Wrestling With Humility!

Jesus humility

For the last couple of days I have been wrestling with the massive issue of humility.  I was spending some time with the Lord the other day when I came across a passage on humility that rocked my world and I really haven’t been quite the same since.

Paul make some pretty huge statements in Philippians 2:3-9 (amplified).  It’s in this passage that we are taught what the true spirit of humility is.

Paul tells us that we should view ourselves as lower than others.  He tells us to hold others as superior and to view ourselves as inferior.  He says that is the true spirit of humility.  When I read that I had all kinds of objections which I will explain later.

Paul also instructs us to not be merely concerned with our own interests but also the interests of every other person.  Then Paul supports his instructions by pointing us to our model Jesus in perhaps the most dynamic passage on humility I have ever read.

Paul tells us that Jesus didn’t regard equality with God as something He wouldn’t give up.  Instead, He gave up His privilege and dignity to become like us.  In an amazing display of humility and love Jesus lowered Himself and became human.  He was willing to become equal with us.  

For me and maybe some of you that’s where I used to stop.  I found that my ultimate victory was in my heart that said, “I’m not better than others I’m equal”.  But there is a pretty big problem with that.  It’s not where Jesus settled.  Paul tells us in verse 8 that after He was born He humbled and abased Himself still further and carried that humility to extreme death.  WOW!

The ultimate victory of humility doesn’t come when we consider ourselves equal with others.  The ultimate victory comes when we are willings to actively place ourselves beneath others.  Isn’t that what a servant does and aren’t we called to serve?  

Like I said, I had some objections to this dynamic teaching and here they are:

1.  If I’m always considering others superior to me then I’ll never get anything I want.  To answer this God led me to verse 9 and showed me that because Jesus stooped so low God exalted Him higher than any other name.  God reminded me that He is the giver of good things in our lives and He wants to give to us.  We are not to rely on the world to give us the things we want.  If we seek the kingdom first God will take care of us.  I just have to believe God’s promises.

2.  If I follow this teaching my interests will never matter.  God answered this for me by reminding me that Paul doesn’t say we shouldn’t have our own interests.  He just says don’t let our own interests be the only ones we consider.  

3.  If I follow this teaching it will lead me to compromise my beliefs because I’m around people who don’t love Jesus and have poor interests.  This could certainly be true and that’s why we have to be careful.  There is nothing in the Bible that condones sin so if we are letting this teaching take us into sin we are missing it.  I’m free to consider others as superior and consider their interests but that doesn’t mean we have to blindly serve them with no discernment.  I’m not going to give a homeless man my last $100 if my family doesn’t have food (unless God told me too in which case I would trust Him to provide).  But that doesn’t mean I can’t serve that homeless man in some other way.  

4.  If I follow this teaching it’s going to do damage to my sense of worth, value and love.  How can I consider others as better and yet not have it affect my self image?  This was the biggest one for me and the answer came when I was sitting in a room full of people yesterday.  The Lord spoke to me and said consider them as more important than you.  So I did.  Then the Lord asked me if I felt less loved, valued and worthy.  The answer was no.  If fact I felt the opposite.  I felt more love flowing through me in that moment.  

Our love, value, identity and worth is to be in God and only God.  It is not designed to ride the roller coaster of mans acceptance and rejection.  My value has nothing to do with how I view myself in relation to others.  My value is to be detached from those influences.  Therefore I can hold myself as the least important thing on this earth but it doesn’t change how much I am loved, valued and cherished by God!  We are not to play our value, worth and love on the worlds scale.  

If fact, the only way I can be free to follow Jesus’ example of humility is to have my identity in Him and only Him.  

What do you think of this?  

What do you agree with and what do you struggle with?

Do you have any other objections?

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Jesse and Kara Birkey

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jbirkey@reflectministry.com

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Feed Me, I’m Hungry!

Hungry

I was standing outside of the fire station yesterday when I was approached by a homeless man.  He made some very brief small talk and then asked me if I would buy him a hotdog from the 7-11 across the street.  

I was struck by the fact that the man was not asking for money but instead he was asking for food.  I was very impressed by this and responding to the urge of the Holy Spirit, I led him across the street.

As he picked out his food the Lord began to lay His love for the man on my heart.  I was filled with compassion and began to wonder if just buying food for the man was going to be the entire experience or if God had something else in mind.

I paid for his food and invited him to sit at a table we had set up outside of our station.  I sat with him and I heard the soft voice of the Holy Spirit urge me to ask the man if I could pray for him.  

I asked him if I could pray for him and he responded with a big smile and said, “absolutely, I love Jesus!”  I began to pray for him and the Lord began to speak to my heart.  

I began to share with him what the Lord was saying to me and everything I shared with him was having a direct impact on his heart.  As the Lord revealed things that only He could know the man was filled with hope and encouragement.  The Lord was speaking directly to the mans heart through me.  

As the pray ended the man was speechless.  He went on his way and I knew that he had definitely been fed.  

I’m reminded that so many times we only see the physical needs of people and it can be a great thing to respond to those needs.  But Jesus always sees the hearts hunger for Him and I seeks to meet that need.  He will provide for our physical needs but I believe He longs to heal hearts.  

Has there been times when you stopped after providing a physical need when maybe God wanted to do a little more?  Do you have a story you want to share?  Share your stories and comments here.

Conquer Those Strongholds!

We wrap up our discussion of strongholds by demolishing them!

Francis Frangipane writes in his book The Three Battlegrounds,

“In speaking of spiritual warfare, the apostle Paul enlists the word “stronghold” (KJV) to define the spiritual fortresses wherein Satan and his legions hide and are protected.  These fortresses exist in the thought-patterns and ideas that govern individuals and churches, as well as communities and nations.  Before victory can be claimed, these strongholds must be pulled down and Satan’s armor removed.  Then the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit can effectively plunder Satan’s house.”

Paul instructs us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).  Paul is aware where the primary battle is waged (our minds) and he’s trying to teach this important doctrine to the church in Corinth.  (Interesting to note that it was to the church Paul was writing to and not unbelievers.  Christians can certainly have demonic strongholds.)

In 2 Corinthians 10:4 Paul talks about our weapons of warfare–what they are and what they are not.  Our weapons are mighty and powerful enough to destroy strongholds but they are not physical.  We can’t pick them up or use them in a physical way.  What exactly is it that we have been given to wield during the warfare we are destined to face?

Paul tells us that we have been given a sword (Ephesians 6:17).  But our sword is not physical (2 Corinthians 10:4).  Instead our sword is described as the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16).  The word of God can come in a variety of ways (the bible, still soft voice spoken to our hearts, audible voice, dreams, visions etc.) and we know that it’s truth (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 6:18).  The weapon we have been given to demolish strongholds is TRUTH!  We overthrow our current false reality based on the deceitful whispers of Satan with the truth of God’s word.  That’s why Jesus tells us that it’s those who know the truth that will be set free (John 8:32).

If the truth will set us free then lies will hold us in captivity.  Satan’s goal is to hold every single person in captivity.  He captures us by getting us to believe that the lies he creates are the only possible truth.  Jesus tells us that Satan is the father of lies and that there is no truth in him (John 8:44). If we can understand that the issues tormenting us (addiction) have been established and protected by lies, we can finally begin to chase freedom with hope that previously seemed all but lost.

In order to pull down and overthrow a stronghold we must expose it.  We must discover what lies we have based our truth on.

What lies have you based your truth on?

What strongholds have you overthrown?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

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A Biblical and Christian Response to Fifty Shades of Grey

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There are many things in Christian culture that seem and many times are “grey areas”.  What I mean by this are things that the Bible does not specifically address and so is left to our discernment to decide.  For example, drinking.  I would never tell a group collectively that drinking is ok, nor would I tell them it is wrong.  There are a few passages (such as Ephesians 5:18) that condemn getting drunk, but none that say drinking is wrong period.

My husband, for example, has no issues with having an occasional drink. In my case, God has convicted me that even having a single drink is wrong.  This is because of things like family history, past situations and the simple fact that I do not like the taste of alcohol, so if I were to drink it would be to receive a “feeling”.

So, what about a book like Fifty Shades of Grey?  First, let me preface this by saying I have spent a good deal of time praying and seeking God on this subject.  I, in no way, want to stand in judgment of anyone.  God (and many others) know I have no right to judge.  But, this is a subject that God has been stirring in my heart for a while.  Is reading a book like Fifty Shades of Grey a “grey” area, open to personal discernment? OR is this a black and white area?  I did quite a bit of research about this book, so lets first look at the facts:

Wikipedia defines Fifty Shades of Grey as an “erotic novel… notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism (BDSM).”  Numerous media articles have “dubbed” Fifty Shades of Grey “mommy porn”.  I could go on about the facts and the plot of the book, but I feel this is enough.

Ladies, would we be (or are we) ok with our husbands looking at pornography or going to strip clubs?  I would guess that many would answer no.  Is this any different?  I have heard numerous arguments that it is waking up the sex lives of many marriages.  Is involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism the type of intimacy we want with our husbands?  Is this a show of mutual love and respect?  Lets look at some of what the Bible has to say about lust/sexual immorality:

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

A couple others are 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 & 1 Peter 2:11 (there, of course, are MANY more).  Look at the following passage about the “marriage bed”…

Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Is brining this into our “marriage bed” defiling?  Does it seem exciting and new at first?  I bet it does, but then what?  What happens when this isn’t enough, where do we go next?  Sin is ALWAYS progressive.  It may seem innocent in the beginning, before we know it, we could be welcoming others in.  Maybe we become discontent with the spouses that God has joined us with because they do not meet the expectations that the book has set up for us.

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).  What are we sowing to when allow books like Fifty Shades of Grey into our hearts?  What will we reap?

Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I can assure you the end result of this road is not a good one.

We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter.  In verse 5, it says that love is not self-seeking; in verse 7 it says that love always protects.  Does this line up with the type of “love” that is represented in Fifty Shades of Grey?

My heart hurts for those who believe the lie that it is innocent, that it is beneficial to my marriage, that it is good because it exposes sexual abuse.  Operation Light Force has a number of resources that can help those hurting in these areas.  My husband and I have written a book called Marriage: What’s the Point in which we share our personal tragedy and triumph in our marriage.  I encourage you to pray and discern for yourself.  Truly seek God on if this is a “grey” area or not.

I pray that God would bless you as you walk out TRUE love in your life.

If you have read this book how do you feel like it has affected you?

Is this book running through your Christian circles?

~Kara Birkey

Jesse and Kara Birkey
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It’s Time We Understood Strongholds

A STRONGHOLD IS NOT A DEMON!!  Webster defines a “stronghold” as a “fortified place”.  Throughout the evangelical church, the word stronghold has carried with it a dark connotation.  Many of us have only heard the word stronghold in connection with the kingdom of Satan.  But did you know that we can actually have Holy strongholds as well. Psalm 18:2 describes a stronghold in connection with the kingdom of God.

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Psalm 18:2

The character of a stronghold is defined by the nature of what it’s protecting.  If the stronghold is protecting something from the kingdom of Satan, then the stronghold is demonic.  If the stronghold is protecting something from the kingdom of God, then the stronghold is Holy.

I have experienced the term stronghold as one that has been loosely tossed around the church.  I have typically heard it sound like “stronghold of fear” or “stronghold of bitterness” or “stronghold of blue jeans” (yes I actually heard that one come from the pulpit).  Though I have heard a lot of talk that includes the word stronghold, I have very rarely heard anyone take the time to explain what, exactly, a stronghold is.

Many think and teach that strongholds need to be bound and cast out of our lives.  In 2 Corinthians chapter ten Paul gives us a different perspective.  He teaches us that strongholds aren’t like demons to be bound and cast out.  Instead, Paul tells us that strongholds need to be pulled down, demolished or overthrown.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

(In the amplified, the words “pulled down” are translated “overthrown and demolished”.  The amplified bible also further explains “imaginations” as “arguments, reasoning’s and theories” and “high thing” as “proud and lofty”.)

Paul shows us that strongholds consist of imaginations and every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  In other words, a stronghold is anything that sets itself up against the truth.  A stronghold is a lie.  Paul is explaining to us that strongholds are systems of lies.  The lies become the only reality we know. Therefore they are extremely well fortified places that encompass our minds while our enemy (Satan) enslaves our hearts.

Just recently the Lord showed me that I had a dark stronghold deep in my heart.  It was shaped by the lie that told me that I needed entertainment to live and be happy.  It caused me to compromise on books I read and shows/movies I watched.  Because of the stronghold my need for entertainment was greater than my need to stay Holy.

In the next blog we will discuss how to pull down or overthrow strongholds.

Has this been helpful for you in understanding strongholds?  How is the Lord speaking to your heart through this?  What have you believed all of your life that goes against the knowledge of God?  What questions do you have?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

http://www.reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

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What’s the Desire of YOUR Heart?

 

Psalm 37:4 speaks of God giving us the desires of our heart.  That sounds great, right?  But is it always a good thing?  I sure thought so until coming upon a verse while doing a Beth Moore Bible study.

And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106:15)

Wow!  This verse was more than a little troubling to me.  It reminds me of a story in Numbers 11. The Israelites are complaining to Moses about the way that God was currently providing for them.  God finally gave them “the desires of their heart”, so much to the point that vomit came from their nostrils!  (see Numbers 11:18-21)

Do you feel discontent with your job, the car you drive, the house you live in, your finances, etc.?  Do you feel like you will finally be content and/or happy when you finally have XYZ (fill in the blank).  I believe there are times when God simply does not allow us to have the things we want because He knows what’s best for us (especially when in purity of heart we say “not my will, but yours Lord”).  I also believe there are times that we continually ask for things that are not God’s will for us and He allows us to have them.  This may look like a house we cannot afford, an ungodly relationship, a job that isn’t right for us, and so on.

This has happened more than once in my life.  Twice we purchased vehicles that exceeded what we could comfortably afford.  We did not seek God in our decision; we simply wanted what we wanted and went ahead with OUR desire.  Both times, we ended up selling the vehicle and buying a more humbling means of transportation.  I could write all day long about the many decisions that I have made out of discontentment and the consequences that followed.

I believe God’s desire is that we would first choose contentment with what we currently have.  It is not wrong to ask God for the things we want (and don’t necessarily need), but ultimately the heart behind it should be “not my will, but yours Lord”.

Questions for thought:

What are the current desires of your heart?

Are you content with what you currently have?

Have you brought your desires to God in humility?

 

God Bless,

Kara Birkey

Are You Afraid of Being Brainwashed?

Are you afraid of being brainwashed?  To be perfectly honest, I was.  No it didn’t have anything to do with mind control or anything sci-fi related.  It had everything to do with what books I read and which speakers I listened to.

I noticed a pattern when it came to the Christian speakers and authors I was listening to and reading.  I was only investing my time in those who held all of the same views and opinions that I held.  At the time I thought that was perfectly acceptable.  Why wouldn’t I?  Of course I would want to relate with those I’m in agreement with.

If there were speakers/authors who believed a certain way that I was uncomfortable with I would just write them off.  I wouldn’t read their books or listen to them speak.  But is that the right way to respond?  Should we just disregard everything someone writes about and says because one or a couple parts of their belief system doesn’t line up with ours?  What if God has given them insight that you need to mature but you never get that teaching because the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater?

What is it that keeps us away from those who might challenge us?  For me it was fear.  I was afraid that I would somehow be brainwashed and come away lost in error and deception.

We spent last winter in Kansas with family and my dad blasted me when this conversation came up.  He said, “How insecure are you in what you believe that fear of being brainwashed would keep you from someone who might challenge you?”  Ouch!  Leave it to those closest to you to punch you in the face, so to speak.

I realized a couple of things after that.  Even the fear of being brainwashed is wrong.  Fear is sin period.  To not read or listen to someone because the Holy Spirit is telling you not too is one thing, but to allow fear to keep you from them is just plain wrong.  I also realized that I am secure enough in what I believe that I am not going to be brainwashed.  As long as I am in tune with the Holy Spirit I trust that He will keep me in truth!

I’m so thankful that I have read some of the authors that I previously was unwilling to read.  Some of them have changed my life!  Some of those authors have beliefs that I still question and am uncomfortable with but guess what?  I didn’t come away from those books brainwashed.  I don’t have to compromise my beliefs in order to gain the revelation God has for me through many different people.

Now for my clarifying statement:  To do anything apart from discernment is dangerous.  We must be discerning when it comes to what we allow in our lives.  Fear is wrong but there is nothing wrong with asking God about a book or speaker prior to reading or listening.  If fact, God says, “Know me in everything….” (Prov 3:6).  He will keep us from destruction but we must ask and listen.

What is it that keeps you from people who challenge your beliefs or hold beliefs you don’t agree with?

Jesse and Kara Birkey

http://www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com
twitter.com/JesseBirkey
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