Seekers will find these short articles to be truth-filled and spiritually nourishing.

Two Spiritual Experiences

by Michael Molinos

In all your journey as a believer, you will have two categories of spiritual experiences. One is tender, delightful, and loving. The other can be quite obscure, dry, dark and desolate. God gives us this first one to gain us; He gives us the second to purify us.

First He deals with you as if you were only a child. Then He begins to deal with you as though you were a strong man. In the first there is a great deal of your Christian experience tied to that which you can sense outwardly. (You are attracted by these nice pleasant and outward experiences; in fact you can even become addicted to them.) But the other category of Christian experience calls for a believer to no longer mind the outward senses. Rather he must know warfare against his own passions, Continue...
and attain to a will that is in complete agreement and concert with the Lord…this is the proper occupation of us all.

Dry spells are the instrument of God, for your good. Yes, it is true in such times, your five senses have been deprived and all outward progress of outward piety ends. Know this: In such times you are either going to leave off prayer, and perhaps even a large part of your Christian walk, or you will be driven to a comfort which has nothing to do with the outward senses.

There is always a veil that comes to us in relationship to times of dryness; it is a time when we do not know what He is doing. If we always knew what His working was (as He works on our outward man and works in our inward man) we would become very presumptuous. We would imagine we were doing quite well if we always knew what He was doing, would we not? We might even reckon that we had drawn very near to God. Such a conclusion would soon be our undoing.

A dependence upon outward circumstances, everything about your spiritual understanding depending on your outward senses—all of this must go by the way. How? By dryness! The Lord uses these arid lands, these desert places.

The farmer sows in one season, and he reaps in another; God is quite like this. It is in His time that He gives you strength against temptation. (Often that strength comes at a time you least think it might.)

What are the fruits of a believer who persists in seeking the Lord in a deeper way in such times of dryness? Should you survive such periods and humbly persevere after Him, what might you expect to be the result of dry spells?

You will learn the gift of perseverance, which has many fruits and advantages. You will develop a weariness toward the things of this world little by little, nd by slow degrees, the desires of your past life lose their strength; new ones toward your Lord arise.

You will also learn a reflection and concentration on things in which you formerly had virtually no interest.

When you are on the verge of committing some evil you will sense some warning deep within you, a warning that will restrain you from the execution of that evil. Your attachment to that earthly pleasure will be cut, or you will flee from that situation or from that conversation, or whatever it is, that is drawing you away. You will be putting aside things in your life which never previously disturbed your conscience.

Edwards, Gene (2011-07-28). 100 Days in the Secret Place (Kindle Locations 1149-1157). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

Approaching the Unavoidable

by Mike Bower, Teaching Pastor

If you will permit me, I would like to paint a hypothetical for you. On second thought, I can’t, because it really is not a hypothetical at all. Why? Because it happens almost daily in every kind of relationship we can imagine…friendships, business relationships, recreational scenarios, initial introductions, work environments, benevolent associations, various other social relationships, and, yes, it even happens in the church. To what am I referring? Read More...

To what am I referring? Conflict. Remember…where there is more than one person, there is the potential for conflict.

We all could craft a list of reasons for conflict, but my guess is that most conflicts have their roots in personality clashes. Yes…you read me right…personality conflicts. There are several assessments for defining personality types. However, the one with which I am most familiar and prefer is the DISC personality profile. It describes the four types as Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Cautiously Compliant. In studying every personality assessment tool and what the professionals write, I have never heard any say that a particular personality is bad. Your experience with some folk may cause you to take issue with that statement, but we must realize that every personality was created by God and is good, or He would not have created it. Yet, if one’s personality is expressed naturally (in one’s own strength) rather than supernaturally (in the Spirit), conflict will, potentially, result.

Time will not permit me to go into how all this can and should work. That is not my objective here. My purpose is to make vivid the reality that conflicts are unavoidable in one’s lifetime… they are going to happen. The questions I want to ask you are, “Do you avoid them when they happen, or do you approach them?” And, “If you do approach them, do you address them in a healthy way?”

What do I mean when I say “healthy?” First, do you approach the person Biblically? Matthew 18:15-17 gives us the correct procedure in dealing with conflict. You say, “That’s how to deal with a sinning brother!” Yes it is according to context, but the principle applies whether you have a concern about someone else, there has been a misunderstanding, you were offended, or your personalities just seem to clash. In any form of conflict, it is ALWAYS your FIRST responsibility to go to the other person ALONE. After that, if the matter is not resolved, there are other steps to take (laid out in Matt 18). It is NEVER right to speak about your conflict with a person to anyone else before you approach the one (or ones) with whom you are in conflict.

Second, in what spirit do you go? Do you go to defend yourself…to prove you’re right? Or, do you go with a spirit of brokenness and humility (Galatians 6:1-3) desiring restoration in relationship with a brother or sister or even with a group of people? If so, it will require that you go to the Cross and lay down your “rights.” It will require a willingness to be vulnerable and maybe the need to say, “I’m sorry, would you forgive me?” Or “I was wrong in my words or actions, would you forgive me?”

The question you and I have to answer at the end of the day is, “Am I willing to lay down my life, my “rights,” my preferences and walk Biblically for the sake of being in right relation with another person or persons…believer or unbeliever?” Because one day Jesus will ask each of us, “How did you approach the unavoidable?”

Abandonment and Suffering

by Madam Jeanne’ Guyon

You must be patient in all the suffering that God sends you. If your love for the Lord is pure, you will love Him as much on Calvary as on Mt. Tabor. The Lord Jesus loved His Father on Mt. Tabor where He was transfigured, but He loved Him no less on Calvary where He was crucified. Surely, then, you should love the Lord as much on Calvary, for it was there that He made the greatest display of His love. Read on...

There is a possibility that you might make a mistake concerning your abandonment to the Lord. You may abandon yourself to the Lord hoping and expecting always to be caressed and loved and spiritually blessed by Him. You who have given yourself to the Lord during some pleasant season, please take note of this: If you gave yourself to Him to be blessed and to be loved, you cannot suddenly turn around and take back your life at another season…when you are being crucified! Nor will you find any comfort from man when you have been put on the cross. Any comfort that comes to you when you are knowing the cross comes to you from the Lord. You must learn to love the cross. He who does not love the cross does not love the things of God. (See Matthew 16:23.) It is impossible for you to truly love the Lord without loving the cross. The believer who loves the cross finds that even the bitterest things that come his way are sweet. The Scripture says, “To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (Prov. 27:7b). How much do you desire to hunger after God? You will hunger after God, and find Him, in the same proportion that you hunger after the cross. Here is a true spiritual principle that the Lord will not deny: God gives us the cross, and then the cross gives us God.

Edwards, Gene (2011-07-28). 100 Days in the Secret Place (Kindle Location 655). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

The Value of the Cross

by Francois de Fenelon

Do you wonder why God has to make it so hard on you? Why doesn’t He make you good without making you miserable in the meantime? Of course He could, but He does not choose to do so. He wants you to grow a little at a time and not burst into instant maturity. This is what He has decided and you can only adore His wisdom—even when you don’t understand it. Turn the page...

I am awed by what suffering can produce. You and I are nothing without the cross. I agonize and cry when the cross is working within me, but when it is over I look back in admiration for what God has accomplished. Of course I am then ashamed that I bore it so poorly. I have learned so much from my foolish reactions. You yourself must endure the painful process of change. There is much more at work here than your instant maturity. God wants to build a relationship with you that is based on faith and trust and not on glamorous miracles. God uses the disappointments, disillusionments, and failures of your life to take your trust away from yourself and help you put your trust in Him. It is like being burned in a slow fire, but you would rather be burned up in a blaze of glory, wouldn’t you? How would this fast burn detach you from yourself? Thus God prepares events to detach you from yourself and from others. God is your Father, do you think He would ever hurt you? He just cuts you off from those things you love in the wrong way. You cry like a baby when God removes something or someone from your life, but you would cry a lot more if you saw the eternal harm your wrong attachments cause you. You do not see with the eyes of eternity. God knows everything. Nothing happens without His consent. You are upset by small losses, but do not see eternal gains! Don’t dwell on your suffering. Your oversensitivity makes your trials worse. Abandon yourself to God. Everything in you that is not already a part of the established kingdom of God needs the cross. When you accept the cross in love, His kingdom begins to come to life within you. You must bear the cross and be satisfied with what pleases God. You have need of the cross. The faithful Giver of every good gift gives the cross to you with His own hand. I pray you will come to see how blessed it is to be corrected for your own good. My God, help us to see Jesus as our model in all suffering. You nailed Him to the cross for us. You made Him a man of sorrows to teach us how useful sorrow is. Give us a heart to turn our backs on ourselves and trust only in You. —FENELON

Edwards, Gene (2011-07-28). 100 Days in the Secret Place (Kindle Locations 406-411). Destiny Image. Kindle Edition.

Which Outcome Best Describes You?  
Victim or Victor?

by Mike Bower, Teaching Pastor

I recently watched one of my all-time favorite films for the "umpteenth" time. The movie is "Shawshank Redemption" based on the best selling book authored by Stephen King. The story unfolds with a man named Andy Dufresne who is wrongly accused and imprisoned with a life sentence for the double murder of his wife and her lover. Read more...

While at the fictional Shawshank prison in Maine, he is befriended by an inmate named "Red". After two decades of incarceration, Andy breaks free from prison with over $370,000 which Warden Norton illegally pilfered from the tax payers and businessmen. Andy used his accountant skills to deceptively move this money to several banks within the area before his break and secretly exposes the corrupt Warden to the Federal authorities after escaping. Before Norton's "day of judgment," he discovers that Andy, over a period of 20 years, used a small hand pick to dig a long tunnel through the wall of his cell to an interior sewer drainage pipe in which he breaks open and crawls 500 yards through human waste and filth to freedom.
During his 20 year imprisonment, after a 2 month stint in solitary confinement, Andy tells Red, if he ever gets out, about a place in Buxton with a large oak tree and rock wall where he would locate a black rock covering a box with something valuable. Red was eventually paroled after 40 years in Shawshank and, after a brief employment as a "sacker" at a local grocery store, he realized that he was institutionalized and would not make it outside the penal system when he remembered Andy's instructions on how to locate the box. After discovering its contents and remembering the place where Andy said he would be, Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and that he could use a good man in his new endeavor, Red, instead of ending his life by hanging himself as Brooks, a fellow inmate who was paroled earlier, did, he recalled what Andy once said to him..."you either get busy living or get busy dying". In other words...Red could either be a victim of his circumstances and environment or he could become a victor rising above his circumstances. Red chose the latter and joined Andy in Mexico.

What best describes you...a victim (busy dying) or a victor (busy living)? I am not making light of your pain, your children's pain, your unique situation, the injustice you have suffered, or the myriad of losses you have experienced. I, too, have suffered many losses. However, what I will attempt to do is help you move beyond any self-imposed martyr status you may have placed on yourself to one who sees yourself as "more than a conqueror" (Romans 8:37). God wants you to get busy living with Him!

Let's get started by addressing only one truth today...FAITH. I want you to begin by reading and meditating upon Hebrews 11:6 - "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." What does the highlighted portion of that verse say..."without faith it is impossible to please Him?" You're thinking, "Ok...what does that mean?" Faith is not some abstract idea or emotional allegory. To have faith, there must be an object of your faith...something concrete or someone in whom you are trusting. When you sit in a chair, you are exercising faith in believe that it will support you or you would not be sitting in it. When you flip on a light switch, you have faith in the wiring, light fixture, and the electrical current to produce light. Right? In like manner, for one to have a faith in the spiritual arena, there has to be an object of faith or there is no faith. That being said...if God is the object of your faith, in order to please God, in what does He want us to have faith? In His Word...all that He says about Himself, His Son, and you & me.

Do you know what He says about Himself? He is the God of creation and of the nation of Israel, the only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our provider & sustainer, love, the God of salvation, the Lord of Hosts, and the list goes on and on. He is and has proven to be who He says He is. He simply wants you to believe Who He says He is! And the only way you are going to know Who He says He is is to read His resume'...His story revealed in the Bible...the Scriptures. "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17).

Do you know what He says about His Son Jesus Christ? "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (the Word) was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him (the Word), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him (the Word) was life, and the life was the light of men. He (the Word) was in the world, and the world was MADE through Him (the Word), and the world did not know Him. He came to His (the Word) own, and those who were His own (Israel) did not receive Him. But as many as received Him (the Word), to them (anyone) He (the Word) gave the right to become children of God , even to those who believe in His (the Word) name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word BECAME FLESH (human) and dwelt among us (earth people)" (John 1:1-4, 10-12, 14). Hmmm...when did God become flesh? Who is the "Word"? These verses are speaking of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in the flesh!

Do you know why Jesus (God in the flesh) came to earth? Go is your turn now to open the Scriptures and discover why He came. Read the book of John and you will see, many times over, His reason for coming (John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21...and the list goes on!). Thus, the questions, which God is confronting every human being, are: 1) Who is Jesus Christ? and 2) Why did He come?

Do you know what He says about YOU? If you are not a believer, God's truth claims say that you are "dead in your trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1-2) and in need life...God's life. You need reconciliation with God. You need to have peace with God (Rom 5:1). If, however, you are a believer in Christ, then God's Word says that you are a child of God through faith (Romans 3-5); you are declared righteous; you are justified; you are holy; you are a saint, you are in Christ, and nothing can separate you from His love (Rom 8:35-39).

If you are "in Christ", your are not a victim but a victor! Get busy living, enjoying, and appropriating the identity He has given you...not one with which the enemy (Satan) attempts to label you. You have passed from death unto life (John 5:24). Cease allowing the enemy, who "desires to sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31) like he did Peter, to place you in bondage via' his lies.

The very fact that Jesus states in John 8:32, "...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free," establishes, unequivocally, that mankind is in bondage to error (or lies) and needs to be unshackled...set free. You see...there are the truth claims of God and there are "truth" claims of Satan. Whichever truth claims you believe will determine the outcome of your life both now and for eternity.

Enjoy the journey by choosing life...and life is believing and resting in your true identity which God has given you "in Christ". Read the Word of God and discover who you really are and stop allowing others and life's circumstances to define you.

So...what's your decision? Will you get busy living or will you get busy dying? You have a choice. Make the right one! Jesus Christ is pulling for you.