Extra Post: New Man – How to live the New Person we are in Christ… Permanently

maitouline lighthouse croppedThe New Man. What is the ‘new man’? How can I walk in the new man every day, all day, forever? I’m saved by grace, but don’t I have to work hard to be a Good Christian? The answer is simply, “No, you don’t.”

“Give me back my stuff,” said Jesus to Author and Prophet Graham Cooke in a personal encounter.

What is stuff? Stuff is the anxiety, worry, anger, hostility, fear, bitterness, resentment…. Stuff is all of the negative thoughts and feelings that are not a part of the Kingdom of God. They are dead, as dead as Jesus was on the cross. And they belong to the Old Man, the man you were and the man I was before accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. The old man is dead (Romans 6:6). The new man lives (Ephesians 4:22-23) and we can allow him to reign in us, by the power of the blood of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.

We can discern the thoughts and the feelings of the old man versus those of the new man easily enough. Negativity is from the old man. Whatever is not holy, heavenly, delightful, life-giving is not the new man’s thinking or emotion. The fruits of the Spirit which are: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness, self-control, are linked with the thoughts and feelings of the new man.

When Jesus died he took all of our stuff, so that we wouldn’t have to carry it anymore. When we fall into negative thought or emotion, we are taking back what Jesus died to overcome; we are taking back the stuff he died to have, so we wouldn’t have it anymore. He wants us to live in the new man, and let him keep the stuff of the old man.

Although the old man rises up inside of us, we don’t have to allow what is dead to be resurrected. We have the authority and the power to reject the dead man. It is not true that it is a part of us.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Recognizing the old man as dead and that his negative emotions and thoughts are not actually a part of us is an understanding that comes to the transformed mind. We are no longer ‘dead’ in our sin. Saved by grace, we have access to the thought-life and emotional life of Heaven.

The old man, as cited in Romans 6:6 is, “crucified with Him,that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

Continuing, “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:7-11 NKJV)

Meditate on this. Allow it to sink into your mind and spirit, to transform you from the inside.

Paul’s reference to sin includes thoughts and emotions that are not life-giving.  They are dead, just as we were dead before we knew Jesus. And we do not have to accept them as a part of us any longer. Instead, we choose to turn a corner and to walk full of the newness that life with Christ offers.

The new man is described as, renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” and we are to ‘put him on’ (Colossians 3:10). Now, “The new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 NKJV) is described as, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12) is the person we have become through salvation, whether or not we realize it. We no longer need to walk in the futility of our minds but we have a new mind. Saved by grace we no longer live in despair or darkness except by ignorance.

Becoming Christ-like isn’t about wrestling with our bad habits to overcome them so we can behave more “Christian”. Becoming like Christ is living in the new mindset we’ve already been given supernaturally. We are not only saved by grace, but we are also sanctified by grace. And so let us with this information, walk in the new man, leaving behind the patterns, habits and trappings of the old man. Let us run the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1) with joy, peace, faith and love, knowing the old stuff is false and the new is our true identity, already accessible. We are alive in Christ. So, let us help each other to walk in that new life, knowing the old has passed away and the new is here to stay.

Studies in the world have proven that we will often manifest what we expect. Let us expect a life free from strife, filled with joy, and moving toward the Kingdom of Heaven which has come down to Earth and has already saved us from sinful selves so that we can live in the freedom of our true selves, free to be the people God created us to be.

My favourite scripture is this:

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14

Ready: Take time to unclutter your mind and discover who you are in Christ.

Set: Choose to be resolute. Trust and surrender is letting go of hard work and doubt. It is tenacity at it’s best. It is hope and faith in action.

Go: With faith and focus like flint and with a face to match, I’m going forward in the knowledge and love of Christ, to be the new man, full of God’s grace, truth, hope and joy. Please, will you join me?

FOR THIS AND OTHER POSTS PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE: www.LarusPress.com/category/larusblog and sign up for the free week,ly newsletter too.

Larus Press: Building the Kingdom, one reader at a time.

Larus Press: Christian-based books, blogs and literature, to inspire, encourage, equip and empower your living spirit.

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A Calling Recognized and Fulfilled

My Hope and God’s Promises Fulfilled:

I have launched an upgraded website: http://www.LarusPress.com To know what really makes me tick have a view of the video on the home page.

Please know my heart: it is not to be famous or noted (I’ve been there, tried that – another story there). It is to serve.

I believe, after years of seeking mentorship support, direction to fulfill words spoken over me years ago, that I have finally matured sufficiently to be trusted with a mentor beyond my darling hubby Alan Tun (thank you Tony Marino) and a fuller picture of what God wants to use me for…

This is simply to encourage, uplift others who seek to know God’s will and purpose for their lives and to offer application of Biblical scripture to readers seeking to fulfill their purpose – their reason for being put on this earth at this time.

It’s a tall order. It isn’t me. It’s Christ who lives in me. To subscribe to the free newsletter Soaring Post see:

http://www.laruspress.com/about

In Christ we live and move and have our being. So, let’s grab hold of the promises He has for us. Looking forward and not back, pressing in and not being pressed upon. Believing and hoping that all He promises has been fulfilled for us and will be fulfilled in and through us.

Bless you Guys!

Sarah

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Lighthouse morphs into Larus Press

FINDING YOUR IDENTITY, FULFILLING YOUR PURPOSE IN CHRIST:

Larus Press

Larus Press

I am relaunching my website: www.LarusPress.com. The new site has a newsletter, Soaring Press, and a 4-strand blog, called LarusWalk. The Walk offers 4 aspects to our Christian walk: Wholeness, Witness, Word and Worship&Warfare. As we think, pray, walk we soar (larus = gull in Latin)! At Larus Press, the aim is to build up every believer, so we discover and fulfill our unique identity and purpose – to be all God has created us to be, in order to do all God has created us to do.

For some time now I’ve been chatting, posting and blogging on various platforms. My first blog began in 2011 and I’ve gone a bit wild with Facebook pages, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Twitter and Google+ and WordPress.

Google and WordPress have been instrumental in enabling me to launch blogs and write meaningful posts for readers. Having learned a lot, met lots of terrific people and exchanged many ideas, notions and hilarity, it’s time to morph through merging: I’m becoming streamlined… at last.

This of course has been done through prayerful consideration, mentoring assistance and enthusiastic effort. In other words, I’m attempting to follow God’s lead and am grateful for other people’s advice and help.

Thanks to WordPress and Google Blogspot. Thanks to Rebecca Tun for getting me started and Natasje Van Niekerk for saying it was fairly easy (if I’d known how hard it was all going to be I’d never have started). Thanks to Corina Koch McLeod for offering techie wisdom, experience and enthusiasm, and Tony Marino for encouragement, expertise and mentoring this Canadian gal.

Thanks so much to God, for inspiring me, challenging me, birthing in me a ministry to help others who face the same challenges I’ve faced – and more.

Moving my blogging to Larus Press is exciting. I won’t close the Lighthouse, though I don’t expect to post to it. It is a reference point and may, perhaps, be reborn in a new form at a later date. Who knows? God knows.

May all your plans and purposes be a part of God’s light and may you choose to join me at: http://www.LarusPress.com where you’ll find Soaring Press – a weekly newsletter and the four-strand blog LarusWalk offering Wholeness, Witness, Word and Worship&Warfare. 

Larus Press is a publishing ministry to Build Believers through Books, Blogs and Literature, to inspire, encourage, equip and empower your living spirit. Find us there now. First edition of the weekly Newsletter to be released next Thursday, 6th May. I hope you’ll subscribe and invite your friends to take a peek. God bless and until next week…

Gull, Symbol of Survival and Freedom to Soar

Gull, Symbol of Survival and Freedom to Soar

 

In the Tunnel – Part 2

From Present to Past:

I’d like to begin this in-depth look at Brokenness by saying I’m feeling elated, after coming through a soul-wrenching time. God works like that, doesn’t He? He brings us through trials in order to prune, shape, enrich us – And He sets us free from situations we create or think we must bear. Saying that, I choose to reflect on the past lessons of my recent Tunnel Experience to share them so that others whom God may lead through the Tunnel will be better prepared.. I like also to exchange experiences and lessons with others. For each of us, the learning curve never ends. That’s part of the excitement and challenge of our Christian journey…. But for now, I’ll talk about the Tunnel.

How I Entered the Tunnel: The issue of Time Management…

Or rather time unmanageable.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your “to do” list? Well, I had an Ah Ha moment about my “to do” list that initiated my Tunnel experience.

I entered a spiritual Tunnel last autumn, when I realized I could NEVER keep up with the amount of work I believed I had to do. I’d started a publishing business, based on God’s leading; my hubby asked me to work on a healthy vending business . I’m a wife and mother and follower of Jesus, all of which take commitment and time. I’d developed the tendency to stay up late, or wake up early (or sometimes both) in order to try to keep up with everything. Then, in one moment, I suddenly admitted: I have no time for myself, no time to relax, no quality time at all, to live, breathe, move.

At the time, I was physically healthy (ah, typically feeling a bit overweight, and as well, a little bit tired), but I crashed – in my mind and heart – realizing I just had more that I wanted to do than I could possibly do. That ‘crash’ was a blessing in that it would eventually release me into a different perspective, but of course initially, I didn’t feel released or relief. Initially, I felt despair and disappointment. Though my “Ah Ha” moment would eventually free me to give myself permission to stop trying so hard to do everything on my “to do” list, at first I felt the pain of lost hope, a lost dream, and I had to wrestle briefly with a bit of bitterness too.

Have you ever felt God lead you to something, or ask you to do something, and then you felt you couldn’t do it and He’d left you to flail about on your own?  I felt a bit like that at the crisis moment, when I first realized I could not do all I thought I had to do. Then, I admitted He hadn’t really mandated everything I was trying to do, and that there was quite a bit of My Will mixed onto the “to do” list. Though I felt disappointed and alone, I confessed to myself that God had not abandoned me and that somehow I’d burdened myself.

Honesty with ourselves and with God is so important in our journey, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to face our mistakes, but thankfully, we serve a God who is kind, compassionate and full of love. He actually brings us to moments of realization so that he can free us from unnecessary burdens. Jesus’ words ring in my mind often,

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30 NKJV from Bible Gateway)

I admitted that, in order to have a good quality of life with my family, I’d have to let go of a part of my work that I loved. At first I felt a deep sense of loss and sadness. But that gave way to relief over only a few days. I had told myself it was God’s work but really it wasn’t. Being honest with myself, rather than being resentful toward God, proved to be a good choice.

Have you been through God’s refining fire? Perhaps you’re still there. Or maybe you made a huge discovery through it that has transformed your thinking and deepened your relationship with Him. Will you consider sharing so that others can be encouraged too?

Fire is hot – and burns can hurt. But fire also offers a means for warmth, food and protection. How has God’s refining fire affected you or a loved one, demonstrating His grace, release and love?

Fire offers Intimacy

Fire offers Intimacy

In the Tunnel – Part 1

The Beauty of Brokenness:

Am I nuts! How can being broken – that is emotionally crushed, my self-confident insides becoming wobbly like a rag doll – how can that be beautiful?

“Remember what brokenness is. It’s the awareness that you long to be someone you’re not and cannot be without divine help.” Dr Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy (Waterbrook Press, 2001, p 73)

When I became a follower of Jesus – more commonly called a “Christian” – I said I believed and would follow the Son of God who was loving, perfect and beautiful. That surrender marked the admittance that I wanted to be someone I was not, and the recognition that I could only become who I desired through Jesus. My journey has continued for thirty years, and like you who have come to the same realization, and have made the same commitment, I can safely say He is still loving, perfect and beautiful.  I, like you, am gradually becoming a very little bit more like him and am being sanctified – ‘working out my own salvation with fear and trembling’. (Phil 2:12)

As I began this year, I had the resolve to share my perspective on brokenness, based on my story, and to share here on this platform, month-by-month, on the First of each month, so that others may comment, and we can all grow and be encouraged. So now, here is my commitment, to write monthly and to start with this series about Brokenness.

Through the autumn of 2013 I had the privilege of God honoring my prayer to be more like him.  Piece by fleshly piece, he showed me weaknesses in gentle but undeniable ways. He showed me my tendency to self-importance, my vanity, where I am judgmental and presumptuous. He also showed me my limitations — and a dream had to die. But through my sense of defeat, He gave me brokenness and through brokenness, He gave me victory.

Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV)
I am convinced that there is purpose in our suffering. We don’t seek suffering in order to discover the high purpose, but in all things we can persevere in Christ for His high purpose and calling. Where there is pain, the ashes can be turned to joy.
Last fall I experienced a Tunnel longer than I’ve ever experienced. By ‘Tunnel’ I mean a place emotionally and spiritually where I felt confined by failure and deep conviction; I was being crushed. That is to say my limitations through my own endeavors were being revealed and where my personality was deeply flawed, these flaws  were being exposed to me. I recognized I was in a ‘Tunnel’ and prayed, waited, remained faithful until the tunnel yielded to deeper relationship with God, greater reliance on Him, and absolute joy. Recognizing the Tunnel doesn’t change the circumstance, but it shapes the experience and makes it more endurable.
So, over the next several months I’m going to share my experience of the ‘Tunnel’: what I experienced, what I learned, and how it has changed me.
What is the Tunnel?
The Tunnel is the place where we go spiritually and emotionally, when circumstances are difficult and our efforts seem to make no impact to improve our circumstances. We began our spiritual lives when we confessed our faith and commitment to God through Christ. (I claim that this is the only true spirituality because only Christ has the authority to revive/give rebirth to our spirit. All other spirituality is false, and a matter of soul development in the guise of spirituality.)
But I digress…
Often we who come to Christ do so while in a tunnel; it is while we are in this tunnel that we admit our limitations and surrender to God, thankful for His salvation and love. Then, God blesses us with many victories, which build our faith, our confidence in Him and our thanksgiving.
But there comes a time when the world, the devil or other people hurt us. We become disillusioned, sometimes even with God who didn’t protect us from this misery. Or we who are well versed in scripture and understand the tunnel as a spiritual battle, determine to fight back, hurling scriptural curve balls at the enemy, who is behind the ‘attack’ upon us. We may be using scripture to defeat the enemy who seeks to destroy us, when in actual fact our attention might be better placed on the LORD, who is allowing the challenge to teach us about ourselves and to help us to deepen our relationship with Him.
I am saying that being ‘In the Tunnel’ is the experience of those ‘attacks’ to our soul (will, emotions, intellect), and are actually sources for our benefit and growth, when we allow God-to-be-God in them, and show us what He is teaching us. I am suggesting that the pain that is present alongside our ‘Tunnel’ experiences are a part of God’s refining us to be more like Him, just as we’ve asked him to do. Just as we have come to Christ as we recognized our sinful nature, so we come deeper to him as we see the soil in our soul.
There is much beauty in every human being. But no believer and follower remains the same as the day s/he came to Christ. Growth often has to come from pain, because it is in pain we most vehemently call upon him.
But fear not. The Tunnel does not last forever. It is inevitable I think, that we experience tunnels. But how we experience them depends greatly on our understanding of the purpose for them and our keenness to grow.
There are plenty of individual circumstances that may seem to contradict my standpoint. What about the child abused by his parents? Or the spouse betrayed by the one person s/he has placed all her/his trust in? Abuse and betrayal of the innocent is painful and wrong and not Godly. In His loving character and sovereignty, my theology does not suggest He wishes it. Rather, human beings are certainly responsible for their actions against one another. But what I am saying is that God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him. Those who follow Him are not immune to suffering and in fact can benefit most. Just as we suffered in order to discover our need for Him in the first place, so we suffer to discover our continual need to be transformed into His likeness.
I welcome discussion and will aim to reply to any comment.
God bless, until next post on March 1st.

The Ultimate Goal

The Ultimate Goal:

‘One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:13b-14 (loose translation)

When I was in Discipleship Training some twenty years ago, I was encouraged to know that suffering was for the purpose of building character and building character led to usefulness and crowns in Heaven.

Now I realize that the ultimate goal will not necessarily lead me to any victory, blessing or usefulness on earth, but that the only reason for suffering may be to bring me closer to the character of Jesus. I may not be otherwise blessed at all.

So much for prosperity gospel. So much for victorious living and God’s blessings. Is being like Jesus enough?

This past year, 2013, has been the most difficult year in my 30 years as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I have my health, I have a safe and warm home, I have my family; I am blessed in many ways. But what I have ‘lost’ is the belief that I will one day achieve something for the Kingdom which is of lasting benefit and significance. I have, as one friend said recently, experienced the ‘death to the dream’ or as Dr Larry Crabb puts it, I have experienced Shattered Dreams (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, (c) 2001).

This past year has been a year of expectations disappointed, of strain with no resultant achievement, of realization that just because I believe and work hard does not mean I will succeed in finding a job or finding an audience for my writing. That’s been a difficult lesson.
I’ve watched others in similar situations, faithful brothers or sisters in Christ, who have experienced similar. Some tell stories of God coming through in the end. Others are still waiting. For myself, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality: Jesus came to save from sin – which is both a one-time finished salvation and also a slow process of self-discovery and sanctification which may have no other end but purity.

I wonder how many believers have faith in ultimate goals being realized: hopes and ambitions that God will train us so that we can be better people in our work and ministry, only to discover eventually that life hasn’t panned out quite how they expected. And if any of those disappointed that their own dreams – what they believe or believed were the ‘desires of their hearts’ – will not be realized, have become bitter or disillusioned. My own sense of self-importance, which dies hard, has thought I will one day minister and be fruitful in producing writing that will speak to millions and change lives. Now I’m thinking that will not be how God uses me and that He may not even use me at all. Realizing this has been hard. But do I still love Him, in spite of thinking my secure middle class existence and hope for notoriety is speedily coming to an end?

Yes, I do. I may not love Him as much as I thought I did, but the seed is still there. Thank you, LORD. And I will persevere, in spite of discovering there may be no reward but the assurance I am saved by His grace. And I will love Him all the more as I see the ugliness of my selfish ambition and know He still loves me.

The ultimate goal is not to reap prosperity, nor even to be involved in the conversion of others to the knowledge of God’s ultimate gift in giving us His son Jesus. The ultimate goal is simply to be transformed to be more the likeness of the Son. And that is sometimes a hard journey.

Dr Larry Crabb’s subtitle to his book Shattered Dreams is not a promise and not a reason to persevere, but it is a hope; Shattered Dreams is God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy. I wouldn’t urge others to persevere for the sake of it, but it is helpful to know there is a hope at the end of the tunnel. As I grow in Christ, as I journey in my faith, the tunnels seem to get longer, but so far they’ve always ended. I’ve no reason to believe the one I’ve lived in during 2013 will end on 1st January 2014, but I do have every reason to believe it will, one day, ‘burst forth into glorious day’!!

God bless and Happy New Year!

There is always Hope

There is always Hope

Brokenness

Joy is supernatural. So we can’t drum it up.

But what if joy seems to disappear? Is that because the LORD has departed? Or have we ignored Him for a prolonged time and therefore He has be relegated to the back burner, leaving our fire, passion – and joy – behind as we trudge ahead in our own strength? Or has some reality crept in that robs us of joy as we navigate between the world, the flesh and the devil?

I seem to be in mid-life crisis. At 54 I guess that means I’m running a little behind. I just recently woke up to the fact that I’m over 50, aging and I’ve not accomplished what I hoped to do and time is running out!

The clock seems to be running and I’m slowing down.

My joy is only in the LORD and it is complete in Him. I haven’t slipped from obedience, faith or love for Him. But reason is telling me I need to make a shift in my strategy for living. Not because I’m tired, because I’m not. But because I doubt my ability to achieve what’s in my heart to achieve and I’m not sure how to move forward.

I think what GOD is doing is sending me a reality check: what am I doing with my time and is it worthwhile?

As the proverbial clock ticks, I’ve not got any answers. I know ‘in whom I have believed’ and of Him I have no doubts. I do have doubts about myself though. I don’t write this to receive kind words of encouragement but to share that we can all, from time to time (or only once in our lifetime), have doubt – not of the LORD but of ourselves. How I am navigating through this is probably not the way to recommend: I’m hiding. But on the other hand, in my hiding I am putting my focus on others. I’ve just got less overall intention than in the past and I’m wondering if this is a permanent change.

So, the brokenness I’m experiencing is a bit like shattered crockery – it isn’t going to go back together in the same way it existed before. My faith is the glue. Though I have little hope right now, experience teaches me that this time will pass. Scripture says “I will shine forth like gold” – eventually. As I navigate through the present, I try to enjoy a moment of solitude, stillness, and pray.

To anyone to whom this all makes perfect sense, I say we hang on together, knowing the ebb and flow of life and God’s love will carry us through. For me, I’m just not sure where I’m going to end up. And in that, is a brokenness only God can repair.

God bless.