The Dark Night of the Soul: When God Seems Absent (Podcast)

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John of the Cross was a friar who was an important faith leader in the 1500s, following the Protestant Reformation. He was known for his deep insight into the human psyche and his ability to perceive the condition of the soul.
In this amazing work, the Dark Night of the Soul, John got a glimpse into the depths of the human condition. He explored and explained the innerworkings of the spirit when a person feels far from God and enters a time where God becomes silent, allowing us to feel abandoned– though He is there.
St. John, nearly 500 years after his death, remains an important figure in devotional literature, as his experiences and words have encouraged believers all around the world for 5 centuries to find their way through the soul’s dark night.

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Newsflash | "How to Have a Clear Conscience" Series | Weekly in August

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Coming in August, we will offer a Spiritual Formation Focus for the entire month. Our series is called “How to Have a Clear Conscience.”

In it, we’ll offer “How to Have a Clear Conscience” Featuring:
Prepare your heart for this powerful series! Podcasts, Blogs, and Vlogs begin launching at the beginning of August 2017!
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Why You Still Feel Guilty (Podcast)

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One of the saddest realities of human existence is the fact that so many people carry around the unbearable weight of guilt from past mistakes.
The existence of guilt is one of the primary reasons psychologists, counselors, therapists, physicians, pharmacists, and florists stay perpetually busy. People all around the world seek to assuage their guilt through so many things and yet, for the most part, people remain locked in the grip of either ‘guilt’ itself… or the toxins and captors that promised freedom from guilt.
I doubt if this is overstated.
People truly are riddled with guilt from past mistakes and besetting sins from which they just can’t get free.
It’s really, really, really time for that to end. But it isn’t automatic. Freedom from the pain of guilt is available to all, but receiving such freedom (emancipation, really) comes on God’s terms, not ours.
For a person, any person, who wants to truly be free… freedom awaits. But the process of being forgiven cannot be short-circuited, otherwise we remain in its suffocating grip.
In this important podcast episode, we will explore what I believe are the six scriptural principles of freedom from guilt. And failure to comply with these six principles is “Why You Still Feel Guilty.”

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3 Steps to Make Men From Mice (Audio Podcast)

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God doesn’t want us to live in fear—but many do.
This session is to challenge us not to fear, but to overcome it with courage.
Throughout scripture, God says it again, and again, and again—Fear Not; Be Not Afraid, Be Strong and Courageous, and other similar phrases— a few hundred times, in fact. So it’s clear that God doesn’t want us to be afraid.
But how do we overcome debilitating fear? Important tips are presented here in this special episode.
Want even more? Check out my long-talk given at a men’s retreat for Saddleback Church in 2016. Check it out


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Can God Be Trusted?

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Can God Be Trusted?

No, really.
That’s a question we see in the Holy Bible, like in the life of Job, and it’s a question we ask ourselves.

It’s a question we ask, so… Ask it.

“O.K., Can God be trusted?” This question of trusting God relates to the issue of “faith.” Faith is trusting what you know; not just what you see. That’s because what we can see is limited, and we usually don’t know all the facts.
What we know, on the other hand, is everything God has shown us about Himself, His character, and His truth. And that is what is meant by “Walk by faith, not by sight.” In testament to this, the Bible’s “Job” was telling his accusing friends that the bad things that had befallen him had not made him lose his faith. In fact, he said, even if God let him die, Job was going to trust His wisdom. But watch this:

Sometimes Life Doesn’t Add Up

Job acknowledged that some of life wasn’t adding up, and that he felt the security in his relationship with God to question why these things were happening, what was going on, and even to say to God that he didn’t know what he was doing to deserve the hardships he’d been enduring.
At the end of this story, which was life in middle-age for Job, he learned that all hardships aren’t because of errors on our part. He learned that the bad things which happened were not penal(ties), but that some were just righteous suffering.

Don’t Always Equate Suffering with God’s Disfavor. That’s a mistake.

In this case, problems were something God had allowed in order to further purify an already-good man. And all this, because Job truly trusted God (in spite of the harsh treatment that season of life had dealt Job), was meant to to deepen Job’s faith and to prepare him to receive the double-blessings God was soon to provide him.
These blessings were coming and, had Job’s heart not been purified, they have changed him for the worse or made him into another person. (We’ve seen that happen to some people). By going through the lowest of lows at this time in his life, Job was soon going to be spiritually-prepared, ready, to receive enormous blessings in life. But first he had to pass the testing of his faith.

Practically speaking, what is the point?

The practical point of this verse is that God allows us to question (to argue our ways before Him) because He knows we are working with only half of the facts. But the missing facts should be replaced by faith in God’s goodness. And we should trust in God’s Character, even if He allows otherwise horrible things to happen, because He always intends it for good.

So we can question WHY and WHAT He is doing, but we should never question “THAT” He is well within His authority to do whatever it is He does.

In acknowledgement of this, Job later says “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You (God) asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.” God then blessed Job beyond his wildest dreams.
The moral of the story is to trust God, no matter what, and feel free to talk to Him about what is happening and how you feel, just don’t accuse Him of wrongdoing or bad motives, or question His “right” to do what He pleases. Everything He does is meant to work out for our good (New Testament, Romans 8:28-38) and is designed to give us a better hope and future (Old Testament, Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Read this story’s exciting conclusion in Job 42:12ff.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Fear and Danger

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Fear and Danger
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Fear can be rational or irrational.

That said, there’s a ‘sense’ in which it doesn’t always matter whether one’s fear is rational or not. That’s because even if a particular fear happens to be irrational, that doesn’t necessarily make it any less troubling. In fact, irrationality doesn’t “negate” fear in the least– and, in some cases, it can even breed terror.
In the context of this discussion, it is important to remember that fear and danger are not one and the same. Fear is an emotion. Danger, however, is an actual threat to one’s safety.
Though fear and danger should appear together (and often do), interestingly, they can also be inexplicably separated. Note that a child may be in actual danger of physical harm, but have no fear whatsoever. In addition, a grown adult may be in absolutely no danger, yet be deathly afraid.
In the case of my dear mother who passed away a years ago (February 25, 2007), there was a time prior to our losing her that she struggled with a fear of death. She (like me… and you) did not want to die. Sadly, the fact that she was a Christian believer did not assuage her insecurity, nor did it eliminate her fear of the unknown. In fact, my mother was in the condition of many Christians– she “feared” though there was no “danger.”

In Christ, my mom’s eternal fate was absolutely secure– something she now knows full well. Yet that reality and fact never calculated into spiritual peace and inner security. So though my mother’s fear did not affect her destiny, she was still emotionally imprisoned—at least for a short time. The only thing I wish is that she could have lived free from what I wish to call the “dangerless fear.”

God is Sovereign
Similarly, in spite of the fact that God is sovereign, many Christians today live in fear. And though the world sometimes presents genuine threats where fear is not completely unfounded, in light of the Omnipotent Sovereign we serve, disciples should increasingly embrace and then embody the security and confidence which is very much found in Christ. As we do, we will become powerfully emboldened and increasingly learn to live with fearless abandon. This type of courageous Christianity is the only brand of faith that is capable of pushing back the darkness and advancing the light. As such, Christians must decide whether to cave… or to be brave.

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