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

Showing posts with label Imagination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Imagination. Show all posts

October 26, 2020

"Religion" Is Not What Jesus Modeled!

You would think that we American Christians would be grateful that we still live in a free society where we can practice our faith without overt persecution, and that we would support and encourage each other in the incredible freedoms we enjoy to explore and grow in our relationship with Christ. You would think that, wouldn't you?

But, just as Jesus faced constant challenges from the religious Pharisees, I am still seeing opposition, and even hostility, towards Believers, like myself, who have been called to offer encounters with Jesus that are unconventional and outside the boundaries set by religious traditions. As I have shared many times in past posts, the Inner Healing Ministry [to which the Lord called Mark and I] has been the subject of many attacks by Christians who object to it as "un-Biblical" or "un-Scriptural". But is it? 

In addition, when the Lord showed us that Jesus's primary reason for being sent by the Father was to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, we were accused of disparaging the Gospel of Salvation. It didn't fit the established doctrines of mainstream denominations. Yet that is exactly what Jesus says in Luke 4:43... that's why He was sent. In the Book of Matthew, He talks about the Gospel of the Kingdom 56 times, and never mentions the Gospel of Salvation. Granted, our Lord came to be the Lord of the Jews first. Christians did not exist at that time; those non-Jews who would come to believe in Him as the Son of God were called Gentiles and most often worshiped pagan gods. It wouldn't be until after the Jews rejected Him as their Messiah, He was resurrected, and appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, that Jesus instructed His message be offered to non-Jews. 

And I will say it again ... SALVATION WAS IMPORTANT TO JESUS! He experienced a horrific death on the Cross to give it to us! But the Bible only records Him talking about it once, to Nicodemus in the middle of the night, away from the religious leaders of the Jews. He makes it clear that Salvation is necessary and essential to see [discern or perceive] the Kingdom, and one must be Saved to enter the Kingdom. The religion of Christianity has grasped the concept of Salvation really well, and they have promoted it, preached it, and taught it around the world. But Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come."

So, it is with sadness [and a modicum of frustration] that I am still hearing Christians criticizing each other when one of us presents a different form of His message from a platform that doesn't correspond to what they think should be the prescribed formula. Jesus didn't model the Jewish faith in the system the Pharisees thought was acceptable, either. In fact, to use a modern euphemism, Jesus didn't color inside the lines.  So, when I hear Christians say that a person's Salvation should be the first thing that we "accomplish" in introducing them to Jesus, I want to have a sincere conversation about determining exactly what Jesus modeled for us. The Sinner's Prayer [or the Prayer of Salvation] does not have to be the first or the be-all, end-all of any ministry opportunity. And I don't see Jesus demanding any litmus test to follow Him. He was all about relationship, not rules.

And I should probably, at this point, head off any criticism that I am saying "anything goes" when it comes to presenting God's Word or representing Jesus and the Father. I am not. We must present the Truth of the Bible according to Scripture. But I think the Father has given us unique ways to do that, and we do not have to be religious or uncompromising about the protocol. If Christians would spend some time reading their Bible and verifying what they have been taught, I think they would find that Jesus's modus operandi, if you will, was to show the love and mercy of the Father to those He came in contact with. When the people experienced the power of God in their lives to heal, to forgive, and to extend His grace, they were more likely to listen to His message and teachings about the Kingdom -- which remember, was His purpose. He wasn't so concerned about following any methodology, or repeating a formula or technique. 

When you can invite women to a retreat and witness the sharing of testimonies of how an intimate relationship with Jesus healed a miserable childhood experience; or how different our journeys can be to develop a faith life; or even just that its okay to start right where you are, without fitting any "model" of what your Christian walk should like, then you are showing the heart of God to love us into relationship with Him. That relationship will lead to Salvation, and then we can share the Gospel of the Kingdom. And when someone can come to us because they have nowhere else to turn and are desperate to be rid of the oppression and attacks from an Enemy they don't even know -- and we can help them have an encounter with Jesus, whom they've never known, then you have been blessed to give them that gift. And if they are not saved, this encounter with Him gives rise to the opportunity to share the messages of Salvation and the Kingdom. Both circumstances are just two of many different ways that follow the model Jesus has portrayed for us. He first healed the blind man, and then introduced His Father's Kingdom. He met the woman at the well, revealed Himself to her, and then told her to sin no more. 

Jesus healed the pain first and then said, "Go, and sin no more". These people were more willing to hear His message after they had experienced His heart and received healing. We would do well to remember we are all sinners and treat others the way Jesus did. He didn't judge other sinners. And He didn't give them a free pass. He guided them into a new way of thinking about how to confront sin; He showed them mercy. He didn't condone sin or pardon it. He was clear that the Father's will for our lives should take precedence over our own free will. The simple truth is that He showed the Father's love and will for us through His actions and the only prayer that He suggested was a prayer that revealed the Father's Kingdom and His willingness to deliver us through His power and glory. 

I have nothing against the Sinner's Prayer. It is easily understood and provides a way to help someone repent for their sins and begin a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, as their Savior. But unless that someone is discipled and encouraged and trained in the ways of the Lord, that Sinner's Prayer can become a mechanical gesture. Can we find it in our hearts to accept that there are other ways to lead a person to that relationship and to truly know the One who has Saved them? Can we not demonstrate the self-righteousness of the Pharisaical mindset? God has made each of us unique according to His purpose for His Kingdom on earth. Can we agree that He just might use unique people and unique ways to reach us? Let's try to give our fellow Christians the grace that Jesus showed others who didn't fit the mold. After all, it's the end result the Father is after ... receive Salvation through faith in His Son and then enter Kingdom to spread that Gospel to all the world. I'm pretty sure there are as many ways to do that as there are people. And I think the Father enjoys seeing the creative ways in which we reveal Him and His Truth. That represents the magnitude and vastness of His own creativity. That's how great our God is!

Romans 12:6   Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them accordingly ...






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.”]