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Willing or Becoming
Posted On 12/06/2017 15:45:09

In Luke 14:33 it is written “So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Now read that verse carefully. Got it? Now read it again to see if there is a mistake in that verse? Anything? If you listen to many pastors, bible teachers and theologians there is a mistake. These people would tell you the words “does not” should actually be interpreted as “not willing to.” As in “any of you not willing to forsake…” That alters the very pointed statement Jesus is making. Why is that? Why are these so-called teachers trying to change the Scripture to make it say what it clearly does not say?

A long time ago Wanda and I attended the small church in New Sarepta where a man named ‘Matthew’ pastored. At this time period in our life God was starting to call us to give up our idols. The big one for me was my big screen TV. Since we wanted more of God, and less of the rot that was television, we decided, as a family, to give up the TV. Strangely enough, ‘Matthew’ the pastor wanted the TV so we gave it to him. One Sunday night, not soon after this, I felt led to speak in the service about how God was leading us to give up our television. After I sat down ‘Matthew’ got up and said basically that God wasn’t calling everyone to give up their TV, it was God’s leading just for us. Now why did ‘Matthew’ say that?

When we were in Pennfield, New Brunswick at the Smiths Motel some ladies we met at Zion House of Worship came to visit us. One lady, ‘Sarah’, had been very kind to us and helped us out a great deal when we were in St. Stephen. In return we testified to her about our story; how we had given up our home to follow Jesus and we were going through homelessness. Her response to us was that she was very moved by our story but said that she couldn’t do that because although she was willing it would be just too hard for her. Now why did ‘Sarah’ say that?

At our time in Wilton Standard Church ‘Moody’ came to pastor after ‘Lacey’ had left. We testified to the believers there quite freely about our journey thus far and let people know clearly what He had called us to. We spoke about our journey privately to individuals who were interested and publicly to the Bible study group and Sunday School class. It was in one of these meetings that I mentioned about giving up all to follow Jesus. Just after I spoke ‘Moody’ piped up and said that we didn’t need to literally give up all, we just needed to be ‘willing’ to. Now why did ‘Moody’ say that?

This is a question that bothers me to this day. The first injunction about not changing Scripture is bad enough but there is a far more sinister plot afoot in all of these questions I raise. At the very root the comments these three people made reveals that they do not believe the words of Jesus and will not live by them. Luke 14:33 does not say ‘anyone not willing to forsake’, it says ‘anyone who does not forsake’. The imperative is clear. Jesus is expecting anyone who follows Him to act on their commitment. What these people we met were doing was moving this verse solely into the realm of an intellectual exercise. Something that would not cost themselves, or anyone else, anything. They wanted the ‘comfort’ of feeling like they were following Jesus without any cost. Just how successful will they be when they have to face a God who watched their every movement of every second of their lives? Will they be sneaky enough to be able to justify their inaction and lack of sacrifice before Him? Yet this is the trick we try and play on God every day. We go about our lives without thought to this most poignant and significant Scripture, hoping that God will look the other way as we indulge our ‘self’ nature once again.

We have discovered that God is serious about His Word. We have found that He doesn’t say things unnecessarily. He only says what needs to be said, no more and no less. So for Jesus to say this and then have it recorded in our Bible it must mean that God takes this word seriously. In Revelations 13:8 God tells us of the ‘willingness’ of Jesus to be a Lamb slain in sacrifice from the foundation of the world. Jesus’ ‘willingness’ then ‘became’ the physical cross on earth. Jesus went from ‘willing’ to ‘becoming’. Now think about this, what if Jesus was only just ‘willing’ to go the cross? Would we have salvation? Would we have a path to the Father to allow us to spend eternity with Him? No, we wouldn’t. So how come we see Jesus give up all and somehow think that God expects us only to be ‘willing’ to give up all. That just doesn’t make any sense. In order for real change to take place ‘willing’ must turn to ‘becoming.’ Jesus proved this by His actions so why don’t we move from ‘willing’ to ‘becoming’? Is it uncomfortable? Of course it is because it directly leads to death of ‘self’ but many don’t want that. We don’t want to give up anything or do anything that costs because we want to preserve ‘self’. I am sorry but being ‘willing’ will not change anything in your life or anyone else’s.

Let me give you an out as I feel you may possibly be squirming right now. Read Luke 14:33 carefully again. What is the result that comes from NOT giving up all? See it? It means you cannot be His disciple. Please understand that Jesus is saying nothing about your salvation. He is talking about something completely different. What Jesus means is that if you don’t give up all you will simply miss out on being a disciple. No big deal, right? I mean after all isn’t being a believer and being a disciple the same thing. At least how I see it presented in churches today the words are interchangeable but this is not the truth. The truth is that a disciple is simply someone who gives up all to follow another. Plain and simple. So if you look at Luke 14:33 again you will see that Jesus was simply stating a fact. He knew, as well as those who listened to Him, what a disciple was. They knew the cost and those wanting to be disciples did indeed give up all to follow Him. Fact. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you want to be just a believer that is your choice and God will respect your decision. If you want to be a disciple in Luke 14:33 Jesus simply states the condition to become one, nothing more. It is your choice if you want to be a disciple or not. God will certainly not make you become a disciple nor will He punish you if you choose not to become one. Simple as that. There is one small point, however, that I must make clear. If you choose to remain just a believer, you will never be the Bride of Christ. Period. God the Father will only wed His Son to ones who follow Him in character. Jesus gave up all. That is His character. I am sorry to inform you that the only route to this character is to start by becoming a disciple. Which means to give up all. There is no other way. Whatever you choose, believer or disciple, please just be honest about your choice OK? If you aren’t willing to give up all, please don’t say that you are a disciple because that just makes all the sacrifices other disciples have made just look foolish.

Now don’t think for a moment that God will not ask for your ‘all’ if you choose to become a disciple. I have no idea what your ‘all’ is and I am convinced you don’t know. We never know until God asks for it. For us it was our home and all our belongings but not our daughters. For others ‘all’ means something completely different but mark my words God will ask for your ‘all’ if you want to follow Him to become a disciple. He was clear with this in the 10 commandments when He said, “You shall have no other gods before Me or besides Me.” Exodus 20:3.

In the days ahead I am convinced it will not be safe to be just a believer but that is the choice many will make. To be a disciple will cost you everything and it is a hard life. That is a promise from me to you BUT the reward of gaining Him is worth it. That I will also promise you. So believer or disciple, what will it be? Are you ‘willing’ to be a disciple or are you ‘becoming’ a disciple? It is up to you to decide now that you know.

© Homer Les and Wanda Ring

 

Tags: Jesus Willing Forsake Comfort Self Disciple Believer Bride Of Christ


Cost Benefit Analysis
Posted On 12/05/2017 16:28:54

When we lived in P.E.I. I once had a crazy thought. Now this thought is really wild and I am kind of scared about throwing it at you because it is so bizarre. Well here goes. I was thinking that we often talk, as believers, about what Jesus did for us on the cross and all that God has done for us. Webpages and books wax eloquent on the gracious, giving nature of God and how great His gifts are to us. So here is my crazy thought. What does God get in return? For all of God’s magnanimity and Jesus’ horrific sacrifice what does God get out of the deal? I am sure we are all clear on what we get from God but what does the cost benefit analysis look like from His perspective?

Yesterday something happened that we weren’t quite expecting but then as you follow God in faith that pretty much sums up your whole life. We have seen God do this to us before so it was not a surprise, just unexpected. Wanda and I took Milo for his usual morning stroll and when we were coming back to the hotel Wanda saw a woman with many bags around her car just a few doors down from our room. She joked that this lady packed just like she did, which is all too true (sigh). Anyways being the gregarious person she is Wanda struck up a conversation with our fellow traveler. We quickly found out that this lady had been kicked out of her house by her ex-husband and was now homeless like us. Seeing she was in need Wanda gave her some of our food because she was diabetic and had little funds. Today we are going out to get her an Amplified Bible (best version out there J) and I am sure Wanda and myself will do what we can to counsel, help and love this beaten, abandoned soul.

Now I am not writing this to make ourselves look good but just to show you what happens when you walk in faith. As you follow Him you will slowly become like Him in thought, word and deed. It is a long hard process but the wilderness is designed that way. God wants a Bride for His Son that looks and acts like His Son and that takes time and effort. God, at the very core of His being, is sacrificial. He gave up His own life for us but what does He get in return? If you follow Him through the wilderness and learn your lessons, you will become sacrificial as well. That means you always give of yourself, no matter the cost, because He is worth it.

So back in P.E.I. God began to start me down this road that I could not look at my walk of faith in terms of myself. That is selfish and comes from ‘self’. No, what God wanted me to learn was to see things from His perspective because He has no ‘self’. Too often I had to come back to seeing everything in my life as ‘what is in it for God?’ By doing this God was grabbing my attention away from my default focus on ‘self’. It wasn’t easy at first but slowly I began to understand just what He was doing. By first getting my focus off my ‘self’ it was denying ‘self’ a platform in my life. That’s good. Secondly He began to show me how He sees His people and what is important to Him. That is also good. The major thing Wanda and I learned was that it is character, spiritual maturity, that He values above all else in His people. Gifts, talents, they come and go but character defines who a person is and affects how they will behave. Very important to God.

As we were in the Bible bookstore today to get the Bible I looked at all the books authors have written about God, church and stuff like that. Hadn’t been a bookstore for a very long time so it was a bit of a shock for me. As I wandered the aisles I got the sense of all the noise of ‘words’ that has bombarded believers today. Then as I thought about all the useless words that are spoken I wondered to myself how many of these authors live sacrificially as Jesus did. I have no idea how many do or don’t I was just saddened that we have quietly replaced a living dynamic faith of walking with God with armchair intellectualism that is about as useless as a giraffe in a grocery store.

If you look at all the churches, books, webpages, conferences and media out there many give you the mistaken impression that all God cares about are gifts, talents and personalities. Slight correction. Gifts, talents and personalities are all things ‘self’ cares about. What God sees as important is maturity and character. If you read God’s Word carefully you will see words like ‘mature’, ‘patient endurance’, ‘suffering’. They occur far more frequently than we like to admit but they are there. God loves us more than you know and has given us many gifts, including His Son BUT He expects something in return. What He is expecting, in His cost benefit analysis, are people that are growing into spiritual maturity. This is not something that is well understood but extremely important. The church has had it backwards for too long. We are in a time for correction in God’s cost benefit analysis.

I suggest it is time to put aside our selfish desire to ‘get’ from God and look closer at what He wants from His relationship with us. It may be best to give up our idea about what we think He wants and let Him speak for Himself. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Don’t you think it is time that He gets back something from our relationship with Him, something He values highly, a mature adult son who thinks, talks and acts like His Son? I told you it was a crazy idea.

© Homer Les and Wanda Ring

Tags: Faith Self Character Spiritual Maturity Patient Endurance Suffering


A Picture of Self
Posted On 12/04/2017 14:01:41


MiloThis is Milo. If you have read Wilderness – How to Marry Jesus in 10 Years or Less you learned that Milo is our dog. He is part lab, part pit-bull and 100% alpha male, with all the necessary equipment intact. He has been a wonderful companion, loving protector and difficult thorn in our side ever since God brought him into our lives. Milo is a baby and a bully, ornery and sweet and we love him to bits. Now animals are important to us as they not only give us love but give us valuable lessons from the Father. Milo is no different. We have come to realize that Milo was sent to us as a perfect representation of the ‘self’ nature.

As a living parable of ‘self’ God has taught us a lot about ourselves through Milo. Most of it has been unpleasant but necessary. The first lesson we learned from Milo about ‘self’ had to do with his willfulness. Milo is so large and powerful that if he wants to go somewhere he will….even if you are hanging on to his leash being dragged through A) thorns, B) dirt and mud, C) ice and snow or D) wet grass. He has all the power of a Saturn V rocket at take-off and when he lunges anything holding on is simply along for the ride. It took us years to figure out that it takes two leashes with two people just to hold him in place when he gets the ‘urge’ to go somewhere. So to say Milo is a reactive, willful beast would be somewhat tame. One time when Milo was young I gave Patches a bone to eat. As the dominant alpha male Milo decided that the bone was his and he ripped it away from poor, meek Patches. I rolled him. Stopped him cold and then I gave the bone back to Patches. Isn’t that like the ‘self’ nature? When it wants something everything and everyone is an afterthought. ‘Self’ does not care about who is ‘hanging on’ or who has what as long as ‘self’ gets what it wants. ‘Self’ has no consideration for others and will take anything and everything it can get.

Milo also has an eye for the ladies. Not just a little winky eye, no, Milo has a full blown all out stare down at the object of his lustful gaze. Once his target is acquired he goes after her with all the romance of a caveman with a club. It is extremely embarrassing as he has all the subtlety of a Vegas lounge act. Our lustful male will stop at nothing to engage in one of his favorite activities and it has taken a great deal of effort to ensure there are no little Milo’s around. When we first had Milo we gave him a great deal of latitude. Since we were in a rural area and were poor we let Milo run around without a leash. At first this was ok but as we journeyed I noticed him change his behavior. He would stick close by me initially, constantly keeping an eye on where I was. As we walked he would put his nose down and begin to wander. Every so often he would look up and check to see if I was still watching him. Eventually he would wander farther away but always within sight, checking periodically if I had my eye on him. If I got distracted in an instant he would be gone. No matter how much I called he would not come back until he had gratified his lust somewhere. When he came back he would be punished but that never stopped him. Now we know that Milo is completely untrustworthy. No outdoors time for him without a leash. We learned a lot about ‘self’ and its lustful desires from Milo. You cannot, and must not, trust ‘self’ in any capacity or give it any quarter for it will abuse that privilege mightily. It is tricky, carnal and completely without any morals. ‘Self’ wants what it wants and will use deceit and trickery to fulfill its lustful desires.

For a dog that was born in the poorest area of P.E.I. and has lived with a homeless family all his life it is surprising how much Milo craves comfort. Not just any comfort, this dog is particular about his comfort. He started his journey into hedonism quite innocently enough. When we were living in the tarp in the woods we only had a few blankets to sleep on and to cover ourselves with. The dogs would sleep at our feet on what little protection from the ground we could give them. Patches was fine with this but not Milo. Oh no. Every morning we would find that he had weaseled his way onto the blankets and pushed one of us off. His comfort has come first ever since; at least in his mind. When we were living in apartments he learned that we would allow him on the couch. You could say we felt sorry for him. However he soon became addicted to the soft cushions. That was fine except when he wanted to go to sleep. If we were sitting on ‘his’ couch he would whimper, whine and be all put out until we moved and he could go to bed. I have never met such a being that is so addicted to comfort and the pleasure of self. Wait. Scratch that. I forgot that I worked for a billionare once. So I have met two beings in my life that are addicted to self and the pleasure of self in an amazing way. Milo has been a lesson on how much ‘self’ wants its own comfort even at the expense of others because ‘self’ does not care about others. We learned the hard way that you cannot appease ‘self’ or it will abuse your grace exponentially. ‘Self’ only ever cares about itself and nothing will change that.

Searching out comfort and sneaking away are all trademarks of our dog but he stretches it even farther than that. Milo is shameless with his cunning and manipulation when there is something he wants. This dog has taken begging to an art form. Seriously. I think he should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the style, grace and absolute shamelessness of his begging. Now I hold Wanda partially responsible for this. She has been spoiling our ‘poor, sweet puppy wuppems’ and slowly turning him into a Vienna sausage but Milo has done much on his own. When he wants to go for a walk he will whine and whine until we take him out. He sounds like an ungreased door hinge or fingernails on chalkboard. Real pleasant. Then we find out he has been taking correspondence lessons in English. When we mention the words ‘walk’ or ‘out’ with the word ‘Milo’ he suddenly becomes like Godzilla. His tail beating against legs, walls, vases, pictures, knick knacks, books, plates of food, etc. becomes a vicious weapon of mass destruction as he is gripped in paroxysms of pleasure at the mere idea of urinating. Trying to get a leash on him qualifies us for calf roping or steer wrestling competitions. Frankly I think we would do pretty good myself. When he finally gets his way Milo becomes as docile as a lamb. We have seen how 'self' manipulates people in others as well as ourselves but we often minimize it which is another trick 'self' uses. ‘Self’ is so tricky that it will use any means necessary to get its own way. When one caves to the pressure ‘self’ is overjoyed but heaven forbid you should say no to ‘self’ for it would unleash a torrent of anger and hatred. The word ‘no’ is anathema to ‘self’ and it loathes not getting what it wants. ‘Self’ is a manipulative beast that wants nothing but what pleases it.

For all of Milo’s bravado and alpha male aggressiveness he is a fearful mutt. When we had to leave him once in the cottage by the sea he managed to wreck a door and a window 5 feet off the ground just trying to get out. He cannot stand to be apart from us so we never leave him alone now. In a thunderstorm he becomes a puddle. He will cuddle up close and lean into one of us with his full 90 pounds expecting us to make the scary noise go away. I have never met a more fearful dog in my entire life. This big, brawny, muscular puppy whimpering like a baby because of fear. It is sad and pathetic. One of main things we learned about ‘self’ through Milo was just how fearful ‘self’ is. ‘Self’ leads people to live in constant fear and act out of that fear. It is a terrible bondage. What most do not understand is that ‘self’ is unnatural and so is destined for death. That is why ‘self’ is so fearful. It was not created by God nor can ‘self’ be a part of Him so it must die. ‘Self’ does not want that so it wraps a person in complete fearfulness to prevent death. If only people would begin to understand that when we surrender our ‘self’ to God and let Him destroy the enemy of our soul we can be free of fear. As ‘self’ dies, along with the fear it brings, we are free to live in faith knowing that God will always take care of us. We cannot begin to describe the sheer pleasure and freedom that comes with ‘self’ being crucified.

In the end Milo is a dog and is the way God made him. Even though we love him he can't be anything else but a dog. We, on the other hand, are humans who can choose to be a conduit for 'self' or spirit. I pray you find the courage today to let the ‘self’ in you begin to die and let the spirit in you live.

© Homer Les and Wanda Ring

Tags: Self Comfort Lust Manipulation Bully Fear Faith Freedom Spirit


Not My WIll
Posted On 12/03/2017 18:01:26

The most important part of us is our will. You may argue otherwise but consider this. The will is so important that Jesus tells us about it in His Prayer, “Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10. He also refers to His will when He was in the garden, “Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” Luke 22:42. So the ‘will’ of any person is the most important part of them. It is the gatekeeper to the spirit core of every person and determines their eternal fate.

I was at a grocery store once and as I stood there I noticed that just past the clerk there were two conveyor belts for purchased groceries. After a person had purchased their groceries, and was bagging them, the clerk would swing a gate to one side so she could slide the next person’s groceries to the unused conveyor belt. That gate allowed the clerk to control where the groceries would go. This little illustration is very much how the will works. You see we all have experiences that come to us throughout our day. These experiences are then funneled by the will into our spirit core. Likewise, we have many thoughts and feelings that arise from within our spirit core. They could be from our spirit or they could come from ‘self’. We may not know which, in fact when we are immature it is almost impossible to know the difference. Whatever the source it is our will that decides whether we will act on these thoughts and emotions. Those actions then affect ourselves and others.

So your will is the gatekeeper for what goes into and comes from your spirit core. These decisions the will makes happen hundreds, maybe thousands, of times each day. Some decisions we are conscious of and many we are not conscious of. Either way the choices our will makes will determine the growth and power of either our spirit or ‘self’, which resides in our spirit core. Each decision, especially the tiny ones we don’t think matter, build and strengthen either our ‘self’ or spirit. If we feed ‘self’ it will control more and more of our decisions. If we feed spirit, then our spirit will control more and more of our decisions.

We are all born with a will and, like the mind, emotions and body, it needs to grow and mature. The unfortunate reality is the fact that the spirit and ‘self’ nature inside of us battle for control all the time. The first assault we face on earth from the moment we are born is against our ‘will’ by our ‘self’ nature. It quickly takes control of our will so we pursue ‘self’ aided and abetted by the world and satan. It is not a fair fight right from the start because satan and ‘self’ have no qualms about violating the sovereignty of our will. Once our will is co-opted only a pitched battle will free us from the control of ‘self’. Thankfully God has made provisions to help us BUT He will not make the decisions for us. That is entirely our responsibility. It always will be our choice whether we follow ‘self’ or spirit.

If your will makes too many choices for ‘self’ you will find yourself ever more distant from God. This is not His choice but yours. ‘Self’ is as much an enemy to God as satan is for ‘self’ comes from satan. By agreeing with, feeding and making choices for ‘self’ you are choosing to be God’s enemy. This saddens Him but because God will not violate your sovereign will He will accept your choices. That does not mean there won’t be consequences though, because a righteous God cannot dwell with ‘self’. This is why, when you choose for ‘self’, you voluntarily separate yourself from His presence. Happily, if your will instead makes decisions for spirit, you will be able to draw closer to Him. You will find He will give you great help and support as you grow in these choices. Over time you will grow in spiritual maturity and, eventually, may become His Bride. This is called grace. This grace can be seen as real spiritual progress in Song of Songs 6:8-9. The virgin becomes the concubine, the concubine becomes the queen, and the queen becomes the dove; the undefiled, without spot or wrinkle Bride. Just remember that He cannot, and will not, make these choices for you. Your will is sovereign and He will never violate it. I cannot stress this enough. Once your choice is made you will experience all the consequences of that choice. The only way to correct a bad choice is to repent.

Repentance is the only way to change any decision we make. Unfortunately, very few people understand just what repentance is and how it works. You know now that with your sovereign will you make decisions that grow either your ‘self’ or spirit. These decisions are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they are just feeding one part of your spirit core, ‘self’ or spirit. Once the decision has been made it is set in the spiritual realm and you will experience the consequences that come from that decision, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The only way to correct any decision is to repent. Repent simply means that you turn from your decision, you choose the opposite of what you did. This needs to be declared and acted upon otherwise it is just remorse.  For it to be real repentance the action must flow from a change within. What is not clearly known is that repentance works both ways. You can repent of choices for ‘self’ and you can repent of choices for spirit. We have witnessed the latter far more than the former. Repenting of selfish choices is quite rare as many desire to feed and encourage their ‘self’ nature rather than kill it. Repenting of spirit choices is far more common than we ever realized. Many times on our journey we witnessed people give us something of themselves only to repent of the choice later and try to harm us. It was this fact that we could repent of our spirit choices that sobered us to the all importance of the will.

Now that you understand a little about the will you can see why Jesus told us to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth and why Jesus surrendered His will to the Father. The Father’s will is perfect for there is no ‘self’, no evil way in Him. By surrendering to the Father’s will Jesus is teaching us to let go of making choices from ‘self’ and to align our will to the Father’s. This is a long process and we call it growing in spiritual maturity. It will lead you into the wilderness where you will learn to let ‘self’ go and accept the Father’s will as He leads you. Now it is up to you to make some decisions. 

© Homer Les and Wanda Ring


Tags: Will Self Gatekeeper Spirit Jesus Repentance Sovereign Spiritual Mat


Definition of Wilderness
Posted On 12/02/2017 22:02:24

When we started on our journey in 2007 we had a vague idea of what a wilderness season in God meant. We had read many of the Christian classics, Tozer, Guyon, John of the Cross, Thomas a Kempis, Theresa of Avila and others describing wilderness seasons. From there we learned a little about what a wilderness looks like but we never truly knew until we went through it ourselves. With our experience in this area I will attempt to define what wilderness is, and is not, for our current time. This will not be a comprehensive definition but enough to help you determine if you are in a spiritual wilderness with God or not. From there you can get a much better understanding of where you are in the three stages of spiritual growth.

We have done some research online about what people think constitutes a wilderness. We have also talked with a number people about what it means to be in the wilderness as well. From this investigation we have discovered, over many years, that often what people think is a wilderness experience with God is really not. Many, many people grade themselves and fail to see the cloak of deception that ‘self’ has thrown over them. In doing so they deceive themselves into thinking that they are in a ‘wilderness’ when the reality is God has withdrawn from them because they refuse to let their ‘self’ nature go. What a number of people experience in dry times and what seems to be like a spiritual wasteland with God is really just the result of them giving in to their ‘self’ nature. The problem is that believers have not had a proper understanding of what ‘self’ is and how dangerous and duplicitous it is. So to truly understand a wilderness with God you need to have an understanding of ‘self’ and spirit.

First off, ‘self’ is not your body, mind, emotions or will. These parts of you are created by God and given to you as a gift. It is your responsibility to care for and nurture them. To aid in this process God has also given you a spirit, a part of Himself, to lead you into spiritual growth and maturity. When your spirit is in control your body, mind, will and emotions will be healthy and strong. The problem is that long ago, our forefather Adam, let in sin or, as we know it, the ‘self’ nature. This ‘self’ is not from God but from satan. ‘Self’ is the exact opposite of spirit and so can also call it ‘anti-spirit.’ Instead of leading us to God ‘self’ leads us away from Him as we pursue our own selfish interests. When ‘self’ is in control, your body, mind, will and emotions will be twisted and warped, causing a great deal of pain to yourself and others. If ‘self’ is allowed to mature you will eventually be eternally separated from God because God has no part in ‘self.’

So ‘self’ and spirit are within you, me and all of mankind. They are constantly at war with each other, inside and outside of us. Each is vying to destroy the other. ‘Self’, unfortunately, has a massive advantage over spirit because the world, media, friends, family, church, schools, government all support and encourage ‘self’ within us. ‘Self’ is commonly accepted and practiced all around the world. In fact it is highly unacceptable and even dangerous to promote spirit and real faith in God these days. Now I don’t mean the watered down, anemic spirit in what calls itself the church but the real experiential spirit that lives by faith. In this atmosphere one has to fight overwhelming odds just to recognize ‘self’ let alone defeat it. Recognize it we must if we are to understand the wilderness.

Our ‘self’ nature is at war with God and continually tries to undermine and destroy the spirit within us. It knows too that God’s design for ‘self’ is to kill it so ‘self’ uses many tactics to hide itself. Now ‘self’ is clever and tricky so the use of deception and deceit is one of its primary tactics. Remember that the ‘self’ nature within us came from satan and acts like him. Our ‘self’ nature will also blame others and our own spirit for the evil that it perpetuates. This is an evil enemy within us that lies continually to us all day long so we feed it and grow ‘self’ up. We do this at our peril, however, for the stronger our ‘self’ becomes the less likely we will nurture spirit and grow in God.

In order to mature spiritually then we must begin to recognize ‘self’ within us and then start making choices against ‘self’ and for spirit. This is not an easy task and we need the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God the Father to guide us in this. As a wise person once said, “A person who defends himself in court has a fool for a lawyer.” You see a basic principle is that ‘self’ cannot destroy or kill ‘self.’ It is not physically or spiritually possible. The only way ‘self’ can be destroyed is if we follow God and allow Him to do the work within us. There is no other way for that to happen. None. When you surrender your life to God please understand that He has one passion and that is to free you from the enemy of your own soul, which is your own ‘self’ nature. It is God and God alone that has the power and means to take out the ‘self’ in each one of us but only if we allow Him to do so.

Now all that preamble was necessary to get down to this basic definition of wilderness. What a wilderness season in God is a season where He kills the ‘self’ nature in you so that your spirit can mature. That’s it. Not complex at all, right? Every single person that goes through a wilderness with God will have different experiences. No two are exactly the same because God made us all different. What will always be the same, however, will be that ‘self’ will have been dealt a mortal blow and the person will be maturing spiritually. It does not matter what your experiences in the wilderness are for it is the results that are most important. For our family we had to go through some very extreme situations but that is what was required to kill the ‘self’ in us. Your situation may be totally different but if, in the end, your ‘self’ nature is crucified then your wilderness was successful. Please don’t compare your situation to anyone else for God never designed the wilderness that way. There is no ‘right’ way to go through any wilderness for they are brutal, ugly affairs but if you follow Him through it you will find that you will not be leaning on ‘self’ anymore but completely on Him and Him alone.

So the wilderness is not about the experience but about the result. The result of any wilderness journey should ALWAYS be that ‘self’ is dealt a mortal blow and is dying. You may not be able to tell this for yourself, in fact I would recommend against it. I would ask those around you, those who know you best and are honest, whether your actions look more like Galatians 5:22-23 or Galatians 5:19-21. Keep in mind that Paul uses the word flesh to what I refer to as ‘self.’ If those who know you best, and are honest with you, say that your actions are more like Galatians 5:22-23, and they also see you growing in humility, empathy and sacrifice then it is likely you are in a wilderness with God. He is breaking down your ‘self’ nature as He draws you to Himself. If, however, your friends see more of Galatians 5:19-21 growing along with pride and selfishness then I am afraid the ‘wilderness’ you are in is simply the result of God withdrawing His presence from you because He is not welcome. God is patient and longsuffering but He will not contend with you forever. If you are not willing to work with Him to kill your ‘self’ nature He will leave you. Like any loving parent He works with you but if you continue to be stubborn and feed your ‘self’ there are consequences. He will let you have your ‘self’ nature until you either recognize your folly and repent or choose to follow ‘self’ forever. Note that if you choose not to repent of ‘self’ you will separate yourself from Him for eternity. This is your choice. Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

© Homer Les and Wanda Ring

Tags: Wilderness Experience Self Spirit Anti-spirit Flesh Pride Selfishnes


Bearing Testimony
Posted On 12/01/2017 13:34:45

One of the key lessons we learned when we were on our wilderness journey was how to bear testimony. Bearing testimony means that you witness something and then tell others about what you witnessed. Witness and testimony are words we hear often used in courts of law because they have legal implications. In the spirit being a witness and bearing testimony also has a significant legal element as well. As we journeyed God taught us that we were to be a witness and bear testimony for God and to God. There is a critical distinction between the two. We soon discovered how important they were to our destiny as spiritual assayers.

 

The first lesson we learned was about how to bear testimony for God. In order to do that we first had to witness His nature and His actions. Wanda and I have walked with Jesus for many years but it wasn't until we had our renewal in 1997 that we really began in earnest to follow Him. As we journeyed with Him we had to learn how to hear His voice. Sandy Warner and her Quickened Word helped us out tremendously in our early days. Learning His voice is simple enough but hard to do. It took years of practice to learn His voice and to obey His commands. Everything He said to us, no matter how odd, matched with what was written in the Bible, His Word. This confirmation helped us find confidence in hearing Him speak. As we learned how to hear His voice we began to see His emotions and character come through His words. Over time we began to know Him more intimately. These lessons of what He is like, His thoughts, emotions, character, we would share with others. This is bearing testimony for God. Even though we are still learning more about Him we can still bear testimony of what He is like and what He is saying.

 

One of the saddest things we see is people bearing testimony about God when they do not know Him. What I mean by that is that they know about Him from what they have learned from others but they do not know Him personally. It became easy, over time, to spot people like this because their image of God did not match what we knew of Him and what is written about Him in His Word. When people bear testimony about God when they do not know Him they do Him a great disservice because they misrepresent Him. Now this can be done innocently by those that are still learning about Him and that is not a problem. We all have misconceptions about God as we mature. As long as we accept correction when it comes we will be fine. The real problem we saw was when people became hardened in their wrong ideas about God and tried to force their false testimony onto others. God will punish those that do this. They are proud and will not humble themselves so they can hear God clearly and testify about Him correctly.

 

I can remember clearly the day God sternly told me, "I do NOT 'use' people." He was fed up with people saying. "God 'used' so and so to do something." By warning me God was letting me know that He works 'with' people and their sovereign will to achieve His purposes. He does not 'use' them. On the other hand satan loves to 'use' people and frequently overrides their free will through deceit, treachery and bullying. God is not like that. These are the kind of lessons we learn about God as we mature and then bear that testimony to others. If I had not humbled myself and accepted His correction I might be one of those people who incorrectly think that God 'uses' man. This is but one example of bearing testimony for God.

 

The most difficult lesson we had to learn was how to bear testimony to God. This is unlike bearing testimony for God where we tell people about the God we know personally. Bearing testimony to God involves witnessing a person's response to us when we brought them lessons from God and then bringing that testimony back to Him. These were tough assignments because we had to witness brutal, callous, heartless betrayal at the hands of man. We had to see, first hand, the duplicity, hypocrisy and unfeeling hardness of heart from those who are believers. This was not pleasant to go through but the purpose was not to break us, instead God allowed us to be His representatives so as they treated us so they were treating Him. By this we learned about what He went through and what people are like inside, regardless of what they testified about themselves.

 

The disconnect between how people saw themselves and how they actually behaved was astonishing at times. People often think about themselves as being 'good' people but when they treat us like dirt we have the unfortunate responsibility of taking our testimony to God and laying it before Him. From there He will judge those people. Now God knows all things, including how hypocritical we all are, so I wondered why He wanted us to bear testimony to Him. I realized that we learned humility, self-sacrifice and empathy through our wilderness journey but why did we have to bear testimony about others back to Him? I found the answer in Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1 and 1 Tim. 5:19. All these Scriptures point to a spiritual principle whereby no judgement can be rendered without 2 or 3 witnesses. This is true on earth as well as in heaven. For God to render a just judgement against a person He first needs 2 or 3 witnesses to testify about their behavior. Wanda and I, along with our daughters, became those witnesses so that any judgement God would render against these people would be just and fair.

 

Now lest you think that you would never behave as the people in our story did let me tell you that every single person that hated us, with only a couple of exceptions, did not start out that way. At first they appeared kind and helpful but at some certain point they turned against us and the testimony we brought. There is a delusion in many today that suggests that how we behave toward others is unimportant and inconsequential. Somehow they think that what really matters is what we do for God or say about God. Hopefully I can help dispel that myth. We came to many people as destitute and homeless, the least of men, not looking for handouts or help but not wanting to be persecuted. What we saw in the response of others appalled us. It was at these moments that Matthew 25:35-46 became clear to us and we began understand the importance of our testimony to God.

 

I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me. Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.

 

Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me and entertain Me, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me with help and ministering care. Then they also [in their turn] will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? And He will reply to them, Solemnly I declare to you, in so far as you failed to do it for the least [in the estimation of men] of these, you failed to do it for Me. Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with God into eternal life.

 

What we discovered was that God was serious about judgement. He clearly laid out that He will judge us on the basis of how we treated the poor and needy, the least of men. He is so serious that He sent our family out as destitute and homeless to test the hearts of those who claimed to be believers. It is this testimony that we bear against them to God. It is an awful duty but must be done. As we witnessed so shall we testify to Him. I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is. God will look at how you treated others, especially the poor and needy, not at what you 'did' for Him as the basis of His judgement. All your 'good' deeds in the church will not carry an ounce of help for you if you forget about the weightier matters of helping those in need. If you cannot learn to sacrifice of yourself to help those in need then you will have a hard time when the judgement comes.

 

We were trained to be spiritual assayers by God to test the faith of believers. Sent to places where there were few homeless we tested believer's responses to the helpless. We were witnesses to their cold, cunning, brutal words and icy hearts. Their hypocrisy, duplicity and hate was rubbed in our faces. It is an awful burden to bear such testimony to God but we have to. It is our solemn duty. We are not alone though. There are many like us. We are in your streets, back alleys, vacant lots and parks. We wear dirty clothes and keep all our worldly possessions with us. We are hungry and tired. Cold, sick and hurt. You pass us by hoping we'll go away, ignoring us lest we ask you to help us. You walk by silently, judging us, thinking the worst about us. If you do speak you tell us to go get social services, take welfare, get a job ya bum. You offer other people's help but not your own. You are afraid we'll take from you but the reality is you refuse to give. You refuse to give anything that costs you something. You even refuse to give a smile or a kind word. This is the testimony we bear against you. This is what we bear silently now but will testify before God with a grieving heart. In tears of anguish and pain we will testify before Him how you refused to give of yourself to help us in our misery, our hour of need. We won't be angry or hateful just bearing the overwhelming agony of your callous, insensitive heart.

 

I plead with you, with tears in my eyes, don't let me, or any spiritual assayer have to testify about you like this. Let us say that you gave of yourself, that you cared and poured out your heart to help those who needed your help. Let us rejoice with you as you receive a reward of blessing because you first blessed others. Don't let your reward pass you by. We are waiting just around the corner for you. God will bring us to you and we wait for that cup of cold water from your hand. Give freely of yourself. Give abundantly and you will nurture your own soul. Then, and only then, will we rejoice in our task as spiritual assayers.


© Homer Les and Wanda Ring

Tags: Testimony Witness Spiritual Assayers Believers Homeless Sacrifice


Basic Requirements for Spiritual Growth
Posted On 11/30/2017 16:57:42

We came across many people in our wilderness journey and each one was a lesson for us. Each time we were betrayed, hated, despised or lied about gave us an opportunity to see into the heart of that person as well as ourselves. Each time we were blessed, helped, cared for and loved we also saw into the heart of the other person. God wasted nothing as He taught us about 'self' and spirit through these interactions. Eventually we learned from God about three spiritual basics that will tell us if a person is growing up into spiritual maturity or not. The presence of these three basics means that the person is growing and their absence means the opposite.

 

The first basic we recognized as being crucial for spiritual growth was humility. Seems like a simple thing but we found it to be very, very rare. Humility brings down pride in ourselves and allows us to hear God. God Himself is humble and so if we are to be like Him we too need to be humble. It is not as easy as it sounds. Growing in humility starts with making decisions that don't feel good because it hurts our pride. Oftentimes those decisions also make us look bad in front of others as well as it hurts their pride. These decisions for humility are counter to how our world works but then the whole world is counter to God. So start by making decisions that bring down pride in your life and you will find humility beginning to grow. As Wanda likes to say, "Go lower than the strife" which means when conflict comes, humble yourself, say you are sorry. This is a great start in your journey to spiritual maturity.

 

The second basic we found is necessary for spiritual maturity is self-sacrifice. This is also very, very rare in our world today that puts so much emphasis on self. If you ever wondered why God put such an emphasis on sacrifices in the Old Testament wonder no longer. From the very beginning He has been trying to teach us that to give up, to self-sacrifice, is very important to spiritual growth. David said once that he would not give to God "that which costs me nothing." We ignore his words to our peril. Too often in our journey we heard many words from people and sometimes they would help us with finances or other resources. Very few people actually gave us something that really cost them. It was sad to see for these people missed the blessing that comes from giving, truly giving, of oneself for another. Try looking today for ways to give what is precious to you, that which costs you something, to those who are needy.

 

The third basic we found that is critical for spiritual growth is empathy. Strange as it seems empathy is extremely rare in our society. Some people were nice to us on our journey but that is not empathy. Empathy means we enter in to another person's situation. It means we walk with that person, giving of ourselves and loving them more than ourselves. This is not easy to do and we had to be trained in it. Each difficulty we went through led us to deeper understanding of what the poor and homeless go through. We had to choose to give up 'self' each time and think of others instead of what we needed even when we needed food, warmth and shelter. We found a few people that had been through hardship but it had turned to bitterness in their lives and the sour fruit came out at us. It wasn't nice to go through that. Take the time to understand what another person is going through and 'enter in' to help them. It will cost you something but the reward is greater, much greater, than anything you could ever imagine.


I would encourage you today to talk to God about these three basics of spiritual maturity. If you are serious about your faith then pray and ask Him to start bringing out these three basics in your life. You won't like the lessons, I can guarantee it, but if you stick with Him and don't quit you will grow up. if you succeed He will take you into the wilderness and grow you into a mature son or daughter and give you Himself!


Homer Les and Wanda Ring

www.homerlesandwandaring.com

Tags: Humility Self-sacrifice Empathy Faith Spiritual Maturity


The Boma
Posted On 11/29/2017 17:33:07

I do not believe in coincidences. Having followed God through the wilderness, we have experienced His humble and invisible hand of love reach out and lead us too many times to think otherwise. Each time I was surprised at the gentle and quiet way He connected with us. His tender care and sweet love always catch me off guard. So when my family gave me the book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony for my birthday, I was not expecting God to break into my world and speak to us as He did. From that book came a powerful truth about love and humility. I would like to share with you how it affected us.

There was a herd of elephants who lived in northern South Africa that had run afoul of the people they lived around. The matriarch of this rogue herd had learned to take the hit of 8,000 volts to break through electric fences, and the herd was very much feared for their uncontrollable nature. This angry temperament had not been their fault; but the humans who lived around them were in fear for their lives. Lawrence Anthony was a conservationist who owned the Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, South Africa. He was given the chance to take in this herd of rogue elephants that were slated to be destroyed if he didn’t. Despite his reservations, Lawrence’s compassion compelled him to take the animals. However, he had to electrify 20 miles of the game reserve fencing and build an electrified paddock called a boma; a Zulu term for ‘small enclosure’. This was to hold the herd while they settled in. To acclimate to their new surroundings would take some time. This herd was restless and traumatized so it would not be easy. To make matters much worse, before they had been shipped to Thula Thula, the authorities had killed the matriarch and her calf so the herd size was reduced to 7. Since elephants are deeply emotional and have very strong family bonds, this further traumatized the herd.

This emotionally distraught group of elephants were then transported to Thula Thula on a very rainy day. They were quite agitated and the unloading was filled with difficulties. To make an already difficult situation worse, and unbeknownst to Lawrence at the time, his guards were poachers. They were actively, but secretively, trying to sabotage the electric fencing so the elephants would escape and they could continue poaching. Sometime in the night, shortly after the elephants arrived, someone shot a round of ammunition off that spooked the herd. The elephants broke through the boma fence and then escaped the reserve altogether. Eventually, they were found; but not before they had almost killed a gamekeeper in a neighboring reserve in the process. The whole area wanted to kill them. The rangers were even issued powerful elephant guns to hunt them down if they got loose. Lawrence pleaded for their lives and to be given one last chance to save them. Knowing that there was no other hope for them, Lawrence had the elephants brought back to the repaired and reinforced boma. He knew that if they escaped again, the herd would all be killed without mercy.

Knowing what was at stake, and having deep compassion for their traumatized state of being, Lawrence decided that the elephants only chance was if they could connect with one human. He decided to be that human. Lawrence and an assistant gathered some supplies and then camped out at the boma. They spent weeks there; staying with the herd and getting them used to his presence. Each day they would watch the elephants and make sure they got fed. The animals were really angry at being locked up and very fierce. The first night at exactly 4:45 AM, the new matriarch Nana decided she would break out through the electric fence and head home with her family. Lawrence knew that if they escaped, their fate would be sealed; so he stood in their way. Terrified as he was, Lawrence stood his ground and spoke calmly to the fierce matriarch. A 250-pound man is no match for a 5-ton angry elephant; especially one that had busted through electric fences a few days earlier. She trumpeted, flared and looked like she would take the herd right through the fence and him with it; but yet did not. Lawrence had laid his life down for this herd, knowing that he was their only hope for life. The elephants seemed to know this too. After a few minutes Nana stood down, then turned around and left with the herd.

Exactly at 4:45 a.m. every morning, Nana would repeat this blustering routine; lining up due north with the herd, ready to go home. Lawrence would stand in her way and talk to her; soothingly.  She would always stand down. One day she did something unusual. After the herd turned and left, Nana turned around and stared at Lawrence for a short time. He knew then something had changed. She still came to take the herd out at 4:45 AM each day, but now she was less aggressive. The days passed and Lawrence could see them calming and settling down.  One day during their morning check, Nana put out her trunk past the electric wires and reached out to Lawrence. This was dangerous.  He could easily have been pulled into the electric fence and subsequently trampled to death. Once again he put his life on the line, in simple trust, to help those wounded elephants. Lawrence stayed just out of reach so that Nana’s trunk couldn’t pull him in; but yet close enough that she could just barely touch him. Her trunk was soft and slimy as she touched his forehead and made contact for the first time. Lawrence knew then that a bond had been formed; there was a small level of trust given on both sides. It was time to let the herd out of the boma and into the reserve.   

Lawrence and another ranger pushed open the door to the boma and waited nearby. The adult and teenage elephants came out slowly, but a little baby elephant couldn’t get past a mud hole at the entrance. No problem. Nana easily pushed down a 30-foot tree by the entrance and made a way for the baby. Pure power that could easily have busted down an electric fence with Lawrence on the other side; but yet didn’t. The herd eventually acclimated to the reserve and made no further attempts at breaking out. Lawrence’s guards, who were also undercover poachers, did everything they could to sabotage the fence and try to make the elephants escape. Because they were terrified of these huge wild animals, their poaching activities had been severely curtailed. They wanted the elephants to be gone or shot so they could continue illegally poaching. Thankfully, the herd stayed in the reserve and the poachers were discovered and left.

In this story we see the tender, sacrificial love of a man for a herd of elephants that had no place else to turn. By giving them a home and showing them respect and compassion, Lawrence had earned their respect in turn. The herd settled into their new home and became an integral part of Lawrence’s life; just as much as he had become a part of their family. He had won them over not by dominance, strength or control; but by simple, humble love. Such is the awesome power of love.

After we left our basement apartment on July 1 of this year, we had no home either again; no place to go to where we could rest and relax. We drove around the city for 20 days; sleeping in a tent in a local sports park and cleaning up at an athletic facility. We ate hot dogs and ramen noodles for the most part and just watched and waited.  Then we connected with a lady we had been in touch with earlier. After many emails, she felt led of God to support us as missionaries and bring together our faith journey with some financial stability. This temporary arrangement has now lasted since July 23; thanks to her sacrificial love and obedience to God’s voice. However, even though we were inside, we still felt trapped and frustrated that there was no clear leading yet for a new home.  God, however, in His infinite wisdom and love had purpose and reason for keeping us confined. Although we could not fathom the reason, we had to once again trust in His unfailing love and stay put. All the while we kept connecting with this dear sister who had formed such a family bond with our own. Then in His singularly quiet and unassuming way, God used this story of a rogue herd of elephants to help us understand what He had been doing with us all along.

Such is the quiet, humble love of God. His sweet and tender understanding knew that we had been deeply hurt and traumatized by our wilderness journey; way beyond our own understanding. He was reintegrating us back into the body of Christ through the real church that entered in with compassion; just like Lawrence did with the elephants. God led us to our own boma and connected us to a dear sister in Jesus who understood the pain and trauma we had been through. Her humble sacrifice was God’s direct love to us. The wilderness season is all about betrayal. Betrayal that cuts and tears our insides apart and leaves deep heartbreak and wariness. God’s humble heart of love wanted to heal us from that trauma. His way is quiet, respectful and tenderly gracious; just like Lawrence. Over these past few months we have, like the elephants, begun to trust again. Although we may be trapped and frustrated at times with our confinement, Jesus quietly stands in our way and speaks soothing words to our heart. How can we not be moved by such humility and sacrifice?

Today as we were out on our errands, I parked beside a car. Written neatly in the dust on the door of the other car were the words, ‘God is love.’ Once again God’s subtle, quiet and humble message was coming through to us. He was unveiling to us that it is His love that matters. We know that God is love, but we need to become love. We are to let His sacrificial, humble love flow through us; just like our dear sister did for us. We need to, like Lawrence, lay down our lives in sacrifice so that the love of the Father can come through. However, first we need to know we are loved; only then can we bring that love to others. By his humble acts, Lawrence taught Wanda and I about the love of God once again.  Thanks to our sister’s act of sacrificial love, done in humility, we too have been shown mercy. The Father will know when our touch is soft enough; Jesus’ love flowing freely through His beloved to others. This is the lesson of the boma.

Homer and Wanda

www.homerlesandwandaring.com

Tags: Lawrence Anthony Elephants Boma South Africa Sacrifice Humility Love


Make A Decision
Posted On 11/28/2017 14:10:26

I can remember it clearly as if it just happened. Boris, our much loved South African ballroom dance teacher, bellowing out across the dance floor, “MAKE A DECISION!!” There I was, my beautiful bride in my arms, doing nothing but box steps like a one legged duck trying to swim and my dance teacher had enough. Our dance teacher, of course, saw that I was stuck going in circles not knowing what to do. I had many choices of steps I could take but was paralyzed out of fear and the unknown. Boris was yelling at me to man up and just do something other than what was getting us nowhere. How often do we find ourselves just going in circles and wondering why God isn’t doing something? Is it likely because He is waiting for us to make a decision?

One of the key lessons God taught us BEFORE we went into our wilderness was how important it was to make a decision. All my life I had lived in fear and my parents never allowed me to grow up. Even though I had done many things I don’t think I had made many ‘decisions’ in my life. What I mean by that is that I did not consciously choose a course of action and accept ALL the consequences that stemmed from that action. There were many times when I would act but oftentimes those actions did not stem from a well thought out decision and rarely would I take the consequences for what I had done. Boris really turned my head around on this point and I thank God that he did. In learning how to make decisions on my own and act on those decisions I was beginning the process of maturing. This taught our family how to ‘own’ our decisions and the consequences. This was a critical lesson we would use many times to navigate what God lay out before us.

The three parts to any decision are as follows. The first part is to be made aware of the what the decision is about and what are the consequences. The second part is to engage the free will and decide what to do. Thirdly there is a need to act on that decision and do what was decided. Now you will never have all the details about what needs to be decided but this must not stop you. God typically only gives us a little bit of knowledge about a decision and expects that we will trust Him with the rest. That builds faith and trust in Him which is always good. Next you need to exercise your free will to make the best decision you can. Remember that even no decision is a decision to do nothing. Finally, once the decision is made God expects you follow through with what you decided. If you do not, you will show to God and yourself that you are no better than a hypocrite. This last point is the most critical for it gets to the heart of any decision which is the action which follows.

The action after a decision is what God is really looking for. It is this action that works with God’s will to move us in the direction He wants us to go in. His leading will always lead us to greater maturity and Christ likeness. Jesus clearly laid the importance of action in Matthew 21:28-31. “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father? They replied, The first one. Jesus said to them, Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the harlots will get into the kingdom of heaven before you.” You see the Pharisees knew about the ways of God but they did not follow Him. The did not follow up with their very public declaration about following God’s will. They were missing the ‘action’.

There is a story I read in St. Stephen about a group of believers that visited an Amish farm. One man asked the Amish farmer what the difference was between the Amish and themselves. The Amish farmer replied, “Do all of you here have televisions?” All the believers raised their hands. He then asked, “How many here recognize the violence, sex, and profanity on the television is bad for their families?” Again, all hands were raised. He went on to ask, “Now that you have admitted this how many of you are willing to go home and get rid of your TVs?” This time no one raised their hands. “That,” the Amish farmer said, “is the difference between you and the Amish.” You see it is all fine and well to think of something and then make a decision but if it isn’t acted on it is not a decision.

Wanda and I are in a very peculiar place. We have spent years outside church buildings walking with God in the wilderness. As such we have a unique perspective on believers. You see we talk to all kinds of people believers and unbelievers alike. We also get to closely observe the behavior of both groups of people because we don’t fit into either group. Our assessment is, well, that there is no practical difference between the two. We have met hundreds of people and I have to admit I would rather be with an honest unbeliever than with one that claims to know God but behaves just like everyone else around them. It is the disingenuine believer that scares us for they act just like worst of humanity and yet thinks that God will bless them because they use His name. They have done such a disservice to God and to others that actually follow His will that it is heart wrenching to watch. It is like they are crucifying Jesus by their very lives. This should not be. There are too many believers today that will not follow God’s will with action. They want God to do things for them but inevitably they are stuck dancing in circles.

Following God is not easy. As we grow He continually asks of us to engage our will to follow His will. He is asking us to grow up and ‘make a decision’. If you do not see this in your own life then I would seriously consider asking God why. If you are serious about following Him He will lead and He expects you to follow. He expects you to make decisions that show this commitment. He expects you to act on your decisions and accept the forthcoming consequences. These are all reasonable expectations from God for those that say they want to be the Bride of Christ. To not follow Him in obedience is to make mockery of the example of willful obedience Jesus set for us.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. Have you ever listened to a speaker and heard words that spoke directly to your heart and convicted you? You probably were stopped short and thought, “Wow, that relates to me.” Now the real question is, what did you do with those words? What were your actions? Did you confess, repent, change or did you just say, ”wow”? Do you believe that Jesus has ‘done it all’ or that He is calling you to greater levels of obedience to His will? I cannot answer these questions for you, only you can. Wanda and I followed God. He led us through the wilderness and in the end we are not the people that started this journey. We have changed, matured, grown up in trust and faith, leaning on our Beloved for everything. This is not because we are special or different from you. There is only one reason why we have made it through. When God said ‘make a decision,’ we did. For Him. It’s your turn now.

Homer Les

www.homerlesandwandaring.com

Tags: Decision South Africa Dance Consequences Amish Wilderness Jesus Obed




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