Real Grace

Facebook seems to be a hot bed for the new distorted view of “grace”.

taking-up-your-crossThe other day someone posted that through grace, God finds our sin acceptable. He thus no longer “deals” with sin in our lives – and we are free of sin – because it no long exists.

According to their “logic”, sin ceases to an issue in our lives because it ceases to be considered sin by God.

That neat theological sleight of hand was followed by lots of “likes” and “amens”.

To deny the reality of sin and its bondage – and to say God doesn’t deal with sin in our lives or that we are free of sin – is an abuse of grace.

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Pastoral Counseling

Several ministries are offering a free class in Pastoral Counseling on Wednesday evenings in Prince William County, Virginia, beginning April 17, 2013, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm.

The class is open to all members of the Body of Christ from local churches (not just “pastors”!), and likely will run about twelve weeks.

To give some idea of the type of counseling we will be teaching others to do, I’ve reprinted below a blog about one session I had with a deeply troubled man last year.

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Letting Go

For most Christians, the greatest struggle is not resisting sin but in being willing to let go of our hurts. More than sin, we allow our hurts to define us, and find it difficult to leave the familiarity of our pain for the unfamiliarity of a truly new life in Christ. Even among Christians, few risk the grace of confession, forgiveness and repentance to become whole and complete in Him.

Really, it’s not that difficult…

Here’s a story of one man’s journey: Getting to Simple.

Hyper Grace – Part 2

Hyper Grace – Part 2

Real people want real answers and real freedom from real issues – not just the tidy platitudes of half truths.

Maybe that’s what has shaped my strong reaction to hyper grace, which is really half grace: It cannot offer real freedom from real issues because it seeks the grace of God’s affirming love and presence, but not the grace of His transforming truth and rule.

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Theology and Reality

Miguel Labrador has posted another thought provoking blog, entitled Theology Precedes Practice, Vice Versa, or Something Else?

Keeping Theology and Reality in Balance

In it, he states: “orthodoxy (theology) & orthopraxy (practice) are ‘simultaneous.’” I think he’s right, in the sense that we must seek to keep both in balance – our walk must match our talk, and our talk must match our walk.

Sometimes, however, the Lord allows one or the other – our doctrine or our practice – to be challenged in ways that force us to then adjust the other.

Regardless, it is important to keep them in sync, as much as possible, and not let one get too far ahead of the other.

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Life or Reaction?

So much of our “theology” (and we all have “theology”!) is forged these days by hurts.

The Bible has been used as a club to beat us into conformity, so we reject its plenary authority.

Our need for mercy has been abused, so we latch onto a concept of grace that excludes the Lord’s occasional rebuke and discipline.

We have suffered from authoritarian leadership or a controlling church, so we become autonomous and discount the need for healthy, accountable community.

We realize that some pet doctrines were wrong, so we seek a purely existential Jesus and cringe at objective truth.

In doing so, we are reacting to hurts, wrongs and mistakes – rather than embracing life.

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Finding Freedom From Life’s Hurts

Finding Freedom From Life’s Hurts

This is a fifty-five minute teaching I shared with about thirty men, based on hundreds of pastoral counseling sessions where God showed up and brought freedom and healing from deep hurts – including abuse, abandonment and so much more.

My blog is a feeble attempt to upload a lifetime of service to the King of Kings. I believe this audio teaching, however, captures better than anything I’ve written some of the most significant things I’ve learned as I’ve walked with folks to those ugly places of bondage and hurt in their lives. When we get there, and they exposed their hurts and lies to the Lord, He brings His loving, healing truth.

In this talk, I also share some of my own very personal story about my own places of hurt, which I had to expose to Lord so He could then bring wholeness to me.

You may think you know me from my writings, but this captures my heart in ways that a written blog never can.

 
If this resonates with you, I also recommend my related blog, God Shows Up.

The Road to Grace

For the institutionally religious, the road to grace is the toughest journey they’ll ever face.

For me, this certainly has been the case. And although the road to grace has been a wonderful journey, there have been many bumps and detours along the way. But slowly, I’m finally starting to find my way forward.

It’s Jesus in me and Jesus through me, so that it becomes possible to have Jesus in us and Jesus through us.

So much of my life over the last five years has been about the Lord reducing me to that simple truth.

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I Saw Satan Fall

On Tuesday evening, I understood how Jesus felt when his disciples finally “got it” and reported back, after He sent them out to minister on their own for the first time, that the sick were healed and darkness conquered. In His joy, the Lord said He saw Satan fall from Heaven because of them.

On Tuesday I’m teaching and mentoring a class of students on how to minister in the areas of confession, forgiveness and repentance. After seven weeks of foundation laying, the students this week started doing ministry sessions on their own and – wow! – it was amazing what God did through them that evening.

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Christian Counseling Class

I will be teaching a semester-long Christian counseling class beginning next Tuesday, September 6th, through early December. We will be meeting every Tuesday evening at my home just south of Manassas, Virginia, from 7:00 to 9:15 pm.

The course is being offered through Emmanuel Christian Institute, in conjunction with Fulcrum Ministries, for a very modest $200 (this fee goes to ECI for much appreciated administrative support, not me!).

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 1) – My Personal Angst

Much to my dismay, God keeps bringing people to my door who have been abused by a pastor or other trusted church leader.

Over the last year, I’ve taken on three cases against abusive pastors. Two involve significant embezzlement and fraud by pastors in different churches. A third involves extensive sexual abuse and misconduct by around half a dozen men on the pastoral and ministerial staff at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Virginia.

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Transparent

My spiritual DNA — the way God put me together — makes me instinctively encourage others to give away what God has given them. Sharing God’s blessings is a key component to spiritual growth, I’ve found.

I often teach and minister in a faith-based dorm at the local jail. Rather than me “leading” this Friday, however, I took a seat among them and let the men bless each other by sharing what God is showing them and doing in their lives.

Some rose to sing songs they wrote to the Lord, some read and commented on short passages of scripture that had become alive to them, while others gave testimony to how God is now healing and making them whole men.

One brother read a poem he wrote about dealing with the issues of his heart and finding healing through confession, repentance and forgiveness. I’ve seen tremendous peace and maturity emerge over the last couple of months as he’s been totally transparent with the Lord — even though it’s sometimes hard and painful to expose those secret and hidden places to Him.

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Whole Health

The more pastoral counseling I do, the more I realize how often people deal with life’s traumas, hurts and disappointments by suppressing either their mind, their heart, or their spirit – and thus some vital aspect of who God created them to be.

integrated_wholeFor example, instead of being healthy, integrated people, they numb out or otherwise retreat exclusively into the realm of their minds – i.e., their analytical logic and reason – to the exclusion of their heart and their spirit.

They are alive, but hardly living – as they deny themselves the catharsis of honest emotions and the wonder of new-found belief.

For others, their heart is the oppressor as they subjugate their mind and spirit to their feelings and sensibilities.

Some even allow their spirit to squelch their minds and hearts by super-spiritualizing everything, and treating reason and emotions as irredeemably corrupt.

I now realize that God created our mind, heart and spirit to be equally vital aspects of the whole, complete individuals He wants us to be.

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Repentance, Forgiveness and the Kingdom of God

Recorded before a group of men in the local jail, this 55 minute audio teaching explains how we find peace and freedom when we allow God, through authentic Biblical confession, repentance and forgiveness, to change what we think, believe and perceive. That, in turn, allows us to know the righteousness, peace and joy that comes from finding and doing His will — which is what the Kingdom of God is all about.

This teaching arises from hundreds of intense pastoral counseling sessions through Fulcrum Ministries. In those sessions, I’ve seen how God uses Biblically authentic confession, repentance and forgiveness to bring quick resolution and lasting freedom from the lies, hurts and deceptions we carry from life’s circumstances — including routine disappointments to extreme situations like sexual abuse, occult ritual practices, childhood abandonment and many other life-crippling situations.

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A Very Public Confession

Here’s a news brief I came across that really stood out.

In it, the CEO for Continental Airlines admits that his company in the past was racist and refused to hire black pilots. Past racism, in and of itself, is hardly surprising. What is surprising, however, is the candor of Continental’s public confession and the public amends it made to set things right.

It is rare to see anyone anymore who is willing to publicly admit to public sins, mistakes and improprieties — especially among our leaders. In this case, I was very impressed by what Continental and its CEO did, and hope this can be an inspiration for us all.

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