Chapter 27: Holy Spirit

Chapter 27:  Holy Spirit

In the Amplified Bible we find Jesus telling his disciples,

“But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26  AMP

In a regular dictionary we find the following definitions of these adjectives describing our Holy Spirit:

1. Comforter: A person or thing that provides consolation

2. Counsellor: A person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems

3. Helper: a person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose

4. Intercessor: (mediator) a negotiator who acts as a link between parties

5. Advocate: A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy

6. Strengthener: a device designed to provide additional strength

7. Standby: Readiness for duty or immediate deployment

Even in this simple way we can see the immediate kinds of help that the Spirit of God brings to us.

There is much to say about the Holy Spirit.  Too much for this simple study, so let’s look at just a few of the marks of the Holy Spirit, how we can recognize the Spirit of God in our lives.

The very first place where we find the Spirit is in our salvation.  When we come to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are told that the Spirit seals us in him.

1.  The Spirit Marks us and Seals us in Christ

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

This is important because when we first come to the Lord we are immature in our faith. 

Sometimes it takes years to mature and to grow to our full stature in Christ, and God understands this.

God knows that growth is a process and that while we go from immaturity to maturity, even in that process, we are marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit.

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 ESV  (footnote below)

Because of the intercession of the Spirit, one of the first ways that we experience the Holy Spirit is in the inner sanctum of our hearts.  Paul in Romans gives this blessing:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV

And it is in the inner experience of joy and peace and hope that we are assured of God’s presence in our lives.  We all know that we cannot conjure these things on our own. 

Rather, joy and peace and hope are gifts from God and come to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it is out of this joy and peace and hope that we are healed.

2.  The Spirit Heals us

Isaiah records it this way,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3  ESV  (Read all of Isaiah 61)

Consider how the Psalmist describes it:

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”  Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

God in his power and majesty and by the work of the Holy Spirit enters into the depths of our hearts with comfort and joy and dancing.

In the power of God we are given back celebration and worship.  We are enabled to praise him and to experience in that praise a deep gladness of heart that transcends all that we know and understand.

I am convinced that when Peter says, “always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:15b ESV, that we are to answer the basic question, “how has God made you glad?”

We might know all scripture, understand the ancient texts and languages, but if we do not know how the Lord has brought gladness to our hearts, if we do not know where our mourning has been turned to dancing, then perhaps we are missing an elemental component of walking with God.

If nothing else, know this day the impact and the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

It is from this touch of the Spirit to the depths of our hearts that we then walk in wisdom and understanding.

3.  The Spirit Teaches us and Gives us Wisdom

“And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV

*Read 1 Corinthians 6:6-16

Life is complicated and fraught with confusion.  It is therefore good to know that we do not have to do life on our own understanding.  Rather we have access to the wisdom of 

God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah in his foretelling of the coming of Christ said this,

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2-3a ESV (Read 11:1-10)

We come to reverence in the Spirit of God.  Our understanding is opened to the might and majesty of God and we are never the same.  We learn obedience and how to walk in sync with the living God.

How God moves we move.  What God is concerned about concerns us.  The manner of compassion and grace of our Lord becomes our own.  There is something different about those who walk in the Spirit.  We find in Galatians,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Our very manner of being takes on the mark of our Lord.  In this we give tangible evidence to the Holy Spirit in our lives.  This depth of the Spirit in our lives is important to God.  Consider the words found in 1 Corinthians,

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

We may have good deeds, prophecy, knowledge, and even faith, but if we are not walking in the manner of the Holy Spirit, the place where our hearts reveal the fruit of the Spirit as Galatians teaches us, then we are missing the greatest point of walking with God – change within our inner person.

Christ didn’t die on the cross to get us to heaven.  He died and rose again so that our entire life might be redeemed and restored to the original vision of God, and this begins with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit one to another.

I’ll leave off with Peter’s blessing:

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:2 ESV


Consider this diagram (on the next page) about the covering of Jesus Christ. Note that as we mature in Christ there are subtleties to being ‘right with God’.  Our discernment and our ability to hear and to obey the spirit must therefore become greater. 

While there are many actions and deeds that are outside of the covering of Christ, as leaders and pastors in the Kingdom of God we must begin looking at our own hearts and seeing deeper than just actions.  We must take sins of the heart seriously and this is where the Holy Spirit is particularly equipped to teach us and to equip us. 

Consider the small differences of our hearts before God when we are under the covering of Christ, to those same things of the heart without the right motive or without obedience to the Lord — Where is your life?  Are you fully under the covering of Christ or is there a habit of thought and action that would be outside of Jesus’ covering? 

Use the listening prayer process to confess and repent of what the Holy Spirit shows you. 

Summary – Holy Spirit 

The Spirit seals us in Christ.  Ephesians 1:13-14

The Spirit brings peace, joy, and hope.  Romans 15:13

The Spirit heals us.  Psalm 30:11-12

The Spirit teaches us.  1 Corinthians 2:13

We live out the fruit of the spirit (as evidence of the spirit in us).  Galatians 5:22-23


Footnote: God is very okay with our growth and the time it takes to mature. We must not condemn others for their growth process. Rather, we rest in the work that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are doing in our lives and we trust that this same work is happening in the lives of others. It is okay to serve God while we are still maturing, for he is growing us. 

Capturing God’s Heart – The Wide Road & The Narrow Road – Volume 44

“You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The [road that leads to destruction]ESV* is broad, and it’s gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NLT    *[highway to hell] NLT

I have become convinced that the wide and the narrow roads that Jesus talks about are not in regards to sin per se, but about our response to sin. The Wide Road experiences sin in shame and condemnation and out of that experience works to rid itself of sin.

The Wide Road is where we put in good works and our own efforts to try and make ourselves right with God. The Wide Road is where we participate in religion that appeases the Gods, that focusses on self, that works to come clean.

“If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18b

The Narrow Road, on the other hand, does not experience sin as condemnation and shame but as a matter-of-fact part of our humanity and our fallenness. The Narrow Road despises the shame and condemnation and instead remains turned toward Jesus Christ the Saviour of our lives.

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Poverty Strongholds Post #6 – Lack of Holiness

Poverty Strongholds – Post Six – Lack of Holiness

  1. Demons
  2. Poor Stewardship – link to past article
  3. Lack of Knowledge (common sense)
  4. Mind Sets (faulty thinking)
  5. Lack of Holiness
  6. Agreements with the Enemy
  7. Bad Theology
  8. Blaming & Excuses
  9. Refusing to be a Blessing
  10. Pain Upon Pain

Let’s take a look at the next Poverty Stronghold – Lack of Holiness. By and large, within our christian communities, we do not seem to talk a lot about holiness and yet it is a critical piece of living within the Kingdom of God. It boils down to this: God is a holy God, and as He calls us He asks us to play the game (understand and know that the Kingdom is His and our participation requires we live by His rules) as he would have it played – this means that as God is holy we are called to be holy. Continue reading

Capturing God’s Heart – Peace – Volume 39

God has a lot of things to say about peace:

“Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

“A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7

Our peace comes from God:

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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Walking in The Way

I recently created a diagram to illustrate the work that CCIM does compared to the more traditional and humanitarian aid work that many organizations are involved towards. First off I want to make it plain and clear that there is nothing wrong with humanitarian aid work. For many around the world it is a lifeline that speaks to the reality of God in our midst through the practical help of others. I myself have benefited from practical help through the years.

What I learned though, through my own years, is the understanding that for every bad fruit in our lives there is a bad root. Bad fruit does not just come from nowhere, there is always a legal right for that bad fruit to be there. CCIM at the roots - Version 2

What I mean is this: authority in the spirit realm works by very clear rules and principles with each one of us giving either Satan or God authority in our lives.

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The River of Life

Kingdom life requires that we enter into life as the King has decreed. God in his personhood holds a space and declares a way that life is to be and comes about, and it is as we enter into this way that we begin to experience kingdom living.

Too many times though, we mistake the Kingdom way for nice platitudes or rules and regulations. It is very easy to miss the heart of the kingdom and when we do this, we miss out on the legacy of the kingdom in our own lives.

The best way that I can describe it is that the kingdom of God is like a might river. The waters are clean and cool, refreshing and energizing. These waters run through many lands, past many peoples, nourishing the nations. These living waters clean us, restore us, heal us. These waters wash away the grit and grime of our lives. In these waters shame and guilt are removed.

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Come Now, Let us Reason Together

I see the veins of sin deeply planted in our lives. Not outright blatant sin but the more difficult brokenness’ that stem from our hearts. I look back on my own life, seeing what I now know to be unhealthy decisions, manners of being that led to no good thing, and I see these same subtleties within my children and if I could fly back over the generations I would most likely see many of the same things in the years gone by.

There is as corporate and communal an aspect to sin as to anything and I am quite aware that this brings us to either deeper humility or compounding condemnation.

The latter, this place of heart and soul whereby we place our own sense of condemnation onto others only serves to make matters worse.

Thing is, we’ve all sinned. We are sinners.

Yet because of Jesus Christ this need not bring us to personal despair or to condemnation of our fellow human beings. Condemnation simply reveals our still sin-riddled consciences. Why else would we lash out at others?

Grappling with our sin-state and sin-habits and sins-past we have two choices. We can remain in horror and regret or we can come into the grace of Christ. We can’t do both. The cross demands that we choose.

As a minister of prayer it has been my privilege to stand alongside many, many brave souls as they bring their lives into the grace of Christ. It is hard but liberating work and this opportunity of witnessing freedom and love poured out from God’s heart to theirs has changed me as much as my own personal healing prayer.

I’ve seen healing. I’ve seen freedom. I’ve seen regrets washed away in the blood of Christ. I’ve seen burdens of guilt and shame brought to the cross and heaved off and left there. I’ve seen condemnations changed into compassion.


What we don’t readily realize is that dying to ourselves is as much about dying to our regret as anything. Have you died to regret? Have you brought your shame and guilt and regret to the cross?

These things, regret, guilt, shame, are their own addiction. If we do not loose them off at the cross of Christ then we will go on to worry over them, to fret over them and to nurture them in an odd sick way. If we do this they grow and compact and it won’t take too many years until their poison will seep out into every single other area of life.

It shows up in condemnations and control of others; where we have not yet met the grace of Christ we will demand others to a higher standard than we ourselves have lived. It shows up in pride and an inability to relax, to give way, to allow the Lord his gifts in our lives.

When we live or minister out of compounded regret we become toxic people incapable of the truth of the gospel.

We will sneer at the flirting women. We will reject the beggar man. We will avoid the prostitute.

It shows up in our pride of effort, our beliefs in disqualifications; instead of being innocent till proven guilty we assume guilt until proven innocent. Suspicions rise based on the state of our own hearts.

Wherever our hurt has been this will become our condemnations. Fathers will demand their sons to be perfect. Women will demand their daughter to get their act together. Pastors will demand unity and make purity an idol.

The cross of Christ, however, cuts through all of this. Cleanly. Wholly.

If we will allow it. If we will come under it and receive it’s work in our lives.

I’ve been thinking about Barabbas lately. Because of Christ Barabbas walked away a free man that day.

The worst of all of us walked away. The worst in all of us, freed.

Now Barabbas would have known that he deserved the death penalty and I wonder if he allowed this extravagant gift of life to penetrate his heart, his regrets, or his shame.

If he did allow this Christ-exchanging-grace to penetrate he would have gone on to live a different kind of life. If he didn’t allow it to penetrate he would have gone on to live an even worse life.

It is the same exact choice we all have every single day. Will we allow the grace of Christ (a grace that transforms us from the inside out) to penetrate our hearts and minds, spirits and lives?

To do so we must lay down regret, shame, and condemnation at the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We then take HIM on, God in all his glory and presence, we enter into the fire of God and allow the dross of our hearts to be burned away.

Condemnations get burned up in the presence of God. Defiling assumptions of others cannot stand the heat.

We find compassion, we live in compassion, we give compassion to everyone around us.

We find forgiveness, we live forgiveness, we give forgiveness to everyone around us.

Christ brings to our communal experience of sin this communal experience of grace. To live out the gospel of Christ is to also bring this communal experience of grace into all of our interactions and relationships. We extend the same manner of God himself, understanding (Isaiah 1:18), compassion (Galatians 6:2), forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32), a generosity of heart and mind (1 John 2:6).

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18


Capturing God’s Heart – Love – Volume 36

I write these God’s Hearts as the Holy Spirit leads me. I don’t have an agenda of topics chosen months in advance, I simply write in accord with the Lord’s leading. And these last few weeks I’ve been brought back to the central truth of God’s love for us and am compelled to pass that on.

It feels to me that the Lord wants to remind all of us that while we are working and serving alongside the Lord in His kingdom that we must not forget how much we are loved.

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For Men

Some weeks ago we had a specific request from one of our pastors in India,

“Sister I need a study or a sermon on husband and wife relationship according to Bible or marital life with Christ because in our church we have many broken families. Women are hard working and their husbands are fully drunkards and they beat their wives like anything. Kindly I need a sermon like how they can change their husbands”

We acknowledge that without the inner transformative power of our Lord Jesus Christ none of us can ever be changed. This material simply seeks to take men through a short study of the scriptures in regards to the value of every human being, forgiveness and redemption found at the cross of Christ, the heart of God over each of us and how these things play out in the roles and responsibilities of leadership and within the context of marriage.

We pray the Lord’s quickening of our words, but we particularly agree to the quickening of His words found in scripture. This we have sought to faithfully give.

We share the entire content in this post. Please find the pdf for your easy downloading HERE



In this life everything we are given is a gift from God. Right from the beginning of the world God put Adam and Eve as overseers and stewards of all He had made.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

To be a steward is to be given a trust, to be entrusted with something. As stewards of God’s kingdom we will all answer to Him one day for what we did or didn’t do with what we were entrusted. Our actions matter, the choices we make matter.

We have responsibility to God for how we live our lives and the manner in which we go through our days. We have responsibility in regards to how we treat each other. We will give account for how we brought the Spirit of Christ into all of our dealings.

Yet right from the beginning things have gone wrong. Adam and Eve sinned in not believing God and ever since men and women have tried to do life apart from Him. It hasn’t turned out so well.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

There has been much conflict and difficulty. We use and abuse each other. We hurt and cause harm to others and ourselves. It is easy to see that we are lost without God’s touch upon our hearts and minds and lives.

Thankfully God stepped in by sending his son Jesus Christ to take care of our sin natures.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

The good news is that Jesus takes full responsibility for the things we have done to each other. He bore the burden of our sin on the cross. We are told that we can now take hold of this new gift of life and grace that Jesus made possible for us.

We simply receive Christ and the gift of life that he bought for us,

“Jesus I realize that there are many things I cannot make right. There are many things that I struggle with and on my own these are just too much. But I hear that you are interested in walking alongside me and within me. I’d like this. I agree today to your redeeming my life and me. I want to do life with you. I welcome you to guide me and to show me how to live. Amen”

As we turn toward Jesus Christ He enables us to live different kinds of lives with ourselves and with others.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Our spiritual eyes are opened in new ways and we begin living differently.

Women are Equal Partners

One of the first ways that God’s heart begins to show through our hearts is in our treatment of each other. Receiving God’s love and grace and forgiveness into our own lives enables us to show God’s love and grace and forgiveness to others. We are supernaturally equipped to do life.

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

For men this begins at home with your wife and children. Whenever any of us come to God, turning to Christ, we realize every single human being has incredible value and worth. God has made every single one precious in His sight.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

We find in fact that men and women are created equal in God’s sight and we recognize where we have been unjust in our treatment of the women around us.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

At the same time we are often stuck in patterns of ill treatment towards each other. Here too we turn to Christ and invite and rely on Him to change us from the inside out.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

We are all entrusted with the hearts of each other to care for, to nurture, to love. A man is gifted and entrusted with a wife; she is his most important stewardship opportunity. One day each man will stand before God and answer for the way he treated her and her children.

You are Enough in Christ

This is a big task and the most important work of all. You have been gifted for the task as you live in God. You are enough in Christ for all the difficulties that might come your way. We are told,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”   2 Peter 1:3

In regards to difficulties and this life we have some great promises of God to hold onto and to give us strength.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalms 91:1-6 (read all of Psalm 91)

Life has Problems and Pain but also Healing and Redemption

It is not easy of course. Life is difficult and we as men and women have grown up receiving our own hurts and harms from our parents and those who raised us. Sometimes we take the pain in our own hearts and pass it on to those around us. In fact, it is often those closest to us that get the worst of our behavior.

Sometimes it is our own bitterness and hatred that drives us to hurt others. Whether it has been hurts given us by others or the bitterness that we carry, these things we can give over to God. Here too, instead of managing poorly in dealing with hurts and hatreds we simply turn to God with them. We give ourselves over to God.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

And as we turn to God with our hurts and our hatreds God relieves us of these great burdens; we were never meant to carry hurt and hatred and bitterness. This is the great news of Jesus Christ; we can be new people because Jesus came to carry our pain.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

We must remember that Christ died not only to remove our sin but also to cover over the sin of others against us. As we give our hurts to God and he replaces them with peace and patience and with gladness and joy. We can learn to treat others with the peace and patience that we ourselves have received from God.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

One day at a time

We live this new way one day at a time. Change comes bit by bit. Sometimes we still hurt over our past but as we come close to God we are told that he comes close to us. In this way we are changed into the image of God. He tells us we are loved.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Each day we begin with, “God I invite you into today. Welcome into my relationships today. I give you my pain and my sorrow. I receive from you your peace and gladness. May I walk in you today. May I treat my wife and children as you would have me treat them. Help me to love them as you love them; thank-you for the gift that they are in my life. Amen” 

Commitment to a bigger way – gentleness, vulnerability

Walking each day with the Lord grows our awareness. We begin to understand things that we never thought of before. We realize that we don’t know everything like we once thought we did. And we see that we have made mistakes.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

These new insights can make us feel vulnerable and unsafe. “What if others reject me?” we may ask.

Before we thought that powerful was being scary and mean. Now we begin to see that the most powerful people are those who are gentle and kind. We realize that to influence and to grow others, that we must have bigger thinking and understanding. We begin to see that we can have a good impact in this world.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14

Loose off Guilt by the Power of Jesus Christ

But it is hard to take on new ways when we are burdened by the guilt of the old ways. The good news is that Jesus Christ died to carry your guilt. He became the scapegoat that takes away the sins of the world. No longer do we look at each other, nor ourselves with wrath and hatred and contempt.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

We therefore give our guilt to God, “God I see this day all the wrongs that I have done. The guilt of these things are too much for me. I am tired and worn down by my guilt. Today I renounce this guilt in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and I put all guilt at the foot of the cross. I declare my guilt covered in the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, washed away. I simply stand as a new creation in Christ and I receive your forgiveness God. Thank-You.”

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

And as we do this we are told that Jesus comes to us and eats with us. He initiates forgiveness and restoration and peace to community and family.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Take on His Compassion and Sacrificial Service

Once we have given our guilt to God and felt the release of His Spirit over our lives we can enter into compassion and sacrificial service. Where before we condemned others for our bad things, we now release others to be as God created them to be. Then we find ourselves released to love and serve them.

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2

We realize that we are all sinners. We all make mistakes. The difficulties of this world have impacted all of us. We are no better or less than anyone else. Because of this we find new compassion flowing over us and we are now able to be compassionate to others.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Our eyes and understanding are opened to the good that others are trying to do. We see people with grace and understanding and this includes our wife and children. We begin to treat them better too.

All of this is possible because we remain in Jesus Christ, turned toward Him each day.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4 

Jesus Models Regard for Women

When Jesus was on earth he modeled a very different kind of respect and regard for women. Traditionally all over the world and all through time women have been treated very badly. It is as though Satan has a particular hatred for women. But Christ came to show a different way.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

  • Jesus’ own ministry was supported through partnership with women.      Luke 8:1-3
  • He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery. John 8:1-11
  • He took the time and risk to speak to the Samaritan woman. John 4:5-42
  • He visited and taught women, most particularly Mary whom he commended for her heart to learn from him. Luke 10:38-42
  • A woman anointed Jesus (Jesus came under her authority to anoint him). Mark 14:3-9
  • After he was raised from the dead he showed himself first to the women. John 20:1-18

His was a special relationship with women, one of full regard and respect and love for them. Jesus counteracted the culture of his day, and of ours, where women are ill treated, abused, and considered a throw-away commodity. Consider this,

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7

There are four vital principles for husbands in this one verse:

  1. Live with your wife in an understanding way
  2. Show honor to her as a weaker vessel
  3. Know that women are heirs also to grace and the kingdom of God
  4. Do this so your prayers will be answered

Principle one and two is a practical suggestion based on the physical ability of women. We know today that physically women are weaker than men; men have three layers of muscle while women have two layers of muscle. From a purely physical stand point women simply are not as strong as men.

Because of this Peter is admonishing men to recognize this and to relate differently with their wives, to live in understanding of them.

Where two men might ‘fight it out’ we are told in the Bible that this is not the way between men and women. To beat a woman is to overwhelm her with violence both to her body and her heart.

Do not beat your wife. To do so is to dishonor her and it is a dishonor of God who made her; she is equal to you, treat her as such. Show her honor and regard and love.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain.”  Titus 1:7

God feels so strongly about this that we are told that a man’s prayers will be hindered to the same degree that he dishonors and ill-treats his wife. (1 Peter 3:7 as above)

We find similar admonition towards care for wives in Malachi,

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:16

In many cultures around the world women are treated as disposable commodities. They are cast off at the least little thing and regarded as interchangeable and considered to be made only for man’s pleasure and convenience. We know this to be false for every single person, man, woman, child is made in the image of God.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

God is saying to not treat your wife as less than yourself. God declares her equal before Him. To cast her off, to beat her, to dishonor her, is to curse your self with layers of violence. By dishonoring her you dishonor yourself. Men, rather, are to serve their wives as Christ served the church.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25

“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19 

Men head of the household – leaders take 100% responsibility

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Ephesians 5:23

We know today that to be the head of something is to take 100% responsibility. The one in leadership is entrusted with the care and outcome of that thing and this is in regard to business, organizations, churches, and relationships of all sorts including marriage.  You are responsible.

We also flip this around and assert that the one taking 100% responsibility is the one leading; for authority and responsibility go hand in hand. To have authority is to have responsibility. To have responsibility is to have authority.

Yet not authority to lord it over, to belittle, to put down, to curse, this type of authority is that of Satan. The authority of Jesus Christ, and of all those who follow him, is that of lifting up, of honoring, of encouraging and bringing blessing where there has been cursing.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

Quite simply we can tell the quality of a man by the look in his wife’s eyes. A woman well cared for shines. A woman despised carries grief and sorrow and it shows on her face and in her posture.

If your wife is your crown we ask, “how shiny is your crown men?” How bright eyed and lovely is your wife. A woman’s beauty comes from deep inside her soul. This beauty is released as she is regarded, respected, with genuine care and concern.

As leader and head of his wife a man will stand before God one day and answer for what he has done to her. Does she reflect beauty and confidence or is she sad and despondent?

Like all actions in leadership this is a place that refuses to cast blame and refuses to make excuses. Rather men of leadership quality seek answers and solve problems, remembering the grace of our Lord.  They remain in Christ as we spoke of earlier. Most of all they lead well and take great care of the hearts that have been entrusted to them. 

You are More Powerful than you Know

You have the power to make your wife shine. Each day ask your wife how she is doing. See if there is anything she might need help with. Thank her for all she does for you and for your household. Bless her for being the mother of your children.

Touch her in non-sexual ways, with simple touch let her know that you see her as a human being and valuable to God. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Thank the Lord for her daily.

Be a safe person for your wife. Do not make her responsible for your fears, your insecurities, your anger, and everything that has gone wrong in your life. These things, and we all have these, are to be taken before the Lord on a daily basis. Find your center in the Lord and become a blessing to your wife and children.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Look into her eyes and acknowledge her. Listen to her. Take time to just sit alongside her for a time each day. You do not have to fix everything. Simply assure her that you are for her and not against her. She will begin to shine.

God has made women to pour out to all those around her. Women are wired to be generous and to give their lives away. Who is pouring into her? Who is filling her up so that she can continue in this life-giving manner given her? You, her husband, are to be the one pouring into her.

Just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her, so too are men to be sacrificially giving their lives to their wives. What and how might you encourage and strengthen and gladden your wife’s heart? Serve her. Help her. Offer her your strength so that her strength may not wither away.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 

Stand before God, well done!

One day we will all stand before God and we would like to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” As husband and head of your wife and home, as the one taking on 100% responsibility this is both an awesome and terrifying opportunity.

The first thing to do is found in Proverbs,

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

The second thing to do is to receive from your wife. She has been uniquely wired to help you be widely successful. God has given her special gifting to help you. Listen to her. She has wisdom, insights, and understanding that you do not have.

It is a foolish man who will not receive (from his wife) all that she has to give him.

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

Submission is in many ways about receiving. Submission is about coming under the unique gifting of each other for mutual benefit and blessing.

Receive from your wife and you will be more successful than if you try to do life on your own. It is the wise man that walks in understanding with his wife, creating for her safety and security that she might share her heart, her insights, her wisdom.

For when a man listens to his wife in this way he becomes wiser too. And he benefits from this gift given him called a wife.

The quality of a community, a church, a home can be determined by how the women and children are treated. Be a quality man, be part of a quality church, lead a quality home that treats women well. Bless them and do not curse them. Give to them, serve them, help them.

How might your wife be best served today? Ask the Lord and ask her. She will tell you. The Lord will direct you.

“Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.” Psalm 25:12-13

Whatever good you think of doing for her do it! Each and every day do the thing that comes to mind that will help and care for her. In this way you will find God’s particular favor coming into your life and home.

For God has entrusted your wife and children to you as most precious gifts. She does not belong to you. Your children do not belong to you. They are created in the image of the most high God and belong to Him. Treat them well for they are Gods.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”     Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Sulha – Initiative of Peace

The son had asked for the inheritance from his father and had gone his way. Into the city and to nightclubs he had squandered his father’s wealth and lifetime earnings ending up broke and starving and sharing food alongside pigs at their trough.

Coming to his lowest point and to the end of himself he reasoned that being a servant on his father’s farm would be better than the pig pen where he now was and so he begins the trek home.

We can imagine his uncertainty. What kind of reception would he receive? How might he make this right to his father (he thought being a servant could pay back his debt). What would everyone else say?

Without any further options he turns towards his father’s house and one step at a time enters into an unknown future. Where before he had had plans and dreams, visions and ambitions all he had now was brokenness and loss.

And we are told, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

What the text does not tell us, but what a study of the culture would, is that the townspeople and the family would have been right to take up arms and avenge this insult to the father by attacking the son before he ever reached home. Culturally speaking the offence of the son was so great that the only right thing would have been punishment and possible death at the hands of the villagers and extended family.

But of course what we see in this passage is the father running to intercept this attack and this justice by getting in the way so to speak in order that any attack would in fact fall on his shoulders and not on his son.

Not only did the father run (something that important people in eastern lands never do), not only did the father lift his skirts in his running (ankles were never revealed as cultural propriety demanded), but the father ran to intercept and receive any justice meted out onto his own self.

Immediately after this we read of the father ordering the fatted calf to be killed and prepared and for a feast to be laid in honour of his son who has come home.

There is an ancient middle eastern tradition that continues to this day called Sulha. Sulha is a traditional practice extending forgiveness and peace and reconciliation to those who have wronged. Literally speaking it is the extending of a meal by a person/s wronged to the person/s who did the wrong as a way of declaring the offence is forgiven and now put behind.

Instead of a wronged person waiting for reconciliation, for repentance, for contrition, for admission of guilt by the other person, Sulha puts into the hand of the person wronged the initiative to go to that person/s and declare peace; Sulha is a recognized tradition and deliberate action that refuses revenge and actively declares forgiveness.

And with this cultural lens in place we see that the Bible is chock-full of Sulha. In fact the gospel is Sulha.

God comes to us and breaks out the fatted calf to eat with us putting our offence behind him. Jesus Christ took the initiative to cover us, to run toward us, to take on the cost of our offence in his own self.

A quick skip through scripture and we see Sulha in the story of Jacob and Laban in Genesis 31:54, “and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.”  Sulha

We see Sulha in the story of Joseph when he prepares a meal for his brothers in Egypt. While years before they had sold Joseph into slavery out of jealousy and spite when Joseph sees them he calls for a fine meal to be prepared for them in Genesis 43:16, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.”

And again in Genesis 43:33-34, “And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement. Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table… And they drank and were merry with him.” Sulha

And in Jesus words to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Sulha

We see Sulha in the habit Jesus had of eating with those least worthy as noted in Mark 2:15, “And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” Sulha

And we see Sulha as the Spirit speaks in Revelations 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Sulha.

The implications are profound.

Not only do we enter into Sulha but we become agents of Sulha as well. We see this spirit of Sulha in Abraham as he intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22 to Genesis 19:3). We see this spirit of Sulha in Hosea as he receives back unto himself his wayward wife (Hosea 3:1). We see the spirit of Sulha in Daniel as he intercedes and takes upon himself responsibility regarding the sins of the Israelites and their resulting exile (Daniel 9:3).

We were always made for Sulha, able to receive it, able to offer it. But if we skip back to Mark 2 where Jesus is eating with the sinners we find the religious leaders of the day complaining, “And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (vs.16) The church leaders were indignant as Jesus chose to offer Sulha to those deemed least worthy.

They had lost the spirit of the living Lord.

Today, as the church we must ensure we do not do the same. Sulha, if taken seriously, transforms all of our theology and understandings of God and of his love, the power of his grace, the position of his heart towards us and everyone around us.

The religious leaders of Jesus day were scandalized because they were stuck on law. Having managed to make their lives appear pure they sneered at and rejected those unable to attain the same self-righteousness as they. This is the religion that Christ came to save us from.

Sin was and is taken care of. This is what Sulha does; it covers over, it removes the sting, it makes all things new. This is the power of our God and the work of Christ on the cross and the continuing influence of the Spirit in our lives to this day.

It was religion that needed to be done away with. For self-righteous effort has no need for Sulha and will not accept it nor give it. A life that strives to please God does not need Christ and cannot rest in transformative grace that is given freely to all, akin to the spirit of the brother.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” Luke 15:25-30

Did you read that? “He was angry and refused to go in” vs.28

God came to decriminalize our lives. We have all been given clean slates. With all things made new (Revelation 21:5) we have no recourse of holding ourselves apart, unless we want to miss out on the party. And we can. In our indignation at the opportunity, the celebration, the restoration, the grace given freely we can miss out on all that God has for us as well.

Lives of religion show up this way. One works hard all ones life to stay on the straight and narrow. Certain things are embraced while other things are renounced all with an eye to being perfect and making ourselves holy and doing things the right way. The heart purposed towards not doing the wrong thing.

And while God in his grace says “Thank-you” he also says, “Hey I have this one for you to meet. They too are at the banqueting table, please make them welcome.” But religious lives perceive that this one has not lived a good life, this one has not been holy, this one has not walked righteously, but this one gets all the very same perks, and the religious life is incensed.

There is no Sulha here.

Here we lose the Spirit of our Living Lord.

We’ve lost the narrow way.

We’ve forgotten that the banquet is for everyone.

God extends Sulha to all who will receive it.

“He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love.” Song of Solomon 2:4

Yet not all receive it. The religious leaders of Jesus day rejected it, missed it completely, so intent were they on right and wrong, good and bad. The evidence of those who have received it is evidenced as those extending it; we can’t give it unless we have first received it ourselves.

[make note that the ones most likely to miss it are the ones who have it most together]

May we all check our hearts ensuring that Sulha marks our lives.

May Sulha change our personal reception of God into and over our own lives.

May we evidence Sulha in our manner towards everyone we come into contact with.

In Sulha we are the peace we want to see in the world.

In Sulha we are the love of God.

Without Sulha we walk in the way of evil.

Our Nakedness is Covered by Our Lord

I’ve facilitated dozens of people through hundreds of prayer ministry sessions. Here in the company of each other and the Holy Spirit individuals turn towards the Lord.

Everyone comes with unresolved pain, unrecognized conclusions about life, fears they can’t quite name, anxiety, and more and as I direct and lead them in bringing these kinds of things to the feet of Christ and his cross and into the throne room of God there is never a harsh word spoken. Never.

Time after time, for years now, I suggest, “Ask Jesus what you do with this” And as they take their query to the Lord, always unsure and risking to bare this part of their life to God, the Holy Spirit always replies and directs in warmth, affirmation, compassion. Always.

And burdens are lifted time after time after time after time after time.

The hard work is the turning to God. We all have shame and embarrassments, regrets and disappointments, lies and condemnations playing over in our lives in one degree or another. These are the things that keep us from God.

But not because God is holding these things against us, no, rather it is us who hold these things between us and God.

We have our failures, we have our sin, we have our shame, whatever it may be, and we keep it close to our hearts trying, trying, trying to overcome and solve and fix this thing that just won’t go away.

We orient to our broken lives and turn away from God in our shame. But the thing only gets worse when we do this with cycles of despondency and failure taking hold, increasing our guilt, increasing our fear, increasing our anxiety.

It is only as we realize that we cannot fix this thing or our lives, only when we come to the end of ourselves, that we are convinced to turn toward God, to fix our eyes on Christ, and to open ourselves to his grace in our lives.

For the grace of Christ is a powerful agent of transformation. By it we are changed. Simple as that.

It’s not about our working at things harder. Christ didn’t die for this.

It’s not about our making things right. Most things cannot be made right.

It’s not about our striving, service, sacrifice. You can’t make it happen.

It’s about grace and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hang out with him and you will become a different, more whole, healthy, balanced, wise, content, person.

You will increase in holiness, righteousness, patience, peace, love, just to name a few.

I have personally entered into these intimate conversations with the Lord via prayer ministry well over a hundred times and as I bring my own stuff to the Lord I am changed in my perspective of God simply by how he conducts these conversations.

And then, in the witness to dozens of others encountering the same God again and again and again, I stand as a witness to the gracious manner of the Lord.

God is not out to get you. God is not out to get anyone.

God will not embarrass you. God will not uncover your shame.

In the book of Genesis 9 we find the story of Moses becoming drunk and laying uncovered in his tent. We read that his son Ham saw his nakedness and proceeded to talk about it to others; Ham increased the uncovering of his father.

Then we read that Shem and Japheth took a garment and walking backwards covered over their fathers nakedness; they refused to participate in his uncovering but instead committed themselves to his dignity regardless of his drunken state.

This is exactly how God is with us. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW GOD IS WITH YOU AND I.

God is committed to your dignity regardless of your drunken (fill it in for yourself) state.

I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I’ve experienced it myself hundreds of times.

God covers over our nakedness. He does not expose, humiliate, condemn.

In this we have confidence to come before the throne of grace receiving life afresh.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Amen and amen with all praise to you Lord.