Saturday, September 28, 2019

The More Than Conquerors of a Conquering Kingdom

The last few days I have been considering how forceful people take the kingdom by force.[1] Everything has settled into these three things:

First, that the kingdom was expanding forcefully because, everywhere Jesus went, the kingdom of heaven was at hand for people to enter, and no one could stop this.[2] The religious elite certainly tried, all the way to crucifying Jesus, but that only brought the power of the kingdom to the world more than ever.

Second, as people experienced the kingdom coming to them through the presence of Jesus in their town or community in some way, some of them responded with a forcefulness to have the power of the kingdom change their lives. They knew it was offered to them, and they wouldn’t let Jesus leave their area without them experiencing what he promised.

Whether it was:

  • a woman with bleeding ignoring the laws of uncleanness in order to touch Jesus garment and get the kingdom-power for her healing[3]
  • or a Canaanite woman ignoring that she was a Gentile and Jesus was a Jew and forcing him to deal with her demonized daughter even when the disciples tried to send her away (here’s someone who was not going to miss out on Jesus just because of the way church-folk treated her)[4]
  • or a Roman Centurion who understood authority so well that he didn’t even need Jesus to come to his house to heal his servant, but confidently asked Jesus to just say the word[5]
  • or two blind men hearing that Jesus was going by and wouldn’t stop calling out for him to help them even when the good religious disciples told them to be quiet (again)[6]
  • or Zacchaeus who was not going to let his height-restriction keep him from seeing this Jesus of Nazareth who was passing through his community[7]
  • or four friends who were not going to let a crowded house keep them from bringing their paralyzed buddy to Jesus when a bit of effort to dig through the roof would give them the kingdom-encounter they knew they needed[8]
  • or the early church responding to persecution by praying for greater boldness to proclaim the very gospel that was getting them in trouble[9]
  • or Paul asking the churches to unite with him in praying that he would continue to have boldness in proclaiming the gospel even though he kept ending up in prison for doing so,[10]

in all these cases, everyone who forced their way into kingdom realities got the realities that were offered to all.

The people who were helped were not the ones with lesser needs or greater character. They were the poor in spirit who did not want to stay as they were when the kingdom was so close that they could have it for themselves. They knew they could never do for themselves what they heard and saw Jesus doing for people all around them, and so they hungered and thirsted for the power of the kingdom to touch them, and they would do whatever it took to have what Jesus offered.[11]
The application is obvious. Just think about how this could change our churches!

Third, these forceful people (aka desperate) then became part of the kingdom continuing to forcefully expand. Each of their experiences were written in the breathed-out-by-God Scriptures in order that their testimony of experiencing the forceful expansion of the kingdom would help the kingdom forcefully expand to others who would read these accounts and find the same faith and longing rising up in their hearts.

Just think of the millions of people who have read the Scriptures and found that one or another of these testimonies awakened their own hearts to take hold of kingdom promises for themselves. As these people then shared their own testimonies of how their encounter with the powerful gospel of grace through faith transformed them, sometimes in similar experiences of attention as those recorded in the gospels, the kingdom of God spread even more.

We can be part of this. Even if no one ever writes our testimonies and publishes them for a wider audience to hear about, the kingdom of God has come. It is nearby. It is inviting us.

Looking at how much our church has been invited into the realities of the kingdom reminded me of men our Father has sent to proclaim the power of the kingdom to us:

  • Henry Blackaby to lead us to Experience God in a real and personal way
  • Neil Anderson to teach us Freedom in Christ
  • Jim Cymbala to teach us the power of a praying church
  • John Piper to lead us in the wonders of Desiring God
  • Jim Wilder to show us the Life Model that helps us live out of the new hearts Jesus has given us
  • Marcus Warner to guide us into freedom from WoLVeS, freedom to walk in the Spirit, and freedom to minister freedom to others[12]
  • All the men who have blessed us through their Youtube video sermons[13]

There is no doubt the kingdom-life is at hand. God is urging us to take hold of it forcefully by faith and tell him we want it all for our churches (even if we need to plead for the experience of wanting this!).

I believe that, between whatever any of us disciples of Jesus have been receiving from God by other means, along with what I just shared in this Pondering, each reader can know what the Spirit is putting his finger on for you to do to receive the kingdom-power for yourself.

A woman knew to touch Jesus’ garment, a short man knew to climb a tree, two blind men knew to call out right then and there because Jesus was passing by, the church knew to call out to God together in prayer. There is something that each of us know we can do to take hold of God’s kingdom invitations for ourselves right now, today. It really is up to us whether we put our faith in God to do what he says, or to keep our faith in our sarks (flesh) to fail us once again.

For me, my focus is primarily on declaring my faith and longing for this in prayer, and offering myself as a living sacrifice in the hope that Jesus could use me in a kingdom kind of way. At the very least, I know I will grow in the kingdom realities promised to all who receive them by faith.

After all, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”,[14] so we shouldn’t settle for anything less.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] That is the essence of what Jesus expressed in Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16. “Violent” and “violence” are unfortunate translations since the word means “forceful”.
[2] Both John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed the same invitation (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:14-15).
[3] Mark 5:24-34
[4] Matthew 15:21-28
[5] Matthew 8:5-13
[6] Matthew 9:27-31; 20:29-33
[7] Luke 19:1-10
[8] Luke 5:17-26
[9] Acts 4:29-31
[10] Acts 6:18-20
[11] The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 show this transforming work of God very clearly.
[12] WoLVeS is our home church anacronym for the Wounds, Lies, Vows and Strongholds we are learning about through the ministry of Dr Marcus Warner of Deeper Walk International.
[13] I do not share these names as though I endorse everything about them. I have simply received what God was giving us through them, just like some people receive so much blessing from John MacArthur’s ministry in spite of his false teachings about life in the Spirit and the return of Christ. I am not aware that these mentors have false teaching in their ministries, and have been shocked at the dishonesty of the discernment snipers who say things about them that just ain’t so. It is sad to see how much divisiveness is sown based on falsehood, lies, and slander.
[14] Romans 8:37

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Becoming What We Imitate

For a long time, I have been a student of how our bodies, souls and spirits work together to make us fully human. I know that we can only be fully alive in Jesus Christ because, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”[1]

This illustration gives a sense of how our humanity relates to its three dimensions, and how our souls relate to the material and spiritual worlds. Through our physical body our soul relates to the physical world, and through our spiritual body our soul relates to the spiritual world.

Our soul is us. It is our life. Our soul houses our minds the way our bodies house our brains. We have a heart that pumps what we believe through our souls just as we have a material heart that pumps life-blood through our bodies.

With all this going on, I am regularly blown away by the amazing ways God designed our brains to express the even greater realities of our minds. New discoveries in brain science cause the teachings of God’s word to stand out all the clearer.

Yesterday I learned that our brains are designed with “mirror neurons”. They are constantly watching to “see” things in others that mirror what we see in ourselves. They are designed to bring people together in shared-mindedness. They thrive on good examples we can follow in order to bring us closer together in our relationships.[2]

We see this in things like Paul wanting to “hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,”[3] and asking believers to, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”[4]

It is actually no wonder that God would design our brains to help us develop a “mutual mind”. Our souls are made for this one-mindedness, so our bodies/brains are made to seek this out as well.  

Since these “mirror neurons” are looking to see where there is mutual-mindedness in the people around us, it suddenly stands out why God’s Book makes so much of what we see, and where we set our minds. Here are some things that stood out as I was praying through these gifts this morning.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”[5]

When we are called to “see” the kind of love our heavenly Father has for us, our minds want to focus on such things in order to give our hearts the joy to pump through our souls and fill us with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”.[6]

Our “seeing” of the realities of Father’s agapè love for us, already poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us,[7] causes us to feel the mutual nature of this love. It originates in God,[8] is demonstrated in the death of Jesus Christ,[9] is ministered to our hearts through the Holy Spirit,[10] and now we see it filling us so that we like to be together with people who share it as adopted sons of God.[11]

And, Father designed our brains with mirror neurons so that we could relate in the material realm according to what God is doing in the spiritual realm to bring our souls together in Jesus Christ.

The apostle John continues: “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[12]

What stood out here is that our becoming like Jesus is so thoroughly associated with “we shall see him as he is.” Our minds will suddenly see Jesus in the fullest possible way, without any filters, coping skills, self-protection, childhood trauma, or weak faith hindering us, and so everything God designed into us for mutual-mindedness will be free to be fully real with our Savior.

As this relates to the freedom-issues so many church folk struggle with, consider this: If the world, the flesh and the devil can keep faulty perceptions of Jesus and his people before our eyes, the Jesus we “see” through these lies will not feel like someone we want to be mutual-minded with. Satan’s strawman of an unloving Savior pushes us away from the real Lord Jesus Christ, leaving churches filled with the most un-agapèing (unloving) of people hurting one another left and right.

When we see Jesus as he really is, even in all the limitations of this earthly foreign land, we recognize what is mutual in us and both desire it and imitate it.

Which led me to these two wonderful expressions of body, soul and spirit working together in love. First, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”[13] And, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[14]

Putting these two expressions together (as we should), we have the gift of “beholding the glory of the Lord,” so that both mind and brain receive what they see, and, as a result, “are being transformed into the same image” as our Savior, “from one degree of glory to another.”

And, the reason this happens so wonderfully is that the same God who said, “Let there be light,”[15] has shone in our hearts so that our minds could see “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

No wonder we are called to, “be imitators of God, as beloved children.”[16] When beloved children look at their Father loving them, both their minds that are in fellowship with the mind of Christ, and their brains that are filled with mirror neurons looking for the mutual-mindedness of the kingdom of God, come together to want to imitate the very one who loves us most in the whole wide world (and beyond).

And that is why we can, “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[17] We keep setting our minds and mirror neurons on the great love Jesus expresses to us in laying down his life for his brothers, and our mutual-mindedness wants to keep in step with the Holy Spirit as he lovingly helps us to “walk in love” with the Triune God and his people.

Some people might think that this is a no-brainer, but the wonder is that the mirror-neurons God designed into our brains enable our souls to relate to God and each other here in this material world so that our souls feel fully alive as we become all the more like our Savior together.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 1:4
[2] I learned these things in the book, “RARE Leadership”, by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder
[3] Philippians 1:27
[4] Philippians 2:2
[5] I John 3:1
[6] I Peter 1:8
[7] Romans 5:5
[8] I John 4:8
[9] Romans 5:6-8
[10] Romans 5:5; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6
[11] Acts 4:32; Colossians 2:2,19; Romans 8:15,23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5
[12] I John 3:2
[13] II Corinthians 3:18
[14] II Corinthians 4:6
[16] Ephesians 5:1
[17] Ephesians 5:2

Monday, September 16, 2019

Praying in the Spirit for the Wounding in Our Hearts

I woke up this morning surrounded by a pack of WoLVeS. WoLVeS is now our anacronym for the wounds, lies, vows and strongholds that attack our walk with God. It has become very helpful to have an easy title to refer to as it also reminds us to get out the word of God and go WoLVeS hunting![1]

As I began praying about this fresh attack, I could see what the wound was, what lies I was believing because of the wound, the vows I was tempted to make to protect myself, and how damaging it would be to let any of that determine my walk with God and his people today.

When I asked God to reveal to me the real source of the wounds, this is what happened:

First, when I noticed that simply “thinking” about everything kept me operating in the flesh, and I asked Father why I never seem to be able to think things through in the Spirit, he answered me before I even finished asking. The answer is that we don’t “think in the Spirit”, we “pray in the Spirit”![2]

Second, when I looked up expressions of “in the Spirit” because I wanted to see what else I would find besides, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”,[3] I realized that God wants me to experience something in my soul that is of a greater satisfaction than a hug. To be in Christ in the Spirit is a superior attachment to anything I could long for with people (and would obviously help with our people-attachments as well!).

Third, praying in the Spirit will clearly involve our minds/thinking, but prayer is the distinctive expression of relationship with the Spirit in which God will “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”![4]

Fourth, God focused attention on this Scripture:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, 
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 
And we all, with unveiled face, 
beholding the glory of the Lord, 
are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.[5]

God moved his spiritual cursor over the phrase, “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord.” When I looked that up in the original Greek, I discovered that “beholding” refers to looking in a mirror. Which means that the picture is not of us looking away from ourselves at the glory of Jesus himself so that our gazing upon him would continue our transformation into his likeness (though that is clearly included).

Instead, if “beholding the glory of the Lord” means, “looking in a mirror at the glory of the Lord”, then there is something about gazing on the glory of the Lord in us, the glory of us being in Christ, the glory of us being in the Spirit, of us being beloved sons of God, that causes us to increase in our likeness to Jesus all the more.

William Hendriksen translates the phrase like this: “beholding the reflected glory of the Lord”.[6] He points out that, in the context, the focus was on the glory of God that the Israelites saw on Moses’ face when he came down from beholding the glory of God on Mount Sinai.[7] They were seeing the glory on Moses’ face that reflected the glory that Moses himself saw on the mountain.

When Paul speaks of us “beholding the reflected glory of the Lord,” it includes this double picture. We have seen what Paul calls, “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[8] As we keep beholding the reflected glory of the Lord that we see growing in us, we continue being transformed from one degree of that glory to another. One day, that will lead to that wonderful experience when, at Jesus’ return, “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[9]

Which brings me back to how the WoLVeS are trying to keep us from going WoLVeS hunting. If we were to see “the glory of the Lord” in us instead of the wounded, deceived, self-protective victims that the world, the devil and the flesh have made us, think about what a focus of setting our minds on the Spirit instead of on the flesh would do to us![10]

Everyone who hears what God is working to do in his children should consider ourselves invited to freedom in Christ now, today, this week, this month, however the Spirit shows us our next steps today. If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh that also have plans for us now, today, this week, this month, for the rest of our lives.

Instead, God will move in his body to provide the ministry we need to grow in our experience of the glory of the Lord. And, as we keep beholding the glory of the Lord growing in his church, we continue to grow in that glory. 

And that gives us a lot to pray about in the Spirit!

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] We were introduced to this model of treating the wounded heart through Marcus Warner’s ministry in a series of videos entitled “Foundations”. WoLVeS hunting simply refers to a time of prayer where we ask God to show us how wounds are holding us back, what lies we have believed because of those wounds, what self-protective vows we have made to avoid such painful experiences ever again, and how the whole mix has turned into a stronghold where we cannot join God in what he is doing. You can find the whole Foundations course here:
[2] See Ephesians 6:18, but in the context of the spiritual weapons described in Ephesians 6:10-20.
[3] Ephesians 6:18
[4] Philippians 4:7 (I was actually deeply encouraged as I saw how Philippians 4:4-8 shows praying in the Spirit with its resulting peace from God and with God.)
[5] II Corinthians 3:17-18
[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, p. 127). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
[7] Paul describes this in II Corinthians 3:7-18, first showing that the glory of the old covenant pales in comparison to the glory of the new covenant. Then Paul show how Moses’ face had to be veiled to limit how brightly that glory shone when the Israelites looked at him, but that, “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” It is obvious that this is a complete picture of someone who first experiences the glory of the Lord shining on them, and then the effect of that glory shines out to others. The fact that the veil has been removed means that we have full access to look upon the glory of Christ, and so we would then see the glory of Christ on our own faces.
[8] II Corinthians 4:6
[9] I John 3:2
[10] Romans 7 and 8 make this contrast abundantly clear. Galatians 5:16-26 speaks of it as well.

Friday, September 13, 2019

God is Our God and We are His People

My time with God began with the encouraging affirmation that God is the most love-based person we know since God IS love.[1] It can’t get better than that. However, our enjoyment of God certainly can stand for some improvement!

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.[2]

As I looked at this verse again, it stood out to me how continuous it is. God has loved us, but with a love that is everlasting. He has continued his faithfulness, but his faithfulness is everlasting because the love from which it flows is everlasting. I hope we can see how terrible it is that Satan can convince us that God doesn’t love us. The wounds need healing, and as soon as possible!

Then it became clear that God is not faithful in loving us because he made a covenant with us, but he is faithful to his covenants because of his everlasting love towards his people.

What we see in all the prophets is a God who keeps pursuing his adulterous and idolatrous people because he has loved them with an everlasting love and so continues his faithfulness to them. However, in that faithfulness he can’t bless them contrary to the covenants. In his faithfulness he must win them back in order to bless them as much as his love desires to do so!

As I read Jeremiah 30 for context, this phrase stood out: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”[3] I realized that this is a repeated phrase throughout Scripture, but I have never added it up to see how often God expressed it. Suffice it to say that it spoke to me wonderfully when I looked this up:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. 
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, 
and God himself will be with them as their God. 
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, 
for the former things have passed away.”[4]

In the early chapters of Exodus, God assures Moses, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”[5] Moses had already gone to Pharaoh, Pharaoh responded by doubling the oppressive slavery, the people were despondent, and God assures Moses that he will not only deliver them, but in an intimate love-relationship that is the very reason he created human beings in the first place.

From this point, all the way through both covenants, the golden thread of fellowship between God and his people continues, but always with God telling his people how he will overcome everything wrong with them in order to have them back. The expressions in Revelation simply show that the new heavens and the new earth will be the perfection of this relationship where our heavenly Father personally wipes away the tears and grief of “the former things”.

In exploring these things, I only got as far as the book of Leviticus where I was thoroughly surprised by the message of conviction and hope. First it was the golden theme of, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”[6] This is what God promised his people if they would walk in the requirements of their covenant with him. They would have the personal relationship with God that is revealed all throughout the Bible.

What about when his people broke the covenant? That would make it null and void, which would mean God was free to walk away, flood the earth, start over if he felt like it, or just cast everyone into the lake of fire that was made for the devil and his angels.

However, what we see God doing is pursuing his people in discipline in order to get them back. This is what is so phenomenal, that God’s love for his people makes him pursue them. In fact, that is the second “reality” Henry Blackaby teaches in the Experiencing God course (the first is that God is always at work around us), that, “God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.”[7] Even after first hearing that thought back in 1992, God still ministers this truth deeper into my heart every day, that HE pursues ME, and all so that I can be among his people, and he can be our God in the most real and personal of ways.

With that aside, I was deeply convicted by God’s description of how he would relate to his people if they turned away from their covenant with him. Look at the repeated message to his people:

  • “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins,
  • “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins.
  • “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.
  • “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.”[8]

The question is, why would God bother?!

The answer is:

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.[9]
Which is why we end up here:

Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God.[10]

Once we get this, that God continues his faithfulness to his covenant because he has loved his people with an everlasting love, we find the safety to address all our sins, all our disobedience, all our unbelief in his love, all the lies we have believed about him not loving us, and take hold of the wonders of his love in genuine repentance and faith.

What God told his people there in Leviticus was this:

“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.[11]

What God tells us people under the new covenant is this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[12]

Why does God continue in his faithfulness to his people? Because God is love, and he has loved his people with an everlasting love.[13]
The only question is, are you his child.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.[14]

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I John 4:8
[2] Jeremiah 31:3
[3] Jeremiah 30:22
[4] Revelation 21:3-4
[5] Exodus 6:7
[6] Leviticus 26:12
[7] The “Seven Realities of Experiencing God” are taught in a resource by Henry Blackaby entitle, “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” For those who have read the negative reviews of Henry Blackaby’s teaching, I will simply say this: when I went through the Experiencing God course, I kept finding that the teachings came out of Scripture and showed the ways that God has always worked with his people. When I read the negative reviews, I found that they did not address the consistency of teaching that expected God to work among his people today just as he taught in his word. I also saw that the negative reviews seemed to come from the camp that denies the teachings of how the Holy Spirit works among his people, hence coming to conclusions about that work that are contrary to God’s word. One other note of my own discernment on the matter is that it seems like someone today who teaches God’s people to keep in step with the Spirit are treated as suspect, while, at the same time, Hudson Taylor is respected for following what he believed God was leading him to do in China, and William Carey is respected for following what he considered to be the Lord’s leading to India, and Martin Luther is respected for his stand based on what he believed God wanted him to do. I could go on. It simply ought to be factored in to our examination of these things that the opponents of an Experiencing God lifestyle don’t seem to talk about our brothers who, in the past, lived the way Henry Blackaby describes. It only seems that someone is suspect if they think God still that works today and are alive to tell about it. Just sayin’, as they say. Oh yes, I have a wonderful testimony of how Henry Blackaby and the Experiencing God course discipled me starting in 1992, and led me into the relationship with God that enabled me to walk by faith through the most painful things I have ever gone through in my whole life. I am not “endorsing” either Henry Blackaby or his Experiencing God course. I simply have not found anything in the man or the method that is against Scripture, while the claims against him and his ministry are.
[8] Leviticus 26:18, 21, 23-24, 27-28
[9] Jeremiah 31:3
[10] Leviticus 26:44
[11] Leviticus 26:40-42
[12] I John 1:9
[13] I John 4:8 with Jeremiah 31:3
[14] John 1:12-13

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

When God’s Love Wins Our Hearts

One of Satan’s greatest attacks on our relationship with God is to flood our minds with lies about Father’s love for us.[1] If we believe Father couldn’t possibly love us, our whole being will live as though it were true.

As I have become a student of the difference between the outer-roles church folk play and the real condition of their souls, one summary has stood out above all others: many of God’s children believe they are worthless and that there is no hope of that ever changing.

However, since most disciples of Jesus understand that the message of God’s love in his Book opposes the wrong belief about God’s love that rules their lives, why aren’t more professing Christians walking in the enjoyment of their heavenly Father’s love?

The answer is that we are not attaching to God’s love in our hearts.

The following diagram illustrates the way that our humanity is a fellowship of body, soul and spirit. Our physical body enables our soul to relate to the material world, and our spiritual body enables our soul to relate to the spiritual world. As believers in Jesus Christ, our whole humanity is now alive towards God.[2]

 Our soul contains our mind, heart and will just as our physical bodies contain our brains, hearts and flesh.  

As illustrated, the brain’s place in processing thoughts and feelings corresponds to the mind’s greater role in directing what we think and feel.[3] As our brains are central to communicating with the rest of the body what it should do, so our minds are central to communicating with our souls how we should live.

At the same time, our understanding of the way our physical hearts pump through our bodies whatever is in our blood stream, so the immaterial heart pumps through our souls whatever we treasure and hold dear.[4]

This means that, whatever we believe and feel with our minds is pumped through our souls by our hearts. If we believe we are worthless and feel hopeless about that ever changing, our hearts pump that message of despair through our souls with its demoralizing effect.

Why doesn’t it work to put all the focus on trying to think the right things about God’s love for us?

Answer: because most people are trying to add these thoughts to a mind that has not let go of all the wrong beliefs and feelings. We are trying to reason with ourselves to change our minds but without confessing that we understand the wrong beliefs are wrong.

Without touching the core beliefs and feelings (I’m worthless and it feels hopeless), no amount of us trying to “renew our minds” with information about God will bring about genuine transformation since our hearts are still pumping the wrong beliefs and feelings through our souls.[5]

The only way to change this is to change the focus from us trying to transform ourselves by combining true beliefs with false, to coming to Jesus with our wounded hearts and letting him do the transformation.

After all, where do we carry all the things that have convinced our minds that we are worthless and hopeless? In our hearts, of course.

It is in our hearts that we were wounded. It is in our hearts that we were betrayed, and abused, and traumatized, and rejected, and disowned. Everything that convinced our minds that we are worthless and hopeless happened in our hearts.

Which explains why mind-focused discipleship produces so little transformation. It is people trying to do the right thing while their hearts harbor all the hurts and heartaches that have yet to attach to Christ as the healer and redeemer.

Why is our salvation described in terms of confessing with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believing in our “hearts” that God raised him from the dead?[6] Why is it that “with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved”?[7]

It is because, from the heart “flow the springs of life.”[8] As our physical hearts pump the blood stream that gives life to our bodies, so the immaterial heart pumps the springs of life through our souls.

This means that, if our hearts are wounded, or our affections are “restricted” in the way Paul described,[9] it won’t matter much what we try to tell ourselves to believe, our hearts will keep pumping the things we believe the most, that we are worthless and there is no hope of that ever changing.

What’s my point?

That we need to take deliberate steps to relate to God from our hearts. This may mean asking God to lead us into our hearts. It may require asking God to show us the true condition of our hearts. It may involve looking up verses on the significance of our hearts in our relationship to God and responding to each one in a heart-to-heart kind of prayer time with our heavenly Father.[10]

One of the Scriptures that has dominated my praying about these things is this one: “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”[11]

I believe this is the truth for every believer in Jesus Christ, hence Satan’s determined effort to keep us from knowing this by personal heart-experience. So, because this is our Father’s gift of grace to all his children, I find myself constantly praying that God would make this as real in my heart as I could ever experience this side of heaven.

I also take great encouragement from Scriptures like this: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”[12]

From this diagram we can see that the soul focuses on our whole personhood, while the heart emphasizes the central activity that pumps whatever we believe through our souls.

Searching for God with all our hearts and souls does not mean we seek him in all the strength of our human effort.

Rather, it means that, our seeking of him is not just some superficial activity to try and convince ourselves that things he says about us are true. It is not trying to stuff beliefs and feelings into our brains when they are already full of a cesspool of worthlessness and hopelessness.

Instead, to seek God with all our hearts and souls means that we have emptied our hearts and souls of all the wrong beliefs and feelings we have thrived on and now open our hearts and souls to God as empty vessels that want him and him alone.

This is why God says, “from there”. The “from there” means wherever you are in the consequences of your fleshly handling of things in your own strength. If you are under discipline for your sin, don’t try to fix your sinfulness, just open your heart and soul to God right where you are.

If you are wounded by the sins of others, don’t try to get better so you can come to God with a heart full of self-effort. Come to him from where you are, with nothing in you except an intense hunger and thirst for the righteousness of being fully alive and well like Jesus.[13]

One Scripture that is now standing out in how to pray for each other in these things is this: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”[14]

No matter how much disconnect we feel between the truth-thoughts we are trying very hard to believe and the lies that are flowing through our inner beings, asking Jesus to direct our hearts to the love of God we are missing, and to the steadfastness of Christ we are doubting, is definitely our Father’s will, and so he will most definitely answer such prayers.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Jesus called the devil “the father of lies” for good reason. See John 8:44, Revelation 12:9.
[2] Ephesians 2:1-10 shows the wonderful transformation of God raising us from our spiritually dead condition to make us fully alive in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
[3] People often think of the brain/mind as a focus on our thoughts alone. However, the growing understanding of how the left side of our brains are designed to handle more of the thought/language side of our understanding, and the right side of our brains to handle more of the emotional/creative side of our expressions, helps us to see that the mind is also the place where we process thoughts and feelings.
[4] It might not make sense to think that a believer would treasure and hold dear a belief that he/she is worthless and that there is no hope of that ever changing, but consider it from the standpoint of what beliefs do we treat with higher regard as true. Do we value the truth of God’s word so much that the worthlessness and hopelessness stand no chance of survival? Or do we value the lies of the evil one so much that we constantly doubt what God has so clearly revealed in his word?
[5] What God’s word says about transformation through mind renewal is absolutely necessary (see Romans 12:1-2), but it is very common for church folk to “try” to add new thoughts to old in a way that never actually replaces the old thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
[6] Romans 10:9
[7] Romans 10:10
[8] Proverbs 4:23
[9] II Corinthians 6:12
[10] This may included repenting of handling our hearts differently than we find in God’s word, renouncing our belief in the lies of the evil one, and declaring our faith that what God says in his word is true. However, this must be done in our hearts and not only with our minds.
[11] Romans 5:5
[12] Deuteronomy 4:29
[13] I often refer to the “Beatitudinal Journey” of Matthew 5:1-12 where Jesus shows how we are blessed in our poverty of spirit, blessed as we mourn whatever is wrong with us, blessed as we meekly accept we are not the ones to fix ourselves, and blessed as we hunger and thirst for the very realities of righteousness we do not have. We must see this journey as saturated in blessing because it empties our hearts of anything we would try to contribute, and promises us satisfaction as we let ourselves hunger and thirst for what we are still missing in Christ.
[14] II Thessalonians 3:5