3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

3rd Week of Advent:  EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the violence, suffering, and injustice we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

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A Brother's Personal Story: Mentoring Gone Awry!

Dear Readers In my last post, we discussed the difficult and often painful subject of mentoring that has turned into control rather than freedom and maturity in Christ.

A dear brother responded with his own story. David Bolton writes scripturally, deeply, and yet clearly on his outstanding website, Christ-Centered Christianity. David gets it about the supremacy of Christ in all things, so when he shares, I listen.

cropped-potters_wheel

God desires to, as David has said, "restore this aspect of spiritual fathering and mothering in His family, as it is as important in the spiritual realm as it is in the natural for raising up matured sons and daughters. It is good to share our stories in this regard for we know the enemy ever seeks to distort what God has designed for His glory. We overcome him, though, "...by the word of our testimony!"

Listen with me as David recounts his own journey as a young believer.  May the Lord use this to open the eyes of those who may be caught in the throes of a spiritually unhealthy relationship with another believer.disciples

David's testimony in his own words:

Thank you, Jan, for posting on this subject.  I too had a spiritual father/son relationship early on in my walk that initially was a great blessing to me, but also went awry over time.  A spirit of control grew stronger and stronger as time went on and got to the point where I had to make a decision to come out from under it. That process was very difficult because I didn’t want to be rebellious on the one hand, but it also began to involve other people in a consequential way, and so I/we had to make a break.

A few truths from Scripture were very helpful to me in discerning the true nature of the relationship at the time, which wasn’t easy while in the midst of it as a young believer. The first was Romans 8:15 which says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.” I realized that the relationship that I had with my spiritual father had become marked almost entirely by the first part of that verse rather than the second. Spiritual sonship should never be based on a spirit that makes us a slave again to fear, but one that evokes a loving, trusting heart which cries “Abba”, Father! Since that is true in our relationship with our heavenly Father, it should, likewise, be true in our relationships with the spiritual fathers and mothers He has given to us.

The second truth I discovered came when I searched the Scriptures carefully concerning the relationship that Paul had with Timothy, and also with Titus, whom he owned as “sons” in the Lord. I noticed that Paul referred to them an equal number of times as “brother” as he did “son”. That was an important insight for that balance seemed to be absent in my relationship with this older brother. It had become all father to son authoritarian. I believe that in Christ, we are first and foremost “brothers” and “sisters”, and secondly we may become fathers, mothers, mentors, teachers, pastors, etc… to a few, but never to the exclusion of the equality of brotherhood that is foundational and essential in Christ. Keeping the right balance in this regard is key to a healthy relationship and a good safeguard against undue control.

In my situation, I ended up appealing to one whom this brother owned as his spiritual father, and this godly man encouraged a separation, at least for a time.  We later worked through a number of attempts at reconciliation and were able to finally come to a place of mutual respect and peace, though the closeness of fellowship we once knew was never fully restored.

I share these things in hopes that they may be an encouragement to others, either as a mentor or a mentoree.  These relationships are some of the greatest gifts that God gives us if they are walked in in the right spirit. May we all have wisdom and grace to follow Christ in His humility and love!

Thanks for sharing your story and for tying in the lessons of John the Baptist. He is a great model for us to follow!

So good! Thank you, David.walking with jesus

Brothers and sisters, feel free to share your stories here in the comment section below.

If you care to read the story of another brother in the Lord, Frank Viola, as he also shares of his mentoring experience gone awry, click here A Tale of Two Mentors

3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the suffering and injustices we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested... This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do... So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16 NLT

This is what we want to explore this week in our Advent devotions...God WITH us!  All the levels of God's WITH-ness!  But first, a song and our Advent readings for the week.

I love this song by Michael Card.  Michael is a Bible scholar as well as a musician, and it shows up in his music.  In this glorious song, there are several Scriptures expressed musically.  What a celebration of the amazing truth of God's WITH-ness!  The verses of Immanuel reference two beautiful prophecies in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14 NLT

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2 NLT

The song continues with, comes back to, and ends with this glorious truth in the repeated chorus:

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? ...Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow —not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love... —indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NLT

Sing, rejoice, celebrate our Immanuel!

IMMANUEL Michael Card Album: Joy In The Journey

A sign shall be given A virgin will conceive A human baby bearing Undiminished deity The glory of the nations A light for all to see That hope for all who will embrace His warm reality

Chorus: Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel

For all those who live in the shadow of death A glorious light has dawned For all those who stumble in the darkness Behold your light has come

Chorus: Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel

So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call? Of Him who did not spare His son But gave him for us all On earth there is no power There is no depth or height That could ever separate us From the love of God in Christ

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSEqXbnOrQU[/youtube]

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Readings for the 3rd Week of Advent:

Sunday -- Luke 12:49-53 Monday -- 1 John 2:24-29 Tuesday -- Luke 1:8-23 Wednesday -- Matthew 1:18-23 Thursday -- Luke 1:24-38 Friday -- Luke 1:39-56 Saturday -- Luke 1:57-80

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We recently viewed again The NATIVITY STORY.  It is one hour and forty minutes well-spent...very moving!  You will be blessed! Here's a link to the entire movie:

 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meIDz98MFBs[/youtube]

3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

adventwreath_3c
adventwreath_3c

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after the crushing, excruciating events reported from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut.  In reality, this little town could be Everytown, USA.  We can't make sense of it all, but we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels this with us too!

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested... This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do... So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16 NLT

This is what we want to explore this week in our Advent devotions...God WITH us!  All the levels of God's WITH-ness!  But first, a song and our Advent readings for the week.

I love this song by Michael Card.  Michael is a Bible scholar as well as a musician, and it shows up in his music.  In this glorious song, there are several Scriptures expressed musically.  What a celebration of the amazing truth of God's WITH-ness!  The verses of Immanuel reference two beautiful prophecies in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

Nativity
Nativity

The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).Isaiah 7:14 NLT

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.For those who live in a land of deep darkness,a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2 NLT

The song continues with, comes back to, and ends with this glorious truth in the repeated chorus:

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? ...Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow —not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love... —indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NLT

Sing, rejoice, celebrate our Immanuel!

IMMANUEL Michael Card Album: Joy In The Journey

A sign shall be givenA virgin will conceiveA human baby bearingUndiminished deityThe glory of the nationsA light for all to seeThat hope for all who will embraceHis warm reality

Chorus: ImmanuelOur God is with usAnd if God is with usWho could stand against usOur God is with usImmanuel

For all those who live in the shadow of deathA glorious light has dawnedFor all those who stumble in the darknessBehold your light has come

Chorus:ImmanuelOur God is with usAnd if God is with usWho could stand against usOur God is with usImmanuel

So what will be your answer?Will you hear the call?Of Him who did not spare His sonBut gave him for us allOn earth there is no powerThere is no depth or heightThat could ever separate usFrom the love of God in Christ

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Readings for the 3rd Week of Advent:

Sunday -- Luke 12:49-53 Monday -- 1 John 2:24-29 Tuesday -- Luke 1:8-23 Wednesday -- Matthew 1:18-23 Thursday -- Luke 1:24-38 Friday -- Luke 1:39-56 Saturday -- Luke 1:57-80

 

We recently viewed again The NATIVITY STORY.  It is one hour and forty minutes well-spent...very moving!  You will be blessed! Here's a link to the entire movie: