"When God thinks of you, love swells in his heart." I can imagine the thoughts going through your mind as you reflect on that statement. For many of us, this idea is hard to accept. Do you really believe God loves you, even delights in you? If you are a follower of Christ you will probably give me the politically correct answer and say, "Yes. I believe He does." However, most of us will respond to that statement perhaps with a "Well, yes, but.". It is hard for us to believe God loves us without adding a "but" after the statement. The very statement challenges our theology about God. Many of us associate the nature of God with holiness, judgment, and righteousness. This is chapter 1 of a book by Os Hillman entitled, Experiencing the Father's Love.
"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord God (Ezek 22:30-31). (This is an excerpt from a new manuscript by Os Hillman).
We gathered in the empty restaurant on a Monday morning in Hong Kong. The restaurant would open later for business, but now was hosting a special group of key Asian leaders. There around the table were twelve Chinese small business owners. This is one of several groups that meet each week in a carefully orchestrated strategic ministry. The leader is a mature believer. He is supported by the ministry's director who is a skilled facilitator and by another very successful business leader who co leads the group. Both are in attendance but play a minor role on this day. The setting was not that much different than we see in groups all over the U. S. in multiple workplace ministries. These leaders look different, speak another language, and come from a different culture. However, their hearts are the same as we see all over the world.
Today the church of Jesus Christ is facing perhaps its greatest challenge since Christ's resurrection. And unfortunately, the only institution that can seem slower to change than the government is the church. On a given Sunday only 17% of the population attends church in the United States, closely following the pattern of Europe. Yet, the Spirit of God is creative and constantly doing new things among us in Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. So the question is: "What in the world is God doing today, and what does he want us as leaders to do?"
The apostle Paul enlists the word "stronghold" to define the spiritual fortresses where Satan and his legions go for protection. These fortresses exist in the thought-patterns and ideas that govern individuals in their homes, workplaces and churches, as well as in communities and nations. Before victory can be claimed, these strongholds must be pulled down. Only then can the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit effectively plunder Satan's house. As Paul states, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Here is an example of how a stronghold can develop and affect someone's working life. "Jerry" had grown up with a father who was successful and a workaholic. Although Jer
Do you ever feel condemned? Do you have trouble experiencing God's love? Did you grow up with very little verbal affirmation in your life? Do you reject the love of others? Do you feel you are not worthy of other people's love? Do you have relationships that often end because you reject people because of what you think they are doing to you? Is it hard to maintain long-term relationships? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may be impacted by a spirit of rejection.
Have you ever felt like the God that many preach from the pulpit often does not connect with your personal experience with God? Many of you know I have just completed a four month sabbatical. During this time I spent a great deal of time seeking the Lord about many areas in my life. I read over 30 books during my sabbatical time and spent many hours alone with God. There was one theme I pondered and studied a lot. That theme dealt with the nature of God and His ways with His creation. There are 8 conclusions I have come to as a result of my time that I wish to share with you in hopes you will have a better understanding of the nature of God and how He often relates to us as His creation.