Tag Archives: freedom

Jacob: A New Identity (Genesis 32:24-33:4)

[As part of our “Loving the Bible” class at Scoala Biblica Piatra Vie, each student is required to write a paper about some passage in the Bible and then present it to the class.  I decided that since I’m requiring my busy students to do the paper, I should do it as well.  Below is my paper about Jacob and his strange, late-night wrestling competition.]

To every child ever born God has given a destiny and purpose.  He has specific plans for each human being and has not only created each person with such individual and unique personalities, likes and dislikes, even talents, but He has also ordained specific things for him to do during his short lifetime, things that only that particular individual can accomplish.  Regrettably, most Christians are so haunted by their failures that they see only a long list of lost opportunities, resulting in a deep and pervasive sense of disappointment, a fear of having somehow missed God’s plans and purposes for their life.  For many, this sense is great enough that they fail to see by faith the redemptive power of God to bring restoration and renewal.  For those who have felt the weight of such a list of failures, there is much encouragement in the life of Jacob, in particular, in one fateful night when God met him and revealed his new identity.

July 24, 2015 - 'No Longer Jacob'

July 24, 2015 – ‘No Longer Jacob’

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Numai Prin Harul Tau – Sunny Tranca

As soon as I heard Sunny Tranca’s music, my heart went, “Oh, yeah!  This is worship!”  In Bucharest, it’s been hard to find good worship, free, expressive, heartfelt, passionate, clap-able and dance-able.  The best we’ve found has been at Raul Vietii–who always seem to stop right when they get *almost* to the point of a real, free heart connection to God during worship–and Elim.  And, of course, Piatra Vie!  (No bias here.  😀 )  (And, actually, we’re a long ways from where we want to be…  God, send us worshipers and musicians!)

I had begun to think Romanians just don’t understand what it means to worship passionately and freely.

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Wanted: Worshipers

worshipers wantedWhen I went back to the U.S., almost everyone asked me what I missed most while in Romania.  Although I would usually answer with a list of food (cheddar cheese, milk, Pizza Hut…), those were all secondary (or even “thirdary”).  The one thing I have missed most while living in Romania is passionate and free worship.

At Biserica Piatra Vie, we are trying to develop a church of worshipers.

What will that look like?  Well, as God is the one in charge of building the church (Matthew 16:18) and as he is the one looking hardest for worshipers (John 4:23) and as he is the one who draws men to himself (John 12:32), I’m not entirely sure just what we’ll end up like.  With that said, though, here is some of what we’re envisioning:

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Holiness and Liberty

As we go through this roller-coaster ride of planting a church in Bucureşti, I have often found myself asking:  “Why on earth did we decide we needed to do this, anyhow?”  These last few weeks, as numbers have dipped especially low, this question has had a tendency to come to mind much more frequently.

So, why are we planting a church here in Bucureşti?

There are many reasons.  Here’s one:  România needs more bodies of believers who trust God for total holiness and experience his total liberty.

Some churches believe that holiness isn’t really attainable and so you might as well just go on sinning and trust Jesus forgives you.  Others seem to think the entire Christian life is an austere and painful struggle to live holy and free from any and every minute imperfection in spirit, soul, and body.

I believe the Bible teaches holiness is completely attainable and that through Jesus we also have incredible liberty.  This is an important dichotomy:  we can be totally and fully pure before God, in body, soul, and spirit; and we can also enjoy life to the full and experience tremendous liberty.

Here are thirteen quick thoughts related to holiness and liberty:

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17 years living in the sewers

homelesssewers

On December 1, I came across the story of a man whose life was transformed by Teen Challenge’s ministry in Bucuresti. Emmanuel ran away from home as a seven-year-old boy. On the streets, he made a home in the sewers and quickly became addicted to aurolac and then to heroine. His life was spiraling downward, and he figured it would only continue to get worse.

Seventeen years later, a miracle happened.

He met a girl, she got pregnant, and Emmanuel realized his life needed to change.

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Lessons from Jericho: Examine the Stronghold Closely

I have been getting a lot lately out of the story of the fall of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27).  Not only has it been intellectually interesting, but the things God has been showing me have been strengthening to my own walk with him.  I had gotten lazy in the walk of holiness, and I realized a few weeks ago that a spiritual stronghold of the enemy had begun to take root in my heart.

In an earlier post, I brought up how the battle starts in recognizing that you are called to be holy to Jesus, separate from the world, set aside solely for his purposes.  It’s what he has called you to, and it’s where he intends to take you.

The next post, I brought up how God must be an integral part of your relation to this city.  If you want to see it go, you’ve got to look at it with God at your side or you’ll get overwhelmed and decide to give up.  Before you even go to battle, when you’re just sitting there looking at the stronghold, seek God’s advice, ask for his help, and follow his directions.

Today, I want to look at the deeply uncomfortable but absolutely vital next step…

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Lessons from Jericho: Know that You are Holy Ground

This morning, as I read the story of the conquest of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27), God began to speak to my heart.  I don’t have everything organized, but I hope you’ll be strengthened by a bit of what God showed me about experiencing freedom from sin.

At this point, the Israelites have been freed from slavery in Egypt and crossed the Jordan River into Canaan.  They’re getting ready to take possession of the land that God has been promising to them for years.  But right in their way of receiving this inheritance is the massive city of Jericho, a stronghold of their enemy.

There are many Christians who, though they have been freed from slavery to sin and been baptized into the inheritance of the Spirit, have allowed the enemy to build a stronghold in their souls.  I know this because I have been there myself.

How do we experience the freedom God wants us to inherit?

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