Chapter 14: It’s All About Refinement
If I have heard once, I have heard a thousand times, “They were such a good person until thus and so happened; then they really changed for the worse.” With all my being, I believe trials and tests do not change a person, they simply bring to light who the person is at their center. It was definitely true in Job’s case as well as my own. Neither of us knew what was wicked within until the disasters came.
Adam lived in utopia and it was true for him. The worst comes out of people in dyer situations because the love of Christ is not in effect. Sure, they may be saved from hell but a person led by Holy Spirit would be able to recognize what God was allowing to happen and even why, instead of tail-spinning out of control and losing sight of God’s reality. Just because one is led by Holy Spirit for a long time does not mean that, in an instant, they can’t revert back to the flesh. Satan is crouching at the door waiting for an opportunity to stumble you. You and I must daily die, which is merely a result of having been transformed into the image of God.
When my first husband left with a note on the coffee table, I fell apart. I began cursing, ranting and raving. Why? It was because I had no grounding in an intimate relationship with God. I had never once said, “Father, show me everything that is wrong within me. Lead me into righteousness.” I had received salvation at the age of six and went on my way “getting people saved” as I was taught. I didn’t drink, curse, sleep around or do drugs. I was basically a “good” kid. However, in reality, it was all a lie because there is no one good but God.
I failed to hear from God, receive warnings, admonition, or anything of the kind. If I had, I would not have married two wrong men. I knew nothing of God except being able to quote a few Scriptures. In my mind, making a profession of faith was equated to “an intimate relationship” when it was nothing more than the beginning of what should have developed into an intimate relationship. I was weak in Christ on my best days and was so because I thought myself spiritually strong and mature.
A terrible weakness in God’s people is the feeling of unworthiness, yet we call it humility. When you focus on your own unworthiness, you are focused on self. Although it certainly appears humble and righteous on the surface, contrary to popular belief, this is another lie from Satan. It is actually false humility, self-abasement, and self-righteousness.
False Humility: “I am unworthy to walk in the shoes of Jesus, so I won’t. I’ll sit here quietly in my recliner of do-nothing. Praise God, one day I’m going up yonder in the sweet by and by. I’ll wait here ‘til I get to Heaven to throw my crowns at His precious feet. Who am I to walk in authority and speak with boldness? I’m too humble to do that.”
True Humility: “I am unworthy and I know it. However, with that knowledge, I (the unworthy one) choose to surrender and live only unto Christ (the worthy One). I choose His worth and allow Him to speak, think and operate through my mortal body. I choose to walk boldly and courageously in the authority and power He projects through me. I give God all praise, honor and glory for all accomplished.”
I pray every believer will get this imbedded in their spirit, heart, and mind. God is not asking for your perfection or power since you have none to offer. He is asking for your willingness to allow Him to move through your weak mortal body as you are merged with Him as one entity. Allow refinement when the hard times hit let you be overtaken by the evil one through despair. God is the perfection in the weakest places of life. Yoked together Christ is the only hope for strength and a sound mind.
“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7, NAS).”
“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7, NAS).”
I must be transparent. The “mamma bear” Alexys and the “minister” Alexys are often in conflict. As a minister, I purpose to live a life of balance, love, patience, kindness, holiness and to be at peace with everyone, at least as far as it is up to me. Adversely, as a mother of a chronically ill child, I often feel the urge to, at the very least, tell someone off. Or, at the worst, punch someone squarely between the eyes for their neglect, bullying or disregard for my child who only wants to be well and accepted by her peers.
For example (in no particular order):
- Dealing with doctors who pass her around from this one to that one or one questions another’s diagnosis or treatment and look at me as though I’ve done something wrong.
- When kids her age at school or elsewhere tease and/or bully her because they don’t understand her situation, why she likes colored hair, why she’s so shut down, or why she doesn’t fit the acceptable body image.
- When the youth pastor at our church refuses, though begged repeatedly over a year, to reach out to her or have girls her age reach out to her. He visited her once, had a couple girls text her a few times and, just like that, she was quickly discarded and forgotten like yesterday’s news.
- Dealing with the school powers-that-be who threaten to call truancy because they question the word of doctors as though she isn’t really too sick to attend; who demand meeting after futile meeting.
In the aforementioned scenarios, yes, I definitely want to scream at and hit someone albeit completely contradictory to who I am in Christ. These are the times where I preach the Word of God to myself so as not to completely ruin my testimony for the Christ whom I love and serve. Mamma-bear has, on occasion, gotten the better of me because I despise the injustice thrown at my kid.
The struggle is real and I have to combat it on a regular basis. When these people who are in positions to help my child do not and, furthermore, cause more harm, I battle with mamma-bear, with the inclination of my fleshly man to do what would otherwise come very natural to me. My personality is very aggressive, forthright, proactive and protective and, therefore, it would be nothing for me to blast someone (and I have). I purpose daily to walk according to the Spirit of the Living God versus my natural man. I have to daily find the balance between knowing when and what to speak to whom and just letting loose when the notion strikes.
I have definitely learned, throughout all of this that, in fact, I am fully capable of restraint, patience, and silence; that I can choose to be self-controlled, to be silent when necessary, and, when I speak up, I can do so without yelling or demeaning the person at which my words are directed.
I Corinthians 1:27: “but I discipline my body to make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Chapter Thirteen: Igniting God’s Completed Work, part II
Paul’s mission was to correct and teach every man with all wisdom that they may be presented as “complete in Christ”. What does this mean other than, once in Christ, we are considered as dead to self and alive only through the identity of Christ. The words, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death…” is not only in reference to Jesus’ death, but the co-death of all mankind. Through His flesh, He buried the fleshly nature of sinful man. Death for Jesus was literal but it translates to mankind as spiritual. We “die daily” as in, every day when we awaken in our natural state, we subject all of ourselves to Christ so that our only life source is the resurrected life of Christ.
Why are you, a born-again follower of Christ, praying for the attributes of Christ such as wisdom, patience, kindness, self-discipline, love, joy, etc. when God said He’s already given you the fullness of Christ? If you have Christ, you have all you need and which can be given because every good thing is wrapped in Christ. All of which we pray and ask that can be granted, through Jesus Christ, is already ours. We need only to know how to position ourselves so as to receive and function appropriately. In other words, if you are one with Christ, you need not pray, “God give me wisdom” but rather “As I humble myself before You, Lord, I thank You that, through Jesus, I have all wisdom. Direct me how to tap into and operate in it.”
Colossians 2:6, 9-12, state emphatically, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Basically, we need to learn how to access what we’ve been given instead of trying to obtain something we have already been granted as though we don’t already possess it. The difference is accessing versus obtaining.
To reiterate, the Word of God, in Yahweh’s timeline, was written and fulfilled before the creation of anything in existence. Furthermore, your life, my life, and the lives of every person past, present and future are already finished; we’re merely watching it play out step by step. Faith of this magnitude (that it’s already completed) ignites God’s completed work and allows it to be made manifest in your life. This is the life which will draw all men unto Himself.
One may rebut, “So, if everything is complete, I can do anything I want and whatever will be, will be.” This person thinks they can live willy-nilly and everything will work out fine but, this is not so. The instruction of positioning ourselves so as to bring the perfect will of God in our lives is a matter of holiness. It is a matter of praying in agreement with God in all things, humbling ourselves before God and man, honoring the King in spirit, soul and body, worshiping in spirit and in truth, rest trusting His promises, and loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is positioning ourselves in order to usher the excellence of Christ, come what may.
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28, NAS).”
“He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death (Colossians 1:22, NAS).”
If there’s one “skill” I have honed having a chronically ill child, it’s patience. Patience, as many know, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. My entire adult life, I’ve functioned in two speeds: fast and faster. I made quick decisions in everything; procrastination is not in my vocabulary. This can be an asset but, also a liability depending upon the situation. With a child who is perpetually ill, there is no such thing as “instantaneous”. There’s waiting on getting an appointment with specialists, waiting on meds to kick in, waiting on doctors to decide the next move, waiting in a lobby to be seen by doctors who are running behind (sometimes hours), and so on.
In this, I have learned (by force, in a manner of speaking) that patience is an invaluable asset in the Kingdom of God and, in turn, my life. Although, there are times when going fast can be good because we need to think on our feet, it can cause a stream of destruction by refusing to slow down long enough so as to properly evaluate the end result of our momentary actions. Patience comes from pause and pauses are very good. Pauses allow us to properly assess what is happening and what needs to occur next if, that is, we are wise enough to stop whining through the halt.
Impatience has proven itself deadly or, at the very least, tumultuous. Abraham birthed his own enemy through Ishmael. The prodigal son received his fortunes immediately but, then lost everything until he humbled himself. Judas received his fortune by selling out Jesus and his end was quite horrible. Eve’s impatience for more caused the death of mankind; on and on the stories go. The impatience of my youth caused me to marry a vile man; the repercussions took two decades to subside. On the flip side, Joseph, because of his intense patience, became ruler over all of Egypt, second only the Pharaoh. Patience, once Abraham surrendered to God’s timing, birthed many nations in his old age through Isaac.
My point is this: there is good in every obstacle if only we look to God. “There are no problems, only possibilities and opportunities”, I heard back in the 90’s from a wise man. I must admit, I initially thought the man was loony but, it began a new quest to look at things differently. Fast forward twenty-five or so years: I could easily murmur and complain about how difficult this all has been with Sophia or, I can choose to look to God so as to recognize good which has come about through the intense difficulties we have faced. Patience allows us or, rather, me, to see with Kingdom vision instead of the here-and-now.
I am forever changed for all this and I know, with great confidence, it will (in time) change Sophia for the better. There will be people with whom she can relate whereas someone else may not. This will cause her to be a game-changer in the lives of those who are otherwise hopeless and helpless. It will make her far more compassionate and relatable than someone who can only assume how they would feel or respond in a particular trial. Patience in allowing ourselves to endure something with grace and growth instead of attempting with futility to “get out of jail free quickly” develops endurance, perseverance and victory.
Watchman Nee (my favorite author and man of God) said (and I paraphrase) God’s people try too hard to pray themselves out of tribulation when, all the while, God is purposing to train us through it. Getting out to quickly actually hurts us because we soon will have to start over in another trial so we may eventually learn what we need. God’s will is not necessarily to experience “healing” (in whatever capacity) instantly because we will miss its purpose. In this thinking, my friend was correct: There are no problems, only opportunities and possibilities. Are you looking for your possibility and opportunity?
Chapter 11: Going Beyond Theology
For me personally, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not my theology, They are my reality. They are not (nor are They meant to be) a religious system so as to make me or anyone else more moral, but rather a Kingdom Government in action through God’s supernatural life living through mortal man.
Anyone can be well-versed in their theology, in their catalog of internal information about God. Very few, on the other hand, know God personally, intimately through Christ to the degree that one cannot be separated from the other. No religion or denomination in the world can offer such a relationship. Only seeking the face and heart of God and seeking understanding and wisdom from above can offer such a stable, unwavering relationship of oneness with Almighty God.
My personal stance is simply this: come what may, God is God, He’s on His throne in Heaven and in my heart and nothing shall move me. He is my entire existence, not merely in a section of my life. He is my God and I am His people. That isn’t theology, that’s the Kingdom of God active through my otherwise worthless mortal body. Though I may falter, my most earnest desire is to live only as one hidden in (consumed by) Christ.
It is in this condition that I can truly be strengthened by this Christ when I am weakened in the worst of circumstances. In this state, through years and tears, loss and heartache, I am fully persuaded that God will manifest His completed work. In so doing, curses transform into blessings, tears turn to laughter, and lost years are redeemed. In this, weakness is the blessing so that God’s strength may reign. I have nothing of myself of which I may boast.
Theology is merely a theory of sorts; it’s one man’s opinion of God. This is why there are thousands of varying denominations among those who claim to follow Christ. Building your relationship with Christ on a surface of theology has no foundation on which to firmly stand. It may seemingly work for a while but, when the rubber meets the road, you’ll quickly discover theology is sinking sand.
When your child, spouse or parent dies or becomes infirm long-term, you lose your great paying job you’ve had 20-30 years or all your possessions or, in some way, your status-quo crumbles before your eyes, you’ll find out promptly the ruse of theology. I read a story the other day about a young woman whose husband lost his life to cancer. Their two small children were devastated to have to grow without their daddy. She would now have to work so as to provide for these two while raising them without help.
In the article, she commented that churches don’t need more coffee bars or bright lights or any other window dressing so as to draw a bigger crowd. In fact, she stated, she needed only Jesus. All the theology and fluff of the modern-day churches were as good as nothing without the presence and power of God expressed so as to heal her brokenness. She was weakened as unto death and only the word of God’s power has the ability to accomplish such an impossible task. No theologians debating whether or not she should be dunked or sprinkled, wear pants or skirts, slacks or khakis, read the King James Version only or another; whether the church should sing old hymns or have a praise and worship band, was going to mend her broken heart. Theology is, as far as I’m concerned, as good as nothing. Only a relationship with the Living Christ will do.
The Body of Christ, as a whole, must seek true transformation, not just a few characteristics of Christ or theology of old. In other words, you must be changed into the likeness of Christ at your root. At the Mount of Transfiguration, Holy Spirit came upon Jesus. He was changed into the likeness of the Father. He was already God in physical form; He was in every way “like God,” yet He still had to be transformed. There was a transition from one way into another entirely different one. His body remained the same, but the internal man became something otherworldly.
If Jesus had to experience transformation, you too must experience this metamorphosis. The problem with Adam and Eve was, although they were created in the image of God and were placed in the center of perfection, they had yet to be transformed. They were, as we’ve discussed at length, of the Earth. It was required of them to fall and then, having knowledge of good and evil, choose to be morphed from the inside out. Just because you’re saved from hell does not equate transformation. It’s altogether transitioning from earthly to heavenly and living accordingly.
Interestingly enough, we’re instructed to “seek His face,” yet He told Moses, “No one can see my face and live!” If you seek and find God’s face, you will be broken and changed forever at a mere glimpse; you won’t be able to live as you were. Since we’re called, post-resurrection, to suffer not the flesh, seeking His face and finding Him will accomplish that quite well. If, on the other hand, you seek only His attributes or characteristics, you will only appear changed for a time. Without your internal man being changed, this translates as nothing more than a farce. Religious theology seems to render only moderate external changes that have no eternal value.
Chapter Ten: Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind
The King James Version of II Timothy 1 uses the words “sound mind” (which I prefer believing it makes the message clearer) instead of “discipline”. That being said, a sound mind produces self-discipline so I believe the words to be interchangeable here. There are scads of texts referencing the mind so, we can logically deduce the mind is of great importance. When we are weak in body and heart, if we keep our minds sharp as to the person, promises and love of God, we won’t so readily lose our minds, as is so commonly stated as a natural reaction to weakness in times of trouble.
We must keep our minds clear because the world and all its woes will readily overtake us if we allow. We must be vigilant, watchful and sober-minded lest we fall prey to the one who despises us without measure. God has, with great liberty, given us a spirit of power and love and discipline. We are created in His image; thusly, we have His nature. We generally, unfortunately, choose the nature of the flesh over the nature of God. When we allow Holy Spirit to overwhelm us, we will have no room in us to be overwhelmed by the flesh.
To say, “I love the Lord” and think yourself close to God just because you prayed an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer”, you’re faithful to church, and do good deeds, is insufficient so as to sustain you in this world of muck and mire. We must know the Lord on the most intimate level if we can expect to be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations.
We are instructed in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In other words, dwell on God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love, His power, His authority, His comfort, His promises, and whatever is of the Kingdom of God. There is no way, in the midst of chaos and confusion, any of us can set our minds on these things if we are not locked in to God 24/7/365. It’s difficult enough when you are, so you can understand the difficulty of being able to reroute your mind when you’re only a Sunday church-goer or Christian by title and not in daily action.
Life can be grueling, no doubt. I know, for me, even though I know God and His Word intimately, how challenging it can be to “speak that which is not as though it already was” as did God Himself in Romans 4:17. We are to speak God’s promises, not the circumstances. Inevitably, when I get worn down, sometimes the circumstances come right through my lips without even thinking. That’s the nature of the flesh at hand. I have to immediately pull down the words (remove them) and replace them by speaking God’s promises. As with Sophia, though it appears she’ll never be better (circumstance), I speak, “I thank God she’s already healed, in Jesus’ name. We will soon witness the physical manifestation of God’s promise of her healing.” If I didn’t walk and talk with God every moment of every day, I would not have His strength to overpower my fleshly weaknesses.
Throughout the challenges with having had toxic black mold in our home causing the auto-immune issues of which Sophia and I have had to contend, God has been faithful so as to speak directly to my spirit reassuring me we are both healed. Believe me, there were times all I could see was the pain and suffering but, regardless, because I hold fast to His promise, I can see the end from the beginning. No one can survive (much less thrive) in this wicked world with merely some theology and a lot of church activities. Survival and thriving through this rough terrain requires knowing God in such a way that no one and nothing can steal your faith. Having a mind set on the heavenly (whatsoever is good, pure, etc.) instead of that of the earthly (whatsoever is horrible, bleak, tainted, etc.) is a matter of life and death.
“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:6-8, NAS).”
Chapter 9: Why Worry, part II
Circumstances are Irrelevant
“He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries (Psalm 112:7-8, NAS).”
Your circumstances will no longer have effect on your walk with Christ. Your circumstances will no longer make you or break you. Your circumstances will no longer dictate how you conduct yourself. Once you realize in your heart and mind that,
- His love is unfailing and His eye is on you always;
- He has defeated the enemy;
- everything the evil one does against you for evil, God has already turned around for your good;
- the world is condemned and has no power over you;
- the evil one has been overthrown and is acting on borrowed time;
- you are more than a conqueror
- Yahweh is a friend that sticks closer than a brother
– you will begin your life of victory, strength, power, and love in Jesus!
Once I identified with Christ and related to Him on a personal level, I was able to come to a place that, when adversity comes, I literally laugh. As in Psalm 112 verses 7-8, I have no fear of bad news and neither should you. I know immediately that Satan cannot succeed against me or my family. I laugh even through tears knowing that whatever the situation, it has already worked in my favor. I could write a book merely on the blessings of God turning things around for my favor! Let’s stop giving Satan a foothold by worrying about everything that appears bad. Begin to praise His holy name that it, whatever “it” is, has already become a benefit to you and not a liability. Deny that old Adamic fleshly nature that Christ overcame on the cross.
You are your own worst enemy when you do not fully know or understand who God has made you through the blood and the water. Peter refers to those in Christ as “aliens and strangers” because your origin has changed from the earthly to heavenly. Christ was a stranger on Earth, and, since He is your life, you too are a stranger. Do not act like the earthy man as through you are of this world.
Prayer: My Father, Husband and faithful Friend, I want to identify with You. I want to relate to You as You identify and relate to me, a mere human. As You chose to live as a man on Earth just to be able to identify with my plight and then die for me that I may live with You, I give my life to You. I hide myself in Thee, O Lord, so that all I know of my identity is that of Jesus Himself. Selah.