Friday, December 11, 2009

The Image of Christ

I’ve recently discovered that what I resist in fellow Christians comes from me comparing them to the image of Christ, and finding fault. In reality, I’m not comparing them to the image of Christ, but rather to the image of me.

The only one qualified to measure people by Christ’s image is Christ Himself. Do I completely understand the image of Jesus? No. Besides, the image of Jesus has more to do with internal issues than external expressions.

I realize I’ve become more concerned with how their actions adversely affect me. I’m not really caring about them being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. If I was, I would be asking Jesus how to pray for them to be conformed to His image. Jesus sees there are more important issues in their lives than simply how their choices impact me.

And He’s resourcefully using them to help mold me into His image.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2 (NKJV).

Please enter your comments below.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is There to be Thankful For?

Life is grim
The world is gray
Things go from bad to worse

The snow is unavoidable
The plumbing fixes are temporary
The tires need replaced (again)

Friends fail
Bills pile up
Kids fight
The dog does you know what in the house

There is so much to be unthankful for
But unthankfulness darkens my soul
So I’m thankful for thankfulness
Thankfulness makes my life full

Life may be tough – at least I’m alive
The world, gray today, constantly changes color
Things go from bad to worse, yet it all works together for good

The snow is coming, so I’ll enjoy its beauty
The plumbing leaks; something the Amish don’t have to worry about
The tires need replaced; that means I have wheels

Friends fail; at least I have them
Though bills pile up, I have what I need for today
The kids fight, but they do not dictate my mood
The dog? I can get rid of the dog!

There is so much to be thankful for
Thankfulness brightens my soul
Yes, I’m thankful for thankfulness
Thankfulness makes my life full

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The Kingdom of Heaven is NOT Like...

  • a fireman picking and choosing which people he wants to rescue from a burning building
  • an orchestra with only a cello
  • a flashlight shone directly in someone's eyes
  • a man who tries to coerce a woman to love him
  • a wealthy man hosting a banquet and inviting only his friends and family

Very Unofficial Guide to Gauging Coffee

Yesterday I drank coffee at a local restaurant, and the only comparison I could give it was to the kick of a .410 shotgun.  In fact most of the coffee served at local restaurant would fit that comparison.

One location in town (which will remain anonymous) might qualify for the kick of the 20-gauge, not a bad coffee, and the best I've tasted at an in-town restaurant.

Let's see, some store bought 100% Colombian might attain the 16-gauge comparison.

All bias aside, I would compare my home-roasted Sumatra Mandheling to the kick of the 12-gauge.

"What about decaf?" you might ask.  Have you ever fired bird-shot from a .22 rifle?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Acrostic Poem from my Son Ben

I just wanted to share with you all this Acrostic Poem written by Benjamin last week:

Devoted, never leaving your side
Obeying, listening to your every command
Generous, giving you all they are, no matter what they receive in return
Solicitous, concerned and loving

Cheap, only doing whats best for themselves
Aggravating, so repulsive
Terrible, only looking out for what will benefit them
Sneaky, suspicious

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drawing People to God

My religious little mind was slightly surprised at Ruth's claim that Naomi's God would be her God (Ruth 1:16). It appears she didn't know who God was, but she knew who Naomi was. She doesn't say she will follow Naomi because Naomi follows God. It's the other way around. She wasn't drawn to God because of himself, but because she loved who Naomi was.

Interestingly, it doesn't appear that God is offended with this. Religion might be, but God isn't. In fact, God rewards Ruth when she returns to Israel: she finds a great husband, and then has children and grandchildren -- even descendants which include King David and Jesus Christ.

These thoughts challenge my perspective in drawing people to Christ.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interesting Youtube Video on Coffee Cupping

Please let me know what you think about this video by leaving a comment below!

Did you leave a comment???

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Little Rock That Was Different

A Story for My Son

There once was a Little Rock dwelling among a thousand other rocks scattered on the Hillside. This rock was a sad rock, for as it happened, he was different than all the other rocks around him. Sure each rock was different. But he was more different.

His color wasn't quite the same. His shape wasn't as rough and jagged. All the other rocks teased him for being different.

Many days Travelers would walk up and down the Hillside. Many rocks enjoyed the weight of boots and shoes upon their backs, knowing they were helping carry People to their destination.

But not Little Rock. He was afraid the travelers would also make fun of him. He tried to hide his color and his unusual shape. When that didn't help, he just tried to hide. Little Rock was miserable and depressed. He wondered why God had made him so different.

One day an unusual Traveler came up the Hillside. He wasn't content to walk straight up the slope. He seemed to be wandering. No. Inspecting. He was picking up rocks, and then throwing them aside. Little Rock knew if he was found, he would be discarded too. And he just knew he would be found.

Eventually, the Traveler spotted Little Rock. He picked him up and inspected him carefully. Instead of being thrown aside, something worse happened. The Traveler put Little Rock in a tiny burlap sack that he tied to his belt.

It was dark. He was lonely. It seemed things always got worse for Little Rock.

He didn't know how many days had passed before he was finally taken out of the burlap. A Person placed him between two pieces of metal that clamped down on him and squeezed him. He wasn't very comfortable. And he was scared.

Suddenly he was blinded by a light strapped to the Person's head. He couldn't see what was happening. BANG. OUCH! Little Rock was being attacked by a chisel. The Person kept hammering and chipping away at him.

He had never known such pain, such suffering. He longed to be back on the Hillside. He longed for answers from God.

More time passed. Little Rock had been turned, hammered, chiseled and ouched in every way possible. When the hurting stopped, he was placed on some piece of metal which was shaped around him to hold him down. Fingers of metal held him firmly.

Then he was covered in darkness by a thick cloth. This must be the end, he thought. It wasn't enough to be tossed away on the Hillside. I must be so awful, I needed to be tortured before being thrown out.

After a long period of being moved and bumped about, there was the growing sound of many, many People talking and laughing and singing. It sounded like a celebration. This went on for hours, and Little Rock wished he could see what was going on. He was beginning to feel a happiness he had never known, but he didn't know why.

There was a sudden hush, and then the sound of one Man speaking.

Without any notice, the cloth that covered Little Rock was removed. Little Rock could see thousands of People. He saw a Young Man sitting beside him, wearing clothing of purple and red.

He could see the metal that held him firmly. It was a bright and shiny yellow, and it curved away from his view on his left and right side. He thought he could also see some other colorful rocks sticking out from the sides of this metal object. It was sparkly. It was beautiful. It was sitting on a large red pillow.

Excitement grew inside Little Rock as this beautiful object was lifted in the air and placed on the head of the Young Man. Immediately, trumpets sounded and People sang.

Little Rock was shocked to find himself 'front and center', taking his part in adorning the new King. He instantly knew he didn't have to be afraid any longer. He realized God had a good reason for all the hurt and pain he had endured. And he discovered that his uniqueness was a gift that would not be hidden, and it would serve the King for a long time to come.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Devil's Battleground

It's been said that the majority of people's self-esteem is based on what they think others think about them. Many become the puppeteer behind others' voices in their minds. They live out their lives, stuck in the track of speculation about people's views of their worth. And they are constrained by what others have said in the past, having come to a place of surrender and acquiescence to these ideas.

Paul’s hope was that people would “come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil” 2 Timothy 2:26. The persistent thoughts contrary to God’s word are strongholds of the enemy. These oppose the true knowledge that comes from God about who we are in him. According to 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, this is the devil’s battleground.

God’s word is filled with many amazing declarations about who we are in Christ Jesus. Most Christians I survey, say they believe the Bible is 100% true, and yet their lives demonstrate a stark contrast to what the Bible claims is available for them.

The devil has won the battle in their minds, and has rendered them powerless, at least for anything substantial for God’s kingdom.

Paul exhorts several times that we be renewed in our minds (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23) and that we take every thought captive and bring it under the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).

Colossians 2:10 says, “You are complete in him.” I hope you can believe this. If not, check out some of these other scriptures: 2 Peter 1:3,4, Romans 8:34-39, and 2 Corinthians 5:17.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Bleeb I'b Eeled (Part 3)

The last two posts on this subject emphasize a couple important points in the mysterious area of healing. Cessationists say God doesn’t heal today. Non-cessationists say he does, yet many times struggle with the difference between their experiences and their understanding of Scripture.

Two important things we’ve covered in the area of healing are: 1) Listen to what God is saying about the physical affliction – then you can pray in faith in response to what he is directing. 2) Scripture also tells us in the book of James to call the elders of the church to have them pray for us when we are sick. Sometimes this simple act of faith is a huge mountain-mover in healing.

One Final Thought
Although there are many things yet to be discovered as to the ways of God in healing, I will close these posts with one more principle I became convinced of nearly five years ago. There is a connection between “authority in Christ” and healing.

• In Genesis, God begins by placing mankind in authority over every living thing on the earth. (Side notes: Are viruses and bacterial infections living things? Was Satan a living thing on the earth at that time?)
• David reiterates that this authority was not lost through the Fall – Psalm 8.
• The centurion recognized the connection between authority and healing in Matthew 8:5-13.
• The crowd were awed that God had given authority to men (not just Jesus) to forgive sins and to heal – Matthew 9:2-8.
• Jesus gave his disciples and the seventy authority over sickness and disease and over demons, and commanded them to heal and cast out demons – Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, Luke 10:1-20. Jesus told them, “Freely you have received, freely give.” What had they just received? Authority.
• Jesus has given his authority to every believer (Matthew 18:19-20, 28:18-20, Mark 16:17, John 14:12-14, 15:16, 16:23-26).

Praying in Jesus’ Name
I don’t suppose any Christian would argue that we are instructed to pray in Jesus’ name. Most of the times we finish a prayer like this: “... in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Jesus instructed us to pray and ask in his name. But do we realize that “in Jesus’ name” means “in Jesus’ authority”? In the Greek, name also means “authority”.

You’ve probably heard a similar phrase to this one: “Open up in the name of the king!” This means all the king’s authority is backing up the officer of the law.

Jesus authorizes us to represent him, to act, pray, and move in his name, in his “authority”. This is what Paul is referring to when he calls us ambassadors. Ambassadors have to right and privilege and responsibility to speak on behalf of the one whom they represent.

So we pray in Jesus’ name, Jesus’ authority. We bless our food in Jesus’ name, in his authority. This is not something trite that we do, it actually means something to bless our food in Jesus’ name, or to pray in his name. And we are instructed to heal in his authority.

The question isn’t whether or not we are endowed with his authority. The question is whether we believe it. Mark 16:17 might be better translated, “These signs will accompany those who believe in My name: they will...” (notice the placement of the colon, versus modern translations). Many times we “believe”, but how often do we expressly believe in his authority?

Peter Said So Himself
In Acts 3, when God used Peter to heal the lame man, Peter declared that the man was healed “on the basis of faith in His name” and the “name of Jesus has strengthened this man”. Peter not only saw the connection between Christ’s authority, but he believed in Christ’s authority in him. He said, “What I have, I give to you.” Then he said the man was made well on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, Jesus’ authority. Peter believed in Christ’s authority; he believed in his name.

Present Day Examples
After talking about this one Sunday morning, I encouraged people to test this out in their homes. One family in our church have a son who ended up with a spot on his lung that showed up on an X-Ray. They prayed for him in the authority of Jesus. When they went later that week for another X-Ray, the spot had disappeared.

Another example was at a prayer meeting where there was a woman who suffered with chronic back pain for years. A friend and prayed for her, and after waiting and listening to the Lord, we prayed for her back in the authority of Jesus. That night at 10:30, she called me and told me that the pain was completely gone.

We are Commanded to Believe in His Name
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ...” 1 John 3:23a.

The centurion believed in the authority of Christ to heal. And Jesus remarked that he had not seen such great faith in all of Israel. This is perhaps some of the greatest faith we could walk in.

We are not instructed to believe that if we have enough faith, someone will be healed. This is presumption. We are not instructed to pray, “Lord, if it is your will” – we are to prove what his will is (Romans 12:2, Colossians 1:9, 1 John 5:14,15). We are not instructed to believe in healing.

We are commanded to walk in his authority, to believe in his authority, and to pray in his authority. Are you convinced that Christ’s authority resides in you?

If you would like to read four more testimonies from people in our church, click on this link: Four Testimonies of Healing

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Day of Atonement

by George Otis Jr.

It was typical of many families in [ancient Israel], in lieu of dogs and cats, to keep other animals, particularly lambs, as pets. As in our society the young children would grow very attached to these lambs.

One evening as you and your brothers and sisters are running around outside your house, your father arrives to put a halt to the horseplay. After hustling you in for dinner, he snatches your favorite lamb up into his arms and ties it inside the door. On most days Dad’s arrival is a highlight, but today something must have gone wrong. He’s too serious tonight, not like usual when he throws you up on his shoulders and carries you through the door. Tomorrow, you discover, the family is going to the Temple; but what’s really great is that lamb gets to go, too!

Early the next morning your mother wakes you up, ordering you to clean up and put on your best clothes. The fact breakfast was skipped this morning for the Lord wasn’t new, but Dad has never looked so serious . . . so sober. Anyway, your guess is that he’s tying the lamb’s feet together so he won’t get loose in the Temple.

The family is finally on the way; Dad’s in front, with the lamb on his shoulders with Mom and all the siblings in tow. Nearing the Temple you notice some of your friends arriving but Dad won’t let you talk to anybody. Once inside the Temple, all you can see are the backs and legs of a forest of grownups. Nobody’s talking; they’re all just kind of crying and moaning real loud. Every so often a family or group of people press their way through the crowd heading for the door of the Temple. They’re always crying the hardest even the kids. It’s hard to figure out what’s happening. You had never really noticed the people’s faces the other times. This was the first time, too, that Dad had ever let lamb come, even though lot’s of other people brought theirs.

After a very long two hours you have crept near the front. Occasionally you can see the priests’ legs and bare feet around the altar through a crack in the crowd. The wailing and moaning near the front is almost deafening.

Finally, your family is standing in front of the altar. There is blood all over the ground and splattered on the priests’ clothes. While your attention is fixed on all the blood, Dad has handed the lamb over to a priest. After saying something to Dad he lifts his head and speaks again probably praying. His hands are both resting on the lamb when you notice for the first time the menacing, long knife on the side of the altar.

The lamb anticipates its future with a meek struggle but the leather cords hold firm. After the priest finishes praying he picks up the knife and puts his hand under the lamb’s jaw pulling its head back. Horror-struck, you watch the priest plunge the knife into its throat; the blood spills out onto the breast of the lamb, the priest and the altar. After one last spasmodic convulsion the life of your lamb is over.

As the priest spreads the blood around, the reality of the whole gruesome spectacle begins to melt your frozen stupor. Leaving the temple tears flow uncontrollably as you press through other Jewish families awaiting their turn. Nothing was said on the way home but no one noticed anyway.

That evening Father lifted your little frame off your tear-stained pillow and gently explained as he had to your older brothers and sisters in prior years. Explaining how a lamb could die instead of you.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Bleeb I'b Eeled (Part 2)

Some Christians believe God doesn’t heal today like he did in the first century church. On the other hand, many believe that God is a healing God, that he is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that includes the arena of healing. But these often have difficulty finding congruency between what is believed and what is experienced. And some of these feel compelled to say, “I believe I’m healed” though every visible sign suggests otherwise.

I am not a cessationist. And my belief that God heals today isn’t first based on experience (mine or others), rather it is based on my understanding of Scripture. If I could find a Biblical basis for believing that supernatural works ceased with the early church, then I’d become a cessationist. However, I’ve read the Bible many times, and have found no basis to support this view.

Well Intended Cliches
What do “non-cessationists” say when someone isn’t healed? “They didn’t have enough faith.” “It must not be God’s will.” “God is trying to produce a greater good than what the actual healing would have produced.”

These well intended responses do little to glorify God, and often bring more internal struggle than anything else: guilt about not having more faith, frustration with God not wanting them to be healed, or confusion about what God is trying to teach them.

What is God Saying?

The above responses may at times be true. But until we seek the Lord, and find out what he has to say about the problem, we are just stabbing in the dark with trite answers. And well meant cliches are complicating the issue. (Almost reminds me of Job’s ‘comforters’.)

If you are unsure about whether God speaks to us today, I’ll just throw out a couple of passages: “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10) and “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives generously... and it will be given to him” (James 1). Jerry Lamey points out that many people who deny that God speaks to us today, will readily admit that the Devil puts thoughts in our heads. Let’s not doubt any longer that the Lord speaks today.

And if it was his will to heal the majority of the people in Jesus’ ministry, and in the apostles’ ministry, maybe there are some extenuating circumstances as to why we don’t see him healing more people today. We ought to find out what he has to say about the present situation we are praying about. We might find more success in praying for those with physical afflictions.

James’ Simple Advice (which so few of us heed)
One thing God has already spoken about healing is in the book of James, but so few of us seem to believe. James writes:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:14-16

A Real Life Example
A friend of mine who suffered from chronic pain for probably more than a decade refused to call the elders of our church to pray for her, simply because she didn’t what to be a burden. So she suffered alone. However, after a surgical procedure that didn’t resolve one of her physical problems completely, she finally asked us to drive to her house one Sunday after church and pray for her. And of course, we did – gladly.

Two days later her testimony went beyond help with the surgical procedure. She moved an inch toward God, and he moved a mile. That day, God delivered her from pain all throughout her entire body.

This was about two years ago. This week I asked her again (as I sometimes do) how she was doing in the area of pain, and she said she was pain-free.

There are many people in our church that will tell you how God has met them, and brought help and healing, after simply calling on the elders of the church for prayer. As elders, we would first listen to what God was saying about the situation, and then we would pray accordingly. And as a result, many times people are healed.

Coming Up Next
In "I Bleeb I'b Eeled (Part 3)" I plan to discuss the connection between authority in Christ and healing.

Please share your feedback by posting a comment below.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thoughts from My Home Schooled Son

Average Home School Day

Get up, start workin', no fun or play,
Looks like this will be the average school day

Sit down at my desk, grab paper and pencil
And seizing my brain, a useful utensil

Working for hours that feel like years
I wish that Saturday soon would be here

Finally finishing, I feel so free,
But I was mistaken, my mom calls me

Now here I'm sitting, feeling no glee,
Lo and behold, I'm folding laundry!

Benjamin Southwick
Age 12, 6th Grade

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Bleeb I'b Eeled (Part 1)

You might hear someone with a cold (and perhaps a misunderstanding of Biblical faith and healing) say "I bleeb I'b eeled".

Obviously, scripture proclaims God is a healing God, he desires to heal people, and that Christians can be used by God to bring physical healing to people. Jesus said, "He who believes in me, the works that I do, he shall do also, and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14). But why don't we see more of this today?

Scripture Trumps Experience
One problem we encounter is the difficulty squaring our experiences with scripture. It is difficult to believe that God wants to heal more often than not, because we haven't often seen healings. The fact is that many times we pray for healing and see no results. Thus we reinterpret scripture to match our experiences. And we default to such prayers as, "If it is your will, heal so and so."

Jesus demonstrated God's will in sickness and healing. Paul says that we are to "prove what the will of God is", not guess what it is. Can we truly pray the prayer of faith if we don't know God's will?

One Important Principle For Healing
Learning about healing has been a quest of mine for a long time. I'm endeavoring to conform my experience to scripture (not the other way around). One thing I've learned is the importance of gaining God's perspective on the immediate situation.

There are many causes for physical symptoms and sicknesses. These can be physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. or a combination. But if we merely approach a sickness from a physical standpoint, we may miss the boat, and suffer needlessly in the long run.

God knows the root causes of our ailments, and he can make them clear. Without seeking him, we end up stabbing at solutions. We try to pray harder. Our doctors experiment with treatments. Sometimes God says, "Go to the doctor". But not always.

Deliverance by Man
Here's an example. At least three people I know of have been treated for melanoma. Knowing the danger of this disease and observing for several years a small abnormal spot on my skin, I began to seek God about going to the doctor. Now I never had it diagnosed, but I do know that it was not clearing up, and if anything, it was slowly getting worse. God spoke to me this passage:

Oh give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain. Psalms 108:12

So I have believed God, and have trusted in his specific word to me for this situation. After a couple of months, the spot cleared up over half-way. A year later almost all the discoloration is gone.

Pink Eye Hit Home
One more example that occurred in my family is when conjunctivitis took its turn with three of my boys. The first two battled recurring fevers and red, gooping eyes. When prayer did not help them, we took them to the emergency room (of course this happened on the weekend!) and obtained antibiotics for them. Then the third boy came down with the fever and the seeping, red eyes.

I was frustrated. But after God adjusted my attitude, I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say to anoint him with oil (James 5), and I was reminded of Jesus' words about agreement (Matthew 18). So my wife and I anointed him and agreed together in prayer for him to be healed. The following morning the fever was gone, and the eyes had significantly cleared. That night we did the same thing, and the next morning he was completely healed. (Incidentally, it took around four or five days for the other two's symptoms to clear up.)

Jesus is More Accessible than Your Doctor
So why not give Jesus a chance to speak to us about our physical symptoms? We may just need to seek medical help. But maybe God will point us in another direction. He certainly desires to heal us. And we don't need to set up an appointment with him.

"Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2).

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great Song from Deluge

"Open up the Sky" is a great song from the band Deluge. It's been around for almost a year and currently can be downloaded for free at the link at the end of this post.

Open Up the Sky
by John Stockstill
(c) 2008 Integrity's Praise! Music

Our beloved Father please come down and meet us
We are waiting on Your touch
Open up the heavens shower down Your presence
We respond to Your great love

We won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary
We won’t be satisfied at all

Open up the sky fall down like rain
We don’t want blessings we want You
Open up the sky fall down like fire
We don’t want anything but You

Our beloved Jesus we just want to see You
In the glory of Your light
Earthly things don’t matter they just fade and shatter
When we’re touched by love divine

Here we go let’s go to the throne
The place that we belong
Right into His arms

If you would like the chords for this song, click here. Click this link to play (or right click to download) the free mp3 of this song:

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ravi Demonstrates Unscientific Science

Original source:

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Have a Seat

Paul wrote that Christ, after rising from the dead, has been seated at God's right hand in the heavenly places, "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet" (Ephesians 1:21,22).

This is nothing especially new, but it is awesome to think that Christ is not barely above every rule, authority, power and dominion. But he is far above them.

They can't touch him.

But I think there is something even more remarkable here that may go unnoticed.

In the next section of his letter, Paul writes that God has "seated us with him in the heavenly places." To me this has significant implications, if we choose to believe what he says. If we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, then we are far above every power and dominion of hell.

They can't touch us unless we concede to them.

Will circumstance and trouble, difficulty and trial bring us down from our seat in the heavenly places, down to the realm of Satan's bullying? Or through faith will we take our seat with Christ in the heavenly places, "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion"?

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