A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King

So far in the last two weeks (HERE and HERE) in our journey of revelation we have seen Jesus as our high priest and adopted brother, we see Him not as just a man but as the Messiah. We understand that He was hidden throughout the entirety of the scriptures and Jesus lived His live to fulfill them. We are beginning to see Jesus clearly as He was before the earth was created and equally so during the time He wore a suit of dirt when He walked the earth. We have come to the place where know that He is, was and ever will be.

To fully see Jesus we must go beyond the images of Him with the disciples, or Jesus on the cross and see Him for who He is today.  No longer just a lamb, but a lion, no longer a servant but the King of kings.

The Book of the True King

Let’s look to the least read and most misunderstood book of the bible the book of Revelations, a book of mystery, images, chaos, glory, hope, and fear. A book that seems to say different things each century and one which is most often studied to find the sources of evil in our world. However we must begin to look at the book according to its full and proper title “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”.

We are looking at the Revelation of who He is today and what He accomplished on the cross.

Put aside your eschatology (end times doctrines) and just focus on Jesus for a moment, not on the end and not on any book or movie you’ve seen. We are looking at the Revelation of who He is today and what He accomplished on the cross. For a moment take off your glasses of Futurist, Preterist, Spiritualist, Historicist, Pre-Tribulation, Amillennial, Post-Tribulation, dispensational, progressive, literal, allegorical or anything else of the like and take a good long look at Jesus in these pages.


Revelation 1:12-18 “12Then I turned to see [whose was] the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13And in the midst of the lampstands [One] like a Son of Man, clothed with a robe which reached to His feet and with a girdle of gold about His breast. [Dan 7:13; 10:5.]  14His head and His hair were white like white wool, [as white] as snow, and His eyes [flashed] like a flame of fire. [Dan 7:9.]  15His feet glowed like burnished (bright) bronze as it is refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. [Dan 10:6.]  16In His right hand He held seven stars, and from His mouth there came forth a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full power at midday. [Ex 34:29.]  17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, [Isa 44:6.]  18And the Ever-living One [I am living in the eternity of the eternities]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore; and I possess the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead).  AMPC


Understanding John’s Worldview

Before we go any further we have to understand that this is written in poetic imagery, prophetic language and pictures, just like the book of Zechariah or even some of the Psalms (I’m not saying that John didn’t see Jesus but rather I am talking about how he describes Him). We have to differentiate our logical and literal Western (ancient Greek) method way of thinking with the image based way of thinking (worldview) of ancient middle eastern cultures.

For example take a pencil, a Greek/Western mind is focused on its appearance and would say it is yellow, made of wood, is so many inches long and has a point made of graphite. Where a Hebrew/Eastern mind is more drawn to the purpose of the pencil, thereby seeing a pencil they would say it is something I can draw or describe things with. In the Hebrew worldview words, actions and verbs are interconnected and often are not differentiated, such as the word “sword” being rooted in the word to “cut.”

We also have to differentiate the two methods of storytelling used between the two cultures. Where a Greek/Western mind uses a steady progression of time, with beginning, middle and end, Hebrew writing on the other hand which is seen throughout the scriptures as a poetic flow, where themes and moments are repeated much like a rhyme scheme in a poem.

Where a Greek poem or song would go AABB CCDD, in Hebrew it often follows a pattern of ABCDCBA (aka chiastic structure), a progression we find often in Psalms and longer prophetic writings. The ABCDCBA is not always found in each line but can also be the progression of an entire chapter or prophecy.

An example of this Hebrew progression is found in Revelation chapter 12 we see the same story unfold from two different perspectives. Even though one account is at the beginning of the chapter and the other is at the end, both take place simultaneously on two different levels (natural and heavenly). Another example is Psalms 110:1-7 where we see verses 1 and 7 speak of YHWH establishes the king. Verses 2 and 6 speaks of going out to conquer, verses 3 and 5 speak of contrasting days of power and wrath. Then we encounter verse 4 which anchors the poetry and speaks of YHWH’s unbreakable oath. Verse 4 then becomes the most important verse in the section, unlike Greek or Western thought which generally places that importance either at the beginning or the end.

Another thing to remember is that throughout the Scriptures God is notorious for repeating Himself. In Genesis 41:32 using the hermeneutic principle of first mention we understand why God repeats Himself. It is done to draw our attention to what He is saying and to confirm that the words will come to pass. We see this played out in King James Version and other classical Bible translations when Jesus says Verily, verily or truthfully, truthfully. Jesus didn’t stutter He was declaring and confirming what He was saying not only was not only true but established by God and guaranteed to come to pass.

What Did John See?

Now that we understand all of this we can take a better look at what John is describing in Revelation 1:12-18. I will now include a version of this verse that has the Hebrew imagery included in John’s account so we can better understand what he saw.


12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven (perfect quality) golden (purity, durability, superiority) lampstands (source of light, God’s presence), 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man (Dan 7:13), clothed with a garment (covering, Mt. of transfiguration, priesthood) down to the feet (stability, authority, to be bowed down before) and girded about the chest (righteousness) with a golden band (Is 11:5, symbol of priesthood). 14 His head (kingship, authority) and hair (glory) were white like wool, as white (pure, clean) as snow (rarity, pureness, transcendence), and His eyes (beauty, gateway to his soul, God’s omnipresence) like a flame of fire (refining, purification); 15 His feet (strength) were like fine brass (metal of the altar of sacrifice, Moses’s serpent on a pole Num 21:6-9), as if refined in a furnace (refinement), and His voice as the sound of many waters (powerful); 16 He had in His right hand seven stars (angels), out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (words and authority, Is 49:2), and His countenance was like the sun (light, source of life) shining (glory, Ex 34:29) in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand (power, strength) on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am (I AM that I AM) the First and the Last (Is 44:6, A to Z / Alpha and Omega). 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive (zoe, eternal life) forevermore. Amen (so be it). And I have the keys (authority) of Hades (where the dead go) and of Death (the power of sin over mankind).


In this expanded picture we see several things in common, Jesus is alive and not only that but He now has power, strength and authority as King of the world. Jesus also comes to us as our pure and holy heavenly high priest to bring about redemption for our sins and provides the strength for us to stand before God. Jesus is pictured here as someone who is already endued with power and authority, He is no longer just the humble lamb but the mighty lion of Judah the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus is pictured here as someone who is already endued with power and authority, He is no longer just the humble lamb but the mighty lion of Judah the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Understanding how the people John first showed these visions to would have understood and interpret this passage gives us a clearer view of Jesus as the reigning King. Hidden here are many attributes and revelations about Jesus can typically go unnoticed with a casual glance of these scriptures. Other times while trying to fit square theologies in round truths we miss out on what Jesus is trying to reveal to us.

Seeing Jesus’s True Identity

If we only see Jesus as the lamb we miss out on His full identity and we cripple our own lives without knowing it. We must go beyond the facts of Jesus being king to having a revelation in our spirit, soul and flesh that He is King over all now. Not someday, not every other day, not far in the future. He is King of heaven and earth now, He is seated next to the Father now.

Let’s now look at another passage in the Revelation of Jesus Christ and see how this event unfolded just after the resurrection.


Revelation 5:11-15 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. NKJV


This has only been a small glimpse into the wonder that is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah, our Savior, our High Priest, our Covenant Brother and our King. Understanding all of this helps us to answer the great questions of “Who is Jesus (his person and identity)” and “What shall I do with Him (his purpose and destiny).”

Having this information is only one part of the great battle, we must believe these things and put them to work in this world so that the gospel can be preached and the territory under the direct control of the King (Kingdom) can be expanded. Not with force, coercion, violence but through, love, power, glory, forgiveness, truthfulness, miracles and the uncompromising reliance on God’s words. It is not enough for us to say Jesus “was,” but we must declare that Jesus “is” and “forever will be”,  our lives and hearts then must reflect that truth.

The great revelation which we can encounter is that Jesus is King right now, just as He is our Savior right now and just as He is our High Priest right new we must see Him as King. We must recognize that He is the King He spoke of in Luke 19:11, 27 who went to take a kingdom and the people rejected Him. Jesus is King but the world is still in open rebellion, it still fights back against the light of the gospel and it is our task as ambassadors to bring that light into the world. We are the representatives of the great King who is taking back the territory of hearts and spirits one person at a time so that all peoples, tribes and nations can be redeemed and join Him in covenant for all of eternity.


John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

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A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

01 – The Roots of our Identity in Christ

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Welcome to the first podcast from Conway Christian Resources, Today we take a look at how we are connected to Jesus who is the root to all of the fruit in our lives

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

Right now you need a revelation that Jesus is just as alive today as He was during His ministry in Judea. Often, we tend to separate the two stages of Jesus’s life (divine and Son of Man), we see them as two different books on our shelves. One speaks of who Jesus was for those three and a half years, and the second one about what Jesus could be like one day.

We look at Jesus as the lamb of sacrifice, or the humble servant during the time of His ministry and assume that nothing has changed. But what does Jesus actually look like now in terms of his nature, power, authority and existence? Then we have the second question of how do we engage and relate to Him today?

From Reading To Revelation

First we must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart. Paul says emphatically in Romans 10:9-10 that we are to “believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth” who Jesus is.

We must go beyond simply hearing and understanding and arrive at a place where we become fully aware that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.  We must come to a place where we know and believe, then we find ourselves in a place where Jesus Himself confirms who He is to us in our spirit through the Holy Spirit.

We must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart.


Galatians 1:11-12 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  NKJV

Galatians 1:11-12 11 For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard].  12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  AMPC


Not all of us get to have an experience like Paul did on the road to Damascus, but through the indwelling and communion of the Holy Spirit we can become just as aware of His presence, character and identity right now. Even if we did have an experience like that it does not excuse us from holding on in faith to who Jesus is right now despite what may be happening around us. Paul’s experience did not preclude him from persecution but it did give him faith to continue believing and preaching.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now. Jesus was not just a story some drunk fisherman came up with, but was alive and beyond the confines of death. Paul saw Jesus and that encounter produced an awakening in his heart to follow Him no matter the cost. Many thousands of people saw Jesus during those thirty years He walked around the earth but only a couple of hundred had a revelation of who He was before Pentecost. That is the tipping point in our hearts, it is one thing for me to say that “I acknowledge Jesus existed” and it is an entirely different thing for me to believe that He exists right now!

All of this is based in the victory Jesus reaped from the cross, a victory which defied the wisdom of men and brought about His eternal plan to redeem those created in His image. Jesus through his death and resurrection has become our high priest, our covenant brother and finally our King (more next week). How we view each aspect of Christ will determine not only how we answer the Two Questions I asked last week of “who is Jesus” and “what shall I do with him”.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.Our faith and belief shapes our identity and what we worship and follow will decide whether we rely on our own personal strength or on Jesus’s  power and wisdom which is rooted in His eternal existence. Whichever power we choose to live by in this world will reflect back to the unsaved world around us. Those outside of the church look to us to see if what we claim to believe is true and they gauge that according to how they see us live, act, believe, speak and focus our time on.

A true witness for Christ does not come from regular church attendance, it comes from a life that reflects the reality of His existence, not just in the past but right now. A true witness for Christ is rooted in demonstrating that Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, and Jesus is King.

Our High Priest

The first way we encounter Jesus is through the His duties as our high priest. The high priests of the Old Testament were responsible for taking the offerings and sacrifices of the people and presenting them before God. These gifts were given to honor God and in the hope of continued blessing and a substitution for the penalty of sin on their lives. The highest honor for one of these Levitical high priests before the Babylonian exile was to be able to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. Here on this annual festival the high priesst would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice endued with the nations sins upon the Ark of the Covenant.

Interestingly the top of the ark was referred to as the mercy seat, which represented redemption along with God’s throne. Those priests stood before the LORD to offer sacrifice then immediately left the room, however when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice in teh Heavenly Holy of Holies He was able to sit down and remain (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus was not just another adherent to the order of Levi/Aaron, His is a more ancient order one that traces back to before the covenant of Moses was ever cut. The writer of Hebrews compares Jesus to Melchezedek (king of righteousness) the King of Salem (king of peace). This is seen as a higher order beyond the capabilities and responsibilities of the priesthood of Aaron.  For a more detailed account of Jesus as our high priest we can turn to Hebrews 10:1-18. In this section we see that the sacrifices of old were only temporary, like plastering over holes in drywall but when Jesus came He metaphorically tore down the house and rebuilt it.

The old system under the natural high priests were only a band-aid solution to sin, it provided a stop-gap remedy until the true healing of the heart could come. The Old Testament system would take a person who figuratively lost a limb and stitch up the stump and provide a crutch to continue on, but Jesus came to restore and replace that lost limb. From the beginning God had no desire for a crutch to be the answer for sin, He knew that the day was coming when the great Healer would come.

He would not just come for one generation, one nation, one people, or one city, no Jesus came so all nations and peoples could experience His forgiveness and restoration. A gift which exists not just because Jesus died so many years ago but because He lives right now and continues to be our high priest who restores us and cleanses us from sin and works to make our hearts look like His.

Our Covenant Brother

Through Jesus we have forgiveness, remission and annulment of sins.  The wall of separation had been torn down, the veil of the temple had split and the Holy of Holies now lives in those who receive and believe in Christ.


Hebrews 9:15 [Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and   offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance — since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement.  AMPC


God did not stop with redemption alone, when we accept Christ we go beyond merely just believing in what He did.  No, rather we are adopted through Christ into the New Covenant.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, not of flesh but of spirit.  This is what happens we when we are brought under the new covenant we are re-born spiritual and adopted as a child of God (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26-29).

We are born anew to a greater Father, our true father, we as sons/daughters of God become alive and awaken to a more abundant life (this goes beyond just prosperity). Yet at the same time through the cross we die to sin, to the curse and to the power of the enemy.  Now being dead to these matters we are free from their judgments (Galatians 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 28:15).

In John 17:2 and Romans 10:10 we are assured that whoever believes and confesses in the name, authority and actions of Jesus will be saved.  None of this is by our own works, but by the works already done by Jesus.  We have simply been grafted like a vine (John 15:1-5) into His reward, and now we have access to God through Him. You could say that we have been added into Jesus’s rewards plan and have full access to it because of grace and our faith. Not only that but the Holy Spirit has access to come into us to lead us into our lives partnered with Jesus, so we can follow Him and He insures that our lives reflect His heart and nature.


1 John 2:1-2 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not   sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  NKJV

Galatians 2:20-21 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  NKJV


Jesus then is not just a far off God hiding in eternity but He is a living part of our lives, He is not just Supreme God but our brother and friend. He bridged the gap between us and the Father so we could have relationship with them. That is a key piece of covenant, to bring two people, families, tribes or nations together in a way which would be impossible otherwise.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need. In return we turn away from our old sinful ways and demonstrate to others the great things that have happened in our lives since the day God entered it. In covenant what is God’s is now available for us and through grace Jesus takes the brokenness, vanity, and emptiness we bring to the table and exchanges it for healing, purpose and love.

But this is only half of the story next week we will take the next step in this journey of revelation and a look at Jesus as our King!

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Why The Church Fails To Conquer The Gates Of Hell

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Go even deeper with the podcast of this message

What kind of impact is the church supposed to have in the world? Is it a continuing impact or one that ebbs and flows? Does yesterday’s victories guarantee that the territory taken by a church will remain indefinitely? These are questions that are rarely asked by people in the church and the state of most congregations attest to this ignorance. Far too often we assume that all of yesterday’s work, prayers and victories will be enough to sustain us continually. That we essentially rest on our laurels following a brief and intense season of spreading the gospel, making disciples and expanding the territory of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

We have seen over and over again stories of revivals of times past, or outpourings which rejuvenated regions become just that, stories. Did the Welsh revival guarantee that Wales would always have a strong and vibrant church in it? Did the Azuza Street revival cancel out all of the problems, idolatry, brokenness, and wickedness that came to California afterwards? Did the Great Awakenings do enough to make it so that there was no more need of the gospel to be preached because everyone was assumed to be a believer? I am seriously asking these questions, because this is how many people think and when you question this mindset people don’t know how to respond.

We first must accept the fact that the borders of the Kingdom are not set in stone here on Earth.

We first must accept the fact that the borders of the Kingdom are not set in stone here on Earth. Those borders are able to expand out into the world like light pressing into darkness but it also means they can contract back in as well. As it is with light the issue is not that the darkness overcame the light but the issue is that the light dimmed until it could no longer shine into the darkness. This is the story of the church, this is the story of many churches and this is the story about many denominations and organizations.

Hell’s Gate

What did Jesus say to Peter in Matthew 16:18? Jesus spoke of the strategy the church would use to expand the Kingdom by saying “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against.” This is a very common verse among both Protestants and Catholics (a debate I’m not getting into today) but I want us to focus on the last part of that verse that says “the gates of hades (hell) shall not prevail against it.” This is a revelation given by Jesus that has been continually misinterpreted for generations. The common thought is that here Satan and his forces are on the offensive and that his gates are marching against the mighty city of the church. As long as the church remains behind its walls it will remain safe and vibrant because those gates will never prevail against the church.

In reality what is happening here is the exact opposite of what people assume, it is not the gates of the enemy which are on the offensive it is the church. Jesus is saying that as the church goes out and proclaims the gospel of “Jesus is Lord and the Son of God” Satan will be unable to hold back the tidal wave that has been unleased upon him. You see the gates of hell will not prevail as long as there is constant pressure against them, they will break open and allow its territory to be reclaimed and restored through the gospel. However once that pressure which opened up the gate is gone the gates will be shut, repaired and are reinforced.

It is not the gates of the enemy which are on the offensive it is the church.

We look at verses in the Bible such as Revelation 12:17 and forget that this is a war which we are in against the darkness. This is not a last stand like the Alamo or Helm’s Deep but open warfare that we are engaged in. The gates of hades/hell came into being following Adam’s fall and during those generations Satan walled off fallen mankind from God in order to keep them in slavery and in darkness (John 3:19, 8:12, Ephesians 5:8).

Always Forward

What we have to understand is that there is more than one gate into the territory of the enemy, think of if as an open prairie land with concentric circular walls every 50km or so. When the kingdom is active and expanding it pushes through a gate like a torrent of water and it spreads throughout that entire 50km territory and eventually begins to bump up against the next wall and gate of the enemy. When the church fails to continue pressing into Satan’s territory it resembles flood water that is slowly receding from the reclaimed land. Eventually the water will dry up and the old walls and gate of the enemy will be repaired forcing the church to have to retake the land all over again.

This is the story of the church, it is the story of tidal waves of prayer, power and progress which tears through one of the enemy’s gates. Then the church (or a local congregation) moves into its new territory and within a generation it becomes complacent. Then like water after a flood it slowly recedes back to where it came from. At times the kingdom has been able to push through several layers of the enemy’s entrenchments but those victories are not indefinite. Constant pressure must remain against the walls and gates of the enemy to maintain the reclaimed territory. This pressure comes from prayer, evangelism, holiness, justice, love, acts of power, acts of kindness, an unwavering devotion to the great commission, praise, worship and unity.

Far too often places which used to be fortresses and mighty lighthouses of the faith have crumbled from the retaliations of the world and the absence of a living church. Think about it, there was a time when Turkey, Alexandria (in modern Egypt), and Carthage (in modern Libya) were capitals of the Church, but not any more. Places such as Germany and England were the carriers of the gospel to the New World and the Far East but now relish in having nothing to do with Christ any longer.

The territory taken by the Kingdom through the church is not guaranteed to remain part of the church indefinitely. Each generation must take up the mantle and continue the pressure against the gates of the enemy.

The territory taken by the Kingdom through the church is not guaranteed to remain part of the church indefinitely. Each generation must take up the mantle and continue the pressure against the gates of the enemy. There’s an old saying that goes “freedom is always one generation away from extinction” and the same sentiment can be applied to individual churches, each one is only one generation away from collapse. This is not some pie in the sky idea, research shows that inevitably each congregation will come to a tipping point where it must rejuvenate itself and begin to advance again or if it does not, it begins a slow steady decline into death.

I’ve been a part of several churches that faced this crossroad; two of them no longer exist, two went through massive leadership and congregational upheavals and one is still making its decision. This is the real battle which churches face: how to remain alive, like a seed they are planted and they grow up into a tree but time, wind, rain, snow, ice and even fire come against it. Eventually the tree has to come to a point where it begins to drop seeds so the land around it can be covered in trees. Or the tree can succumb to the pressures of nature and begin to wither, eventually it will collapse into the ground and slowly be converted to earth (dirt). The choice is life or decay, one brings reproduction and the other brings death.

The best the fallen tree can hope for is to become fertilizer for the other trees around it which endured the pressures of the world. That is of course if the entire forest isn’t cut down and carried away to be made into lumber or paper to be used by others. Which leaves nothing but barren dirt and rock to try and begin the process of restoration all over again, a process which could take generations.

Ancient Israel’s Infatuation With The Gates Of Hell

To see these receding waters in action among God’s people we can look back at the history of Israel, especially after the division of the monarchy. This was a time that came after the pinnacle of the kingdom after the reign of David and Solomon. It was a time of decline, lost territory, no faith, and reverence towards God was replaced with appeasement and idolatry. It was an age of compromise where the people wanted both God and the ways of the world.

The people once again wanted to be like the nations around themselves and fell into idolatry. This was an age of child sacrifice, the construction of false altars paid for by the kingdom, pagan festivals and assimilation into the cultures around Israel. This process did not begin under the divided kingdom but under the leadership of Solomon, who in an attempt to please his wives allowed them to continue serving the gods of their homelands (1 Kings 11:1-8). Solomon commissioned the building of altars, he even made sacrifices to idols on them and eventually he drifted away from God (1 Kings 11:9). In the heart of Solomon a prophetic picture of what was happening to the nation as a whole began to emerge.

The people wanted enough of God to retain their identity and covenant blessings but they also wanted all of the other gods as well to get their blessings

The people wanted enough of God to retain their identity and covenant blessings but they also wanted all of the other gods as well to get their blessings. The people only worshiped YHWH when they saw the other gods were not listening, and when YHWH did help them it was only a matter of time before they went back to their idols. The people were infatuated with the ways the Philistines, Assyrians, Edomites, Moabites, Egyptians and Babylonians to the point that they also worshiped their gods. Israel saw gods which appealed to their flesh because they replaced relationship and holiness with service and obligation.

It wasn’t long before the seeds scattered by Solomon corrupted the nation as we see through his descendants who sat on the throne of Judah.

2 Chronicles 28:1-4 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the [a]high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. (NKJV)

2 Kings 21:4-6 “He (Manasseh) also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” (NKJV) (See Deuteronomy 18:10)

Jeremiah 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (NKJV)  (see also Ezekiel 16:20-25, 20:31, 23:37)

For those of you who think that “passing through the fire” is a metaphor here is an account from a first century Greek historian by the name of Plutarch who made this observation about Carthage (a similar culture to the Philistines who are both of Phoenician origin) “… but with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums that the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.”

Then there is this 12th century rabbinic commentary written by Rashi about Jeremiah 7:31 “Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.” That is how far Israel fell into idolatry and the ways of the world despite being God’s chosen people and having a covenant with Him. It is no wonder that God allowed the Babylonians to come in and remove a faithful remnant from the land before it was cut down like a forest which was nothing but dead and decayed trees.

Even in modern times the allure remains, just consider this article (another here ) about Uganda in 2010 a nation supposedly in the midst of revival:  “The Ugandan government told us that human sacrifice is on the increase, and according to the head of the country’s Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly… They capture other people’s children. They bring the heart and the blood directly here to take to the spirits… They bring them in small tins and they place these objects under the tree from which the voices of the spirits are coming, Asked how often clients brought blood and body parts, the witch-doctor said they came on average three times a week – with all that the spirits demand from them.”

This is the same mentality which was alive in Israel once they had fallen away from God. They saw the idols as a means to achieve wealth and power, which is why Baal was widely worshiped because he was the god responsible for rain and the harvest. The parting of the Red Sea and the reign of David did not spare Israel from the responsibly to faithfully serve God, they trusted in previous victories and used that knowledge to excuse their behavior and sins because they assumed that God would never do anything about it (Jeremiah 14:13-14).

The parting of the Red Sea and the reign of David did not spare Israel from the responsibly to faithfully serve God

 

The Church’s Failures Against The Gates Of Hell

Often it seems that the church better resembles the Samaritans after they were relocated into the Kingdom of Israel by Assyria. Those who brought their old gods with them and only recognized YHWH because of the troubles they encountered in the land.

2 Kings 17: 32:34 “32 So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places.33 They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away. 34 To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the Lord had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel” (NKJV)

They sought appeasement and not relationship, the Samaritans wanted to live as they did before but wanted the benefits of YWHW so that they would not be tormented by the lions in the land. It seems that the modern Western church has fallen victim to the same mindset, except instead of serving Baal or Chemosh it serves the gods of money, programs, humanism, self-idolatry, lethargy and appeasement. The gospel becomes a hindrance to the branding of the church and the name of Jesus has become too offensive scaring away many potential customers… I mean members .

The Gospel becomes a hindrance to the branding of the church and the name of Jesus has become too offensive scaring away many potential customers… I mean members.

It doesn’t help that as a body we are constantly gorging ourselves on our brothers and sisters in Christ, the church better resembles a roving band of cannibals than the loving sheep Jesus called us to be. We are divided on every issue from theology to music to the color of the carpet, each church is an island to itself because everyone inside of it as also a lone island unwilling to work with the others. And when we are united the problem faced by many today is that they are too busy to serve God because they are under bondage to the gods of debt and obligation.

The Holy Spirit has gone from being the witness of the power and nearness of God to having to be the master bridge builder just to get enough people together to pray that the gospel would be preached. The church is unable to maintain its constant pressure against the gates of hell because each droplet of water is arguing (Luke 11:17) with the other about which direction to push in, how hard to push and how much better the old days were when we lived in a cloud.

What should be a tidal wave dissipates into a mist which does nothing more than crash and condense along the walls of the enemy and evaporates as soon as the sun rises.

What should be a tidal wave dissipates into a mist which does nothing more than crash and condense along the walls of the enemy and evaporates as soon as the sun rises. Why is it that we look at this mist and call it a tidal wave? Why do we ooh and aah at what is ineffective and call it glorious? We create the Church of the Mist to commemorate the day the mist finally reached the wall. Then a couple of years later the Church of the Mist divides and the Church of the Fog is born and we have two congregations worshiping something that never did anything to expand the kingdom all the while convincing themselves that they are changing the world, even though they can’t see that world because of the wall and gate they are unable to overcome.

Eventually entire theological books are written to justify the mist, they study the mist to discern if it is the mist spoken of in Genesis 2:6 or if it is a cloud which came down from the sky all the while ignoring what God actually wants us to do. They praise God that occasionally on a good day some of the mist can make it through the gates and God willing perhaps a puddle could form on the other side. “Oh Lord we pray that we could be as that puddle then in the last days a remnant could bypass this gate and enter the other side.” This sounds absolutely ridiculous when you compare it to how the church is supposed to operate in this world.

Look At Me I’m The Kingdom Now!

The church and the Kingdom of God are interconnected but they are not always the same thing. We need to see the Kingdom as the overall territory where the gospel has taken hold, where people are delivered, healed, restored and discipled. While the church acts as fortresses, watchtowers and schools within that territory which is controlled by the great King. Scriptures such as Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 4:20 and Luke 17:20-21 don’t speak of the Kingdom as being a natural entity but something which is demonstrated through us and exists within us. It is described within us as being joy, righteousness, peace, power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Kingdom exists in Heaven and in the spiritual realm but God is looking for people and congregations who are willing to bring that Kingdom into the Earth in a tangible way. The problem is that people no longer see their place in the Kingdom beyond sitting in a chair on Sundays and paying their tithes. We have lost the personal urgency to be a witness of the Kingdom wherever we are and in the midst of the place God called us.

We have lost the personal urgency to be a witness of the Kingdom wherever we are and in the midst of the place God called us.

I’m reminded of something Leonard Ravenhill once said “Sunday morning shows how popular the church is; Sunday night shows how popular the preacher is; prayer meeting shows how popular God is.” What is it that drives people into a church is it programs, music, day care, coffee, conversation, activities or is it the living presence of God. I’m not saying that all of those other things are bad but they must collectively come second after God. Otherwise we run the risk of all of those secondary things taking priority over the gospel, discipleship, the moving of the Holy Spirit and God’s presence.

We need unity, prayer and action to maintain this pressure upon the gates of the enemy so that they will crumble and all of those trapped within those walls can be freed from sin and eternal death. When we take our hearts out of the world we are finally able to see things according to God’s vantage point. Then when enough people have this heavenly perspective unity is born and the faint mist begins to transform back into the might tidal wave of God’s power which is able to topple over the gates of hell allowing the church and the gospel to press into new territory to see people healed, saved and delivered. Just don’t forget to always keep up the pressure against the enemy’s defenses so we don’t lose what God has given to us.

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Living Under Judgment and Loving It

living under judgment
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At one point or another you’ve probably heard a Christian talk about God’s judgment falling on some person, place, organization, or even on yourself. Biblically it is the great equalizer that reminds us that one day we are all to stand before God for our celestial hearing (Revelation 20:11-15) before we either enter Heaven or eternal punishment. But this idea has been abused and misunderstood to the point that people inside and outside of the church have become numb to the concept of God’s judgment, or they even believe that it vanished after the cross.

What gets lost in our understanding of Scripture is that God is not just storing up all of His judgments for the last day like some vindictive squirrel, but He is watching and judging the world, the church and ourselves constantly. A fact that many people no longer accept thanks to overzealous doom and gloomers. In Micaiah’s encounter in 1 Kings 22 he shows us God’s judgments in action. Here the prophet witnesses God passing judgment on the kings of Israel and Judah by relaying a scene from the heavenly courtroom of the eternal King who made judgment against them, and sent out someone to enact it.

God is not just storing up all of His judgments for the last day like some vindictive squirrel.

Far too often we become fatalistic with the concept of judgment when it comes to God but at the same time our everyday lives paint a different story. From what I can tell by the primetime TV schedule it seems that a lot of people have a love of reality TV shows featuring performers and Judges. I’m not exempt as even my wife and I watch America’s Got Talent. There the judges are an intricate part of the show as they act as coaches and gatekeepers of the talent.

Without them anyone could make it onto the show and the ones who are actually talented and could win may be blocked out by the sheer number of people. Without these judges it would better resemble the Gong Show than a talent competition. The judges are there in that show to (for the most part) separate those who are talented from those who just think they are. That is the first judgment, the second judgment comes when trying to encourage those who have talent to improve themselves so they can survive in such a competitive arena.

At times in these shows they will mock and ridicule the contestants but in the finale you always see the ones who took their criticisms seriously and consistently bettered themselves and their craft throughout the process. It was less of a process of condemnation and expulsion and more of a refining process which was brought about through the challenges set before them.

Perhaps this is how we should be looking at God’s judgment in our own lives. Going forward I want to you only look at yourself and your own situation. Don’t think about how so and so needs to read this, or I wish _______ would get a hold of this. No, first of all you must apply this to yourself rather than running out as some sort of Divine Justice Warrior imposing your pet peeves upon others and calling it holiness.

Spared From The Great Judgment But Awaiting Debriefing

Facing judgment while we are part of this world should be seen as process of refinement and not condemnation. How we respond to God’s judgments and critiques of our life today will determine our final judgment. It is like someone staring at their phone while walking, they keep their heads down and keep scrolling but with each step they get closer to the edge of a pier. People may try to yell at the person to “watch where they are going” or God could speak to their heart and say “look up” or even “look up, or else!”

If the person doesn’t look up they’ll eventually fall off of the pier and might even blame God or others for what happened. This is how God’s continual judgments of our lives work, we set upon a course that could lead in destruction, ruin, pain, frustration or vanity and He tries to correct us before we plummet down our own proverbial pier (whether you land on the ground or in the water varies). God has a higher perspective than we do and uses that vantage point to judge, correct, direct and counsel us.

How we respond to God’s judgments and critiques of our life today will determine our final judgment.

At the same time God is not just looking to provide course corrections but He is looking to correct the issues in our heart as well. The personal excuses we come up with for different behaviors or even the ideas of “that’s good enough” does not equal a job “well done” in the eyes of Jesus. God through Jesus uses His judgment which comes from a place of love and mercy to refine us as individuals into the image and shape of Jesus (working this process through a church is usually done in conjunction with the five-fold ministry).

Jesus was not quick to condemn but spoke out in immediate judgment so that they would be spared future judgment and condemnation.

We see this process of judgment and refinement in action with Jesus’s words to the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three. Here Jesus tells these groups of believers the good, the bad and the ugly of how He sees them operate. Jesus was not quick to condemn but spoke out in immediate judgment so that they would be spared future judgment and condemnation. Here Jesus was speaking out of love to preserve these parts of His body, He wasn’t looking for an excuse to amputate them. Jesus was looking to restore them and to purge them of any evil influences and the barnacles of the world and its ways.

When we talk about the Judgment of God it is something so much higher and powerful than anything we could see on a reality TV show. It has to do with our eventual debriefing of our natural life on Earth. I’m not talking here about the judgment which separates those in Covenant with God from those outside of it. I want to talk about the second judgment which falls upon us who have received and follow Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:9-11 “9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” (NKJV)

John 5:22 and 9:39 paints for us a picture of how Jesus came into this world as not just at simple lamb but also as the eternal King and Judge of the universe. We see that God’s judgments flow through Jesus and that Jesus is testing the hearts of the people to see who will actually recognize and follow Him. From that point on those who do recognize and receive Jesus are not excused from any further judgment but rather begin to live a life filled with the encouragement, judgment and refinement of God to make us into what we were originally created to be.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 shows us how our lives which have been redeemed through Christ are no longer dictated by our own desires, but they are to be directed by Jesus. Given all that Jesus has done for us it is a very reasonable request. It would be no different that if a person was rescued from a nomadic lifestyle where they lived outdoors without shelter and was suddenly transported to the most expensive penthouse in Vancouver. They would have to undergo a process of change and adaptation to match their new living environment. The nomad couldn’t set rabbit traps by the bus stop, go to the bathroom in a hole he dug in the boulevard, have a campfire in the living room and so on. The same picture can be applied to a day care worker, they could not get away with acting like a four-year-old for eight hours a day and keep their job. They are working among the children, but they are not acting like a child while they are working.

Heaven is not the absence of consequences, it is the ultimate consequence and what we do here and now lives forever there.

We must understand that Heaven is not the absence of consequences, it is the ultimate consequence and what we do here and now lives forever there. This is what is meant by a heavenly debriefing that we are to give account for what we did in this world, and that includes given an account as to why we did not listen to God when He spoke to us about a great many things. It is one thing to say that you made an honest uninformed mistake it is another thing to say you willingly made a mistake even though you were warned that doing it was a mistake. I fear many people will be facing that judgment more than the former.

Growing Through Sanctification

Eventually God will ask you the question “How did you live your life?” This begs us to ask ourselves right now questions such as: “How have I contributed to the work of the Great Commission?” “Have I been forgiving and loving?” “Am I a living witness of Christ to others?” “What have I done to build and strengthen the kingdom?” “Am I a benefit or a hinderance to the Holy Spirit’s work here on Earth?” “Do I tolerate habitually sin in my life?” “Am I judgmental, prideful or selfish?” “Do I obey God am I too busy to pay attention or follow through on what I heard?

To be able to answer these questions positively we each need to go through the process of sanctification, the process of God reforming us into Jesus’s image. When we become a believer in Jesus the Bible says that we are reborn, we are made into a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17-19), we have been changed from death to life, and so on. Accepting Jesus as who the Bible says He is comes at a cost, a high cost – it costs you your life.

Much like how a caterpillar goes through the process of transformation from something that crawls around into something that can fly, so to have we been transformed by the cross and the resurrection. The process of sanctification can be seen as our battle to break out of the cocoon of grace God places us in after we receive Christ. It is that struggle to once and for all cast off the way our life used to look because once it has been shaken off you are able to fly.

By accepting God’s various judgments about our life, thoughts, actions and intentions we are being helped in our process of sanctification. In reality, by listening to God we are able to avoid greater judgment through our commitment to sanctification. This is why we have to continually ask God to refine ourselves and to point out what needs to change or improve in lives. The best place to look for advice on how to grow in sanctification and avoid judgment is to look at the life of Jesus. He is our example and the root of our identity, everything God tells us to do and think comes from how Jesus acts and thinks.

The Three Main Areas of Judgment

In the process of sanctification we need to continually look at the three areas I believe God is most concerned about judging and refining us in the most: our thought life, our interpersonal life, and our Kingdom life.

1) Our thought life has to do with everything that goes on inside of us, what we think, feel, desire, believe and so on. It the part of our lives which is hidden from others but not from God (Hebrews 4:12) and we are promised (Romans 2:16) that God will judge this inner life within us. This is the part of our being which Jesus said is the source of evil thoughts and actions (Matthew 15:19, Acts 8:22), and it is the battlefield of the “War Within Our Heart.”

Just because no one can see or hear our thoughts does not mean that we are not guilty of displeasing God.

Just because no one can see or hear our thoughts does not mean that we are not guilty of displeasing God. Jesus said that lust was equal with adultery and that hatred was equal with murder (Matthew 5:22, 28). This internal part of our life is where fear, pride, selfishness and unforgiveness dwell. However, when we allow God to judge us and lead us through the process of sanctification and Christlikeness those wicked traits are replaced by faith, hope, love, forgiveness and the rest of the “fruits of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26).

2) Our interpersonal life has to do with how we live and interact with our family, friends, coworkers, church members, strangers and so on. In these cases we are judged in how we treat others, how our thought life becomes a reality, what we value in people and whether or not we walk in love (I don’t mean as a push over but actually caring for people). Matthew 5:22 and James 5:9 speak warnings about how we are to conduct ourselves with others, in that we are to avoid hatred, judgmentalism and baseless complaining (Matthew 12:33-37). God will judge our actions according to our heart’s intentions (Romans 14:12-13). Even if we do a “good deed” for a person it will be disqualified if our intentions were not pure, such as helping someone today to take advantage of them tomorrow.

The lack of sanctification and welcoming of God’s judgment in our lives is what produces most of the strife and interpersonal issues in the church. Why would a person want to go to a church if they just see the people acting as cold, political, argumentative as the secular world? The issue is the many Christians are unwilling to allow the renewing of the Holy Spirit to happen in their hearts because they either believe the they don’t need to, they already know everything, or they use grace as an excuse to act however they please. Grace is not a crutch to excuse our old nature, it is a new leg for us to stand on (Revelation 21:7-8).

Grace is not a crutch to excuse our old nature, it is a new leg for us to stand on

3) Our Kingdom life has to do with whether or not we did our part to contribute to the Great Commission. I’m not talking about everyone joining the ministry, but each individual has a responsibility to share the gospel, disciple other believers and to move in the spiritual gifts God has given to them. This is the parables of the Talents and Minas in action whereby God asks us what we have done with the gifts, talents, and opportunities He has given us to proclaim Christ and bring glory to Himself. Paul called us ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) not spectators, we are representatives of the King in a foreign land and it is our duty to share the culture and power of Heaven in this world. Our Kingdom life also must deal with matters such as worship, reading and studying the scriptures, prayer, intercession and other matters. God created us for relationship, and Jesus became a sacrifice to restore that relationship. Our Kingdom life is not just proclaiming the Gospel but it is also our living relationship with God. Everyday God is looking for us to spend time with Him as a loving Father and His judgments are not out of anger or malice but to help us in bringing others into the same relationship that we have.

Kingdom life is not just proclaiming the Gospel but it is also our living relationship with God.

All of this is a progression from what our heart thinks, to what our body does, then all the way up to how we will use those two facets of our being to proclaim the gospel, so others can be freed from eternal judgment.

Stanley’s Cup

What would happen if we took on a worldview that said everything is awesome and perfect all of the time and you never need to improve? What would your life look like? What would the church look like? This is a life without sanctification or the concern of judgment, it is what happens when we erase these parts of God’s nature and expectations of us.

Let me put it this way, this way of life is like a hockey coach who has accepted a philosophy that no one needs to improve because everyone is already the best version of themselves that they can be. As long as they can express themselves and their desire to play that is all that matters. The coach then goes about placing the intentions of the players above their physical performance, it’s the “as long as you tried” approach which allows people to avoid having to work and improve.

Now imagine if there was this mentality where you had a bunch of people who had never played hockey before and were allowed to think that they were the greatest and there was no reason to improve because they expressed the very best they thought they could do. Then somehow you place that team up against one from the NHL. What would happen? They would be crushed and defeated to the point where they would never want to play again.

Hope In Judgment

This is a ridiculous example but it paints a picture of what it is like when we reject sanctification and God’s judgment on our lives. We never progress spiritually, and we end up like the congregation which the book of Hebrews was written to, one that was dependant on milk and unable to eat the spiritual meat of the Bible. We need to seriously take 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 to heart: 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (NKJV)

For us as believers judgment does not have to be about condemnation or punishment but it can be about refinement and becoming more like Jesus so we can be a better witness in this world. However, when we ignore God there are consequences for rejecting His warnings of judgment and His calls for sanctification. We can see the consequences clearly throughout the New Testament in place such as 1 John 3:36, Acts 5:1-16, Acts 13:8-11, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 1 Timothy 1:20 and so on.

We need to lay hold of what Paul has said:

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 “9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

God does not bring to His children warning, correction or judgment for the sole purpose of hurting or condemning us, He does it so we avoid condemnation, the consequences of sin, the judgment of Himself and others. God does not want to bury us in depression but instead wants to set us free, but this only happens when we are willing to confront the issues God brings into the light. Repentance leads to sanctification and sanctification helps us avoid any negative judgment by God, and it strengthens our witness to this world.

Now what will you do? What has God been speaking to you that needs refinement? What do you need to change or improve? What will you do?

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Creative Commons LicenseLiving Under Judgment and Loving It. Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.