September 2008

It is a pleasure to share this month’s view with you. I am also blessed to hear the positive feedback that these views from God’s perspective generate. I am thankful for my accountability partners who keep me on course when I veer off track.

A Prison View

The Abounding Love website has links throughout. These may be hidden unless you search through the site. It is almost impossible to know how to define a search. This means you must surf through many pages to find these valuable nuggets.

One case in point is found at the bottom of last month’s view. I placed a News Flash there in case you missed it. It is a video of the prison yard, buildings and cells where I am housed, produced in June 2008 by a TV station. One viewer said: “It is really something to see exactly where you live and what your world looks like.”

I apologize for these links being hard to find, but you’ll be able to find many of them if you take a little time on the site. I hope to share more things in the future that might interest you, as well as sharing spiritual insights. It is my prayer that these efforts will be a blessing to you. If so, please contact us!

Can’t “Fix” them!

A Christian brother named Walter came to me last month asking what we could do about several men who had fallen away from the chapel activities. I tried to lessen his concerns by helping him to see that we can’t “fix” them. In the same breath, he was repenting of being legalistic in the past, explaining how he had been more concerned with pushing his doctrinal beliefs on others than sharing the love and fellowship of Christ. I asked him if that could be the problem with those who had fallen away?

The Apostle Paul used the phrase “fallen away from God’s grace,” not concerning those who had lost their salvation, but of deceived Christians who fell back to establishing their right standing with God through their own fleshly works [by keeping the law]. Our right standing with God depends on righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ alone. 1

As a result of falling from grace, they were lacking the Spiritual ability [grace] to live the Christian life, thus carrying out the works of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other kinds of sin.” 2

A Turn Off!

Many of you may have been turned off with the Christian message because of legalistic, judgmental, or self-righteous Christians. I don’t blame you because nobody likes to be judged and made to feel like a second-rate citizen. This is not only true for those who have not received Christ, but it is a turn off to those who have served Christ for many years.

I went on to explain to Walter how those who live legalistic lives, pointing out the faults of others, are in fact, insecure themselves. The reason they put others down is to build themselves up, which is contrary to the Christian faith that builds up others by pointing to the grace of Jesus Christ.

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, said: But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in His mercy is going to give you. Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins. 3

Damaging Self-Love

Self-love is a damaging new age teaching that has crept into the body of Christ as a positive attitude to seek. Self-love has long been recognized in psychology as “narcissism,” a psychological defect of character. This heart defect in the life of a Christian results in self-righteousness, which causes one to become judgmental and hard to be around.

The Pharisees were a very legalistic, self-righteous sect during Jesus’ days. A lawyer of the sect asked Jesus: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself.” 4 They were to love others unselfishly. They naturally loved themselves and were the best for themselves. They should have been concerned for the welfare of others.

My problem has not been a lack of love for myself. This is why Jesus tells us to “…deny ourselves and take up His cross and follow Him.” 5 Daily, I am to “say no to myself” and to give myself in service to others so that the love and grace of God can flow freely through me. This is what the Abounding Love website is all about; helping you to feel loved and to help you understand that God loves you.

God Loves You!

The Pharisees of old and the legalists of today try to fix us with do’s and don’ts, but the answer is to know and share the love of God with each other. The Chinese Christians have been oppressed by legalists for years, but are finding more freedom to worship. Zhenbao Lian, an attorney, converted to Christ in 2003. “I never thought I could feel so moved,” Lian, 40 says. “I knew that it was God’s love that was filling me. It couldn’t come from humans.” [USA Today, August 20, 2008, 11B].

God sent His Son and healed, and delivered us from all destruction through the work of the cross. 6 The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, just as our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. This is why all glory belongs to God through all ages of eternity. 7

The Apostle Paul knew that self-love was not the answer, but rather he called himself five times “the disciple who Jesus loved.” 8 I’ve found that the revelation of the blood of Christ frees the Holy Spirit to teach us to know God’s love. 9 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in Him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 10 We are to “…love one another, as Jesus has loved us.” 11

Listen to John the Beloved: “We know what real love is because Christ gave up His life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian friends.” 12Again he says, “This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 13 And lastly, “We love each other as a result of Jesus loving us first.” 14

We conclude: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust Him. But those who do not trust Him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.” 15

A Prayer For You ...

Heavenly Father: I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart as I trust in You. May my roots go down deep into the soil of Your marvelous love. And may I have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love really is. May I experience the love of Christ. Then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from You. Now glory be to God! By Your mighty power at work within me. You are able to accomplish infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope. May You be given glory in the church forever and ever, through endless ages. Amen! 16

Scripture References:

1 Gal. 5:4, 5
2 Gal. 5:19-21
3 Jude 20-23
4 Matt. 22:36-39, Lev. 19:18, 34
5 Luke 9:23
6 Psa. 107:20
7 Gal. 1:3, 4
8 John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20
9 1 John 20:20, 27
10 1 John 4:16
11 John 13:34; 15:12
12 1 John 3:16
13 1 John 4:10
14 1 John 4:19
15 John 3:16-18
16 Eph. 3:17-21

Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Sherry for transcribing this months view!