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The Peace Found in Forgiveness of Others

By Denny Smith

If you or I or any other were asked to compile a list of the ugliest traits of character that a person could have and that we run across in people I am sure that things like hatred, anger, bitterness, malice, and an unwillingness to forgive would all rank up there near the top of our list. People who possess these traits are not pleasant to be around. That is not to say they have no friends but only that the kind of person that takes up with them is very likely to share some of the same traits they have. And, I might add, one of the positive things about family is they are likely to love you no matter what so they will put up with you.

While I listed 5 traits it is easy to see how they are all related. Why is a person unwilling to forgive or lacks the desire to do so? Is it not because of hatred, anger, bitterness, and perhaps even malice (a sort of revenge motive of I will get even with you even if that mechanism is only by being unwilling to forgive).

Yes, we all have people who have done us wrong whom we have been very angry at, maybe bitter against, but I have never seen a time in my own life but what time heals and the things that seemed so great an issue at the time has over the years palled into insignificance and no longer matter. We are going to get hurt in life. That is just life. But, we also have to remember as we have been hurt so have we hurt others whether intentionally or not.

Why is it we take the hurts we receive to heart but see as insignificant things we have said or done to others (or even things we should have done as acts of consideration or kindness or love but failed to do)? Why is it we come to see everything as one sided as though it is the world against us but our purity is as of the new fallen snow without spot?

Certainly, there are some things that would be hard to forgive – adultery committed against us, desertion by a husband against his wife and children, physical abuse, lies told against us, hurts done to our children, etc. But, even so, where does holding on to the anger and bitterness and hatred get you? Does it bring you a happier life? Does it bring you joy? We all know the answer—it just brings greater suffering and sorrow, more misery, as we dwell more and more on the hurt we have received rather than a rebuilding of life that can bring joy and peace.

So far I have talked about the common experiences of man but we need to put a biblical perspective on these things not only because we are talking about Bible subjects but also because we are spiritual beings subject to the supreme spiritual being—God himself. It is not the physical man that gets hurt, who develops anger and bitterness and hatred and who is unwilling to forgive, but the spiritual man.

Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). As we have received hurt at the hands of others we have to remember we all, every one of us, have hurt God with our own lives. This has been true of man from the beginning. “And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and he was grieved in his heart.” (Gen. 6:6 NKJV) This was because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5 NKJV)

It is easy to say that was generations ago and times have changed, we are not that way today. Yes, easy to say but also easy to know we are deceiving ourselves when we do so. Paul said to Christians, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph. 3:30 NKJV) If a Christian can grieve God how about all those who know the truth of the gospel but will not obey it? Do you think they grieve God? If you think the one you will not forgive is your enemy do you think you are God’s friend all the while grieving him? So we see the one who will not forgive needs forgiving himself.

It would be good to hear some scripture on the subject of forgiveness and our great need to forgive others.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15 NKJV) “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 NKJV) This forgiveness must be “from his heart” (Matt. 18:35 NKJV) which means of course sincerely.

If Jesus could have a heart of forgiveness toward those who were crucifying him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV), then surely no one has done such evil to you as that done to him. (I am not saying those who crucified Christ were forgiven without repentance and obedience to the gospel but only that Jesus’ prayer was from a heart desiring their forgiveness which came to many as they obeyed the gospel on the Day of Pentecost). How is our heart toward God and our fellowman when we relish hatred and enjoy the bitterness and anger that accompanies it? And why, why is that so? Why are we that way? Why would we rather destroy ourselves than to forgive? Is there any sense or reason to it?

There is comfort to be found in the Christian life in not only our own forgiveness by God but also the burden that is lifted from our heart when we from the heart forgive those we have so long held anger and bitterness against. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (‘harsh words’ in the NLT—DS), and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32 NKJV)

It is so much easier to live life when surrounded by people that are kind and tenderhearted and forgiving, people who are not out just for themselves, or just to get you, or just to get even and reap vengeance but rather people that care about you. No, life is better when you are able to say yes I need forgiveness myself and I will no longer hold anger or grudges against others but I forgive as I seek God’s forgiveness also in my own life.

It would be good to talk a little about God’s loving kindness and willingness to forgive. God gives us all hope. The apostle Paul was at one time a very evil man. He says of himself, “many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” (Acts 26:10 NKJV) Yet, God showed him mercy and Paul later says concerning this, “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:16 NLT)

Of those 3,000 on the day of Pentecost who obeyed the gospel and were saved that day Peter says to them about Jesus, “you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death,” speaking in reference to what they had done to Christ. Surely, if God would forgive them he will forgive you, me, and all of us if only we are willing to give up our sin. We need not live in hatred and malice and unforgiving of others as that is a personal choice. We choose to be that way. We do not have to be. No one forces us to be unloving and unforgiving and full of pride that will not let us repent.

David said, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:14 NKJV) It is a choice. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.” (Psalms 37:8 NKJV) God is ready to forgive. “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you.” (Psalms 86:5 NKJV)

There is a passage in Ezekiel that we all ought to learn for even though it was written for another people at another time it is still applicable today (Rom. 15:4), “’Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord God. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’” (Ezek. 18:30 NKJV)

We will all be judge individually, “every one according to his ways,” so it is not what kind of attitude the other man has who we have it in for but it is our own attitude that we must account for. Repentance can save us, “Repent…so that iniquity will not be your ruin.” It is up to us as we can get ourselves “a new heart and a new spirit.” No, we do not have to be the way we are if we are unloving and unforgiving.

In closing let me ask a few questions for your consideration. Why did Jesus come into the world? Who sent him? Why is Jesus called the Savior? Why did he die on the cross? Has God given us a choice (free will)? Is it possible to change our attitude, our life, and our hope? Why do we choose to hate, have bitterness and anger, to be unloving and unforgiving? What joy and happiness do we find in that? Is there a better way of life? Can peace and joy and hope of life everlasting be found or is the way hidden from us?

I think we all know the answers to these questions so there is only one other question to ask. It is the question in the old gospel hymn we have sung since the days of my childhood which is now many decades past. It is the question, “Why do you wait o sinner?” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV) There is peace in forgiving and in being forgiven.

About the Author:

Visit Denny Smith’s web site to read more of his articles and also listen to over 110 audio sermons on many different subjects from “Where Are the Dead?” to “The Weaver’s Shuttle,” to “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”

Article Source: The Peace Found in Forgiveness of Others


Love Thy Neighbour: A Look at the Relationship between Modern Christians and the LGBT Community


equalpeple1.jpgHomophobia and transphobia are serious issues within Canada and yet majorly overlooked due to this country’s reputation of acceptance and multiculturalism. It is reported that both gay and lesbian Canadians are two times more likely to be victimized and bisexuals are four times more likely to be victimized than heterosexual Canadians (Statistics Canada). This statistic is the product of many factors, but in the following essay I will take a look at the involvement of contemporary Christianity in regards to support for and hatred against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community. While I hope to represent the whole of the LGBT community, I will be using examples mostly about male and female homosexuality due to the lack of reputable sources on bisexuality and transsexuality. I hope to demonstrate that while the sources of homophobic discrimination from Christian groups are plentiful, their lack of ability to change and progress ensures that the voice of the supportive Christian groups will inevitably become consensus opinion. First, I will identify the Christian roots of homophobia through exploring biblical passages, the fear aroused from the church’s subordination to the state, and the apocalyptic attitude that oversees it all. I will explore the community of openly homosexual Christians and the methods used to cope, and lastly, I will identify the roots of support through the fear of a larger threat, post-Enlightenment critical thinking, and also the Eastern influence on Western religion and culture.

The foundation of homophobic sentiment in the Christian faith lies within the bible. In order to remain focused, I will be only referring to the New Testament as it is the defining text of Christianity and also the most frequently read. It is a common misconception on the part of LGBT defenders that the New Testament, unlike the Old Testament, is free from homophobic passages. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While the authorship is debatable, Paul was said to have written a few passages in his epistles regarding the unholiness of same-sex intercourse. Regarding homosexuals, he states that “God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another…and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27). The key issue with this passage, and to all biblical passages regarding homosexuality, is its allusion to the unnatural. This is where sayings like ‘pray the gay away’ come from. Instead of accepting that LGBTs are born with their own personal gender identity that strays from the socially constructed ‘norm,’ it is perceived as a choice that stems from corruption of the soul. The idea of God’s abandonment of these people to their seductive desires and their impending punishment creates an atmosphere of punishment that begins here on earth. Nowhere does the New Testament say that they should be punished by humanity because it is commonly known that divine judgement is only for God to dole out. That being said, the message marginalizes this group of people and leaves them open to scrutiny.

The New Testament does more than solidify the idea that any sexuality other than heterosexuality and asexuality are abominations. It manages to put same-sex relations in league with other sins in order to emphasize how completely monstrous it is. Paul states, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 5:9-10). This method of incorporating homosexual relations with truly immoral actions such as adultery and theft is used even today. A common argument against same-sex marriage is that if it were to be legal, then we would have to let people marry multiple partners, children, and even animals. The serious issue is that the act has been deemed to be a vile sin and the people involved in the act have been stripped of their agency as cognitive and moral beings. They are seen as puppets being controlled by their sinful desires and because of this, the hateful Christian parties can pretend that they are completely separate and subordinate entities.

Not all that long ago, the Church had a monopoly of power over the people of the Western world. It is unclear whether the reason behind this is that the authority of the church was unquestioned for that many centuries or if the public was merely afraid to rebel. It is clear, however, that eventually religious rule was seen as an inappropriate method of governance. In Canada specifically, “a sedate inquiry awakened in the minds of a progressive people in respect to the result of a Separation of Church from the State,” and the government officials agreed that it would be beneficial to remove Christianity as the governing body (Stimson 198). The subordination of the church to the state meant many thing for Christians including the idea that God was not an all-encompassing, political force. Ever since the inception of Christianity, it has always been common for various groups to validate their causes through the use of God. The early Christians fought Roman rule and became martyrs because they believed that God was on their side. Constantine made Christianity the state religion because he believed that God would support his army. The early ascetics made their way into the desert and lived minimalistic lives of suffering because they felt God wanted them to. What has changed between then and now is a growing sense of human autonomy and responsibility. Subscribing to Christianity is not the only way to live or succeed anymore. The separation of the church from the state is a definitive example of humanity taking fate and morality into their own hands. This is quite possibly where the fear of the hateful Christian groups began and it only grew as the government became more and more secular.

Eventually, in 1985, the Human Rights Act came out and proclaimed in Section 2 that:

all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status… (“Human Rights Act”)

This passage not only acknowledges sexual orientation as a basis of discrimination, but it also serves to humanize the parties in question by explaining that they have their own hopes and dreams, and they also have every right to live their own lives in accordance with their own ideals. Hearing such a proclamation forces a Christian to either accept and incorporate such a decree into their lives, or resent it. Those who resented this statement and the secularization of the government that lead to it, share the same emotion from which hatred stems: fear.

Fear in Christianity is noticeable in the form of apocalyptic thinking or apocalyptic literature. Like eschatological thinking, they tend to focus on God’s ultimate plan or conclusion for the world and humanity; however, apocalyptic thinking goes further to expect punishment for the wicked, rewards for the righteous, and often the destruction of the world as we know it. In any case, it is common for fearful people to live apocalyptically and this theory is seen in the works of René Girard. He came up with four stereotypes of persecution in his anthology of religion and violence known as The Scapegoat. According to him, it all begins when a select group perceives themselves to be in a time of crisis. The crisis is deemed to be a crime instead of a natural event. Due to this conclusion, it is only natural from there to need a criminal who caused the crisis and this ends up usually being a small group of people who are already “susceptible to persecution” (Girard 12-25). From here, violence is used to restore the natural order. In the case of modern day secularism, we have a group of Christians who are confused by the power being taken from the church and laws being put in place that counter sacred, biblical passages; this is conceived as a crisis. Then we have the LGBT community which is already susceptible to persecution and is, for all intents and purposes, much smaller in number. They have become the criminals who caused the crisis and only by eliminating them, shunning them, and shaming them, will the balance be restored. Violence is often used against them as was previously mentioned, but regarding Christians specifically, there are other measures that can be more detrimental than violence. The methods of social exclusion are endless: telling strangers and even loved ones that they will go to hell because of whom they love, creating camps to convert homosexuals back to heterosexuality, verbally abusing them in public sermons, Christian parents disowning their own children, etc. This reaction to crisis is primitive and detrimental to a growing society where it is becoming harder and harder to put people into separate, neat categories.

Apocalyptic attitude is not mutually exclusive to Christianity and therefore, it is noticeable even in groups who support homosexuality. In times of crisis, violence and scapegoating are not the only reactions. Sometimes Christians feel that the crisis is a call to being better Christians. Yes, this mentality can lead to the rejection of homosexuality, but it can also lead to the acceptance of it. According to Laurence Freeman, a renowned Catholic priest and monk, “We re-enact the Cross, as victims or as crucifiers, many times each day. When we gossip, spread rumours, slander or lie we are crucifiers. When we mock cruelly, strip others of their dignity, denigrate, humiliate or marginalize others” (Freeman 256). Here we can attribute the negativity in the world and within ourselves to the cruel actions that we put out into the world. This minimalizes the sense of Christian exceptionalism that is very much prominent in the more strict groups. What I mean by Christian exceptionalism is that these groups hold a sense of entitlement because they have chosen the ‘correct faith’ and from there, they can justify their decisions and actions based on that superiority. Seeing one’s self as the crucifier, however, allows every Christian to be accountable for their own actions. While it may do very little against homophobic thought, it does ensure that these Christians will refrain from outwardly putting down anyone based on their sexuality or otherwise.

There is also an apocalyptic outlook regarding the events of war and conflict happening all over the world. In times of war and violence, it does seem as though the world might end and that humanity will never reconcile their differences. In such a scenario, it makes divisions such as that of sexual preference seem silly. There are bigger battles to fight and unity is what is needed right now. This can be seen in a statement by the United Church of Canada:

The United Church of Canada is among many faith communities locally and globally that celebrate sexual and gender diversity. We as a society need to actively work for positive and safe spaces that celebrate diversity…Ours is a message of solidarity and support to the LGBT community in Saskatoon. (Kim-Cragg, 2013)

Unity and support are being offered to the formerly rejected groups and this is a very good sign. Once such acceptance is offered and considered, it is difficult to go backwards from there. Apocalyptic outlook is common in humanity as a whole, but it does manifest in different ways. This sense of unity and kindness in light of the very real terrors that exist in the world, whether physical or spiritual, is certainly the more constructive path to choose.

Ever since the Enlightenment, we have challenged ourselves to explore the inner workings of society and dissect what is commonly deemed to be the ‘norm.’ From Marx’s theory of religion as an opiate to Nietzsche’s theory that God is dead, religion has become a topic of discussion to which we can employ critical thinking. Critical thinking does not need to be used to degrade religion, but it can explore and help it grow by allowing the practitioners to see the flaws and the human contributions that have been imposed over time. According to Carter Heyward, “we no longer have to wage our campaigns for ‘rights’ on the basis of being homosexuals who can’t help it because it’s just the way we are…whether we are heterosexual or homosexual, we expect our society to offer basic conditions of human worth and self-respect to all people” (Heyward 41). Through critical thinking, we are able to transcend our biases to question our personal motivations. As Heyward says, the question of homosexuality being a choice is immaterial now because there is an understanding and expectation that as humans, we all deserve the same respect. The line gets blurry when discussing rights such as marriage and adoption, but the existence of homosexual humans has been accepted for the most part. Through critical thinking, we have been able to come this far even considering that homosexuality was still a very much taboo subject as little as twenty years ago and this very fact illustrates that we, as humans, will only explore ourselves more thoroughly from here on in.

The acceptance of homosexuality in Christian circles is effectively seen within the very people known as homosexual Christians or gay Christians. First, the fact that this term exists shows that there is an avenue of acceptance within the church; logically speaking, gay Christians have always existed, but only now do the practitioners actually feel comfortable announcing it. Understandably the realisation of one’s homosexuality is a stressful experience and it does not always happen that the person chooses to accept both their sexuality and their faith. There are generally four different strategies that one uses to come to terms with their identity. They can reject the religious identity, reject the homosexual identity, compartmentalize, or integrate their identity (Rodriguez 334).

First, rejecting the religious identity is certainly more of a modern solution. Now that Christianity has been lowered to a level where it is deemed to be contestable, it is believed that “as many as 62% of gays and lesbians feel that religion is not an important aspect of their lives” (Rodriguez 334). Some of this statistic can be seen from the standpoint that many people in general, gay or otherwise, are choosing to not adhere to a religion simply because they do not believe in it. It can also be seen as the product of rejection. The rejection of Christianity is partly a disbelief in a God who could possibly hate someone for being exactly who they are; it is a disbelief that God could create a large population people just to say that they are damned.

Second, the rejection of the homosexual identity can range from ignoring one’s own urges and choosing to marry someone of the opposite sex to undergoing therapy in order to change one’s own sexual orientation. This is quite possibly the most unfortunate choice as it forces a healthy human being into believing that they are corrupted and that they will not be pure in God’s eyes until the Christian community around them agrees that they are.

Third, compartmentalization is a “compromise between conflicting identities” (Rodriguez 334). This is perhaps not the most constructive way of meeting homosexuality with religion, but it is a start. Here, they are not violently opposed to one another. Rather, they are seen as two different parts of an identity that should never mix; be gay at home and be religious as church. The issue with this mentality is that there is still room for internal conflict and self-loathing due to the fact that neither identity is necessarily positive. Compartmentalization provides rather a sense of cold tolerance.

Fourth and last, the integration of one’s identity is the most constructive way for a person to amalgamate their religion and their sexuality. According to Rodriguez, “Such individuals hold a positive gay identity, a positive religious identity, and do not feel conflict between the two” (335). It is quite possible to hold this view without any outside influence, but it is more likely to happen when a person is surrounded by a loving community of family and friends. This is the very mentality that is seen when Christian groups speak out for the LGBT community and when individuals of the LGBT community fervently claim that God made them the way that they are and therefore they know God loves them. This is the most beneficial belief that reflects a positive church sentiment and an inner acceptance on the part of the LGBT community. The most wonderful thing, is that this mentality is clearly growing as seen through an increased number of Christian gay rights protests and public apologies from specific church communities. What I will be exploring next, however, is the reason behind this growing positivity.

The twentieth century is unique for its incorporation of Eastern culture and religion. It is not only that people in the Western world are discovering religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Daoism, but also that they are incorporating them into their own faiths. If you look at Buddhism specifically, its essence has become so engrained into culture that it is hardly noticeable. This can be seen through exploring the first four steps of the Noble Eightfold Path, a text that is one of the first pieces of dharma (teachings) that was said to have been brought to the world through Buddha when he reached Enlightenment. The first four steps are the following: right understanding, right mindedness, right speech, and right action. We do not need to have memorized this list to accept that the meaning underneath it has been assumed into our culture. We have right understanding by realizing that everyone suffers as we do; we have right mindedness when we refrain from thinking cruelly; we have right speech when we refrain from using harsh language and succumbing to self-involved thought; we have right action when we abstain from violence (“The Noble Eightfold Path”). We have entered a paradigm where it is not merely good enough to be polite externally, but we are expected to hone principles of kindness and patience into our very personalities. Such an outlook when combined with Christianity reaps very positive results. It does not change the principles that Christianity is focused on in any way; it merely allows Christians to focus more on the positive teachings and the kindness shown by Christ.

Another influence of Eastern tradition can be seen in Christian meditation. An example of the fusion of Christianity and Buddhism can be seen in the following excerpt by Laurence Freeman, “We should say the mantra without impatience, without force or any intention of violence. The purpose of the mantra is not to block out thoughts. It is not a jamming device. If thoughts attack us while we are meditating we turn the other cheek. In saying the mantra gently we learn from Him who is gentle and humble of heart” (Freeman 256). The Buddhist concepts of patience and non-violence complement the Christian belief of turning the other cheek or not letting your anger consume you to the point that you hold ill will against another. The meditator uses mantra in a similar way to their Buddhist counterparts; however, instead of learning from within oneself and contemplating the emptiness of the universe, the meditator opens themselves up to the grace and teachings of Christ. This shift in the communication between God and humanity needs to be celebrated because it is embracing God’s changing ‘nature.’ God is changing; it can be seen even from comparing his loving and forgiving self in the New Testament to his wrathful and angry self in the Old Testament. Meditation allows the meditator to feel at peace and strengthen their faith through human emotion instead of through archaic laws. Essentially, having a stagnant idea of God and a stagnant relationship with Him is simply not convenient for anyone and the introduction of Eastern elements into Christian practice has certainly contributed to the expanse of kindness seen in many modern day Christian groups.

With the way that society has been described thus far, it may be wondered how it is that these anti-homosexual groups continue to survive. There is one aspect within Christianity that allows these groups to continue on with a sense of entitlement: the belief that God is constant. While God did clearly change between the Old and New Testament, it is written in the New Testament that “the gifts and the calling of God is irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). It also refers to “the unchangeable character of his purpose” (Hebrews 6:17). Unfortunately, there is some legitimacy to the archaic and hateful messages within the bible and due to this inclusion, there will most likely always be a group of people who cannot let go of the homophobic passages. Fortunately, it is also this very inclusion that ensures that Christian support will undoubtedly become consensus opinion. It is as simple as knowing that this world is changing very quickly and we naturally adapt to survive in it. We must adapt or get left behind. This homophobic mentality that has been engrained into select Christian groups by an old text and approved of by the unwavering nature of God cannot keep up with the ever-changing expectations of the nature of humanity.

Supportive Christian groups are grounded in progress and change. It is not only a sense of kindness and acceptance that makes it so, but also that we have realized the inefficiency of discrimination. The youth of today, if cultivated, will go on to be successful and prosperous. If we degrade them, then our country and culture will go nowhere. An optimistic view is given by Calvin B. Ball when he states:

We can see our younger generation offering warming approval of inclusion for those in the LGBT community… those of us who believe that education, particularly higher education, is the gateway to opportunity, the great leveler that can unlock doors of the imagination and the future, should be able to see the urgent, vital importance of ensuring inclusive campuses now. (Ball)

Acceptance of diversity can be seen in many changes such as gender-neutral washrooms, gender-neutral vocabulary, etc. While some see these changes as Band-Aid solutions, it is better to see them as manifestations of the positivity that is slowly working its way through the world. When this positivity meets religion, together wonderful things will be possible.

Homophobia has many roots and causes, and among them is the root of religious thought. Thus, violence toward the LGBT community cannot be said to be mutually exclusive with the relationship between Christian groups and homosexual people. That being said, Christian support is a good sign of communal acceptance and perhaps the foreshadowing of decreased violence in the future.

Works Cited

Ball, Calvin B. “Institutions must Ensure Inclusion of LGBT Community.” Diverse Issues in Higher Education 29.26 (2013): 23. ProQuest. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.

Canadian Human Rights Act. (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-6). Section 2. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Freeman, Laurence. “Dearest Friends,” WCCM International Newsletter, January 1997. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Freeman, Laurence. “Steps in Relationship,” Jesus: The Teacher Within. New York: Continuum, 2000. 256. Print.

Girard, René. The Scapegoat. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1986. 12-25. Print.

Heyward, Carter. Touching Our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God. New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1989. 41. Print.

Kim-Cragg, David. “Supporting LGBT.” Star – Phoenix. Sep 21 2013. ProQuest. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.

Meeks, Wayne A., and Jouette M. Bassler. The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.

Prebish, Charles, and Damien Keown. “The Noble Eight Fold Path.” Buddhism – the ebook: An Online Introduction. 4th ed. Pennsylvania: Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books, 2010. 52-53. Pdf.

Rodriguez, Eric M., and Suzanne C. Ouellette. “Gay and Lesbian Christians: Homosexual and Religious Identity Integration in the Members and Participants of a Gay-Positive Church.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39.3 (2000): 333-345. Print.

Statistics Canada. Sexual Orientation and Victimization, 2008. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Stimson, E. R. “Conclusion.” History of the Separation of Church and State in Canada. 3rd ed. Toronto: n.p., 1887. 198. Print.

 About the Author

My name is Jessica Wayner and I am the primary editor of Elemental Editing (, and my area of study was Religious…

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Dealing With Denial

I am spotless!

Image by Vanny via Flickr

By: Domenic Marbaniang

One issue that leaders face continually is the issue of denial. “Denial” may be defined as the act of asserting that something alleged is not true. Such assertion may either be verbal or behavioral, or both.  Psychiatrists refer to it as a kind of defense mechanism in which a person denies the reality of certain facts in order to avoid the discomfort associated with them. The denial may be of the reality of a fact or of the seriousness of it, or of both. In many cases, it also appears as a mechanism to avoid responsibility in a given situation. Though, lying is a direct form of denial, there are still others like false justification, caricaturizing, and minimizing that also fall into the category of denial. In this article, we’ll look at denial with regard to leadership situations.

Few examples of denial are as follows:

  • Adam denied his responsibility in the crime at Eden. He projected the blame on Eve, instead, to somehow escape divine censure.
  • Pharaoh denied the greatness of Jehovah despite being struck by the plagues. His political obsession with keeping Israelites as slaves made him minimize the seriousness of God’s command.
  • Saul refused to recognize the choice of David by God for the throne. He imagined that, somehow, what had been prophesied against him wouldn’t happen and that he would retain the throne.
  • The worshippers of Baal kept on hurting themselves in hope that their god would respond.
  • Gehazi denied being elsewhere when he had really gone after Naaman. His memory somehow denied the prophetic ability of Elisha as he succumbed to greed.
  • The Israelites kept doing things against the Law, despite the warnings of the prophets, saying “the Temple is here, the Temple is here”. They were denying God’s definition of holiness and used the Temple as a shield behind which they could do their works of darkness.
  • The people in the days of Haggai refused to build the Temple since they didn’t consider it to be very important.
  • The Pharisees and the Sadducees rejected the claims of Christ despite Scriptural and providential (miraculous) proofs.
  • Peter denied any relationship with Christ in face of persecution.
  • Felix refused to listen to Paul anymore when he began to speak about things pertaining to God’s Kingdom.

Often times, the act of denial leads to a kind of self-deception in which memory itself begins to get conformed to the false tendencies of the will. In such cases, a return is almost impossible since the imagination has already overshadowed reasonability. While denial may be looked at as a defense mechanism of the organism; yet, one must be careful to not deny the role of will in deciding for or against any ideas arising from a situation. One must remember that falsehood is never beneficial at the end.

Voluntary and Involuntary Denial

Voluntary denial refers to that denial which is willful and persistent. It persists in falsehood despite evidences contrary to it. Involuntary denial refers to that in which the decision of the will is absent or delayed. It is mechanical in nature and often is an initial response through a defense mechanism of the organism that seeks to avoid the unpleasant. For instance, when someone hears of the death of a beloved one, the initial response might be disbelief or denial. Such initial response of the organism prevents against hasty shock and might be preparative and directive in the ascertaining of truth.  Such denial doesn’t fall under the purview of morality since the will has not yet been brought into rational accountability in it.

Hamartiological Analysis

Spiritual Roots

In John 8: 44, Jesus declares the Pharisees to be the offspring of the devil. He says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (RSV).

Obviously, the devil was not their genetic father but a father in the sense of their being part of the rebellion of falsehood began by him. Falsehood and lying are natural to the devil since, by rejection of the truth of God, he has turned his back on all truth-values. The demonic kingdom operates basically on falsehood and influences the kingdoms of the world to do so. Worldly politics, religions, and businesses use falsehood as an instrument to gain and retain power over human minds. Jesus categorizes all such leadership practices as demonic in origin. Tendencies towards falsehood are sharp in any intellect that refuses the rule of the Spirit of God.

The Pharisees were incapable of acknowledging Jesus as the Christ of God because their inclinations were in favor of the devil’s desires – “Your will is to do your father’s desires,” He said.  All rejection of God-given leadership is an instance of demonic rebellion (1Jn. 3:12; Jude 1:11; 1Sam. 19:9ff).  Even within Christian leadership, Paul asks Timothy to not include a novice as a candidate for leadership; for it is possible that he become lifted up in pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1Tim. 3:6). Similarly, Christians who haven’t matured and are still carnal can’t properly accept or acknowledge the value of the other in the family of God since they are ruled by worldly standards of acceptance and egotistic desires for self-aggrandizement (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1ff) after the manner of the devil (Isa. 14:12-14).

Spirits of Deception

The tendency to reject demonic influence in hamartiological analysis (or analysis of sinful instances) is a mark left by secular theologies. Of course, there is the danger of extremism in both cases and one need to draw a line of balance. In the preface of his The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

The Bible clearly states that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1Tim. 4:1,2). The warning is against those who renounce the truth by embracing falsehood. This is one way in which cults arise claiming hold over some particularly distinct truth unsupported by the Scriptures. The elements of deception in the world that keep people blinded from the truth of God also fall into the purview of the kingdom of darkness.

The Bible, therefore, exhorts one to be watchful (1Pt. 5:8), never give an occasion to the devil through prideful or resentful anger (Eph. 4:26), and to beware of the wiles and deception of the devil (Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 11:13-15) who attempts to destroy the Body of Christ.

Selfish Carnal Passions

Jude talks about mockers in the last days (those who deride the things and offices of God) as those “who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19). The psalmist draws a picture of their departure from truth in Psalm 1:1:

  • Step 1: Walking after counsel of the ungodly: Placing worldly wisdom and views above the Scripture.
  • Step 2: Standing in the way of sinners: Expressing one’s approval of or neutral opinion regarding things that the Bible expressly calls “sin”.
  • Step 3: Sitting in the seat of the scornful: Assuming the position and the role of the rebel, the derider and opposer of all God’s truth.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” because it’s evident that the enemy of our souls can easily use situations in life to distort reality and confuse decisions. Such followers of sinful flesh easily rebel against all truth. The temptation to give in slowly to the current of worldly opinion is strong and leaders must beware of that.

Dealing with Denial in the Self

Jesus gave the first code of examination when He stipulated,  “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). He told the hypocrite to first remove the beam in his eye before he could remove the mote out of his brother’s eye (v. 5). Self-examination is crucial for a leader’s spiritual health.

Following are some questions that can help ascertain if one is a denier:

  1. Do I try to justify some action of mine that my conscience accuses me of (1Jn. 1:8-10)?
  2. Am I angry with someone for some fault of mine (Gen. 4:5-8)?
  3. Do I feel threatened by someone’s progress (1Sam. 18:7-9)?
  4. Do I have doubts regarding the Bible, God, and ministry (Ex. 32:1ff; Pro.30:9; 1Tim. 4:13-16)?
  5. Am I doing or saying things to make people think of me what is not really true of me (2Cor. 12:6)?
  6. Do I regard the Biblical warnings as not very serious, particularly in connection with my situation (Jer. 7:10)?
  7. Do I consider someone as inferior to or less important than me (Phil. 2:3)?
  8. Do I try to defame or slander someone (behind his back or openly) without regard to any proof in favor of him/her (Prov. 19:5,9)?
  9. Do I wish to be safe, regardless of what happens to others (2Sam. 23:16)?

Following are some ways to deal with denial in one’s self:

  1. Examine oneself in the light of Scriptures (1 Cor. 9:27; Ps.1:2).
  2. Confess and renounce all sin and false justifications (1Jn.1:9).
  3. Be committed to the truth in every situation (2Cor.13:8).
  4. Deny self and seek to please Christ alone in every situation (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 1:10).
  5. Encourage others and invest in them for the glory of God (1Thess.5:11).
  6. Confront sin in others; this guards against compromise (Eph. 5:11; 1Cor. 5:2; 1Tim.5:20).
  7. Make prayer, hearing from God, and fellowship a priority (1Thess. 5:17; Prov. 28:5; Heb.10:25).

Dealing with Denial in Others

One must beware of the following things when confronting denial in others:

  1. Do not be hasty in confrontation (Pro. 14:29; 29:20).
  2. Do not let hearsay cloud your opinion about the other. In fact, do not even let appearance influence your view of the other person for in doing that you can be partner in evil (Jn. 7:24; Pro. 17:4).
  3. Before confronting someone, make sure that you’re first of all in the right (Matt. 7:1-5).
  4. Do not confront unless you’re certain that you need to (Acts 24:25).
  5. Do not confront unless you’re confident that you’re equipped for it (1Tim. 3:16; Tit.1:9).
  6. Listen to the Holy Spirit before you’re going to confront and speak (Jn. 16:7, 8).

The steps of confrontation may be as follows:

  1. Recognize the individuality, dignity, and freedom of the other as given by God (Gen. 1:26).
  2. Be updated about the denier’s latest position. This is important since it’s possible that the denier might already have been feeling remorseful and has repented of his falsehood. One way to do that is to ask questions in that direction. Jesus provides a classic approach to this when He confronts Peter without talking about the three denials he made. On the contrary, He just asks him if he loved Him more than the other things; and when he replied in the affirmative, Christ asked him to work for Him (Jn.21:15-17).
  3. Be confident of your authority from God, not to destroy but to construct (2Cor. 13:10).
  4. Be gentle and caring (Matt.11:29;  2Tim. 2:24; Jas. 3:17)
  5. Only proceed if you’re sure that the person is open to reason, to a fair discussion (Isa. 1:18; Jas.3:17; Prov. 1:5; 10:8).
  6. Remember that God is the one in total control of the situation (Acts 5:34).
  7. Gently show the person the facts of his/her situation and give space for his/her approval or denial of them (Jn. 4:9-19).
  8. Remember that the person reserves the final decision to accept or reject the truth and God oversees it all (Prov. 16:1,2).
  9. Provide answers as long as you’re sure that the denier is honest about his/her questions (1Pt. 3:15).
  10. If you’re unable to answer sufficiently, do not fail to express your disapproval of falsehood in any case (Jn. 9:24-33).
  11. Seek the help of other leaders if necessary (Matt. 18:17).
  12. Aim at restoration (2Cor. 2:4-11).

© Domenic Marbaniang, Published in BASILEIA, April 2009

About the Author

Dean of Post-Graduate Studies, Professor of Theology, Religions, and Missions, Author, Editor of Theological Journal, and Pastor

Article Source: With Denial


RENEW Your Mind: My Story

By Marshae

God showed me the importance of renewing my mind in 2012. This was all before I had a personal relationship with God. It all began the day my brother died on Jan 25. I had recently moved to Atlanta for a job as well as to fully engage into a sexual lifestyle. On the day of my brother’s death, I begin to go into a deep depression. By April, I’d lost my job and my cousin and I was falling behind on bills because of my depression.

I decided that I was going to kill myself that April. I guess I should take a second to backtrack so that you will understand where the depression came from. I lost both parents before 10, so I was extremely tired of death at this point and my childhood was not the greatest after losing my father. I felt all life was about was coming her to die, so why would I wait, let me just take my own life. The day I decided to do it, I’d just taken 4 sleeping pills (I’ll be honest, I still was scared to do it) and working to take more when my phone rang.

It was a friend of mine I had met when I first moved to Atlanta and became very close with, he knew the mind frame I was in and was practically begging me to listen to a sermon of a new Pastor he had heard. I decided to listen to it. I remember stating before I played the sermon, “I know I should give, I know I should love, I know I should forgive, tell me something I don’t know!” Let’s just say God answered that for me that day. The sermon was called “Whose Report will you Believe.”

I was barely able to finish the sermon because of the sleeping pills. I know I feel asleep after the sermon, but I immediately called him the next day of waking up. I had never heard so much wisdom in my life, I talked to him for two hours and then Pastor Otha of Lionheart Church, invited me to the Church. I went to a bible study and again so much wisdom was given I re-dedicated myself back to God that night. After church service I introduced myself to him and I told him: “I lost my job, I need a job, Can you help me?”

His response was, “Give a person a fish, he eat for a day, Teach a person to fish, he eat for a lifetime, I’m going to teach you how to pray and manifest anything you need from God.” He showed me how to pray and explained a few things to me. That was in April. I received a part time job in May, but continued to do as instructed. In September 2012, every single thing I had prayed for came to past. There was not one thing I had on my list of things that I needed that God did not answer.

Not only did God give me my dream job but He also changed my life in every aspect. He truly did make me a new creature as the scripture says and the main concept of why this was possible was God showing me how to renew my mind daily in Him. There was a lot of things I had to unlearn and allow the Holy Spirit to show me. Because I was willing to learn these things God did some pretty amazing things in my life and He is still doing some amazing things. I am looking forward of all the amazing things He will continue to do. I pray that whoever reads this article, that you decide to renew your mind so that you may know the hope to which He called you to!

About the Author

Hello, My name is Marshae. I am the Founder of RENEW Your Mind Ministry and just trying to spread the gospel and education of God through as… (show bio)


It Pays To Walk In Love Today

By Ngozi Nwoke

Is it worth walking in love? Some people think that walking in love is weakness and that they will get nothing in return for all their efforts. However, the truth is that those who enjoy the most are those who are walking in Love. This is because God’s attention is drawn to those who obey His commandments; and one of His commandments is that we walk in love – 1 John 4:21.

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister – Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him… – 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)

It really pays to walk in love. God is love and He is looking for people through whom He can channel His love to men. And just like the saying goes, ‘the pipe that carries cold water is first cooled’, every channel of the love of God is first blessed with God’s blessings. Remember, the husband man who labours must be first to partake of the fruit, (2 Timothy 2:6)

The challenge is that some people consider only the answers to their prayers yet to come, as reward for their labor of love; meanwhile many other blessings, favour and healings, etc., had been showered on them. There are some things that money cannot buy but God is more than able to take care of them. God truly rewards His faithful followers, even with their desired answered prayers.

There are several scriptural examples of people who walked in love and were handsomely rewarded. We will look at a few examples:

Rahab – Joshua 2:1-21, 6:22-25

She hid the Israelite spies to Jericho and spared them from being killed. God rewarded her by sparing her life too and she ended up as one of the descendants of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mordecai – Esther 6:1-11

He walked in love towards King Ahasuerus by exposing the evil planned against him and the King’s life was spared. God rewarded him greatly by honouring him before the whole kingdom at the very time evil was planned against him by Haman.

Dorcas – Acts 9:36-41

She showered great love on people, especially the widows, that when she died they refused to allow her remain dead. They sent for Peter whom God used to bring her back to life.

Cornelius – Acts 10:1-48

He gave much alms to the people, prayed to God always; and was of a good report among the nation of Jews. God saw his heart and his good works and decided to reward him not only with physical things but also with eternal life. While Peter was speaking, he and his household were saved and were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Jesus Christ – Philippians 2:5-11

Christ, our perfect example, suffered and gave His life for us all. And God gave Him a name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee bows down and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


My little contributions in people’s lives have been seriously rewarded. For example, I showed hospitality to some people some years back and I am still reaping the benefits. When I relocated back to my country where they were, they were all there to help me settle down quickly. I enjoyed awesome favour of God! I give God praise.

In conclusion, it pays to walk in love. God, who said we should not owe any man anything but love (Romans 13:8), does not owe. God certainly reward every form of love you show. Decide to walk in love, not minding the circumstances or what people will say, and God who sees in secret will reward you openly – Mathew 6:4.

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About the Author

Ngozi Nwoke is a teacher and a counselor. She has a passion to teach people how to enjoy peace, God’s love and christian living for more…


How to have an Intimate relationship with Christ whom you cannot see?

The following article seems to take the Bible a bit more literally than I would. But I post it because it makes a good point about being guided by the Holy Spirit. I have sometimes wondered just how spiritual people can be when they do not believe in God. For me, a recognition of being guided by the Holy Spirit was the true beginning of my mature spiritual life. And without that, I was just like an unfocussed infant. —MC

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

Child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to have an Intimate relationship with Christ whom you cannot see?

By prophet3333 (Written by Joseph Ho, March 28th 2015)

Jesus always speaks with analogy whenever he wants to explain the concept in the Kingdom of God. He uses such examples as an indirect way to explain that the Kingdom of God is everywhere and also within us. In order to have an intimate relationship with him, we have to remain in the Vine. He is the Vine and we are the branches. By this he means that if we are cut off from him, we will lose the life giving support which comes from the main vine and the roots. A branch that is not connected to the vine will have no more life giving force or nutrients to support it. So the kingdom of God is like a vine with all its branches, and it is also how we should lead our life in him.

John 15 King James Version (KJV)

15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Jesus explains things in simple understandable principle, yet even theologians cannot understand what he is trying to say since it is so simply mentioned. So if the branches have to remain with the Vine, how are we to be connected to Christ when he is no longer on earth? If Jesus were alive on earth today, it would be easy to have a relationship with him since we can all call him, write to him and spent time with him by talking to him or listening to him whenever he gives a seminar. But this is no longer so. So how can anyone have a relationship with a person who is no longer visible or easily contactable? Such are the question of ordinary folks who have no education or any deep understanding of what the bible is talking about.

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded by angels, by Giaquinto, 1750s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The process of having a relationship with a saviour who no longer can be seen easily is indeed a mystery. Have you tried having an intimate relationship with your grandmother who has died? What would you do? You probably visit her grave, see some past photos and try to remember the times you had with her that you cherished. But the amount of material you have of her is limited because you didn’t get to say thanks. And you love her much but it never even occurred to you that she needs to hear those things from you either. When you were younger everyone lived for you and you never gave it another thought to return the gratitude for their time spent with you. So how can anyone love Jesus whom they have never spent any time with? We need to read the bible which kept an account of who he is.

Jesus although we know he is alive as a believer is someone who does not come to visit his sheep often. This is the truth, as I have asked many believers if they have seen Christ in their lives even once, and the answer is no; they have not seen Jesus at all. Even the most sincere of Christians and even pastors and evangelists, have not seen Jesus in their lives. So having an intimacy with Christ does not include seeing Jesus in their lives, if seeing Jesus was a requirement then 99.99 percent of all Christians do not have a relationship with Him. I only know that true apostles will see Jesus directly because he alone commissions them for his purpose. These are the real ones with the power to operate in signs and wonders. Then what was Jesus saying that we should be connected to him as the branches are to the Vine?

First of all if we are interested in the person of Christ we should know what he was teaching on how to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The bible contains much of his teachings on how to become his people. So we need to put in his teachings into our minds and hearts. Then Jesus said, we have to be baptized into his Kingdom in his name. After this baptism in water, Jesus promised to baptize us again in the Holy Spirit by sending us his Holy Spirit to teach, guide and remind us of what he has taught us in the bible. The evidence that we have this Holy Spirit is we can speak in tongues and we can hear his voice. When will we receive the Holy Spirit? It is written in the book of Luke that whoever asks the father for the Holy Spirit, he will give unto them this good gift. It is then upon the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we can begin to have an intimate relationship with God. We need to ask for the baptism in the Holy Spirit which Jesus can give himself.

Luke 11:13New International Version (NIV)

13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Matthew 3:11New International Version (NIV)

11 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mark 1:8New International Version (NIV)

8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once we can hear, we must learn to obey and move with the Spirit as he guides us. The very first thing that the Spirit will lead is in the area of Sin and Repentance. Sin separates us from the Holy Spirit of God so he would not hear from us. It is essential that we get deliverance from such iniquities that hinders us from having a close relationship with God.  Jesus has already paid this price so we can enter into the presence of God. The deliverance of such Sin is the first step. Once we get delivered, he will convict us of the need to learn from various different ministries that he would put into our paths. We must not limit or restrict how an what God will put into our ways to learn of what he wants us to have. He will put spiritual wisdom into our spirit so we can get involved in his kingdom work. Deliverance from spiritual bondage and oppression is an essential step into intimacy with him. We no longer need to worship Sin and be obedient to its torment once we are in Christ. This step may take a few months to a few years depending on how fast you response to his conviction. It also depends on your willingness to give up the particular Sin in your life.

When we begin to hear from God, we have to respond. We have to turn towards the burning bush to investigate if it is of God, like in the days of Moses. The next step would be the availability of our time and resources to do his errands. God will prompt us to do some errands for him so that he can authenticate his voice in our lives. There is a price to pay for being obedient to his voice. It requires your time and your resources. He will instruct you to do small little things, like giving some money to someone, give a book, speak to someone, and call a friend, and so on. But have no fear; God does not call us to do things beyond our means. We will be uncomfortable in the beginning, as it requires us to come out of our comfort zone to be bold to do things to strangers, people whom you have no prior relationship with. Only when you respond and obey the voice then he would speak to you more and give you a word of wisdom to minister to the poor, needy, oppressed and depressed. The gift and intimacy will develop through our own conscious effort to exercise hearing from God by our actions.

Giving of material things and resources is easy, but giving a word of knowledge is not so, as it requires us to hear accurately and with confidence. The fear of speaking something foolish is a greater fear to overcome for a new believer. But if you would not do this, then God will not be able to advance our spiritual intimacy with him. If you want an intimate relationship with God, he will take you for your word and commence to send angels to prompt you.

John 10:27King James Version (KJV)

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

The Holy Family with God the Father and the Ho...

The Holy Family with God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You will begin to feel things in your heart which you have never felt before. It will be like something which just drops into your spirit and you suddenly have an urge to do something for someone. Anything that is good comes from God; so there is no need to worry if you hear from the devil, as long as you address your prayers to God in Jesus’ name, Satan cannot intercept your messages. The name of Jesus is the gate to God in the heaven. This is an assurance from God, else no one can speak to God, we are given the password to address our prayers to God, and that Code name is Jesus, Yahushua. Jesus shared this name with God, his Father, because it was his Father’s own name.

John 17:11New International Version (NIV)

11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

If you have no intentions to hear from God then don’t pray or ask him, because when you ask him, he expects you to obey his advice. Else, he may never speak to you again, since you do not trust him to take his advice. Remember you are talking to the Almighty God, King of Kings and he has no time for fools.  There is any other advice I can give to confirm the word from the Lord other than by using two or three witnesses. That means we can ask for any confirmation by seeking two or three witnesses. These witnesses can be word from the bible, prophetic word from man of God, pastors sermon, information that comes from other people speeches, streets signs, emails, as long as it’s not from the same source, it is a witness. The witness does not need to be a human they could be facts or given words, even dreams.

2 Corinthians 13:1New International Version (NIV)

13 This will be my third visit to you. ‘Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

You can never be intimate with God if you cannot hear from him. That means there is no communications between you and Jesus, so you cannot be intimate with him. Reading the bible will not cause you to be intimate with him, it will caused you to know more about him but it will never replace a close relationship with him through communicates. You prayed, God answered and he tells you to so something and you did it. Many don’t have any breakthroughs because they think they know the mind of God, so they go ahead to do something of their own righteousness just to please God. God is not interested in the things you would do for him; he is only interested in the things he commanded you to do on his behalf. If you are still interested in the things you want to do for him then he cannot develop a relationship with you because you are still in your self-righteousness.

Romans 10:3King James Version (KJV)

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Romans 14:17New International Version (NIV)

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Philippians 1:10-11New International Version (NIV)

10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

Detail – Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eva are represented bellow Jesus-Christ Ceiling painting made by Daniel Gran (1694-1757). Post-processing: perspective and fade correction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In God contains all the wisdom of the world. He originally wanted to teach Adam about the godly wisdom but Adam would not listen to him instead he listened to the bone of his flesh, Eve, and proceeded to get this knowledge himself, thus he lost a great teacher. As God has all the wisdom of this world, he does not need any counsellor so he does not need to bless our desires and ideas but as he has plans to prosper us, we do need to follow him. How good it is to have the Almighty God as our adviser, so we do not need to worry and be concern about the way we do things as he can command legions of angels to guard us in all our ways when we follow him. He is better than all of the world’s richest mentor for he commands the insects, the wild animals, the natural storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, the waters and the seas, the rain and the invisibles elements to give us the support we need.

When we hear from him and obey his commands than we prosper. Yet, most people still do not learn this truth, they asked God to bless their plans and then when they get into troubles, they asked God to deliver them from the foolishness of their own plans. They get into the cycle of falling down and asking God for help. This shows that they have not learnt this truth. I would rather follow the plans of God so that my life will be smoother and more pleasant knowing that God is with me thus avoiding many sleepless nights caused by disobedience. But to follow God’s plan, we must be attuned to his ways, and be able to listen to him with intimacy and reverence. Yet, even though many people know and understand this truth, they have not been committed to take the time to polish their listening ears, so they do not hear perfectly and thus do not prosper holistically also. But they do expect God to answer their prayers immediately when something goes wrong, then the process of asking God for help never ends. This repeating of getting into troubles and needing deliverance is evidence of an un-renewed mind. They followed their own plans and thus do not submit to the perfect will of God so their plans failed; all because they could not hear from God and obey him.

Now why would God bless us? He wants to show the whole world a testimony of a man who listens and follows his commandments, decrees, and statues. For eyes have no seen, ears have not heard, what God will do for a man who follows him whole heartedly. Only when you have an intimate relationship with God by obeying him after you can hear from him, will you then mature into a great spiritual powerhouse for God, to be used according to his will. A sanctified vessel fit for honour. The Psalms 91 in the bible belongs to those who have an intimate relationship with God and the benefits are real. He is your support and strong high tower, and no one can come against you all the days of your life. Make him your real father, a father who is Almighty and invincible who can call upon anything to save you from your enemies. He is the kind of backing that any men would love to have but not many have his undivided attention because all have fallen short of his expectation. I testify to this truth, God is real and he can do anything to protect you from harm’s way. For he promises to tell his servants what event is to come and when it will come so that they will escape the disaster that will befall these places of wrath. Those who walked with God are blessed.

Psalm 91 King James Version (KJV)

91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

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About the Author

Numbers 33:33, Job 33:33, Ezekiel 33:33. Apostolic, prophetic Ministry, Dreams and Dreams Interpretation. Author of My Sheep Hear My Voice, God’s Gift to the Chinese People.

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Living in the shadow of Judas

Español: Beso de Judas.

Español: Beso de Judas (Judas Kiss) Image: Wikipedia

By Gerry Legister

When a person like Judas dies his character lives on in other individuals, who are portraying symptoms of those same characteristic traits, they are reborn all over again with similar deep rooted guile.

Jesus answered them, “I chose you, the Twelve, didn’t I? Yet one of you is a devil.” John 6:70

Don’t hesitate to flee when you see the evil shadow of someone sinister trying to cover you, when a tree cast its shadow over a tiny part of the ground, nothing good grows there. Shadow is a dark place cause by the absent of light, and if you live in the shadow of someone, you may follow their bad examples and hardly get notice for the good that you are doing.

Don’t live in the shadow of a brother or a sister, there achievements and their abilities belongs to them, but you are unique and no one can take your place. God has placed you on this earth for a reason, try to find out what are the cause and reason that you are here.

We properly know the story well enough to repeat it over and over to our children. It is a sad story, and one that we are all familiar with, and the expression is that a person who is called a Judas is not a nice person to know, for he sold his soul to the Devil.

Some people may have strong disagreement about the final eternal state of the person who was called Judas, one of the twelve apostle of Jesus, who notoriously betrayed his master with a sentimental kiss, his reward for doing so was a mere thirty pieces of silver, hardly enough to make deposit on a new house.

The reason sinners don’t come to Christ easily, it is because somewhere in the back of their minds there are nagging doubts about certain things that they see Christians are doing, which just doesn’t seemed right, some do their wrongs in clandestine corners.

Others are bolder with their notorious behaviour, and they will climb the professional stage, and make their act believable, by reinforcing it with pride of ethics and the legality of their position.

Many who ply their craft this way, see the church as a business for profiting off the world, and whoever gets in their way will get tread upon. This could be the person who has help trained and nurtured them, until they were able to stand in the assembly of those they could only have admired before, but sooner or later when an investigation is on the table, the fame makes them unable to resist the bait, and like the ruthless practices of some business operations, they are persuaded to crush anyone who gets in their way.

They have all accounts prepare for scrutiny, for the love of money is the root of all evil 1 timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, are thirsty for position in society and in their career prospect, have wandered from the faith and betrayed their integrity, sold their family and friends for what they can get out of it.

Sometimes it’s not so much the money that they are looking for, but the sheer satisfaction of seeing an individual being destroyed and humiliated, this makes them feel important, and make others look on them as someone who has an interest in seeing things improve.

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” John 13:27

But the backlash is that they will pierced themselves with many grief’s later on down the road in life when they have been found out. Craving for the position of others that they were not called to serve in, but they will use extortion and start hiding behind money, and this makes the greedy bring ruin to their home.

The deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:19

The Judases of this century do not operate by careless leverage, they use indirect diversion, career demolition experts, financial backing of those whom they are serving, with carefully planned surprises. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

For example none of the other disciples of Jesus knew what Judas had in his heart to do, they were not aware of the dark gutter into which he wanted to plunge Jesus, his mild tempter gave no clue, but his soul was in utter darkness. In comparison to Peter; who was walking in the light, being loud and brassy, but meant no harm to anyone, Judas was quiet and unassuming, nevertheless, he had found himself in a privilege position, and he was going to make use of his good fortune.

Most of the time the person you least suspected is the one with the jealous agenda.

False friends can show signs to make them appear genuine, they make every effort to be perfect in everything that they do, hardly putting a foot wrong, and you would only know that they are false, when you scrutinise their attitude towards certain things, they are armed with great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the very elect, they are trust worthy, reliable, would never knowingly let you down.

But beware of the wolf in sheep clothing, they will sell you out for position, prestige and money. Friends selling out friends for a handful of barley, what sorrow awaits them? For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother Able? And like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, they will perish in their rebellion. Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Some people will have ask the question, did Judas had a choice or was he predestined to do this evil deed? It’s not such a bad question when you think that there are people living today, who harbour those same type of behaviour as Judas did, we cannot say for certainty that we have seen the last of Judas, for he may yet rise again in the resurrection, but what we can agree upon, is that Judas was one of the chosen disciple of Jesus.

For many are invited, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

Many people are called to be disciples of Christ, but not all are chosen, and whiles they are called, they may not venture to believe in the deity of the Lord, they may just be kingdom admirers, with no real relationship with the Holy Ghost, for if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you would want to behave in a way which demonstrate loyalty to the cause in which you are involved with.

The scripture points to the evidence that Judas never believe in Jesus and he may not have been convinced that Jesus was the messiah, But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.

The nature of Judas was easily read by Jesus, this foreknowledge of issues is no accident, and Jesus was conscious about what was going to happen to him, he was well informed about his betrayal by one of his own, his death and resurrection. And failing the sympathy for Judas, for many of us having this knowledge would only have led many into enmity.

The lack of faith by Judas speaks volumes, and the same holds true for many today who are living in the shadow of Judas. When you read the synoptic gospels, there is clear indication that Judas not only lacked faith in Christ, but he also had little or no personal relationship with Jesus. But those consistent with a good relationship with Jesus were always listed first.

The pairing of Mary and Judas creates a rhetoric of contrast, for they are both so very different.

The only brief dialogue documented between Jesus and Judas, involves Judas being rebuked by Jesus after his greedy remarks to Mary. When Judas accost Mary for wasting an expensive perfume on Jesus, it was out of his greed to steal he exposed his true feelings about his spiritual commitment. But Mays humble devotion is contrasted by Judas critical stinginess of insincere ambition.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

We will be just like Judas if we fail to recognize that Jesus came into this world, to die for our sins and destroy the works of the devil, and only he alone can provide forgiveness for our sins.

So in the final summary, let us hear the conclusion about Judas, and be warned about close alliance with those characters. The Old Testament prophecy said.

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” psalms 41:9

Judas was consumed with envy and greed to the point of betraying the trust and loyalty of Jesus, and his fellow disciples, as we have seen in John 12:5 Judas may have desired to follow Jesus simply because he saw the great crowds of people following him, and perhaps believed he could profit from the collections that are taken for the group. In addition to that, Judas he had entertained political ambitions.

He may have followed Jesus hoping to benefit from assumption that most people had at the time, believing the coming Messiah was going to overthrow Roman occupation and take on a position of ruling over the nation of Israel. But Judas betrayal was known to God, and it was planned before hand as the means by which Jesus would be killed.

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About the Author

I love creative writing, it is just a wonderful way of expressing myself. I have been writing from a tender age, and therefore it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. To share my articles with others. Writing is a treasured passion inside of me that will never die. I hope one day I can say something that will help others to appreciate the gift of life. In a career spanning over 20 years in Pastoral work. Gerry has decided it is time to enhance his spiritual outlook on broader subjects, and has recently collaborated on a new spiritual manuscript with a friend, compiling and presenting a thorough research work on the book of Revelation.


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