Resting in Our New Past in Him

Resting in Our New Past in Him

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. ~paul, Least of The Apostles, in Galatians

Resting in Our New PastOh beloved, it is true. We seem to have memories of our past that are true. But nothing could be further from the truth. We remember ourselves as better than we thought we were… We remember our failures like they disqualify us… We remember the ways we tried to do the right thing… We remember how badly we failed… We remember the times that so many things happened.

So much of what we did hurt so many people. Oh G_d. We raged against the machine of eternity. We were at enmity with the One who made that place as His habitation. Nothing we did worked. We only ruined and smashed things. And then we made the past even worse by believing it to be something better than we had made it. We minimized our sin. We glorified ourselves.

This fool of a writer has let so many people down in the past, that I am often surprised at the grace extended to me by anyone who knew me before The Truth set me free. Everything. Every. Little. Thing… Was about my comfort and setting other people up to make sure they behaved in such a way as to assure the same. However, to try and keep my sanity, I re-wrote the stories over and over again until I was somehow able to keep my stomach from flipping over the sickening truth. I was a failure.

Oh, I believed (in my astounding hubris) that I loved people. But really, I did not care whether anyone lived or died – as long as I could get the things into my eyes or ears or body that would take away the restless and bitter pain of my existence. Even my ex-wife and kids suffered as servants to my happiness.

And over the years, another sickness manifested itself in me. I would continually revamp the history (read my side of the story) to smooth over the past. And even into my years of freedom, the shadows of my rewrite tend to overshadow the reality of the pain i truly caused to others. Oh no, i was not a monster… Not any worse than any of you who are reading this entry actually.

I was the dad who had the good job and the nice house and the beautiful family. I sincerely wanted to be a good christian. I wanted to do my devotions every day, and take my family to church every weekend. I wanted to vote properly and stand against the rising tide of OTHERS failures within my society. Does this man sound familiar to you?

Obviously, all of this fell apart. Lies and liars always do. And simply wanting something is not ever enough to get it. Rather, the true master of my life (me) tore me apart, and left me bleeding out and dying in the mountains of Arizona some years ago.

But back to the truth of the matter now… None of the above happened to me. Oh yes, it really did occur. But the man who experienced all of this failure and caused all of this hurt on others – is now dead.

Really.

Can we see it? Look at the passage. The lies of the father of lies, and the lies of my now-dead old man (flesh) scream to try to both condemn the new man i am in Christ, and try to validate the self-driven, rule-bound efforts of my flesh in the past. All of this is a toxic brew designed to keep the new me from making any progress on the new path G_d has set before me.

However, there is a deeper Truth to all of this. i (and you, believer) no longer have a past. You and i know Him – now. And to know Him, is to be eternal. The old man has died. We no longer rage against eternity in some time-shackled struggle. The new man we are simply lives now, and in Love with Him.

But once we know this. Once we rest in our new past in Christ. Something happens. Everything begins to move in the right direction. There is no limitation of only the horrible past and angst about an unknown future. There is simply living and moving and having our being in Him. We live right now. And right now is the only place where things can get done. Right now is the only place where we can actually Love others with the Love with which He has forever Loved us.

So, are you struggling with your past? Do you know Him? If no, then call out to Jesus! Let Him set you free! If yes though, stop struggling. There is no past. There is only now. Walk free, right now, in Him. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to know that you live outside of time and in eternity with Him. – Makala Doulos is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is now serving as a teacher in China. You can email him at Makala@ps1611.org

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 54-56; Acts 21:1-17

Think About This: You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. ~Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Bygones be Bygones

Bygones be Bygones?

“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” Hebrews 10:35

It seems to me that it’s easier to preach what I believe when faced with adversity. It’s when someone draws a drastic contrast to what I believe that propels me in a defensive mode to stand for what I believe to be truth. I like that, I think the writer of Hebrews is telling his audience when the things of the Lord are being compromised we are to remain confident in what we believe in, take a stand for Truth.Bygones be bygones

The book of Hebrews is a letter to Hebrews who at one point made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ but have caved in to the peer pressure of not forsaking their traditions. It’s as if a default to a past way of life or what is being portrayed as freedom is the better way of thinking.

In verse 36 of chapter 10 we’re told “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise”. Endurance is another word for steadfast or patient, having faith that what is true is worth the wait. In a society where we get what we want even if we can’t afford it is an erosion of values that has creeped into our lives that serves to undermine the principle of earning a reward. We know that salvation is free but to experience the promises of God that comes to us through the Holy Spirit it take faith ahead of the promise. It’s not until I step out and as my buddy Keith says “get comfortable being uncomfortable” that I enter in to the benefits of what only God can give.

Do you want peace? Trust in God. Do you desire acceptance? Believe in His promises. Is it deliverance you are looking for? Step out of the mire and stand on the Rock. It doesn’t just happen, it comes with a confident faith that our God is sufficient to meet our needs. The writer goes on to say​“For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry, now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him”. Wow, strong words, but words that should propel us to walk in such a way that when adversity hits, we stand for our God and His ways with confidence knowing that He who promises is faithful. So let bygones be bygones, move forward and blaze a trail of glory. Besides, I read the end of the book, WE WIN!!!  — Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick. You can email him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 51-53; Acts 20:17-38

Think About This: Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” Charles Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

On the Outbreak of Joy

ON THE OUTBREAK OF JOY

Mark 10:14; Matthew 18:2-5; Luke 18:16,17; Hebrews 12:3-17

Two-year-olds are the custodians of spontaneous joy. I work with two year old children in a group called MOPS.

We had a great time! We started off with a concert from the little hymnal called: “Oh Happy Day!” It is my view, if you have a captive audience, you should always sing to them! I have to admit the band was a little heavy on percussion!Joy Outbreak

Next we had a workshop on “Creating Your Own Bubbles Or A Bubble Is Not Just For Wall Street Any More”

This was followed by a reading of that famous horror story: Humpty Dumpty. There was a lesson to be learned. When you fall and become a broken egg let God transform you into an omelet.

Children need to know where the boundaries are. It makes them feel secure. Going over the boundary leads to the discipline of a timeout. But even the timeout needs to have within it the opportunity for choice. Each person is responsible for their emotions and how they use them. We tell the child: “When you feel you can play without fighting, you can get off the chair.” Sometimes the decision is short and sometimes it takes a while :-). The children need to see God as holy, loving and correcting because he loves them.

We then had a time of parallel play and a snack and then clean up. It made me laugh out loud when I was reminded little children are literal thinkers. I told them to “pile up the big blocks along the wall”. They heard “pile up the blocks” The result was a free-form art piece.

We Church members and parents need to make sure we provide spiritual training for our children. They need to receive Jesus and who will tell them if not us? It is too easy to let the spiritual be crowded out during the week, we must be intentional in this God-given responsibility.  We must equip our children because they are the future of the church.

I love those children, they are an investment in the future and I look forward to sharing joy with them.

Today’s  Affirmation: I’ll let the children see Jesus by my words and actions so they may come to Him. – Pastor Bob Wood is a lover of Jesus and has a prayer and discipling ministry. You can email him at Dgtbob@aol.com

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 49-50; Acts 20:1-16

Think About This: Jesus had every reason to be proud yet he was humble, and we have every reason to be humble yet we’re proud. —Burk Parsons

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Is Counseling a Ministry?

Is Counseling a Ministry?

Have you ever had a situation where you were empty of sound advice, have you ever been in a place where you continued to use the same stable scriptures for counseling? Whether you are a counselor, layman or life coach, mentor etc, ask yourself is counseling a ministry?Counseling Ministry

One definition of ministry revolves around meeting people at the point of need. Obviously it gets confusing and conflicting to what people really need, what they think need, or even in this case, what the counselor’s assumptions of what they need. Counseling, in its basic form, helps individuals to find meaning and joy in life, as they become well mentally, emotionally, Spiritually; the Bible deals with physical wellness as well.

A counselor can provide advice; they can encourage, unpack past hurts, redefine their identity and the like. True Biblical counseling will challenge individuals to see their disobedience, and recognize what’s the true meaning of loving God. Jesus said if you love Me you will keep His commands.

This is how the Lexicon defines Isaiah 9:6 as Jesus; the Wonderful Counselor.

Counselor ya`ats  (yaw-ats’)

To advise; reflexively, to deliberate or resolve — advertise, take advice, advise (well),

consult, (give, take) counsel (-lor), determine, devise, guide, purpose. In addition, the Bible expresses the value of wise counsel and wise counselors all through the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit is also our advocate, as He is the Counselor. “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) Jesus came to provide life and love, so in turn, people could live, serve, and love one another, this is eternal living, and counseling is about improving quality of life, while meeting the various essentials for the body, soul, and spirit.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

Whether we believe or not, counseling is a ministry. I believe a question we will address next week is who is qualified to counsel. – Chaplain Juan Mendez serves at the Colony of Mercy as a full-time chaplain. He is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. You can email Juan at jmendez@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 46 -48; Acts 19:21-41

Think About This: “We who believe have to wake up to the fact that the ministry to us of the Father and the Son through the Spirit has turned us into different people from what we were by nature. Our present task is, as it is sometimes put, to be what we are—to live out what God has wrought (worked) in us, expressing in action the new life (new vision, motivation, devotion, and sense of direction) that has now become ours. Or as Paul puts it, ‘Live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Eph. 4:1).

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Anxiety Busters

Anxiety Busters

In the last several months, I have had numerous conversations with friends and family who are going through tough battles with anxiety. If you have never had to battle this in your life, you really don’t under the struggle that some brothers and sisters face.

anxiety

There was a period in my life for about 12 years that I did battle with serious anxiety issues that led to panic attacks. It was a horrible time for me, first of all because at that time there really wasn’t much help available. The other issue was that many Christians were judgmental about anxiety so I ended up suffering alone.

My wife was a trooper through the whole process. My anxiety/panic attacks were so crippling at times, that I had a hard time driving alone. Jan had to spend many hours driving with me and coaching me through it.

I am very thankful that the Lord has helped me through this battle and for the past 18 years, I have been panic attack free. I have learned many lessons in the process, but the one major lesson that has helped the most is that when you are in the midst of this battle, you need to reprogram your mind.

A Christian counselor/friend shared with me that when you feel anxious or a panic attack coming on – immediately stop thinking about it and think about something else. Or better yet, start quoting Scripture to stop your anxious thoughts from running wild.

The Bible is filled with some powerful anxiety busters that you can use if you are struggling with anxiety or with panic attacks. Here are just a few that have helped me:

“For though we walk according to the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)

“Be anxious for NOTHING, but in EVERTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace that SURPASSES all comprehension, shall guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)

“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NASB)

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the One who goes before you. He will not fail or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)

“And the Lord, He it is that doth go before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you; fear not neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

Why not write these on a 3X5 card and carry them with you. Start memorizing them. When the anxious thoughts come – pull out your anxiety busters and declare the truth! You will be amazed at how this will help you.

I will talk more about this next week. If you would like to dialog with me about this, write me at bwelte@americaskeswick.org. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 43-45; Acts 19:1-20

Think About This: The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access. —Tim Keller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Love is Sound Doctrine!

Love is Sound Doctrine!

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)

What is the basis or principles of what Christians should stand? This seems like a redundant question, but surveys and many assessments have reveal that truth is relative and subjective, to the world and in the church. Has mass media shaped are perceptions, has access to different social medias crafted are views? Have we become desensitized by our sin or carnal mindsets?Sound Dcotrine

The disciple fought and question Jesus throughout their lives. Early Christians had various issues with numerous leaders of their era. Reformations, holy wars, schisms, martyrs, and a host of others have been effect by the generation of the time. History repeats itself, and again the answer is we must live on the very principles that we claim, sound doctrine! It is obvious that we have moved from a world of absolutes, objectivity, and dogmatism. To an era of relativism, subjectivism, and tolerance, sound familiar. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

I don’t know about the rest of the world but I’m resolved to represent Christ in these unclear times. To love God with every fiber in my body. To truly love my neighbor, with the love and commitment that God communicates in the Word.

In addition, Jesus says to love your neighbor as you yourself, not instead of yourself. Respect and love yourself; how can you have healthy respect for God or anyone else if you do not appreciate that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. In turn your love for Him, will keep his commands, not because it is the rule, but out of your love for Him.

Love is sound doctrine. Love is the bedrock of our Christianity. Jesus Christ provided this unconditional love to impregnate are minds, our hearts and are attitudes. Sidebar: Love does not mean I accept your lifestyle, it means I will see you through it. “Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) – Chaplain Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony. He is also a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. You can email him at jmendez@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 35-36; Acts 17:1-15

Think About This: We must not allow anything in our churches to compete with the high visibility of the gospel. —Ray Ortlund

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8

Gospel-Worthy Courage

Gospel-Worthy Courage

Philippians 1:19-22

In Philippians 1:27, the apostle Paul repeats a frequent theme of his: that Christians let their lives be worthy of the gospel.

This idea is a powerful one. What Paul is telling the church is what we all need to hear—and, in fact, what he needed to hear himself.

Gospel Worthy Courage

Paul issues this exhortation to the Christians at Philippi in the context of Philippians 1:19–22. In these verses, Paul shares that he is in the midst of great trial, suffering, and adversity.  In verse 19, he declares that he will rejoice in the prayers of the church and the spiritual enablement and deliverance he will experience.

In verse 20, he states his hope and expectation that he will not be ashamed, but that Christ will be honored. Paul’s shame would be to falter, to give in, to despair.  Whether he lives or dies, he desires that Christ be honored in his body “with full courage” in the midst of his circumstances, facing whatever God has in store for him.

In verse 21, he declares, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” And while verse 22 shows that he is conflicted about which outcome would be best, he acknowledges that if he is to live, it means fruitful labor.

Paul’s viewpoint takes real courage, but that courage is built on faith. It makes us both bolder and stronger. It means that no matter what our circumstances, we are to press on. We are to persevere.  We are to stand firm.  We are to continue to strive to serve Christ with our whole being.

Too often, when we think of courage, we think of heroic acts, dramatic outcomes, and historical figures who are larger than life.  But the reality is that we are all called to live every day courageously, holding firm to the gospel, and walking in a manner worthy of it.

It is the kind of quiet courage that Paul exhibits and desires to see in other Christians that makes all the difference. It is remembering that we are the beneficiaries of Christ’s sacrifice, bought with a price, in the midst of the challenges, suffering, and adversity of everyday life. Gospel-worthy courage is to mark our lives every day.

Below is a prayer that I have found very inspiring and powerful in my own life:

Almighty God, send us out into life, not for cheap things and not for self, but to do battle for Thy purposes. We have not been trained for beds of ease. At times, we dare to ask that Thou wilt send us to where the struggle is the hardest. We ask Thee not for easier tasks, but for strength equal to our tasks. We ask not to be left apart with smooth lives dead at heart. Make real to us, O God, the nobility of work, that we might accept its disciplines as the price which leads in the end to the joy of creation through Christ. Amen. – Dr. Todd Williams is the President of Cairn University and was our Week 1 speaker this summer at America’s Keswick. You can watch his messages at www.americaskeswick.org.

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 19-21; Matthew 15:21-39

Think About This: Today, God gives each of us a choice as we face life’s challenges. We can deliberately choose to follow him and rest in His truth and promises or we can choose to surrender our minds to pointless worry and the resulting stress that worry brings. Joshua 24:15
Katherine Walden

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8