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Waste Management

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Have you ever heard of “hypnagogia?” (You can read the Wikipedia entry about it here).  It’s the official term for that peculiar state of consciousness that falls somewhere in between wake and sleep. I sometimes wonder if hypnagogia is related to the “trance” which scripture says Peter was in when he received a vision that changed the course of church history, or Paul was in when he received a warning from the spirit of God to flee Jerusalem.1  I was surprised to learn that Beethoven, Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and many others learned to enter this state regularly and on purpose, finding it helpful for creativity and problem-solving, even receiving scientific breakthroughs. The early Quakers, who possessed spiritual insight far beyond their time (ours too), were big proponents of “silence” of the mind in God’s presence.  In many meetings they refused to speak or do anything unless and until the spirit clearly moved upon or within them to do so. If they sat in silent corporate communion with God for hours, that was no less successful to them than a lively meeting.  I know some are probably made uneasy by this sort of thing, but I absolutely don’t think a Son of God need fear intentionally silencing their mind or beginning to fall asleep with the intention of communing with God through Jesus Christ, nor do I think God is somehow displeased with that. I’m sure many would disagree, but I suspect that most disagreement would be from fear and ignorance, not true spiritual insight.

That said, my main purpose in writing this is to share a random thought which came to me while in a partially-asleep state this morning. For me, such things are rare, so I took it seriously. This thought, which I have never had before but was on my mind the very moment I woke up, was basically that apostles function as the “waste management” branch of the Church (I told you it was random!).  Along with this thought, I immediately thought of someone I know through Facebook, who I realized has been gifted/called of God for the role of an apostle, though he’s never claimed such.  Shortly after getting out of bed, with this on my mind, I logged onto Facebook, and one of the first things I came across was a youtube video about apostleship this person had posted within the last 24 hours, his first video in over a year, from what I can see.  I was amazed by the correlations between what he shared and my “epiphany.” You can watch his video here.

Wikipedia defines waste management as: “…the “generation, prevention, characterization, monitoring, treatment, handling, reuse and residual disposition of solid wastes”.2   As I’ve thought about , I see two main functions that apostles perform: identifying and getting rid of what is spiritually rotten, toxic or no longer useful, as well as managing the household to make it run more cleanly and efficiently.  In the physical world, if toxic waste isn’t identified and removed properly, it can cause chronic illness or death.  Or when waste management services go on strike and refuse to haul away trash, things quickly get ugly. How much worse if spiritual “waste” isn’t recognized or disposed of.  If a household had become overrun by clutter, garbage, and toxic waste, how useful and needed would those be who were specially tasked to take away the garbage and replace the broken, waste-producing systems with a clean, efficient one?

I think one thing the spirit of God is emphasizing right now is the adoption into sonship that is offered us in Christ – not only as a nice idea or concept, but resulting in a genuinely, radically different relationship to God than many of us have experienced before. A relationship of freedom and love, with a fresh and genuine lack of pretense, fear, or any obligation, along with spiritual power and wisdom beyond human ability. But along with the transition into a new spiritual season, there must also be a tearing down and removal of old things, including the system that perpetuates the outdated, irrelevant things.  The spiritual VCR and rotary phone factories have to be torn down, and the household equipped for the modern age.  This is not a glamorous job, but I believe it’s what apostles are called and given grace to do.  If you see or hear men and women saying new things, talking about new seasons of the church, about inheritance and sonship or the dangers of religion, don’t dismiss them too quickly and harden your heart.  Be willing to receive new things from God’s spirit – that’s how you FOLLOW.  It’s not static…

Christ in his day functioned as an apostle (along with other things), and members of his body will do the same in the season that is upon us. The religious will always be fond of their traditions and opposed to the progress of the Spirit, but they won’t be able to stop the Kingdom’s growth.  Though I am not there yet, I want to truly walk as a son of God in the steps of Christ – honoring and communing with my Father, performing His will in love and walking in Truth. Still lots I don’t understand and haven’t attained, but I know who I believe in. Amen.

 

  1. Acts 10:10, 22:17

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_management

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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Dying to Enter (Lazarus and Rich Man pt. 3)

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This will be my final and most comprehensive look for now at Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  For those who are new, it has nothing to do with physical death, heaven, or hell.  It has everything to do with the promise God made to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ and given to all men, the arriving of which reversed the roles of the spiritually rich and spiritually poor.  Anyway, read on and it will make more sense.

Luke 16, NKJV: 22 So it was that the beggar (the Gentiles, those shut out of fellowship with God) died (experienced the ending of the season of the law and prophets at the coming of Christ), and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (began to partake of a new season of spiritual kingdom-seeking, typified by Abraham, whose promised blessing preceded and didn’t relate to law or Israelite ancestry). The rich man (Judah/Jews) also died (both died at the same time – the change in spiritual seasons happened to all simultaneously) and was buried (permanently lost all relevance and authority).  Notice: ONLY the rich man was “buried. 23 And being in torments (testing, affliction) in Hades (the unseen realm, place of blindness, powerlessness, death), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (Lazarus, not he, inherited the promises given to Abraham).24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham (Pharisees saw themselves as Abraham’s children because of their bloodline), have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water (get even a tiny amount of Truth) and cool my tongue (undo the effects of his perverse teaching which came from his perverse heart – see here); for I am tormented (literally: sorrowful, grieving) in this flame (intense affliction, purification). (Notice: in the old season Lazarus desired  crumbs from the rich man, and now the rich man desires just a fingertip of water from Lazarus.  There is a great role-reversal).  25 But Abraham said, ‘Son (Judah was Abraham’s great-grandson and the Jews were descendants of Judah), remember that in your lifetime (during the recently-ended season of the law and prophets) you received your good things (their life of “luxury” – the luxury of having opportunity to be a part of God’s people and partake of His covenant and blessings), and likewise Lazarus evil things (his life of spiritual hunger, lack and helplessness); but now (in the new season) he is comforted (desired, invited) and you are tormented (grieving, in anguish, sorrowful, mourning). 26 And besides all this, between us and you (between the season of law and season of fulfillment) there is a great gulf fixed (some say this is representative of the Jordan river, which divided Israel from the Gentiles),2 so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (the change in seasons is irreversible).27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house (Judah’s descendants, the Jews), 28 for I have five brothers (Judah had five physical brothers), that he may testify to them (declare the truth of the new season of the kingdom of God through Christ and warn of resisting it), lest they also come to this place of torment (affliction, testing). 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them’ (the law of Moses and the prophets actually pointed to Christ and the new season he would bring, but most Jews were shut out of it because of their religious pride, resulting in hard hearts, blind eyes and deaf ears). 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent (change their perception from natural to spiritual). 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”  (Again, their religious pride caused the Jews to be ignorant or openly resist the very thing their precious law and prophets pointed to – the spiritual fulfillment arriving in Jesus Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead).  

Jesus made a very telling and important statement immediately before he told this parable: 

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

These words, especially regarding marriage and adultery, seem to be out of place.  But remember, in the Greek he starts the parable by using the word “now…” meaning the parable continues his previous thought.  Therefore, divorce, remarriage and adultery somehow tie in with the ending of the season of the law and prophets and the beginning of the season of spiritual kingdom-seekers.  It has to be seen spiritually to make sense.

If marriage is seen as an exclusive covenant of devotion between two parties, then the Jewish religious leaders were very much “married” to the law. With a new season arriving with Jesus, the Jews, particularly the religious leaders, faced a dire problem with two components: 

  1. The only way out of their covenant/marriage to the old season of the law and prophets was for one of the parties to die (either them or the law).
  2. According to Jesus, it is impossible for the law to fail, or “die.”  Therefore, as long as they were alive, those in covenant with the law could not relate to God within the new season of spiritual reality without being adulterers against their covenant of law.

Paul, a former Pharisee, understood and wrote about this predicament, most plainly in Romans 7:1-6:

 (ESV) Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?  For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.  Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions (literally, the “sufferings of sin”) aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

So here’s a rephrase of what Jesus said: “Everyone in covenant with the law commits adultery by pursuing the spiritual kingdom of God outside that law.  Also, since God is divorcing and ending the covenant of law in me in favor of a new, better covenant made with all men, from now on anyone who enters into covenant with the law will become an adulterer against the new covenant.”  The good news is everyone is free from marriage/covenant with law, which only strengthened sin and death, not because the law passed away or died, but because in Christ we died!  Every single one of us.  Paul states this many times throughout the scriptures.1  This parable is just an elaboration of this truth, specifically given to the Jewish religious leaders, but very much applying to everyone.  Our death with Christ and freedom from law is a very deep subject which I haven’t seen the depths of and won’t try to here, but it’s absolutely at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The question I have is what ends up happening to those (whether Christian or not) who don’t see or refuse to accept their death with Christ, and continue to live their lives?  I do believe there will be great sorrow and anguish like the rich man experienced, but I’m not convinced it’s eternally permanent.  I don’t fully know, but I don’t want to find out, and I don’t believe those who seek the kingdom need to personally worry about it.

Finally, lets look at Abraham.  The name Lazarus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Eliazar.”  In the book of Genesis, we learn Eliazar was Abraham’s chief servant, who before Abraham had sons and grandsons was going to inherit Abraham’s estate.  Some have pointed out that by helping Abraham’s son find a wife, Eliazar was helping shut himself out from Abraham’s inheritance.2 That just strengthens the interpretation of Lazarus as those who desired God’s kingdom and promises but were shut out until the right season arrived.  Lazarus being taken to Abraham’s bosom is the Gentiles, by faith, inheriting the promise made to Abraham’s seed, Christ.  These aren’t physical blessings, but spiritual ones.  Are you glad about that, or disappointed?  The answer to that will tell you a lot about where your heart is.  In Galatians 3, Paul wrote extensively about Abraham’s promised blessing superseding Moses’ law, which was only temporary until the fulfillment of that promise.  Here’s some pertinent quotes from that chapter:

  • “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”
  • Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”

  • “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

As convoluted or inadequate as they may be, I hope these blogs have helped you to see Jesus better and to hunger and thirst for God’s kingdom and righteousness on a more authentic and deeper level.  Things are far different than most of us who grew up in Christianity have been taught.  What God desires (and will get) is a household of sons and daughters with the mind of Christ, who worship in spirit and in truth, who walk in love, and who seek to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  Religion may use similar words and make similar statements, but all that religion knows and promotes, be it ever so good and beautiful, comes from their own darkened mind which eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and cannot satisfy or please God.  That’s hard to say, but it’s true.  God would have us eat of the Tree of Life again, walking with spiritual understanding and no awareness of sin or condemnation (death) which come by law, but with an awareness of life – His spirit, presence and kingdom.

  1.  Colossians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6…
  2. http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030602.htm
 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The True Meaning of the Rich Man and Lazarus Parable: Specifics!

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Some wrongly insist that of all Jesus’ parables, this single one is to be taken literally, because first names are used like Abraham and Lazarus.   If you’re interested, here you can find a well-written piece providing much evidence that this is indeed a parable and not a literal illustration.  In this post, I’m going to look at who or what is represented by Lazarus, the rich man, and their death.  It’s essential that we understand that this parable is simply a continuation and elaboration of what Jesus was saying in the preceding verses during his conversation with the religious leaders of Israel.  Here is what Jesus was saying which led to this parable (NKJV):

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.  16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.  (Now) There was a certain rich man…”

Allow me to rephrase what he said to make his meaning more clear:  

“You (Israel’s religious leaders) make sure to appear righteous in the sight of men, but God is not fooled.  He sees the corruption of your heart and detests your hypocrisy – using the allegiance and respect of men for your own gain, while in reality you are blind, foolish, and spiritually destitute. Therefore, according to the will of God, a new season of spiritual reality has begun, beginning with John.  God no longer regards those who keep laws, but those who seek the Kingdom of God with spiritual violence.  But woe to you, religious leaders, because the law cannot go unfulfilled, and since you are bound to the law by oath like a marriage, it would be like adultery for you to pursue the spiritual Kingdom of God outside of the constraints of that law.”  

The Rich Man:

To those in Jesus’ day about 2,000 years ago, the rich man typified the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the Jews (the word “Jew” refers to the descendants of Judah, which is relevant as you’ll see). You’ll notice, in the parable Abraham refers to the rich man as “child.” This is because, as scripture says clearly, the Pharisees saw themselves as children of Abraham (and thus entitled to the blessings promised to him)1.  Genesis chapters 29-30 state that Abraham’s descendant Judah, from whom the word “Jew” originates, had five brothers, and in the parable the rich man specifically mentions his five brothers.  So this rich man represents the Jewish religious leaders, who Jesus so often warned and derided.  The Pharisees live on in scripture as a representation of those among God’s people who promote and follow the way of religion.  Therefore, for us today, the rich man in this parable represents those who promote the way of religion, which is that of natural understanding, natural perception, self-awareness, fear, and attempting to appear good or gain favor with God by a code of conduct and set of beliefs.  

Jesus purposely describes the lifestyle of the rich man like this: (Darby Translation): “…he was clothed in purple and fine linen, making good cheer in splendor every day.”  Purple was the color of royalty, and linen was worn by priests.  These then represent the rich man’s royal lineage as a descendant of Judah and his elevated status as a religious leader.  The Pharisees’ were content and confident (“good cheer”) in their law-keeping and knowledge, and they enjoyed the respect of other men due to their outward piety and grandiose appearance and behavior (“splendor every day”).  But as we see in the parable and as Jesus said elsewhere, they did nothing to help those they saw as “beneath” them, certainly not at the expense of their comfort or their law.

Religion began the moment Adam ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (which I wrote about in more detail here), and the twisting of mind/heart that happened at that time still pushes us toward religion today.  The spirit of Christ will push us towards freedom and the establishment of the kingdom of God, based on love.  Jesus was warning us that while the way of religion can be appealing, it is subtly very dangerous. Religion offers many enticing benefits and appears wonderful on the surface, seducing many well-meaning men and women into following it whole-heartedly, and once they are within it’s constraints, religion uses various means to keep them there, such as providing comfort, promising reward, threatening punishment, and persecuting or ostracizing those who would leave.  But in the end, religion brings nothing but spiritual destitution, torment and death.  

What’s amazing and scary is how similar Jesus’ description of the rich man is to the description of the immensely evil Babylon the Great in Revelation 18, who is described this way: “…she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, “I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ 3  The rich man and Babylon are kindred spirits, both typifying blind, stubborn, deceptive religion, which fuels pride and self-centeredness, but for which Jesus died to free men from (among other purposes).

Lazarus:

The name Lazarus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Eliazar,” which means “surrounded/helped by God.”  (It’s not a coincidence that according to Genesis 15, Abraham’s chief servant and one-time heir was Eliazar!  More on that next time).  In Jesus’ day, Lazarus represented those (mostly Gentiles) who desired to be a part of God’s people, but remained helplessly shut out and oppressed.

Lazarus desiring the crumbs from the rich man’s table reminds me of Mark 7:25-29, where a Gentile woman comes to Jesus asking him to cast a demon out of her daughter.  He tells her that the children (Jews) should be given bread (God’s favor and blessings) first, then the dogs (Gentiles). But the woman replies that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table.  This answer, which demonstrated authentic and prophetic faith, impressed Jesus and her daughter was immediately set free.  Unlike the rich man (religiously confident Israel/Judah), Lazarus had no supply of bread (law and prophets, Jewish bloodline and covenant, doctrine).  

Lazarus was oppressed by evil spirits and evil men (the dogs licking his wounds), but was unable to improve his situation, remaining oppressed until he and the rich man “died.” For us today, Lazarus represents the violent kingdom-seekers who Jesus said were replacing those whose confidence before God was in their religion based on the law and prophets.  The Lazarus kingdom-seekers are humble, desperate and often overlooked and shunned by the religious; people who desire God from the heart and are not confident in their own knowledge or works.  Religion tends toward routine and rigid formulas, but the Spirit doesn’t work that way.  Of the two men, Lazarus was actually the one blessed in God’s sight, because as Jesus said in the “beatitudes,” the blessed are those poor in spirit, mournful, meek, merciful, peacemaking, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, pure in heart, and persecuted for righteousness…4  

Their Death and “Afterlife”

After describing the state of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus literally says “it came to be” (meaning God’s timing/season had arrived) that both died, at the same time!  That is very significant!!!  Remember Jesus saying immediately before telling this parable that the law and prophets were “until” John?  Since John had already come, Jesus was saying there was a new season in place and the old season had ended, or “died.”  The death of the old season came to both types of men simultaneously.  Death in this parable represents the ending of the season of the law and prophets which began with Moses.  The “afterlife” in this parable represents the effects of the new season.  Once the law was fulfilled and superseded, the tables turned.  The rich man became tormented, as he lost all his comforts and basis for his self-righteousness, while Lazarus begins to be comforted by Abraham, who Paul’s writings remind us predated Moses and the law, and whose promise from God was not attached to the law or prophets, but was attached to Christ.  The new season, still in effect today, was that of the spiritual, violent kingdom-seekers, of whom Jesus was the first and of whom we have the privilege and right to be as well.  

Summary:

  • Rich man = Jewish religious leaders (and those today who promote/uphold religion, especially at the expense of sacrificial love). 

  • Lazarus = Gentiles and seekers of God’s kingdom who had been shut out of covenant/fellowship with God. 

  • Death = the ending of the season of the law and prophets.

  • Afterlife = the dramatic change resulting from the beginning of the new season of spiritual Kingdom-seekers.  

With the primary characters and their death now explained, in my next and final post of this series I am going to look more at what Jesus describes after death and what the ramifications are for us today.  Thank you for reading, God bless you.      

  1. 1.Matthew 3:9, John 8:39

  2. Genesis 29, 30

  3. Genesis 15:2

  4. Matthew 5:2-12

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Covering of Fig Leaves, Pt. 2

Thousands of years after the events in the Garden of Eden, as recorded in Mark 11, Jesus encounters a fig tree, a symbol of God’s people.  Jesus was hungry and desired fruit, but all he found was leaves, because “it was not the season for figs” (fruit).  So we see something very interesting.  Jesus found the fig tree (God’s people) entirely covered in fig leaves, the very same thing Adam and Eve made to cover their loins with after their eyes were opened by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and they realized their own nakedness.

The meaning of this story is that Israel, and now the Church have not produced fruit (established the Kingdom of God on earth), but instead have chosen to cover themselves in “leaves.”  Fig leaves represent the myriad of ways God’s people use to try to dress up self to be presentable to God – an impossible task.  Fig leaves are manifested among God’s people today as self-improvement programs or means, behavior management, self-examination, determination, motivation, etc.  Fig leaves remain the covering of choice since the garden, because since that time mankind’s natural state is to have the carnal, soulish eyes opened, causing God’s people to have a perception of self-awareness and fear.  This is utterly destructive to the spiritual life.  The first thing God says to Adam after he ate was: “who told you that you were naked?”  In other words, who caused you to see yourself?  This was God’s primary concern, and in the right season, he sent His son to undo this.

I do believe the current season of leaves is ending, and I see signs of this.  A remnant of God’s called people are beginning to see how completely pathetic and unnecessary “fig leaves” are now that Christ himself has been offered as their covering (Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:24, John 15:4).  Christ’s covering enables a restoration of innocence (unawareness of sin or self) and spiritual perception.  Law, rules and regulations meant to control the flesh were never satisfactory to God and never intended to remain.  Freedom from the mind of  flesh (carnality) is increasingly becoming a reality for more and more of God’s children.

When Jesus cursed the tree, what he actually said was “no one during this age will eat fruit from you again.”  He was speaking to Israel and the Church, both.  He was saying that until the season of leaves ended, leaves were all that could be produced by God’s people.  The Bible says that in “the fullness of time” (the proper season), Jesus successfully came to regain the spiritual sight that Adam lost, and then some.  The body of Christ on Earth is going to do the same, worldwide.  The result will be as far beyond what we know of as Church or Christianity as Jesus’ life and ministry was beyond that of the Scribes and Pharisees.  There will be no comparison, but many will reject it, just as many rejected Jesus in his day.  I believe our call right now is to seek the Kingdom of God, His will being done on earth.  Seek it daily.  Ask the Father to give you spiritual sight, and be willing to abandon everything you’ve known for that.  Cry out and seek this diligently and desperately, just as Jesus taught us to do in his parables.  For the remainder of this season, it will be a struggle to enter the Kingdom.  But it’s worth it.

I’m with you in this struggle and walk, friends.  May true peace, the peace of the Spirit, be upon you.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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