Dear Fellow Pilgrim,

We are in dark days. The second coming of our great God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer who is returning to the earth to deliver us from this present evil world system draws nearer. And though this is a cause for rejoicing, many of us are experiencing our own personal days of trial and fear that massive tribulation is no longer in the far distant future.

We cry out with the prophet Habakkuk. And even though we have never met him, the world that prompted him to cry out, “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2), seems to be a world much like our own. Violence and iniquity surrounded him. Trouble and strife and contention and plundering were swallowing him up. He did not think God was hearing him or seeming to care about what had happened to law and justice. The “law is powerless and justice never goes forth”. The wicked surrounded the righteous and perverse judgment prevailed in the affairs of mankind.

The good news is that God is watching! He speaks to the prophet and to those of us today who have “ears to hear”. He tells us we are to “look among the nations and watch – and be “utterly astounded!”  He goes on to say “I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” Now we know what happened in hind sight. The tribe of Judah was in its “death throes”.

They had rejected to heed the warnings of many of the prophets by continuing to practice idolatry. They refused to repent of their ways. The very ones who had been given the revelation of the law were now stubbornly continuing to follow the pied pipers of Darkness who presented themselves as prophets, priests, and spiritual leaders.

Things were not all that different from us today who often unwittingly take our spiritual leadership from demons posing as angels of light and ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15), and spirit guides. We allow discussion groups to reshape the truths of the Word of God to fit our opinions, and inadequate theologies that deny the truth of God’s Word and fail to account for or explain what is going on within the context of human experience to mould our behavior.

This leaves us vulnerable to the lie and unprepared for the judgment. We are left to our own devices, basing our conclusions about God and our relationship with Him, based on our own personal opinions and experiences, signs and wonders, eastern mysticism and spiritual exercises. We are so much like the tribe of Judah. But God tells the prophet to “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2).

Though Judah was familiar with the words of the prophet, they were more comfortable with the works of darkness that had blinded them to the danger of the impending judgment God was being forced to bring upon them. Their hardness of heart left them no longer shocked by the things that were going on. They became indifferent and stubborn. Their stiffness of neck manifested a hardness of heart that blinded them to the needless pain and willful killing of the innocent for money and gain. They either joined in willing or ignored the need by giving their consent through their silence.

Fear is on every side for those who do not rest in and rely upon their God, (the One True God), to save them. God is not an opiate for the weak but counsel for the wise. When the world would deliberately try to create mass hysteria through the threat of international violence, economic collapses, and a variety of natural disasters that no terroristic group can boast claim to, we can rest in knowing that those who KNOW their God will be kept safe.

And isn’t it marvelous how God can preserve those who trust in Him. Though they be but a small remnant, they are never too few for Him to bother with. You can be counted in that number if you want to be.

There is no need to loose your peace or forfeit your chance to have the assurance of eternal life because, at no point in this war can the value of your soul be measured to cost more than what has already been paid for it. The price of its redemption, the death of God’s Son, can never be counted as insufficient, though the careless spending of our live in self pursuit can never gain for us enough to purchase our own salvation or safety.

He is no fool who willingly gives up that which he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose, (Jim Elliot, martyr to the Waodani tribe of Ecuador).  It is time to give up your life to the One Who gave up His life for you. Only those who let go of this life will be able to keep their life. For some that is a simple matter of surrendering your will and intentions over to the truth that “who so ever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Romans 10:13).

For those who consider themselves saved, check the fine print. If you are trusting in some form of Karma for Justice which insists that you must obtain your own righteous perfection through good deeds in order to stop an insidious circle of reincarnation, you are under the gospel of works. God offers us redemption, not recycling. Read the contract. And if the agreements you have made with the false peace of the new age promise peace through a transcending awareness with nothingness in order to find that peace, get out now! God does not require us to empty our minds to abide in His peace.

If the worship and preaching and work of the Kingdom that you are involved in does not look like what is happening in the New Testament, you may be under the influence of a false gospel. Many of the look-a-like gospels contain just enough truth to get the hungry eaters hooked in.

Satan has always preached a gospel of mixed grace and works because that way he can offer his victims the “best of both worlds”. Because it works so well, nothing has been changed but the outward appearance to keep it looking modern and trendy. Inwardly, the gospel of works, or its newer version,- the mixture of grace and works – is still full of dead men’s bones like the tombs Jesus used to illustrate the folly of following such traditions, trends and death trap theologies.

For those of you who think you are a Christian, check out what brand of theology you have embraced or your leaders are promoting. This is not the time or place where we need to look for our “our best life now”, though it is a time of sweet promise and strength for the journey. Jesus in not about pony rides and inflatables! His church is a body, not a circus. We are a family, not a corporation. Jesus is the attraction. He is enough.

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Judge and Jury? by Marjorie Cole, Life Recovery, Inc.Do you ever feel like you are your own judge and jury? Like your whole life is a result of either being judged by others or,  worse yet, yourself? Do you live constantly going over your mistakes, debating with yourself, re thinking your options, feeling guilty and judged by failed outcomes, trying to figure out how you might have done things differently and feeling responsible for other people’s responses?

Add to the confusion the fact that many of us continue to live our adult Christian lives using the insights and conclusions we gathered during our childhood. We determine our worth, our value and the current status of our “love-ability” based on these subconscious conclusions made as children.

As a result, many of us take a moral inventory of our spiritual lives only to come up agreeing with condemnation, that we didn’t do it right, don’t love God enough and maybe aren’t even saved! We spend our lives moderating the debate that goes on in our minds and emotions to determine if we are trusting God enough, sincerely convinced in our hearts and really born again.

We grew up in performance-based conditioning that caused us to believe that whatever was happening in our world was “all up to me” and if anything went wrong, “it was my fault”. “I’ve got to do it right”, “be good”, and “figure it out” in order to be “okay”. (For more teaching check out “It’s My Fault” cd.)

"It's My Fault" by Marjorie Cole, Life Recovery, Inc.

And though this blog is not a clever justification for sin and reckless abandon of moral absolutes, the “it’s up to me” gospel has created a deep and serious challenge to the Gospel of grace. Failure to embrace the Gospel of grace has widened the separation between us and our merciful heavenly Father, and is creating  a growing number of neurotic Christians.

Confusion and condemnation are spreading like a contagious disease among unsuspecting believers who rewrite the Gospel of God from “Done” back to “Do”. Confusion around the Bible’s declaration that “it is finished!” has exchanged the absolutes of the final and  finished Gospel of Jesus Christ for one of powerless uncertainty. This unfinished Gospel allows the Enemy’s to constantly accuse us that we are never quite good enough or certain that God’s acceptance of us is unconditional.

Things  like “I have to , I should, I need to, or I feel like I have to keep myself in line, or “I feel like I have to choose the right thing”, bind us in the constant fear of NOT choosing the right thing. And if our salvation all comes back to and rests upon us and our choosing the right thing, the entire work of the Cross rests, not upon the Word of God or the Blood of Jesus, or upon the Faithfulness of God to pay the penalty for sin and buy us back, but upon our ability to choose rightly!

Was this not the very foundation upon which the Law was built? Putting the work of redemption back on us puts the work of Christ in jeopardy of being undermine and cancelled out by the choices I make. How devious! How arrogant! How clever of the Enemy who knows he cannot erase or undo or remove the Word of God or the Work of Christ, to make them both subject to my performance, my feelings, and my choices.

Does not Paul in Romans 6,7,and 8 make it abundantly clear that we were slaves of sin, programmed to sin, controlled by the sinful lusts and cravings of sin that war in our members? As he writes is it not clear that  he was experiencing these same powers controlling the members of his own flesh? And that they were controlling him in spite of his love of God’s Law and his will (intention) to follow it?

Simply repeating the “try harder” cliches of taking personal responsibility to be more diligent and self-disciplined did not resolve the dilemma. The insidious entrapment opened Paul’s eyes to the need for deliverance which causes him to cry out, “O wretched man that I am, Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). ”

The good thing he wanted to do he did not do; the bad things he did NOT want to do, he found himself doing. (Rom. 19). Observing and basing his conclusion upon his will and intention to love and want God instead of the bad and unruly behavior that he saw going on in his members caused him to conclude that “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells IN me.” (Rom. 7:20).

Paul immediately stopped trying to be good or control his behavior or condemn himself for not being able to be good or control his behavior or stop the war going on inside of him. In stead, he stopped it by crying out to God for deliverance from the grip of the body of death – the operating software from Hell – that was running in his soul. He realized he could not deliver himself by good works or by trying harder to stop sinning. It was not up to him to deserve or prove or complete the work of the Cross. All he could do was cry out for “deliverance”.

Even evidence of sin and the presence of the battle that continued raging within him were not able to persuade him that the Cross and the Salvation it secured were lost. There is NOW therefore, no condemnation to “those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1).

Walking in the Spirit make us immune to the ongoing blasts of Satan that debate our position in Christ based upon our performance or our feelings. Condemnation is a feeling. As a feeling it is often used by Hell to frighten the sheep into believing they are not safe, okay, or saved. It creates a low grade anxiety in the souls of those who would follow Christ.  In searching for relief from the uncertainty, they turn aside from following the commands of the Good Shepherd, into the pastures of religious performance, legalism, and self-doubt.

These little sheep become caught up in trying to be their own shepherd. They base their love for God on how well they think or feel they are doing (performance). When we try to please God by keeping the Law to be holy and judge our progress by how we feel we are bound to fall into condemnation!

When we base our salvation or run our relationship with God through our minds (thinking) or through our hearts (emotions) we  give the Enemy all kinds of opportunities to hurt and confuse and condemn and strip us of our authority as believers.

If Satan can get me to doubt, or second guess, or believe that the work of Jesus Christ is dependent upon me, or how I feel, or how I am doing , or on what kind of choices I am making, then he had slipped a noose around my neck to drag me back into the pit of despair. If all I do is spend the rest of my saved life being drug around by Satan what good am I to myself or what profit will it be to Christ?

If the devil can get me to agree with him, he then has the power to control me. If I let him get by with speaking words through my mind and out of my mouth that I do not “take captive” ( II Cor.10:3-5), if I do not “resist him” (jam. 4:7) he will not flee. The Enemy is a wiley foe and a master deceiver. He is the author of confusion and his strategy is to divide and conquer.

He desires to control you. If he can “set you up in opposition to yourself”, (II Tim. 2 25  KJV)  by getting you to monitor your feelings and your behaviors, he can divide you and set you up against your own self.

He deceives you into sinning. He then uses the evidence of the sin you just committed as proof that you disobeyed God. He then has you read some scripture that he can reinterpret as condemnation to get you to question or worry about your love for God. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (Jn.14:15) gets re-framed and the Enemy begins to condemn you for not loving God enough because you sinned.

Our sinning gives the Enemy an opportunity to discuss ways we could improve which opens up the way to bring striving on board to more closely monitor our life in God. This sets the stage for condemnation to come in and creates a vicious circle of try harder-never good enough that leaves us  always wondering if God really loves us. God’s love becomes conditional and grace must be earned!

The only way this vicious cycle can be broken is by Abiding in Christ! This revelation changes everything, including our vigorous and sketchy attempts to be good, make right choices and follow God. And if we add to this folly, the notion that we can assess our current state of holiness and acceptability with God based on how we feel, we  have handed the appropriation of the Work of the Cross and its power to save, over to Satan!

“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). If we “Walk in the Spirit” we will not give Satan the opportunity to use our souls to debate the work of Christ being done in us through His Holy Spirit. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. (Eph. 2:10). Know that you know that and you will live an abundant and meaningful life in Christ.

Amen!