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Posts tagged ‘freedom’

What Forgiveness is “NOT”

Adapted from:  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 206-207.

To understand what forgiveness is, we must first see what it is not.

Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Forgiveness involves a series of decisions, the first of which is to call on God to change our hearts. As he gives us grace, we must then decide (with our will) not to think or talk about what someone has done to hurt us. God calls us to make these decisions regardless of our feelings–but these decisions can lead to remarkable changes in our feelings.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is a passive process in which a matter fades from memory merely with the passing of time. Forgiving is an active process; it involves a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. To put it another way, when God says that he “remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25), he is not saying that he cannot remember our sins. Rather, he is promising that he will not remember them. When he forgives us, he chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again. Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God’s grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. This may require a lot of effort, especially when an offense is still fresh in mind. Fortunately, when we decide to forgive someone and stop dwelling on an offense, painful memories usually begin to fade.

Finally, forgiveness is not excusing. Excusing says, “That’s okay,” and implies, “What you did wasn’t really wrong,” or “You couldn’t help it.” Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. The very fact that forgiveness is needed and granted indicates that what someone did was wrong and inexcusable. Forgiveness says, “We both know that what you did was wrong and without excuse. But since God has forgiven me, I forgive you.” Because forgiveness deals honestly with sin, it brings a freedom that no amount of excusing could ever hope to provide.

Three Essentials to Thriving Marriages

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Three Essential Ingredients for A Healthy Marriage

Many of us have grown up in homes where sinful attitudes and destructive behavior are accepted as normal. We’re so used to being mistreated or disrespected, controlled and manipulated we don’t recognize it as such.

On the other hand, some of us grew up on a steady diet watching Hollywood and Harlequin’s version of love and marriage. They portray unrealistic and distorted ideas around love and marriage as well. They want us to believe that if you have enough sexual passion, the rest of the relationship is easy. It’s a lie.

Let’s look at what are some of the foundational ingredients for a marriage to be healthy and why these basics are crucial if a marriage is going to flourish.

Essentials to Thriving Relationships

Every grown-up relationship requires three essential ingredients to thrive: mutuality, reciprocity, and freedom.

Mutuality means that both individuals contribute specific qualities essential for the care, maintenance, and repair of the relationship. They are honesty, caring, respect, responsibility, and repentance. In marriage, both individuals make efforts to grow and change for the welfare of the other and the preservation of their relationship.

Destructive relationships lack mutuality. Tim Keller, in his book on marriage writes “The Christian teaching [on marriage] does not offer a choice between fulfillment and sacrifice but rather mutual fulfillment through mutual sacrifice.”  When you are the only one in your marriage caring, repenting, being respectful and honest, sacrificing and working toward being a better spouse, or having a good marriage, you are a godly wife but you don’t have a healthy or biblical marriage.

Paul writes about the importance of mutuality in healthy relationships throughout his teachings. For example, he wrote, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV).

Paul also emphasized mutuality throughout his teaching on marriage. Husbands and wives may have different roles and responsibilities but he calls both to mutually fulfill them. Paul explains the mutuality of the sexual relationship. He writes, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4 ESV).

Peter too speaks of mutuality when he writes, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” And, “Likewise husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:1-2,7 ESV).

These instructions to husbands and wives work great only when they are practiced by both the husband and the wife. Both are to give, both are to sacrifice to meet the needs of the other. When these directives are not practiced mutually, it is a very different picture. That does not give wives permission to give up or to disobey God’s instructions although that path is tempting when we feel mistreated and angry. Instead, talk to God about how to handle this lack of mutuality and your hurt feelings. You do not have the power to turn a bad marriage into a good marriage all by yourself. But Peter reminds us that by our godly attitude and actions we can behave in ways that can influence our husband to surrender to God’s transforming work of change in his life (1 Peter 3).

This brings us to the second essential ingredient of a thriving relationship: reciprocity.

Reciprocity means that both people in the relationship give and both people in the relationship receive. Power and responsibility are shared and there is not a double standard where one person gets all the goodies in the relationship while the other person sacrificially does most of the work. The apostle Paul validates reciprocity when he gives guidelines how to give our resources sacrificially but not foolishly. He writes, “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14 ESV).

Destructive marriages are not reciprocal and therefore don’t thrive. One person demands power over the other and relegates their partner to the status of a slave or a child. For example, John required Mary to be accountable for every penny she spent yet John did not hold himself to that same standard. He always had an excuse as to why his spending was more justified than Mary’s and often spent large amounts of money without telling her. Mary worked a full time job as did John. Mary was required to direct deposit her entire paycheck into their joint account. John only deposited an equal dollar amount of his paycheck into their joint account. The rest of his income was put in a separate account with only his name on it. Mary had no access to it, nor did she even know what John’s income was. There was no “we” to their financial decisions, John held all the financial power, Mary felt like a child being given an allowance.

To rebalance their marriage and create a healthier relationship Mary will need to speak up and require more reciprocity from John. And John will have to change how he sees and treats Mary. She needs to become his partner, not his possession if their marriage is to become healthy.

Something to keep in mind is that there may be seasons in every marriage where one person gives more than the other due to illness, incapacity or other problems, but when that happens, as soon as the individual is capable, the relationship is rebalanced and power and responsibility are again mutually shared.

Lastly, our third essential ingredient of a thriving relationship is freedom.

Freedom means that in your marriage you are allowed to make choices, to give input, and to express your feelings without fearing you’ll be badgered, manipulated and punished. When freedom is present, we’re not afraid to be ourselves nor are we pressured to become something we’re not.

Freedom is an essential component in all healthy adult relationships. We’ve all witnessed the results in world history, in fundamentalist religious groups, and in families where freedom is squashed. Members are not free to question, to challenge, to think differently than the group. They are not free to grow or to be themselves without fear of retaliation. Instead they have to do and say and be what the group or person in charge tells them. That is not healthy or God’s plan.

Although God wants unity in a family and in the family of God, he created great diversity. We are to be ourselves and be of one mind all at the same time. This one mind idea doesn’t mean melding ourselves into the desires or demands of another individual but together living for a common purpose and goal, the kingdom and glory of God.

Married couples need freedom to thrive. I do not mean the freedom to do whatever you want regardless how the other person feels. When you commit to someone in marriage, you freely choose to limit some (not all) of your choices. But all healthy relationships need freedom to disagree, to respectfully challenge someone’s decisions and to be the person God made them to be. Having your freedom of movement, choices, friends, and emotional expression restricted by your husband sends the message that you are not allowed to be a whole person in your own marriage. Instead you are to become what your husband tells you to be. This is not healthy for you, for him, or for your marriage.

Below are 16 traits of a healthy marriage. Answer the questions to see whether your marriage is relatively healthy.

1. My spouse shows care and concern for me and my needs.  Yes    No

2. My spouse has my best interests in mind.  Yes    No

3. My spouse asks my opinion on things.  Yes    No

4. My spouse trusts me.  Yes    No

5. My spouse works with me as a partner to parent our children.  Yes    No

6. My spouse is willing to get help for our marriage problems.  Yes    No

7. My spouse takes responsibility and apologizes when he’s wrong.  Yes    No

8. My spouse asks for my opinion on things in our marriage.  Yes    No

9. My spouse is considerate of my feelings.   Yes    No

10. When we have a problem, my spouse is willing to talk about it.   Yes    No

11. My spouse uses the Bible to correct his own life.  Yes    No

12. My spouse listens to advice from wise people.  Yes    No

13. My spouse allows me to be myself.  Yes    No

14. My spouse allows me to make my own decisions.  Yes    No

15. My spouse allows me to disagree.  Yes    No

16. My spouse is a good steward with our finances.  Yes    No

If you answered these questions with mostly “yes,” your marriage is relatively healthy. One or two “no” answers indicate some weak areas in your marriage. More than three “no’s” indicate an unhealthy marriage. More than five “no’s” indicate a destructive marriage.

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Adapted from The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick.

To Forgive or Not To Forgive: My Choice!

 SOURCE:  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Forgiveness: The Reason and the Responsibility

We hear the following phrase a lot, but often in the wrong context or delivered from an impure heart:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free – John 8:32. 

Forgiveness requires that we face the truth: the truth of Christ’s forgiveness; the truth of our own need for forgiveness; the truth that if we are ever to be free we must receive Christ’s forgiveness, and forgive those who have hurt us.

You see, in order to experience true freedom, we must forgive those who have caused us harm or disappointment … even when that means forgiving ourselves. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve … because of Christ Jesus. When we turn to Him, He freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

How can we do less? Forgiven by the Lord, we have the power, the reason, and the responsibility to forgive others. Forgiveness is not a feeling we need to muster up, it is an actual choice we make. When you realize it is a choice, then you must consider, “what are my options?” So let’s take a look.

Door #1: You don’t forgive. You remain aloof and detached, or bitter, resentful, angry, and vengeful. A terrible side effect is that people still have power over you. That’s because you need to extract some payment or amends from them … an apology, their suffering or an experience of pain, a sacrifice, or penance. And they can withhold it as long as they want and play you like a puppet.

Door #2: You do forgive. It becomes easier to let go of the bitterness, revenge, and entitlement. You experience freedom from the past. You have an opportunity to grow something better with them. Or you can totally disconnect from them because now you don’t need anything to make the “transaction” complete. You have relieved them of their debt, so they can’t “withhold” anything from you to string you along. Now you are letting God be their judge. And He is much better at determining their consequences and doling it out to them.

Sometimes it is hard to let go. In fact, when we have been deeply hurt, it may not be possible to forgive … on our own, that is. But it is important to remember that we don’t have to do it alone. Through the power of Christ, God has forgiven us. When we truly and humbly accept that, we have the perspective and power to forgive anyone else for any transgression against us. That’s real freedom! Your decision, so choose well.

Today, examine your heart. Identify relationships where there is uneasiness, anger, bitterness, resentment, revenge, sarcasm, or irritation. You probably have to make a decision about forgiveness. If you are struggling to forgive, ask God to help you. He loves you. He cares and He is able. Look at your other option. It is more painful to withhold forgiveness than it is to forgive.

Prayer

Dear Father God, I’ve kept these feelings of resentment and unforgiveness buried much too long. Help me to face the truth … and then to forgive myself and others. I now realize that forgiveness isn’t about others feeling good. It is for me to feel better and be right with You! Thank you for your mercy and forgiveness. Help me to show the same to others, even those who have hurt me. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who paid for my forgiveness, Jesus Christ;  AMEN!

The Truth

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

Surrendering Control to God

SOURCE: Taken from an article at  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network Ministry

If you were ever a victim of abuse of any kind, you certainly felt you had no control in the situation…whether it was mild, like ridicule or harshness from your parents, or ranged to any other form of mistreatment like neglect in a dating relationship, or misuse of power by someone in authority. Unfortunately, for some, the abuse might have been extreme or even violent…bullying, sexual coercion while dating, mugging or physical assault, sexual molestation, or even rape.

Unfortunately, none of us escape all mistreatment.

We associate the abuse with losing control, so we make a subliminal promise to ourselves never to be in that dependent position again. We then try to control most situations…including every relationship in our lives…to make sure our vulnerability never answers the door when potential abuse knocks. An important downside of this self-protective strategy is we now have a hard time being vulnerable to, and dependent on God and His loving but controlling hand in our lives.

So, we rebel against His instruction and control. I know. I was hardheaded about turning control of my life over to Him, letting myself be vulnerable to someone…and although I am much better, I still struggle with it. But in the past, I tried being independent, controlling all areas of my life. It landed me in jail, with alcohol and a fear of other’s opinions and feelings as my masters.

None of us can be free to become all we were meant to be until we recognize that God is in control…that He loves us and wants to care for us. We are fooling ourselves when we think we can successfully make it through this life on our own. In reality, we need to lean on Him…on His wisdom, strength, love, character, promises…and especially, on His son, Jesus Christ.

Today, assess whether you are in control of your life, or whether God is.

Remember, this man you read about, Jesus, loves you. He is inviting you to put your hands in His and let Him guide you and help you through all circumstances of life…regardless of what ever has happened in the past. Stop trying to figure out everything on your own. Stop trying to forge through life depending upon your own strength and understanding. Let Jesus love you. Let Him help you reach your full potential and accomplish all the good things He has called you to do. He actually died for you…for the simple reason that He loved His Father…AND YOU! Your decision, so choose well.

 Prayer

Dear Father, forgive me for thinking I could make it through life on my own. I need Your help and Your guidance in everything I do. Help me to stop trying to control everything…help me to listen to Your voice…to obey You…to trust You. I have been leaning on myself and what the world offers, and my hole only gets deeper. Thanks for loving me more than I love me, and for showing me how much You really love me by taking my penalty and place on the cross. I pray this in the name of the One who was sent to take my place, and who teaches and guides me, Jesus Christ;  AMEN!

The Truth

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

Proverbs 3:5-7

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:15-17

Being “trapped” is exactly where Satan wants us

 SOURCE: Adapted from an article at:   Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Addictions – the Stone Gods

As kids, none of us set out with the goal of feeling trapped in an addiction.

Sadly, after a slow and insidious beginning, that is the ultimate end for all addictive behaviors: enslavement.

Addictions make us slaves to that object. Some people can feel the enslavement very specifically. Others are fooled into thinking they aren’t enslaved, because the takeover is so subtle and usually occurs over a big chunk of time. The reality is, we easily become slaves to the objects that soothe us. Being “trapped” is exactly where Satan wants us. He cleverly disguises our addiction objects. Because we aren’t stupid, and really don’t want to be slaves, Satan has to be subtle and crafty to help us progress down the enslavement pathway.

People can find themselves obsessively and compulsively hooked on almost anything. The object of desire for an addict is always staring them right in the face.

For some it’s using food as a source of comfort. For others it can be substances, control, relationships, anger, spending, Facebook, the phone, sports, TV, anxiety, panic attacks, guilt, fear, hobbies, money, power (think parent tactics), a loud and intimidating voice, the silent treatment, avoidance … man, the list is endless. Just think of how many times these responses or objects got you into trouble, yet you still do them. That is enslavement.

People caught up in an addiction have replaced God with an idol.

They have found something that promises a good time, makes things better or easier to deal with, or makes the pain or struggle go away. What entered life as an understanding resource, tool, friend, or savior quickly became a cruel master.

The problem with idols is that they are chosen because we want what we think they can give us, not because of what they actually are. We believe that they will do something for us, so we give them our devotion. But they are actually stone gods … illusions and lies that give us a little, but then trap us by interfering with the full, long term relief that going to God will actually bring in-full.

Today, know and spread the news that for believers there is great hope. We are not alone in our addictions. No matter where we are, the Holy Spirit is within us and intercedes for us before God.

When you are uncomfortable emotionally, notice what you turn to for soothing. Today’s scripture tells us that we are “crucified with Christ, therefore we no longer live, but it is Christ who lives within us.”

This is the truth: we do not struggle alone. Christ is with us, and in Him we are free. When we are focused on Him, we can find the strength we need for freedom and victory over all our addictions. Your decision, so choose well.

Prayer

Dear Father God, Today more than ever I need You to live up to that divine title of Savior. I need You to save me from myself, my addictions, my fear, my burdens. I am so tired of trying to do it on my own. I am weary and exhausted, stressed out and alone. Come to me and save me. Free me from my fears and help me to hold onto You, so that my life, dreams, and hopes can be renewed. I pray this in the name of the One whom You sent to set me free from all enslavement, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Isaiah 61:1

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:20

Trapped by a Life-Controlling Problem?

SOURCE:  Living Free

“We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.”

James 1:14-15 CEV

When we choose to look to a substance, behavior, or relationship for help only God can provide, we have chosen to follow an idol—and we find ourselves dealing with a life-controlling problem.  Life-controlling problems usually trap a person slowly and progress through a predictable pattern.

A person is often lured into experimenting with a dangerous substance, behavior, or relationship because it provides a feeling of exhilaration. We call this pattern “The Trap” because it often snares its victims before they realize what is happening.

Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee, founder of Living Free, states, “Addiction is death on the installment plan. No one ever plans to be trapped by a life-controlling problem, yet it happens all the time.”

Consider this … 

Life-controlling problems usually progress in four stages:

(1) experimentation,

(2) social use or practice,

(3) daily preoccupation, and

(4) practicing just to feel normal.

Not everyone progresses through all these stages; however, there is no way to predict which people who begin the pattern will continue to stage four. The best time to deal with a life-controlling problem is before it begins. We need to be honest with God and with ourselves.

Is there an issue in your life that is tempting you and dragging you into a trap?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Prayer
Father, search my heart. Help me see anything within me that is developing into a life-controlling problem. Forgive me, and help me turn from it. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from …

Living Free by Jimmy Ray Lee, D. Min. and Dan Strickland, M. Div. 

Slaves To Sin, Free From Christ – OR – Slaves To Christ, Free From Sin?

SOURCE:  John MacArthur/Grace To You

As much as we’d like to abolish slavery in practice, and even from our memories, the Bible demands that we remember. Slavery has everything to do with our relationship to Christ. We are His slaves, and our slavery to Him is the guarantee of our eternal security.

Historically, nearly every society on earth has practiced human slavery. In the Roman Empire, during the time the New Testament was written, slaves accounted for roughly one-fifth of the population. Slaves were of all ages, ethnicities, and both men and women. Some slaves engaged in hard labor, while others had an easier, domestic existence, serving in a household.

No matter what kind of slave labor they performed, every slave was owned by a master. Slaves did not have personal rights. They had to obey their master. Disobedience guaranteed severe punishment; more serious offenses could result in death.

Slaves from Birth

Not many today know what it’s like to be treated as a piece of property, forced to serve a human master. But the Bible tells us in Romans 6:17, “we were slaves to sin.” The verse before that says “we obeyed sin.” Sin was our master and we had no choice but to obey.

John MacArthur, in his recent book appropriately entitled Slave (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), gives us a picture of sin as a domineering master,

Sin is a cruel tyrant. It is the most devastating and degenerating power ever to afflict the human race, such that the entire creation “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:22). It corrupts the entire person – infecting the soul, polluting the mind, defiling the conscience, contaminating the affections, and poisoning the will. It is the life-destroying, soul-condemning cancer that festers and grows in every unredeemed human heart like an incurable gangrene. (pp. 120-21)

The Bible tells us the truth: we were not only infected by sin, it owned us. Sin was our master and we had no choice but to serve.

But we didn’t think of ourselves as “enslaved to sin,” did we? No, we thought we were free! And in a warped, twisted, perverted sense, we really were free: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Romans 6:20). But our pride deceived us about our true condition, making us think we were free when we were wrapped in the chains of our depravity.

We had no resources to free ourselves, just as a human slave can’t buy freedom from his human master. The only hope we had was if someone would purchase our freedom.

Redeemed by Christ

And that’s the good news: Jesus redeemed us from the slave market of sin—that’s the doctrine of redemption. Redemption is Jesus Christ paying a price we could never pay to deliver us from our bondage to sin through His death on the cross.

Redemption has its roots in the Book of Exodus where we read of God liberating His people, Israel, from their bondage as slaves in Egypt (Exodus 6:615:13). The picture of redemption became clearer, more specific, and more profound when Christ came to die on our behalf. His death ransomed us, purchasing us from the slave market of sin so that now we are slaves to Him (Romans 6:1822). When He died, we died too, which is what Romans 6 tells us: “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (vv. 6, 7).

Paid in Full

When we consider Romans 6, (along with other passages in the NT), the truth of our redemption will not only fill our hearts with joy that we have been ransomed from sin, but also strengthen the confidence in our eternal security.

Our redemption has a divine origin. God is the one who initiated our redemption. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). We did nothing to earn it. We could no more contribute anything to our redemption by God than an impoverished slave could contribute to his purchase by a human master.

Our redemption delivered us. Paul writes in Galatians 1:4 that we are “delivered from this evil world” and in Colossians 1:13, “He delivered us from the power of darkness.” Before we were Christians we were slaves to sin, free from Christ; now we are slaves to Christ, free from sin. “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Our redemption is complete and certain. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:1819: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible [or perishable] things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

God did not purchase our freedom with gold or silver, the typical currency for buying human slaves, but with the blood of His beloved Son. Christ paid full price to secure our ransom from slavery to sin, to seal our salvation. He paid the price of His own precious blood, which is incorruptible.

Christ’s redemption signals an eternal change in our relationship to Him.

  • God did it, so it can’t be undone.
  • Christ delivered us—we are under a new Master now, and our old master can’t get us back.
  • God paid the full price of the precious blood of His Son. There’s no person, there’s nothing in existence that can pay a higher price to buy us back.

He bought us with His life. We are His slaves. He is our Lord.

Jesus Christ, Lord of All

Let me draw this to a conclusion by delivering what I promised. How does slavery to Christ guarantee the security of our salvation? Historically, slaves didn’t leave their human masters at will—if they tried, they were hunted down, captured, severely punished, or killed. Likewise we don’t have the liberty to walk away from our masters in the spiritual realm. It requires the power of God to part us from slave-master Sin, and once His redemption is accomplished and applied, there is no power that can break the hold our Master has over us. We belong to Christ. We are His slaves, His precious possessions forever.

Unlike the slave-owners throughout human history—from the cruel to the benevolent, and everyone in between—Jesus Christ is the greatest, most tender Master. Here are His words to all who would surrender to His lordship: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Jesus Christ is the only Master worthy of our devotion. It is He who cements the connection between slavery, redemption, and eternal security. His redemption is perfect, final, and forever, and those who are His slaves, though they be prone to wander, can never walk away.

The Basic Principles of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith

Principle OneOur present situation is rarely the true cause of our ongoing emotional pain.

More often than not, the emotional pain we feel in the present tense has been triggered by lie-based thinking, which is rooted in memory.  Lie-based thinking is the false belief one holds in memory learned during a specific life event.  For example, a man raised by an alcoholic parent might believe the lie that he was somehow the cause for the chaos in his home and responsible to resolve it.  This might in turn play out by his being stressed, anxious and over-reactive to life situations in which there was perceived lack of order.  If we blame the present situation for the emotional pain coming from the earlier memory event, we will be trapped in an irresolvable cycle of emotional pain and defeat.  To believe that other people or circumstances are the cause of our emotional upheaval is to empower them to control us emotionally until they change.  When we find freedom from the lie-based thinking, we will no longer be triggered by it and can walk in peace, content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11).

This is a common scenario in marital conflict.  Each partner in the relationship assumes that the pain he or she feels is being caused by the other.  When in reality, each one is merely triggering the other’s lie-based pain. It is difficult to admit that one’s mate is not the source of the pain and that he or she is only exposing what was already there.  It is easier to make someone else the cause than it is to choose to hold myself responsible for the emotional pain in my life.  This is not to say that what the other person may have done was inappropriate or justified, for it may not be.  However, our emotional response often goes much deeper than the current moment.  If what I am feeling is rooted in my own lie-based thinking and I blame another, then I am doomed to suffer in this pain until the other person changes.

Principle TwoEverything we presently know, feel or are mentally aware of has its roots in a first-time experience.

Everything in my brain got there at some point in time.  Therefore, anything that I access in the present tense from my thinking had a point of entry.  When we react negatively to a present situation, our mind is automatically transferring the negative feelings stored in the memory of the original experience to the present moment that is similar to the original experience.  This is a natural neurological process of association that is active during all thinking moments.  Our minds are continually networking and linking our present moment to the information learned in earlier places.  Our minds provide input as to how to respond to a current situation based upon how we have responded to similar situations in the past.  Actually, we respond to the present based upon what we have come to believe to be true within the past events.  This automatic superimposing of past emotional responses onto later similar situations will have great bearing on what behaviors we choose to act out.  We tend to act out the way we feel.  If we act out our present pain, we will likely manifest sinful behavior.  This is not to say that some people will deny the pain and choose to act rightly as opposed to acting out their pain. It is merely suggested that many people, much of the time, tend to act out of the pain that has surfaced.  For those who choose rightly, they just feel bad while doing the right think.  Both places feel pretty miserable.

Principle ThreeIf we try to resolve our present conflicts without resolving our historical lie-based woundedness, we will find only temporary relief for our emotional pain.  However, if we find healing for our past, we can redeem our present.

Some of today’s counseling and ministry methods typically try to change the present behavior of a person by providing new insight and steps of action to modify the behavior they are to carry out.  This is often only a stopgap measure and may not result in true and lasting victory if the underlying lies are not addressed.  This is not to say that discipleship and teaching are not important, for they are.  However, some have been led to believe that controlled behavior is equated with spiritual maturity when in fact many unbelievers are doing a good job of performing in this same arena.  True victory is a work of Christ in us.  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

It is not based on my effort, determination or willpower but is a natural overflow of His work in me.  This does not negate obedience, repentance, discipline or effort on the part of the believer but rather puts all of these practices in a divine perspective.  Salvation is by faith and grace, and so is the walking it out. The apostle Paul declared that we should walk in Christ in the same manner that we have received Him (see Col. 2:6).  Self-control that is provided and maintained as a by-product or fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:23) is different from controlled behavior that is a fruit of man’s effort.  When I know the truth and reside in the peace that Christ gives, my “self” is under control as a work of God in me.  When I am walking in falsehood and experiencing emotional duress, I have to control myself to keep from acting out on the painful urges.  Controlled behavior is better than sinful choices, but self-control provided by the Holy Spirit is best.

Principle FourSince many of the negative emotions we currently feel are reflections of the past, they provide opportunities for the wounds of our lives to be exposed and thus for healing to occur.

It is difficult to address that which has not been identified.  God will either allow or orchestrate our surroundings to bring us under duress and testing in order to expose what is our true core belief system (see 1 Pet. 4:12-13).  It requires little effort to perform at a high level of “spirituality” when things are going well with us.  However, when the fire comes, our impurities are made evident and whatever is on the inside (our true belief system) is made evident.  These impurities, falsehoods that we believe, will express themselves through our emotional state and consequential behavior.  What we truly believe is made evident through our feelings.  As I have already stated, we will feel what we believe.  If we choose to follow the smoke trail of our stirred-up emotions back to their original memory source, we may discover the lie-based belief causing the emotional pain.  It is here we can find complete freedom from the emotional pain produced by these lies as we receive truth from the Spirit of Christ.

Principle FiveTo facilitate emotional healing, we need to identify the three basic elements in the healing process:  (1) the present emotional pain, (2) the original memory container and (3) the original lie(s) implanted in the memory container.

The present emotional pain is the feeling that surfaces in our current situation when a memory-based lie is triggered.  The original memory container is the original event in which the lie-based pain was implanted and stored.  The original lie is the belief that was implanted in the original painful memory causing the present pain.  Each of these three elements plays a part in our thinking, feeling, and behavioral responses to life.  The present emotional pain is an indicator that a lie-based belief is being exposed.  All lies have their original root in a memory source.  When the lies contained in these memory sources are identified and exposed to the light of Christ, freedom can follow.

Principle SixPeople are in emotional bondage due to two basic factors – belief and choice.  These two factors are rooted in the context of deception.

This is a very important concept.  Belief and choice are the foundation of everything about me.  Because I believe the things I do, I make choices.  These choices maintain the perpetual cycle of bondage in which I suffer.  However, freedom also involves these two primary factors.  As I come to know God’s truth (belief), I am able to make different choices.  Freedom occurs as I receive the truth from the Lord and then choose to walk in it.  The one additional element in this truth process is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who grants us new thoughts, leading tot he knowledge of His truth that allows us to come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil  (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Principle SevenWhen we believe a lie, the outcome will often have much the same consequences as though it were true.

The power of a lie is such that if we believe it to be the truth, it will play itself out in our lives as though it were true.  Our belief dictates much of our present reality.  Therefore, as my thinking changes, so does my reality.  When the Spirit of Christ brings truth into my thinking, He replaces the lie with truth, and I find genuine release and peace where I once only knew pain.

It is common for a person to contain opposing beliefs at the same time.  I can believe that I am forgiven for a sin in my life (logical truth) and still feel shameful when I think about what I have done (experiential knowledge).  The belief producing the shame has the real power in my life and is also that which will produce the most consequence.  My emotional state will point you to my true belief system.  It does not matter that what I believe is false; it will have much the same outcomes as though it were true.

Principle EightTo be free of the lies we believe, we must identify and own the lies rather than suppress or deny we believe them before we can be free from them.

Our natural inclination is to deny that we believe lies and to bury the apparent pain they are producing.  If we do this, however, we will maintain a cycle of perpetual defeat in our lives.  As long as lies remain embedded in our minds, they will continue to surface as pain every time they are triggered by situations similar to their original implantation.  If I believe that I am worthless and this lie causes me to feel such, I may choose to deny this belief and perform with “confidence” and become an overachiever with notable success.  On the outside this appears to be a good thing, but the purpose of the behavior is to deny and bury what I rally hold to be true, thus keeping me in bondage.  Freedom requires that I acknowledge and take responsibility for what I believe and feel its corresponding emotional pain.  I must choose to lay down my feeble defenses and attempts to deny my pain or to project the pain onto others or onto life circumstances.  In this honest context, God is released (by my will) to free me.

Principle NineIn the midst of our “darkness,” we must come to realize how utterly bound we are to the lie and how helpless we are to overcome its debilitating grip on our lives apart from God’s divine intervention.

As we experience the emotional pain in the memories, we realize that we are helpless, we are trapped in our emotional bondage and we cannot make the pain go away.  This is the same place people in the New Testament were when Jesus healed them physically.  It is the same place Paul found himself when Jesus spoke truth into his painful circumstance when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

When we try to break free through self-effort and working hard, we will eventually fail.  We have no more ability in ourselves to overcome the sin and lies in our lives today than we did before the Cross.  Christ in us is our power to overcome, not self-effort.  Freedom is not a “you and me, God” process, but an “I am weak, but He is strong” realization.

Principle TenNo person, including ourselves, is capable of talking us out of the lies we believe.  We will be free only when we receive the truth from the One who is Truth (see John 16:12).

God is not limited in the ways he chooses to deliver His truth to us.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is but one method He uses.  However, much of the training seminars and self-help books being written are based on the idea that if a person can be helped to see what is wrong in his or her thinking and be provided with truth, he or she can then choose to replace false thinking with the truth and change his or her life.  Cognitively receiving truth may have little or no impact on releasing a person from the lie-based emotional pain in his or her life unless it is delivered to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is incorrect to assume that people can walk in victory by making right choices and trying hard.  Self-effort and controlled behavior can achieve moment-to-moment abstinence but not true victory. Such thinking lies at the heart of works-sanctification and is the basis for most other world religions.  The truth is, most people already logically know why they are in pain and logically hold the truth they need, yet they are still in emotional misery and still cannot find their way to freedom.  However, when the Holy Spirit is speaking to people who are listening, glorious things always happen.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry simply encourages people to listen as the Lord reveals His truth to their hearts and minds.

One of the clearest passages in the Bible that describes this process is 2 Timothy 2:24-26.  Here the Apostle Paul gives instruction on helping someone who is believing falsehood.  “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, [if God perhaps will grant them repentance.  The original meaning of repentance being a change of thinking], so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

Notice that we as ministers or “servants of the Lord” are called to teach and correct those who are in opposition (this is discipleship), but it is God who accomplishes the task of setting them free.  For until “God grants them repentance [change of thinking]” they cannot come to “know the truth.”  It is important to note that the word translated “repentance” here is not necessarily “turning from sin” as it is often understood but rather the changing of one’s thinking.  The Dictionary of Biblical Languages, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon all define repentance as “change of mind which results in change of life (style).  The word “know” here means to embrace experientially as opposed to having just logical mental assent.  This is the same word that Mary, the mother of Jesus, used when she said to the angel that she had not “known” or had intercourse with any man.

We ministers have an important role in leading people to the place where they are willing to submit themselves unto God and receive from Him.  However, unless He grants them repentance or a change of thinking, they will never be free.  When God grants new thought, people come to “know the truth” and “come to their senses” and thereby “escape the snare of the devil” (the snare is the lie-based thinking).  The words translated “coming to their senses” can also be understood to mean to “sober up” or see clearly.  As the Lord grants “change of thinking” the raging swell of pain becomes a placid calm.

Principle ElevenWhen we know the truth experientially, having received truth from God in our memory experience, we can walk in genuine maintenance-free victory in these areas of our lives.

The areas of our minds that are renewed with truth will no longer be stirred up with lie-based pain.  Since our emotional pain is a primary motivator for our inappropriate behavior, we are able to walk in permanent and maintenance-free victory in these specific places where our lies and painful emotions are no longer present.  Knowing the truth experientially frees me to walk in my present righteousness so that I might experientially agree with the Apostle Paul who declared, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; [which I tend to do when I am emotionally stirred and in pain] but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God [which is effortless when I am walking in the truth and peace of the Spirit]” (Rom. 6:12-13).  When I say maintenance-free victory I am referring to the fruits of the Holy Spirit that are produced not through my self-effort but as a natural by-product of the abiding truth of Christ and His residing peace.

Principle TwelveIn times of crisis or in emotionally charged life situations, our experiential knowledge tends to override our logical truth.

Experiential knowledge (not necessarily truth) is that which I have come to believe through experience.  This knowledge is primarily my interpretation of the experience more so that the details of the event.  For example, if I was abused as a child, my experiential knowledge may be that I believe that I am dirty and shameful.  Logical truth is that which is confirmed truth learned through cognitive processes such as personal study and biblical instruction.  The power the experiential knowledge holds over the logical truth is in the painful emotion, which is often attached to the knowledge learned in experience.  I can know logically that God loves me and has forgiven me of my sins and yet not be able to shake the bad feelings of worthlessness, rejection, self-hate or shame attached to the lie-based thinking in my experiential knowledge held in memory.  When these lies are triggered, I have no choice but to feel their pain.  Some suggest that we should just deny these feelings and walk in victory.  Although some practice this, most would confess that this approach is lacking joy and fulfillment.

It is difficult to appropriate logical biblical truth if what we have learned experientially is contrary to our logically held truth.  But as we go to the lie-based sources, discern the lie and receive the experiential truth God has for us, we can readily appropriate the logical truth of Scripture we comprehended only cognitively before.  It is easy to logically believe that we are loved and fully accepted by God when we experientially hear Him tell us “I love you” in our painful memory experiences.  This is not to say that we should not choose to obey the truth and do what is right even while in the midst of our emotional pain.  However, while obedience in the midst of lie-based pain has merit and is praiseworthy, it is better to be able to obey from the heart without having lie-based pain in our face.  This is effortless victory that comes when the knowledge of our experience lines up with what we already know logically.

Principle ThirteenLie-based pain can only be removed as the lies causing the pain are replaced with truth, whereas sin-based pain can only be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.

The only cure for sin is the Cross.  This pain is different from the pain one carries as a consequence of lie-based thinking.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry does not minimize the role sin plays in the life of a person.  If we sin, we will and should fee pain. However, it is not an either-or but a both situation.  The writer of Hebrews said that we must “lay aside every encumbrance [weighty things and lie-based pain] and [both] the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).

I am not suggesting that Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is the only way to accomplish this.  But this is a systematic way of leading people to the place where God has always been.  He resides in truth and rewards those who seek Him.  This is nothing new in relation to what God has been doing within His people all along.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is merely an avenue or process for effectively appropriating one aspect of God’s process of mind renewal and sanctification.

HEALING, HELP, AND HOLINESS IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

SOURCE:  BILL BELLICAN

A lot happens in life in the present moment.  Anything (good or bad) can happen at any given moment.  What’s even more real (and amazing) is how God desires that we grow in our ability to engage with Him about all things in all moments.  In other words, He desires to have a vibrant, interactive, moment-by-moment fellowship with each of us in each present moment of our lives.

Concerning the more painful side of life, God constantly invites us to commune with Him, to discuss with Him the hard realities of life as we are affected by and experience these realities, and to depend upon Him more.  As we do these things, we learn how to wait on and watch for His wise and loving involvement in all our life needs and situations.

Among the hard realities of life are that we are responsible for and experience the consequences of our own personal sins, we suffer at the hands of others who sin against us, and we live in a fallen and broken world that sometimes comes crashing down on us.  As a result, we encounter hurts, wounds, engage our own unhealthy coping behaviors, are subject to the attacks of Satan, and find ourselves constrained by various strongholds of negative thoughts and emotional responses. This all makes life, at times, exceedingly miserable and difficult.  Furthermore, any unhealthy or dysfunctional responses we make to these hard realities hinder our progress toward holiness and being made Christ-like which is God’s will for us.

As we learn to take full advantage of our present relationship with God and invite His involvement in every present detail of life we encounter, we learn how to talk with Him more deeply, intimately, and honestly and to trust in His good and loving ways to deal rightly and compassionately in our lives and makeus into the person He intends us to be.

The following are just some examples of various interactions I have with God in the present moment as I bring before Him my genuine needs for healing, help, and holiness in my life:

— I ask the Holy Spirit to help me acknowledge to the Lord any specific strongholds of thoughts — things that “feel” true to me in an unhealthy, negative sense.  I offer these strongholds up to the Lord  trusting Him to begin displacing them with His truths.

— I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any lies or untruth unknown to my conscious mind that I am believing in the present moment.  Then I choose to bring this lie-based thinking into the healing presence of Jesus for Him to renew my mind.

— I ask the Lord for His Lordship over any specific behavioral strongholds (i.e., destructive coping behaviors and habits) that affect me.  I request He demolish the strongholds as I faithfully look only to Him to do what I am powerless to do.

— I ask the Lord to make it possible for me to hear and sense only His truth that I might receive it in place of lies and distorted thinking.  I willingly choose to dedicate my all (i.e, everything good and bad about myself) to the Lord, and I reaffirm my current situation/thinking/feelings belong to Him along with my desire to be enslaved only to Him.

— I confess to the Lord any aspect of actual sin or compromise on my part that occurs to me including my awareness of and regret about my fallenness and potential to sin.

— I realistically share with the Lord the hurt, wounds, pain, bitterness, and unforgiveness I feel as a result of what others have done to me.  I request His Power to release to Him these wounds/hurts trusting Him to take them away and deal with them as He will.  I ask for the ability to trust that He will right every wrong done to me in His way and timing.  I also ask to receive His ability to forgive and release others for what they have done to me. I even boldly tell Him about any anger or hurts I have toward Him and ask for His perspective about these while trusting He will lovingly carry my distorted perspectives away as He cleanses me.

— I recall who I am to and in Christ and ask that the Holy Spirit remind me about my God-given position, rights, and privileges as a member of the family of God that I might proclaim and experience the reality of these truths.

— I choose to proclaim (in the Name of Jesus) that I resist Satan, his demons, their influence, and all lies as I obediently seek the Holy Spirit’s filling/control and the empowerment to put on the spiritual armor  of God.

— I choose to rebuke (in the Name of Jesus) Satan, his demons, and their lies, and I ask the Lord to rebuke these, also.  I reaffirm that God chose me as His own forever.

— I proclaim to the Lord how I choose to rejoice in Him (with His enablement) regardless of what my circumstances, struggles, failures, feelings are, since Who He is and What He allows are rooted in His Goodness toward me.

— I ask the Lord to show me what obedience to Him looks like, to train me in obedience, and to motivate me to obedience as a way of expressing my love for and faith in Him as He demolishes strongholds in my life along with the unhealthy thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors attached to these strongholds.

— I praise God for Who He is,  because of His total involvement and interest in every minute detail of my life, and for His indescribable love for me as He works within these details.

May these be of help to you as the triune God — Father, Son, Holy Spirit — engages you in a deeper, more intimate, real, more constant communion with Him in the present moment as He brings to you: healing, help, and holiness.

Scriptural References:  Pr 23:7;  Zec 3:1-2;  John 8:32, 36;  Ro 8:29, 12:2;  2 Co 10:3-5;  Php 4:8; 1Th 3:13, 4:3;   Jude 9

IT’S “YOUR” LIFE, CHILD!

(Author:  Unknown)

I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.

I can allow you freedom, but cannot account for it.

I can give you directions, but I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can take you to church, but I cannot make your believe.

I can teach you right from wrong, but I can’t always decide for you.

I can buy you nice clothes, but I cannot make you lovely inside.

I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to be a friend, but I cannot make you one.

I can teach you respect, but I can’t force you to show honor.

I can grieve about your results, but I cannot doubt those in authority over you.

I can advise you about friends, but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you the facts of life, but I cannot build your reputation.

I can warn you about drinking and drugs, but I can’t say “NO” for you.

I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can’t achieve them for you.

I can allow your decision-making, but I can’t be responsible for your actions.

I can teach you kindness, but I can’t force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make your morals.

I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God’s Family.

I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Him your Savior.

I can teach you to OBEY, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.

I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

DEDICATION: Giving Myself to the Lord

(Adapted from Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie)

Some present dedication as the entire answer to all the problems of the Christian life; others give it little place; and most do not understand the place of rededication in the whole matter.  To be confused at this point is to do damage to the entire biblical teaching on Christian living.

Throughout Scripture the call to dedication is always based on blessings already granted.  In other words, God appeals to His children to dedicate their lives on the basis of the fact that He has richly blessed them.  Although there are many “mercies of God” which should motivate the believer to dedication, probably the chief one in the background of dedication is redemption.  Since redemption is so basic to dedication, one needs to consider three words, which are used to convey the concept.

The first is a simple word that means to buy or purchase or pay a price for something.  In relation to our salvation, the word means to pay the price that our sin demands so that we can be redeemed (Rev. 5:9; 2 Peter 2:1).  And it is only by the blood of Christ that the price can be paid.

The second word for redemption conveys the idea that the death of Christ not only paid the price for our salvation but also removed us from the marketplace of sin in order to give assurance to us that we will never be returned to the bondage and penalties of sin.  Christ’s coming was in order “to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:5).  The use of this compound word in this verse assures us that we can never lose that adoption as sons and be returned to bondage.

The third word signifies that the purchased person is also released and set free in the fullest sense.  Redemption in its fullest connotation means that because of the shedding of the blood of Christ believers have been purchased, removed, and liberated.  Since redemption includes this idea of freedom, this means that the child of God is not automatically a servant of the new Master who bought him.  If that were so, then the sinner’s bondage would only have been transferred from one master (sin) to another (Christ).  The truth is that Christ has purchased us in order that we might be free, and He does not take unwilling servants or slaves into captivity.  That accounts for the exhortations, rather than commands, which we read in the New Testament to offer ourselves willingly to the Lord in dedication of life.  Or to put it another way, those who have been set free from the slavery of sin are asked to enter voluntarily into a new servitude, and the request is made on the basis of the very act that set them free.  The awesome purchase price of the very life of the Son of God should be more than ample motivation to make every child of God eagerly want to yield back to the Lord the very freedom that His death bought.

What is it that the Christian is to dedicate?  The answer is himself.  “Present yourselves to God” (Rom. 6:13), “present your bodies” (Rom. 12:1), “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20), “submit yourselves…to God” (James 4:7) – this is the uniform appeal of Scripture, and it concerns our bodies.  If this is so, then it follows that dedication concerns the years of one’s life, since that is the only period in which the body functions.  Dedication concerns the present life, not the life hereafter.

Very often dedication is mixed up with salvation.  Salvation concerns my personal relationship to Jesus Christ as my Substitute for sin that unless paid for would bring me into eternal condemnation.  Dedication concerns the subjection of my life to Jesus Christ as long as I live.  Salvation involves the sin question; dedication, subjection.  But too often some make dedication a condition of salvation and this is nothing less than adding works to the grace of God.

If dedication concerns the years of one’s life, it is directed primarily to the question of the control of that life.  Simply stated, dedication concerns whether I will direct my life or whether Christ will.  Dedication does not pose the question of whether one will go to the mission field; nor does it ask whether one will turn over his business to the Lord.  It faces the Christian with the question of who will be the master of the years of his life.  Once that is decided then the question of every other detail of life has automatically been involved in that basic decision.  Dedication should never be presented as a matter of yielding to some thing or in some area; it should always be directed toward someone, the Lord Himself.

To dedicate in some area or in relation to some thing will, of course, mean that only that area or thing has been yielded to the Lord’s control.  Then in the course of time another problem or decision will face the person, and he will have to decide whether or not to yield to the Lord’s will in that respect.  Then another choice will arise.  Then a crossroad will appear, and so on and on through life.  Each time the believer will be faced with deciding his basic relationship to the will of God.  It will be like weeding a garden.  This year you pull up one weed; another year, another.  In the meantime more weeds grow, and there is never any basic settledness toward the will of God.  But if one dedicates his life with all of its problems, decisions, situations, and circumstances – both known and unknown – as decisions arise they can always be faced in light of the fact that there has been a basic, total and lifelong commitment to the will of God.  Thus the area of dedication is one’s whole life.  This will involve the details of life, but it involves them not as means to dedication but as results of dedication.

The dedicated life (the initial act of dedication plus continuous commitment to it) involves at least three component features and are delineated in Romans 12:1-2.

1) The dedicated life must be initiated by the believer by presenting himself as a living sacrifice.  The presentation of body is reasonable or rational or logical in view of the greatness of the mercies of God in salvation.  Too, it is a sacrificial thing since we are asked to live for Christ in the daily routine as well as in the more unusual occurrences of life.  We are to be living sacrifices, not dead ones.  And of course, this presentation is to be a complete one.  This means clearly a total presentation, not a partial one, and it includes all that we know about ourselves at the time of presentation and all the unknown future.  It includes the good that we possess as well as the bad.  We do not give over to the Lord just those aspects of our lives, which we cannot control or that we wish to rid ourselves of, but we give Him, everything including the good traits and talents.  And all is for Him to use or not us use as He sees fit.  This is the logical, sacrificial, total, and decisive presentation of dedication.

2)  The dedicated life also involves a separation or nonconformity to the evil age in which we live (Gal. 1:4).  The meaning of nonconformity involves the idea of being unfashionable.  This is a very vivid expression and throws the light of God’s Word on so many of our ambitions, activities, goals, standards, and programs which are too often geared to the methods of the day rather than to the glory of God.  Separation from the world, or nonconformity, is being unfashionable, and this is a necessary characteristic of the dedicated.

3)  The third feature of the dedicated life is transformation.  Both separation and transformation are required.  The positive transformation is done by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18), but the center of it is the mind.  In this passage we find the mind is the center of the transforming activity of the Spirit in the life of the believer.  Too often we think of total depravity as affecting man from his neck down, and we unconsciously exempt the head from the effects of sin.  We conclude that what we think or the attitudes we have are free from the effects of the fall.  That is not so, and the fact that the transformation of life centers in the mind demonstrates this.  We need to think God’s standards in order to have our lives transformed into His likeness.  He who is light, holiness, and truth is our standard, not the world with all of its counterfeits.

Does the act of dedication have to be repeated?

The scriptural picture is an initial act of dedication which includes all of oneself for all of one’s life.  This should never be taken back; therefore, when a dedicated person comes to a crossroad in life or faces a decision, he is not faced with deciding again whether or not he will do the will of God.  This has already and forever been decided in that initial act of dedication.  He must only find what the will of God is in this situation; then he will gladly do it.  This is the biblical picture of a dedicated life.  But, of course, when Christians come to such crossroads and decisions they sometimes choose not to do what they know is the will of God.  In such instances, sin enters and their dedication has been violated.  They miss the will of God and substitute their own will in the particular situation.  They may be out of the will of God in a major area or in a minor area of life, but in either case they have gone back on their dedication vow.

What is needed in such cases to remedy the situation?  Is it a rededication?  In a sense one might call it that, but it is a use of the basic word dedication with a different connotation.  The rededication is not a doing again of the same thing that was done at the time of dedication; therefore, the rededication connotes something different from dedication.  In such a usage, rededication means getting back on the track on which you started at the time of dedication.  It would probably be better to call the remedy restoration, and this comes through confession of sin.  Choosing to do your own will even though dedicated is a very real possibility since God does not remove from us the freedom of choice when we dedicate ourselves to Him.  When we wish to recognize and admit that we have thus sinned, the remedy is not rededication but confession of the sin and restoration to the place of fellowship.  Then we can go on living a dedicated life.  It is not necessary to start over; and even though sin leaves its mark, it does not always mean that everything is lost.  Confession and restoration may, therefore, be frequent in the dedicated Christian’s life.  But a rededication (meaning doing again the same thing that was done in dedication) is really not an accurate way to express the remedy.

But if rededication is not really a wrong concept (if it means restoration), why quibble over the use of the word?  This is why – in practice a rededication emphasis gives one the picture of needing to pluck out this sin, get rid of that wrong, change that fault, so that if you rededicate often enough you will eventually become dedicated.  Rededication becomes a means of dedication, not a route to restoration.

Each believer stands on one side or the other of dedication.  Either we have made this lifelong commitment or we have not.  Either we have faced the issue of who is to be the master of our lives or we have been plucking up one sin at a time.  If there has never been a dedication of life this is the next step each must take.  If there has been, then it is always profitable to examine the present state of that dedicated life.  If in any area one’s dedication has for any reason been violated, then the remedy is confession to God and restoration by God.

Dedication, first of all, relates to the will of God.  Romans 12:2 says that the result of presentation, separation, and transformation is “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (KJV).  This means that dedication brings the knowledge, the doing, and the enjoying of God’s will for that life.  A life lived in the light of the will of God is not a sinless life, but it is a life directed in the right path; it is a life that grows and matures day by day.

Dedication is also related to the filling of the Spirit.  To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit.  To dedicate one’s life to God is to yield control to Him.  Thus dedication allows the Holy Spirit to fill the life of the believer.  An undedicated life reserves control for self and thus prevents the Spirit’s filling that person.  Of course, if dedication is violated, the filling ministry of the Spirit is hindered.  Thus dedication is a prerequisite for being filled with the Spirit.

Lord, I know You as my personal Savior and nothing will ever change that.  However, in obedience to Your command, I want You to be the Master of my entire life and being.  In faith based on Your Goodness, Compassion and Righteousness, I give ALL ownership of myself to You.  This includes all my rights, privileges, freedom, possessions, plans, dreams, hopes, longings, all my good and all my bad aspects….everything about me….no strings attached…both now and for all time.  I desire to be enslaved only to You.

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