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Archive for April, 2008


Refer To STEP 9: I humbly asked God to change anything He wished and asked Him to heal my pain. Because God forgives us as we forgive others, I forgave my abusers.

NOTE: We’re going to spend some time discussing prayer because so many people have confusion about it. I hope this will help. Feel free to send me your comments. I’ll post what you have to say.

Jack

The Scriptures tell us to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed. The way to do this is by renewing our minds. If our minds are renewed, we can pray with the correct perspective. But what exactly is involved in renewing your mind?

When you’ve experienced abuse—any abuse—it impacts how you perceive reality. You see things differently—more apprehensively and with less confidence. And to be honest, most who have been abused wonder if God is really in charge or not. They believe it intellectually and doctrinely, but not from their own experience. They just don’t see it. “If He was in charge in an active way, He wouldn’t have let . . . (fill in the blanks).”

That’s where we have to begin our recovery process. We need to renew our minds about this. Until we do, we’ll never get far in our recovery.

Here’s the place we need to get to: God is in charge of everything.

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

This is either true, or it isn’t. If you want to have a full and productive life, you need to start by renewing your mind to accept that God is alive and powerful and active in the affairs of mankind. That includes your life, even when you were certain He had abandoned you.

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HERE IS A COMMENT FROM THE PERSON IN MY SMALL GROUP WHO INITIATED THIS INTERESTING TOPIC.

This is interesting—still a hot topic in my mind.

Remember the war-time position—”Never negotiate with terrorists?’ Is it denouncing faith or using the brain God gave us to realize we are dealing with an idiot of the devil and “nothing good can come from this.” God knows our true heart, and he equipped us with a brain. When we are saved, it is when we accept Jesus into our hearts—not by uttering words. Of course faith without works is dead. But is our witness and conviction honoring God here—does evil have the right to coerce us?

I am sure I would try to explain/challenge the terrorist—”What would it matter to you, Mr. Terrorist, what I say? It is what is in my heart that matters, and words are nothing without action (change of heart). How is it that your actions here are pleasing to your God?”

You are right, I would end up dead either way—and hope that God was glorified in my life in many ways before then.

This is still an interesting topic. I would gladly die for Christ or allow my children to die for Christ. But not sure this is what God would want or it would really be for Christ. I am not really convinced anything terrorists say or ask for matter.

It’s kind of like “What-ever.” That is where I struggle. Who put them in a position of divine rule or judgment? Are we empowering evil at that point by succumbing to their pressure and duress?

Roger

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THE FOLLOWING IS DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE FROM ONE OF MY CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST FRIENDS–A FRIEND FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES. NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, MY FRIENDS FROM THAT ERA ARE THE MOST VALUED POSSESSION IN MY PORTFOLIO–THEY’RE PRICELESS.

Hey, Jack,
I loved reading your “Pushing Jesus” article on witnessing. I love reading anything you write, Brother!

However, don’t sell your efforts short on the beach invasion training. You are a much better man, in my humble opinion, for having been through the experience of the training and the “hitting the beaches” experience.

It was not natural for me either, and I never would have been involved in that training had I not been “filled with the Spirit” and with great Christian leaders who were leading the charge. My motivation “leaked out” pretty quickly because that is not my natural personality, but the training and the work of obediently speaking to others and asking them to pray has been a life-changing experience for me my entire life. I wish I were more faithful in taking the opportunities to share with others the amazing information God has blessed me with over the years.

Hopefully, I’ll have the discipline to write a book like you have done, and share more widely what God is doing in my life.

I believe we need to be more aggressive in our witness for Jesus, and we need to be more graceful of course than our first attempts at witnessing, but we can all be more aware that the Lord’s Great Commission is truly a fantastic motivation that should fill our hearts and minds and activities much more that it does in my life. I always love to remember how Bill Bright would close his letters, “Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.”

I hope I never lose that passion for sharing Jesus’ love as best I can–whenever I can, and I pray the same for you, Brother.

Look forward to seeing you and hearing from you as the Spirit leads!

Keep on Keeping on for Jesus!

Jeremy

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and provide me with the power to carry it out.

If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ, and He will make use of you unconsciously every minute you live.
–Oswald Chambers–

I remember when I first invited Christ into my life as a sophomore in college through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Witnessing was the most important component of this ministry, and I dutifully walked up and down the beaches of Southern California proselytizing. It’s what we did—for fun.

I never really liked intruding on people who were there to enjoy the afternoon, but I was determined to be a great Campus Crusader. I got dozens of people to pray with me to invite Christ into their lives. I suspect that I was better at imposing my will upon them than they were at surrendering their wills to God. I never saw any of them again and now consider my efforts to have been futile.

Yesterday, forty years later, I was working out at the YMCA, in a desperately futile attempt to maintain a semblance of fitness. As I was walking to the water fountain, an older woman, who I did not know, stopped me. She asked if I would donate a copy of my book Hi, My Name Is Jack to the library of the Jewish retirement library she ran. The book is my story–my testimony.

I told her I would, of course, and I did. As I drove home, I thought that my witness to her, which was completely non-verbal, might have been more effective than anything I ever did on the beaches in my evangelistic fervor as a youth. I was gratified she saw something in me worth sharing with hundreds of retired Jewish people. My witness in this case may actually help someone.

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in the heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simple and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold us. –Oswald Chambers–

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THE FOLLOWING IS A COMMENT I RECEIVED ABOUT MY LAST ENTRY WHICH GIVES AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. IT’S DEFINITELY WORTH READING. HERE IT IS:

I thought the tone throughout the New Testament was one that gave the idea that people will know you are a Christian by how you love, not by how you die. I thought II Corinthians 13 pretty much made it clear that giving your life to be burned didn’t mean near as much as to love.

You’ve touched a sensitive cord with me, and I sort of know what I’m talking about. The spiritual abuse issue? Yep… been there–16 years in a Christian cult. Alcoholic? Yep… almost 4 years sober (keep coming back, it works if you work it). I felt your dying for Jesus article had the same tone that you accused the preachers in having in your financial giving to Jesus article.

It’s taken me years and years and years just to come into the truth that JESUS LIKES ME… a greater miracle is I actually like Him now.

Figuratively speaking, my former church leaders did hold a gun to my children’s head, and I let them pull the trigger. I didn’t protect them from the spiritual abuse, the fear tactics, the manipulation – which were all bullets from the enemy. At the time, I thought it was God.

Did the fellow in your home group know you wrote about his “weak faith”? I wonder how condemned he feels at the moment. I wonder if he’s feeling like a loser now… not just in your very spiritual home group but to all the 100’s (?) of folks who get your emails. It’s bad enough that a good many of us “soldiers of the cross” get up in the morning and wonder stuff like: I hope I can stay sober today for Jesus, or be at work today on time for Jesus, or …. fill in the blank…. for Jesus, let alone wondering if I’m strong enough to let my kids take a bullet from a Muslim for Jesus.

I’m right about this; you know I am (to quote you).

So, that’s my 2 cents worth. I’ve wanted to write to you for a while now to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your site and how helpful it’s been. I’m sorry that in the end this is the email that I’ve felt compelled to write. Chances are I’m totally off base – after all, I did spend 16 years in a totally off base church.

Let me try again. I think that maybe I might be right about this… maybe not, who knows.

Samantha

Samantha’s comments stung. Whenever that happens, I know there must be some truth to it. At bare minimum, I want to be like FOX NEWS–fair and balanced.

More on Monday,

Jack

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Refer to STEP 4: I chose to accept as true what God has said about Himself. He is good and can be trusted.

The other night in my small group Bible study, we were talking about the passage in Timothy where it says if we are faithless, He remains faithful. After that, it says that if we deny Him, He will deny us.

In the ensuing conversation, someone said, if a Muslim terrorist held a gun to his kids head and threatened to kill them unless he renounced Christ, he would say it outwardly but not inwardly. He reasoned, “I would just mouthe it—nothing else.”

To nearly everyone, this was OK–but not with me.
Without being too legalistic, let me say this: The Lord is looking for men and women who have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for Him regardless of the circumstances. In earlier times, there were many who would, but that doesn’t seem true today. Sadly, we live in an era where there are few who will do so.

Is it any wonder why we have such little impact upon society? I would love to hear what you have to say about this.

Jack

THE FOLLOWING COMMENT TO TODAY’S ENTRY WAS SO ON-TARGET I HAD TO INCLUDE IT (UNEDITED).

Islam is getting such a hold on people, simply because they are willing to die for what they believe ~ and they have no hope such as we have.

We “Christian,” however, are so afraid of death, of pain, of suffering, of anything that distresses or impacts our comfort or comfort zones, that we make a mock of the very faith that we were given to espouse.

Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; THAT THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL; AND DELIVER THEM WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime subject to bondage [Heb. 2:14-15].

You will never know what it is to live, if you will not overcome your fear of death. If we believe that we have an eternity, and that our God is, and that heaven is, and if we love Him and His life in us, more than our own, we will not fear to die. If we believe in His promises, we will not fear to take a stand for His glory and His name’s sake.

This is how the first church made such an impact ~ they were not afraid to die; they were not afraid to risk; they were not afraid to live for their Lord their God, because they were not afraid to die for Him either.

The Church has to move beyond it’s touchy-feely, “I understand your pain,” cautious self-preservationism, and get willing to lay it on the line for what they believe, for that is the only evidence of what it is that they do believe.

God will take care of everything else.

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Refer to STEP 4: People who misuse their authority are the abusers.

OK, let’s stir it up a little bit and talk about how to recognize spiritual abusiveness. There are many ways it can manifest itself, but the most common way—by far—is financially. In this area, let the buyer beware is a perfect saying. It’s not a Scriptural verse, but it’s a truism nonetheless.

There are some things I always look for. When a church or ministry is obsessed with money, it’s because they are obsessed with money and not with doing God’s will. In essence, they tell you, “Give your money to God, but be sure to use my address.” To accomplish their goal, they either make you feel guilty about not giving, or they appeal to your own sense of greed.

The former is self-explanatory, but the latter needs some elucidation. When you are told to give so you can receive more, there’s nothing Christ-centered about this. It’s crass materialism—plain and simple. To believe anything else is deceiving your own heart and playing right into the hands of those who want to abuse you by taking your money under false spiritual pretenses.

And guess what? There are thousands of ministries out there eager to exploit you in this way. Don’t let them do it. And don’t feel guilty about not giving to them.

Let me ask you a question? Have you ever seen a ministry or church like this where the leader is impoverished? Take a good look at the leader. Does he have a big, new car? A Rolex? A big house? Fine clothes?

Of course, he does–or something similar. It’s proof of God’s blessing, if you ask him. If you use your head and think for yourself, however, it’s proof that’s he’s quite adept at getting people to give to God by using the leader’s address.

Examine your own heart about this. When you give, is it really giving, or is it giving to get something for yourself? If it’s the latter, it’s materialism motivated by greed, and that’s never Christ-like—never. It doesn’t count for anything other than your ability to be manipulated by an abusive religious leader.

I’m right about this; you know I am.

I told you I was going to stir it up.

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