The Problem with Misunderstanding God

confused man

 

“Too many Christians and even Christian Theologians make the mistake of confusing God with Satan.” – Greg Boyd.

That is a powerful statement and one that caused me to reflect for some time.  What I found was that there were some areas in which I was confusing the two.

I’m sure that many of us would all say we know the difference between the two but the quote is meant to challenge that.  Do you really know the difference?

But how does that happen?  What causes us to confuse the two of them.

I think that a big part of it is that we seek to understand God backwards.  Jesus said that    He and the Father are one and that to see Him is to see the Father.  The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus is the exact representation of God and Paul says that Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God.  Everything that the Bible says about God is lived out tangibly through Christ.

So wouldn’t it make sense to seek to understand God by seeking to understand Jesus? But so many times we do it the other way around.  We allow hard passages of the Old Testament, and also some of the New, to create an image of God the Father for us instead of Jesus.  We also allow the behaviors we have learned growing up and impressions of other people to shape our image of God instead of Jesus.

But we can start with John’s words “God is Love”.  But that’s not quite good enough is it because we need to know what that looks like.  But we have a model.  We have the life and ministry of Jesus to show us what that love looks like.

Healing for example.  In Matthew 8, Jesus is approached by a man with leprosy.  The man tells Jesus that if He is willing He can heal him.  Jesus takes his bare hand and touches the man with leprosy and tells him that He is willing.  Then Jesus heals the man. Is God willing to heal us of our sickness and disease.  Jesus said, “I am willing.”  The greek word for “willing” means to delight in, would love to, prefer to, inclined to, and most often a strong desire, etc.

Now is this statement meant to be comprehensive?  I think it is.  It’s the same word used in 1 Tim 2:4 when Pauls says that its God’s will that all be saved.  There is no record of Jesus turning someone away without healing them.  God is willing to heal us period.  So here’s where it gets tricky.  We pray for healing and it doesn’t happen.  God didn’t heal.  Why not?

Sometime we explain it by saying God wanted to teach us something and that’s why He didn’t heal us.  But that statement isn’t compatible with “I am willing.”  Either He strongly desires to heal us or He strongly desires to let us suffer in order to teach us a lesson.  It can’t be both can it?  I don’t believe the perfect love of 1 Cor. 13 and the perfect love modeled by Jesus allows it to be both.

Would we be willing to let our kids get hit by a car in order to show them it’s not safe to play in the street?  Would we be willing to let our kids shoot heroin in order to teach them that drugs are bad?  I hope not.  But if our kids were dead set on doing those things could we stop them without jeopardizing free will?  (Yes I’m using human relationships to prove a point but so did Jesus in Matthew 7)

So what is it?  Not enough faith?  Maybe.  Personal sin?  Maybe.  Natural Consequences?  Maybe.  The state of this world?  Maybe.  The kingdom of darkness?  Maybe.  But all of those things have nothing to do with the intentions and desires of God’s heart.  They have to do with us, the world and the god of this world.

My intent isn’t to challenge you on healing.  My intent is to challenge your impression of what a loving Father is.  My intent isn’t to try and explain why bad things happen.  My intent is to challenge what kind of God you believe in because it’s critically important.  So many times what we consider love to be isn’t really love at all.  The “Whys?” start not to matter as much when we understand that if we don’t get healed, it’s not because God didn’t earnestly desire to heal us.

When we allow anything other than the life of Jesus to shape our impression of God, we are going to get it wrong.  So let’s right the ship.  Start with Jesus.

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

 

 

Anxiety Gone!

peaceful

I was in the middle of checking my rescue (ambulance) one morning when a car pulled up to the station.  An older woman got out and quickly told us that her neighbor was in the car in need of medical help.

We hurried over to the passenger side of the vehicle to discover a young woman having a severe anxiety or panic attack.  Anyone who has panic attacks will tell you that they can quickly become completely incapacitating.  The young woman was on the verge of losing control completely meaning the only way to calm her down would be to medicate her.

We helped her to the stretcher and loaded her into the rescue.  We did our routine things like starting an IV and hooking up the monitor, all the while trying to calm her down.  Nothing was working as her muscles began to spasm uncontrollably.

We pulled out of the station and made our way towards the hospital.  The patient’s heart rate was 130 beats per min and she was breathing very fast.  She was also unable to lean back on the stretcher because her body was so worked up.

At that point I felt the familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit asking me to pray for the woman.  I looked at the women on the verge of complete collapse and asked her if I could pray for her.  She nodded her head yes.  I asked her if I could put my hand on her should and she told me that I could.

Over the next few minutes I prayed the words God gave me to pray.  I prayed against the spirit of fear and commanded it to leave.  God also gave me some insight into her life and I prayed about those things.  I asked the Holy Spirit to fill the rescue and rule in her heart.

As soon as I was finished I looked up to see the young woman breathing normally and relaxed against the stretcher.  Her heart rate was 80 beats per minute and the muscles were no longer having spasms!

We talked a little bit more and she had a big smile on her face as we entered the hospital.  A while later I walked by her room to see her sleeping comfortably.

 

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Extraordinary Miracles Through Ordinary People!

We are excited to announce that Life Resurrected, Extraordinary Miracles through Ordinary People is now available on Kindle and Nook with the Ibooks and print version coming shortly.  Click on the links and it will take you to our website or you can find them on amazon or barnes and noble.

 

…This book rekindles the passion to be passionate with Him.  I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to facilitate the Love and Power of the bible through their relationship with a loving kind God.” -Trisha Frost

This book is designed for all who long to be used by God in extraordinary ways but aren’t sure how to walk and live the way Jesus did.  I seek to show the reader that one doesn’t need a title, ministry or big name to be used by God, only the willingness to be transformed.

I long to see countless lovers of Jesus set free by His love and walking in the full commission of Jesus to heal the sick, raise the dead and preach the gospel.  Life Resurrected is full of testimonies from me (a Firefighter/Paramedic) and other ordinary people like me who have been used by God to work the works of Jesus.  Testimonies range from raising the dead to prophesying in the back of an ambulance.

Jesus came to set the captives free.  Take the journey and you too can have your Life Resurrected!

Blessings,

Jesse and Kara Birkey

www.reflectministry.com

jbirkey@reflectministry.com

jessebirkey.wordpress.com

twitter.com/JesseBirkey

http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

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
http://www.facebook.com/LifeResurrected

Praising Through Storms

I just read a book in which Bill Johnson says, “Show me a person who is praising God before the answer comes and I will show you the person who is about to receive the answer.”

This can be a difficult concept to wrap our minds around.  This would typically apply when we are facing some sort of trial.  How are we to step outside of our circumstances enough to praise God before we have any idea how things are going to work out?  It’s easy to praise God after we have the answer.

If we can truly start to believe the promise of Romans 8:28, “God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” we might be able to approach trials with a new perspective.

Last week we totaled our Buick.  Everybody was ok and we are very thankful for that.  We were down to one vehicle and we really need two at this point in our lives.  We could have approached this from the position of fear and stress saying, “Oh no, what are we going to do?” or we could approach it saying, “God we look forward to how you are going to work this for our benefit.”

We chose the latter and two days later we were blessed with an incredible vehicle that fit our family’s needs perfectly (coming in way under budget) and we don’t think God is finished blessing us through this incident.  Whenever we choose to approach trials in this way the fear and stress is gone and blessings flow.

But in order to approach issues this way we must truly believe a couple things.  We must have a faith that leans our entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power (ability to do what needs to be done), wisdom (knowledge to do it when it needs to be done and how to do it) and goodness (His loving desire to work on our behalf) (Colossians 1:4 amplified).  If we can grasp this then we can start praising God before the answer comes.  We can trust Him because He loves us!

Now let me clarify that mourning definitely has its place in trials.  If you’re not mourning loss you are denying your humanity.  Praising God before the answer comes doesn’t mean we don’t mourn loss.  We invite God to comfort us in our mourning (Matt 5:4) and look forward to what God is going to do for us moving forward.

Are you able to praise God before you have answers?

Jesse Birkey

http://www.reflectministry.com

Praying for Brain Cancer

I had an opportunity to pray for a woman the other day that had brain cancer.  She was a stranger in the back of my ambulance.  As I talked with her we developed a rapport. 

The Lord began to press on my heart to pray for the woman.  I thought to myself, “She needs to be healed of brain cancer so I will pray for that.”  But the Lord had some other things in mind.

I asked her she wanted me to pray for her and she replied, “Absolutely”.  As I began to pray for her the Lord began to shift my attention away from her physical need and onto her spiritual need.  The Holy Spirit began to show me the pain and sorrow in her heart.  I began to speak the words the Lord gave me to her as a smile lit her face and her eyes filled, spilling over.  I ended with a prayer for healing. 

 I think sometimes we can get so caught up with praying for someone’s physical healing that we forget about the person.  I think that approach can, at times, short-circuit God’s desire.   I was ready to pray for God to fix the physical need and He reminded me once again that He cares about the condition of our hearts so much more.

I don’t know if the woman was physically healed but I do know that God touched her in the depths of her heart.  God met her in a way she won’t soon forget.  We need to care about the hearts of others first and let their physical needs be met in a way that flows from genuine love and compassion.

What are some things that cause us to misunderstand where God’s attention is aimed?

Jesse Birkey

http://www.reflectministry.comImage