Tis the season

Tis the season!

It’s the season for getting together, visiting with family and friends. Some people you can’t wait to see, others, well…  Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, you find yourself face to face with an old ‘friend’.

And so it was for me when I recognized an old acquaintance I’ve known for years. And even though he wears different faces in different places, I immediately knew who it was.

We’ll call him CRAM, because he is  a controlling, religious and manipulative spirit.

If you’ve had any kind of a forerunner ministry for any length of time, then you’ve met cram. Sometimes he disguises himself as common sense, or uses other ‘legitimate’ and reasonable appeals to work his way into our ministries. Before you know it, he’s working his way to the top, into a controlling ‘high priority’ position. If you are following Gods call on your life, you need to be vigilant, because no one is above being influenced.  Here are some things we need to keep in mind;

A religious spirit can be one of the most subtle. It comes in many guises, even masquerading as common sense and reason..

Once cram gets his foot in the door, he can become very quickly entrenched, and rather difficult to get rid of.

One of crams hallmarks is to ‘tone things down’ in the name of order and propriety.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The level of freedom you experience in worship is a good litmus test for cram.

Religious spirits can crop up anywhere. CRAM will even show up in the midst of revival to shut it down. We need to be diligent, because, as I said above, we can all be influenced, without fully realizing it.

So….run into any ‘old friends’ lately?

 

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Sorrow at the edge

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…. Most people will know the next line of this lyric from ‘Yesterday’ by Paul McCartney. While I’m not big on ‘confessing’ that any of our troubles are ‘here to stay’, I think there’s something here that all of us can relate to. Jesus was a ‘man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’ according to Isa.53:3. While that doesn’t mean He went around looking depressed, it  does mean He knows how you feel.

Maybe today’s turning out pretty good for you. I hope it is. But there’s usually a cloud lurking somewhere on your horizon. Admit it. When’s the last time you could honestly say you ‘didn’t have a care in the world’?

I’m not trying to be a wet blanket, I just want to confront an issue here so that you and I can deal with it and move on to better things. What starts out as a kind of haunting at the edge of your life can creep in and consume your days like water soaking into the edge of a piece of paper. Even if you haven’t necessarily had an experience of this kind, you’ve probably seen it happen to someone else.

This world is not short on bad news; famine, war, natural disasters, hatred and murder, it’s all out there, and more. Add your own struggles to the mix, and before long you may feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out again. Even on a good day it can cling to the back of your mind, and claw at your emotions. What do we do with all this?

The answer is to take heart. Jesus said ‘Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.’  John 16:33.

So how do we ‘take heart’?

Left uncontrolled, the heart runs wild. It will even run towards evil, and dwell on things that are not good to dwell on. When you ‘take heart’, you are taking back control of your heart. You do this by filling it with God, and turning it over to Him. He has the only safe place for it.

All of us are works in progress. That means we haven’t arrived yet. We don’t know all the answers and probably never will (not in this life). But we can learn from each other, and from the Word of God. Most Importantly, we can learn from the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth. It is in relationship with God that we will find our greatest defence.

Yes, we need to acknowledge that the problems and troubles are still there. Pretending that they are not will do you no good. But if you fill yourself with the Holy Truth of God, those things are not going to be able to soak into you. You’re like a sponge that is already filled with water and can’t take any more in. It keeps it outside of your heart. Then you give your heart to God. He has the only safe place for it. That place is deep inside His own.

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