Category Archives: Church

Are You Influenced by the Political Spirit?

I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the influence of the political spirit upon Christians. While it is most easily seen during election years, it rears its ugly head at various other times as well. It’s currently surfacing a lot in opinions about the Covid-19 crisis, but it shows up in other discussions too, such as immigration or social justice.

This post is sort of a “Part Two.” Discerning the Political Spirit, written a couple of years ago, acts as my “Part One.” That post explains a lot about the political spirit. Today’s post goes on from there.

Here are some ways the political spirit affects people, including believers:

It causes us to be hardhearted.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted….” The political spirit causes us to put our “convictions” ahead of kindness and tenderness. Mercy and compassion take a lesser place, because being right becomes paramount. Often those convictions are not biblical principles at all, but opinions we have absorbed from various secular sources with a political agenda behind them. When we take in enough of them, they become part of our worldview. We might think that worldview is unquestionably biblical, because we’ve heard influential Christian leaders speak the same things — but that could be because those leaders have unwittingly become influenced by the political spirit as well.

An example of how this plays out can be seen with the current controversy over how the Covid-19 crisis should be addressed. We hear a great deal of talk about constitutional rights. Preserving constitutional rights is important. However, if we forget that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are for everyone, not just self, it could be a sign that we’re influenced by not only selfishness, but the political spirit. When one’s own rights and wants become more important than caring for the welfare of others, we’re missing the second great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

It polarizes people.

We should never get sucked into a false unity. Light and darkness cannot mix. However, the political spirit will cause unrighteous (and unnecessary!) division between believers. Factions form. Paul attempted to correct this attitude in the Corinthian Church:

Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…. For it has been declared to me … that there are contentions among you. …You say, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cephas,” and “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? …. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

We see this every day, from arguments about governmental policies to theological disputes on matters which aren’t about foundations of the faith.

It promotes finger-pointing.

The devil is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Unfortunately, too often we cooperate with him! Mudslinging is part of political campaigns, and the political spirit will lead you into that behavior in other arenas too. It has a lot to do with those convictions I mentioned earlier, which are really only opinions.

It fosters pride.

This goes along quite nicely with finger-pointing. We feel so strongly about our position that we assume everyone who doesn’t see it the way we do is less spiritual, asleep at their post, or just plain stupid.

Could it be that those of a different opinion are seeing from an angle we have not yet considered? Can their perspective and mine dovetail together for a more complete picture of the truth? The political spirit attempts to blind us to such possibilities.

It diverts us from Christ and the Gospel.

The political spirit sidetracks us onto temporary tangents, consuming our thoughts with current events which have little to no bearing on eternal matters. We become earth-bound, consumed with anxieties over what will happen if “our side” does not carry the day. Jesus is not mentioned very much anymore. Sharing the “good news” of our viewpoint takes the place of sharing the good news of the cross.

In his book, The Discerner, James Goll comments,

Particularly in these days of instant social messaging, we need to be alert to the influence of the political spirit around us. We have to work hard to keep our focus on God and not on the troubling and divisive contemporary issues unfolding around us, lest we react to them by joining the toxic fray, rather than being part of the solution. While we should fulfill our civic responsibilities and keep a level head while participating in our representative government, the best thing we can do is to pray and intercede in order to break the power of the demonic political spirit that causes divisions, animosity, and strife.(1)

How do we break the power of the political spirit off of our minds?

1. The first step is recognizing its influence over us.

2. We repent and renounce it, asking the Lord to deliver us from it.

3. We determine to, once again, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). That might require more time reading the Bible and less time reading or listening to the ideas of men.

The Lord will free us, if we ask. He will also help us know where to put our energies in the future. He will give us the wisdom we need to escape the deceptions of the political spirit.

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(1)  James W. Goll, The Discerner (New Kengsington, PA: Whitaker House, 2017), p. 148.

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inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

character education, Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Bible character education study for adults and teens)

 

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

time, clock, DaliLast time, I wrote about a dream I had concerning the Church. Here is one more, with a different message:

In the dream, I woke up on the day I was supposed to have eye surgery at the hospital on the north side of our city. The surgery appointment time was 7:05. I looked at the clocks in our kitchen, and the one on the wall said 6:15. The microwave clock said 6:30. I panicked, thinking I didn’t have enough time, no matter which clock was right. And I still had to take a shower.

I asked my husband Paul what time it really was, but he didn’t seem to know. My mom changed the clock on the microwave to 7:30, thinking that was the correct time. When I pointed out the error to her, she laughed and said she would change it again. But nobody seemed to know what time it really was.

I became overwhelmed as I realized I might not have enough time for a shower before my appointment. But I was going to try anyway. I now discovered I didn’t have my clothes ready, either. They were stuffed tightly in my purse, and I couldn’t seem to get them out. I poured powdered laundry detergent into the purse, all over the clothes, and then realized I had now made a huge mess of them. The dream ended with my dad trying to help me fix the situation.

Whew! How would you like to have stress like that going on? And what does it all mean?

Here are the main points I understand: A critical event is looming on the horizon, there isn’t much time, and nobody seems to understand what time it really is.

I believe the dream is speaking of the return of Jesus for His Church, and we are not ready.

I had an appointment for eye surgery at the north side hospital. “North” often speaks of heaven, where God is.  At the appointed time, we will see Jesus as He is. We will see clearly.

1 John 3:2, 3“… But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” (Note that I desperately wanted to get that shower in!)

1 Corinthians 13:12“For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known.”

While nobody in the house seemed to know what time it really was, I was keenly aware that the time available was extremely short — maybe shorter than we thought.  I didn’t know if I had enough time to get ready, but it seemed like I probably did not.

I am not sure if the numbers I saw on the clocks had deeper meanings, but this is what I did understand from them:

7:05 — The appointed time has been set.
6:15 — The time is very short before that appointment.
6:30 — The time is even shorter than we thought.
7:30 — Some people are totally off on the timing, expecting the appointment to take place much later than when it actually will.

My mom mistakenly set the clock for later than the appointment time. Some Christians are putting the time of Jesus’ return off with their prophecies and theology, not realizing that their idea of when Jesus will return is actually after the appointed time God has set.

In the dream, I felt very unprepared and not clean, and I wanted desperately to remedy that, but I was trying to do it in my own strength. I couldn’t lay hold of my clothes. Sprinkling dry laundry detergent over them sounds a lot like our human efforts to spruce ourselves up outwardly, but inwardly we’re still a mess — and our Father in heaven is there, trying to assist us with this, just as my father in the dream tried to help me.

Yet, we do have a part to play in getting ready. Revelation 19:7 comments, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

So, is the dream saying we cannot possibly be ready when Jesus comes? No, it is a warning to wake up and understand what time it is. The appointed time for His coming for His bride is sooner than we may have realized.  We need to make adjustments now.  Jesus is returning for a beautiful bride, who is “without spot or wrinkle … holy, and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). While we can’t clean ourselves up by human effort (Ephesians 5:26 says Jesus sanctifies and cleanses us by the washing of the water of the Word), we do need to cooperate with Him by listening and obeying.

He’s coming sooner  than we think. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Luke 12:40, NIV). We don’t want to end up like the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25.

How do we make sure we are ready? Come to the Lord for cleansing. Each of us knows the areas of compromise in our lives which need to go. We must lay aside whatever distracts us from the Lord. Seek His face, call on His name for a fresh love for Him, and eagerly look for Him. He is coming for those who “love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). “Unto those who look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

In the dream, the time of the eye appointment was 7:05. Let me finish with Psalm 70:5: “But I am poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer. O Lord, make no tarrying.

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dream interpretation

 

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

personal prophecy

 

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

A Dream About the Church

vanToday, I’d like to share a recent dream, which I feel is about something currently happening in the family of God.

For most of the dream, I was acting as an observer.  I saw my daughter sitting in the driver’s seat of my van, and she seemed to be stalled. Pulled up alongside of her in another car was a well-known actor of bygone days. He was someone who had done several TV series on occult or paranormal themes. He was smiling graciously at her while advising her on how to get the van running.

He told her to put water in the gas tank. In her ignorance, she trusted that he was really trying to help her, so she did as he said. I knew she had just ruined the van.

At this point, I left my observer position. I hurried behind the actor’s car with a pad of paper and pen to write down his license plate number, so I could turn him in to the authorities. But then I heard him chuckling about what he had duped my daughter into doing. He was also laughing at me for thinking I could turn him in. I suddenly realized that, because he had not personally poured the water into the gas tank, but had fooled my daughter into doing it to herself, there would be no case against him in a court of law.

My interpretation:

Vans and cars usually represent a person’s life or ministry. Vans lean more toward meaning ministry in my dreams.

I felt that the actor represented the devil (perhaps also evil or deceived people he works through). Actors play roles which are not their real selves, so here was a man who was pretending to be nice and to give sound advice, but his intentions were entirely evil. He preyed upon the ignorance and innocence of my daughter.

My daughter represented younger people in the faith, either biological or spiritual sons and daughters. She blindly believed someone was trying help her, just because that’s what he wanted her to think. She did not discern the source of the information she received. Hence, she ruined the van by following his evil advice. This was due to extreme ignorance in basic car care, too.

My daughter watered down the fuel. We cannot mix the pure fuel of the Word and of the Holy Spirit with other substances. We need to stick with what the Bible says and not adulterate it. This is a trap many Christians fall into. They absorb  secular, humanistic thoughts, opinions, and advice, not discerning the unholy sources from which they are coming. They end up thinking and living just like non-Christians, even ruining their own lives by following beliefs and tactics which are not from God. They can’t even pin it on the enemy, because they do it to themselves through ignorance of the truth and lack of discernment. An absence of prayer and reading the Bible are major reasons for this ignorance and inability to discern.

Meanwhile, the devil is enjoying deceiving God’s people, thereby rendering them ineffective and even ruining their lives.

I noted that my daughter was not able to get my van going in the first place; it was already at a standstill. The evil advice she took just finished the job. I felt this was saying that in our families and in the Church, we hand our ministries over to the next generation without equipping them to know how to drive them.

What is the solution? 

Those of us who are older and/or leaders in the family of God must train our sons and daughters (both biological and spiritual) in the fundamentals of the faith, the Bible, and in discernment, so that they are not duped into thinking evil is good, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices”  (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must emphasize the importance of daily prayer and time in the Word as well. The generations behind us will not be able to keep the kingdom of God, or their own personal lives as believers, moving forward without these things.

In our churches, we must also realize that we cannot water down or compromise the “living fuel” of the Word from the pulpit. Our gospel must be centered on Jesus, rather than on a me-istic message of personal success.

Do you have any further thoughts to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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dream interpretation

 

 

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams,
Audio Teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

Self-Help Christian Living

self-help solutions“Seven Reasons You Don’t Get Healed.” “Ten Steps to Personal Success (and Why You’re Not There Yet).” “Eight Reasons Your Prayers Are Not Answered.”

Do these titles sound in any way familiar? Christian teachers preach and write on topics such as these a lot. They start by telling us how we’re doing it all wrong and then offer us the alternative solutions they’ve discovered. Some of us become hopelessly overwhelmed — first, by the extent of our revealed failure, and second, by the myriads of steps we must take to fix ourselves. We feel tempted to cry out in despair, “Why should I even try? I’ll be sure to do something wrong to keep me from receiving what I need from God anyway! Why does it have to be so hard???!!!”

The truth is, the message presented by many of these teachers is basically flawed. It is a humanistic, self-help approach, just like the secular world churns out. Based on following methods and formulas (backed up with a smattering of isolated Bible verses, of course), it is all about depending on yourself, not on God. You determine your own destiny by either doing all the stuff right or doing it wrong. Mess up? Too bad. You should have followed the game plan laid out by Christian Expert So-and-So.

The true Bible message, however, is quite the opposite. We are to depend, not on ourselves, but on Jesus. Consider what our Lord said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It’s like a fresh, revitalizing breeze washing over you, isn’t it?

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has been whispering to mankind, “You can have all the knowledge for yourself. You can be like God.” It was an invitation then to rebellious independence, and the message has not changed. It has only been repackaged by well-meaning Christian teachers and sometimes backed up with Bible verses which make it seem right. Meanwhile, the Lord has been calling to us, “You can’t do it yourself. You never could. Come to Me, and depend on Me. I want to help you.”

The deception is in putting a formula first, with a dash of God thrown in. The truth is in making relationship with the Unlimited One our foremost priority and then letting Him lead us. He wants to show His might on our behalf, to override our weakness with His strength as we walk through life’s difficulties with our hand in His.

The Pharisees of old made it difficult for their listeners to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13). Likewise, some Christian teachers today are hindering God’s children from entering into a joyful, victorious life by placing the emphasis on ourselves, rather than on Jesus. Perhaps 2 Corinthians 11:3 is an appropriate verse for us to freshly apply: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”

“The simplicity which is in Christ.” Let’s remember that.

My next post will be an extension of these thoughts. We’ll talk about some current teaching on intercession which I find troubling, and how we can receive answers to our prayers without striving in the flesh.

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inner peace

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Bible studies

 

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 8) — Conclusion

balanced churchWe started this series by looking at what “church” (ekklesia) means — a called-out assembly. We are called out of the darkness of this world into God’s family and kingdom, not as individuals only, but as a united body of believers, meant to live and carry out our purpose together.

I also gave you a core job description: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

Throughout the series, I emphasized that healthy church life means we function as the family of God. When we forget that we are family, some of the other components of who we are — an army, discipleship center, or even a house of prayer — can get out of whack. But if we stay in the context of family, the many purposes God has for His Church work beautifully together. When we overemphasize one aspect of the Church to the exclusion of others, we become like a wheel out of round, or one missing some spokes, but properly balancing who we are and what we are supposed to do causes us to thrive.

There is one more element of the Church that I would like to mention. Really, I’ve saved the best for last:

We are Christ’s bride.

It is definitely a “now, but not yet” part of who we are. We are betrothed to our Bridegroom Jesus, but the wedding celebration will not take place until He returns for us. While we wait for Him, we are in a two-fold preparation time. We are already spotless in the sense that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, blameless and pure through His atonement for us at the cross. But Jesus is also bringing us through a wedding preparation process, “that He might sanctify and cleanse [His bride] with the washing of water by His Word, so that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27).

We have our role to play as well. Just as an earthly bride goes through much preparation to look her most beautiful on her wedding day, we are to give great attention to readying ourselves for Jesus. Revelation 19:7 says of the marriage supper in heaven, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

In this present hour, the Lord is doing His part to cleanse His Church, even sometimes through the painful, public exposure of sin. We must do ours as well, in setting aside every encumbrance, every distraction, which would keep us from looking eagerly for our Bridegroom to come for us. We must get our attention off the temporary pursuits and cares of earth, and firmly fix our gaze on Jesus. He is coming. Let us be eagerly anticipating Him.

Summing things up:

The expression of love, mercy, and compassion should always be prominent in the Church. We carry out the practical functions to which we are called as Christ’s body on earth, but forever in the context of these three attributes. This is why the Spirit led the apostle Paul to insert “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) between the the gifts and church order chapters (1 Corinthians 12 and 14).

We must also remember that our Sunday morning services are only a slice of what it means to be the Church. If that is all we ever experience, we are missing out on a great deal. The early Church not only met together in large gatherings; they met “house to house” informally, eating and fellowshipping with one another (Acts 2:46), receiving teaching (Acts 20:20), and praying together (Acts 12:12) too. We can do the same in our day. They also lived out the life of Christ in the world around them, including showing forth the power of God through miracles, signs, and wonders, which are supposed to “follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

I hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has provoked some new ideas for you. I would love hearing any additional thoughts you have!

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Part 7 — Other Church Attributes

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nature of God

 

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam