BROKENNESS: WHERE’S THE HOLY SPIRIT?

So, you’ve become a Christian…walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, spoken in tongues, experienced miraculous healing, received Jesus into your heart – whatever your starting point might be. The point is, you are a Christian, and now you’re wondering why you are not automatically walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Why do I keep sinning? Why doesn’t God do something to stop me?” I know – I have had the same thoughts, the prayers of, “God, please help me!”

I don’t want to give the impression that God doesn’t give us power and strength to resist sin, but for a long time I didn’t really latch onto God’s answer to my cry: “I already did help you. My Son already died and rose again to set you free from bondage to sin. Go read Romans 6 again – it’s all in there. You don’t have to sin. You’re free from slavery to sin!”

I didn’t want to hear God’s answer. I wanted Him to give me brokenness – to force me to obey. I didn’t want to have to choose not to sin, to discipline myself “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)

Let’s go back to Galatians 5. Just because the Holy Spirit is living in me does not mean that I am allowing the Holy Spirit to control me, to guide me, to shape the way I think and act. There is a constant battle between the flesh (the lustful desires and actions laid out in 5:19-20) and the Spirit. God does not force us to obey Him – he leaves it up to us to decide to love Him and serve him and to choose to walk in the Spirit. It is all our choice. God lays out the gift before us, and gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us when we become Christians, but we still have to choose to obey. He won’t force it.

If we keep feeding the flesh, keep choosing to give in to temptation instead of choosing to humble ourselves and accept the Holy Spirit’s help, we won’t live godly lives. If we continuously choose to disobey God, then we have to wonder whether we were ever saved to begin with, since a true Christian is not characterized by the continuous choice to rebel against God (as opposed to desiring to obey, and failing because I am not accepting the help God is holding out to me).

It can be confusing, and lead to despair if we let it. Satan wants to convince us that we can never really follow God, and that he doesn’t really love us because he doesn’t make us obey. We need to be like Paul, who perseveres even though he sounds discouraged and frustrated with his own ability to follow God: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Romans 7:15-25

Paul does not give up the fight, and neither can we! We must be determined to follow God, and focus our hearts and minds on the Spirit rather than the flesh, fighting hard with every weapon we have; prayer, scripture, fellowship, etc. That is why openness is so key: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:7-9

Note how John ties together openness (walking in the light) with fellowship with the verse we have all probably memorized about being forgiven when we confess our sins. It all goes together. Without openness, no brokenness. No brokenness, no confession. No confession, no forgiveness and cleansing.

So, all that is to say, just because I am a Christian does not mean that somehow I will automatically walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and be devoid of sin. Instead, it means that my greatest desire will be to love God and obey him, and that even though I still sin I keep bringing it to light, keep confessing, keep changing into the man he wants me to be. Everyone seems to know Romans 8:28, but 8:29 gives the purpose: “For to those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brothers.”

I hope that helps, somehow.

Blessings,

George

WIT ALIVE!

WIT Alive! is coming, June 5 in Tampa and July 10 in Indianapolis:

WIT ALIVE Singles Conference Overview

A Life-Changing Conference for Singles!

During the past several years, Paul and Jenny have had the joy of speaking to thousands of young people across America. They have watched as many of these same young people find “Mr.” or “Miss Perfect”, but are soon sitting before them in tears, disbelief, and hurt. They are searching for answers to issues they are facing in their marriage that they never expected to encounter. As the Speeds began to counsel these young couples, they thought of how much heartache and damage could have been avoided if only these couples had learned certain truths BEFORE they married and not after. Thus, the idea of “WIT for Singles” was born!

“Whatever It Takes!” Singles Conference promises to be a life-changing, world-altering weekend! We will dig deep into our hearts and souls to expose all the hidden lies and strongholds that have kept us from becoming the person God has created us to be. The goal of this conference is to help you identify the areas of your life that need God’s wisdom and understanding applied to them. Not only will it prepare you for marriage, but it will prepare you for Life! You, by the grace of God, will never be the same!

Conference topics include:

  • Love God, Live Life!
  • Openness and brokenness
  • Exposing lies that shape your thinking
  • So, who is your “real” enemy?
  • How to throw your bags overboard!
  • Hanging on when you should be letting go!
  • Moral purity in an immoral world
  • How do you find Mr. or Mrs. Right when everything is wrong?
  • …and much more!

Attendees must be 17 years of age or older.

Florida Registration

Indianapolis Registration

Paul & Jenny studio one to oneSince 2005, Paul and Jenny Speed have had the joy of speaking to thousands of young people across America. They have helped many of these young people find freedom in their lives and a deeper love for God. The Speeds hearts’ desire is to equip young people by giving them the tools they need to walk in freedom and truth, and to empower them to be world changers! Out of this desire “WIT for Singles” was born!

Testimonies:

“I came here blaming so many people for my anger and bitterness and now realize my need for personal responsibility. I have realized that the very people I have blamed are the ones I need to ask forgiveness from.”

“I was blown away by the honesty! I expected to meet all these “perfect” people who were holier than thou and was surprised to see people being so real and transparent.”

“I came here knowing that there were things in my life that I needed to take care of.  I’m ready to go home and confess.  I hate my sin!”

“Praise Jesus for all the ways I have found freedom and growth through this weekend.”

“I have learned this week that I must be 100% open and broken to have victory. WIT has changed my life forever! You guys rock!”

“Thank you for investing in my sons this past weekend. You guys are awesome!!!
All three were so grateful to have a place to go where Christ is glorified and practical help in solving sin issues was the norm. Thank you so much for being real and relatable.”

“I want to thank you for sacrificing your time and energy to do the singles conference! My life truly has changed from living in bondage of fear and unbelief which was the root of a lot of other sin in my life. I am AMAZED over and over at God’s amazing grace and how ‘my chains are gone and I’m set free. My God my God He ransomed me, and like a flood His mercies reigns, unending love, AMAZING grace! He is Forever mine!!!!’”

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! I attended the Singles Conference this past weekend and was blessed VERY much by it. :) It was definitely life-changing!”

“This weekend was way more than I expected. God showed me so much about how to identify and break the chains of bondage and lies. It was a HUGE encouragement to meet other singles my age who share the same beliefs and values regarding Christ and relationships! Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one, but now I know there are many more of like faith and we are continuing to keep in touch and support each other. Thank you, Paul and Jenny, for teaching us so much and bringing us together!

Characteristics of a broken person

Part II…good stuff!

Broken I run to You

This is part two of two about what brokenness is, and what it is to be a broken person. Here I want to focus on what I believe are the true characteristics of a truly, broken person.

I’ve been blessed to meet a few broken people in the definition of brokenness that I described here. They are beautiful and life-giving to be around! I wish there were more like them, and I know, see, and recognize that there is a growing hunger in the world for what these wonderful people exhibit in their walk with God.

Broken people are humble. They understand that true humility is just agreeing with God. Nothing more. Nothing less. When God says about a broken person that he or she is perfect, pure, holy, and righteous at the center of who this person  is  – no matter what they do/say/think/feel or don’t do/say/think/feel…

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what true brokenness is

Love it!

Broken I run to You

These past few weeks I’ve had quite a few talks with people about what brokenness really is. What does it mean to be broken? And is it a positive thing to be broken?

I am well aware that in regular English something that’s broken isn’t a positive thing. Right now our beloved car is in a body and paint shop, because it’s broken. It needs to be fixed to function properly again. Also, when we talk about people, ‘a broken person’ often means somebody where something devastating has happened to them, and they barely know how to get up in the morning. Maybe their spouse or child died, and they just don’t seem to be able to find many reasons to live, and have in most ways lost hope.

Obviously, I think of something and somebody very different when I think, talk and teach about brokenness and what it means…

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BROKENNESS AND ARGUMENTS

Sometimes I listen to NPR. Not often.

Recently I heard the re-run of an old episode of Radio Lab which talks about what happens in our autonomic nervous system when husbands and wives argue. You can listen to the episode here starting at 10:30 and ending at 14:30. It contains a re-creation of an argument attributed to Robert Sapolksy and his wife, and illustrates how a man will ramp up and then shut down fairly quickly, but his wife continues to be agitated much longer and starts to bring up past offenses. Sapolsky calls it the “half-life of the autonomic nervous system”.

The main reason I find this episode interesting is that I shared it with my wife, and she agreed with what Sapolsky describes. She carried it further, however, and applied it to brokenness and humility in our relationship.

She said that when we argue, and she starts to spiral into the past hurts I have caused in our relationship, if I acknowledge and take responsibility for those hurts it defuses her anger much more quickly – mainly because she sees that I have heard her heart, and I am not defending myself. As it says in Proverbs:

A gentle answer turns away anger,  but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Proverbs 15:1

I have talked to several men recently who have asked questions along the lines of: “What does brokenness look like when my wife accuses me of something and I haven’t really done it?”

My answer is two-fold:

First, I encourage taking a deep look at the accusation; many times it is at least partially true. In that case, take responsibility, ask forgiveness, and make sure there is not something more underlying the accusation. Don’t rear up and throw back an accusation in return – that will not help!

Second, I encourage looking at the big picture. Let’s say that my wife is upset, and tells me that I never do the preventive maintenance needed around the house. (for the record – I don’t keep things up like I should) Let’s pretend that I think I do a good job of maintaining the house – how should I respond? As some men have asked, “Do I grovel and ask her forgiveness for something I haven’t done? Is that what you mean by brokenness?” No, that’s not brokenness – that’s false humility which is just seeking to get my wife off my back. Instead, I need to look beyond the surface accusation and see the deep hurt that my wife feels from years of my failing to maintain a good relationship in our marriage. I can honestly look her in the eye, take her hand, and say something like, “Marla Rei, I know that I’ve hurt you deeply by failing to listen to your heart over the years, and not doing everything possible to build up our marriage. It’s my fault that you have this fear of things falling apart, whether it is the house or the car or whatever. What can I do to ease your fear, and to heal our relationship?”

Maybe it sounds corny, but I assure you it has probably the main thing which has helped my wife to trust me again, and brought healing to our marriage. I guess my main message is, when your wife is hurting you need to find the best way to take responsibility for her hurt, shoulder the burden, give a gentle answer, and keep working your way toward having a marriage which glorifies God.

The grace and peace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

George

THIS IS NOT BROKENNESS

Psalm 36:1-4 (HCSB)
1 An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked person: There is no dread of God before his eyes,
2  for in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to discover and hate his sin.
3 The words of his mouth are malicious and deceptive; he has stopped acting wisely and doing good.
4 Even on his bed he makes malicious plans. He sets himself on a path that is not good and does not reject evil.

This passage is key in my own journey toward Christian brokenness. Not only have I had to discover my sin by admitting it is sin (masturbation, gluttony, misuse of money, deceitfulness), but I also have to learn to hate my sin. Until I have done both of those things, I cannot break free from bondage to my sin, and I cannot set my family free from the effects my sin brings into the home.

I cannot lie – I still have areas where I have not learned to fully hate my sin. I don’t hate gluttony enough. I don’t hate my lifestyle of living in debt enough to pursue being debt-free with gazelle-like intensity (Proverbs 6:5). I am still malicious and deceptive in my speech, even though I try very hard not to be. It takes a long time to change habits that developed over 40 years.

The main point is, I can’t give up! At least, not if I still claim to be a Christian, seeking after God, becoming more like Jesus each day.

It is not easy, but you can do it! I can do it! By the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and the Blood of the Lamb! Openness and Brokenness! For God’s glory!

And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death. – Revelation 12:11

Under His Blood,

George

BROKENNESS & MARRIAGE INTENSIVE

Upcoming Marriage Intensive

March 6 – 9, 2014
Indianapolis, IN

Whatever It Takes’ 3 night “Intensive” is not like your typical Christian marriage conference. It is an intensive weekend dealing with root causes and exposing the issues that are destroying our marriages and lives.

Couples participating in a WIT Intensive may be dealing with a range of issues. Some may not be exactly aware of what their problem is, but they know something is blocking them from oneness. While other couples may be dealing with anger, bitterness, unresolved hurts, pornography, or the revelation of sexual infidelity in marriage. Whatever the situation, we know God has the answer to healing and freedom. Over the last eight years, we at WIT Ministries have seen God take marriages that were “dead and buried,” and literally breathe life back into them!
If you or another couple you know is struggling in marriage, then we encourage you to consider a WIT Intensive weekend.

Whatever your reason to attend, we know God will meet you/them in a personal and powerful way, and give answers for life and your hurting relationships.

What To Expect:

During the weekend, Paul & Jenny will address many issues. To help you process the information personally, you will have the opportunity to participate in round table discussions with other couples through the assistance of a WIT Coach couple. Each coaching couple will have no more than 3 couples for the weekend which allows for sufficient two-on-two time with you and your WIT Coaches.
If needed and time allows, you may also schedule a personal session with the Speeds during the weekend.
Click Here for More Information

Copyright © 2014 WIT Ministries, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

WIT Ministries

10222 Meadow Crossing Drive

Tampa, FL 33647

 

BROKENNESS VS. SELFISHNESS

I am selfish, self-centered, self-sufficient, and lazy. None of these character qualities lends itself to brokenness. It is always amazing to me that my wife continues to stand by me, continues to love me, continues to forgive me!

It is all too easy for me to take my eyes off myself and start thinking, “Why am I always the one who has to be wrong? It seems like I am doing all of the apologizing. I thought this relationship was supposed to be equal participation, both giving 100 percent!” Then come the whisperings of our one true enemy, Satan…”You know she doesn’t really love you. She just wants you to fulfill her every desire – you’ll never be good enough.”

Is it really true? Are we both supposed to give 100 percent? Yes! However, is my behavior predicated on my wife doing her part, and am I relieved of my responsibility if my carnal flesh says she doesn’t? Not if I truly love God and love my wife like Christ loves the Church! (Note that I know my wife loves me and honors me, and that she fully gives 100 percent to our marriage. I am the one giving less, and the log in my own eye is what I see projected onto her)

Ephesians 5:28-33 (HCSB)
28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,
30 since we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

When I really think about it, I have to look at Jesus Christ during the hours before His crucifixion. He was beaten, the flesh ripped off his bones, ridiculed, vilified, and hung on a cross. At any point during He could have looked around and said, “Forget it! If you’re not going to love me and treat me with respect, I’m not going through with it! You can figure out how to appease God’s wrath on your own, you ungrateful wretches!”

Jesus didn’t give up on His bride. Instead:

Romans 5:6-11 (HCSB)
6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die.
8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.
10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, ⌊then how⌋ much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

Praise God! How can I, who profess to be a Christian (a “little Christ”), strive to do any less? I am weak, and sinful, and overly ruled by my flesh, but I also have the unlimited power of God’s Holy Spirit living in me! Halleluiah!

So, brothers, never give up the fight. Don’t sit there, staring into your navel, wishing things were better or different. Get up and fight! Love with all God’s strength! Unite with your wife against your common enemy! God will be glorified if you do!

Peace,

George

NANCY LEIGH DeMOSS ON BROKENNESS

Here is a great section on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ website

“Brokenness is perhaps a word that you’re not very familiar with – but know that brokenness is very near to the heart of God. “True brokenness” says Nancy, “is an ongoing constant way of life. Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will, and the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God” (Brokenness, pg. 53). Pride, so often, is the opposite reflection of brokenness.”

Truth. Lots of it.

George