devil (2)

     Recently I learned of two books which were published over five years ago and which I think could be of interest to members of The #ReimagineFORUM. (The administrator of the forum, Phil Miglioratti, also thinks they could be of interest to members of it.)
     The first one is The Dangerous Kind, by Graeme Sellers, which was published in 2012. At present it has ten reviews on Amazon, and all of them give it five stars. One can read a preview of it there. I have read parts of its first chapter, which is entitled "Living Dangerously in a Perilous Time", wherein the author argues that the followers of Christ should continue His works of destroying the works of the devil. As I John 3:8b states:
AV/KJV: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
NIV: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.
ESV: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
     Here are four excerpts from its first chapter:
Clearly this is a departure from an understanding of Christianity that spends itself on keeping the local church going. In fact, the kingdom ministry of destroying Satan's works may have very little to do with the typical activities of the traditional church. For years most of our Christian activity has been church-centered, and our service to God was weighed by how much we did on behalf of our local fellowship. We've contented ourselves with being somewhat moral, going to church, and helping our church become more successful. This is a far cry from being dangerous. Our understanding of God's activity and call must expand beyond the walls of the local church. Becoming dangerous entails moving from church to kingdom in our thinking and acting.
     In these days having excellent ministry skills is not enough. Attending conferences, reading books, and holding 24-hour prayer meetings are insufficient. All of these can be helpful, but none are adequate for the task at hand. The task is dangerous living, existing from the radical missionary call of Christ, risking everything for the sake of the King who called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light. It is a hazardous enterprise because we do not go forward unopposed.
     As the time of Christ's return draws nearer, the efforts of our adversary are redoubled. And yet, so many behave as if it's business as usual, as if strengthening the institutional church by increasing the ABCs—attendance, buildings, cash—is the highest thing we can give ourselves to. Though the times are perilous, we conduct ourselves as though we live in a time of peace and consider Satan, if he exists at all, a toothless gremlin not meriting serious response. [. . .]
     Our interest is not in the enemy and his ilk, but in the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. He alone commands our fascination. Knowing Christ requires us both to embrace his mission as our own and to understand our identity as warriors in a dark time who have been called to noble and high purposes.
     The second book I learned of is Being a Safe Place for the Dangerous Kind, by Michael Bradley, which was published in 2015. At present it has six reviews on Amazon, and all of them give it five stars. Its publisher says the following about it:
We live in a world full of broken people. And all too often, the Christian church is not a safe place for them to find emotional, relational, and spiritual wholeness. But it should be.
In Being a Safe Place for the Dangerous Kind, author Mike Bradley offers a book to help followers of Jesus live more effective lives of witness and develop healthy disciples and leaders. It is not a book that simply points out everything the body of Christ and its leaders are doing wrong. This is a book about a person’s “being”—who that person is as opposed to what he or she does.
Broken into four parts entitled “Introducing the Safe Place Vision,” “Experientially Rooted in God’s Grace,” “Rooted in God’s Truth,” and “Creating an Atmosphere of Freedom for Authentic Living,” Bradley uses Scripture to show how Jesus was a safe place and modeled for us how to best relate to others so they could be impacted by the love and power of God.
For pastors, leaders, and laypeople alike, this is an essential resource for anyone interested in learning how to help others find restoration in Christ.
   I learned of both books from the website of the Alliance of Renewal Churches, which is here:
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One Thing That Changes EVERYTHING

What if I told you there’s ONE simple step you can take that would change EVERYTHING else in your life? I know, you probably would think I’m either crazy or getting ready to launch an infomercial.

But stay with me for a few minutes…

For many years, I’ve known that just about everything we need to know about God, people, or life can be gleaned from the first few chapters of Genesis. But I’ve recently come across a life-changing principle I had previously overlooked there.

Before I share this incredible principle from Genesis, let me point out an indisputable fact of life: Whatever you focus on will grow.

With this principle as a backdrop, we can see that it’s no accident God placed the Tree of Life in the very MIDDLE of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). This tree foreshadowed Jesus Himself, the life-giving one. To study this further, go to the Gospel of John and look at the numerous “life” references about Jesus: water of life, bread of life, resurrection and the life, etc.

And notice this: No matter how many interests and responsibilities you may have, there can be only one MIDDLE in your life. Everything else must take its place in relationship to that inner core of your being. And while Adam and Eve’s focus was on the tree God had placed on center stage, everything else was wonderful in their paradise.

As many Bible teachers have noted, when the serpent entered the picture in Genesis 3, he immediately called into question God’s love and truthfulness. But I had never noticed something else the serpent did: He succeeded in shifting Eve’s focus!

We see this in Genesis 3:3, when Eve tells the serpent, God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

Do you see how profound this shift is? Eve is now focusing on an entirely different tree in the MIDDLE of her world—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

It seems from Genesis 2:9 that this second tree was very near the Tree of Life, so Eve wasn’t totally wrong in her statement. Yet the consequences of her shifted focus were catastrophic, not just for her and Adam, but ultimately for the entire human race.

Why does it matter which “tree” we focus on? Entire books have been written on this, but here’s the answer in a nutshell: The Tree of Life represents dependence on the Lord as our source, while the other tree represents reliance on our own senses to navigate life and determine right and wrong (e.g., see Proverbs 3:5-8).

So let’s get practical…

What is in the MIDDLE and CENTER of your world right now? I meet many people who are centered on the problems they’re facing in their health, finances, marriages, children, careers, emotions, or some other area of their lives. I’m sure we’ve all had that kind of focus at one time or another. But as we see from Eve’s tragic mistake, the things we put in the MIDDLE of our world will inevitably grow until they consume us.

Instead of allowing problems or people to become our focal point, the Bible repeatedly tells us we need to go back to putting Jesus (the Tree of Life) in the CENTER of our personal world. When that happens, we are promised “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3). And we can “cease striving” (Psalm 46:10 NASB), because He is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

But perhaps you are wondering…

What about the problems…the serpent…and the toxic tree that still inhabit parts of your personal paradise? Great question!

When Jesus is once again in the CENTER of your world, He begins the process of making “ALL things new” (Revelation 21:5). When your focus is no longer on your problems, the devil, or other people, you’ll be amazed by the new level of paradise you can experience.

Yes, everything begins to change when that one thing changes. And even before your outward circumstances have been transformed to any great degree, your new perspective will provide peace and hope you haven’t experienced in a long, long time.


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