Thursday, May 31, 2012


For the past four weeks we have been following a series of teaching called, “Breaking Free: (Moving towards Wholeness”) We opened up the series by looking into Eph 4:12-13, where we see that God’s intended purpose for all of us is that we may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

God’s intention for all of us is that we all will mature in order that we might receive the fullness of Christ. Unfortunately most Christians struggle when it comes to maturity and attaining the fullness of Christ. We learned how much of our past, especially the negative side influences our present. In Amos 7th chapter God likened the nation of Israel to a tottering wall that was flimsy, shaky and was to be destroyed any moment. We looked at how certain wrong messages of our parents, teachers, peers and the media may have wrongly influenced and shaped our personalities. We build walls that separate us from God and others. Some personalities are brick bound, and the person within is no more than a prisoner behind the walls of his heart.

We learned that people generally respond to hurt, depending on their personality type. Those who are passive move in rejection and those who are aggressive fight back in rebellion . These two responses are defense mechanisms to protect themselves from getting further hurt. They build defensive walls of rejection and rebellion. These walls may afford some degree of protection, but they also lock up a part of our personality, affecting our ability to love, and trust and form meaningful relationships. We looked at a few devastating bricks in the wall of rejection such as sadness, self pity, self hatred, inferiority and depression. Following a human plumb line of rejection is a great handicap and if allowed, could rob us even our life itself.

The more aggressive individual on the other hand may adopt a new reactionary reference point by following a human plumbline of rebellion. To completely resist following the rejection plumb line may open the way to accept rebellion. Let’s examine the defensive wall of Rebellion.


Idi Amin Dada, the previous ruler and the military dictator of Uganda is a contemporary example of a man with classic rebellious personality in the most extreme form. Growing up as a member of the Nubians, an itinerant group, Idi Amin abandoned by his father at a young age, continually moved from place to place, never knowing who his real father was. In Uganda the Nubians are considered the lowliest of the low. The message he received while growing was clearly one of rejection.

When Amin joined the military and rose in rank, he threw off the message of rejection he had received all his life and began following a plumb line of rebellion. He developed a superiority complex. He became a fanatical soldier, ruthlessly competitive and willing to use any means to stay in power. Emulating his hero, Adolph Hitler, Amin was responsible for the torture and murder of over 100,000 of his own people since 1971.
Amin became so arrogant that on several occasions he wrote to the Queen of England offering to help solve the political and economic problems of the United Kingdom.  Amin is quoted as saying, “I, myself, consider myself the most powerful figure in the world,” that shows his delusion and dominance.  Here is a man who lived on the side of rejection all his life but when it was not meeting his needs he moved to the rebellion and built a defensive wall of rebellion in order to cover up his own pain of rejection. Each building block represent both a blockage to God’s planned personality development, as well as a block in the walls of our heart. As we study, it may be helpful to make a note where you find yourself identifying.

The wall of rebellion contains eighteen blocks and they can be divided into three categories. Firstly Emotions: Hostility, Conceit, Sophistication, Elation, and Deflation. Secondly, Intellect: Superior, Competitive, Dominant, Rigid, Manipulation, Stubborn, Unteachable. Thirdly, Spirit: Delusion, Bitterness, Resentment, Critical, Controlling and possessive. For the want of time I will only deal with a few of these blocks.

Let’s begin with Hostility (anger).  It is a condition or an attitude. It is the extreme side of anger with intent to take revenge or antagonize which often results in acts of violence and warfare. Anger often arises from hurt, and it is normal. If hurt is incessant, anger may also be. Anger can be released in a constructive way but uncontrolled hostility can be very dangerous. 

How do we define anger? It is a huge subject of discussion but for now anger is an emotion related to one's psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and a tendency to undo that by retaliation. Videbeck describes anger as a “normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation.” DeFoore. describes anger as a pressure cooker; we can only apply pressure against our anger for a certain amount of time until it explodes.[1]

A person with persistent temper problems often suffers from some unresolved, internal conflict or unhealed wound deep with in. When anger finds no acceptable outlet it goes underground. It may become a vicious cycle of first over-controlling and then exploding out of control. Anger first surfaced after the fall of man. Do you remember what happened to Cain when his offering got rejected but Able’s was accepted? He was very angry and his face was downcast. So what did he do? He couldn’t control this strong feeling of displeasure he attacked his brother in the field and killed. Do you see what happens when this devastating emotion is out of control?  Whatever form or shape anger may take it is destructive when it is not controlled.

The second block we want to look at is Conceit (Pride): This distortion is best defined as being aloof or apart from others, reflecting an overt degree of personal vanity and egocentricity. What is conceit? It is an excessively favorable opinion of one’s own ability or importance. It is nothing but arrogance, pride, self admiration, narcissism, and self exaltation. People feel depreciated and even belittled around a conceited person through the expression of one-upmanship. In other words a conceited or proud person constantly looks for ways to put people down in order to boost their own deflated ego.

The inner cry for a conceited person is for loving and meaningful relationships and friendships but they fence themselves off from any such relationships through their aloof behavior or condescending comments. They often think that they know better than anybody else and what they have to say is of utmost important.

Many years ago after completing my discipleship training I went back home with a swollen and puffed up head with all spiritual knowledge. I thought I knew better than the pastor and other elders in my church until God had painfully yet graciously dealt with my pride.  Ex. Correcting the preacher, in the middle of his message. Interestingly, these two sins anger and pride are listed in the seven deadly sins known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, by the early Christians to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity’s tendency to sin.[2]

The scriptures are very clear about the dangers of anger and pride. These are truly deadly. They have the potential to destroy, individuals, families, churches and even societies. Let’s see how else a conceited or proud person progresses as he continues to remain behind the wall of rebellion. Another deadly block in the wall of rebellion is Superiority. We see the block of superiority most commonly in the academic world, which many instances has become a type of caste system. All too often those with higher qualifications relate to lower ranks only on basic issues, if at all.

But when people constantly act in a superior, condescending manner it often indicates they are over compensating for their own feelings of inferiority. When we are put down by them, they feel lifted up. Feeling superior to others is often an attempt to mask their painful, repressed inferiority. Such feelings may have been programmed by abusive parenting or early peer persecution, but this block of superiority very often isolates the individual from maintaining meaningful relationships in life. Who would want to be a friend of someone who always thinks and acts as though if he or she is superior?

Here is a scriptural advice to those who might be struggling with this awful block of superiority complex. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

A person who struggles with superiority complex often becomes highly competitive and dominant.  Today, more and more wives are not only playing the key role in their marriages, they are dominating the whole relationships. This pattern in contemporary marriages is of considerable interest and concern to sociologists. What is causing this significant shift in the family? Dominance arises out of insecurity, and insecurity comes from a love deficit.

Husbands either have forgotten or do not know how to love their wives. Often they lust after them without understanding the difference between love and lust. A lusting relationship leaves a wife feeling used and insecure and as a result frustration and even frigidity may set in. In order to avoid this process, a wife may then try to manipulate her mate into meeting her need for love.
Such domineering moves may eventually destroy a relationship, and that is exactly what is happening in so many families today.  Another two blocks in the wall of rebellion are resentment and bitterness. Resentment arises in our hearts when we fail to extend forgiveness.

When hurt or wounded by a word, action or reaction, we face the choice to either forgive or resent. If we forgive, we are in the place to be forgiven by God for our own sins. But if we allow resentment in our hearts, we also place a block in the way of God’s forgiveness and open the door for bitterness to enter. The Bible warns us to be careful lest there spring up within any of us a bitter root through which many become defiled. If we allow bitterness in our hearts, it’s like a weed with a strong root planted within. Once we allow that root to be planted, soon it will spread to take over our heart and contaminate our mind, spirit and body.

Forgiving one another is what love is all about; not to forgive, is to become bitter and hard in spirit. Bitterness has destroyed many marriages, families and societies, and we don’t want it to destroy us as well. Bitterness can also predispose us to both mental and physical disorders, which can only be successfully treated after forgiveness is first extended.

As we discussed last week, if we follow the human plumb line of rejection to its end, it becomes apparent that the ultimate act of self-rejection is SUCIDE. The rising incidence of this as a cause of death is alarming. If however, we rather use the human plumb line of rebellion as a reference point in life, we are more likely to end up with a charge of Murder. In this case, we have vented our wrath on another instead of ourselves.

You may feel that the options of pursuing human plumb lines of rejection or rebellion are limited. Is there another choice? Yes there is the true divine plumb line. But wait! You must first consider what is involved. If we accept the Divine plumb line to escape suicide and homicide we must instead embrace being CRUCIFIED. What an option! You say. What does being crucified mean? We will find out the answer next time. Amen

Monday, May 21, 2012

BREAKING FREE..PART 4( The Ultimate Deceiver)

The Ultimate Deceiver

For the past three weeks we have been following a series of teaching called, “Breaking Free: (Moving towards Wholeness”) We opened up the series by looking into Eph 4:12-13, where we see that God’s intended purpose for all of us is that we may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

God’s intention for all of us is that we all will mature in order that we might receive the fullness of Christ.  We realized that becoming mature is not achieved in a day but a life long process. In the same way receiving the fullness of Christ takes a life time of walking with Christ on a daily basis, by trusting in Him and obeying His teachings.

Unfortunately most Christians struggle when it comes to maturity and attaining the fullness of Christ. What hinders us from receiving the fullness of Christ? What hinders our maturity? In the past few weeks we’ve been on a journey to learn how much of our past influences our present, especially the negative side of our past. Last week we learned a great deal about our hearts which is the inner person or inner self that thinks, feels and decides.

When the Bible talks about the heart it is talking about our mind, emotions or feelings and our will. These faculties can be influenced either for good or for bad. Last week we looked at how certain messages of our parents, teachers, peers and the media may have wrongly influenced and shaped our personalities. But nothing is more devastating than the message of the ultimate deceiver. We saw how the nation of Israel was deceived and built their lives based on the lies of the false prophets. In Amos 7th chapter God likened them to a tottering wall that was flimsy, shaky and was to be destroyed any moment. Today we will look at who our ultimate deceiver is and the defensive wall of rejection that we may build around our hearts.

I.                   THE ULTIMATE DECEIVER:
Of all the false prophets, none is as cunning and deceptive as Lucifer also known as Satan himself. You remember how Satan deceived Eve in the garden by telling a bunch of lies? Since then he has not stopped deceiving mankind. In the scriptures he is often described as a serpent. Let’s read Amos 5:19, “It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.”

Though this scripture emphasizes vividly the inescapability of God’s coming judgment on the nation of Israel, but in general also illustrates Lucifer’s strategy in the wall of our personality in his attempt to rob us of our inheritance which is the fullness of Christ. As we let our imagination develop along, the story of Amos 5:19 we might envision the following.

One dew drenched, pre-dawn morning a farmer made way to his fields, walking briskly along the narrow bush path.  Passing by the trees he realized he had company, suddenly a lean, shaggy lion bounded toward him amongst the trees. Adrenaline kicked in, and the farmer took off. Aware somehow he outrun the lion, stopped for a while, caught his breath and decided to go to his field from another direction.
This time he took the old river bed winding its way amongst the rocks. Rounding a bend, he then to his horror saw a huge bear running towards him. Over come with fright the farmer somehow managed to outrun the bear. Now he relinquished all thought of work, at least for that day! Arriving home exhausted and drained, the farmer leaned back against the wall of his house to regain his composure. Just as he relaxed and let down his guard, out from the wall emerged a snake. With a sudden strike, the snake’s fangs pierced his arm.

The farmer escaped both the lion and the bear but succumbed to the stealth of the serpent in his own home. The lion and bear symbolize our extrinsic enemies, while the snake in the wall represents an intrinsic enemy attacking us through our personality. Let me bring this into our context. As we know a house can not stand without properly built walls according to a plumb, right? We build walls for what? For safety and protection from the outside intruders, shall we say the enemies? 

In a similar fashion we build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. We tend to think that we are outrunning our outside enemies like the former in the story, without realizing the internal enemy who is powerful enough to strike us on a least expected moment. A successful business man would understand that “All businesses suffer from some form of internal theft. It is estimated that 75–80% of all theft that occurs in a business is employee theft. This statistic shows that a higher concentration of prevention should go towards internal theft.”[1]

As we learned before, the walls represent our personality and here the enemy has the greatest opportunity to disrupt a relationship, a marriage, a family, a church and even a society.  Satan, the ultimate deceiver of our lives has been a liar from the beginning of creation. The bible calls him the father of lies. He tempts us to believe lies about God, ourselves and others. Therefore understanding who we are and how we function can help our personality serve us, rather than our being enslaved to our own unsteady personalities. Some personalities are brick bound, and the person within is no more than a prisoner behind the walls of his heart. For many Christians there is tragic truth in the words of the comic strip character pogo, “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”

As each of our negative responses becomes habitual, another brick is added to the wall. It is even possible for us to be so traumatized emotionally, we actually wall of a section of our lives, determining no one will have opportunity to hurt as again. One time or the other most of us got hurt in life. Getting hurt is no fun,  it is very painful especially when we were hurt by those we love the most.

How do people generally respond to hurt? Depending on their personality people respond either one are two ways. One is rejection and other is rebellion both are defensive mechanisms to protect themselves from getting further hurt by people. Those who are a passive type personality tend to move towards rejection and those who are on the aggressive side move towards rebellion. They build defensive walls of rejection and rebellion. These walls may afford some degree of protection, but they also lock up a part of our personality, affecting our ability to love, and trust and form meaningful relationships.
If a sizable portion of personality is locked away, then the symptoms become more severe, and it’s more difficult to know who we are and why we react the way we do. Let’s look at what are the bricks in the defensive wall of rejection.

We have already seen how God portrayed to Amos a picture of His people being like a wall out of line. In the human personality, prolonged rejection may precipitate a severe psychological distortion. We will examine these distortions in a brick by brick study. In the defensive wall of rejection we see 14 building blocks. They can be divided into three sections. First section of bricks: Sadness, Self Pity, Self hatred, Depression and apathy are linked with our emotions. The second section: Inferiority, Insecurity, Failure, Guilt, is to do with our intellect or mind. The third section: Dimness, Dying, Quenched, Discouragement and Despair are to do with our spirit.

Each building block represent both a blockage to God’s planned personality development, as well as a block in the walls of our hearts. As we study these blocks it may be helpful to make a note where you find yourself identifying. Let’s begin with Sadness. We define sadness as sorrowful, mournful showing or causing sorrow. Some times this emotion can cast a shadow over the entire personality. I felt very sad for a brief period of time when I lost my mother. It was very painful for a while until God healed me.

It is normal that we feel sad when some thing like that happens, but when someone becomes perpetually dysfunctional for longer and longer periods of time, a chronic state of grief has emerged. Which in turn can lead to a number of unhealthy patterns such as, Self Pity (continually consoling oneself over a disappointment or loss), Self hatred which can be defined as rejecting oneself after being rejected by others. An amazing number of people in the 21st century struggle with negative feelings about themselves. For some it is sporadic, but for others this struggle is chronic and crippling. The longer some one lives in self pity and self hatred the deeper they plunge into depression.

What is depression?  Depression in its simplest and most common form can best be explained in terms of how we may react to a loss or a disappointment. Several studies show us that depression is on the rise especially among the young. Depression leads to apathy a passion less existence. Apathy is an arch enemy of life. In fact, it’s the first stage in giving up the challenge of life itself. After experiencing so much rejection and failure an apathetic person may say some thing like this: “What’s the use! It will never work,” I will always be like this!, There is no point even trying, “No one can help me in my situation” This is when a person begins to believe that there is no hope for their situation therefore the only way out they see is to commit suicide or end their life.

Is committing suicide really the only option? Is there truly no way out? Is there no one who could help their situation? What has driven them to reach that extreme conclusion about life? Well we all know who else could be behind those thoughts of committing suicide? He is no other than our ultimate deceiver, Satan, the father of lies who fills the mind with lies. The good news is that Christ has defeated the ultimate deceiver, the enemy of our souls.

If you see patterns of rejection in your life and have struggled with any of those negative emotions mentioned you no longer have to remain that way. Jesus understands the pain of rejection. He knew what it is to be rejected by his family, friends, and the people he healed and ministered to in the end by his father in heaven. He went through all that so that you can be healed of your rejection.

In closing let me introduce you to Jesus the wounded healer. In Isaiah 53:3-5, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Stay with the lesson we will talk more about rejection, rebellion and the road to freedom.  Amen

Sunday, May 13, 2012


                                       BREAKING FREE.. PART III 
                                        ( WALLS OF MY HEART)

For the past two weeks we have been following a series of teaching called, “Breaking Free: (Moving towards Wholeness) We opened up the series by looking into our theme passage in Eph 4:12-13, “to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

We all yearn for the fullness of God in our lives, but at the same time we tragically realize that there is something hindering us from receiving that fullness of God. In order to break free from those hindrances we began a backward journey to find out what had gone wrong in the beginning under which we covered the Origin of Man, the fall of Man, and the consequences of sin. Last week we concluded that “Some things are out of Line” by looking at God’s Measuring Standard. We tried to answer life’s most basic questions such as what life is and how should I live it and the identity question who am I? Finally we left with the understanding that each of us respond differently to identity crisis, some respond passively while others respond aggressively depending on their personality.

We also saw in the Bible that God likens humans to a wall. It’s not the wall that’s the challenge. The real challenge lies in changing the heart around which the wall was constructed. The walls we build are not so much visible on the outside but are hidden in our hearts. Whether we notice it or not without a doubt in my mind we all could be hiding behind walls in our hearts. Today we will be looking into walls of my heart where we will define what the heart is, what shapes our personality; we will also look at the ultimate deceiver of our hearts. To begin with let’s read Proverbs 4:20-23. Read.

Proverbs 4:20-23, “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Here is a fatherly piece of advice which calls us to pay close attention, why? If we keep God’s words in our hearts, and never loose sight of them they bring health to our whole body.

The Bible said it long ago, and science is proving it today. Dr. Cloud the author of Changes that heal this is what he has to say about the connection between the heart and the physical body. “Our emotional and psychological well-being depends on the status of our heart, and the status of our heart depends on the depth of our bonds with others and God.”[1] How does the Bible define the heart?

In the Bible the word heart has a much broader meaning than it does to the modern mind. In the Hebrew language, two of the words used for heart are, “leb and lebab.” In reviewing the context for the use of these words in the Bible, we can find 204 occurrences where these words translated with an emphasis on the mind.
In 195 places with an emphasis on the “will”, 166 times “emotions.” But the most frequent use of these terms, in 257 occurrences focuses on the whole of the inner person or the “personality.” The Greek word translated “heart” is “kardia” which continues in common usage in modern medicine, e.g. cardiac disease. From our brief study we understand that the “personality” which is equal to the whole of inner person or inner self, that thinks, feels, and decides. The Bible says all emotions are experienced by the heart: love & hate (I Pet 1:22, Ps 105:25), joy & sorrow ( Ecc 2:10, John 16:6), peace & bitterness (Col 3:15, Heb 12:15), courage& fear (Gen 42:28, Amos 2:16)

Why is it important that we must guard our hearts above all else? Who we are on the inside often reflects on who we are on the outside. In Prov 27:19, “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Before we learn how to guard our hearts we must understand how our inner man or personality is developed. What shapes our personality?

Bruce Thompson describes a true story of Anne how she exploded in front of him about her husband saying, “He’s a hypocrite. He tells lie after lie.” As she spoke, she released her pent-up emotions of more than 30 years of marriage. Over the course discussion Bruce learned that she was suspecting her husband with adultery. When she confronted her husband about it he had reacted with hurt and anger, saying it was all in her mind. But she knew.. just knew, he was having an affair and he kept lying to her.

It became apparent to Bruce as he talked with her that she had been deeply deceived and her fears of betrayal had clouded over her perception of truth. Her self deception was robbing her of the bliss of marriage. Her self talk, or the words she dwelt on inside her own mind, had become a false prophet leading her deeper into deception and despair. How could she ever be free? Only by recognizing her deception and adjusting her life to God’s divine plumb line.

Likewise, in our search for meaning and significance, it is imperative we be aware of the false plumb lines, paths or prophets we may follow along the way. If we are not careful they can lead us astray. That was precisely what happened to the nation of Israel, the false prophets had led them astray. In Ezekiel 13:15-16, we read, God strongly expressing his wrath against the false prophets and the nation of Israel that believed those lies. As a result of those lies, the Israelites built their lives with flimsy, unstable walls covering them with whitewash.

God was not pleased with those shaky, fragile falls walls. He was determined to send storms and knock those walls to the ground. In figure 6 we see someone standing behind the fragile wall of fear he erected to protect himself. This person has apparently experienced inner trauma and no longer wants to be vulnerable. He lives behind his wall, in fear, separated from God and others, unable to enjoy meaning full relationships.

How did this person learn to build these teetering walls? Who showed him the need for them, and how to use bricks of negative qualities to construct them? In the like manner who are the false prophets who showed how to build our lives? Here are a few!

God’s original design for families was that of a mother and a father raising children and instructing them in the ways of God. The Israelites were commanded by God to watch themselves closely so that they would not forget the thing God had done. They were to keep them in their hearts as long as they live and to teach them to their children and to their children after them. (Due 4:9) Unfortunately the Israelites ignored that commandment and the result was a nation that moved far away from God and was falling apart under its own weight of deception.

Parents play a key role in the formation of a child especially from birth till the age six. The first false prophecy in our lives may come to us through our parents. Even the best, all too sadly misrepresent God and His truth by failing to talk and walk in His ways. For example, what message a child will receive if parents always give into his or her whims and whines, neither set boundaries nor correct them when they do wrong?  A false message of entitlement isn’t it? What do two fighting parents communicate to their children? What happens to a child who never sees his father pray or read God’s word and provide leadership at home? How about a divorce in the family, what does that communicate to the children?  

We were meant to positively, constructively impact our children through words and actions.  However some words spoken to us by our parents or elders may have negatively impacted us in as far as they did not line up with the truth of God’s word.  I have talked to many people who heard little else than words as: you are good for nothing, why can’t you be smart like your sister? You are a failure. You will never make it in life. They become a false prophesy.

When it comes to predictions about children’s abilities, looks, or future, children will receive these words literally, especially coming from their parents the most important people in their lives. Many parents do not realize they are as God to their young children, who take their words as final and true. Unkind, harsh, cutting words can cripple a child’s emotional development holding them back from a normal life. Other false prophets are teachers.

If teachers so choose, they may inflict deep seated wounding in the spirit of a child by false accusations, unjust management or abuse of power. Some teachers who were supposed to be teaching teach morals and live exemplary lives have acted like beasts to satisfy their sexual appetites. A recent arrest of a veteran 61 year old elementary school teacher, who molested 23 boys and girls ages 6-10 over a period of two years, sadly depicts the betrayal of trust.[2] Can you imagine the extent of the damage done to these young lives?  What message does this incident communicate to these children? Other powerful false prophets to deal with in school are PEERS.
Growing up we all have experienced Peer Pressure but nothing like the pressure our kids have to endure in this digital age. With the introduction of the Face Book that pressure has only been compounded.
In search of significance and love many teens are freely throwing their lives away. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers often learn risky behaviors like drinking, smoking, use of illegal drugs, and getting into unsafe sexual activities. Most of the time, an adolescent becomes vulnerable and his peers would take advantage of his weakness and push him or her to try the said dangerous activities.[3]
            But what these false prophets fail to give is, the whole message relating to immorality. They don’t discuss taking responsibility for what could be theirs in nine months later. Neither do they proclaim the possibility of a lifetime of pain and discomfort through sexually transmitted diseases. Another powerful false prophet who screams at all of us is the popular media.
The media is perhaps the most deadly of all the false prophets setting up its altar in almost every home in the developed world. The whole family sits at its feet for daily worship as it exalts lifestyles of lust, violence and crime in subtle ways. According to research done by Huston in the year 1992, by the time a child is eighteen years old, he/she has already witnessed 200,000 acts of violence including 40,000 murders on television. According to research done by Buchanan in the year 2000, children who watch more television or even play more video games are exposed to more media violence and tend to exhibit more aggressive tendencies amongst their peers.[4]  Other devastating affects of watching excessive TV among children is obesity. One survey suggests, “Obesity rates today have skyrocketed, particularly in children. 
Our society is driven by fast food with little nutrients; television and hand held games marketed towards children starting at the age of 2 years that allow them to never get off of the couch.[5]
These are some of the false prophets prophesying lies and things that are contradictory to God’s word. Many have blindly believed and followed these seducing voices and build their lives accordingly. But there is one the ultimate deceiver. Of all the false prophets, none is as cunning and deceptive as Lucifer himself. Next week we will talk about the ultimate deceiver.         
The Lord may be showing areas in your life where you have received, believed, and acted upon false messages based on a faulty world view or given wrong messages to others. Do not despair; the desire of our heavenly Father in bringing His plumb line alongside our hearts is not to make us feel miserable and condemned.  The heart of God is to heal, restore and reconstruct our broken lives so that we may continue to enjoy a stable and secure life. I encourage you to continue to open your hearts to the work of God in your life.  Amen

** Part of the material is taken from “Walls of My Heart” by Bruce Thompson.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BREAKING FREE..PART II( Something's Out of Line)

(Eph 4: 12-13, Amos 7:7,8)
Last week we started a series of teaching called, “Breaking Free: (Moving towards Wholeness), We looked into what has gone wrong, under which we covered the Origin of Man, the fall of Man, and the consequences of sin. In Eph 4:12-13, we read “to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

We all yearn for the fullness of God in our lives don’t we? But tragically we realize that there is something hindering us from receiving that fullness. Today we will see that “Something’s out of Line” we will cover, God’s Measuring Standard, and one of life’s most basic questions.

The Bible likens humans to a wall, a house, or a building. Remember the Sunday school song “the wise man built his house on the rock and the foolish man built his house on the sand”?  In that story Jesus talked about the difference between those who practice the Word of God and those who don’t.  There are other passages in the Bible that talk about building or building materials in the shaping of our lives, we will look at one of those today.

In the 8th century B.C; during the reign of Uzziah, the kingdom of Judah, the nation of Israel were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights. It was the super power of that time. But along with this affluence came a rapid decline in morals. There was idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxurious living, immorality, corruption of judicial procedures and oppression of the poor.

Into this challenging climate God called Amos, a shepherd and dresser of fig trees with a stern warning and a message of judgment and recovery. Where are the Amos’ of today who will step up to the call and denounce the social corruption of our time? With Moses God chose a rod to demonstrate His truth and values, but with Amos He chose a plumb line. Amos 7:7,8.

A plumb line is an instrument used by builders to ascertain the precise vertical direction of a wall. Construction workers have found this simple yet profound instrument of inestimable value. They realize that if their building is to be stable and stand, its studs and walls must line up with the plumb line. If not, the building could topple down.  What applies to walls and buildings apply to individuals, families, churches, societies and nations.

In this passage God saw the moral decay underneath Israel’s affluence. God depicts the nation as a wall that is out of line and about to topple down. To let his intentions be known to the people of Israel he dropped down the plumb line of His law alongside His people. His message was clear: His tolerance level reached it’s peak, He was not going to spare them any longer, and the nation of Israel could fall any day and be scattered by its enemies as blocks of a wall.
God has never ceased to extend the plumb line of His word alongside the lives of those He has called to be His people. He continues to do this with us, the people of 21st century so that we might find the truth, along with that, experience freedom so that we will be stable and lead a secure life. This leads us to the first basic question, what life is and how should we live it?

We live at a time where many people no longer know or think about God, let alone His plumb line of His word. Yet many are greatly concerned with the question, “What is life and how should we live it? People search for answers to this question in Psychology (the science of human and animal behavior), new consciousness, drug trips, Atheism (no god at all it is only a figment of the imagination of man himself), Occultism (jumping into the unseen, non-sensory world to discover his identity), Existentialism, (that stresses the individual’s unique position as a self determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her actions).[1]

The quest to make meaning out of life is a right motivation but this whole cycle is designed to seduce man out of the gentle hands of a loving God and into the bondage of being a slave of Satan. In order to find true answers to what life is and how we should live it, we need to ask ourselves the basic question: Who AM I?  This is an identity question.

If we care to admit, most of us struggle with our identity at some point or the other. Who am I? In order to bring focus and definition to our answer let’s look at several characterizations of different personalities. Two types, the passive and the aggressive and how they respond to identity crisis in their lives.

The passive response is shown by a (man in the armor) and the aggressive is shown by a (woman with a bow and arrow).When you look at the man (figure2) what impressions come to mind? The following is a list of actual responses people have given while viewing figure 2: defensive, fearful, lonely, apathetic, insecure, blind, helpless, vulnerable, passive, deaf and dumb, depressed and hopeless.

The person in the armor is in an identity crisis, evading the “Who AM I” question.  It looks like his past attempts to deal with it have probably failed, so rather than face this question and the pain it brings, the man hides behind his armor retreating from any threat to his identity. What impressions come to your mind by viewing the woman with a bow and arrow?(figure 3) Aggressive, negative, resentful, lonely, critical, defensive, insecure and fearful. Holding her bow and arrow, this woman demonstrates another approach to handling an identity crisis. Instead of the passive defensive mode, she adopts the more aggressive stance.

Individuals approaching her may be warned either to keep a distance or be wounded. The fact that the arrow is not drawn up in the bow indicates she does not really want to be aggressive, but will be if necessary.  If we put these two together they could relate compatibility. The woman could shoot her arrows whenever she wanted, and at least he would know someone was around to ease his loneliness.
Their communication system would be the ping of arrows hitting armor without either party being hurt. All too often, this illustration sadly reflects the level to which many marriages and relationships deteriorate.

Throughout this series we will talk more about these two personality types.  Of course these two personalities are stereotypes and they are many nuances. This is not to say all men are passive and all women are aggressive when it comes to handling identity crisis.

These two profiles are examples of individuals who have not succeeded in coming to know who they are. How do you try to answer this important question?  In order to resolve our own personal identity and answer the “Who am I question”? We need to go back to our own origin
Last week we learned that in the beginning was God, and he created everything….he created man and woman in his own image and his likeness. The bible further unfolds the origin when Moses asked God to identify himself for the sake of the nation of Israel this is what God said in Exodus 3:13-14, “I AM WHO I AM AND I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”  

In the New Testament Jesus, the son of God identified himself and the role which he came to fulfill on the earth by saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by Me” John 14:6 Take a look at what is being said in these two scriptures. First, God is stating that all identity begins in Him.

If we are to understand who we are then we must begin by coming to understand who He is. Second, Jesus is describing Himself as the Way to knowing God. He is God’s Son and is therefore in a position to introduce us to His Father.

Once we brush aside, “the great I AM” we loose touch with the source of truth about “WHO I AM.” This is what exactly what happened to Israel in the time of the prophet Amos. Israel chose not to have God as the source of their lives. God called Amos to the scene to bring them back to the place where Jehovah was their God and His truth was their plumb line.

The nation of Israel had wandered so far away from God that he described them as a tottering wall out of line which could tumble down at any time. This image of a tottering wall and a plumb line held at perfect vertical powerfully illustrate the difference between a world view where God is central, compared to one where He is not. Some of these differences are: absolutes Vs relativity, law Vs opinion, order Vs chaos and freedom Vs slavery. Without God as our reference point we are lost to life and all it could mean. 

While God likens us to a wall, it’s not the wall that’s the challenge. The challenge lies in changing the heart around which the wall was constructed. God brings his plumb line alongside the heart of a man as well as a nation. In the book of Proverbs 4:23 we are admonished to keep our hearts with all diligence, as out of it are the issues of life. Our tendency has been rather to guard or keep our mind and intellect, as if life’s issues were really centered in our education. But from Proverbs we clearly see they are not. We will learn more about it next week. Amen

This teaching is based on "Divine Plumb line"  by Bruce Thompson