Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 19 October 2014
For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
[Last week, we learned how we can speak life and colour – God’s destiny – into people’s lives and it changes them. Without always focusing on the negative, we can do something powerful and positive for others but today we learn what we can do for ourselves (in Jesus’ name) and it is equally powerful and fun.]
One pastor was dreaming about establishing the first two-word counselling ministry. [Complaint:] “I can’t get a job.” [Answer:] “Get one.” [Complaint:] “I don’t love my wife.” [Answer:] “Love her.” [Complaint:] “I don’t like this person.” [Answer:] “Like him.”
He meets a man at a conference who tells him: “I have this anger problem. I fly into rages at the smallest provocation.” “What are you doing about it?” “I go to anger management classes.” [Pastor is thinking:] “How is this working out for you?” Then he begins to battle with a rather British problem. He slips into this Monty Python kind of humour and suddenly his head is full of Monty Python wisdom. All he can think of is: “You go to anger management classes. Do you need an agent? Do you take this thing on the road?” [Actors get managed which means that they get promoted to be booked and star in certain roles and movies. When we manage anger, do we promote this thing to be a star in our life?] Becoming professional again, he asks the man: “How old are you?” “I’m forty-two.” “How long have you been a Christian?” “Twenty-one years.” “Half of your life you had an anger problem and then you got saved and now for twenty-one years, living with God, you had to endure this condition? God has dealt with your anger.” [“God has managed your anger into the grave. You are so dead …”] He did not say it but at this point he could have tried out his dream – the first two-word counselling ministry: “Stop it.” “Anger, go.” “Be happy [peaceful]” [Graham Cooke, modified transcript from Message: Living Our True Nature, August 2008, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkROc-ceLOQ)].
Another man approached him: “I’m mostly so fearful.” “Why?” “I have always been so.” “How long have you been a Christian?” “Fifteen years.” “No, from God’s perspective this fear has not been with you for the last fifteen years.” Therefore, two words – he did not say them but I am sure that they were on the tip of his tongue: “Stop it.” “No fear!” “Peace!” All these long counselling sessions, classes, therapy – God is not into dwelling and managing your fear – God is not into dwelling on the negative – you never deal with a negative by focusing on a negative – God is into raising something new. He has made you new – a new person. Therefore, stop it [Graham Cooke, modified transcript from Message: Living Our True Nature, August 2008, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkROc-ceLOQ)].
How would you feel about a two-word counselling and prayer ministry? It could be fun and promises super-fast results. Who doesn’t like an easy fix? “Stop it!” And we can all move on with our lives and, instead of labouring in this negative atmosphere of anger and fear and greed and envy and you name it, we can live a better life – a more productive life – a more joyful life – do anything. Yet, a dream is a dream and how realistic is this one?
This pastor – Graham Cooke – knew what he wanted but then he also had a real dream (while sleeping at night):
Transcript from Message: Living Our True Nature, August 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkROc-ceLOQ):
[One night, I had this dream of being in heaven for 2 months talking to Jesus every day … The weird thing is when I went to bed that night I was clean shaven when I woke up in the morning I had a full beard … It’s weird stuff (just the kingdom) … God is in charge of time …]
I had one particular dream. Usually I have a series of dreams … – just fellowship dreams (between me and the Lord). They always take place on this hill … in this wooden structure with see-through curtains … carpets … great food and wine (I am a European) ... Usually what happens is that Jesus comes up this hill and he is usually surrounded by hundreds of people (kids jumping up on him, grand-mothers dancing around him). Usually he looks up, sees me and waves … He goes like: “I’ll be there in a minute.” He continues chatting (a dozen conversations at once). Eventually he would come and come in and we would eat and just talk … And he would talk about this is how I see you in this next time frame … These are the things that I want you to have and to do … commit to this particular battle field (all this training and upgrades) … teach you how to be there and succeed in this place … always a present and future conversation … Normally I wake up and have recall and take down notes … brilliant: get to pray in line with what God wants to do …
This occasion: Jesus comes walking up the hill and there is no one with him. And he looks like really grim. I’ve never seen him look like that. He’s marching up the hill. He’s looking at me and he’s really looking grim. I am walking backwards. He walks right up to me – about four feet away from me – and he puts his hand out with his finger and he glares at me and he said: “Graham, give me back my stuff.” “Excuse me?” “Give me back my stuff.” “I don’t know what you mean?” “Graham, don’t mess with me. You took something that belongs to me. Give me back my stuff.” “Lord, everything I have you gave me.” “No, I didn’t. Not this. Not this. Give me back my stuff.” And I think and I’m crying. “Lord, I don’t know what you mean.” “That anger. That fear. That low self-esteem. That resentment. That panic. I died for it. I paid a price for it. Give me back my stuff.”
Suddenly, it’s like the light just dawns and I’m absolutely appalled at myself and I start crying. I am remembering scene after scene when I have been angry, when I have been bitter, when I have been impatient, when I have been rebellious, when I have been anxious, when I have been worried, when I have been fearful, when I have been panicked … and I am remembering scene after scene the damage that I have done in people’s lives by unreasonable anger and all this kind of stuff and it’s all like in my head and I am looking at him (Jesus) and I can’t speak … I am so appalled at myself and he stands there in front of me and he smiles which honestly is like getting saved all over again and he reached out and he took me by the hand and he pulled me to my feet and he put his hands on both of my shoulders and he pulled me close and he kissed me on both cheeks and he put me out to the length of his arms and he looked right into my eyes and he said: “Graham, not one of that belongs to you. When I hung on the cross the joy was set before me is that you would never have to have such things in your life ever again. And here you are practicing those things – being anxious when you could be peaceful, being miserable when you could be joyful, being angry when you could be patient ... Graham, none of these things belong to you. They belong to me and you can’t have them. You can’t have them. It was my privilege to die, my privilege to set you free. You can’t have them because none of those are freedom for you. They are all pain. They are all death. They are all corrosive and all the time that you are moving in those things you will never see the things that I really got for you. Give me back my stuff. It’s mine. It’s not yours and you can’t have it.”
Anyway, I survived the dream and then we talked … He kissed me on my eyes and my eyes dried up and we sat down and we started eating and he just started saying to me: “Graham, these are all the things that I set aside for you and these are all the things that are being held up because you get hold of this stuff that actually does not belong to you. I have wanted to give you peace in that area for so long but you keep choosing anxiety. I wanted to teach you trust in this area but you keep choosing fear. You keep choosing worry. Son, stop it.”
I’m thinking. He’s got a two word counselling ministry: Stop it. / I gave this message in a church in Dallas. There was this woman there with two daughters (about eight and six years old) and as we were driving home from the meeting, the older girl said: “Mummy, when we do prayers this evening at bedtime I need to give Jesus some stuff back.” Mum said: “Okay sweetheart.” So they get home, teeth brushed, hair brushed. They get into bed and Mummy said: “Now, what is it that you wanna give Jesus back?” This girl always had a fear of the dark. So she’s eight years old. All her life she’s slept with the lights on and the door opened. So she wanted to give Jesus her fear of the dark back. So her Mum leads her into prayer and she prayed the prayer that her Mum says who lays hands on her and prays and then for the first time in her life Mum turns the light out and closes the door – like a good Mum she waits in the hallways.
About four minutes later, the younger sibling starts
shouting out: “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!” The two sisters share a room. Mum opens
the door, puts the light on. The younger sister is pointing to her older
sister’s bed and she said: “She took his stuff back. She took his stuff back.
She’s a taker-backerer of stuff.” The older sister is under the bed clothes
crying. Mum peels back the bed clothes and asks: “Sweetie, did you take Jesus’
stuff back?” “Aha.” “Is that the right thing to do?” “Ahm.” “Did you want to
give him his stuff back?” “Aha.” “Let’s do it again.” Mum led her again into
this prayer renouncing all this stuff and giving it back to Jesus. Mum tucks
her in, gives her a kiss, turns the light off, closes the door and she’s never
had a problem from that moment to this.
What about the two-word counselling ministry now? Graham Cooke’s dream in the night seems to back up his day-dream. Just say two words (“stop it” – “stop the negative in your life”) and give Jesus back his stuff. Anyone can do this. It is super-fast and efficient but how real is the dream and is it in the Bible?
First I give you the good news and then more good news. The Bible could not be more radical in affirming the command: “Stop it.” According to the Bible, the old – everything fearful, greedy, lustful, jealous and resentful – has no power to control us. Nothing negative has any power to run your life – you can and must say “stop it” – because the negative stuff belongs to Jesus. You can give it back to him. He has dealt with it. With him and what he has done for us on the cross, it is (literally) dead and buried:
Romans 6:1-14 [PHILLIPS]: … Have you forgotten that all of us who were baptised into Jesus Christ were, by that very action, sharing in his death? We were dead and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’s power so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him! Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken – for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin. And if we were dead men with him we can believe that we shall also be men newly alive with him. We can be sure that the risen Christ never dies again – death’s power to touch him is finished. He died, because of sin, once: he lives for God for ever. In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Do not, then, allow sin to establish any power over your mortal bodies in making you give way to your lusts … For sin shall no longer be your master – you are … living under … grace.
This is a brilliant Bible reading and summarizes the core of the Christian faith – the good news of salvation. The old is dead because Jesus broke its power on the cross – (that is sin in all of its forms which has power to entice and enslave) – and then, with Jesus being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’s power, there is now a new plane of living for all of us because Jesus died specifically for us – (it was a sacrifice of love for us) – and then Jesus specifically rose for us from the dead – gifting us with a new life after the old life has died with him on the cross.
These Bible verses can be a little complicated – much is said in few words – but the key for understanding is power. The story of Jesus is the story of freeing us from the power of sin, death and the devil. Jesus died for us to remove guilt from us – we are forgiven – but this is not all. Jesus died to remove us from the dominion of darkness and place us in his kingdom – under his rule – empowering a new life.
We partake of this power – we enjoy salvation – as we turn to Jesus in trust – believe him – and begin our Christian life with baptism which solidifies and entrenches the power of grace as we share Jesus’ death and his resurrection – “drowning” the old in the water before rising again to new life.
The outcome of sharing in Jesus’ death and resurrection and partaking in the power for salvation is simple and practical: An angry man can give Jesus back his anger. A fearful person can give Jesus back his fear. Whatever it is, you can “stop it”. There is power to do so – not your own but God’s: “Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken – for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin … sin shall no longer be your master – you are … living under … grace.”
James Emery White: Church & Culture Blog, Vol. 10, No. 83 – A Very Special Offering
On a Thursday afternoon, a young woman came by the office to give me something. She was going to put it in the offering plate, but decided to just hand it to me.
I was in a meeting, so she left it at the front desk. On the outside it said, “Jim White,” and underneath, “Be careful…sharp objects inside.” On the back it read, “I thought I was going to put this in an offering plate but I think it would be best to give you directly.”
I opened the envelope, and inside a plastic bag were razor blades. And a letter. I asked her if I could share it, and she said I could:
“I have been coming to your church on and off now since I was in 5th grade. I am now 23…When I was 12 years old I started cutting myself. Now my arms are covered in an overwhelming amount of scars, but I am proud to say there are no open cuts. I have not cut for probably a year now, but I still have razor blades that are hidden around my room…
I quit when I was about to cut one day but heard Jesus in my ear saying, ‘I bled enough.’ He took my pain on the cross and I no longer needed to take it out on myself.
But I realized by holding on to razor blades I am not fully letting go of the pain and addiction to cutting. I want to fully let it go now...
It says in the Bible, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him for He cares for you.’ So I’m doing that today. This is an offering plate and I am offering to Jesus today more than any amount of money I could ever offer Him. These are all my razor blades that I have keep hidden around in different places of my reach just in case. I am handing it over to God and I trust you also with this as well. Thank you for all you and this church have done in my life...”
And then she signed her name. I have those blades in my desk drawer. I will keep them there for as long as I pastor.
This is the good news and there is more good news. What if it doesn’t seem to work? For instance, what if I want to give my resentment or my greed or my jealousy back to Jesus and it does not seem to work? It does work but there are two more points to consider before we have the complete picture:
1) Our old selves have died with Jesus on the cross (where the tyranny of sin over us was broken) but this truth has to be realized and actualized in practical living. It is like God saying to his people in the Old Testament: “I have given you the promised land flowing with milk and honey,” but then the people actually had to go out and conquer and take possession of what they had received. It is all there for the taking but you have to take it and – therefore – the Bible not only talks about our old selves having died already with Jesus in the past but also about putting to death the old in the here and now – (every day) actualizing the death of the old and putting on the new:
Colossians 3:1-17: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 2:6-23: … in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority … Your whole self ruled by the flesh [the sinful human state] was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross …
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Ephesians 4:20-32: That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
[1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”]
This is the logic: Since your old nature has died (with Christ), put to death whatever belongs to the old nature. In other words: “Stop it.” “Put to death sexual immorality, evil desires and greed and whatever else because these feelings and behaviours – belonging to the old nature – are already dead because of Jesus – meaning that they have lost their power to control you.” “Stop it.” “Kill it.” You can do this. It will work.
The second point that completes the picture is this: Sometimes we do not know what to give back to Jesus.
John and Paula Sandford: The Transformation of the Inner Man, Tulsa: Victory House 1982, p32-33: I (John) also had a gentle and kindly father who was also a traveling salesman, gone much of the time. During the summer of 1979 I found myself puzzling over why thoughts of unbelief so often trooped through my mind. In airports, or while driving on busy freeways, I would find myself thinking, “How can God really be concerned about every detail of all these people’s lives?” Or, “How can he actually know every hair that falls from every one of these teeming millions of heads (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7)?” My mind insisted, “This is purely a logical matter. After all, that’s a reasonable question to ask.” But my spirit was not at rest. I knew something else was involved.
Finally I thought to ask the Lord, whose reply was instant, “Your father had little time to notice what you were doing.” That revealed my inner world of judgments! Dad wouldn’t see, compliment, affirm or care. Never mind that in fact he did when he was home. My bitter root grew because he wasn’t always there. So of course God wouldn’t be there for me. And I worked so hard for him!
Then I saw that those thoughts plagued my mind most especially whenever Paula and I were busy serving the Lord. The little boy had been hurt because he worked so hard and received so little notice for it, and the grown one subconsciously expected God to treat him like that too.
It wasn’t noble or very self-flattering to admit to that kind of peevish anger, so the place where that steam happened to vent was in pesky wonderings disguised as cool, clear logic. The heart could not believe. God would be too busy elsewhere to be there for me. Following the revelation, repentance was easy and joyous. The result has been that I have never since been bothered by such nagging doubts. Now I have not merely belief but surety of knowing and feeling that my Father sees and approves of my service to him. Now I have abiding rather than occasional fellowship with him, in heart as well as spirit (1 John 1:3).
This pastor could not snap out of unbelief and the nagging feeling that God did not care that much about him because he did not know where these thoughts were coming from – the root of the problem. Once revealed – once he understood his own history and reactions – he could give his bitterness back to Jesus. He could “stop it” because he knew what needed to stop. He put an end to the judgements that he made against his dad. He put to death the unforgiveness that he was carrying and it worked. It will always work because our old nature has already died with Christ. Its power to control us was broken on the cross. All God is asking us to do is to stop what is already dead.
Exit Slide 4
What is sometimes difficult in prayer ministry is not a lack of power to be free. There is always enough power with Jesus. However, sometimes it takes a while to figure out what is going on. Why am I angry? Why can I not trust my husband? The answer is not always immediately apparent – as with the pastor above – (the husband may not be to blame but the misdeeds of another man in the past) – and therefore the prayer ministry is often a process of learning about yourself so that you can deal with the root of the problem. Therefore, the Bible absolutely highlights the importance of right thinking and right understanding to be renewed and free. When you understand what is going on, you can stop the old and do something new:
Romans 12:2: … be transformed by the renewing of your mind …
Colossians 3:10: And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Ephesians 4:20-23: … throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
John 8:32: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Ephesians 4:17: So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Once you have done the work – partook of Jesus’ power – trust that it is done. When I watch Tatjana and how she is doing prayer ministry, I am surprised at the speed of healing and change – even for deep wounds and ingrained behaviour and feelings. Isn’t there a need for more sessions and long-term “issue management”? No, once you know the root of the problem, you can stop (if you want to stop it) and move on because “our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken – for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin … sin shall no longer be your master – you are … living under … grace.”
What is required is faith. Trust the power of Jesus and do not become confused by the turmoil in your soul which is natural when something as big as deep-seated anger or deep-seated fear has died in you. A counsellor writes:
John and Paula Sandford: The Transformation of the Inner Man, Tulsa: Victory House 1982, p109-110: Death of portion of our self initiates a convulsion or deep shudder throughout our interior being. We undergo sadness, confusion, disorientation, despondency, happiness, sleepiness, or turmoil. In that time, death is happening throughout the subterranean regions of our motives and practices …
[This time] may be but a moment, or hours, days or months, depending on who knows what with the complexity of us. Paul and I have visited with many counselees during their “three days”. They may say any number of the following: “I don’t know what is happening to me.” / “I’m so tired all the time.” / “I feel so heavy I feel like I’m drugged.” / “I don’t seem to want to do anything.” …
The most common experience is extremely heavy fatigue. Actually what has happened is akin to what occurs in the first days of a much needed vacation. When we let down, our fatigue catches up with us. The weariness is not actually new. It was there all along. Our letting down causes us to feel accumulated past fatigue in the present.
Jesus came to call the weary, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Every structure in the old nature is marked by unrest. Whatever in us which has been built by God is at rest, even as he rested (Hebrews 4:10). Whatever we built in us has no rest; it must be constantly examined, reworked, defended, appreciated, and approved of. Thus, each practice demands energy to sustain itself. That is why sometimes our conscious mind forgets what it was doing. Our inner struggles rob the surface mind of its ability to concentrate by draining off its energy for more demanding inner battles. So when we come to death with Jesus on the cross, our inner being goes into the tomb with him, and we let down into that emotional, mental, and spiritual fatigue which was there all along.
That time of inner death cannot be hastened …
John and Paula Sandford: The Transformation of the Inner Man, Tulsa: Victory House 1982, p116-118: We cannot close this chapter without teaching how to keep one’s healing. There is a necessity to stand on faith. Once crucifixion is in process, or being completed, we need to claim that fact by what we allow ourselves to feel, think, say, or do. We need to continue to reckon as dead that thing we prayed about. Many people go directly from healing prayer to a testing, and feeling that same old emotion they concluded, “Oh, it didn’t work.” They may then plunge right back into all the same old feelings. Old habits will continue to sound off, like chime stones swinging in the wind. But if we have taken a thing to the cross, that is all they are, mere sounds in the wind, having no force of reality behind them any more. They are truly dead, and we are made new. But, if we will believe they still have life, and plunge into struggling with them, we can impart false life to those old crucified structures, and wrestle unnecessarily all over again.
A habit of jealousy, or temper, or being critical, whatever, will keep on flaring up, having been prayed for. But if we have laid the ax to the root, and prayed, that thing is in fact dead. If we let the continued recurrence of the old habit bother us, we can be stampeded only by ghosts and old empty haunted houses in our nature. It is often merely because of that fact of unbelief, and lack of self-discipline, that counselees fall back until “the last state has become worse for them than the first” (1 Peter 2:20).
If the counselee believes that old thing still has reality, he will either give it energy by grappling with it, or give in and flop back into the old habit. Neither is necessary. All he has to do is reject the old feeling, not fighting with it, merely saying, “I don’t have to have that any more. That is dead,” and then go on with the life he wants, ignoring contrary feelings from that point on …
The old form in the nature, once dealt with, can be likened to a swinging pendulum in a grandfather clock, the main spring of which is broken. If we will let it alone, and not hit the pendulum again, pretty soon it will wind down and quit … We must learn not to pay attention to dead symptoms (Romans 6:12-14) …
A woman came who could not give herself to her husband sexually. After we found the roots and brought all the old self structures to the cross, she still found herself tensing at her husband’s approach. Her mind and feelings ran scattered like rebellious children. She learned not to fight her feelings or her mind, or get mad at her continued failures. Rather, she said silently, “I reject that” and turned her attention to opening to her husband’s touch and spirit. She was soon warm and loving and having a ball, and so was he.
A woman came oppressed by feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, and self-pity. Having gotten at the roots, she had to learn not to let herself be tyrannized by continued recurrence of the old feelings, and made herself do things which distracted her mind from the symptoms. In a few weeks she couldn’t remember what she used to feel.
I come back to the two-word counselling ministry. “Stop it” works but this was not quite the original dream. I repeat what I said in the beginning – the original dream of Graham Cooke: [Complaint:] “I can’t get a job.” [Answer:] “Get one.” [Complaint:] “I don’t love my wife.” [Answer:] “Love her.” [Complaint:] “I don’t like this person.” [Answer:] “Like him.” This is even better than “stop it”. Instead of just putting to death the old nature – instead of just stopping negative behaviour and feelings – the two words – available to the counselling ministry of our dreams – (assuming that the person is ready to stop the old) – they encourage the person to put on the new – exchange the old for the new life in Christ – and this works too – Romans 6:1-14: “…We were dead and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’s power so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared his death, let us rise and live our new lives with him …”
This works and this is fun. There may be a process of identifying the root of the problem and time may be required to adjust and bounce back when the old dies but this works and this is fun: [Complaint:] “I always listen to the wrong people.” [Answer:] “Be wise.” (This is shorthand for) “stop listening to the wrong people and be wise.” [Complaint:] “I can’t speak in front of people.” [Answer:] “Speak up.” (This is shorthand for) “stop stressing and speak up.”
Maybe we make this a four-word counselling ministry: The first two words deal with stopping the old – and the words are always the same: “stop it” – and the next two words are about the new life – be this or that – have the life of Jesus. [Complaint:] “I can’t be generous.” [Answer:] “Stop it. Be generous.”
Now it is your turn. [Complaint:] “I can’t love my children.” [Answer from the congregation:] “Stop it. Love them.” [Complaint:] “I can never trust my leaders.” [Answer from the congregation:] “Stop it. Trust them.” [Complaint:] “I can’t stop gossiping about people.” [Answer from the congregation (more difficult than the previous two because the opposite of the negative has to be identified):] “Stop it. Bless them. / Praise them.” [Complaint:] “I always give in to sexual temptations.” [Answer from the congregation (more difficult than the previous two:] “Stop it. Be self-controlled. / Be pure. / Honour people. / Learn love.”
This works and this is fun because of Jesus and sharing in his death on a cross and the new life which he gives – new life (power) because he rose from the dead. Amen.