The Quintessential Freedom

“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:34-36

Oh what a travesty it is to be enslaved to sin! To be bound in darkness in all of one’s life. Worse of all, you’re comfortable in it without concern. But when the Morning Stars dawns, the darkness ceases. The emancipation from sin has arrived through Christ Jesus our Lord. Oh what a joy it is to taste freedom! From sinner to saint, from death to life, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom! This is a new birth to a new life far beyond living under the sun. And this freedom was never sought after but initiated by Christ. Moreover, this freedom is guaranteed- evident in our justification, sanctification and inevitable glorification.

Shall we remain quiet about this freedom? Perish the thought! Sing praises unto His name! Make His name known to all the nations! Preach the good news to this dark and oppressed world. Many more captives like you Christ seeks to set free from sin! And how much more glorious is it when His church testifies to their freedom in Christ! Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! That is the quintessential freedom!

God, Greed and (Prosperity Gospel): How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn

Costi Hinn’s book takes us through his spiritual journey from his upbringing in the prosperity gospel, to his desire in serving alongside his uncle Benny Hinn- one of the biggest names in the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel.  Discussed in the book is Costi’s gradual concerns of his family’s theological beliefs to his conversion, including exposure to sound doctrine and pursuit of pastoral calling.

The book separated twofold: autobiography and doctrine, providing easy comprehension to non scholarly believers. It is not just a study of the prosperity gospel but a personal story of one coming out of its deceptive grasps. Moreover, its about someone whose uncle is one of the most well known names in the movement. But by God’s grace, Costi’s eyes were opened to that with contradicts Scripture. Yet these preachers proof text their theology, claiming that it’s “divine revelation” from the Lord. However, such claims are debunked with a proper study of the Bible in context.

Furthermore, the book features a biblical understanding of health and wealth to promote healthy discussions with loved ones still in the movement. Costi Hinn has done a tremendous testimony in which many more in the movement will  open their eyes and leave, by God’s grace. So  that is you, please get this book to learn in-depth and answer any questions you have. It is one worth reading over and over again. I know, because I couldn’t put it down! In an age where false teaching is the norm, the demand of exposing it’s deceit is greater than ever. May there be a revival of sound preaching of The Word of God in the church today!

Notable in-book quotes

“By an early age, as a part of the Hinn family, I viewed Jesus Christ as our magic genie—rub him right, and he’ll give you whatever your heart desires. I quoted verses from the Bible like Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart,” and John 14:14, where Jesus says, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” The meaning of these Scriptures was so obvious to me: believe in Jesus Christ, ask for things by saying, “In Jesus’ name,” and you’ll have whatever you want. Seriously—that simple. Not difficult to understand. Besides, it sure seemed to be working for us!”

“What are we? Pastors? Celebrities? Both? It just didn’t add up. I was beginning to think that there was a difference between being well known for faithful ministry and behaving like this. Shouldn’t money be a tool for doing more ministry? I’m sure it’s okay for a pastor to own a home and be paid an adequate salary to care for his family, but tens of millions of dollars are going into our houses, cars, jewelry, hotels, and shopping. Could the critics be at least just a little bit right?”

“The sovereignty of God matters to Christianity, and we could go as far as to say that it is un-Christian to deny the sovereignty of God. The prosperity gospel certainly denies the sovereignty of God to the extent that it demeans God to the position of a puppet and elevates man to the position of a puppet master who makes confessional demands by faith. It does this by considering faith as a force and God as the one who must respond to our faith. This is a heretical twisting of true faith.”

“When we get the sovereignty of God wrong, we get God wrong. When we get the abundant life wrong, we get Jesus wrong. When we get faith and confession wrong, we get salvation wrong. Why is that a huge deal? Because all roads that the prosperity gospel paves lead to hell.”

“I’ve got good news for you: the abundant life is about the security of your soul for eternity. The abundant life is not a comfortable seventy years, courtesy of the prosperity gospel and leading to infinite suffering in hell if you don’t follow the biblical Christ as your Savior.”

“Without Jesus, heaven would be hell. All the health and wealth this world can offer can never compare to the vast riches of abiding with the Son of God for all eternity. Jesus is everything. The prosperity gospel makes human satisfaction to be material and Jesus to be the cherry on top. If it makes Jesus a central focus, it’s that he is the main avenue to getting what you want. This version of Jesus is a shell of who he really is. The prosperity gospel promises people the abundant life that Jesus offers only to deliver a gospel with no Jesus at all.”

The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson(Book review)

 

Ah shame, what a tough subject to discuss as it is tough to deal with it! Ever since the Fall, humanity has been marred by shame. It is a shadow that never ceases to follow you around and consume you. Not only does it distort your well-being but how you live life as well. You always feel like you are damaged goods, never good enough, and just never measuring up. God is seen a mean entity who cannot ever bear to look at you because you find yourself so sinful. That is merely a snapshot of how shame affects us. That is what Curt Thompson attempts to get at in this book and he does it well.

Shame is described and defined as you would expect. But one thing that Thomspson takes into account is the neurological effect on shame as a he is a psychiatrist with a neurological background. Thus adding an further in depth analysis on shame impact. For instance, shame affects our brain. The more we act out in shame, the more it is reinforced in our brain leading to a stasis in us. Moreover, shame distorts our walk with God, looking all the way back to the Fall and plenty of stories shared from people with shameful experiences. The remedy? vulnerability. First, seeing it in God who made Himself vulnerable in creating us to share in this world and also through Christ coming to die for our sins so that we would be reconciled to God the Father. As we live between now and the final consummation, the church must likewise grow in vulnerability with one another as it practices the same love and grace God bestows on us. Although shame is a life-long struggle, thankfully it will be forever gone in heaven as we will live on shameless, living fully in the very glory of God. So do yourself a favor and please check out this book. It will minister to you. It is always refreshing to see books that observe what is usually seen as psychological issues yet comes from a Christian foundation. Honestly, it is something we need more of.

 

Highlights

“When shame appears, especially in malignant forms, we are often driven to a felt sense of stasis. Our mind feels incapable of thinking. We may feel literally physically frozen in place when experiencing extreme humiliation, and if we are able to move, we feel like going somewhere we can hide and remain hidden without returning to engage others. We don’t necessarily experience this with minor insults, but there is no question that our ability to move creatively in our mind is slowed. This general idea that shame leads the world ultimately to a point of paralysis, vis-à-vis the movement that is required for creative engagement, will become more important when we explore the nature of God’s movement and its necessity for shame’s healing.”

“Attention is the engine of the mind’s train that pulls along the rest of the functional cars. Ultimately we become what we pay attention to, and the options available to us at any time are myriad, the most important of which being located within us. Paul, in his letter to the Romans knows this, stating flatly, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). To have one’s mind set on something is essentially about paying attention. What do I pay attention to? Paul says that what we pay attention to doubles back and governs us. Hence our attention is deeply associated with either death or life.”

“Remember, attention is the key to the engine that pulls the train of our mind; shame’s first priority is distraction.”

“Judgment strengthens shame’s grinding attempt at isolation. In order for me to judge someone, I must create enough distance between us in order to analyze him or her. With that judgment the distance grows. And with enough distance comes isolation.”

Benefits of Biblical Meditation

In our last post, we looked at some of the reasons as to why we don’t meditate biblically. Here we will observe the opposite in the benefits of meditating biblically.

Benefits of meditation

Mental renewal
One feels empowered by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. It is necessary in the renewal of the mind instead of conforming to the world (Rom. 12:2). It is essential in having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). And biblical meditation functions in this manner. It is what we need to fight against fleshly, sinful thoughts.

Spiritual growth
As a spiritual discipline, biblical meditation is contributes to spiritual growth as one learns to live by God’s Word in growing in Christlikeness. Let the Word of God be your defense and offense against the flesh, not your own understanding. For how often do we say no to temptation yet give into it anyway? It’s best to apply the Word beforehand instead so one is better equipped against inevitable temptations.

Fellowship with God with delight
As much as studying the text is important, let biblical meditation enrich your fellowship with God. It allows you to think about God biblically, rather than your own understanding. It is in that moment that one cannot help but break out in worship to God, to cry out to Him in prayer, or to just be in His presence. It pushes one to meditate day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2), or even while one is laid down. One cannot help think more about God in reflecting upon Scripture.

Digs deeper in God’s Word
Skimming has unfortunately become the norm nowadays in this digital age. It is all so fast paced with no intention of slowing down. With such a cornucopia of information, it is difficult to make time to muse on your readings, let alone one. Yet God’s Word ceases such skims with a call to careful consideration.

Truth is, the mind runs on autopilot and we up acting in the flesh. But taking time in biblical meditation allows you to slow down and chew on God’s Word as it should be. Mere reading alone cannot do this as it’ll be forgotten immediately. I love how Donald Whitney puts it in his book, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life.

“A simple analogy would be a cup of tea. In this analogy, your mind is the cup of hot water and the tea bag represents your intake of Scripture. Hearing God’s Word is like one dip of the tea bag into the cup. Some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would occur with a more thorough soaking of the bag. Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word are like additional plunges of the tea bag into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water, the more permeating its effect. Meditation however, is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the hot water is thoroughly tinctured reddish brown. Meditation on Scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain. Thus we might say that as the tea colors the water, meditation likewise “colors” our thinking. When we meditate on Scripture, it colors our thinking about God, about God’s ways, and His world, and about ourselves. Similarly, as the tea bag flavors the water, so through meditation we consistently “test” or experience the reality taught in the text. The information on the page becomes experience in our hearts and minds and lives. Reading the Bible tells the believer, for example, of God’s love. Meditation is more likely to convince him or of it personally and, in biblically appropriate ways, to cause a person to feel loved by God”.

This is a powerful analogy stressing the necessity of a meditational discipline in a Christian’s life.

Finally, Biblical meditation should lead to application

Where the mind goes, the actions follow. None of what we do is done thoughtlessly, it is all premeditated. For instance, those who say they “slipped into sin” as if they didn’t think about it prior are wrong. We are aware of what we do and why we do them. Thus with meditation of God’s Word, as it renews our minds and help us take premeditated actions in a Christlike manner. Ideally, biblical meditation must lead to application.

I know it’s difficult but don’t let God’s Word go through one ear and out the other. Don’t be like the man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like (James 1:23-24). Be diligent and disciplined in the things of God, such as biblical meditation. And as always, ask God to empower you in doing so and take charge! Over the next several posts, we will look at the different types of meditation and how to apply.

Our Freedom

Happy Independence Day! That is if you’re from the U.S. This national holiday observes the freedom of the U.S as it declared its independence from England in 1776. This is the time in which we see red, white, and blue everywhere in expressing patriotism. People come out this day to spend it with friends and loved ones whether it’s barbecues, parades, special events, and so forth. The evening skies are a sight to behold as it is lit up in a spectacle of fireworks. An eventful day indeed.

As I meditated on this today, I could not help but think about we as Christian’s are to celebrate our freedom in Christ. Because the truth is, as much as people can celebrate the freedom of their nation, they are still “dead in trepasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Eph. 4:18). Again, they may be free from the grips of nation’s but still bound by their iniquities and transgressions. Furthermore, they live in independence without God, thinking it’s freedom. Yet it is what leads to one being bound by sin in the first place. Therefore, a greater freedom is needed. And that greater freedom is Christ.

Scripture makes it clear that salvation is associated with freedom from sin. After all, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36), “it is for freedom that Christ sets us free” (Gal. 5:1), “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Here one is free from sin but not independent from God. Rather, dependence is established and cultivated throughout the Christians life. Yet it is not burdensome as sin for forgiveness alleviates it, and expiates it afar. Such freedom is granted to those who believe in Christ!!! Such a glorious truth worth celebrating daily, more than national holidays or special events. But being forgiven of sin and reconciled to God in right relationship to Him in Christ. We don’t deserve this freedom yet God for His own glory and love provided for us. Therefore, let us celebrate shall we? Let us not grow cold not weary of this fact. Let us not overlook it nor diminish its impact. Rather let us give all adoration and praise to God who’s worth our celebration and freedom.