The Church as the Bride of Christ

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Jesus is longing for a pure and whole Bride who has made herself ready for Him. Who is the

Bride of Christ? We are – the worldwide church. Are we making ourselves ready for our

Bridegroom? Will we be found ready and waiting when our Bridegroom returns? (Mt 25:1-13)

Are we – the Bride – crying out with the Spirit, “Come!” ….(Rev 22:17)

Is that the cry of your heart? Or would you be more likely to stay where you are if you knew

Jesus was in the next room….what makes you hesitate to enter into His glorious presence full of

light…to run to Him….can you be truly honest with yourself?

Is it not the sin hidden in our hearts and lives….the things we’d rather not disclose to

anyone….we rather keep our secret sins hidden and in the closet….it seems so much safer in

the dark as oppose to exposing them to the light of day. Ugh….my prideful flesh says, “yes…..it’s

okay, to keep indulging in self-pleasure and self-gratifying behaviors….cheap

pleasures…temporarily relief from reality.”

But reality is my spirit is dying inside…..what once satisfied no longer does…and I keep having to

have more to scratch that itch…only to find it doesn’t truly satisfy either….I’m left empty and

dissatisfied…longing to be filled with true love, pleasure, purpose.

And that is exactly what Jesus, our Bridegroom, offers each of us…true love, pleasure,

purpose….His word (Jam 5:16) says when we confess our sins to each other, and pray for each

other and we will be healed. Did you catch that?…”confess our sins to each other” not just to

Him but to other believers…..we need to come out of isolation and out of that dark, secret

place where we are dying- into the light.

Where is the church? Where is brothers and sisters…who won’t condemn or judge us but will

stand beside us in the fight for freedom? A safe place of refuge where we can be honest about

our sin…confess and repent together? And find freedom as we exercise the authority we have

in Christ and storm the gates of hell….taking back the ground the enemy has stolen from us –

the purity of the Church – His Bride.

Give the “Talk” and keep talking!

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In today’s society the ability to access pornography is so easy. With cell phones and the internet pornography can be accessed anywhere. Children are being exposed younger and younger to the more extreme hard-core images and videos of pornography. If this exposer goes unchecked children are developing porn addictions at earlier ages and this is carrying over into their high school and college years. Untreated this addiction is brought into the marriage secretly and over time the marriage and now new family is destroyed.

Pornography rapes the mind; the human brain was not designed to handle the major dose of chemicals the brain unleashes when one is viewing porn. Studies have shown there is damage done to the brain and brain’s chemistry is altered when one is exposed to pornography. An addiction to pornography is chemically identical to a heroin addiction.

What are you doing to teach your children about the dangers of pornography? This is not a onetime conversation with your child, but continuous ongoing conversation.

Refuge – What is it?

r4The Church today is under enormous attack from the enemy in the area of sexual purity, however, this is not something new. The early Church dealt with the same issues that we are dealing with today in the Church.  We at Refuge desire to see the bride of Christ purified. Christ didn’t die on the cross for us to manage our pain, He died so we can be healed. We believe this healing can happen on this side of Heaven.  If men are losing the battles with their purity we lose families, and if we lose families, we lose the church.  We want to point men to freedom so we can build the Church.  We also want to help families to be able to bridge the gap with their children; to help them understand God’s gift of sex and for them to be able to live pure lives. 

Refuge is a safe atmosphere where men can come as they are to receive the healing power of Jesus Christ through the Gospel in the area of sexual purity, and to walk in the freedom of Christ. We focus on growth in the following areas:

Confession of sin –  Dealing with accountability, identifying our red flags, and our cycles of sin.

Our Identity in Christ –  Understanding our identity we have with Christ to be able to receive His healing and freedom.

Healing – We look at the hurts and wounds we have received and where they have come from in order to bring about God’s healing.

Forgiveness – Understanding what forgiveness is, so we can forgive ourselves, others and to be able to ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt.

Prayer – Speaking to God and listening to what He has to say to us about the lies and wounds we have received throughout our lives so He can heal them.

What services do we provide?

  • We provide one-on-one or small group discipleship for men or parents.
  • Training for church leaders so they can provide the discipleship needed for their church in the area of purity.
  • Resources for parents –We have many useful resources for parents to bridge the purity conversation with their children. We also offer a half a day parents conference teaching on the dangers of pornography and how the Gospel can protect your children

For more information go to our website: http://refugenortheast.weebly.com

A Prayer

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Infinite and eternal Majesty! Author and Fountain of being and blessedness! how little do we poor sinful creatures know of thee, or the way to serve and please thee! We talk of religion, and pretend unto it; but, alas! how few are there that know and consider what it means! How easily do we mistake the affections of our nature, and issues of self-love, for those divine graces which alone can render us acceptable in thy sight! It may justly grieve me to consider, that I should have wandered so long, and contented myself so often with vain shadows and false images of piety and religion; yet I cannot but acknowledge and adore thy goodness, who hast been pleased, in some measure, to open mine eyes, and let me see what it is at which I ought to aim. I rejoice to consider what mighty improvements my nature is capable of, and what a divine temper of spirit doth shine in those whom thou are pleased to choose, and causest to approach unto thee. Blessed be thine infinite mercy, who sentest thine own son to dwell among men, and instruct them by his example as well as his laws, giving them a perfect pattern of what they ought to be. O that the holy life of the blessed Jesus may be always in my thoughts, and before mine eyes, till I receive a deep sense and impression of those excellent graces that shined so eminently in Him! And let me never cease my endeavours, till that new and divine nature prevail in my soul, and Christ be formed within me.

By Henry Scougal from his book “Life of God In The Soul of Man”

Henry Scougal (1650 – 1678) was a godly young Scotch Puritan who produced a number of works in his brief life while a pastor and professor of divinity at King’s College, Aberdeen. His greatest production is by consensus, The Life Of God In The Soul Of Man, which was originally written to a friend to explain Christianity and give spiritual counsel. This short treatise displays unusual perception and maturity for one so young. In fact, this work was almost universally well-spoken of by the leaders of the Great Awakening, including George Whitefield, who said he never really understood what true religion was till he had digested Scougal’s treatise. In addition to his literary productions, Henry Scougal was also noted for his piety and his clear grasp of scripture, aided in turn by his proficiency in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and some of the cognate oriental languages. Taken out of the world at the young age of twenty-eight by tuberculosis, perhaps the words preached at his funeral service most aptly characterize the man, for there it was declared of Henry Scougal that – “he truly lived much in a few years and died an old man in eight and twenty years.”

Rejoice in the Lord!

Healing Is A Life Long Process

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So often I wish I could take a break from my journey of healing and get off the path to rest, it hurts and it’s painful and there are days that are just no fun. Those days seem to turn into weeks that roll over to months. There are days I wish I could just stop hurting, but because I am still hurting, I have to continue to walk on my path of healing because God is not done with me yet. God is not in a hurry, He grows things. As hard as this statement is, it’s true. We see this in Scripture. God wasn’t in a hurry to get things done. He has a perfect plan and that plan is still playing out today. Our healing is a life-long process that will be completed at the end of our life. Don’t give up! As much as it hurts to keep going. There are days I am just flat frustrated and I wish I could get punched in the face because at least then I will know where the pain is coming from. There are days I just hurt and don’t know where in the world the pain is coming from, but God knows, and I think He has to wait until we are ready to deal with said pain. For the last several months I have been dealing with some stuff and the pain level has been pretty high up. The one thing I thought was causing my pain was not it at all and the Lord had to take me down a long walk to show me that. At the end of the walk, I was very disappointed but the Lord had to take me down that path to show me what I thought was causing problems was not the “root” issue at all. There was a much bigger issue. For several weeks I have been hurting because in my heart I would not have been able to accept the true cause of the problem because I was not focused right. Finally, yesterday God started to unpack another wound I had been carrying around for so many years. (See my series on wounds – https://refugenortheast.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/the-wound-part-1/)

This wound I thought I had already dealt with it, but I came to realize I just packed it back down and didn’t really deal with it. I don’t hurt as much today, I think most of this is because I am in shock that this issue I thought I had dealt with was nowhere dealt with. I say all this to say, that I am still walking on my path of healing, and the Lord is still able to use me to help others and to encourage others. I know with the Lords help I will be able to get past this current wound I am working on with Him. Then there will be another one the Lord will need to bring up and help me deal with in His timing. Don’t give up! I know it hurts and it’s no fun, but remember we have to go through the pain to be healed. God loves you!

Ask the Lord to continue to help you move through your pain and to show you where your pain is coming from. Ask Him if you’re at a place to even deal with it. I wasn’t, and I totally missed the mark on this one. Remember we are on a lifetime walk with the Lord on this path of healing.

 

 

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Refuge Leadership Team.

Do you know the parents of your kids friends?

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I’ve had the privilege of working next to my wife close to 16 years as she has lead children’s ministry. I used to be shocked when a child would tell me about a video game they are playing or about a movie they just saw or about the new tech device they just got. The reason I would get shocked was because the video game, movie, etc. was stuff that had adult content in it. These days I don’t get shocked anymore, it’s just the norm. A lot of parents are OK with allowing their children to watch things that have adult content in it or allow their children to have unlimited access to the internet and that is their call and I have no right to judge them. However, as a parent who is working to protect my child and train my child I do have the right to tell my child, “buddy, your not allowed to go over to your friend’s house.” Now, why would I tell my child that? Because I have gotten to know the parents of my child’s friends. I was first exposed to pornography at age 11 at a friends house when I stayed the night. It was the first time I was able to spend the night at my friend’s house and I was introduced to a world I did not know was out there. My friend’s parents didn’t care what we were watching, so from that point on when I went over to my friend’s house, watching porn was on the list of stuff to do.

Parents, you are your child’s protector and yes your child is going to get upset at you for telling them hard things. Like they cannot play this game, watch that movie, or be able to go to Johnny’s house. Check out a blog I posted by Randy Alcorn a few weeks ago that address protecting your child is more important than getting their approval.

https://refugenortheast.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/protecting-our-children-is-more-important-than-seeking-their-approval/

Parents, get to know the parents of your friends. If you know they don’t seem to care what their child does, then you may want to encourage your child to invite their friends over to your house. A friend of mine when his kids were young created a special room in his house for his kid’s friends to come over and hang out. As his kids got older the room changed to adapt to the age of the kids. My buddy had kids, teenagers, middle school kids, high school kids, coming and going out of his house all the time. He created an environment where his kids wanted to be at their house with their friends and he knew his kids were safe. He would have kids at his house for hours and hours with lots of sleepovers at his house.

Our kids are going to be exposed to things of the world and I cannot stop that. I can, however, try to limit that exposure to their older when I have had a chance to train and help my child understand things better. I want to be the one talking about issues, I don’t want him to be finding out about things from his friends. In order for me to do that, I have to be talking with him on a regular basis about these issues.

Get to know the parents of your kid’s friends, get to know them well. It’s how your protect your kids.

 

You are VALUABLE!

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Last night I was reminding of how valuable I am to God. Oh, how I often forget who I am to Him. As I was watching the Dawn Treader, there is a scene where Lucy is tempted to use the spell she took from the Book Of Illusions to make herself look beautiful. After she uses the spell and comes back to, she is met by Aslan. As they talk, Aslan reminds her that she has forgotten that she is valuable. We are the same way every time we go back to the sin that enslaves us. Two things happen, we forget who we are to God, or we haven’t fully come to understand who we really are in God’s sight. I think it’s both. We forget we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt 5: 13-14) and apart of God’s family (John 1:12). That I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His Fruit (John 15: 16), I am a son of God (Rom 8:14-15). I am a temple of God, His Spirit, I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him, I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor 3:16, 6: 19, 6:17, 1 Cor. 12: 27). I am a new creation and have been reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:17 – 19) and the list just goes on and on. We are God’s children and God accepts us just the way we are, with all of our baggage. God chose His children before the foundation of the world, and he chose us knowing how we would sin, and what are struggles would be. Are struggles and sin are nothing new to God yet He chose us. We are valuable to God because we are His children, and He loves His children. I forget this way too often, I listen to the lies of the enemy instead of the truth my Father speaks; the truth that He speaks in love. In the scene with Lucy and Aslan, Aslan never condemned Lucy for what she did, but in love told her that she is valuable. Oh God, I pray that every day I will know that I am valuable to you, please let me never forget that. Amen

“Let Your Sins be Strong”

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The other day I came across a letter Martin Luther wrote to Melanchthon (However you say his name) in 1521. At the end of the letter Luther says, ” If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner. ” This is a great reminder of God’s grace. Every day we need to be preaching the gospel to ourselves. When is the last time you preached the Gospel to yourself?