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Posts tagged ‘Second Epistle to the Corinthians’

{ Day 350 }.

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 2 Corinthians 5:12-13, KJV

Paul was challenging the mentality of some who were looking on outward things and not properly discerning the heart of a certain matter at hand. What could this matter have been? The next verse tells us. Paul reveals that this controversy centered around two different general states of being that he and other believers were experiencing periodically. This first mode he called being “beside ourselves.” The only other time that this Greek word is used in the New Testament is when the people of Nazareth accused Jesus of being mad. We get our English word ecstatic from a Latin word that means “being outside oneself.” Paul seems to be referring to what are classically understood as ecstatic spiritual experiences and phenomena. He was exhorting the Corinthian believers to not stumble over this genuine holy activity that didn’t appear dignified or even always rational. Instead he challenged them to glory—that is, to rejoice greatly—that such visitations were occurring among them and releasing greater passion in their hearts for God. Visible joy upon believers is possibly the best advertisement for the gospel.


Spirit, reveal Yourself to me through whatever method You choose. Make me willing to be “beside myself” with the joy of Your presence. Release greater power and passion in my heart for Christ, and let others see Your love in my life.

We are to serve the Lord with gladness.


{ Day 344 }.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

The New Testament epistles were not written like lessons for a Sunday school curriculum. They were written as letters to people like us who were at times going through very difficult situations. When we as a church hear about the conflicts that caused the writing of 2 Corinthians or discover the drama that is the background of the letter to the Hebrews, we begin to identify with the people of the New Testament, not just with the exhortations to them. Not only does this make the New Testament come alive, but it also gives the church a sense of connection with those who began the race. The church as a prophetic community must realize that we are a continuation of what they began. We must feel that connection. The torch has been passed so many times that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are running the same race they started. Their leg of the race has been completed, and they have now gathered at the finish line to cheer us on. The church is the living testimony of the prophetic purpose of God in history.


Holy Spirit, help me to understand the heart and emotions of those early Christians who became Your servants. Let me feel connected to them, and give me a heart that desires to separate myself to You just as they did.

The church is a prophetic community
that is to preserve and proclaim
accurately the Word of God.

By David Jeremiah.

What Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know About Spiritual Warfare.

Satanic pride

When God called Jeremiah as a prophet to the nations, it came with a sixfold prophetic-apostolic mandate to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. A humble Jeremiah accepted the calling and, despite the spiritual warfare that raged against him, he walked in obedience and fulfilled his mission in God.

Prophets or not, God’s people are still called to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We don’t engage in physical battles, but we wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV). We have spiritual weapons for offense and defense, including the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and prayer (vv. 14-18).

As Paul said, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3-6, KJV).

3 Things Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know 
First, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you have the authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. Or, as Paul describes it, pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Second, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you are wrestling against persons without bodies that are launching fiery, faith-stealing darts against your mind in the form of thoughts contrary to God’s Word.

However, most savvy Christians understand their authority in Christ and realize they are in a battle that’s targeting their minds. Yet there’s still one thing Satan doesn’t want you to know about spiritual warfare: You can’t effectively pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and bring every thought into captivity without casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God in your own mind. Consider the Amplified Bible’s version of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete.”

Casting Down Your Proud Thoughts
We all know we can’t battle Satan in the flesh, yet the temptation is to rely on the flesh in warfare in subtle ways. As I’ve noted in the past, in an article entitled “You’re Resisting the Devil, So Why Won’t He Flee?” we can take pride in our spiritual warfare skills. But it’s not just pride in our warfare skills that can hinder our effectiveness in destroying strongholds. It’s pride in any area of our life.

Of course, we all have a measure of pride in our carnal nature. But when the Holy Spirit is dealing with us about pride in some area—or when we see our own pride and don’t cry out for the grace of humility—we’re walking in sheer disobedience. The Bible says we are to have a “readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor. 10:6, KJV). I believe the more we seek to walk in obedience to the Word of God, the more effective we’ll be in spiritual warfare.

So we return once again to the admonition of James: “He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:6-8, NKJV).

In our flesh, we’re no match for the devil. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to back up our authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We can’t drive demons into obedience to the Word of God when we’re blatantly disobeying the Word of God in any area, whether it’s walking in pride or some other sin.

Before you engage in spiritual warfare, examine your heart, and take the time to break agreement with the enemy, repent before God and ask for His guidance. It could be that you’ve opened the door to the spiritual enemies that are attacking you and that simply renouncing agreement with them will stop the attack. In any case, we should enter spiritual warfare with confidence but not arrogance. We can be confident that God will lead us into triumph over our enemies if we lean and depend on Him and not on carnal weapons or pride. Amen.


Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Called to be ambassadors…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“We are therefore Christ‘s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20

Jesus’ goal during his time on earth, and still today, is to create clones of himself. Paul, especially in Ephesians, Romans, and Corinthians says, “We are the body of Christ.” We may think that’s a metaphor, but the early church really believed that we filled the role of Jesus until his return and that God was actually in our skin. God, who used to feel distant and far away on a cloud somewhere, because of Christmas, now that same God dwells in your body. Wherever your body goes, so does Jesus go. Because of that, you carry with you a responsibility to live like Jesus, to love people – especially your enemies, those who hate you, and those who say evil things about you – and to do good. You’re called to live a different kind of life, one that’s remarkable.

That’s not just an encouragement but also a responsibility – to be called ambassadors. We’re called the temple. We’re called all sorts of things to show that wherever your body goes, so does Jesus go. Wherever your body is, if you’re a believer, Jesus is there, too. This means that, as you live your life like Jesus to people around you, they experience Christ. When people experience love, they experience God. When you put your hand on the shoulder of someone who’s suffering, you say, “I’m there for you,” and he or she experiences Jesus, not just you. When you say to someone, “I love you and I wish you the best,” or you bless someone with a gift, or you speak an encouraging word, or you pray that Jesus is blessing them, they experience Jesus encouraging them. It’s because of those relationships that people are able to experience Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to be an ambassador of your love to others. Help me welcome all I meet into a relationship with you. Amen.

Reflection: How have you served as an ambassador of Christ?

Dara’s Wall.

During her childhood, Dara saw enough pain and abuse to last a lifetime. In response, she built a protective wall around her heart. But “The Wall” kept out the love and acceptance she so desperately needed. When Dara turned to God and began to read his Word, her wall began to crumble as God’s unfailing love tumbled in.

Dara’s true story is one of many uniquely featured testimonies from you, the members and visitors of this site. Each story reveals a life transformed by Christian faith. If your relationship with God has made a significant difference in your life, we would like to hear about it. Submit your testimony by filling out this Submission Form. To receive weekly messages of hope and encouragement from real-life stories of changed lives, sign up for eTestimonies.

Dara’s Wall

Watching my mother be abused emotionally by my father to a point which eventually brought her to a near-death suicide attempt, led me to internalize my feelings. I put them behind “The Wall” I had built around my heart. My father was and still is, the angriest, most controlling and domineering individual I’ve ever known. I literally felt my mother’s pain, yet I attempted to shut myself off from it by physically plugging my ears and running from any and all confrontation.

I became a person who always wanted to please others; to be the best at everything I attempted. I simply refused to pursue anything unless I was reasonably certain I could obtain perfection. So as you might surmise, my endeavors became very limited. To receive love and acceptance, I felt I had to be “doing something” to obtain it.

Internalizing My Pain

During my childhood I was sexually abused by the son of a family friend. My father excused it away saying, “Boys will be boys.” This caused me to further internalize my pain. I came to the realization that voicing it did not bring resolution, nor did it bring love and approval. Because of “The Wall,” I waited years to share the abuse and my subsequent pain with anyone.

I have known God since I was a child through the faithful example of my mother. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 12 and have since had a strong personal relationship with Him. Yet I resisted letting even Him into the depths of my heart. “The Wall” I had built by that time was thickly layered and nearly impossible to penetrate.

I had a fear of letting my feelings be seen, so although I never stopped talking to the Lord every day, I continued to keep Him and everyone else on the outside of “The Wall.” I know within my heart that the Lord was watching and waiting for me to turn to Him and lay everything at His feet. Yet, even still I could not break through “The Wall” I had erected around my heart.

Finally, almost 4 years ago, after losing two strong spiritual examples, my mother and my mother-in-law, who both passed away at relatively young ages, and after moving 600 miles from anyone I knew, and after having repeated thoughts of suicide, I turned to God, somewhat as a last alternative.

Reading the Word of God

I began to read the Word of God daily and allow the Lord to speak to me through it. I could not believe how relevant it was to what I was going through in my life. I began to devour the Word, as Matthew 4:4 says, “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NIV)

I began to keep a journal and that allowed “The Wall” around my heart to begin to crumble. The Lord was faithful everyday to speak to me and to reassure me of his unfailing love and affirmation. He released His purpose in my life and I began without reservation to live to please him, and not everyone else.

The Lord became the “Counselor” I so desperately needed and, believe it or not, I was anxious to go to therapy! He became my comforter, my refuge and my source of strength in every circumstance. I came to the revelation that I didn’t have to “do things” to obtain his unconditional love and acceptance.

Now I turn to the Lord, most of the time, without hesitation. I open his Word daily and he is faithful to speak to me no matter the time or situation. I prayerfully seek his guidance in all my decisions. My life is definitely not a bed of roses, but I am able to handle all adversity by praying, reading God’s Word and journaling. I no longer allow my feelings to be put behind “The Wall.”

Just as the wall around Jericho came tumbling down, so did “The Wall” around my heart. I now exist to fulfill this verse of Scripture:

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (NIV)

By Dara Bennett

Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving.

Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving

My thrice-great grandmother was a Choctaw Native born in South Mississippi in 1845. Her name was Clementine “Thankful” Page. I’m not sure what her parents called her in the day-to-day but I’ve imagined it would be great if she went by “Thankful.” I can imagine that name echoing through a house in those antebellum years. “Thankful, it’s time for dinner” or maybe, “Thankful, what did you do?” What a wonderful name and a great way to be remembered. For whatever reason, her parents chose to mark her life with a constant reminder of gratitude. Likewise, Christians have been given a new name in Christ and we should be marked by the virtue of thanksgiving. “Thankful” should be our name.

Many nations have their own traditional “Day of Thanks.” Here in the United States, our country celebrates Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday of November. It has a long history and has been on the books since 1863, when Lincoln declared, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” To be sure, there are gluttonous excesses associated with the holiday that old Abe probably didn’t envision but I believe it can serve as a vital reminder to followers of Christ. Any “Day of Thanks” should serve as a genuine cue for the believer that real thanksgiving is a daily virtue skillfully pondered and carefully applied.

Move Beyond a Generic Thanksgiving

The interesting thing about Thanksgiving Day, Gerald Bray writes, is that it “manages to be religious and secular at the same time.”[1] However for the believer, a secularist perspective will not do. Bray gets to the point of this noting that, “Today it is a major celebration when people are expected and encouraged to be grateful, but no one specifies to whom thanks should be given.”[2] This requires us as Christians to move beyond a generic thanks.

So what is biblical thanksgiving? If we tied together the wealth of the Bible’s teaching we would see that thanksgiving is the recognition that God has blessed us. One of the biblical words used for “thanksgiving” (yada) means to praise, confess, or witness. These are words that are directed to something or better still, to someone. This of course points us to the fact that our confession and our witness are rooted in the character and work of the Triune God. As Christians, we do not offer generic thanksgiving to a generic Being with generic adulation. So, we confess the work of the Son as given by the Father in the power of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:14). As believers, we are witnesses to the grace of God, which has been richly lavished on His Church (Ephesians 1:3).

Thanksgiving for Every Occasion

In Scripture, especially in the Psalms, thanksgiving is often bound together with praise. So to offer praise to the Lord is to give thanks (Psalms 106:1Psalms 136:1). In thanksgiving, we loosen our tongues and proclaim with our voices all that the Lord has done. We declare all of His wonders (Psalms 26:7). So in this way, the Psalms can serve as a voice for our particular praises of thanksgiving (Psalms 95:2). Taking our cue from the Psalms we can learn to offer thanks in some unexpected places. We learn that thanksgiving can come through the channel of suffering, spiritual apathy, and lament as well as times of exuberance, joy, and prosperity. In this way Calvin was right to call the Psalms “An anatomy of all parts of the soul.” Biblical thanksgiving will move our hearts to confess the works of the Lord in all circumstances.

Thanksgiving Made Visible

The Church is the chosen vessel for making the praise of God visible in the world. On a few occasions, the Apostle Paul paused to offer thanks to God for the work and witness of the churches in which he ministered (see Ephesians 1:162 Thessalonians 2:3). Specifically, Paul noted how their faith had been enlarged by the example of their love for one another. Their perseverance under difficulty, their faith in the midst of persecutions, and their resilience in afflictions were all visible grounds for Paul’s thanksgiving. Christian, are you thankful for your church? Are you enlarging the faith of your fellow members? Are you modeling perseverance under duress? The gathered Church is the embodiment of the grace of Christ in the world. Our praises, fellowship, and various efforts for outreach are tangible expressions of thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving Every Day

365 days in a year offer us 365 unique opportunities to demonstrate our life in Christ. 365 opportunities to pray, to lead our family in worship, to grab a friend by the hand and pray with them, to minister to the sick, to prepare a meal for someone who is hungry, to take in a fatherless child, to go on mission, to write a check to a missionary, to roll up our sleeves and serve in the church, and 365 distinct opportunities to tell someone that “Jesus will set you free.” In this way, thanksgiving is every day.

Clearly, there are many opportunities to express thanks to God. Do our various celebrations of thanks carry the distinct aroma of the glories of Christ? For the Church, thanksgiving is every day. After all, her name is “thankful.”

Here are a few ideas for incorporating thankfulness into your Day of Thanks:

·         Read or sing Psalms of thanksgiving (Psalms 9, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 92, 103, 107, 116, 138).

·         Pray through Ephesians 1:3–10 and discuss with friends and family what Christ has done in your life this year.

·         Sing or listen to Charles Wesley’s hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

·         Have each person detail something they are thankful for and then use the opportunity to pray and give thanks to the Lord.

·         For small children, have them create a picture or a craft that demonstrates the practice of thanksgiving to God.

·         Serve someone in physical and/or spiritual need whether in your local church or in your community (nursing home, hospital, shelter, etc.).

Dr. Paul Lamey is Pastor of Preaching at Grace Community Church, Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife, Julie, have four children. You can read more from Paul at his blog, expository thoughts and follow him on Twitter @paulslamey.

[1]Gerald Bray, God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 35.


Paul Lamey

The God Who Actually Does Know What You’re Going Through.

Stephen Altrogge, Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA

The God Who Actually Does Know What You’re Going Through

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. – Jack Handey

My friend Adam is a wise guy. Not in a, “A rabbi, a priest, and a vegan walk into a bar” sort of way, but in a Proverbs, real life street wisdom sort of way. He is a residence director at our local university, which means he works with college students every day. He deals with students in trouble, students in the dumps, students on academic probation, students on drugs, students who have been assaulted, and students who are on the verge of dropping out of college. In other words, he deals with kids who are pretty vulnerable. Kids who have really been slapped around by life.

When interacting with vulnerable kids Adam could easily resort to saying, “I know what you’re going through.” After all, that’s what we say when someone is in a tough spot. We try to relate their experience to our experience. We try to sympathize with them. To comfort them out of our own experience. To let them know they’re not alone. To make them feel loved. And that impulse to comfort others is a good impulse. But Adam doesn’t always do that. Why? Because he knows that in most cases he doesn’t really know what a person is going through. He may be able to relate to some circumstances, but he can’t really know what a person is going through. That is wisdom.

The reality is, when someone is suffering we don’t know what they’re going through. Even if we have experienced similar circumstances as a person who is suffering we don’t process the world the way they do. And we don’t have the same personal history, biological makeup, or support system. When someone is going through the meat grinder we can only know a tiny portion of what they are really experiencing.

Our limited ability to know the suffering of others is what makes 2 Corinthians 7:6 so precious. It says, “But God, who comforts the downcast….”

Jesus knows us fully. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our family history, our biological makeup, our worldview. He knows every nook and cranny of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he also knows suffering on an intense, personal level. Jesus’ knowledge of suffering is not abstract, ivory tower, textbook knowledge. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was mocked, betrayed, and humiliated. As he hung on the cross he was cut off from the Father. Jesus knew excruciating, overwhelming, crushing sorrow.

The combination of Jesus’ omniscience and personal experience with deep suffering perfectly equip him to comfort us in our own suffering. He really does know what we’re going through, and he is ready to comfort us when we are downcast. He doesn’t leave us to muddle and slog through suffering on our own. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up, buck up, and get up. He meets us in our downcast state and pours out grace upon us.

Suffering tempts us to withdraw from God when in reality we should press hard into God. Are you downcast? Are you suffering? Do you feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out? Do you feel like butter scraped over too much bread? Draw near to the God who comforts the downcast. Draw near to the God who knows you exactly and knows exactly what you need. Draw near in your weakness and weariness and ready-to-call-it-quits-ness.

God has a special place in his heart for the downcast. Move toward that place.

Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

Know the Truth and Be Free.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV

Many today are involved in absurd wars. Be it international, family or personal wars, the real reason for the battle are often to those fighting.
Unfortunately many of us Christians today are also involved in aimless battles that lead us nowhere. That is because we do not know the what, the who and the why we are fighting.

Before we engage in any fight against the enemy of our souls, we need to know the truth. The truth will help us win the battle.

Know who you are in Christ. You are everything in Him – and nothing apart from Him. You can do everything that He has for you to do (Philippians 4:13). You fight as free a man, as a free woman. You have all the authority over all the power of the enemy. “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

Know who your enemy is (1 Peter 5:8). He is not the neighbour next door, the colleague in your office or the sister in church. He may be using them to get to you but they are only a means to get to you. The real enemy is behind. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”(Ephesians 6:12).

Know why you are fighting. The truth is we are not fighting to win a war per say. That was already done thousands of years ago by the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 8:37)
And the plan of the enemy is to destroy you (John 10:10). We have the victory but that victory has to be established in our lives. The battle is to pull down the strongholds of the lies of the enemy. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Know where the battle is taking place. It will do you no good if an event occurs in Germany and you go to France to see it. The battle is in your soul. More precisely in your mind (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If your thinking is wrong, your attitude will be wrong, your actions will be wrong, your destiny will be wrong. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

How do we know the truth? We dive into the Word, by reading the Word, praying the Word, meditating the Word and practicing the Word . And with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), we will be prepared to stand and fight.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Wishing you a Blessed Week!

I have told you this, that His joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full! (John 15:11)

By Anita Antwi.

{ Day 292 }.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

One principle to note is the connection between the abundance of revelation and a higher degree of suffering or testing. According to Paul, his thorn in the flesh was given to keep him from exalting himself in light of the abundance of revelation that he had received (2 Cor. 12:7). The thorn was given because of revelation. On the other hand, it seems that God gives powerful revelation because of the testings that some are about to encounter. Paul received a prophetic vision instructing him to take his missionary efforts into Macedonia rather than Bithynia. That decision resulted in Paul and Silas being arrested, dragged before the magistrate, severely beaten with rods, thrown into the inner prison, and secured in stocks. Though the thorn can come because of revelation, so also revelation can come to prepare us for future testings. How greatly will the saints who are awaiting the physical and visible return of Jesus Christ be encouraged by the undeniable confirmations of His coming!


Father, may I recognize the thorns that come into my own life as evidence that You are testing me and preparing me to be ready for Your coming. With the thorn comes powerful revelation of Your plan to come again.

A powerful prophetic revelation with
undeniable confirmations stabilizes
people in a time of severe testing.


How to Have an Affair.

Dena Johnson

Have you ever wondered how to start an affair? Or, maybe you’ve known someone who had an affair and asked yourself how it could have happened.

Although I have never personally had an affair, I have had a front row seat. I have seen it unfold, step by step. I have watched as the one I loved was offered repeated opportunities to stop the affair before it ever started—and yet chose to keep walking deeper into sin, farther from God.

After several years of rehashing the events, I have reached a place of healing and wholeness. I can now recite the facts without shedding a tear. I can regurgitate dates and times—even emotions—without faltering. I can even laugh at things that broke my heart a few short years ago. But, the process still haunts me.

When I write, I always try to focus on me…on what God has done in me and for me and through me. However, as I walked through the stages of adultery and divorce yet again this morning, I was hit with the realization that the other side of this story needs to be told. There is someone, somewhere who is walking blindly down the path to an affair. There is a spouse blindly allowing the one he/she loves to engage in dangerous activity. There is someone who needs help—before it’s too late.

With that preface, I offer you the recipe for an affair.

1. Have a healthy dose of approval addiction

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant (Galatians 1:10).

We all long to hear words of affirmation, but it can get out of hand. My ex-husband was a pastor. If you have never been in ministry, you may not realize the amount of criticism that is heaped upon pastors. One person complains that the music is too loud; another complains that it’s not loud enough. One person complains if the pastor doesn’t wear a shirt and tie; another complains that he needs to dress more modern. One complains that the sermon is too long; another complains that it is too short.

There is no way to satisfy an entire congregation. When we are focused on the approval of man instead of God, we live by emotions. When someone offers a word of encouragement, we are swept off our feet and seek more. We search for those who will stroke our egos, tell us how wonderful we are. If we get that encouragement from the wrong people (i.e., attractive members of the opposite sex), we are putting ourselves in danger.

2. Study scripture without allowing it to penetrate your heart or mind.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

My ex-husband has one of the finest theological educations money can buy. He had the privilege of sitting at the feet of amazing men of God: Chuck Swindoll, Howard Hendricks, Roy Zuck, and more. He worked hard and has the degrees to prove it. However, you can read and study scripture all you want. If you keep God at bay, don’t allow Him to penetrate your heart and transform your thinking, you are still in danger. You might even find yourself thinking that you are an impenetrable fortress because you know the scriptures inside and out.

James 1:22 warns, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. Knowing scripture is wonderful. But, we must do more than possess knowledge of the scriptures. We must seek to obey God’s word in every area, allow it to penetrate our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). We must hide it in our heart so that we don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves.

3. Go against your spouse’s advice and wishes. 

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

I begged my husband not to build a friendship with this woman. When I found out they were the only two adult sponsors for kid’s camp, I expressed my concern. Repeatedly, I warned him that he was playing with fire—but my concerns were written off. We had established boundaries early in our marriage. He was never to counsel a woman alone, never to go to lunch alone with another woman. The same rules applied to me. But, he chose to go against my wishes, my desires.

When your spouse asks you to be cautious, take heed. Remember that when you stand together—especially with God at the center of your marriage—you will not be easily broken. Even if you think your spouse is being ridiculous in his/her requests, submit. Remember, God commands us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

4. Set no limits for your mind.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

If you want to have an affair, fill your mind with all of the most popular movies and music. Flood your minds with inappropriate images. Allow yourself to sit and daydream about anything and everything. Believe the lie that you will not be affected by these “little” things.

Repeatedly, the Bible warns us that our thoughts should be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), that we should have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), that we should be transformed by our minds (Romans 12:2). If we allow ourselves to focus on things that are not glorifying to God, they eventually find their way into our actions. Every action has its genesis in a thought.

5. Doubt the good gifts God has given you.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

On our wedding day twenty years ago, my ex-husband read this verse to me. He told me how blessed he was to have me as his good and perfect gift. However, as the years passed, he became discontent. He was disappointed that he wasn’t in a bigger church, that he didn’t make more money, that he hadn’t achieved more by the world’s standards. He was looking at all the things he didn’t have, and he was missing the amazing gifts God had given him: a loving wife, three precious children, a growing church that supported him fully.

One of the last sermons my ex-husband preached at our church was on temptation. He made the statement that “Satan gets us to doubt the good gifts God has place in our lives.” It is so easy for us to get distracted by those things that we don’t have and miss the beauty all around us. We have a lust for more, and we fail to appreciate those people and things closest to us. We begin to think that God is holding out on us instead of blessing us with abundance.

We must realize that God is our heavenly daddy who desires to reach down and bless us with good things! We must trust Him to lead us into the future He has for us—a future filled with hope and prosperity. We must learn that He will give us an abundant life when we choose to walk His way.

6. Refuse to accept forgiveness from God, yourself, and others.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

After the affair was revealed, I offered forgiveness and reconciliation. I tried to put our marriage back together. However, I believe with all my heart that my husband felt he could never forgive me for such an offense. He projected that lack of forgiveness onto me, believing that I would never truly forgive him either.

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). When we have messed up, he whispers these lies to us, trying to convince us that we will never be restored, that God will never use us because of our sins. We then live our lives under the burden of heavy sin, feeling that we will never be able to be restored. The truth is that God throws our sins as far as the east is from the west, that He can supernaturally allow His forgiveness to flow through others. Sometimes the hardest part is forgiving ourselves.

7. Choose to walk in the flesh.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness….It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; … all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives… (Galatians 5:16-21).

Paul contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5  I remember reading this passage with my ex-husband, talking about how it described the path to an affair. We discussed the “impotence to love or be loved,” how when we don’t see ourselves through God’s eyes we might consider ourselves unworthy of another’s love.

When we live by the lusts of our flesh, we end up with an ugly, stinking accumulation of garbage. But, when we live God’s way, we reap a harvest of love, joy, and peace—and so much more.

Have you begun to mix together any of the ingredients necessary for an affair? If so, I beg you to run the other direction! Allow God and His word to penetrate every area of your heart and mind. Cling to your spouse and family. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by pride. Seek help now. God can take your situation and use it for your good—leverage it for His glory. Today is the day to repent and change your direction.

Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three kids who loves God passionately. She delights in taking the everyday events of life, finding God in them, and impressing them on her children as they sit at home or walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). Her greatest desire is to be a channel of God’s comfort and encouragement. You can read more of Dena’s experiences with her Great I AM on her blog Dena’s Devos.

Publication date: September 27, 2013

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