Passion Week Musing: The Dangerousness of Jesus


Jesus was a dangerous.  Think about it. See he came to change things. His mission was to make things different. He posed risk to those that were in charge. He posed such risk that Herod the Great killed many infant males to try and kill one. He was so dangerous that the crowd tried to kill him on more the one occasion.  Most had hoped that his dangerousness would mean the end of Rome and re-establishment of Israel as a country and kingdom. However, that was not what yes was about. He did not meet those expectations. This also made him dangerous.  It was his dangerousness that led to his death. He lived God’s way. He was concerned for each individual. He loved and demonstrated concern for others over appearances of righteousness. He was so dangerous that they decided that He needed to die for the good of all. They considered Him so dangerous that the tried him at night, examining ultimately if He was one who is leading Israel astray and worthy of death. They decided He was and assured his death. Jesus was dangerous.

Jesus is a dangerous.  Think about it. He changes things.  Following him involves loss of control and submission. There is great risk in following Jesus.  If you truly follow Jesus your life is will be the same.  There is no one in history who unsettles people like even the name of Jesus does. Mention of the name can bring unease and unsettle others. See following Jesus involves trust and faith. It involves a belief without absolute certainty. It involves following a different way and going against the ways of the world. Jesus is dangerous.

Jesus will be dangerous. Think about it. There is a time coming when Jesus returns. It will be a time for those that do not follow him to fear for there will be wrath untold. The twisting on creation due to the impacts of life outside of dependence on God will be undone. All of creation will not go untouched. There will be wrath. There will be judgment. There will be making things right. Never before will there be any greater danger and no greater power unleashed.  Jesus will be dangerous

Now that you have done some thinking. Realize that to some the danger of Jesus is the making of a villan because there is great danger. He does not meet expectation. If you follow Him you are good, if not, an enemy. Either he is Lord and King or not.  See, there are many who want to live their own way. Many who think that they are good enough for they care about and try to look out for others and do other nice deeds.  How dare the creator of the universe be told to show self and come in such a manner? How dare He require complete surrender? Yet, Jesus brings forth life. He sets things right and in all that danger He alone brings true peace. For all the danger that is there, the danger only exists if you reject and turn away. And there are those who have thought about it, recognize it and follow Jesus, this ever so dangerous one. The letting go brings far more than any risk and true life and peace are gained.  So, yes, Jesus is dangerous, but in the end He alone brings about true health and wholeness. So accept the dangerousness and surrender. Once you do you will never be the same and it will be good.

Video Selection: On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

Well God has brought a new song into my mind during this time.  My heart is heavy for my Dad and Janie Blake.  I feel ongoing immense emotional pain but know that anything here is but fragile and temporary. All hope rests solely on Jesus the Christ.  There is nothing else that stands.

Musings on the Clash between homosexuality and Christianity

This article will quickly be the most controversial article published on the blog. It will be controversial because what this article is reflecting on is highly controversial, that being the ongoing clash between the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community and Christianity. The reason for this article is because the clash has been in the news recently, particularly in the Twin Cities. This month of June is now nationally recognized as GLBT pride month.  This weekend the Twin Cities holds an annual Pride Festival.  So the topic is a central one to what is currently transpiring culturally.

The impetus of this article comes from two recent local news items.  One is about evangelist Brian Johnson being allowed by court to give away Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Festival.  Brian Johnson had run a booth and passed out Bibles and discussed with individuals matters of faith. He had been a vendor at the festival for ten years but last year they no longer let him have a booth because he talked about folks repenting from Homosexuality. He distributed literature instead; an action that they tried to block via court but court indicated was allowed.  Now Brian Johnson did attend the festival and talked to others in a non-disruptive manner. The Star Tribune quoted him as saying “We’re not interested in preaching, and we never were,” Johnson said. “We’re not here for all that stuff in the news. We’re the ones that meet and have honest conversations with people, and we have our own rules that we go by as far as conduct is concerned.” Now there was a person at the Pride Festival that was more disruptive and typical of the kind of actions that can occur in the clash between homosexuality and Christianity.

Another news story is about Pastor Tom Brock of Hope Lutheran Church being outed in the magazine LAVENDER as having same-sex attraction and reporting to a twelve step group that he “fell into temptation in Solvakia.” This again highlights the clash as the Pastor has repeatedly spoken against homosexuality and the ELCA recent decision to allow active homosexual clergy. In order to obtain the information, the magazine reporter joined the twelve step group Pastor Brock was a part of and then wrote about what was said in the confines of the group in a very un-flattering article. Varied articles say that the action was justified because Pastor Brock teaches against homosexuality yet is someone who has same-sex attraction. The response seems to be that the reason Pastor Brock preached about homosexuality as being sinful was because of his own issues as a reaction of his own same sex attraction.  This again highlights the severity of the clash and the divergent views to the point where unethical behavior is justified because of one mans teaching from a Biblical perspective.

In the past couple months Jennifer Knapp made the news as outing herself as a lesbian.  Ray Boltz did the same a few years ago. Recently http://www.downthelinezine.com/  printed a periodical interviewing dUg Pinnock, Sean Doty, and Rick Alba related to matters of homosexuality, God, and the Church.  The articles (note:article is a download) are an interesting read and demonstrate how the clash exists within the church.

Now there are several issues that can be examined here but the point of this article is to really examine essential elements of the clash and how it applies as a whole.  This article is not going to really focus on the development of same-sex attraction nor will it focus on similar controversial issues.  However, before examining the clash it is important to note that this author believes homosexuality to be a sin and immoral.  However, the sin is not rated more sinful then other areas humans fall short of God’s standards. The sin in particular is one of a sexual nature of which there is many other types of sexual immorality that Christians battle daily. In understanding how to love and be salt and light to others, it is important to get an idea of what are the layers of the clash. What really is in conflict?  Why is the issue of homosexuality such a hot issue? The answers to these questions really come down to understanding the heart of the clash.

In examining the issue, the clash between Christianity and homosexuality really has four key components: will, desire, love, and identity. These issues of this clash are not just about this one issue but really are reflective to all clashes of the world and God’s kingdom. So when read the examination of the four components, please recognize that it also reflects other conflicts and areas of immorality. Homosexuality is used to highlight the essential elements of the conflicts in the four key component areas because the clash and conflicts are clearly observable.

The first key component to examine is that of will which really becomes a conflict between self and surrender.  It is about doing what self wants or surrendering to God and His ways.  Jesus stated in Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. In reading articles and trying to understand the clash, it is clear that there is an element of seeking after what is good for self and holding on to it. This stands in contrast to surrendering every part of life to God.  It is a choice to seek after what makes self feel better or being able to give all to God no matter what the apparent cost to self.  In dealing with temptation, including all forms of sexual immorality, Hebrews 12:4 states In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. This suggests that no only is there a battle of the will but that battle is tough and can even be painful. It is often far easier to choose that which feels good or is beneficial to self verses walking in faith and trust and enduring the battle at all costs.  Ultimately it is a matter of looking out for own good or trusting God and following His ways. This clash is very evident with homosexuality for ultimately there is an act of the will to embrace the same-sex attraction or reject it and then choices to act on the attraction or reject it. Now many point to the fact that the attraction is not voluntary or asked for as a reason to minimize the elements of the dynamic of will, but yet ultimately there comes many points of choice, there comes acts of the will. 

 Now the second key component is that of desire which results in a clash between following the heart or following truth. In this day and age there is an increasing focus on that which restrains passion or desire is immoral. The desires of the heart are primary and anyone that would hold back any pleasure from another is evil.  Society is fixated on suffering being the greatest evil and our desires for pleasure are the greatest good.  It is becoming the way of the world but is not the way of truth. When it comes to the things we are attracted to and attach ourselves, this is the function of the heart. The problem with the heart is that it is twisted and not interested in what is true, only in satisfaction. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) states The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  This verses shows that the core each of us is twisted and polluted and that we can desire things that are not for our benefit. This clearly is the case within homosexuality but is seen in other facets of life including an abused spouse. It is a difficult to break from that which is harmful and is often connected to issues of the heart. So this clash becomes a matter of people who say they did not ask for the desire but it is there and there is pleasure in seeking the desire and pain in resisting. The heart often wins out over the truth.  When the heart does not want what is in line with truth, there is a significant clash.  Going against the desires of the heart is painful. Why the heart desires what it desires is complicated because there are several factors that go into developing attachment and varied desires. The fact is our desires are not truth but sometimes are treated as such.  Now with regards to homosexuality that desire is a loving relationship and attraction to same sex or pleasure obtain from same-sex relationships but that very desire is a twist and leads to distorted views and a clash in perspectives on love.

The third key component of the clash between homosexuality and Christianity is that between perspectives of love.  On one hand is the view of “romantic love” and that everyone should be able to experience love as they see fit. Those teaching the immorality of homosexuality are seen as folks who present an unreasonable barrier to people who simply want to love someone else. Some might even argue that part of the definition of God is that God is love than opposing expressions of love is going contrary to God. Yet, the Bible is quite clear regarding same sex relations as being immoral and against his design, such that He refers to it is called an abomination. However, society today elevates the romantic relational love. It is the be all and end all of society. It serves two purposes that of facilitating pleasure and that of establishing a legacy through children, or in other words pleasing self and creating extensions of self.  The love of the Bible is of a different sort. It is love that gives of self even at great cost. It is a love that would die in the place of another.  It is love that touches the lives of others to build them up and point them to walking in truth. The love of God in fact is not about love without limits and just doing what feels good. The love of God is a perfect balance of caring for others to build them up and pointing them to the path of truth. It is a love that is able to set and point toward limits to keep others from danger. What happens if a parent does not set limits with a child?  The clash here then becomes focus on the Christian perspective one of depriving others do to pointing out behavior that is harmful. And yes, there are indeed harmful consequences in bodily, relational, and spiritual ways yet, even pointing out those consequences becomes a matter of restraining from desire to love.

The last component is that of identity. The clash escalates to the point where it is more than just about will, desire, and love. The clash escalates because the matter has become one of identity. Being gay has become an identity and being all about who you are as a person. It has a complete culture even to go along with the identity. The thing is once it take on a matter of identity, once it become who you are rather than a matter of sexual attraction and behavior it takes on a tone that it is something that is unchangeable.  Now undoing twisted attachment and attraction is not easy and takes deep healing, it is possible. However, if it becomes a matter of identity then it becomes important to not resist, for you are resisting who you are, or some would say who you were created to be. This is part of the negative comments directed at Pastor Tom Brock. He is tempted with same sex attraction, yet he does not accept this as his identity. He works to stand against his temptation, and yes sometimes falters. However, folks comment and engaging in outing him to say a “ha ha you are speaking against who you are and therefore a hypocrite.” It really points to a focus on believing there is an unchangeable matter of identity and rejecting it is rejecting self and you cannot change who you are. Yet, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:6-11(ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  In Jesus, through sanctification it is possible to change. Christianity does teach that change is possible even for the hardest, most vile of people if one dies to self and surrenders to Jesus completely.  It is then that we become a 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  Once we are surrender to Jesus, we have a new identity and we become a new creation. And yes, in the process all of us still walk with day by day choices and have an ongoing process of cleansing and sanctification. It is a completely different mindset than surrendering to an identity because identity cannot change. In Jesus, identity does change.

Now all that being said, there are sincere and true followers of Jesus lost in this clash and fully embracing homosexuality. There are a multiple reasons and really getting down to the heart of the matter is difficult. Yet, there is clear pointing out in scripture that embracing homosexuality is equivalent of exchanging the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25) It is an example of what is to come, people setting aside truth for deception. Now by saying this, not all who are lost in the sin have fully crossed the line of complete exchange but only God knows the heart and whether an exchange of truth for a lie has occurred. Ultimately it will come down to who and what you surrender to and what you honor and uphold: God’s truth or the way of self.  This is true in all battles of sin and self.  Now for people who find themselves like Tom Brock and others, and seeking to grow in truth and overcome sexual sin of any sort, there is a good resource to pursue at www.harvestusa.org.  But know well for each of us there exists a fight and a battle to stand firm and not cross over to the flames of hell.  Recently a good brother stated the enemy is patient and will look for an opportune time. This is a good picture of a roaring lion seeking to devour. A roaring line is one protecting territory, so in order to be devoured you have to enter the place of danger. This fits with proverbs and directions to not even go down the street of one that will seek to seduce you. Homosexuality is no different than any other trap of the devil. Change is possible but above all whoever and wherever you are surrender to the King of Kings, true, deep change is possible to be altered from any identity.

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Memorial Day 2010 Musing

Today was Memorial Day, which is a day to Honor those have died in battle serving the country and serve in the armed forces. It is understandable and respectful to honor and pray for those serving in the military. Yet for Christians the fact is we really do not belong to any country but the Kingdom of God and sometimes we can lose that perspective. Personally, it is a good time to reflect on those who have served the Kingdom of God well. Last year on Memorial Day some specific Martyrs were honored in this thread: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/in-memoriam-christian-martyrs/. This year want to emphasize all those that have gone before us. It is a good time to remember the past and the great crowd of witnesses and use it to inform are present and let us prepare for what is ahead.

The list of those that have gone before us is long and great going back to Abel and way through various people. Many who are well known, many more who are not known. What do they all have in common, the stood firm, they abide in faith, and they serve God’s kingdom well. Take a read of Hebrews 11.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 

The long list here in Hebrews 11 is just a small portion of the great crowd of witnesses, those who have gone first and stood firm in faith. They are all regarded to be people who walked by faith. They all believed that God exists and rewards. In other words believed God is who He says He is. Now it is important to note that in the list of these people of faith they had not received yet that what was promised. They stood pain, suffering, and torture. Sometimes delivered, sometimes they did not. Ultimately the focus of the faith is not on what they measured or felt but on the surety of God. It was not about what happened in the here and now on this tangible earth. It was not even about nations or places. It was about God. Learn from the great crowd of witnesses, for while they may have stumbled and faltered at times in their lives, they stayed the course.

Examining the great crowd of the faithful, we find encouragement to stand firm. We find direction that informs us of what it takes to stand firm in the faith, to persevere. In this day and age it is easy to get upset over God failing to meet some personal desire in a way or time of your pleasing. We can easily focus on things of self. The focus though needs to be on God and God alone. God does reward; God does provide; God loves us deeply. What helps us to stand firm, today is not losing focus that it is not about us, but about God. It is not about our own ideas, but God’s Kingdom. It will get difficult and hard times are coming. Any one of us is called and marked with a life as a Martyr, and even if not, we will all face pain and suffering. Difficulties are certain. But God’s faithfulness is more certain, for He will turn all things together for the good even if you do not see it.

So upon looking at the great crowd of witnesses and letting it inform our choices, when we look ahead we know that difficulty is coming. The great crowd of witness suffered much we will not be different. So right now it is a time of preparation. It is time to grow in faith and knowledge of God, for there is a time come soon of testing and trial. Deception will be at every turn. Darkness will grow and reign. Good will be called evil, and evil good. Yet, we are to stand firm. We are to be sober minded, alert, and clear. This comes from growing in God and growing faith. You grow in faith through growing in relationship with God. There are many obstacles that come, many traps set, and falling asleep is easy. But God’s call is for us to endure. Perhaps, before the time of trial and the seventh week some who are faithful will be removed and spared further trial, but do not focus on this hope. Prepare to endure till the end. Make your faith and calling sure. Test yourself and continue to root out and discard all that is untrue. Continue to let the Holy Spirit cleanse you and draw you more clearly aware of the ways you fall short in loving God and others in a pure and whole way.

So in summary, in the Kingdom of God learn from those who have gone before, the great crowd of witnesses. Let them shape your step and path today with a call to draw nearer to God and prepare for what is to come. God is in control but victory is already won. God is faithful and His reward is sure. It will be a privilege to receive His reward and then lay it back down at His feet (see a vision reported on this blog.) We serve in surrender to the Greatest commander: the God of Love. And if by chance you do not, now is the time, surrender to the King of Kings.

Prayer request: Remember Haiti as attention fades

Yes, the posts about stuff going on in Haiti have faded. There continues to be ongoing work and people being touched in amazing ways.  Please do go to http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/   and read some of the stories of God’s working to touch peoples lives with love and aid in the midst of crisis. 

It is even know more important than ever to pray for those in Haiti as the worldwide attention fade.  Sure there will continue to be stories and news accounts of what is going on down there, but the attention of the people of the United States and world will move elsewhere. Haiti as a new story that becomes entertainment and something folks talk about or spend time watching has passed the climax post and will fade more and more into background.  The search and rescue is over and other matters grab attention.  As attention fades, do take even more time to remember the people and struggle in Haiti.  Pray for the physical, psychological, and spiritual health of the people and those serving them such as the Livesay family.  Remember that as many orphans have or are in process of leaving Haiti, there are now countless more.  Remember a city was essentially destroyed.  So please take time and remember Haiti and pray.

NEWS AND COMMENTARY ~ Napolitano: Humanitarian parole granted to certain Haitian orphans – Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com

Well we are seeing answers to prayers for the varied orphans in Haiti. See the article following this short commentary.  Late Monday, several of the Haitian orphans  have been granted immigration parole.  It sounds like manly the orphans that have been matched up with adoptive parents.  On the Livesay’s Facebook there has been mention of some even already having left Haiti.  God is showing self to be true and providing for these little ones.   Yet, do remember that the pain and devastation in Haiti remains catastrophic.  When one phase of the crisis ends  and the attention dies down, other reactions and levels of crisis occur.  Continue to pray for the children from Haiti and their adoptive families.  Pray that they work through the issues that come with adoption including attachment, medical issues, and a host of other things.  Above all pray that these children grow into being children of God’s kingdom.  

Napolitano: Humanitarian parole granted to certain Haitian orphans – Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com.

lyanez@MiamiHerald.com

In a late development on Monday, the U.S. government announced it was granting humanitarian paroles to hundreds of Haitian orphans who were waiting to be adopted by Americans before the earthquake.

“While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The humanitarian parole policy will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children:  Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for inter-country adoption by the government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.

 Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.

Napolitano left the door open for other needy orphans to be considered for the humanitarian parole.

The Catholic Church in Miami has announced plans to launch a second Operation Pedro Pan, this time to house in South Florida Haitian children at risk. They have already identified three sites; two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward.

In the early 1960s, Catholic Charities took in Cuban children fleeing communism. Some 14,048 were spirited out of the island and into camps and group homes in Miami-Dade until they could be reunited with their parents.

DHS said U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti should send the department detailed information about their cases to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov

Helpful Articles: Overcome so you are not overcome by Julie Markhausen

 
The following is commentary by Julie Marxhausen.  She is the pastor’s wife and part of the ministry team at Calvary Worship Center in Minnesota. The church is associated with International Ministerial Fellowship.  I ran across the commentary on her notes page on Facebook but since learned she posted on her own blog found here: http://julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/overcome-so-you-are-not-overcome/.
 
Overcome So You Are Not Overcome

As Christians, we have the unique privilege of overcoming all things this world, sin, and the devil throw our way. We need to be people who choose to overcome the things of this world so we can bring others into that same victory in Jesus and not be victims of this world. Overcoming and faith go hand in hand. We need to walk by faith, in order to be the kind of people who overcome. 1 John 5:4 says: “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” It is our faith in Jesus Christ which enables us to overcome this world.

If we remain people who are tossed to and fro based upon the circumstances of life, we must conclude we are not living in faith because faith is victory, and faith victory has overcome the world. Before anyone gets guilt ridden or feels inadequate about their faith as a result of hearing this, let us remember our faith is a gift from God. He has given each of us a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 says “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” The point to be made is that if we are being tossed to and fro, and if we are not experiencing victory to overcome the world, we need look no further than our faith in Jesus. We can press in with God and His Word, refocus our attention, give our honor and praise to Him, and find ourselves exercising our God-given faith which will enable us to find ourselves IN Jesus once again. Our faith in Jesus overcomes the world.

There is a simple way to determine if we are among those who overcome and it is found 1 John 5:5 “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? “ Many people “say” they believe in Jesus Christ, in fact even Satan believes Jesus is the Son of God. In a “Facebook” comment one lady remarked to some others witnessing the love of Jesus to her, “Wish you would stop trying to stuff Jesus and God down other people’s throats. It is f……sickening, a lot of us believe but do not need to go to church with a bunch of hypocrites to have that belief so just go away.” Does that sound like someone who believes in the greatest news on earth?

You see, believing is far more than simply acknowledging we know “of” Jesus. Satan acknowledges Who God is but will not accept the dominion of Jesus Christ. Many people do the same thing. They acknowledge who God is but do not submit to His Lordship in their lives. Therefore, simply “believing” in the basic essence of the word, is not what God is talking about here. “Believing” is the acceptance of everything about Jesus, acknowledging Him as God, as the only One who overcame the world, death, and the devil. Truly believing is “a knowing” at the seat of our desires, feelings, affections, passions, and impulses, that Jesus is the Son of God. Believing takes place in our hearts not just our minds. And it means accepting Him as Lord over our lives and then sharing our lives with those in the body of Christ. When we believe Jesus is the Son of God, when we have faith in God, we overcome. It is not an option. The Word says our faith overcomes the world. We may like to bring all the arguments against this since we don’t always experience the overcoming victory we expect to achieve, but that is only evidence our faith is still not grounded in Jesus.

One of my favorite verses on overcoming is found in Romans 8:37 (NASB) “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us.” Most versions are written, “We are more than conquerors.” We probably should know what “all these things” are. We are going to go through things while living on earth. Those things are: v. 35 – tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakednesss, peril, and sword. Tribulations would be things causing great stress and pressure or calamity. Distresses we experience include extreme circumstances where we feel there is no way of escape because it feels so narrow, including sickness and disease. Perhaps we suffer persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ even fearing attacks from people beyond mere words. We will also experience hardship, possibly lack of food, clothing and other dangers to our well-being.

Then verse 37 comes with the words “but” and “all”. But, in all of these things we overwhelmingly conquer. Christians almost daily proclaim, “I don’t know if I am going to make it through this one.” Or “It will take a move of God to get me through this.” Or “I just can’t take any more.” Or “I wonder if God is even watching me because He sure isn’t doing anything for me here.” We may feel all of things but at some point, we MUST stand up in the faith which gives us victory and proclaim “BUT in ALL these things I overwhelmingly conquer.” This is not simply defeating the enemy, it is a landslide beating.

When going through trials, persecutions and the like, people like to vent and get all the “bad” things” out. Perhaps they even convince themselves this is the way to get over something. What we do not realize is that in doing this, we only propagate the negative feelings, and we do it because we want sympathy or empathy. I am not suggesting we “fake” it and pretend all is well all the time. BUT, I am suggesting we speak the Word and do the Word rather than doing what feels good at the time.

Recently I was sad, frustrated, angry, and irritated with Christian people. This happens every so often so I recognize the feeling when it comes on me. I was feeling suffocated by the complaints and lack of faith I was hearing and seeing in the body of Christ. I am not insensitive or immune to the problems we all face in this world, but I am very sensitive to how we handle these problems. In my emotion I found myself discouraged and judgmental leaving me at the point of tears. Since I want to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, I knew I must overcome and experience victory through faith. I knew I had to get into the Word of God and allow Him to refresh, convict, and renew my thinking. I knew I was to intercess through Him, not vent to others, (which would only fuel my frustration). Knowing all of this, I knew I had to make the right decision but was I ready and willing to be obedient?

It is a choice to nurse negative feelings or move into a place of confession and repentance, allowing God to cleanse and wash allowing Him to take the burdens. I will admit I don’t always choose rightly. Most times I vent first and then go to God afterwards. Timing is everything! If I would go to God first, I can vent to Him and won’t have a need to vent to others. Oftentimes we hang on to these emotions for the sake of validity or we believe the emotions have a hold on us and they will just go away in time. But our victory comes through faith in Jesus, and our faith in Jesus includes being obedient to His will, and His will is firmly established and revealed in His Word and by His Spirit.

The next time trials and tribulations come, as they will, and you feel overwhelmed, remember you are more than a conqueror through Christ. Everything must bow to our holy God. Revelation 12:11 says “And they overcame him (the accuser of the brethren) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Don’t settle for complaining and venting when you overwhelming conquer everything in this world through faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, overcome so you are not overcome. Overcome by faith in Jesus so the world does not overcome you!