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Is Cosmetic Surgery a Sin? by Junior de Souza

Many Christians want to know what the Lord really thinks about cosmetic surgery and medical enhancements. A good number wonder silently, reluctant to voice such questions for fear of branding as “superficial” or “worldly”. And, this is not an exclusively female concern, as many Christian males silently contemplate hair replacement, muscle implants, botox, and other works.

The extreme answers of ultra-conservative Christianity are hard to take seriously. They seem to constantly invent one more thing Christians should not do, as if kingdom life is a list of Cannots, Do Nots, and Should Nots.
Similarly, the extreme permissions of liberal Christianity are equally noncredible, as if kingdom life is a boundless free-for-all charged to a grace Mastercard. Thankfully, the wisdom of God is not found in such bipolar rationale.
Scripture reveals the general will of God, so we must plumb it carefully for answers. Since it does not directly address cosmetic surgery as such, we have to collect all the relevant truths, principles, and doctrines, then harmonize them responsibly to establish legitimate options. Once biblically legitimate options are established, the Spirit’s personal guidance will lead each individual into selecting the best choice for their life.

Principle #1: A perfect body does not create a perfect soul. 


      Remember Absalom? He was the most beautiful man in all Israel, yet his soul was dark and demonized. He plotted the murder of his own godly father, King David, led a nationwide coup d’etat to accomplish it, and committed sexual sin in broad daylight for the entire nation to see (2Sam 14:25, 15:1-14, ch 15-18). Flawless externally, repulsive internally.
Many people desire cosmetic enhancement to “fix” hurts, defects, and blemishes in their soul. Their inner life is bleeding in some way. To them, physical beauty is the external solution to an internal problem. Just the opposite…it is the soul that needs surgery and not the body!
The world enshrines physical perfection, and why? To sedate a deeper desperation. Proverbs 19:22 (NIV) says a person ultimately desires unfailing love, not physical perfection. Therefore, the question to ask from this principle is, Am I trying to create a perfect body to attain a perfect soul, or, to fix a broken soul?
Even if the answer is yes, this does not automatically show cosmetic surgery to be sinful in and of itself. Rather, it reveals the person’s priorities to be misplaced. Were the Christian to rectify this and reprioritize their values, yet still maintain a desire for cosmetic work, other principles would have to be considered.

Principle #2: God prioritizes motive over behaviour. 


      1Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10, and Revelation 2:23 tells us God prioritizes motive over behaviour. He does not ignore behaviour, He simply prioritizes motive in His evaluation of behaviour. This is a hard concept for some, but one that is crucial to understanding Jehovah.
Humans are limited judges, seeing mainly external behaviours that can be measured (words and actions). It is difficult, sometimes impossible, to identify motives. Not to mention such an endeavor is risky.
God prizes purity and integrity of motive. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart! James 4:1-3 says God would lavish many good gifts on us, but sometimes puts our blessings on pause because of wrong motives that must first be rectified. Then He will unpause their delivery (Jas 1:17).
Therefore, the question to ask here is, What are my deepest and truest reasons for wanting cosmetic work, and have I shared them honestly with God in prayer?
Those motives may be positive, negative, or neutral. More than external enhancements, Jehovah is preoccupied with our deepest “becauses”.

Principle #3: God values sound financial management. 


      Another principle is that of sound financial management. Several scriptures show that God values this (Lk 16:10-12, Pr 21:20). He wills that we manage our resources in a way that meets our needs, blesses others, and funds the kingdom.
It is not acceptable to apply money to a temporary enhancement while withholding money from that which can permanently change lives in Christ. On the other hand, if a Christian has their financial priorities in order, and has sufficient supply to fund the physical enhancements, Scripture affirms the attainment of personal desires and rewards (Deut 12:20-22, Ps 20:4,5, Jn 15:7). Therefore, the question to ask here is, Have I been faithful to biblical financial priorities? Am I financially capable of allocating money to cosmetic work?

Principle #4: A healthy lifestyle is God’s plan for some physical transformations.


Some physical changes people desire can and should be attained by modifying lifestyle. Scripture emphasizes a healthy lifestyle, or as some call it, divine health. Some Christians abuse plastic surgery much like others abuse miraculous healing–instead of learning discipline and diligence to cultivate healthy habits, they run to the doctor or the prayer line to get “fixed” instantly.
This is why many Christians do not get healed supernaturally. It is not because of faithlessness or because God took a power nap after the apostles died. It is because He is wanting us to take mature ownership of our health. He is wanting us to create the changes ourselves through healthy habits. This is the law of sowing and reaping God Himself established. By consistently sowing healthy choices we can reap a healthy and reformed physicality. Many people, Christians included, are running to liposuction and tummy tucks instead of conquering laziness to change their body the responsible way.
Therefore, the question to ask here is, Can I create the same physical changes in a non-surgical way, by improving my lifestyle, eating, and activity level? Am I exploiting cosmetic surgery and seeking the easy way out? Would God rather me change my physicality through discipline and diligence?

Principle #5: God affirms the importance and relevance of the body for earthly life. 


      
Some Christian philosophies degrade the body as being evil or at least unimportant. The body is corruptible (2Co 4:16), unredeemed (Ro 8:23), inferior to our spirit (Php 3:21), and cannot produce salvation (Jn 6:63, Php 3:3). However, it is not unimportant or irrelevant or 100% evil.
In fact, Scripture affirms several ways in which the body is important. First of all, our body is the jar of clay by which we hold and express God’s treasure (2Co 4:7). It can be trained and habituated to become an instrument of righteousness (Ro 6:13, 1Ti 4:7). It can illustrate spiritual truths (Ro 1:20). When healthy, it can make us live longer and more enjoyably, “lengthening our days” and invigorating us with vibrancy. When beautified, it can open doors for us like Esther and David (Est 2, 1Sam 16:18), or create social influence for us like Absalom (2Sam 14:25, 15:1-6, 1Sam 16:7), or enhance our sex life (SS 1:15,16). Therefore, the question to ask here is, Can cosmetic work somehow enhance my earthly life, or certain areas of it?

Principle #6: Physicality is one-third of our self-image. 


      I used to watch a popular TV show, The Ugly Duckling. The show’s goal was to take certain persons who were “glaringly unattractive” (hence The Ugly Duckling title) and recreate their appearance entirely over several months. Part of this was done through healthy lifestyle changes via personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors, fashioners, and so on. The remainder was done medically through cosmetic surgery. The show recorded the several month journey of each person, even spotlighting their deepest issues, reactions, and heartaches regarding their appearance.
At times it was difficult to watch. The pain these men and women carried for never being asked on a date, never being called beautiful, never having someone do a double-take in public. Many of us take such social cookies for granted. Through this show the Holy Spirit showed me some truths.
1Thessalonians 5:23 tells us God is at work in our spirit, soul, AND body. This doesn’t mean He is just retraining our brain for holy purposes, it means He is sanctifying and restoring ALL of what we are to a pre-Fall excellence. As I felt the hurt of the show’s contestants (some were born-again Christians), and as I pondered 1Thessalonians 5:23, I realized our physicality is one-third of our self-image and overall identity, and, one-third of God’s attention in our restoration.
Our spirit, or new nature in Christ, is our foundational identity and operating center. Our soul, or unique emotional-mental design, is built on top of that. Our body is the final third. God created us spirit, soul, and body, each aspect contributing something significant to our overall personal worth. If our physicality is lagging behind or languishing somehow, it can and will affect our self-image, social image, and spiritual image in some way.
When I saw the astonishing changes in The Ugly Duckling contestants, how it tremendously elevated their overall worth, how it affected their soulical and spiritual lives (the contestants who were born-again Christians), I understood that the church is often extreme in overhallowing modesty yet shunning physicality’s positives. In some situations, cosmetic work can be a major blessing and restoration in ways many of us don’t even consider. Therefore, the question to ask here is, Though it is not foundational and primary, how can a maximized physicality contribute its part to my overall self-image?

Principle #7: Desiring greater appeal and attractiveness is not sinful. 


      
Scripture affirms both modesty and beauty, and yes, they can coexist. Because of the world’s low standards, Christians tend to overcompensate with hypermodesty, implicitly equating tasteless apparel, overweightness, and physical mediocrity with being spiritual. Moreover, I have seen many attractive Christians persecuted in churches. They are fit, fashionable, attractive, and hungry for Jesus, but to some they are “still in the world” or “carnal” or “spiritually immature”. Such an attitude overlooks many scriptures, not to mention betrays their jealousy.
Scripture freely validates physical beauty, and how that beauty affected people’s lives for good or evil. Absalom and Jezebel were highly attractive, yet both misused their beauty for evil. Absalom, to influence the nation and lead a revolt against his father (2Sam 14:25, 15:1-14), Jezebel, to manipulate a man of God (2Ki 9:30) and masses of people (1Ki 18:19, 21:8-11).
Sarah was called “a very beautiful woman” (Gen 12:11-16), and she made Abram very wealthy because of it (v16). Granted, Abram’s proposal might not be considered noble (v11-13), but we can still see the power of beauty to bless in the story.
Scripture calls Rebekah “very beautiful” (24:16, 26:7). It goes even further with Rachel, saying she was “lovely in form” (a great body) and “beautiful” (29:17).
Scripture says David had a “fine appearance and handsome features” (1Sam 16:12) and was a “fine-looking man” (v18).
Song of Songs celebrates physical-sexual appeal entirely, and, we all know Esther mesmerized Xerxes and stole the queenship with her looks (Est 2:1-18).
Solomon said to “let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil” (Ecc 9:8), referring to excellent self-presentation. He also said “ointment and perfume delight the heart” (Pr 27:9 NKJV). Jesus said to have good self-presentation even when you are fasting (Mt 6:17).
Therefore, the question to ask here is, Am I being bashful or timid about enhancing my appeal? If Scripture celebrates beauty appropriately, how can I do the same personally? How can I wield beauty’s influence for good?

Principle #8: The signature of the Spirit.


At the end of the day, after praying it through, after thinking through all the principles, the Spirit is the one that must guide every Christian’s decision. I call it “the signature of the Spirit”. His “yes” or “no” or “wait” is the final signature on any decision, including cosmetic work. Galatians 5:25: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Therefore, the question to ask here is, What is the Spirit saying to me about this? Has it been confirmed from a variety of sources outside myself?

http://www.jdarticles.com/

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Five False Identities by Junior De Souza

What is Identity?

      Identity means self-definition. It is who or what we believe we are from the very epicenter of our being. Consequently, it is from this wellspring that we feel, think, choose, and act. 

      Because identity is so primal to our life outcomes, God will devote significant measures and lengthy time periods to its development in us. We can expect Him to put us in odd situations whereby false identities can be illumined and stripped. We can expect Him to put us in encouraging situations whereby true ones can emerge.  

      If we second-guess our identity in Christ, we become what Scripture calls “double-minded”. If we become double-minded, God refuses to be invoked (Jas 1:6-8).

      Jezebel’s desperate last effort to stop Jehu was to assault his identity. She sarcastically labeled him “Zimri”–a betrayer and murderer (2Ki 9:31, 1Ki 16:15-20)–in an effort to make him second-guess himself. Joseph’s brothers likewise barraged his identity (Gen 37). Job’s wife cursed his (Job 2:9,10). Satan went after Jesus’ immediately after He received affirmation of it (Mt 3,4)! We must cling stubbornly to the identity the Lord has conferred on us.

 False Identity #1: The Family-based Identity

      Many people depend on their families to define them. This can be a positive or negative thing.

      During the first fifteen to twenty years of life, we came to define ourselves by what our families reinforced. In general, we assimilated into our personality what they affirmed and rewarded, while discarding what they disparaged or persecuted. We internalized their messages, the direct and indirect, and made them our own. 

      The messages that were helpful, holy, and healthy contributed to a sound identity. The ones that were not, or the ones delivered inappropriately, contributed to false or poor or destructive identities. Such identities would eventually hinder the full enjoyment of our new identity in Christ.
Yahweh, knowing this, told Israel not to dictate themselves by sinful family ways (Eze 18, 20:18,19, Dan 5:18-30). Any self-image rooted in family sin and negativity is a false identity, a competitor to our new identity in Christ.

      Genesis 5:3 sums this one up: …When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image…

 False Identity #2: The Socially-based Identity

      Some depend on their inner and outer social circle to define them—friends, romantic partners, co-workers, teammates, anybody in their para-family social niche. If we are not conscious and intuitive, the attitudes of those around us can conform us to their definitions of reality. As with family, not all of that is bad, and some might even be very helpful. It is the unwholesome and unbiblical definitions that we need to deflect away.

 False Identity #3: The Performance-based Identity

      In 1948, a “Humanist Manifesto” was pronounced to be the philosophy of the age in the western world. It deified the human ability to perform and achieve, a deification that penetrated every cell of Western society, including Christianity. The result? A self-definition along these lines: I am only as good as my performance…If I perform well I am well…My performance determines who I am…I am what I do.

      This performance-orientation (-obsession) inspires workaholism and perfectionism, telltale signs most easily recognized. This identity tends to produce competent and successful people who are wanting and messed up personally. Why? Their obsession is what they do, not who they are.  

      We must be grounded and founded in I am, not I do. Our innermost cornerstone must be Christ-centered (Col 2:7) and self-valuing (Mk 12:31 “as yourself”), apart from what we can do, perform, and achieve.

 False Identity #4: The Money-based Identity

      Just as a person can depend on family, social links, or performance to define themselves, so also money and possessions can be so used. Nebuchadnezzar had a materialistic identity (Dan 4:4,27-30). It was the basis of his pride for which he was judged. Though it is certainly not wrong to have material abundance (Ecc 5:19), it is quicksand to focus our identity on them (1Ti 6:10,17).

 False Identity #5: The Appearance-based Identity

      Finally, some center themselves on physical beauty. This underlies the cosmetic surgery mania. To be clear, I am not arguing for or against cosmetic surgery, but I am definitely speaking against an appearance-based identity. Narcissus, the intriguing mythical personality, lost himself in his own beauty. He drowned himself to be one with it.

      Scripture tells us to be excellent in our physical upkeep and presentation (Pr 27:9 NKJV, Ecc 9:8, Mt 6:17). It even presents examples where God used human beauty for positive purposes (1Sam 16:18, Est 2:1-18). However, Solomon said beauty is deceptive and fleeting as an innermost dependency (Pr 31:30).

 The Need for Love, Blessing, and Purpose

      All counterfeit identities are simply illegitimate ways of experiencing three things: love,blessing, and purpose. The human heart hungers and thirsts for these three things. If not found in and through Jesus, they will be sought in other ways, especially the ways mentioned above. Wonderfully, our identity in Christ provides exactly these three things. 

 True Identity: I am beloved in Christ

      In and through Jesus, we are loved fully and freely. He gave birth to us spiritually (Jn 3:5-8, 1Jn 4:7). He has made us His beloved sons and daughters (Ro 8:14-16, 1Jn 3:1,2). He has lavished His love all over us (1Jn 3:1). He has poured His love into our hearts (Ro 5:5).
Because we are His beloved, we have many amazing privileges: we are complete or “full” (Col 2:10), we are one with Him (1Co 6:17), we have Christ’s new nature (2Co 5:17, Heb 3:14), we have direct access to Him (Eph 2:18, Heb 10:19-22), we are eternally hidden and protected (Jn 10:28,29, Col 3:3), we are royalty/heirs (Ro 8:17, Gal 4:7, 1Pet 2:9, Rev 1:6 NKJV), we are citizens of heaven (Php 3:20).
This, my brothers and sisters, is what we are to define ourselves by and organize ourselves around! If you are born-again, this is your first and foremost identity. Not family, not social connections, not performance, not money and possessions, not appearance. You are the beloved of the Lord.

 True Identity: I am blessed in Christ

      In and through Jesus, we are blessed spiritually and practically. Ephesians 1 opens by saying we have been remarkably blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (v3). Romans 4 speaks of the “blessedness” of the saved (v6-9). 2Corinthians 1:20 says every promise for us in Christ is YES! Many scriptures emphasize our blessed status: Romans 10:12, 1Corinthians 9:23, Galatians 3:8,9.

      This blessed identity means several things. First, it means we are blessed with a new identity upon salvation. As mentioned in the previous section, Ephesians 1:3-14 discusses this magnificently.
Secondly, it means we are blessed with power (Eph 3:20) and anointing (2Co 1:21) by the indwelling Holy Spirit to live out our identity in real life. In other words, we are enabled to experience every last detail of the Christ-life on earth.
Thirdly, it means we are blessed with more than enough practical resources for our earthly needs and spiritual goals. This refers to food, clothing, shelter, transportation, money, physical health and vibrance—anything (Php 4:19, 1Ti 6:17, 3Jn 2).

 True Identity: I am built in Christ

      In and through Jesus, we are built purposefully and strategically. We have been built with a specific design to fulfill a specific calling. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Peter tells us to faithfully use whatever gift(s) God has built into our being (1Peter 4:10).
We have a very practical earthly purpose in God’s kingdom! As we actualize our beloved-identity and blessed-identity, we will see our built-identity emerging naturally and supernaturally.

 Who Am I?

      You are not your family experiences. You are not your social circle’s attitudes. You are not your job, abilities, achievements, or performances. You are not your money. You are not your appearance.

      You ARE beloved of the Lord. You ARE blessed in Him. You ARE built by Him. When you make this self-definition the focus and wellspring of your daily life, then you will find life more abundantly. Then everything else will make more sense and more supernaturally fall into place (Mt 6:33).

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Intimacy and Increase: The Purpose of Unplugging by Lisa Dickson

Intimacy and Increase: The Purpose of Unplugging by Lisa Dickson
By Lisa Dickson

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The Lord said to me the other day, “I’m not into text messaging or fast food!”  The One called Ancient of Days is wanting more than five minutes of our time to speak with us and enjoy our company.  As knowledge and technology increases it becomes more difficult to drown out the noise and information that we’re bombarded with in order to get heaven’s pure, undistorted perspective. We can’t fully receive all that He wants to impart to us when we are always distracted or in a hurry.  When we don’t get off of the time-crunch treadmill and spend quality time with God, it will ultimately dull our intimacy and rapport with the Lord.  We often make the mistake of pressing God to make things happen in order to meet the demands of our own schedules. We can also erroneously perceive that He is pushing us to do something because we have come to believe that perpetual motion is somehow spiritual and to simply “be” is lazy and nonproductive.  We end up projecting our own get-it-done-quick anxieties onto God.  We place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to perform for God or prove that we are in step with Him by forging ahead with things that He might purposely be holding back, prolonging or wanting to work out His way and in His timing. He wants patient trusting to become a way of life for us and not something we try to learn in fits and starts or when crisis happens.

We Need to Adjust to God’s Schedule

When God takes His time, we think we’ve missed something or we aren’t hearing Him correctly. The thought that God might have a slower, methodical plan that will take more than a day to work out makes us uneasy and impatient.  We end up questioning things He’s told us prophetically or doubting that we even heard correctly because He chooses to take a different approach than the one we’ve already decided He has chosen for us. We fail to see that He might be working out details and arranging people and situations just so. It requires trust on our part to even begin to hear Him and walk in step with His agenda.  Unless we train ourselves to disengage from time and all the hubbub, we can actually begin to believe static is the norm; that interference is just a necessary inconvenience that God has made allowance for in our 21st century lives. We can end up living in a constant state of a decreased awareness of the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit because we have allowed distraction to daily drown out His voice.  God won’t adjust to our own schedules and busyness just because we aren’t willing to slow down enough to make time for Him.

We must make Jesus the number one priority in our lives. We need to understand the principles of increase in the Kingdom of God.  When we honor and obey the call of the Holy Spirit to come away, we position ourselves for the multiplication of greater revelation and blessing.  Present obedience will always bring future increase. When we ignore the things God has shown us to do or place them on the back burner, we become prone to dullness. When we don’t learn to pay attention to His voice, we can lose our momentum and wonder why discernment and new revelation has eluded us.  God doesn’t give up and go to plan B because we won’t adjust to His agenda.  He waits and expects us to catch on to what He’s shown us at some point.  He never forces His ways on us but will allow us to go an alternate route if our true desire is to go that way. We can live an entire lifetime and miss out on what God wanted for us because we opted to live the Christian life our way instead of His way.

Complete Surrender

When one of the disciples needed to go bury his father before he could follow Jesus, Jesus said, “follow Me and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:22)  I always thought that statement by Jesus was a bit harsh but He had to drive home the point in a clear and powerful way that discipleship is all about making Him the priority at any cost.  He was conveying to the man the sober reality of complete surrender.  Up until that point, the commitment factor was lost on the disciple. I believe it is mostly lost on us too.  At times, God will arrange and adjust our situations and circumstances in order to gently direct us toward surrender, but we can ignore those promptings by the Holy Spirit and go off and do what we need or want to do instead.

We have to first be willing to set priorities and boundaries before we can follow Jesus.  We have to make Him our number one priority and it has to be a conscious decision. We can’t passively follow Jesus and live off of last week’s quiet time no matter how fruitful or revelatory it may have been.  God lives in the now with us, not in yesterday’s memories or experiences.  We can’t even let other people or ministry distract us from our time with Him. We mistakenly think that we’re being pleasing to God because we give all our time to others.  Instead, we get burned out and start resenting people because we are trying to do things without receiving anything from God ourselves.  When there is loss of cabin pressure in an airplane, you have to first put the oxygen on yourself before you can help someone with theirs or else you will end up passing out like they did. If we don’t set boundaries and priorities, pretty soon we will have nothing beneficial or of much value to give to anyone because we haven’t received a fresh, life-sustaining breath from the Holy Spirit ourselves.

Enjoy Koinonia

In addition to losing our momentum by not spending time with God, we can lose our ability to recognize Him when He presents Himself to us in ways that are unfamiliar or that we don’t expect. We can fail to see Him in the new thing He’s doing that doesn’t look anything like what He did before. The disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus failed to recognize who He was until they stopped their ruminating and journeying and settled down to break bread with Him in intimate fellowship.  You can’t help but become more closely aware of someone when you are sitting face to face, across the table from them. There is something about extended dialogue over a meal together that invites intimate consciousness.

Jesus is inviting us to turn off the distractions and come away to enjoy daily, one-on-one  Koinonia with Him.  He doesn’t want that place to become a classroom where we just receive information for the sake of gaining more knowledge.  He wants it to be an oasis from the world, a respite outside of time where He can pour His love into us and where we can know Him in increasingly deeper ways.  He wants to make us His devoted disciples who will love Him so much that we will follow Him to the cross as well as to the secret place because we have made Him, not the destination, our priority.

Lisa Dickson

bucko195854@gmail.com


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Seeking the Wise by Jeremy Caris

Seeking the Wise by Jeremy Caris
By Jeremy Caris

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As a child, wisdom was the one thing that I asked of God almost daily. Wisdom is a central subject in the book of Proverbs; a subject that one of the wisest man in the history, King Solomon (1 Kin. 4:29-30; 1 Kin. 10:23-24), thought was vitally important to teach. Yet today, we rarely hear teaching on wisdom. Perhaps it’s because it seems so straightforward in the Bible. At first glance, it may seem as if there is little to expound on, but I feel today the Church needs to remind itself what godly wisdom is.

 

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” Proverbs 4:7 ESV

 

You might say that the very first sign of wisdom is knowing that you need it, and posturing your heart to get it. Wisdom can be gained in two ways: it can be imparted spiritually (1 Kin. 4:29-30; 2 Chr. 1:11-12), and it can be learned (Psa. 51:6, 90:12; Pro. 4:5, 7). Our goal, either way, should be to get wisdom from above – wisdom from God. There are, in fact, two kinds of wisdom: wisdom from above, or godly wisdom, and earthly, unspiritual, demonic wisdom (Jam. 3:13-18).

 

A Revelation of Christ

 

Wisdom from above always starts with knowing God Himself – with a revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul unlocked revelation that turned the world upside down, which he received through a revelation of Christ Himself.

 

“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-12 ESV

 

Receiving wisdom from above is parallel with receiving a revelation of Christ – you can’t have one without the other. We all desperately need a revelation of Christ Himself. May we never stop pressing into Him until we receive it and He causes us to lay down every other thing for an ever-increasing measure of God Himself. Godly wisdom has the character of Christ, so if we want godly wisdom we must begin by seeking the Wise.

 

“Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom.

 

But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth.

 

This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal).

 

For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

 

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity).

 

And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].” James 3:13-18 AMP

 

Get Understanding

 

One with wisdom lives by showing good works though humility, which is the proper attribute of true wisdom. Jesus, of course, fully exemplified and embodied wisdom. James immediately contrasts godly wisdom with another kind of wisdom with profound attributes of it’s own. These two kinds of wisdom couldn’t be more opposite. Instead of showing good works through humility, earthly wisdom will display jealousy and contention through pride. James boldly clarifies that this earthly wisdom is not only unspiritual and animalistic, but even demonic.

 

This immediately causes me to revisit the proverb, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.” It is now adequately clear that we should interpret this to mean, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom from above – godly wisdom!” This may seem incredibly simplistic, but if you continue along this line of thought you will see that it is invaluable to our lives. The wisdom of God would become more clear to us in the midst of many controversies if we would learn to look for the opposing fruit of these two kinds of wisdom.

 

Two Kinds of Fruit

 

In the same way that Jesus said that we would know people by their fruit (Mat. 11:15-19, 12:33), we can know earthly wisdom by it’s fruit as well. Using fruit as a metaphor to explain the true reality beyond what may be immediately apparent is a brilliant concept. Not only does this tell how to evaluate a person or situation, but it also promises to reveal truth over time. You see, sometimes people can very effectively hide what is true, whether it concerns their lives or the reality beyond what they say or believe. However, this one test never fails: the test of time.

 

Fruit takes time to grow, and the promise is that in due time you will know the truth because the fruit will become increasingly apparent. You can’t fake fruit; earthly wisdom can’t produce godly fruit. Sometimes fruit can be polished up to appear better than it really is, and this is probably why God likes to put fruit under pressure! Good fruit under pressure releases the blessings of God and the grace of Jesus to the world around us. Bad fruit under pressure produces a stench that cannot be doctored up.

 
Check-Check, One-Two, One-Two

 

Here’s where the rubber meets the road; or were the fruit meets the juicer, if you prefer. People can be very convincing, even hard to oppose, because their words and thoughts are well studied, organized, and sharply presented. But, if you want to evaluate what they say, you can first put their ideas under a little pressure and see what comes out when the fruit is squeezed. You’ve got to play the role of fruit inspector, checking apparent wisdom against the Biblical standard and then seeing it for what it is.

 

Earthly Wisdom

 

So let’s be extremely clear about this. Earthly wisdom produces bitter jealousy, envy, contention, rivalry, selfish ambition, and pride. Therefore it is in stark defiance to the Truth. This will seem impossible to one who exhibits earthly wisdom, because they think they are promoting truth with their wisdom. But the fruit proves it for what it actually is, and the Bible clearly says that this sort of fruit is in absolute defiance to the truth. Whatever truths they may have, whatever facts they do know correctly, are made completely irrelevant and ineffectual by their earthly wisdom.

 

The scripture in James goes on to reveal that there are other fruits produced by earthly wisdom. Based on the passage in James and from my experience, I would say that there are three levels of fruit produced by earthly wisdom. The first layer is bitterness, jealousy, envy, contention, rivals, selfish ambition, and pride. The second layer is confusion, unrest, disharmony, and rebellion. And the full result is the plummet into all sorts of other evil.

 

It’s worth noting that these fruits are produced from within the person promoting this superficial, earthly wisdom. The messenger is intimately integrated with their message. As they release their earthly wisdom, they also release these fruits into the atmosphere around them, carrying it with them where ever they go.

 

Godly Wisdom

 

Godly wisdom flows from the heart of a person with a revelation of Christ, producing a harvest of righteousness. Godly wisdom is pure and undefiled. In part, this means “it really is what it is” – it’s pure and undefiled, undiluted and unpolluted. Godly wisdom loves peace, and is therefore courteous, compassionate, considerate, gentle, and willing to yield to reason. It is whole-hearted, straightforward, impartial, free from doubts, free from wavering, and free from insincerity. It results in good works produced through humility. Those who walk in godly wisdom work for peace in themselves and others by seeking common ground and focusing on harmony between people. They work to dispel fears, agitations, and conflicts in themselves first and in others second.

Truth in the hands of a person with godly wisdom is a powerful thing. It is also in exuberant support of Truth. This means that whatever revelation they have, whatever truths they wield, will be made relevant and effectual by their godly wisdom.

 

Therefore, get wisdom from above; get godly understanding. Do not forget what godly wisdom really is, and do not turn away from it (Proverbs 4:5).

 

Jeremy Caris

www.jeremycaris.com


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I’ll Stand by You by Jeremy Lopez

I’ll Stand by You by Jeremy Lopez
By Jeremy Lopez

I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of my story. I remember receiving Christ into my life at an early age. Going through the ‘regular’ routine like we all do of being taught the scriptures. Learning more about who Christ is and what He has done for me. I remember being in the word of faith movement and so many other movements of God. I strived “working” so hard to find out more about the truth so I could tuck it underneath my belt and “know it,” memorize it so it could be “life” to me and I could “help” others get on the “right path.” A number of years ago I began to discover who I really was and what I had become. I had become someone who lives by the letter of the law instead of realizing my relationship was not built on a book but on a Father in heaven who loved me. He tells us, “you didn’t choose me, I chose you.” It is so easy to become a worshipper of the Bible rather than a worshipper of God through His precious Son Jesus.

I forgot the Word within the Word. I forgot the author was a person who cared, loved and accepted me just the way I am. Why? Because I didn’t choose Him, He chose me. If I chose Him, He could have easily rejected me and said, “no thanks. This inn is full.” But He chose Me just how I was, which means, He takes out what needs to be taken out of me. He does the cleaning, not me. I just yield my mind over to Him to let it be renewed. But please remember like I said earlier, He chose Me! Just how I was!

The Kingdom of God is Relational
I see how others forget that the kingdom of God is relational not doctrinal or traditional. It is built upon covenant more than anything else. I watched a very close friend of mine of over 20 years who knew this principle but somehow by the influence of others in the system, go back from relational and covenant to word bound. So now, he will not speak to me or even some others with his heart, he speaks to me only by giving me scripture. What happens when we lose ourselves with speaking not from our heart to love, accept, comfort and show compassion; instead we skip the heart and only “speak the word.” Have we forgotten the Jesus behind the “word” (Bible)? The same Jesus who didn’t throw scripture at people but loved people. Jesus spoke scripture to the enemy when He was in the desert because He knew the word could be used as a sword in battle to defeat.

But when the woman who was caught in adultery saw Jesus, He didn’t say, “the Bible says, ‘Thou shall not commit adultery!'” He looked at her and said, “I don’t accuse you.” It wasn’t even the fact that she was caught in the midst of it. No repentance. No remorse…..just caught! But because He LOVED her and desired to build a relationship with her, he told her, “I don’t accuse you.” Could she go back to living in adultery? Yes. Was Jesus guaranteed that she wouldn’t? No. But He still desired to love her and wanted a better life for her but He still did not turn His back upon her! He still did not say, “let’s put her through a time of 13 years of recovery.” He just wanted relationship with her.

Let me talk to you about the kingdom of God for a moment. What is the kingdom of God? It is built on covenant, not doctrine, not tradition and not how spiritual we can be. It is supernatural! Let me give you an example. If you went to your natural father and told him something about you that he would not agree with, what would he do? If he truly has a father’s heart he would say something to the effect of, “I might not agree but you are still my child and I love you.” My natural dad and I do not always agree with things we believe but the idea that my dad would cast me out and say, “you’re no longer my son” would be nothing I have ever known since my dad has a father’s heart to say, “you’re my son and nothing will ever change that fact.”

Probably many of you, maybe like my friend above, never had a dad who had a father’s heart. Maybe many of you feel your natural “father” because he is a doctrine or tradition worshipper does not possess a true father’s heart. Please hear me now! YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS CHILDREN…..ALL OF HIS CHILDREN. He does not care about your doctrines, your traditions or your opinions. He wants your heart. He wants his son or daughter to say, “good morning daddy.” I remember many great men of God like, David VanCronkhite, Jack Taylor, Bob Mumford, David Huskins and many others have the father’s heart.

So many people in the system of the church are more concerned with Jeremy Lopez’s gift or office as a prophet more than even getting to know the real me. Why? Because so many ministers and people don’t really want to know you, they would rather have your gift or office to use it and than turn when they’re done and move on. I have said it before and I will say it again. I love all people! I told my friends and family years ago that I would never leave them but many will leave me. I have seen it with a close friend of mine of over 20 years and many others just like many of you out there have because relationship and covenant are so important to me. More important than if we agree or disagree, if you believe in the rapture or no rapture, if you believe this or that.

I will never forget the day I met David VanCronkhite, a mighty man of God and a close friend of mine. I tried so hard to figure him out by asking what he believed or did not believe. He never answered me but he just kept saying, “love wins, love wins, love wins.” I never really realized what I was doing since I had been caught up in the system of those who created it in the church. I was just like one of them! Trying to figure out if David and I could be friends based on if what we believed was the same. I finally realized I too had been caught up in the matrix of the system. My relationship with him and so many others could not be based on if we agree in doctrines. Why? Because I too, allowed doctrines to come between me and building the kingdom by loving others and building relationships just like my Daddy in heaven does with me and all of His other children.

The Church Should be a Place of Safety
Take a look at your life for a moment. How many people have you hurt or kicked out of your life over doctrines and beliefs? The Jesus in the word is still wanting nothing more than relationship with His children. Are we mature enough to say, “I love you…..regardless?”

The church should be a place of safety, love, protection, etc. but instead we have created it to be a place of beliefs and doctrines. To put it another way, it has become a “bible cult” not a “house of prayer for ALL nations.” All people are welcome to come to the house of God. ALL PEOPLE!

If there is something God wants to work out in them, let Him do it. When we become people who use His precious word to hurt, “straighten up” or even massacre, we become Pharisees. Someone who uses something that is meant to heal, deliver and comfort as a tool to pound, beat and hurt. I am a grace man. It’s sad that people hate people that display grace to all. But ask yourself this question: “When you approach the throne of God one day, will God say, ‘well done, you used my word to straighten people up, you told others who did not line up with what you believe that they are not welcome, come on in you wonderful servant.’ Or do you want the Lord to say, ‘well done thy good and faithful servant. You loved those who were hurting, different from you. You allowed everyone and anyone into My house to pray to find the way for a better life for them. You kept on loving them, humbling yourself to love and show them grace. Because if you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me.’?”

Please note, I love every one of you. I stand with you and for you no matter who or what you are because I see Jesus in you.

I love you and your Daddy in Heaven loves you too.

Jeremy Lopez

Identity Network


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Woven As One Because of the Son by Robert Ricciardelli

Woven As One Because of the Son! {A Poem} by Robert Ricciardelli
By Robert Ricciardelli

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We are woven as one because of the Son,

The prize is within us, so we have already won!

He picks us up when we struggle to get through,

Then shows us the way, and makes our life new.

Renewing of the mind is no small matter,

And when we embrace His thoughts, it will change our chatter.

Striving is not living, and it can never be,

Abiding in Him gives us life for the whole world to see.

Obedience and not sacrifice, is the Lord’s desire,

When we live in that realm, He fills us with FIRE!

The Sword of Truth will carve through all the lies,

He engulfs us in his love, wiping teardrops from our eyes.

He gives us perfect peace the world has yet to know,

And fills us with heavenly substance that to the world we must show.

The love of God is the fuel of His ways,

And the miracles that flow never cease to amaze.

To cease from our own works brings unspeakable joy,

And Daddy says for always, “you are my girl and my boy.”

The dance of fusion that only Father can bring,

Is a dance of pleasure that makes our heart sing.

His song, His dance, the eternal romance,

We fall deeper in love with Him with every glance.

What an amazing God, who gives us such grace,

And call us His children while showing us His face.

In our weakness, His strength and glory show up,

We will never thirst when we drink from His cup.

Until the end of each day, we stand and we pray

Looking towards heaven, and that glorious day.

Robert Ricciardelli

www.convergingzone.com


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God’s Persistence Makes Us Perfect by John Paul Jackson

God’s Persistence Makes Us Perfect by John Paul Jackson
By John Paul Jackson

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Someone recently asked me if God “passes over” those who have made mistakes in the area of destiny. Have they blown it forever, or will He keep unfolding their callings until they are ready for them?

My heart is moved whenever I hear someone ask a question like that.  The short answer is that the gifts and callings of God are “without repentance” (Romans 11:29), which means that He won’t take them back. This refusal to remove them is not based on how we perform with our gifts and callings; it is based on what He has chosen to do.

Philippians 1:6 tells us that He will be faithful to perfect that which He began in us. In other words, He will take us from imperfection to perfection. Messing up is an imperfection, but it does not deter His process. If we call on Him, He will get us onto the road of His purposes.

Whatever Is True

On this road to destiny, the highest mountain you will have to conquer is found in your own mind. That is why the Bible tells us to think about things that are pure, true, noble, just – good things (Philippians 4:8). As we do that, our minds will be filled with Kingdom issues. We will have Kingdom thoughts and will take Kingdom actions.

As our Kingdom thoughts become deeply embedded in our spirits, we will begin to form Kingdom habits: automatic reactions that are godly and righteous. For example, we know we are loved, and we don’t have to sit there and wonder if, this time, we have messed up beyond repair. We know we are loved now, and we will be loved tomorrow as well.

Extraordinary leaders in the Kingdom have extraordinary determination to focus on God – they choose to focus on Him no matter what their hearts say, no matter what guilt and fear say. With destiny and every other issue in life, we let His thoughts and His opinions of us become our thoughts and our opinions of ourselves. The more we do this, the easier it becomes to do it naturally.

How Should You Move Forward?

If you are struggling with worry and fear concerning your destiny, here is what I recommend. First and foremost, let God decide how and when He is going to make your destiny happen. Leave it in His hands.

Next, value your personal relationship with God above the destiny you have been called to. Value your relationship with Him more than your desire for success or public ministry.

Then anytime you are tempted to think, God will never use me again, go to Scripture and try to find an example of that. I don’t think you’ll be able to find one. God is an incredible God of second chances. Take a look at David, Jonah, Peter, Jacob and Paul. These men were far from perfect, yet God used them to change the world. He persisted with them, despite their shortcomings and even their out-and-out failures. Meditate on what God did for them because He is going to do the same thing for you.

God wants us to come to Him and rest. His yoke is “easy” and His burden is “light” (Matthew 11:30). Whenever we begin to feel weighed down by guilt or shame, we need to turn our eyes away from our shortcomings and focus on our Father instead.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

 

John Paul Jackson

www.streamsministries.com