone up before you write them off for dead and move on to the next individual?

Yes, I know, Jesus left the 99 and went back for the one sheep, but what if the sheep keeps kicking you in the face while you’re trying to pull it out of the muck, as though it enjoyed its present existence and you were nothing more than a nuisance and inconvenience?

At least when judgment descends we will have no moral ground to ask ‘why’ of God, knowing full well why judgment had to come, and clean and purge and upturn the temple, and the inner courts.

I will be guilty of no man’s blood upon my hands when that day comes, and that is why I continue to do my utmost to stir men to repentance.

For a while there, the name calling didn’t bother me anymore, but once supposed Christians started calling me what those of the world have always been calling me, well, that stings a little.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this frustration. I know I’m not the only one feeling as though he is tilting at windmills, and although I could try to placate you with some inane platitude that seems to work wonders for Joel Osteen fans, I’m not to the point of selling out quite yet.

Having known these days would come doesn’t make it any easier, but at least those of us who heeded, are spiritually prepared, having fasted and prayed up as we knew we ought to have done.

No one ever said it wouldn’t get difficult, painful, tragic, and heartbreaking. God just promised He would get us through it all if we clung to Him. I fear the days are soon upon us, wherein brother will betray brother, and father will betray son, and that, I believe, will be the true test of our faithfulness and steadfastness.

May we stand and never waiver in Christ.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, 05 April 2013 01:25

BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING

Sharing a word from the Lord to

 

BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING


Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. There are many powerful leaders around the world working together, and they are operating with total deception. Their words and deeds are not based in the truth of My Word, and so many are being led astray. They only speak death and destruction to your eternal souls, poison from the evil one. They label good evil, and evil good. Woe to you who do not heed My warnings and give ear to My voice. I have told you do not fear those who can destroy the body, but rather them that will kill your soul for all eternity. Pay attention. Much is occuring and for the sake of My elect and faithful, these days will be shortened, but you must focus on Me now! Complete systems are crumbling as I told you they would. Pay close attention to Israel and what is taking place there, as well as the new, powerful influence from Rome. Remember, all is not as it seems. Do not be led astray by promises of safety and comfort, and prosperity. Your only refuge is in Me. I am tearing down strongholds, but the process will be painful for a short time My faithful. Do not lose hope. Do not lose faith. I will rule and reign in the hearts of all men once again. You will see. Pray for a conversion for your leader America, for those in lofty positions will be brought low. My Father will only allow so much evil to be perpetuated before His mighty arm sweeps the globe, and your time to repent is drawing to a close. But My sheep hear My voice, My sheep know Me, their Master, and they will walk without fear, and with peace and joy and security. I am ever faithful and true. The earth is literally trembling at what My Father is about to do here. Remain steadfast and pure in your hearts dear children, and I will lead you home.

Your Messiah


Matthew 7:15

King James Version (KJV)
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Isaiah 5:20

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!


Matthew 10:28

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 24:22

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.


2 Corinthians 10:4

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)


John 10:27

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Friday, 02 August 2013 22:53

Fresh Beginnings

 

A few days ago I was meandering by the school supplies displayed in a local store and it brought back some sweet memories. Do you remember as a child preparing for the first day of school? Even though we didn't want summer to end, a new beginning brought excitement. At our house we had some special rituals. We would spend a whole day shopping, gathering all our required supplies from the published lists, and then we would go get new shoes and a new dress. Now this dates me for sure, because when I was growing up we had to wear dresses to class. In my later school years, high school and beyond, that changed and the unladylike 'pants' were allowed. We would plan and organize our new “stuff” for days before the start of school. We would even get new haircuts and plan every detail of the first day with our friends. 

The whole first week of school was just wonderful to me. I absolutely loved the brand new notebooks, the scent of new plastic, fresh paper, art supplies, new clothes and the most important part, new pens and pencils. I still love pens! I remember the thrill of a new teacher outlining all we would be learning and telling us all about herself (or himself). The sights and smells of fall and kids' laughter, marching bands and football games---what could be better? One year we even got to be the first to attend a brand new school in Artesia, Abo underground school. Everything there was new: desks, textbooks, blackboards, etc. That was a thrill for sure. To me, fall was the real beginning of a new year, not January. Fall and the start of school meant all kinds of new beginnings, new friends, new activities and realizing I was progressing toward adulthood, little by little. I could forget all the crumby things that happened last year, the kids who picked on me, or the teacher I just knew did not like me. That was all over and done. Fall was a fresh start!

When I reflect upon those rites of passage and how I began my school years so hopeful, I realize that as an adult I still feel that way a bit. When a new year begins, many of us feel that surge of fresh possibilities. With a really tough year I've been plodding through, I only wish I could be assured that this coming fall would be full of joy and new opportunities. As adults we don't quite get the same scenario as our children and grandchildren. Whatever trial we are walking through will not necessarily be over with the school semester. In fact, some of our trials are painfully long and no one has an answer for when they will end. We just endure, one day at a time, hoping and praying for the end of that particular journey. Also not so easy is letting go of those who have hurt us, abandoned us or just plain don't care that we are battle weary. Nevertheless, we set our faces like flint, remind ourselves of the promises of God, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. There will be an end, eventually. And sometimes we get glimpses of blessings rising from the ashes. God's mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness. Those are two of His promises that I hold onto and love. So, even if the trial has not ended, the occasional discouraging thoughts do end as the Lord answers our prayers for strength and peace. 

I think one of the best things I can do is to make an effort to simplify, and live in childlike faith. I need to stop focusing on my problem and take time to find joy in a new notebook full of fresh paper, the scent of new plastic, or yes.....a new pen or two! I need to take time out each day and just transport myself back to that 'first day of school' mentality and get excited about the possibilities ahead. I think this year I will live vicariously through the kids and allow myself the pleasure of resurrecting some dreams that I have discarded in lieu of grieving. It just might work! Now I'm off to the office supply store (one of my favorite places to browse!)

 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 17:18

Heeding the Voice

It's mid-August and I feel as though I missed summer altogether.  Most of you know that we spent weeks in another city in cancer treatment, which ate up our summer, or at least it felt that way.  Now, as the days get shorter and cooler and people are longing for Fall, I feel a little cheated out of my summer nights out on the deck.  Here in the mountains, summer is heavenly without the blazing heat in the valleys below.  At least we still have a few weeks of warm enough weather to be outdoors a bit before the cold arrives.

I am generally not one to preach much, though I have been a pastor.  I try to follow St. Francis of Assisi's adage that it's best to let your life be your sermon and only preach with words when absolutely necessary.  The past few weeks the Lord has been impressing upon me that I need to put the word out a bit more---maybe not exactly preaching---but just sharing and emphasizing the urgency of the hour in which we live.  Just as I feel that summer raced past me almost unnoticed, the fulfilling of Biblical prophecies are racing past many of us, again almost unnoticed.  World events which are in the works now are clearly recorded in the Bible and watching them unfold is exciting, but also at times unsettling.

There is an unprecedented focus on end times scenarios in current movies, books, everywhere.  In fact it's so rampant that most people are mocking it or ignoring it altogether.  Either is dangerous.  God, in His omnipotent love for us, is giving us warnings, giving us time and many more chances to turn things around and submit to Him.  Unfortunately, most are too busy, distracted or bored to pay Him any attention.  I'm most disturbed by Christians who nonchalantly state that they aren't concerned because they will be "raptured" away before anything tough hits.  What if.....just for a moment bear with me....what if you're wrong about that?  I can't go into a lengthy exegesis on that right now, but if you study the Word completely, you will find many warnings about what believers must endure before Jesus returns.  We are headed face-first into a period of darkness like none we have ever known.  If we are not girded up, filled with the Spirit and the Word of God, we will fall apart when these days come.  Please do not assume anything.  Arrogance is risky and pride goes before a fall.  The great apostasy, as discussed in scripture, is in full swing today.  Many pastors are so busy telling their people to spend their time declaring positive declarations so good things are guaranteed that they are denying the warnings God has given throughout His Word, as well as the warnings His Spirit is speaking to His people daily.

Time is short.  Mock me if you will, but please take time to go before the Father and examine your own heart.  And take time to listen to what He is trying to tell you and show you.  Get into His Word.  Pray for this country, this world, and your family and neighbors.  He will sustain and speak to His own in the time of darkness.  Others will be lost in their despair.  I love you and will be happy to pray for you at any time.  Be alert and be wise.  Your redemption draws nigh.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 06 August 2013 17:51

At peace with everyone?

 

Do you ever have days where you wonder if you actually landed from another planet? Lately there have been several times when people's behaviors toward me caused me to stop and scratch my head, wondering how I missed something. I have two people in my life, a married couple, who are there without being family or close friends, but still are there. For some unknown reason, they just do not like me. I have spent hours, certainly more time than I should've, thinking and praying about what I might have done wrong. I have replayed conversations and situations and come up with zilch. They have expressed that nothing is wrong. But...we all know when something is just not right. It drives me crazy!! As far as it's possible, as the apostle Paul says, I want to be at peace with everyone. Evidently, at times it just is not possible.

 

I think if I have prayed earnestly and been honest as I examine every encounter, the Lord would open my eyes to an offense I've committed. Perhaps someone else influenced them against me unfairly. I really don't know. I have just decided that it's in God's hands, and He must be the one to exonerate me or open their eyes to the truth. There are times when we just simply have personality conflicts with others whether we try to blend or not. This couple seems to be annoyed at my very presence. Maybe they share those annoyances with each other to keep it perpetuated. Whatever the case, my conscience is clear.

 

My plan is to continue praying for these hearts to soften and that they might be willing to see me for who I really am. I certainly have my flaws and never claim to be without sin. I only want to be sure that we have a godly relationship without malice. I feel none towards them; only a bit of sadness that we cannot be friends.

 

Perhaps you think I'm dwelling too much on this. That could be true. It definitely has been very hurtful to me, but I think I'm over that. I just have a feeling that someone else might be dealing with the same issue and I hope to encourage you today. We will never please everyone or be loved by all. If we go before the Lord and make sure we have done nothing to hurt another, then we need to let it rest, and be at peace. If the Lord brings something to mind, we need to go to that person and do our best to make amends. Forgiveness is key on both sides, especially for Christians who desire to live a Christlike life. Knowing who we are in Christ and allowing Him to carry our burdens takes a huge load off. Thanks for letting me get this off my heart today.

 

Friday, 04 October 2013 17:48

Resting is a choice

Happy Fall Y'all!!

It really thrilled my heart to learn that a couple of people verbalized missing my blog posts.  Thanks!  Life has been really crazy in my world the past few months.  We've had two deaths in our family, one near death, two in cancer treatment, and various less-serious crises befalling us.  I have no doubt that you too have been battling the ills of life.  Everyone I meet seems to be in that state.  Such is life in 2013!  And now we get to experience a government shut down.  I used to say "what next?" but I never say that anymore, for obvious reasons.  Maybe it's best not to know what's next.  My newest motto is definitely "one day at a time."

My book, "Living in God's Rest...At Peace in a Chaotic World" is still selling, plodding along, undoubtedly going into the exact hands God has prepared to hold it.  It's His book to do with as He chooses.  I never stress about sales.  I have always known that whoever needed the message would find it, be led to it by the Lord, and it will accomplish whatever purpose He has in mind.  That leaves me in perfect peace.  I will admit that over the past few months, as I have been living in a chaotic world, there have been numerous occasions to practice what I preach!  Resting in God is a choice.  We can struggle and fight and rebel and wear ourselves out, but the choice to live in His rest will never fail to bring inner peace.  And outer peace as well.  Peace is contagious too.  When we remain calm, walking in peace, those around us, those drama queens and kings, and those who live to fret, can catch the Spirit of Peace from us even when they aren't conscious of what's invading their souls.  It's the work of the Lord as He smiles and nods and injects into the heart that calming, restorative reassurance that everything is going to be okay; it's all in His hands.  I love that, don't you?

Some issues take more time than others.  I have peace in some areas where turmoil used to dwell.  In other areas I'm still practicing the Presence and learning better ways to let go and let God.  We are always a work in progress.  It actually helps me to look back and realize how far I've come and that if I can find peace in some of those past areas, there's surely hope for the present ones.  Wherever you are today in your struggle, stop and remind yourself from whence you've come.  Reflect on the many blessings you've enjoyed and how God has protected you, provided for you and loved on you even when you didn't deserve a thing.  He's still there, holding out His arms to you, waiting for you to surrender and trust.  Hold fast.  His plans for you are good.  One of my meditations yesterday was, "God sometimes doesn't change your situation, because He's trying to change your heart." Submit and see what happens!

Love you all!  Stay in touch!

Nancy

 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 19:32

Time is growing short

What is the most important decision you have ever made in your life?  Before you made that decision, did you take a lot of time contemplating it and weighing the pros and cons?  Did you get input from those you respect?  Did you do research of some kind?  Now, after making that decision, does the outcome affect your entire future?  What about your entire eternal life?  There's only one decision that affects you for all eternity and that is the decision to believe or not believe in Jesus Christ.  If you have decided that you don't believe in Him, did you make that decision based on the questions asked above?  Did you make it based on hurts from your past or wounds you received from Christians?  If so, is that a valid reason to forfeit your personal keys to heaven.....to spite someone else?  Please think about that.

The spiritual climate of our world is expanding, and the mysteries are escalating.  Even those who do not believe in Jesus' deity, are blogging and tweeting daily about the dramatic changes in the earth's atmosphere, the governmental corruption, the rampant violent crime and the disintegration of cultural values and norms.  Unexplainable phenomenon with animal life and environmental systems are baffling scientists and laymen alike.  Change is definitely in the air.  Those of us who are believers in Christ, are finding an escalation in supernatural visions, dreams, and other experiences.  We see biblical prophecies unfolding before our very eyes.  It is an exciting time to be alive.

Reader, I am asking you to please stop your busy lifestyle for a few moments, turn off your electronics (whatever that entails), go to a quiet place and take stock.   Ask God to reveal Himself to you.  Give yourself a chance to experience the most awesome opportunity you will ever know:  the Presence of the Lord of Heaven's Armies.  The thrill outweighs anything your mind can create.  Don't take a chance on being wrong about God!  If I'm wrong, I've lost nothing by living for Him on this earth.  But...if you're wrong, you have been manipulated and duped into losing your entire eternal life when you leave this earth.  The gamble is monumental (for lack of a more powerful word).  When you submit yourself to God, believing in Jesus' death and resurrection, giving His life for YOU, His Holy Spirit comes and indwells you, and your spiritual eyes are opened to things you never before imagined.  The Bible says that the things of God are foolishness to those who don't believe.  That's because without the Holy Spirit indwelling your spirit, it all sounds ridiculous.  And, the world constantly confirms its absurdity with facts and figures that seem logical.  The supernatural is not logical.  God is not always logical either.  His love for you is certainly not logical.  He loves you unconditionally, no matter what you've done or what you've said about Him.  He forgives everything.  He adores you and will guard your heart during the most wicked and dangerous days that lie ahead.  He will give you peace no matter what storm surrounds you.

Please, do yourself a favor and give God one more chance.  He gives you millions.  But....there is a time coming soon when it'll be too late.  You must make this decision now.  Jesus is returning soon to take His own to a place so wonderfully awesome there are not words to describe it.  I want you to come with us.  Being left behind will be a nightmare.  You can, of course, choose to stay behind.  God is a gentleman---never forcing anyone to trust Him.  But His heart will be truly grieved if you choose to reject Him.  Don't wait.  Time is growing very short.  Ask God to show you whatever you need to see; to understand whatever has been unclear to you.  Forget what other people say.  Their eternal destiny is at stake too.  One by one we will all stand before God and give an accounting of our lives.  When Jesus lives in you, there's no reason to stress over that.  I'm praying that your heart will soften and that you will allow His light and His truth to enter your soul.  You will never regret it.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 22:29

Self Care is not a sin

http://www.nacr.org/wordpress/90/codependency-and-self-care

 

Codependency and Self-Care

 

by Don Smith

I have a dear friend who has been quite helpful to me in my recovery journey. Every time I go off to do some teaching he will call me before I leave, and ask, "So what are you going to teach about?" When I told him before this trip that I was going to teach about self-care, he laughed and said, "You know the old saying ‘You teach what you most need to learn.'"

He was right. This topic has been a difficult one for me personally. Learning to do appropriate self-care has been a large part of my own journey in recovery. I have come to believe that self-care is an absolutely essential part of the recovery process. And yet we hear often in Christian circles that self-care is bad. Some Christians think of it as a kind of selfishness. Others think it is sinful. So I think it's important to look at what the Bible says about self-care.

The Bible and Self-Care

Some people are surprised that the Bible talks about self-care at all. It may be difficult for us to see if we have been taught that self-care is selfish and bad. But it is there.

Let's start by looking at Phillipians 2:4: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Notice that this text assumes that you are going to look out for your own interests. And knowing that is true, the text emphasizes that we should also be careful to attend to the needs of others. The text assumes that both are important. My interests are important; other people's interests are important. The text does not say, "Stop looking to your own interests, and pay attention only to the needs of others." It acknowledges that we will look to our own interests, and it encourages us to also look to the interests of others.

Another interesting text, which I often use when talking about boundaries, is Galatians 6:2–5:

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

When I was a young and very codependent Christian all I could hear in this text was, You should take care of other people. It felt like I should carry everyone else's burdens and my own burdens as well. Sometimes that didn't seem fair. Shouldn't there be someone to carry my burdens? Couldn't we all just trade burdens? Or take turns?

If you look more closely at this text, however, you find something very interesting. This same text says, "Each one should carry his own load." Now, how can we carry each other's burdens if each of us is carrying our own load? The answer is that there is a difference between the Greek words used here for "burden" and for "load." Every person has a load that he or she is supposed to carry. And sometimes there are burdens that are so large that we can't carry them on our own. That is when we are to help each other. There is some stuff that God expects us to take care of because it is our stuff. It is our load.

I think it's like backpacking. Each person carries their own pack with their own clothes, their own sleeping bag, their own cook kit. If I try to carry everyone else's stuff in my pack there is no way it is going to work. My thoughts belong in my backpack. Your thoughts belong in yours. As a codependent person it is really easy for me to get into carrying your thoughts around in my backpack. All I have to do is ask myself, What are people going to think? If I start down that path, I will have a pack full of other people's thoughts. I will start owning them as if they were my thoughts or my responsibility, and I may even start changing my behavior so that I can change what I think other people might be thinking. It's insane when you think about it. We start to make up what we think other people are thinking. And then we start changing our behavior based on what we've made up. That's what codependent people do all the time. As soon as we do that, we are carrying loads we were never intended to carry.

It's okay for me to have my own thoughts. They are part of my load, and I need to carry them myself. It's okay for me to have my own attitudes. Even if I choose to have a bad attitude sometimes, it can still be my bad attitude. It's okay for me to have my own opinions. My own beliefs. My choices. My feelings. My values. My behavior. My body. My money. You could add a lot of things to this list that legitimately belong in my backpack. When Paul says each one is supposed to "carry his own load" he is talking about the stuff that we are responsible for just because we are human beings. Sometimes we expect other people to carry our stuff; for example, we might expect someone else to be responsible for how we're going to feel today. And sometimes we expect ourselves to carry stuff that is not part of our load; for example, we might expect ourselves to be responsible for how someone else is feeling. Both are inappropriate. The biblical principle is really quite simple: Each of us must carry our own load, and when we run into those huge burdens in life that none of us can carry by ourselves, we are to help each other out.

What Would Jesus Do?

Another set of biblical texts that have been important for me are those that talk about Jesus' strategies for self-care. One of the things that Jesus is consistent in doing is in taking care of himself. If you are not used to looking for this kind of thing in the Scriptures, it is easy to miss. But now that I've been in recovery from codependency for a while, I look at lots of texts and am amazed to discover how well Jesus takes care of his own needs. As a codependent I was not able to do the kinds of things you see Jesus doing all the time. Remember the story about Jesus in the temple on Passover when he was twelve years old? His parents leave. He hangs out in the temple. You might think this was being irresponsible. He should have told his parents what he was doing. But when his parents return he says to them, "Didn't you know I needed to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). He didn't apologize. And he didn't start to carry any of their anxiety or issues about the situation. I think that is a remarkable example of maintaining healthy boundaries and appropriate self-care.

Or look at Jesus' example in Luke 5:15–16: "Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." What would you do if God gave you the ability to heal every person on whom you laid your hands? If you go into a town, the news spreads rapidly. You clean out the hospitals and the nursing homes. Everybody gets healed. It's on the national news. Thousands of people are seeking you out. What's your first response?

I know what mine would be. My first response would be to see this as a big-time opportunity. This is a time when I can reach millions with the Good News. I can preach to my heart's content. Because people are suffering and I have the ability to stop that suffering, I should do more. I would undoubtedly kick into my work addiction mode. There were years when I could work for three months without taking a day off. I could stay on that high for a long, long time. If I could heal people, I would kick into that mode and heal more people, and do God's work. It would be too important an opportunity to let it slip by. No one could say that I hadn't given it my all. Withdrawing to lonely places where I could pray was never an option for me. I could never have said, "I have a lot of stuff to do, but maybe I should take some time off and just be by myself."

But that is exactly what Jesus did. "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." In all my years of being in the Christian community I have never heard a sermon about this kind of self-care. But it is obvious that Jesus knew how to take care of himself.

There were times when the disciples returned from a mission and Jesus said, "We need to go off by ourselves and rest." One time when Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field the disciples were hungry, so they ate some of the grain in the field. The Pharisees got upset about this because it violated some of their religious rules. Jesus reminded them of a time when King David was hungry and he went into a holy place where only the priests were allowed to go, and he ate some of the sacred bread that was on the altar. He took care of himself and his men, even when it meant breaking some religious rules. Jesus insisted that it was a good thing to take care of our own needs, even when it might feel like we are breaking religious rules.

Jesus went off by himself one day, and the disciples were searching for him. When they found him they asked him where he had been. Jesus responded by saying, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also" (Mark 1:38). If somebody with needs had been searching for me and I had been off by myself resting, I would have experienced overwhelming guilt. I would have said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I should have been here for you. I shouldn't have been away that long." Not Jesus. He knew that self-care was too important to neglect, and he didn't apologize for it. He felt no need to explain why he was taking care of his own needs. The need for and appropriateness of self-care was so obvious that it required no explanation.

Over-the-Rainbow Spirituality

Another set of biblical texts that have been helpful to me are texts about life. Over and over again Jesus talks about giving us life. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Texts like this may lead us to conclude that God wants us to have a life that is not full of busyness, schedules and burdens, but a life that is full of joy, hope and peace.

Paul describes it well in Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." One of the things I love about Paul is that he doesn't say, "I hope that you have some hope." He says, "I hope you abound." That is, "I hope you overflow with hope," and "I hope you are so full of hope that you can't even begin to contain the hope that is in you." In Ephesians Paul talks about God's ability to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20, King James Version).

For many years of my life that abundance was only a carrot on the end of a stick. It was the promised but never quite achievable payoff. I could get to the carrot only if I worked hard at being really good. Eventually I would have the joy and peace. Someday. Over the rainbow. Somewhere. It was what I would get if I prayed enough and went to church enough and read my Bible enough and had a good enough attitude. If I did all that stuff enough, then I'd get the good stuff.

But I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I got up at 5:30 in the morning and had my prayer time. I sacrificed. I tithed. I did everything right. I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, actually. Yet I still couldn't seem to do it well enough to have any chance of reaching the carrot. There was no joy and no peace. As a result, I went through a major depression.

Well, the bottom line is pretty obvious. There is no way to do enough to earn joy, peace and serenity. The only way I could have the good stuff was to abandon my performance-oriented lifestyle and learn to receive from God. It wasn't until I decided to take care of myself that I began to experience some of the hope and joy and peace that God wants us to experience in abundance.

Denial of Self

Some of us have a problem with taking care of ourselves because it just doesn't seem right for us. This is often because we have been taught to "deny" ourselves. On the one hand it is clear that God wants us to have abundant life, the kind of life that can come only when we pay attention to what we need and we take appropriate steps to respond. But on the other hand, what about Jesus' command to deny ourselves? What about taking up our cross? Dying to self? How do those texts fit into this picture?

Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). One of the things that strikes me about this text is that it includes two kinds of "I." There is the "I" that has been crucified and is dead. And there is the "I" that lives. Why are there two Pauls here—one dead, the other one living? This is a clear principle in Scripture. There is an old self, and there is a new self.

I can tell you about my old self. I was raised in a family with a rage-aholic mother and a workaholic father. Dad was gone. Our family owned a dairy farm and a potato farm so that he could work seven days a week. For us kids the question of the day was not if mom would explode, but when. When I got off the bus from school, it didn't matter what kind of day it had been. It didn't matter if I had been beaten up on the playground. It didn't matter if I had done well on a test. The only thing that mattered was where is Mom and how long will it be before she explodes in rage. So I developed huge emotional antenna that would pick up on what was happening emotionally in the house. My old self was very aware of how other people feel. My old self was a people-pleasing person. My old self was all about keeping people happy so they don't explode in rage. I was very good at doing that. My old self was a good rescuer. When people got into trouble they knew they could call me. My friends could get drunk and wreck their cars, and they knew they could call me to come pick them up. I was always available for everybody. My old self was a good manipulator. Once I knew how other people were feeling I could play with that a bit and maybe get them to do what I wanted them to do. My old self loved to control people. My old self was also a wonderful worker; I got that from my father. But the old me was a miserable and hopeless person. I was very, very aware of what everyone else wanted and needed but completely clueless about what I wanted and needed.

When I got saved I had a powerful experience with God. I knew that God loved me. I knew that Jesus had died for me. I knew I could put my faith in God. But I didn't really change. In fact, other than starting to keep all the rules—I quit smoking and drinking and I started to listen to Christian radio and I went to church five times a week—nothing really changed. Emotionally I was still the same old self. My "old man" had put on a Christian suit and had found a lot of acceptance in doing so. But it was still my old self. I had not yet experienced the kingdom of God in the way that God intended. It wasn't until I went through my depression—it wasn't until my burnout—that I began to realize that when the Scriptures talk about denial of self or putting to death the old self they are not adding another heavy weight to our to-do list. I see now that "dying to self" means that God doesn't want me to be codependent anymore. It means finding a different way of being in the world than the way I learned in my dysfunctional family. God doesn't want me to be a workaholic anymore; that's why he calls me to die to my old self. God doesn't want me to do all those destructive things that I learned so well in order to survive in my family. God doesn't even want me to do all those destructive things that I learned to do so well to survive as a successful pastor. My old self is a raging codependent. The more it dies, the better my life becomes. So "dying to self" may not be such bad news after all.

What's my job?

When I was headed into my burnout phase, but before I really hit bottom, I went to a pastors' retreat. During a worship time an image came to me of a huge river. The river was the love and grace of God. It was deep and wide, and it was flowing, so there was no way you could ever use it up. And the banks of the river were full of people who were thirsty. In that image I saw myself running down to the river, filling up cups with water, and then running back to shore to give the cups to people who were thirsty. That was my job, but I knew it wasn't working. I was just getting tired. And the thirsty people were still thirsty no matter how fast I ran back and forth to the river. However, I resisted the idea that something was wrong. I even had a little argument with God, in which I insisted that those people were going to die of thirst if someone didn't take them some water.

It was then that I had a revelation: If I waded out into the water and started drinking because I was thirsty, then people who wanted to drink would see that and know where to get water themselves. Of course, it is so obvious now that it seems silly to say it, but it was a completely radical concept to me. You mean I was just supposed to drink, myself? To get my own need for spiritual refreshment filled? Was that my job?

Thinking that our job is to carry water for other people is a direct reflection of the JOY mentality. Some of us were raised with this. The idea is that J-O-Y comes from putting Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. That's what I was doing. Because I loved Jesus I was committed to carrying water to the thirsty. I didn't have time to notice whether I was thirsty. My job was to carry water as fast as I could. I now have a completely different belief about where joy comes from. The image I have is of a water fountain made of a stack of bowls. At the top is a bowl that fills with water, which then spills out to fill the bowls under it. The bowl at the top is me. God wants to fill that top bowl until it overflows. And when it's full, it begins to overflow into other people's lives. I can give out of abundance, but not out of need. I don't need to deprive myself in order to give to others. The kingdom of God is not about scarcity. Out of our abundance we can share with others. That's a whole different approach to life.

Later in the process of recovery, when I was able to connect with the little-boy part of me, I had flashbacks to what it felt like in the home of a rage-aholic mother. My role in life was to take care of Mom so that she wouldn't explode in rage. In many ways I was a surrogate spouse. I entertained her. I played cards with her. I did things with her. All the things that Dad didn't do. As long as she was placated, she would not explode. When I was able to connect with that little-boy part of me, I experienced a primitive feeling of I want someone to take care of me. The foundation of all my drivenness, the foundation of my need to take care of other people, was this fantasy: If I take care of other people enough, maybe someday they will take care of me. If I make enough trips into the river and bring back enough cups full of water to the thirsty people, then maybe someone will say, "Why don't you sit down, and I'll bring you some water." I was not aware of it at the time, but the root motivation of much of what I did as a pastor was this very painful fantasy. I thought that if I did enough, maybe "they" would take care of me. If I am good enough, maybe somehow I will have an experience with a good, nurturing mother who will take care of my needs, rather than the other way around.

Now, the painful truth that I needed to learn was that not even God was going to take care of me in that way. God was not going to be the biggest codependent of all—the one who can run back and forth to the river better than any of the rest of us. Instead, God was going to help me learn appropriate self-care. There was room in the river for me. If I take the time to experience my own thirst, if I have the courage to wade out into the water because it is what I need, there will be refreshment for me.

It's sort of like this: If I'm responsible for a vehicle, I can't just say, "I'm going to drive this vehicle to the glory of God and trust God to change the oil." That doesn't make any sense. But that is exactly what Christian codependents do with their lives. We don't take care of ourselves. We live our lives and trust God to change the oil. God is a very healthy individual. Just because we are dysfunctional doesn't mean that God is going to rescue us the way we want to be rescued. Just because I have an unrealistic expectation that God is going to change the oil in my car doesn't mean that God is going to do that for me. Sometimes the only way that my needs are going to get met is for me to take the responsibility for meeting them. If the need is in my backpack—if it is my load—then part of being the new person that God is helping me become is to carry that load.

Hearing God

The first steps toward taking better care of myself were very difficult. I was so full of anxiety and so driven that I did three or four things at a time. I remember when my therapist suggested that I do one thing at a time—like not trying to get something else done while I'm talking on the phone. It was a new concept to me. He also gave me the assignment of taking one day a week off. Most normal people take two days off each week, but I guess he knew there was no way I could start at that advanced level. As it turned out I was miserable taking one day off. I used to get angry because it felt like such a waste of time. I had no room for Sabbath in my life. It just made me miserable and angry. After all, I was doing God's work. That's what I was supposed to do. Not rest. So at first I made excuses. I weaseled my way out of it for a while. I'd take half a day off. I'd make excuses about emergencies. I remember going to the beach and being miserable because I wasn't getting anything done. I was wasting time. But finally there came a day when I enjoyed it.

It's been a long time since that first effort. Now I take two days off a week, and I spend them doing things I love. I love to canoe, and I love to hike. Five years ago things like that would have seemed selfish. At the beginning, taking care of ourselves can feel incredibly selfish and can seem like a waste of time. But later on we find that it is okay to have a life. I can enjoy life now. I can respect the desires and needs that God has put into me.

Recently I climbed to the top of a mountain. By myself. The view from the top was spectacular. I was moved by the wonder of God's creation. And I just stood there for a while. Eventually I heard a quiet voice saying, "When I created it, I had you in mind." I am able to receive that now. But only because I went through a lot of difficult days when it seemed like a waste of time. I had to struggle with those inner voices that insisted, "You should be working hard." Slowly, with a lot of help, I was able to quiet those voices enough to begin again to hear the gentle, loving voice of God. And that has made all the hard work more than worth the effort.

 

Sunday, 07 April 2013 17:39

Pushing through the dirt

 

This morning is one of those I've longed for over the winter months. My deck overlooks a glorious forest of evergreens, purple mountains and vast blue skies. It's almost heaven, to mimic John Denver a bit. To sit in my rocking chair, sipping hot coffee, reading the Psalms and talking to my Father is the best day I could ever hope for. I can hear in the distance the sounds of my girls laughing, some rather strange bird calls down the hillside somewhere, and the sizzling of bacon as my husband prepares it.

Oh yes, and the smell of bacon wafting out onto the deck is pretty nice too. Yesterday I began my annual gathering of flower pots and found some marvelous lilac petunias to initiate the flowering of the deckside. Now, if only my little hummingbirds would make their return, all would be in place. It's my perfect picture of peace....for today. Maybe for only this morning.

 

This was a rough week for us. We got the dreaded phone call from the doctor that my husband's cancer had again reared it's ugly head. We have been down this road with melanomas in the past, and now will face it again as he goes in for more surgery. We, of course, just pray over those lymph nodes and believe God all the way. One day at a time, one hour at a time.

 

I don't know about you, but I am at a place where as I lay my head on the pillow each night, if we've had a day where everyone is in their beds, breathing normally, and the house is still standing, I am praising God with my whole heart. We never know what a day will bring. My friends and acquaintances all over the world send prayer requests each day for one traumatic event after another in their lives. I don't think I know anyone who isn't going through some hard things. We no longer take for granted the precious blessing of a non-eventful day, a healthy body, or an intact family.

 

Yet, in the midst of the crazy world we live in, our Father grants us peace. He comforts, strengthens, encourages and often even reveals His higher purpose for our trials. Sometimes we don't get to know the reason, but He still gives the peace. It comforts me to know that He is in control, and at the age I've reached, I am also comforted in realizing that His purposes are far more important than my momentary comfort. I am reminded of an old saying, “every flower that ever bloomed had to push through a lot of dirt first.” I just keep pushing through the dirt, toward the Son who shines with healing and hope, knowing I'm going to bloom out of all my trials. So are you.

 

Be encouraged dear ones. Take time to go outdoors, breathe the fabulous spring breezes, look up and rejoice! He has it all under control, and we don't have to have the answers. We only have to trust and relax, entering His rest and looking forward to what is ahead. In the end, it will prove to be good.

Tuesday, 08 July 2014 01:52

10 Characteristics of False Teachers

10 Characteristics of False Teachers

 

The Bible says that a great deception, or great apostasy will come on the land before the return of Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) It is here! The sad fact is that most of the “elect” or those who call themselves Christians, have no clue that they are being led astray by false teachers. (“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”(Matthew 24:24-25, NKJV). They assume that because some teacher has thousands following him/her, that they have to be teaching sound doctrine. Most also have not taken any time to lift that possibility up to the Lord and ask for His insight and discernment. If you ask for His warning flags, He will give them. Don't assume anything.

 

Here are a few signs for evaluating false teachers:

 

1) More attention is focused on them and their ministry than on Christ. When men or women value their titles highly and continuously speak about their anointing or what they have accomplished, they are not humble servants of God.

 

2) They will ask you to do something that compromises your beliefs or sway your beliefs to fit their theology. You've always believed a certain scripture to be true, but suddenly the teacher has given a meaning that leaves your spirit unsettled. It's taken out of context of what the passage was teaching and used to try to invent something new or change some behavior or attitude.

 

3) They will de-emphasize the divine nature of Christ or the divine nature of the Bible. If a person does not believe the Bible is the holy, divine, inspired Word of God, then nothing else they teach really matters. It becomes a “bless me club” of cafeteria style doctrine, choosing verses and making up their own theology to tickle men's ears. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Tim 4:3

 

4) They will urge believers to make decisions more based on human judgment and popular culture's acceptance (political correctness) than on God's Word and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have a difficult path but Jesus said the world would hate us. (Matt 10:22) If all the worldly, popular folks adore us, we're most likely not standing on the truth of God. Godliness sets a high standard.

 

5) They will use emotions to lead people into decisions and actions. Emotions are manipulated by beautiful music, repetitious lyrics and a crowd mentality where it seems that if everyone else is into the flow, it has to be right, or has to be the Holy Spirit moving. Wrong. Satan masquarades as an angel of light. False signs and wonders can create false beliefs which lead to disaster. (Mark 13:22) Research indicates that some churches resemble cults, using mind control techniques. http://www.phinnweb.org/neuro/brainwash/

 

6) They will declare a secret knowledge that God has given them, often a new revelation on a scripture or doctrine that they must share. These new revelations are often a total twisting or misuse of scripture. They will offer their secrets to hungry believers at a cost, usually for books, DVDs, conferences, etc. This usually includes an unbalanced focus on prophecy and spiritual warfare.

 

7) They are highly skilled in public speaking, influencing with an appearance of love, compassion and usually reminding listeners of their anointing. It is superficial. Due to the sometimes demonic powers involved, seekers might “feel” something spiritual pushing them, leading them or creating a mood. It doesn't ensure it is the Holy Spirit of God. Occultic powers can influence easily if one is open to them.

 

8) They feed that craving to go deeper that believers often have, by offering a more sensational and entertaining worship service. People are impatient to wait on the invisible work of God within the heart. They will chase after leaders seeking one experience after another, looking for manifestations.

 

Generally, these manifestations are purely entertainment. There is no sign of transformation in the believer's life. (Matt 7:15-20)

 

9) They will teach just enough good and sound teachings to lure the hungry believer in, but then put their new twist on it which moves into the very unsound teaching that damages people's lives.

 

10) They play to those who think they are mature, but in truth do not know the Word of God. Many Christians never study the Bible in depth, only read trendy books, watch DVDs or follow popular teachers on television. These people are easily manipulated.

 

We should never assume any supernatural experience is from God. Yes, some are; but many are not.

 

Satan imitates God's work and many teachers are deceived themselves. This is why it is critically important to pray much, study the Word by chapters and books to get the full context of the meaning of the scripture, and let the Holy Spirit be your true Guide. Pray for a sharper discernment every day. Do research to learn more about the foundational beliefs of those you follow. You may be surprised.

 

There are dozens of scriptures about being deceived. The Lord gives us so much freedom to make our own choices, but He desires that we walk circumspectly, always alert and watchful, listening for His voice of direction. We want to be considered a part of “the remnant” or those who are faithful to His original truth despite apostasy and opposition. Among people professing religious faith, the remnant is a relatively small minority. A sobering thought for sure.

Welcome to my website!

"Living in God's Rest...At Peace in a Chaotic World" "Masked in Deceit,"  and Faith's Illusions are all available now.  Living in God's Rest can be purchased from any of your favorite booksellers online or in stores. Masked in Deceit and Faith's Illusions, Christian novels, are available from Amazon. All books are offered in ebook versions as well.  I always appreciate reviews on the seller's sites.  Just click the books below and you will find links to purchase.

 

 

My newest book:

faith illusion coverfront

Have a blessed day!
 - Nancy

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