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Archive for March, 2014

Accountability: helping each other carry the cross

Accountability: helping each other carry the cross

Engineering is somewhat defined as “someone trained in a practical application of the sciences, to design, construct, and set up the procedure of use and maintaining of machines engines equipment and various systems.” Hey hold on don’t close me down, science and the bible actually fit hand in hand they are not enemies so hear me out. Science is really just the process of repeat-ability. Like Jesus has never left me or forsaken me, therefore I can trust that will continue, not to mention the Bible told me so. OK

First of all let me say I am not an engineer, but have worked closely with several for about 20 years, and have a great respect for them. They are usually extremely smart, and great with math. Some of the old school engineers did not even have a high school diploma, but their common sense and craft skill, like machining landed them high level jobs and pay. My good friend Shawn’s father was such a man. I don’t think he made it through high school. He worked in Wichita in the aircraft industry and was amazing, He could design anything, and after his retirement they had to bring him back in for several years to train his educated replacements. So what in the world does engineering have to do with a mans spiritual life. I would suggest, lots.

If you are reading this looking for some tips on keeping your walk with the Lord fresh and moving forward, I am going to presume you read your bible daily, and pray daily as well. I will also assume you are in a healthy relationship with the body of Christ. I am assuming you are in some type of small group that is encouraging you to grow in Faith in Jesus, and His plan for you. So if not then back up and start there. If you don’t have followers of Jesus to be in relationship with, then ask the Lord for help. With all that said, we as men need to engineer in safety factors for our lives while we are clear minded and ready to do business with our flesh. I will be giving suggestions from my personal experiences which is the only thing I know about, God has been faithful to help me. My testimony.

Let me start with some scripture.

Luke 14: 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus is actually telling us that bearing the cross is discipleship. Discipleship must include counting the cost, making plans and following through with them to the end. That is what I am calling spiritual engineering. Men, we have to be deliberate and intentional in our spiritual life, but even more so in the hum drum of everyday work and play. We can pretend we walk in the spirit from the time our eyes open to the moment we fall asleep, but lets be real, the devil waits for a weak moment and eventually we give him one. What I am suggesting is, we engineer into our weekly routines safeguards. Here are some I personally live by.

Accountability would be first on most everyone’s list, but I would like to throw in a little twist. First off if your accountability partner has some hidden mess in His own life, then its safe to say he is not going to dig deep in your life, for fear of his own mess being found out. This is actually a huge problem so starting off right, is the thing to do. If not, it will end up being a guys night out, and you might as well go play golf. Complete disclosure from the beginning. Yes it can cost you everything that is the point. Let me share a bit of my story here. This is how you make accountability work.

Appreciate  History I love history and especially church history. I am in my 50’s now and have actually seen a little history myself. My wife had a brain tumor back in the mid 1980’s and had not been given much hope. By the 1990’s I felt so desperate that I became one of those revival chasers, running from city to city getting my wife prayed for. Pensacola Florida, Toronto Canada, and Smithton Missouri. She never was healed BUT the Lord has been amazing, sustaining her life through 3 brain surgeries and eventually having Her pituitary glands and Adrenal glands removed and She is still plugging along. We spent many years in Kansas City during the Kansas City Prophet days before Mike B. ever started IHOP. I remember being there on a Sunday night when one of the big “Prophets” had been exposed for used his gifting to do some inappropriate things. I remember Mike saying this is what happens when you refuse to be accountable. I had studied church history and knew the stories of great Men like AA Allen who started well BUT ended their lives as drunks. Many men have lost their way by chasing women or worse. Not just a few but many. I thought I don’t ever want to be in big ministry, let me stay hidden, yes one of those nameless faceless ones. At the same time we must be careful not to live our lives by fear, but by faith. Let me say I am concerned with my own history even more than someone else’s. I have never hidden the fact that in my 20’s before Jesus I was deep in sin. I am not proud of it and my wife endured a lot of pain because of me, But thank God the Lord and my wife forgave me. The key here is, I have not turned back to that life in 32 years. Not because of my strength actually the opposite, my knowledge of my weakness caused me to be transparent and open and ACCOUNTABLE. Through the years I have had several great accountability partners. Just a few months ago I lost the best accountability partner I ever had, Bob Hagberg who went to be with Jesus. Especially in the 90’s when we were living near one another He saw the broken John Gross many times, and nursed me back to spiritual health, and helped keep me from going back to the mess I once had. Thank God for Him. I hope you have someone so dear to help keep you moving in the RIGHT direction.

Forgive quickly Have you ever played Monopoly? If you have, you know about the get out of jail free card. In the realm of forgiveness you have an out. I ask you not to use the card. I wrote about what some say about “not forgiving someone unless asked.” You can read my words on here. https://riverflowsdown.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/does-god-require-me-to-forgive-if-not-asked-to/ The bottom line is forgiving frees not only you, but the perpetrator as well, and you can not go wrong by forgiving. Here is what I have found, many of the sins we as men deal with come from some type of wrong being done to us in our childhood, and a lie being established to cover it. If that can be looked at, and forgiven it breaks the chains of repetitive behavioral sin. Please take an honest look at your life and see if anything like that has happened. Then bring that up with your accountability partner and pray together to close that door and keep it closed. I have seen many people set free from years of issues by bringing those issues to the CROSS and forgiving.

My own story. I was in my early 30’s and my spiritual life seemed ok. I could see no big issues but I prayed a dangerous prayer. Here is that prayer. Father if you find any wicked way in me please show me so I can make that right before you. Instantly I remembered an event that had not crossed my mind in about 15 years. When I was 17 years old I was a mess as I stated earlier. An elderly lady at the church where my dad was pastor cornered me in the foyer of the church, and with Her finger in my face and in front of those around us, came some hard to hear words. She said “You are a disgrace to your father, this church, and to God.” I was furious and full of hate and pain. It was the thing that turned me away from those three things my father the church and God. I turned back to the Lord when I was 21 But that memory was locked away. Now in my 30’s and after that prayer being prayed I began to weep. I could fell all the rejection. It was not connecting yet, but after forgiving I knew. This is why, any time anyone even attempted to give me a corrective word I would retreat into depression which once given into, a door opened for my mind to run wild in ungodly thoughts. It had been a cycle for years and I had no clue why. But I prayed that prayer that the Lord put in me, and it set me free. Did I mention I went to find the lady to tell her I am a follower of Jesus now, and wanted you to know I held no grudge. I found She had passed away so I called the pastor of the church and told Him the story and asked If I could come to the church and stand in that spot where it had happened and release the whole thing. He laughed and said sure come on up. He was supportive, though I doubt He understood the depths of issues that left me that day. I encourage you to pray that prayer and be willing to forgive.

Love well and on purpose My grandfather loved his children but could never say it, he showed it. For the generation that came out of world war 1 and 2 and the great depression words were cheap, they new action. They poured their lives out as a drink offering for their loved ones. They gave beyond anything my generation or after can fathom. The generations growing up with Donahue and later Oprah have a “poor me” and “no one had it as bad as I did” syndrome. Now words are everything, and real action almost carries no weight. My wife and I have ministered to many women who have been beaten by a man who treated them beyond excuse. But with those words “I love you baby” boom they are right back in the abusive cycle. We have several generations in a row that are in desperate need of men to love beyond words, with righteous action. It was extremely hard for my fathers generation to learn how to use the love language when they had never heard it from their Fathers. Under the circumstances they did a great job in general. However my generation now in their 50′ have been so influenced by media and it has caused a short circuit spiritually.

The realty is, men we must do both, use the love language with your family, but let your actions speak even louder than words. Consistency is the deal, here are a few I have made high priority, we have to settle things before bed, don’t go to sleep angry, never argue with our spouse in front of the children. Never discipline the kids out of anger, go take a walk, cool down and pray, then discipline out of love. Honor your wife don’t let your children disrespect her, and if you don’t start this early you will have more trouble than you know how to deal with. Devotional life in front of and with your family is a must. Never Never turn to porn it will open a door so demonic you will need help closing it. Plan ahead for fun and relaxation it will not just happen. Ask the Lord for idea’s to help you as a Father and Husband. If you are a single guy ask the Lord to build into you these things. The bottom line guys is, it must be done on purpose and it must be planed in.

Plan for early Eternity I may take fire for this one and be accused of not having faith but so be it. I have been to more funerals of people who died way to early, in fact I am amazed at how many. Let me be blunt, anything can happen. Good people doing everything right loose their lives, because someone else is doing something stupid like texting while driving their car. About 10 years ago I was hit head on by car crossing the median at 70 mph. They life flighted that car load of people and miraculously I walked away. It caused me to think a bit deeper. If something happened to me how would I want my wife to live after I am gone. Grieving while trying to figure out how to pay the bills or just grieve. I decided just grieve, and changed my behavior to match my life and after life and made some preparations. I realize this might be offensive, but don’t go on without thinking through it a bit. Does our history match saying yes to Jesus and yes to the cross because it does actually put you in a position that martyrdom could be a reality as well. In many places it is a real possibility so we must live like it, and prepare like it could happen. America is changing faster than I would have believed even 20 years ago. It is coming.

I was recently answering some questions for a man 10 years younger than myself about some of these things that I just consider normal. He asked If I could put some of this down in a blog so I have. I will add some more as time permits but for now I hope I gave someone out there something good to consider.

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Here I go again stepping up on my soap box ever so slowly. I am sure  to get polarized comments to come, so let us all take a deep breath and examine some scripture that may help us all avoid some pitfalls.

soapbox

My motive here is nestled in my bewilderment of the changes in the church. I have been a christian for 32 years as of yesterday. But my history goes back just a tad further being born in 1961. I remember the BLUE LAW, no business on Sunday it was “Fellowship day”, no high school sports on Wednesday night that was “prayer meeting night”. Let me go on, school class room started with pledge allegiance to the flag followed by a volunteer student praying for a good day. Now you might say “for real” YES maybe you think that was terrible, maybe you think it was good, but we will all can agree it has changed.

I could focus on the fact that since 1973 there have been 57,191,366 abortions in the US as of today. But I would rather focus on the sin of the church one in particular. James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. If you dare to check the context you will find it is on boasting. Wow that would be way down the list of sins in the church. Why pick that one? It is starting to look like a horse race of sins in the church, the usual like sexual sin, is now common place and passed up by Being Proud Of It. The old front runner of gossip and backbiting was long passed by the new comer I Don’t Care Anymore. Yes I am being a bit silly making my point. It dawned on me this year while in Uganda when I watched a teen age ballet student who was on our little team gave an alter call in a PUBLIC school and nearly 1000 kids excepted Christ. 1000 you say? Yes and can you believe they can pray out loud and public in school something we have not done in the US for 40 years. Do I agree with everything they do NO they can be way to harsh on what the bible calls sin. We do not know how to even define sin anymore.

This brings me to my point defining things. How does the Church DEFINE the spiritual climate in America. It has become very divided mostly depending on End Time views, or the lack of, or the replacement of things to do with THE END. It would be great if Jesus would come back and release His long awaited justice and rule as KING. However it might be a while. So how we respond to the spiritual climate is important.

Let me say right now I am personally slowing down and seeking the Lord. Just Him, not what do you want me to do, or not do, just HIM. I am doing less and praying more when I say praying I don’t mean talking. I am doing that less. Listening praying, looks something like this. Reading scripture then being quiet. Yes I do have my list, but it is loosing its order of importance, and being in the Lords presence is increasing my desire to know Jesus more. Doing christian work out of that place seems better some how. Did I mention I am in a real place of weakness and brokenness and I can not even put my finger on why. It is actually refreshing to admit. So there!

With that said the title that brought you to this blog post is “Decree a thing! Who said that?” If we define Decree as telling the world what God has said, or even declaring to the heaven’s, then well done. However there are some, well meaning Christians who may have stepped over into something that will cause confusion in the end. If you do a study on google about Christians decreeing a thing you see their is a foundation to the theology. There are many scriptures having to do with decreeing, again if we are talking about prayer or singing the WORD, Scripture, the bible, What God has said, then fine.

What if its your own words, many websites speak of the fact that God created us in His image so we can do what he does create by OUR WORD. I would prefer to leave that to God. The foundation for this theological view comes from Job 22:28  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

Wow that is cool huh, God said to do it, NO actually He did not, that is actually Eliphaz the Tenanite one of Job’s friends. You might say wait a cotton picken minute, its in the bible so God said it. Hold on my friends the serpent is recorded in Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: God did not say that, the devil did but it is in God’s word. That my friends is why we have 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Yes we actually need to study.

If you read Job 2:11 and think God wants you out doing this as apposed to how I mentioned decreeing scripture earlier than you need to read the whole book of Job. When you get to chapter 42 you find God has a few things to say to our old friend Eliphaz. Here it is 7And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. 9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.

I think there is warning here, be careful quoting something that Eliphaz says as if God said it. The problem started a few years back when some of the Big name preachers starting doing this and selling books and Cd’s and the whole charismatic church followed with out being like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. They took every thing the apostles said through the grid of scripture. Sadly we could see some real changes in a good way right now in prayer for our country, but so much of the church does not see the real spiritual condition because they are to busy being Eliphaz.

Just sayin

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