A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label God's Mind. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God's Mind. Show all posts

October 26, 2019

What Does It Mean To "Have Your Mind Renewed"?

This is an excerpt of my book-in-progress on the Kingdom of God. Since I will be out of pocket for a few days at a retreat doing Inner Healing Ministry, I thought I would share just a portion of what the Lord has revealed to Mark and I about how the Kingdom is meant to infiltrate our lives and our Christian walk. Enjoy!

     As professed Christians, and having reached the state of Salvation, it is important to understand that we now have the opportunity to enter into the Kingdom of God, where we can have dual citizenship. Our flesh and soul reside in the physical world, but our spirit has the rights and privileges of a citizen of Heaven, seated [as we are] with Christ in the heavenly realms.
     Building on that truth, I now want to introduce you to a concept that I discovered during a class on the human spirit, taught by Dan Duval, Executive Director of Bride Ministries, and Pastor of Fire Place Church. Just as we recognize a Triune God – God, the Father; Jesus, the Son of God; and Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God – we are created as a triune man. We are created with a body, soul, and spirit.
     NOTE: This may be a new concept for you because I am aware that some denominational doctrines teach that the soul and spirit are the same thing. Hebrews 4:12 makes it clear that they are separate parts of us: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…
      We know that our body is made up of flesh; it is our physical body. Our soul is our mind, our [free] will, and our emotions. Our spirit is the part of us that is made in the image of God and is actually trans-dimensional. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians 2:1-3 when he says while we were dead in our sins [as citizens of the earth] we were influenced by “the dark ruler of the earthly realm [Satan] who fills the atmosphere with his authority”. But now, as saved Believers, we no longer belong to Satan, but have been “rescued completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness and been translated into the kingdom realm of God’s beloved Son. That word “translated” means we have been moved [in the spirit] from earth to heaven, and citizenship in Heaven has now been conveyed to us. In fact, that’s where the dual citizenship comes in; we have free access to Heaven while still here on earth.
      So, as citizens of Heaven, we are to no longer act or think as we did as citizens of this world. We are to become transformed, and the most powerful tool we have to make that transformation is our mind. That is the essence of Romans 12:2. But since we still live here on the earth, it should be obvious that there is a tremendous battle for our minds. In order to begin to act like a citizen of the new and different realm of Heaven, we must begin to think differently. We must begin to think like God and Jesus think, and develop the mind of Christ.
      But here is where our mind [as part of our soul] and our human spirit often come into conflict. Along with our body, our soul is the part of us that begins to exist at conception – our brain is formed and with it our mind; out of which comes our ability to think, and feel (our emotions), and to make decisions (our free will). Our spirit is the part of us that has pre-existed with God since the foundations of the world. And Jeremiah 1:5 tells us Jesus knew us before He formed us in the womb [as a spirit being, made in His image]. It is important that we understand that the soul and spirit are different and serve different functions. And because our mind is part of our soul and is intertwined with our physical body, it presents itself as the consciousness with which we engage the world. This is important to understand because our soul is designed to be submitted to our spirit; thinking and hearing and seeing ‘in the spirit’ so that, just like Jesus [who never did anything on His own, but only what He heard or saw from the Father], our mind can be in sync with our spirit and we can grow into the image of Christ. But until we have a conversion experience, our mind and soul may never be aware of our spirit, and never see or hear or interact with our spirit. 
     As Dan Duval teaches, we must remember that when we are saved, our spirit is one with the Holy Spirit (we are stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit). So, we can now understand that much of what the Holy Spirit is doing is happening in and through our spirit. The stronger our spirit is, the more powerfully the Holy Spirit is able to work in and through us. But our carnal mind [in the soul which is in the flesh] must submit to our spirit, which is now seated in the heavenly realm. IF our soul overwhelms our spirit and refuses to submit, then [although Saved] we will not be effective [or bear fruit] for the Kingdom because our mind will be focused on things of this world. 
     Being carnally minded, you can imagine that Satan is going to be only too happy to try to get you to revisit old memories and habits from your days in his dark kingdom. But we must become deliberate in our understanding of how God’s kingdom operates. We must consciously and consistently be in submission to God’s plan to restore the earth to His original design … man ruling earth according to the government of God’s Kingdom in Heaven.
      That means we must mature in our faith in order to renew our minds and let go of this carnal world and experience the spiritual realm. Paul explained this dilemma in Romans 8:5-9, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit... You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. If you are truly Saved and Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, then you now represent a different world: His Father’s Kingdom in Heaven, and you must be intentional about renewing your mind – changing the way you think and subsequently, act – all from God’s Heavenly perspective.
      That is why Jesus asked us to pray, Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed [holy] be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. As Bill Johnson writes, in his excellent book, When Heaven Invades Earth, “When we pray for His kingdom to come, we are asking Him to impose the rules, order, and benefits of His world over this one until this world looks like His … [God’s] world collides with [Satan’s] world of darkness and God’s world always wins. Our battle is always going to be a battle of dominion – a conflict of kingdoms”.
      And there will not only be a battle between the two kingdoms for dominion over our minds, but there will be a battle for dominion over the territories of marriage, the sanctity of life, sexual identity, our children, etc. Because our minds are powerful tools in the hands of God, we have to be able to discern if what enters our minds is coming from this world, hell, or from heaven. And if we know it is from heaven, then we must agree with it and act upon it. That will lead to a transformed life and kingdom living! Your mind must be sanctified unto the Lord and surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
      When we begin to think like God and act like Jesus and hear/see with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can collaborate with Them and bring heaven and earth into agreement through our thoughts and actions. All of Heaven’s resources are available to us through our spirit, which in proper alignment with our soul, prompts our minds to think and act righteously. Our human spirit will get a download from God [through the Holy Spirit] and then impart the divine thought or concept to our soul [which includes our mind]. The soul has to come together with the spirit in order to be implanted with the seeds of revelation, breakthrough, and those things that have been written upon our scroll in heaven. If our mind has been renewed to think from heaven’s perspective, rather than this world’s, then we will be able to receive the heavenly concept, plan according to God’s ruling principles, act on what has been revealed, and produce fruit for the Kingdom. Our mind/soul and the spirit must work together to give birth to the designs of God in the earth

 Romans 12:2     Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


July 27, 2019

Is Your Biblical Worldview Hebrew or Greek? It Makes A Difference!

      I absolutely love the study of history! I love to investigate why and how the modern world arrived at a certain philosophy or state of being; studying the origins and transformations that have occurred down through the years. And nothing excites me more than studying our faith in relation to the Bible and history.
     You see, it is critical for us who follow Christ to develop a Biblical worldview. That is, we must rightly view the world through the lens of God's Word. But if you study history, it is easy to see that the manner in which the Body of Christ/the Church has viewed God's Word has changed through the centuries. And I remember waking up to the reality that just because we believe certain things "according to the Bible" today, it may not necessarily be consistent with the original writings and intent of God's inspired Word. Will that sound blasphemous to some Christians? Probably so. But, I assure you that I am not casual nor arbitrary when it comes to determining my belief system. The Bible is always the foundation, and I rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me, counsel me, and reveal God's Truth. But I will also admit that I have had my theology rocked through such divine instruction and I have learned that He is always willing to grow me in my understanding, which sometimes involves changing what I've believed.
     I say all this to come to the point of this blog ... from the beginning of the Bible's existence there has been a tension between the Hebrew mindset and the Greek mindset when it comes to interpreting it and understanding it. After listening to a fascinating podcast on Dan Duval's show with Todd Weatherly, it confirmed what I had already discerned about most of the Western Church: first, they do not read their Bible; and second, they do not understand that the Bible is a Hebrew book, written from a Hebrew perspective. Too many Christians have wrongly subscribed [whether intentionally or not] to the belief system of Replacement Theology [ a Christian doctrine which asserts that the New Covenant through Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Covenant, which was made exclusively with the Jewish people]. In other words, adherents of Replacement Theology believe that the Church has now replaced the Jews as God's Chosen People to lead the world to a knowledge of Him.
   Nothing could be further from the truth. Just read Romans, Chapter 11. But getting back to my original premise, we must view the Bible from the perspective of who it was written to (the Hebrews) and how they would have understood its teachings and wisdom. That translates into how we view the world through the eyes of Scripture and the One who inspired it. In doing so, we hope to develop the mind and character and heart of our God. So, it's important to know which mindset God has, don't you think?
     Todd Weatherly summed up the differences between a Hebrew mindset and a Greek mindset in this simple way: The Hebrew mindset says, "I will do it [through obedience], and then I'll understand it." He says the Greek mindset thinks like this: "I need to understand it first, and then I'll do it".
     Here's another way to look at the differences .... the Hebrew mindset allows for layers upon layers of meaning. In fact, the Hebraic rabbinic schools taught four different ways of interpreting the writings of the prophets and the Law: 1) the literal, straightforward meaning of the text on which all else depends.  No further levels of interpretation can contradict the literal sense, but they can build upon it;  2) the implied meaning of Scripture, where you build on the implications that Scripture leaves believers to figure out for themselves, but provides the clues for it;  3) using analogies or moral lessons to explain the meaning of the Bible, and  4) the hidden level of interpretation.  The hidden nature of Scripture is how something that seems simple and straightforward and pointless (for example, obscure laws and stories and genealogies) applies to us personally.
     In addition, the Hebrew mindset can be taken too far. There is a mystical side of Hebrew religious philosophy that becomes so entangled in hidden and secret meanings, that it threatens to idolize human ability to gain spiritual knowledge, instead of recognizing that all giftings and knowledge comes from God. That's why the Bible warns us to Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. To sum it all up, the Hebrew mindset allows for varied interpretations, and a passage can have multiple meanings [both in the physical and the spiritual realms] -- all to be revealed to the reader from God's perspective.
      On the other hand, Greek thinking is very black and white; laden with precise exegesis rather than being rich in possibilities. Greek thought nails the meaning down; it can mean one thing, and one thing only. When we consider that Socrates lived 400 years before the crucifixion of Christ, and is considered the father of Western philosophy, we can understand why the Greek mindset would have been in direct conflict with the Hebrew mindset at the time the Bible was written and translated. The Socratic method of learning can be summed up, thusly: learning through the use of critical thinking, reasoning, and logic. From there, one questions, analyzes, and simplifies to get the one correct answer. The physical world contains the answer; the spiritual influence isn't considered.
     We can see the tension between these two mindsets exposed in the Bible.  Remember, Greek philosophy was not discontinued just because the Roman empire defeated the Greek empire. The Romans did not destroy the vast collections of Greek literature or the Greek philosophical schools and traditions of thought. The Romans were smart enough to preserve the Greek language, culture, and philosophies; even adopting much of the Greek religion, renaming the Greek gods and making them their own. Therefore, we see, in the New Testament, how the "Hellenizers" [Greek-influenced Jews] come into conflict with Hebrew Jews. The Hebrews were Jewish Christians who spoke almost exclusively Aramaic, and the Hellenists were also Jewish Christians whose mother tongue was Greek. They were Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora [taken into captivity during previous attacks upon Israel's homeland], who had returned to settle in Jerusalem. Acts 6:1 portrays this reality: Now about this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, a complaint was made by the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) against the [native] Hebrews (speaking Aramaic), because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 
     Why should all this matter? It matters because the way you think about God determines your ability to perceive His nature. If you read the Bible from a Hebrew mindset, then a Virgin Birth is possible; the parting of the Red Sea is seen as a miracle of God; Joshua's Long Day is unquestioned; turning water into wine really happened; the feeding of 5000 men and their families was a reality; the resurrection of Christ really happened; and we have been given authority and power to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.
     A Greek mindset would read the Bible and say the Virgin Birth was based on pagan myths, or that the word "virgin" was a Greek mistranslation of a Hebrew word which actually meant "young woman". The Greek mindset explains the parting of the Red Sea as the phenomenon of "wind setdown" - where strong winds can push water away from one place to pile up elsewhere. Joshua's Long Day is explained away as a repetition of a Greek myth of Apollo’s son, Phaethon, who disrupted the sun’s course for a day. A Greek mindset will say Jesus didn’t really feed [the 5000] or anybody with actual food, did he? He fed them with information – food for the soul. The fish and the loaves are metaphors with symbolic meanings. Those with a Greek mindset will explain the Resurrection this way: Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, who became the Roman god Bacchus. There is a Greek myth which says that Dionysus was raised from the dead. Therefore, some early Greek Christians might well have been former worshipers of Dionysus, and since there was 40 years since the death of Jesus and the first written gospels, there is plenty of time to mold "the Jesus story" to replicate the Greek myth. And finally, the Greek mindset will have no trouble in believing in the doctrine of Cessationism, which states that the supernatural does not exist in this age, and the spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the apostolic age.
     Can you see how the events of history have influenced the way people interpret the Bible today -- even Christians!? There have been many intellectual and philosophical movements throughout history that have affected man's interpretation of Scripture, even to the point that we now have versions of the Bible that contradict each other! The translation from Hebrew [or Aramaic] to Greek to English hasn't helped, either. But perhaps the one that has had the most lasting effect upon our culture is the Enlightenment, also called The Age of Reason. The Greek mindset was at the heart of this philosphy, which scholars describe as "an epistemology (a method of thinking and knowledge) based on the presumption that the natural [physical] world is best understood through the use of close observation by the human mind, coupled with a reliance on reason." Doesn't leave much room for God's supernatural and divine will, does it? Perhaps this conflict explains Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 10:5, We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ...  
     As God is awakening His people to the re-discovery of the Gospel of the Kingdom, it is important that we know which mindset our Biblical worldview is based on. The Greek mindset has been reinforced since the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. But the Kingdom of God is not reasonable! It demands our life, even to the point of martyrdom. There is no amount of critical thinking or analyzing that can make laying down your life for Christ seem logical. It is the power of faith alone that leads us to that conclusion. One only need to read 1 Corinthians 4:20 to understand this correlation: For the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power.  
     There it is! The Hebrew mindset will allow you to see the power of the Bible. The Greek mindset will attempt to logically debate its promises. That results in the ability of the Enemy to build structures in your mind that are barriers to the supernatural knowledge of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. When an attack comes, it is then far too easy for us to revert from what we know in our heart [the spiritual knowledge of Jesus] to a Greek mindset of trying to overcome in our own power, using logical thinking. So, take the time to answer these questions ... Do you read the Bible to know the Most High God? And if you are reading the Bible, what is the mindset of God? Is He revealing Himself from a Hebrew mindset, or a Greek? And finally, What is your Biblical worldview? Your ability to walk in the fullness of God's purpose for your life depends on those answers. They are important. Take them seriously!

1 Corinthians 1:22-25     For Jews demand signs (attesting miracles), and Greeks pursue [worldly] wisdom and philosophy, but we preach Christ crucified, [a message which is] to Jews a stumbling block [that provokes their opposition], and to Gentiles foolishness [just utter nonsense], but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort].

January 6, 2019

Our Sanctified Imaginations

     Whenever Mark and I receive one of God's Beloveds into our home to participate with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in an Inner Healing session, one of the most important factors in the success of that session is the Beloved's theology. What does he or she understand about God? Since there are always underlying experiences in a person's life that have led to spiritual pain and wounds, it is paramount that we all comprehend the "spiritual mechanics" by which both the Most High God and our Adversary operate.
     Most of us are familiar with Paul's exhortation in Ephesians 6 to "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil... and in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one." And just what are those flaming darts? How do they affect us, and how do we extinguish them?
     I want to start off by saying that I am not alone in contending that our minds are a battleground. In fact, many books by prominent Christians have been written on the subject. And how many of us can identify with this statement: I know that I have fears concerning _____, and whenever a thought about it pops into my head, I am soon imagining all kinds of bad things happening, before it even starts!"  That's how a fiery dart works. And it can serve to keep you in bondage to fear, guilt, shame, anger, self-rejection or any other of the many accusations the Enemy lodges against you.
     So, here's what perplexes me -- why do so many Christians let the devil use their imaginations against them, yet refuse to engage their imaginations with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to get set free? Just because Satan uses our imaginations for evil doesn't mean that God can't use them for our good! Don't the words of Joseph to his brothers in Egypt apply here -- "what you meant for evil against me, God meant for good"?
     I wholeheartedly agree with Walter Brueggemann, who is an Old Testament scholar and theologian who is widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades. He wrote: “The key pathology of our time, which seduces us all, is the reduction of the imagination, so that we are too numbed, satiated, and co-opted to do serious imaginative work.” We are told that we can't trust our imaginations; that we open ourselves to deception when we use our imaginations. "Guided Imagery" has become the catchphrase of those Christians who think employing our imaginations in spiritual matters is a slippery slope. NOTE: I will agree that man's human imagination is subject to being corrupted when not empowered by and engaged with the Holy Spirit. But that's not what I'm talking about here.
     So let me ask you this ... doesn't our imagination play a huge part in our relationship and revelation of God? Here's how I see it ... YHWH is a Creator God, and from His mind He created the universes and all that is in them, including us. We are made in His image. We resemble Him. We may not have His Divine mind, but we are a reflection of His mind/intellect and the freedom that accompanies it. That's why man can create things, too: art, music, and plays for instance. And why we can tell you the color of our spouse's eyes; visualize the snow-capped Rockie Mountains; and describe the brilliance of an ocean sunset -- when we are not in any of their presence!
     And you want to know why it is imperative that Christians use their imaginations? Because we worship "the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Can you honestly tell me that you have never used your imagination when worshiping or "thinking upon" Jesus? Even if you only picture a familiar rendition of what He looked like, you must use your imagination to see that image in your mind. 
     The dictionary defines the word imagination this way: the action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. And this is exactly the purpose behind Jesus using parables to teach His disciples. He was challenging them to lead a new way of life by hearing His "story", thinking about it, and applying it. It is impossible to understand the Parable of the Sower without using your imagination to "see" the different types of ground and what happened to the planted seed in each of the scenarios, and what that might mean in your faith walk.
     And that is how your imagination can be used in receiving Inner Healing. When we ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be present, the Beloved can picture what was once a wounding experience and see it as a healing event when Jesus walks into that experience. We know that He was there ... He told us that He would never leave us nor forsake us. So by seeing the reality of that truth -- instead of the lie the Enemy has been telling you all these years -- God allowed it to happen; God didn't care about what you were going through; God abandoned you in that moment -- the Beloved can receive a new image of that experience in the Light of God's love. What Satan once used to keep the Beloved in bondage is now seen as an act of being set free! The devil can no longer torment the Beloved in that memory because the pain of that wound has been replaced by the presence of Jesus in the memory and then sealed with His blood. What was once an open, painful sore in the mind, heart and spirit is now a scar; and scars don't hurt.
     Is the imagination "guided" towards healing in this scenario? Often the healing is spontaneous and instantaneous. But if it is guided at all, it is guided by the Holy Spirit. I believe God has given us His gift of imagination, and I have been blessed to witness Him speaking into that gift through the Holy Spirit, who guides a Beloved to receive the healing that only Jesus can bring.
     In conclusion, I want to say this about using our imaginations to hear from God. One of the most beautiful and inspiring Psalms in the Bible is Psalm 23. Strictly speaking [and without using our imagination] we can say it is a poem about God caring for us the way a shepherd cares for his sheep. But I can, in no way, discern the immeasurable love and power of God in those six short verses without using my imagination. Yes, my spirit can recognize the truth of the words, but it is my God-given imagination that allows my human mind to picture the green pastures and still waters of His provision and peace; my God-given imagination that speaks to my human heart that I have nothing to fear -- not even Death; and it is my God-given imagination that extracts the truth my spirit already knows ... I have an eternal inheritance awaiting me. 
      So, I will end with this thought ... Yes, we can know about Christ and God and the Holy Spirit by sticking strictly to the written Word and understanding it with our logical and reasoning mind. But to know Them is a different story. Knowing about Them and knowing Them are too different things. And I believe that we were created to tap into the creativity of the Godhead by using our imagination, the gateway into Their Presence. It is my prayer that you will reflect upon God and His goodness towards us, being open to revelations that God wants to share with you. Ask Him to sanctify your mind unto His and to use your imagination to glorify Him in the world. You do not have because you do not ask. It's time to ask. 

 Philippians 4:7    "Then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ". [As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.”]