Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Imagine this; you are a teenager living at home with your parents.  One evening as your mother hurries out the door for a meeting, she yells out instructions for dinner that went something like this: “make some spaghetti for dinner; see you later.” 

An hour or so before dinner, you looked in the pantry; there was no spaghetti noodle and no sauce, you have no car, and there is no grocery store within walking distance.  Reluctantly you go to the neighbors next door to borrow ingredients for dinner.  How annoying and inconvenient!  Right?

Now, let us consider God’s instruction to us, His children, which says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” (Lev 20:26).  Fortunately, we don’t have to figure out on our own how to be holy; along with the command, He has also given us the ‘How To’.  Amen!  The apostle Peter puts it this way, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Pet 1:3-4). 

I believe the Christian’s charge can be placed in two major categories.  They are listed below.     

·        Godly Living - So how are we supposed to accomplish this?  Well, God makes Himself known to us through His Son (the Word).  If we search the Word carefully and diligently we will discover the ‘How,’ which is an ongoing, everyday process - of thinking and behaving like He would. After all, He wants His holiness to be our model, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Eph 5:1).    

·        Evangelism – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).  He has given us the power we need, and expressed it this way, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The power is not only for courage and boldness in sharing our faith; it is also for living godly lives, because our way of life is a way of witnessing, and it is just as important as verbally sharing our faith.  We are more effective in soul-winning when our way of life confirms what we say.  Amen!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Prisons of the Mind – Can Deafness Set The Captive Free

Recently a deaf person emailed me a letter that profoundly touched me. I don’t have permission to print it—hopefully at some point I will—but I wanted to share my response to her. 

I have a large contingent of deaf and hearing-impaired people who follow my blog. Her struggles are universal also, not just confined to those who are hearing disabled. 

I pray that my thoughts are Godly and thought-provoking. Salvation is a momentary decision but can take a lifetime of surrendering. Wherever you are in that decision, after reading this blog post, please share. This may be your moment….don’t waste it.

Can Deafness Set the Captive Free

Prisons of the Mind – Can Deafness Set The Captive Free

By Lorilyn Roberts

Satan’s biggest deception is to masquerade as an angel of light. He wants to trick us into believing, if it were possible, that Jesus Christ is not the answer. The paradox is that God made us both strong and weak. We are strong in the sense that we fight for life at all costs, longing for what He gave us in the beginning – eternal life. We are weak in the sense that true happiness can’t be found except in our relationship with Him. If Satan can convince us we can be as God, our pride will make us reluctant to admit we need anyone or anything else. Humility lies at the beginning of the road to salvation.

There are many kinds of prisons and you’ve found one of them – the bottle. Prisons null our pain, but they also take away our freedom—most importantly, the freedom to choose. God also never takes away our freedom to fail but will never not give us what we need to succeed. The devil will give you what you think you want—God will give you Himself. Some prisoners will go to their grave having sold their soul to the devil—for this world and the next. For what? A lie. 

Ultimate freedom in Christ will never take away your freedom of choice. If you have made idols of your wants or lowered your expectations of what will make you happy, you will be imprisoned in your mind to false gods that will do nothing to save your soul. Sin feels good at the time, but a moment of bliss can bring a lifetime of regret. Ultimately, sin will destroy your ability to hear God’s voice. Don’t forget, eternity is forever. We will all spend eternity in heaven or in hell. The choice is ours.

You are strong in the sense you have found freedom by conquering your dependency on alcohol. God has blessed you with a spouse to love and cherish. As you have discovered, however, it’s not enough to be free FROM something. We need to find our freedom IN something.

There is not enough of anything in this world to bring us complete happiness. There is not enough power ball money, adoration of fans, cushy jobs, plastic surgery, or computer gadgets to fill our hearts. We aren’t made to have a relationship with idols. We are made for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him, all other pursuits may bring partial or temporary happiness, but they are fleeting at best.

That brings me to the root of your quest for answers. Who is God? You were born deaf, and your whole life has been devoted to overcoming this limitation in order to survive in a world where nearly everyone else hears. You feel flawed, shortchanged, and your perceptions have influenced many of the choices you have made, both good and bad.

Has it ever occurred to you that God made you that way for a purpose? You might ask me, “Why would God do that?”

People ask that question in reference to their own “flaws” or “disappointments” or “lot in life” hundreds of time each day. I have asked myself that same question – I even ask it of others. Why did God take away my friend’s eyesight  (Author Janet P. Eckles, http://www.janetperezeckles.com/three-keys-to-claim-gods-miracles/)? Why did my beautiful adopted daughter from Nepal suffer for years with seizures? Why did God allow her to drink contaminated water from Nepal that gave her a brain infection? Why are there 150 million orphans around the world with little hope of being adopted?

My goal is not to make you feel guilty or to compare your disability with others. You have already done that plenty of times. We all have. That is part of Satan’s ploy, to guilt us into feeling like we are no good, or trick us into comparing ourselves with others with a legalistic yardstick—God does not measure our value in such a demonic, meaningless way.

We need to remember how much our sin grieves God. It took the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, to make it possible for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Can we know the evilness of sin and appreciate the price God paid in our fallen, depraved state? We can’t see it—except through suffering. We see sin when we see a young child die of cancer. We see sin on the battlefield during war, in a car accident that devastates a family, in a drug overdose that kills a young person, and in the sex trafficking trade in Nepal and India. We shake our fist at those things and proclaim the wickedness of man, aghast that any decent human being could rip out a young girl’s genitals and sell her as a slave. We cringe and become angry—angry at what we know is wrong and inhumane.

Our infirmities remind us of our need for Jesus Christ. We are driven to repent when we realize how weak we are in spirit to do even one good thing. Our blindness and deafness and diseases awaken us from an indifferent slumber and instill in us a longing for the day God will wipe away every tear. We don’t suffer in vain—we suffer for God’s glory. If we give our weaknesses to Him, something supernatural happens within us that is more powerful than anything man can invent or achieve. The Holy Spirit makes us bold, enables us to let go of past hurts and forgive. We are compelled to take our eyes off of ourselves and focus our hearts and minds on the one who created us. We remember once again we aren’t made for this world. We are made for eternity.

Your ability to rise above your deafness can only take you so far—it can’t overcome that emptiness within you that only the Holy Spirit can fill. In fact, Jesus Christ is so much bigger than your deafness, that if you truly allowed Him into your heart, your heart couldn’t contain Him. You would burst with joy—not that you are deaf, but that He’d given you so much joy. You would thank your deafness for allowing you the privilege of bringing others into the kingdom.

God has given each person many gifts. He has given you a gift of writing. If you want God to use you to help others, you need to claim one gift which you have not yet unwrapped. You need to claim His gift of salvation.

You have figured out how to live in this world marginally happy, but you know there is something missing. You are using the freedom God gave you to reject Him—His love for you and His salvation for you—forever. Forever is a very long time. If you die as a believer, you will be given a new body with perfect hearing. The greatest gift you will receive in heaven will be your appreciation for what you never had here. I believe my greatest gift will be the unconditional love of Jesus—the assurance that He will never leave me—I fear being abandoned.

What we don’t have here for God’s glory will be magnified in heaven, poured out, given with such generosity it will be as the stars that shine down on us or the sands that cover the seashore. If God lavished us with those perfect gifts here, would we really appreciate them? How many people have died lonely and broken—seemingly who had everything? How many truly happy people live in Hollywood? It is out of our need that God fills us, for then we know without Him, we are needy. The nothingness is what draws us to Him and enables us to be used by Him. We become His witness, His voice, His legs, His eyes, His voice, and His servants. We become part of the Great Commission.

Ask yourself: How can I use my deafness to draw people into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Use the one thing you don’t have to glorify Him—and you will find that your greatest suffering and need will become your greatest asset and joy.

Remember also, God loves you. He loves you more than you can imagine. Someday you will stand before heaven’s gates—will they open and allow you to enter? Don’t let anyone take away your desire to know the truth. As the Bible says, the truth will set you free. The search for answers will lead you down paths that only God can answer, that won’t be found in bottles of wine or quick fixes that lead to death.

I want to share a short excerpt from my book, Seventh Dimension – The Door, about a young girl who spent her whole life bullied and rejected by others. She was imprisoned by her worthless and destructive self-image. Read what the King did and ask yourself, is this not me?

Then the king turned towards me. I now knew the king completely—as my heavenly father, the father who loved me, the father who would never leave me or forsake me.

 “Your sins are forgiven.” He held out his hands and the fresh scars on his wrists overwhelmed me. Tears flowed freely. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

A birdcage gently floated down from the sky and landed in his outstretched hands. He took the cage and hung it on an olive tree. 

A small bird sat inside the cage. The king opened the door to the cage and the small creature walked from its perch and alighted on his finger. He lifted the bird out of the cage, kissed it, and whispered, “You are a daughter of the king.” I realized at that moment, he was saying those words to me. I felt his tender kiss on my forehead.

I gazed into the sky as the bird flew into the heavens. Before I could say anything, the king was gone.

In Luke 4:18, Jesus said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”

You’ve been a prisoner long enough. Jesus, the King wants to set you free. He has opened the door to your heart, just as He opened the door to the bird cage for Shale and set her free. Don’t delay. Invite Jesus into your heart, ask Him to forgive you of all your sins, receive the Holy Spirit, and begin the first day of the rest of your life. You have a story to tell that only you can share. Someone needs to hear it, not the least of which is me. I want to know what Jesus has done in your life. Please share it in the comments below.

I will give away a free copy of my book Seventh Dimension – the Door, to anyone whose story is compelling, just for sharing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Did I Do or Fail To Do That Resulted in Your Current Choices? - Micah 6:3-5

Our Father's Lament 

Is there someone in your life now or has there been in the past, who has messed up really badly?  Maybe your child, a spouse, a sibling, or a friend whom you poured your life into, that went off the rails?  I suppose the best example is commonly a child who has been raised in church, taught early and often about Jesus, and who seemed to be growing up a believer.

Maybe they got saved early, and you were proud at their decision.  Later they were baptized and you were thrilled that they were willing to make a public profession.  In high school they went to the youth group, had mountain top experiences at camp, and told others about their faith.  But then, one day the rug got pulled out from under your expectations for them.

Commonly, they might be a cause for rejoicing in other areas of their life.  Grades, degrees, talents, great jobs, even a beautiful family of their own.  You're thankful, and tell them so, for the good choices they've made in these other areas of their life.  But as a believer, you understand only too well that these successes have no eternal substance.  Your heart breaks for their salvation.

Sometimes it is even worse.  They may be on a paved road straight to an earthly hell.  Drugs seem to be the destroyer of choice today, but the root is commonly the same as it has been since time began, sexual sin.  Promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, rape, molestation.  The destroyers of our souls manifesting themselves in divorce, child abandonment, abortion, poverty, depression, despair, anger, and drugs of all types and descriptions to numb the pain.

Many have written poems, songs, and books about the grief of losing a child to cancer or an accident.  But at least those things have a finality, a grieving, and a hope for a future heavenly relationship.  With a child who has chosen to walk away from God and embraced sinful behavior, the pain just goes on and on.

The pain has many facets.  You are hurting for your child (or spouse, friend, sibling), but you are also questioning your own part in the playing out of their life.  You might feel like asking them:  "What did I do that has caused you to reject my teaching, example, and outpouring of love, even sacrifice?"

You might feel like giving them a list of the things you did for them:  the pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the financial sacrifices, the massive amount of time invested in their future and their spiritual upbringing.  How could they now turn away and act so unappreciative?  How could they have so little respect for you and your beliefs, that they would turn utterly from the most important life lesson you imparted.  How is it that they don't love you enough to show you they care about your desire for their life and soul?

As you ponder and maybe even pray for a moment about the person in your life that fits that storyline, you are probably experiencing some renewal of the pain.  For that I apologize.  But there is a larger point here.

Your Heavenly Father has all the same questions, and all the same heartache.  He wonders aloud in Micah 6 how it is possible that his chosen people could have turned away from his outpouring of love and devotion.  He isn't asking the question about the unsaved.  He doesn't expect them to behave well.  He is asking it about the Israelites, and by extension he is asking it about those in the church today.  In other words, he is asking those questions about you and me.  Micah 6:3

“My people, what have I done to you?
    How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
    also Aaron and Miriam.
My people, remember
    what Balak king of Moab plotted
    and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
    that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

The Lord God, our Heavenly Father, asks very little of his chosen people.  For what he has provided us, he could ask so much more.  And just like you, as you weep over your lost child, He isn't even asking you to do something that will harm you.  Everything He asks of you is for your own good, both now and in eternity.

So how is it that we, (that includes me) have so much difficulty staying on course with our love and devotion to God and Jesus?  How is it that we are not calling him on the smartest phone ever invented to share our most intimate issues and hearts desires?  He is obviously thrilled that you have chosen to trust him as your Lord and Savior, and to live your life for Him.  But are you living your life for Him? Or is He getting the left overs?

Here is all he asks of you.  Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

I'd love to hear from you if this passage has impacted you as much as it has me.

First posted on http://ideaplace.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How an author's world view impacts your children's minds.

Recently, I was told by a friend that my book home page should have just images of my books since those are my products. (She sells ballet skirts.) But I realize that she and I sell two different products that have totally different impact on a person’s mind.

If you bought a skirt and tried it and didn’t like –either for yourself or for your kids, it’s easy to do a reverse—either return the skirt for a refund, or give it away to Goodwill.

You might argue that it could be the same with books.

Technically, yes. But psychologically it’s not so easy. When you read a book, or give one to a child (since my books are meant for kids and teens,) the message of the book sticks to the readers. As a homeschool mother carefully guarding what my children are exposed to at every age of growth, I am concern with the books they read.

Why? When I was growing up I had friends (boys) who were normal and dated and so forth, but then as literature students in college we were exposed to different books. Some of these same friends became homosexuals. The books they read –our literature professor was gay—influenced them and changed their minds--forever. Such is the power of books. Especially fiction.

When you read non-fiction you are seeking out knowledge. The logical part of your brain is engaged and you can evaluate the facts and ideas that are being placed on the page. You consciously, or subconsciously, throw out things you don’t believe in and accept ideas you already hold on to.
Things are different when you read fiction.

Imagine a young person reading fiction—his guard is down and he’s just enjoying the story and plot. Things get exciting, the plot thickens, he’s involved in what he’s reading until he reaches the end. But at the end of the story he just didn’t get a story. He also got the author’s world view. He got messages sent to his brain about what is deemed right or wrong. He might not even realize this while reading. When he reads enough of such messages—that may reinforce one another, or might contradict one another—he begins to form his world view. Questions arise in his heart—like “Does God really exist? The main characters in the books he read didn’t think so.” Or, “It’s okay to have sex before marriage, after all, those incredible heroes and heroines of the fiction, all did it. And they were the main characters. They saved the world,”  etc.

Which brings me to the authors of those fiction books.

Who do you trust for your children to read? Like it or not those authors have leaked out a small, or in some cases, a lot of their world view and values on those pages.

Which was why when I started homeschooling I liked the idea of my children reading classics and I encouraged them to do so. For the most part, most authors before the 20th century hold conservative, biblical values, even if they are themselves not Christians.

But, frankly, sometimes my boys, who loved adventure and mystery and the thrill of the chase or being chased, sometimes got bored with classics written a century ago. The language is a little different and the details bogged down the action. Of course the classics are of tremendous value. But I wanted them to love to read and not force them to read hundreds of pages that would kill their love of learning. They were, after all, just twelve or thirteen. Given enough time they would read the classics—perhaps in their late teen years or early adulthood. But until then, what? 

So, I went about collecting lists of good books used by homeschool curriculum. You can find them all here. We read a lot of books then.

I also got to thinking about the kinds of books my young teen boys (and girls) liked. And I started writing my Keeper Of Reign series. (That’s how I got into writing fiction for children.)

I hope that explains somewhat why my homepage isn’t just about books that I sell. I feel that as a parent it’s important for me to know a bit about the authors of fiction books my children read. It gives me peace of mind to know that the authors share the same world view as myself, and will not throw unchristian and loose morals at my children when my kids’ minds are susceptible to receiving these moral standards and wild ideas.

I realize that it’s a free world and parents are free to choose whatever path they want for their children. As for me and my house I like to be more conservative with our choices. Not at the expense of adventure and thrill that readers get from reading books, of course, but I like to know where the author is coming from, and where the subtle messages will lead my children

Friday, September 26, 2014

Experience Consumers, We Are

Part Four in the question—What Is the Church?
And Part Three on the topic—Do I Even Need To Go There?
(Because now you're wondering—when is this going to end?)

That church is not meeting my needs.
The kids' program isn't exciting enough.
The music is not to my taste.
I'm not being fed.
So—church doesn't work for me.

In a study of why people go to church, the results open a window on Americans attitudes.

This is an experience of entertainment.  Fun.
Only fifteen percent of people who attend church said they do so to worship God. The other answers sound good.

“It keeps me grounded and inspired.”
“It helps me with spiritual growth and guidance.”
“For the fellowship of other members.”

But look at something subtle about them. Specifically, look at who benefits from them. There is an awful lot of “me” in those statements about why we go to church. And an awful not lot of God.

Which could explain much about the state of the church in America.

Most of the arguing and entrenched behaviors that happen in churches can be traced to one attitude—the church exists to meet my needs. One attitude that is, sorry folks, highly unbiblical.

In his book The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani argues that the church has become, like the rest of American society, consumer driven:

“The old utilitarian function of the church — gathering people and connecting them with God — simply wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Americans wanted church to be comfortable, entertaining, relevant, and nonthreatening. Up-and-coming pastors (have) shown that people would still attend church in a post-Christian culture if it appealed to their perceived needs and desires. Whether intentional or accidental, by beginning with the desires of the religious marketplace these pragmatic leaders were redefining the church’s purpose. Rather than viewing the church as a means to an end (connecting people with God), the church became an end in itself.”

Slightly scary, but fun.
Meeting peoples' needs is a fine goal. So is getting people into a church. Unfortunately, when we redefine what the church's mission is by making those criteria the most important ones, we lose the mission.

Problem -- the church was never meant to serve us. We were always intended to serve it. Somehow, Americans, at least, have got this all mixed up.

That doesn't mean we go back to a day when our grandparents were at the church every minute it was open and gave all their time, and jello salads, to their church. That's not particularly healthy. (Especially the jello salad part.) We need time to be Christians in our community and our families.

It doesn't mean return to the time when church meant sitting in a pew and not making a sound while you listen to the preacher because church is meant to be good for you, darn it, not fun. 

It means retaking our central mission. Making those great experiences a side effect of people joyously serving God and one another rather than the central show we must put on for the masses. Relearning, and then communicating, that it's not all about us. 

If church is not suiting our needs, perhaps it's time to check 
whether we are suiting it. [tweet this].

That's completely counter cultural in America. We are a consumer nation. We expect to be able to “consume” church as well, and largely, church has complied. The methods of past decades have been all about “make it appealing, make it practical, make it fun.”

This is an experience of God's glory. Less than  half mile away from the other.
Theologically a different world.
Those methods are not in themselves bad. Church should be appealing. It should meet needs. But it should also be honest. At some point, following Christ is hard. It's painful. It's sacrificial. If it's to be recognized as anything remotely related to Christ, it must be those things. And if we'e taught our people that it's Sunday morning cartoons, we have only ourselves to blame when they get bored or balk at the tough stuff. It's the reaction we've cultivated.

Why do we go to church?

One important step in discipling people regarding the value of church is to be honest about what we're there for. Then tell the truth about what we should be there for. 

Some people will leave. But oh, what God can do with those who get it, and stay.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Does God "Prepare" us for Good works? Part Two

Brokenness, What is it?

To read part 1, click Here 

I’d like to expound briefly on the idea that God doesn’t prepare us for the good works that He has for us.
I haven’t changed my mind on this yet. In fact this past winter confirmed that I am so unprepared. I was reading Exodus and found that I could understand the Israelites. In chapter 4 Moses shows up and tells them that God is going to release them from the oppressive hand of Egypt. It's Party time! They are going to be a free nation.
In chapter 5 Moses goes to Pharaoh and demands their release. Can you just see the Israelites in Goshen, biting their finger nails, waiting for Moses to come with the news of their freedom? Alas, it's not to be. Pharaoh hardens his heart and instead of letting them go free, he tells his task masters not to give them anymore straw. The Israelites were expected to make bricks for the Egyptians and the straw they used had previously been delivered to them. Now here is the real catch, even though they had to gather their own straw, they still had to meet the old quota for bricks each day. WHAT? You’re kidding me, right?

That's when it hit me. I feel like I have the same quota when it comes to raising my adopted daughter as I have in raising my bio kids. BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY STRAW! At least that's what it feels like when I'm blind-sided by a situation that I never saw coming and have no idea how to respond to it. I want to shout to God, "Hey! Could you give me the straw please, 'cause I got nothin’."
No, I’m still not prepared and now I have the huge task of brining another beautiful child into our family, through adoption, and trying to raise him the best that I can.
Just to fill you in, we have been in the adoption process for two years now. Our son is still not at home, but as I write this, (9-7-14) my husband and I are packed and ready to leave for Korea on 9-9-14. We are so excited, yet this journey has not reached its conclusion yet. You see, we are going to Korea to meet our son and to appear before a family court judge. Then we turn around and come back to Colorado to wait for about another month, then we will go to Korea again and bring our son home for good. I can’t tell you how difficult the two year wait has been and how much joy we have that the end is in sight.
Now, let’s talk about brokenness and wholeness. For six months of the past year, God brought me through a time of brokenness. Remember that song that I referenced in the last blog post? Well, I haven’t heard it much for some time now, and just this week it was on the radio again. Here is what the chorus says,
“I won’t give you more, more than you can take and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break. Ooooh, oooh, I’ll never, never let you go. Don’t you forget what He said.” Group one crew, “He said” I’m only telling you who performs this song to give them credit for their work. Now, please don’t boycott this group because of this blog post. Use your heads people.
This is a miss conception that runs wild in our churches. And let me tell you, I want desperately to believe this. As I pointed out last week, God never promises not to give us more than we can take.

God has shown me that brokenness is not what we think it is. When we are broken, we feel useless and unloved. What we don’t see, is that God is at work in us. He is able to take the broken pieces of our hearts and make something beautiful. Not only does He use our broken pieces, He mixes them with someone else’s broken pieces to create a master piece. Adoption is like that. Adoption is a process of grief for all parties involved. But, God can bring healing and create beauty from ashes.

Brokenness is the process by which we are made whole in Christ. It’s not a very easy process. It hurts like crazy. It shows us what we truly believe, not what we tell ourselves we believe. Most importantly, it shows us who God really is and reveals the image of Christ that He‘s conforming us into.

This song is a much better representation of what God does through our brokenness. Because, we might bend, but we might also break.

This summer, my kids and I did a project together to illustrate how God takes our broken pieces and mixes them together to create beautiful works. We were led through this project with some wonderful insights and imagery. I’m not going to explain it all to you, but here is what we did. We each picked a plate, wrapped it in a thick piece of fabric and smashed it to bits with hammers. This was everyone’s favorite part! Then we mixed all of the plate pieces together in a bin. We used mortar to stick the pieces on a large cement stepping stone. Each person arranged them in any design they wanted. After the mortar dried, we went over the stone with grout. Here are the stones that we created. 

Not bad for a bunch of broken plates, eh?

Fun fact; I wrote some of this post while I was in South Korea. We met our son and were waiting to appear in court as part of the adoption process. He should be home in about a month! (9-15-14)
As of 9-22-14 we are back from our first trip and have our initial approval for the adoption, so we should be able to take custody of our son sometime the week of Oct. 20th. (Hopefully)
It’s amazing what God can do in the time it takes me to write a blog post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Overcoming the World

Excerpted from In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul by Michael J. Webb

Overcoming the World

When we embrace the concept that we are free from the law of sin and death because Jesus died and was raised again, and when we incorporate that truth into our lives on a daily basis, we overcome the world. But what does it mean to “overcome the world?” In order to answer that question we must look to the One who sets the standard, the Author and Finisher of our salvation.

In John 16 Jesus talks at length with His disciples about the third person of the Trinity, Holy Spirit. He tells them that they will be persecuted, thrown out of synagogues, even murdered in the name of God, because they profess Him as Messiah, the One True Son of God. He also tells them not to be offended by these things, or to fear them, because when He leaves them another will come in His place, One who will teach and comfort them.

This dialogue is a mystery to the disciples.

Jesus endeavors to speak plainly to them in order to reassure them. He tells His faithful followers that Holy Spirit will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on Me, Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see Me no more, Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” (John 16:1-11)

The Greek word “reprove” can mean to “convict” or “expose.” The first portion of the passage tells us that Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin by exposing unbelief. Jesus came in the flesh to redeem mankind from the curse of sin and death that entered the world through the transgression of Adam and Eve, but the world rejected Him. Failure to believe this is sin. We are told by the Apostle John that “He that believes on [Jesus] is not condemned; but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Thus, the first step in overcoming the world is to believe that Jesus was who He said He was.

The prophesied Messiah.

Our Savior and Lord.

Next, Jesus tells His disciples that Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness, because He will go to His Father in Heaven. The pure definition of righteousness is simply the character or quality of being right or just. It is sometimes associated with “equity,” the characteristic of being fair and impartial. More specifically, righteousness is always associated with the character and nature of God. However, the only righteousness we possess, or partake of, is that righteousness imparted to us because the Holy Spirit lives in us. (2Corinthians 5:17-18; Romans 5:1-11; Philippians 1:9-11) Once we truly grasp this important aspect of our faith, we can enter into the rest of God. This means we no longer strive to gain His approval through a works mentality. We’re totally dependent on God for everything of value to us. This is what the prophet Isaiah meant when he wrote, “all our righteousness is as filthy rags . . . But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:6,8 )

But why did Jesus say that Holy Spirit would convict or expose the world of righteousness? He was clearly alluding to the fact of His resurrection.

Jesus walked among men as a man and never sinned, was crucified, and rose from the dead, victorious. In Acts 17:31 we read: “Because [God] has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance to all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead. (Italics mine)

The reproof for righteousness sake is clearly linked to the first reproof, which occurs because of unbelief. We are told that if we deny Jesus to men, He will deny us to His Father, God. (Matthew 10:33) This takes place at the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. All whose names are not found in the Book of Life are cast into the Eternal Fire. Although this clearly seems to be a literal place of eternal torment, at the very least it means that the souls of men and women who deny that Jesus is the Son of God will spend an eternity separated from the One who created them in His image.

That, in itself, is a horrific thought.

Thus, the second aspect of overcoming the world is to believe in the resurrection. Many say that they believe in the resurrection, but few walk it out in their daily lives. Living a life from the perspective of embracing the resurrection in all that we do results in a transformed life, which in turn dramatically affects the world around us.

The third aspect of overcoming the world is found in the final portion of the above passage. The Holy Spirit will convict, or expose, the world of judgment by righteously judging the prince of the world–the devil himself. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word used here for “judged” has the sense of undergoing the process of a legal trial on an ongoing basis. If we take this statement of Jesus literally, what He is saying is that Holy Spirit will take up residence in those who confess Him as Lord and Savior. Then, Holy Spirit will, on an ongoing basis, through us, legally judge the prince of this world.

What this means is that we, the children of light, by being salt in the earth, actually judge the wickedness of the devil by our righteous behavior. The devil roams about, seeking whom he may devour, but the Lord always raises up a standard to combat him. Jesus is that standard. Because Jesus is alive in us, through the power of Holy Spirit, we can resist the devil, and he will flee.

Whenever we resist temptation, in any form, we judge the prince of this world.

This is the true victory of the Cross.

This is what it means to be set free from the law of sin and death. And this is why the Apostle John can boldly claim that, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1John 3:9)

John is not suggesting here that we are sinless in the same sense Jesus is sinless. The Greek word “commit” literally means “a continuous habit,” or “to practice on an ongoing basis.” What the Apostle whom Jesus loved is saying is that those who are born of God do not sin as a matter of habit on a continual basis. Rather, sin is something they fall into as one entrapped by a snare. (James 1:2; Psalm 90:3; Psalm 119:110; Lamentations 3:46-47; 2Timothy 2:26.) The victory of the Cross is that whenever we do fall into sin, whenever we are snared or entrapped, God is faithful to cleanse us by His shed blood.

Jesus boldly tells the disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This is the fulfillment of God’s word spoken to the serpent as a curse in Genesis 3:15 when the Lord pronounced His righteous judgment upon the one who had engineered the Fall of Man: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise its heel.”

Our real battle is not with flesh and blood but with spiritual forces under the control of the devil. When Jesus went to the Cross as an innocent man, as the Son of God, was crucified, and was resurrected, He ransomed back—for all eternity, and for all mankind—the keys of Hell and death. (Revelation 1:18) The greatest punishment the prince of the world can hold over anyone’s head is not physical death, as many suppose, but spiritual, eternal death. Once Jesus eliminated this threat, everything else the world, or the devil, threatens believers with pales to insignificance.

We should not be threatened by fame or by anonymity, by power or by weakness, by wealth or by poverty. This is why the prophet Isaiah said, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) When we are truly dead to the things of the world, we can say that we are dead in Christ and that we are raised with Him on a daily basis. This is what Paul meant when he told the Colossians that “you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

We overcome the world because Jesus overcame the world. And because He went to the Cross so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell within us. We overcome the world because His love is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. And because the shed blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We overcome the world because Christ in us is the hope of glory. And because He promised us “Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you.” (John 16:23)

As we overcome the world, we are drawn into an ever-increasing intimacy with our Heavenly Father. As our intimacy grows deeper and deeper, we have a growing desire to abide with Him. In abiding, we are bathed in His Glory. And as we bathe in the Manifest Presence of God, His Glory, we can’t help but reveal it to a lost and hurting world.

This should be our desire.

Seek intimacy with God, abide with Him, rest in His Glory, and then share it abundantly with the lost.