Group Therapy

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I listened to a psychologist explaining the difference between one-on-one therapy versus group therapy. He explained that group therapy brought about better healing results, and a greater percentage of people becoming healed of the multiple mental illnesses and issues they were suffering from. He said that one-on-one therapy was harder to obtain good results because the people were much more prone to being self-centred during the therapy session than those in the group sessions. The therapist explained that in a group environment, there was empathy among those within the group toward the others needing help. They discovered there was genuine help for the mentally ill in the group because some of the people in that grouping had gone through the same problems. Plus there was a feeling of acceptance once people began to share the mental issues that needed healing within their lives.

I found the interview with the psychologist interesting because, in effect, the psychologist confirmed that the church was doing the same thing and had been doing it every week for centuries. The words explaining the group settings differed, but the results were similar. What we as Christians call fellowship, is in effect a form of spiritual group therapy. The Word of God admonishes us to remain faithful in coming together regularly and to keep our hearts ready to repent and change our minds when we receive anointed guidance from the holy Spirit. The result is that we can walk in the healing Word of God and be a blessing to those struggling in life. Heb. 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

It has been said that many are communicating but not many are connecting. Could it be that everyone is talking and no one is listening? I believe there is a worldwide need for people to connect on an emotional level because the loneliness that is prevalent among the youth and elderly has become a universal problem. Maybe it was not such a good idea to create a system where the elderly were housed in care homes, the young were planted in daycare, and never the two would meet. The Word of the Lord says to let the children come to Him and that the elderly would bear fruit in old age. Might God have been thinking that the elderly having a strong relationship with Him, could have ministered with patient love to the young who have thousands of questions that only the elderly would patiently answer, and might have fixed the loneliness problem?

We do need to come together in Godly support groups. The first church was a collection of home groups and a place where the new believers in Christ would meet and pray. Rom. 16:5a Likewise greet the church that is in their house. There is power when we pray together. When two or more are gathered together with Christ as the group’s center, we can bring our petitions to God the Father. Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. There is strength in numbers when brothers and sisters in the Lord, are believing God together for a united purpose that is God’s will. The power of a group of righteous men and women who believe God can become a formidable force and can create a unity that is hard to break. Eccl. 4:12b  A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

The Lord has put within salvation the gift of healing for all people who accept God’s gift of forgiveness. The Lord encourages us to submit to one another in the faith and to be a blessing to each other. We become strengthened and encouraged in Christ by confessing our faults to one another and praying for one another. This congregational type of group involvement helps us take care of each other and also reminds us that we all require God’s help at all times. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

For those who think that they can make it through this world without the nurturing of other fellow believers might want to look to the wild animal kingdom to see what happens when a predator separates a weakling or even a lone water buffalo from the group. Yes, the water buffalo is big and strong, but not strong enough when a pack of predators sets their mind to take it down. We have an evil enemy who goes around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Satan looks for the ones who have become separated from fellowship and group prayer. Stay in touch with the believers in Christ, and the elders in the church, as well as the congregants who can help keep each other accountable to the Lord Jesus. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer when going through difficult times, and be ready to pray and be a blessing when others ask you to cover their lives in anointed intercession. Keep showing up to God’s group therapy and grow mentally strong as well as spiritually strong in Him who first loved us.

Status Confessionis

Acts 4:11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation.”

      Status Confessionis means that a particular doctrine is essential to who we are as a church. If something is status confessionis it means this is a make or break issue.

       There are a lot of issues in the church that many people argue about and even become angrily embittered to the point of leaving the church assembly they were attending. Many of the issues of controversy are over traditions that have been implemented by different denominational groups with varying beliefs and methods of expressing worship, praise, and love for God. I can normally let most of these disagreements slide by because the Word of God instructs us not to argue about words, just for the sake of arguing. 2Tim. 2:14 Remind the people of these facts, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God to avoid petty controversy over words, which does no good, and upsets and undermines and ruins the faith of those who listen. However, as for the foundation of my heart’s eternal hope and belief, my make-or-break issue is my unwavering faith in that – Jesus Christ is Lord and the only way of salvation.

      Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of the world, and this may be the status confessionis of our time. This foundational belief of faith in God and His intervention on man’s behalf to reconcile our lives to Himself on His terms is the gift of salvation we can trust in. Jesus said, He is the only way to our heavenly Father, and no one can come to God the Father except through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I believe there are many roads to Jesus as so many testimonies can attest to that fact, but there is only one way to God the Father. The only acceptable sacrifice that God would accept to wash away the sins of the world was the sacrifice of His Son, and with the blood of Jesus that was spilled on the torturous cross.

        Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live. Our Lord did not come to make Christians follow Christianity, He came to lead us in following Christ. The Lord did not come to give us a united cause, He came to unite us in the love He has for us. Rom. 5:8 But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus did not come so that we might all get along, He came so that we would love one another as Christ loves us. 1John 14:9 We love because He first loved us. Our Lord did not come to teach us social etiquette, He came to teach us the Gospel of Jesus Christ who takes away the sins of the world.

      The Lord asked Peter and the disciples “Who do the crowds and people say I am?” Peter answers similarly to what people are saying today. “Well Lord, they say you are a teacher, a good man with a prophetic gift. Some are saying you are a mystic healer.” Matt. 16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” The Lord asks Peter and the disciples the key question. Matt. 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is the crux of our very existence in the faith. Who do we say Jesus is? Is He the Saviour or not? Today there is a smorgasbord of answers as to who Jesus is, and some are questioning the existence of the historic Jesus let alone the risen Lord.

      Like the Apostle Paul, we need to be in Christ and be without doubt that Jesus is Lord and the only eternal answer whom God the Father has given to mankind as a gift and way to eternal life. Phil. 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ He is my source of joy, my reason to live and to die is gain for I will be with Him in eternity. There is no salvation in any other. We are warned that in the last days, there will be a great falling away from the faith and fickleness will be the choice over reason. 2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction that challenges them with God’s truth; but wanting to have their ears tickled with something pleasing, they will accumulate for themselves many teachers one after another, chosen to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold.

       There is nothing new here. We still have the choice to eat from one of the two trees in the Garden of Eden. We can eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, where we can be like God and make our own choices as to who and what we want enthroned upon our hearts. As Satan said, “We will be like God, intimately knowing good and evil.” But multiple times better, we can eat from the Tree of Life which is Christ the Lord. We can choose to eat and live upon every Word of loving grace that God the Father lavishes on us. We can walk in the salvation that the Lord has freely provided for us all. What an amazing sacrifice of love we have been given. Jesus my Lord, who first loved me, is my status confessionis.

 

I Deserve To Die

Romans 3:10 There is no one righteous, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.

 

      I was talking with a dear friend who has been wrestling the prince-powers of darkness and resisting their relentless false accusations and belittling contemptible lies saying, “I deserve to die.” Without realizing it, I think the devil had given this person under attack a strategy to use, by declaring the same words of the accusation. Instead of accepting the death that the devil intended, take the same words and find deliverance in the Lord’s salvation. If you think about it, we all deserve to die, however, we have a Saviour who decided that while we were dead in our trespasses and sins He loved us anyway and died for us. We did nothing to deserve God’s grace toward us and yet the death we deserved was placed upon Jesus. He took our place on the cross where we deserved to be and suffered the eternal death that was coming our way and gave us eternal life instead. This miracle would never have happened had we not deserved to die for our sins. 

      Talk about a reversal of fortunes. Now, my friend who was under attack could say, “Yes, I deserve to die, but Jesus died for me so that I did not need to.” All of us were dead in our sins and iniquities but Jesus took all that death and dying and replaced it with life and living. He gave us eternal life through the cross and His blood. 2Cor. 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. What an amazing Saviour we have, and an incredible love that was extended to anyone who would accept the Lord’s living gift of hope. Yes, Lord, I did deserve to die, but You rescued me through Your gift of salvation. Praise the name of Jesus!

      Satan has not changed his tactics since the beginning of his fall from grace. He is still trying to convince people that their lives are not worth living and therefore, tries to bully people into destroying themselves or taking no joy in their lives. In truth, it is the devil’s life that is worthless and it is he who will eventually be thrown into the eternal lake of fire and death to suffer everything that he has sown throughout his pathetic existence. Satan has always tried killing the Word of God that lives in a Christian’s heart. The enemy of our soul is after the Word of God that can destroy the works of darkness. It is the Word of God working in us that the devil is after. Mark 4:15 Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. The Word of the Lord had the power to throw Satan out of heaven; that same powerful Word is in our hearts and has the same authority. This is why he tries to stop God’s Word from taking root in a believer’s heart.

      There is nothing more miraculous than someone who had been walking in darkness and then finding their way into the loving presence of Jesus. How many times has Satan been burned as he watched someone who was walking the paths of sin and death turn their lives around and become alive in Christ? The attacks and malicious plans of the enemy toward the human race are a daily battle for those who are in Christ. The only way to remain on top of the circumstances of life is through the power and blood of our Saviour. Rev. 12:11  They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. And they did not love their lives so as to shy away from death. Someone might ask if positive thinking can overcome the negatives we come across in life. Yes, we can overcome a lot of problems by being positive. However, if we want to destroy the works of the evil one, we will need the full power of the Holy Spirit and His life-giving Word.   

      It is the living Word of God who breaks through the maze of confused sinfulness and rescues our souls from destruction. John 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Word of God declares Satan’s intentions towards all humankind are death, hatred, and destruction. The Lord’s will is for salvation, life, and victory. John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. There are two opposites vying for our attention. Whoever we give our minds and hearts to, will rule our souls. Therefore, choose wisely whom you will serve. Satan hates us to death and claims that we deserve to die, while Jesus is Lord, and He loves us with truth and grace. As for me, I will walk with the Lord.

Lots Of Opinions

Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that for every careless word that people speak, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

     My mom was driving through a construction zone while complaining to God about the caution cones that were diverting traffic because lines were being painted on the new road work. She then heard in her spirit the Lord say, “You sure have a lot of opinions!” She repented and thanked God for the road workers doing their job to make the roads safe. I smiled when she shared this with me because I immediately thought of the Matthew 12:36-37 scripture verses that teach we will be judged for all those idle and careless opinions we put into words. We need to remember that with the amount of judgment we give out in opinions, the same amount of judgment will be used on us. This thought sure makes a person want to rethink before they express another opinion.

 

      We read throughout scripture God challenges people for the things they have said out of turn. Job was confronted by God when asked if he had the answers to God’s questions. Hey Job, here is a simple science question for you. Job 38:31 Can you tie up the chains of the Pleiades, Or untie the cords of Orion? Tell me Job, since you think you know about righteousness and how you believe heaven should work, what is your all-knowing opinion on this? Job 38:33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? At this point, I’m sure Job was feeling outside his ability to understand the basics of keeping up with God. Job eventually answers with a repentative heart. Job 42:3b Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Good answer Job, and his answer might be the one we want to adopt when we feel we need to have an opinion on everything there is under the sun.

 

      When God confronted the leadership of Israel concerning the sophistry they were engaged in, God said straight up what the priests and leaders were saying concerning God. Mal. 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied Him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and He is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” Throughout the book of Malachi, God confronts all the accusatory opinions that are flying around without thought. The fact that the people were accusing God of malicious intent shows us what can happen when we no longer control our conversations with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. How do we get to a place where we are saying,” All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and He is pleased with them.” We get there by shooting off our mouths without thought of consequences and believing everything we think and say, other people want to hear. We get there when pride is sitting on the throne of our hearts.

 

      Elijah was living with a wrong opinion concerning himself, and the dire situation Israel was in. Because of the evil influence Jezebel had on the nation, Elijah was convinced he was the only one in Israel who was sold out for God, and that he was the only one serving God faithfully. 1Kings 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” God had to point out that Elijah was in error. Many were serving God. 1Kings 19:18 Nevertheless, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” When we are involved in ministry it is very easy to have a lot of opinions about everything. However, like Elijah, we need to come down to earth and realize that God is way bigger than our thoughts and opinions which can be skewed when we become solipsistic and opinionated.

 

      God is not asking us to take a vow of silence or never to say anything wrong that can be judged. He is admonishing us to think before we spew out a word salad of nonsense upon the unsuspecting public. The Lord wants us to stop judging harshly and using hurtful and malicious words of judgment. Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. The world is full of gainsayers who criticize and argue for the sake of arguing. We are not to be like these people but rather have the grace in our speech to help anyone change their hearts toward God. Titus.1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

 

      We who are in Christ, are of a different spirit and need to realize that we are the only Bible some people will ever get to read. 2Cor. 3:2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men, 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. When we speak, does our inflated opinion come busting through or does the love and kindness of Christ come out of our hearts? The choice to speak wisely is always the right choice. We all have a lot of opinions. Let’s keep them under our hats until God asks for them.

 

Conspirituality

Isaiah 8:12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.

 

      In the book Conspirituality by Derek Beres, he describes the overlap of conspiracy theories with spirituality, typically of New Age varieties. The author describes the follies, frauds, cons and cults that dominate the New Age and wellness industries, and how they betray the trust of people. 

      What I have noticed about all these new age movements and imitation spiritual lifestyles, is that there is nothing new under the sun. Eccl. 1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. These alternatives or feigned enlightened teachings have been around since the construction of the Tower of Babel was interrupted by God Himself. The alarming part of these alternative movements is how much of this overlapping conspirituality is showing up in the church. If the devotees of these psychological followings would put the same amount of time and study into the Word of God, and take the time to immerse themselves in the Lord’s presence, they would become spiritually mature people and able to understand the Word of truth and know when they are being duped. Eph. 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming

      The Lord wants us to learn and ask Him the hard questions and to discover the ever-increasing faith that is available to us through Christ our only Saviour. God says that it is honourable for us to seek out a Godly mystery that He presents to us. Prov. 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honuor of kings is to search out a matter. In the book of Revelation Chapter One Verse Six, the Word of God says that we are kings and priests unto God. Therefore, we have God’s permission to find out whether or not the spiritual mystery we are getting involved with will bring life or destruction to our faith. 

      There is an issue when people become involved in a conspiracy or an alternative religious obsession. They do not discern their beliefs wisely, and begin declaring anything said by anyone that does not agree with their newfound views as a conspiracy against themselves. They take the disagreement of belief as an attack against their very existence. At this point, their deception deepens to where they are now alienating family and friends because they are offended at anyone bringing forth an opposing view. Isa. 8:12“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. For those whose lives are captured by dark conspiracies or cults, the cult often separates people from the ones who love them, and no amount of reasoning will work until the spiritual power promoting the cult is broken.

      The Word of God is continually reminding us to stay vigilant and aware that the enemy of our soul is out to corrupt the hearts of all humanity and to desecrate the Word of God. This is why we are admonished to study God’s Word and to apply it to our lives with God’s grace. 2Tim. 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Furthermore, we are instructed to test the spirits that bring forth questionable doctrines. 1John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. When new ideologies come to us and these beliefs do not acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord, then rebuke that spirit and move on. Take a big imaginary stamp that says Return To Sender, stamp that false doctrine with it, and send it back to hell from whence it came.

      The Apostle Paul emphasized that if an angel should appear teaching an anti-Christ doctrine, then that angel is to be rebuked as well. Gal. 1:8 But even if we or an angel out of heaven should preach a gospel to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let him be accursed! It seems to me that the number of warnings we get through God’s Word to be on guard for false teachings and to be swift to remove them from our conscience as soon as the erroneous teaching is noticed means that heresy is still a problem in our time. I do not know if the word conspirituality will become a buzzword, but it does describe the homogenization of a worldwide religion that seems hell-bent on taking the Lord’s place on the altar of our hearts. 

      The question becomes, what are we to do with the smorgasbord of spiritual options that are out there? As I grow older and become mature in my faith, I have noticed that obeying the Word of God is not a complicated process. The Apostle James says to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. He writes, in James 1:25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. As Christians, we are to line up what we read and learn with the instructions God gives us in His word. Go and do likewise. May the Lord’s truth and peace lead us all.