Archive for October, 2012

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October 31, 2012

The Gates are Open

As I looked over the large group of people gathered for training, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Just ten years ago, we started our counseling/prayer ministry with one person: Me. At that time, God showed me I needed to begin a training program to equip other counselors to practice what I did. I started with four other help professionals. Since that time, over 100 people have been trained to do this sort of counseling. This large group meeting was a blend of trained people, interested folk, pastors, psychologists and their friends. I watched as those I had trained lead most of the seminar, doing a work I never even dreamed possible all those years ago.

That feeling I had is what I call Summertime Passion. It is the sense that the initial vision and excitement is now beginning to gel into something substantial and long-lasting. It is the feeling of pride a parent gets when their…

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October 26, 2012

These four blog entries on “The Seasons of Passion” were read by over 4,000 people…making them the most read in 2011. I am reprinting them this weekend in the hope they will help you.

The Gates are Open

Two counseling sessions just hours apart convinced me I understand Passion poorly. I have always assumed “passion” was characterized by youthful exuberance, confidence and new ideas. And it is. But that is only one season of passion.

The first couple in my office were not there for counseling. I asked them to help me with a project I was working on. I wanted to interview two people who had been married for longer than 30  years. I could have interviewed my wife and I, but that seemed to lack objectivity. There are four chairs in my office: My office chair, two arm chairs and a love seat. This couple sat in the two arm chairs. They laughed a lot, corrected each other many times, finished the other’s sentences and by the end weren’t saying too many words. She flashed suggestive glances his way. He sucked in his belly like a…

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Does God Pull Away or Do We?

October 25, 2012

I have heard it said many times that God hates sin so much that he cannot have anything to do with people who have sin. God is often pictured as distancing Himself from sinners, retreating to a holy conclave where He is not affected by our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross, which legally pays for sin, allows God to have fellowship and friendship with the believer.

Or so we’ve been told. There are certainly verses throughout the Bible that suggest this and even state openly that because we are all sinners we fall short of the grace of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that when we sin we negate the effectiveness of our prayers (Micah 3:4), we bring spiritual death upon ourselves (Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 6:23), and we lose a place in the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

But nowhere does it say that God cannot stand to be around us when we sin. Nowhere.

Here is what it does say: Isaiah 59:1-2:

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.

Look clearly at v. 2. It is not that God pulls away from us; we pull away from God. Sin, by definition is selfish living, living without regard for Creator, other people and consequences. When we live in such a self-absorbed condition, it is hard to be close to anyone, let alone God. The more we sin, the less we are like God and the less we share values in common with God. When you do not share the values of another person, it is so hard to get close to them. In counseling over the years, I have seen many married couples grow apart because they do not share a common set of values.

In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, we read that God went looking for them. THEY HID FROM GOD, not the other way around. God is not afraid of sin and neither does God reject the sinner. Jesus is God and he liked to hang with sinners. Holy Spirit is God and he speaks to sinners about sin, righteousness and the afterlife. You don’t speak to people you abhor.

There is not a person in this world that God willingly pulls away from. But He will allow us to pull away from Him. Keep that in mind next time God feels far away. God didn’t move away. God didn’t change position at all.

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