Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Lesson I Learned From The Squirrels Who Are Eating My Garden

  Nothing is more discouraging than watching your garden grow, then finding that some backyard squirrels are destroying all that work you put into the garden. It's not like you can reason with squirrels or provide alternatives for them to enjoy. By nature, they are diggers. They dig for food. They are very destructive.

  I have invested a lot of money in the gardens, and have spent a lot of time babying my plants. Once I put them outside in their grown up pots, they disappear. Either the squirrels destroy them or tree branches fall on them. In spite of that, some have survived.

   The squirrels put the icing on the cake this morning when they got a hold of one of my ripening tomatoes. That does it. I have a BB gun that I will use on them, and am now learning the skill of shooting a gun. It works. But I have to be out there 24/7 to watch for the squirrels. That, of course, is impossible.

   Now, I have been praying about an answer for the squirrels. There are many options, but most cost money and are expensive. I don't have that kind of money right now, so, it looks like I have to just keep watch for them and get my gun out and use it when they hop over to my plants.

   I am wondering, what does God see when this is happening? He knows that the squirrels are causing terrible problems, not just for me, but for many people who garden. Is God going to give me wisdom, or an answer for this, or, does He have something else in mind?

An idea, or thought came to mind. I realized how proactive and motivated I am to get rid of the squirrels. I would check often to see if any squirrels were out there. I had my gun in hand if they were out. I spent a lot of time protecting or guarding my plants.

   I wonder if we are that vigilant in protecting ourselves from the temptations to sin? Are we that proactive in fighting against sin? The Enemy of our souls is always after us to destroy us, yet, are we keeping our guards up to protect ourselves from his traps?

   The Bible tells us to do something specific. In Ephesians, chapter 6, we are told to 'put on the whole armor of God'. If you ask any professing Christian, they are probably aware of this command, and they probably think they are doing it. But are we? Are we really putting on the whole armor of God, or do we just acknowledge that God told us to put on the whole armor of God? Do we even really know what that means?

   A friend told me one time, that she is positive that most professing Christians do not read their Bibles on a regular basis. She admitted that she had just started reading the Bible for herself. Many of us have at least one Bible in the house. Some have several. Do we read them and let God speak to us through them, or, do we just acknowledge that the Bibles are there, in our homes, and think that they are effective just because we own one?

   If we lived in a Third World Country, and if we personally know Jesus Christ, we would be reading our Bibles, if we have one. In America, we have everything we want at our fingertips. God takes a back seat to everything we do. We consult Him if everything else fails, or, we blame God for our failures. We are not hungry enough for God, here in the United States. The devil has played a trick on us, and I include myself here. Other things take a greater priority than God does. If we lost everything we own, we could become bitter. If we lived in a Third World Country, it wouldn't matter because we wouldn't have material things that are so valuable to us.

   God wants us to feed upon His word. That is not the same as going through a ritual everyday of reading so many chapters in the Bible so we can check that task off when we get done. We take in God's word to us, and it builds faith in us, when we feed upon it. Faith is a great weapon against the devil.

  We have heard it said, 'Preach the Gospel to yourselves'. In Ephesians 6, we are told to have our feet shod with the Gospel of peace. The power of God is in the Gospel. In Revelation 12:11, we are told that 'they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony'. In Colossians, chapter 2, Jesus' death accomplished the disarming of the powers of darkness. No wonder the devil doesn't want us to know God's word.

  The devil is full of lies. God is full of truth. The way we combat the lies of the devil is to present the truth. The truth extinguishes lies. But if we don't know the truth, if we are not growing in our relationship with God and understanding Him more clearly, we will not be able to combat the lies of the devil. We probably won't even know they are lies because they will seem plausible to us. But if we have the 'mind of Christ' we will be able to discern between the truth and the lies.

  Yes, God tells us to be vigilant. We are not bystanders in a civil war. Whether we like it or not, we are participating in this battle. But, we might be playing on the wrong side, if we are not being proactive. Just as I am being proactive in dealing with the squirrels, we must be proactive in dealing with the powers of darkness. The alternative is that we will become casualties in this war, or worse, castaways, who will lose out in the kingdom of God. It doesn't have to be that way though. We are on the winning side. We must stay awake and keep our guards up at all times.

They are no longer cute. They are destructive. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is God Primarily Concerned With Your Happiness or Your Holiness?

Is God more concerned about our happiness, or is He more concerned about our becoming holy? There is a reason I am asking this question. Depending upon which Christian camps you come from will determine which answer you choose for this question.

There seems to be a trend in Christian thinking today, that leads me to believe that many do not understand God's attribute of holiness. The main reason I am thinking about this right now, is that there are many famous 'Christian' people who have gone through divorces, and also marriage counseling. The issue seems to go something like this:
Christian: "I want a divorce from my spouse."
Counselor: "Why do you want a divorce?"
Christian: (Two different answers, which tie in with each other come up) "I don't love my spouse anymore." or "I am not happy in our marriage".
The counselor agrees with the 'Christian' and gives consent for divorce. 

Does God's word tell us to seek our own 'happiness'? If we are not happy in a marriage, is that a valid reason to get a divorce? Listen to what one authority says about marriage:

"Now I know that the subject of divorce is a very contentious one among Christians, especially those of the evangelical variety.  So I will put in my two cents’ worth, and then I will open the floor for discussion.
Let’s start with this:  Divorce is contrary to the will of God.  The clear teaching of Scripture is that the Lord hates divorce.
However, we live in a fallen world.  Marriages fail.  Even among Christians who seek to honor God and take His word seriously.
There are many reasons why marriages fail.  Sometimes they fail because of selfishness on the part of one or both of the people involved.  Sometimes they fail because of reasons that are much more graphic and poignant, i. e. adultery, abandonment, emotional or even physical abuse.
And sometimes marriages fail because the people involved are mismatched personality-wise.  They are just not a good fit for each other.  They may try to make such a marriage work, and even succeed for a limited time.  But eventually it becomes clear that such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, emotionally and/or spiritually, to one or both of the people involved."*
What? Such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, to one of both of the people involved? That's like saying, 'we shouldn't build relationships with other people because we will probably get hurt by them at some point." 
Relationships are messy. Marriage is hard. Life was never intended to be easy. It's like we get a math problem or a jigsaw puzzle every day that we have to solve or finish. We were never intended to be free from challenges or hard situations. That doesn't mean we give up in them and don't ask God for help. Sometimes, difficulties get resolved. But sometimes, God just gives grace and wisdom in difficulties. 
The Bible talks about relationships as iron sharpening iron. Although there is happiness in good relationships, God has something deeper He wants to do in our hearts, and it could involve pain or suffering. Difficulties help us grow spiritually. We cannot be spiritually healthy if we don't grow. We will feel growing pains. That is normal. But what God wants to do, is to conform us to the image of His Son. If we are to represent Him accurately, we must resemble His Son, and that takes spiritual growth and maturing for us. Those things might not make us happy. But, God promises to be with us, and if we receive His grace, we will be filled with His joy. 
God does not necessarily want us to be unhappy. But the point of our lives is that we will live lives that will glorify Him. If we seek our own happiness, we are missing the point of what He is doing in us. Simply speaking, we are in idolatry. 
God promises to meet our needs. He blesses us with what we need. We will end up missing God's blessings and provision if we seek happiness instead of Him. That is where I think many are missing the boat. Even Christian authority figures don't seem to understand this concept. 
When we come to Christ, and are converted, we are changed. The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away. We also receive a new heart. It is a heart that can actually love God. It is a heart that loves spiritual things from God. We also receive the Holy Spirit and now we have the power of God to live a new life in a new way. But there is more. When we are born again, we are like spiritual babies in a spiritual nursery called the church. We feed our souls on God's word, and His word becomes activated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and we grow spiritually. We mature spiritually. The process is called, 'sanctification', and it will continue until our death. 
Those who seek happiness instead of holiness will miss the process of sanctification. They are being cheated out of getting the good, rich spiritual food that comes from Scriptures. They are missing the power of the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to live a new life in a new way. They are missing the new heart God wants them to have. 
Instead of getting to know God in a deeper way, they become frustrated and blame God for the out of order life they are living. Essentially, they believe in a god that is supposed to make them happy. They know very little about the God who is concerned with making us holy.
(The author of the article I quoted from asked for some feedback/discussion. I commented my thoughts. I haven't heard back concerning them). 
* Joe Derbes
Recommended books:   
                                                            
*Relationships-A Mess Worth Making (Tripp/Lane)  
                                     
*When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (Dave Harvey)
                                     
*Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives)  (Paul David Tripp)

*Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (Brett Harris)



Can We Learn Anything Valid From The Internet?

This discussion comes from a senseless dialog between me and another person in a particular forum. She claims that everything I have learned is from the Internet, and therefore is not valid. Compared with her learning experience, which happens to be a doctorate in Veterinary care, mine is miniscule.

But let's say that what she is saying about my learning everything from the internet is true, does that mean that whatever I learned is wrong? That brings up the question, Is there anything valid that we can learn from on the Internet?

Whenever we learn something, there has to be an authority figure teaching the subject. If people just throw out their opinions, then there is no authority. But if someone is trained in a particular field, then he or she does have some weight in what they are saying.

There are at least 3 areas of authority, and you can find all of them on the Internet in various places.

1. The Scriptures - God's word has been put on the Internet. We know that Scripture is the final rule for all things. This is the ultimate standard of authority. Any other valid authority must be based on the principles of Scripture. Since the Scriptures are on the Internet, we can learn something valid from the Internet.

2. Teachers, professors, coaches, doctors - We can learn from those who have been trained in a specific area, when they share their knowledge by means of the Internet. Some knowledge is not accurate though, and we need to be discerning. We have to see the bigger picture.

3. Testimonies - There are many valid testimonies people share in life, and the Internet is a great way to communicate testimonies. You can read about a person's encounter with the living God. You can listen to podcasts or Youtube to learn how a specific product helped a person get well. You can read articles of how people defeated cancer by following a certain protocol.

Naturally, we will have to be discerning as we read. We should be discerning anyway, in all areas of our lives. But we can learn, and form ideas by what we learn. We can learn to separate the truth from the lies. We learn discernment as we walk with the Lord and feed our souls on Scripture. We can also learn what is actually true vs. speculation or wishful thinking proposed as truth.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Using Words In Vain

   What do you think of when you hear the word, 'hell'? Does it have a strong, horrifying connection in your mind, or do you just have knowledge of it being a really bad place to be?

   What if you heard someone talking about a place called 'Styx', which you may never have heard of before. Styx is a place in the Underworld where there is a river that carries the dead to Hades. "a river in Hades across which Charon ferried the souls of the dead"* That definition seems to have a little stronger connotation, doesn't it? But you don't hear people saying, 'Oh Styx". 

   You may have heard people use the word, 'hell' as part of an expression of irritation or anger. I think that is why it has lost so much of it's meaning. We hear it all the time and it becomes meaningless. When we hear the word, 'hell' we don't think of a lake of fire. We know it is something we shouldn't say, but since so many use that phrase (for example, 'the hell with it'), it has little meaning to us today.

   Take also the word, 'holy'. Have you ever heard the expression, 'holy cow'? Perhaps that is a reason why we have such a hard time understanding what it means when we are learning about God's characteristics and His holiness? What does a 'holy' God look like? What does that mean to us?

  How about the word, 'awesome'? Years ago, Rich Mullins wrote a song called, 'Awesome God'. The song took off. Rich Mullins was killed in a car wreck, yet his song was on the top of the chart. But there is something interesting about the whole thing. The word 'awesome' was not a popular word until Rich Mullins wrote his song. Not too long after that though, if you have noticed, everything is awesome. People are awesome. Food is awesome. Games are awesome. Cars are awesome. Now the word 'awesome' has lost its original meaning. At first, God was awesome. Now, everything that is spectacular is awesome. If someone likes something a lot, that thing is awesome. 

   Of course, the most serious words we use in vain are expressions with God's name in it. God's name becomes a common word and as such, His name loses it's meaning. We no longer see God as holy or powerful because the words we use to describe Him are just plain common words we hear all the time. We don't hear those words along with their descriptions. We hear them coming out of the mouths of people as some kind of response to something. Because God's name is so common, we have a hard time understanding who He is, and we have a hard time trying to explain to others who He is. Perhaps this is the reason why God does not want us to take His name in vain. He wants people to know Him in truth. 

* www.dictionary.reference.com

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Stain That Wouldn't Come Out

  I am one who believes that weddings should go perfectly. After all, they are a very solemn occasion.

  I remember reading about someone who couldn't find their that they would wear while walking down the aisle, so the bride had to go barefoot! I think I would have struggled big time if that were me.

  However, times have changed and we have learned to become more flexible given the fact that so many little things can go wrong, and do go wrong. Today was no exception, for, I wore a formal dress that was one of the few dresses I had available to wear that would coordinate with my daughter's wedding colors.

    First of all, I tried on the dress to make sure it still fit, and it did, although it was a little tight. There was a small stain that could not be seen because it was hidden under a vest I would wear.

   It was past lunch time, and my husband picked up some fried chicken for us to eat. I am not going to make it a habit of eating fried chicken, but, this one day it would be an exception, especially if I pray over the food. So I did.

   As I was eating my fried chicken, a few very small pieces fell on my beautiful dress. Horrors. The stains were so very noticeable. What was I going to do now? The wedding would be in about 2 hours and I would be walked down the aisle with stains on my gown! Why did God allow this? What was I going to do to fix this? What lesson would I learn from this? Maybe I would learn the secret to getting oil stains out of clothing, in quick fashion. Maybe I could write it on my homemaking blog and add to my collection of tips to help other homemakers get oil stains out of their clothing. Maybe I would make a lot of money from an experiment that came to mind that worked on getting the stains out.

   At first, I took some water and soap and went over the stains. Not too long after that, I was called out to have my pictures taken with the bride and the bride's maids. By this time, I have a couple of large water stains on my dress. Nice. Maybe the oil stains would disappear. Maybe not.

   Being out in the sun made the water evaporate quickly, so the water stains disappeared, but the oil stains were still there, just as obvious as they were before I tried to clean them with soap and water. My next experiment was to rub salt on them. I was sure that doing so would make the oil stains disappear, but it didn't do too much except take a lot of salt out of my salt shaker that I carry around in my purse, just in case we go somewhere and can't find the salt shakers (which has already happened before).

   The salt may or may not have helped, but I stopped using that after a while. Then I just rubbed the stains with a paper towel. I did this for a long period of time and the stains really did look lighter after I got done doing that. But they were still obvious to the outsider, for my husband noticed them and asked about them.

  I went down the aisle, stains and all, but a lighter version of the stains than they were a couple of hours ago. The dress will go to the dry cleaner and hopefully, they will finish getting the stains out.

   What lessons did I learn from this difficult situation today? One thing I learned, or rather experienced, is that it is ok if things are not perfect at a wedding. God is still on the throne and in control of every situation that happens, even stains. I also learned that oil stains really do not come out easily. Although I took a lot of time to try to erase them, there was still the evidence of the stains there. Diligence does pay off, but there is a limited amount of time to fix things when a time is set for the bride to go down the aisle. It is ok to go down the aisle with stains, but it is preferable to go down the aisle with perfectly clean clothing, without spot or wrinkle.

   The main thing I am reminded of is this; our sins are like stains on our souls. We can try really hard to erase them or make them disappear. Sometimes we try to do good works, hoping that they will help erase the sins that are marked on our souls. But we can try a million different things to get rid of sin's stains, and nothing will work. There is only one thing that can wash away our sins and that is the blood of Jesus Christ, God's perfect Son. He is the only One who has never sinned. He has no sin of His own to pay for, and that is why He can pay for our sins with His blood.

   Around 2,000 years ago, God came to earth and lived among us. He did many good things for people, yet people were mean to Him and had Him executed by killing Him on a Cross made of wood. It was the most horrible kind of death a person could die from. Today, we have executed people by using the electric chair, which sends voltages of electricity through the person to kill him or her. Execution by electric chair, hanging, or beheading is horrible, but execution by crucifixion is the most dreaded kind that was done in the whole realm of History.

    But that death meant that all of our stains of sin can be washed away. No matter how bad a person's sin is, if he or she repents and turns away from sin and receives God's forgiveness, that person will walk away completely clean and pure in God's eyes.

   When Jesus died on the Cross, He disarmed the Powers of Darkness, and now we don't have to be slaves to sin any more! If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior from sin, now is the time to do so. Before you put your head on the pillow tonight, please consider this. Eternity doesn't end, and when you stand before God, you will either stand before Him completely clean of sin, dressed in robes of righteousness, or, you will stand before Him with the stains of your sins. If there is any sin remaining, and we know there are lots of sins in all our lives, God will not accept us. He will reject us and we will spend eternity in a place of horror called 'hell' forever and ever, for eons, and eons, without end.

   For more information on this subject, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com or http://test4gp.wordpress.com 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fear

   What is fear and how do we get it? What are the results of fear in our lives?

   This is fresh on my mind, although I am very tired right now. I decided to write this while I was experiencing a moment of fear, so, hopefully I will be able to communicate well.

   I went to bed around 2 a.m., and was awoken around 6 or so, in the morning. Sleep was restless, and my body was tense. It was hard to go back to sleep, and my mind was actively at work.

   For years, I have had terrifying feelings during the night, and I never really understood what was happening and why, but now I have a little bit of insight, thanks to some of my friends I have met in the past four years.

   As I am getting to know different people, I am learning about the supernatural realm and how the devil gets a foothold into our lives, and then we are caught in sin or we suffer (or both). Let me explain in more detail of how this works and what it looks like.

   I knew a woman who lived in terror. She was so afraid of everything, and there were reasons for this. She was raised in a home where the family worshiped the devil. The parents and other participating adults practiced Satanic Ritual Abuse on this woman when she was a child. While this was happening, she was forced to make pacts with the devil or they would punish or kill her. As a child, she didn't really understand the depth of what was going on, but because she was treated with terror, by default, she opened the door to fear in her life. Now as a believer in Jesus Christ, she is able to be delivered from fear and especially the fear of tyranny. Unfortunately, for reasons I can't go into right now, she chose to stay in fear.

   As a little girl, she opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold into her life. As a believer in Jesus Christ, she could have been set free from that bondage. Unless she desires to be set free from it, fear will continue to be her constant companion.

   When I was awakened this morning, fearful thoughts came to my mind. I was thinking of the terrors that another friend went through, who also was in a family who practiced Satanic Ritual Abuse. While listening to her stories as she unfolded them to me, all I could think of was how badly a person would have been affected by having been in this realm. For example, she married a man who had a daughter from a previous relationship, and the husband's family was giving him a birthday party. By this time, my friend and her husband had a child of their own. They were all at this party, and they watched as the stepdaughter was offered as a human sacrifice. The husband was never mentally stable after this, and understandably so. He had come to know the Lord as a younger man, but once this incident happened, he ended up in a severe depression which he never came out of, and eventually died from a drug overdose.

   I was also thinking about how people in many countries around the world, where the Gospel is not available, are demon possessed. Who is there to deliver them? How terrifying their lives must be. I cannot even imagine. I am having a hard time imagining living like that, then dying and living in hell for eternity. I know this is heavy, and I have to write this to help my readers understand what I am trying to say about fear.

   I don't know about you, but when I think about these things, I begin to be afraid. I tend to put myself in the shoes of other people and try to imagine what they are going through. It doesn't seem fair at times. Life has thrown many people a 'curve ball'. It's not like they decided to go off one day and hate God and choose to follow the devil. They were caught in these situations because they were made to make decisions based upon fear. I am struggling with this, as I'm sure you might be. I understand when we open the door to the devil, he gains a foothold, but what about those who don't know how to resist the devil? How can we know his tactics and how can we prepare to protect ourselves from his schemes?

   But then it came to me. I was taking a class on Biblical counseling and David Powlison was the teacher. I learned a lot from these classes and they are helpful, not only for me to be helping other people, but also for me to be helped myself. If the word 'fear' ever came up, I had always heard that it is because of unbelief and that you need to repent of the unbelief. But there are all kinds of fears we get ourselves into or find ourselves dealing with. Without realizing it, we have given the devil opportunities to create fear in our lives, whether it be fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of the future, fear of pain, or whatever kind of fear it is. How do we undo this? David Powlison explains that God knows we have fear. Several times in the Bible, God tells us not to be afraid. "Fear not" God says. I remembered that as I had a dizzy spell and was thinking of all these thoughts this morning around 6:30 or so. God doesn't want us to be afraid, and God doesn't condemn us because we are afraid. He encourages us to turn to Him in trust. If we fail to do that, then we sin against Him. We don't have to be afraid of the Enemy of our souls. He will work fear into our thinking if we allow him to do so.

   When Jesus died on the Cross, He died, not only to take our sins away, but there is more to this than we understand. He did die to take our sins away, but He also died to disarm the Powers of Darkness. They didn't realize when they incited people to kill the King of Kings, that they were really digging their own graves. If they did know that was going to happen, they would not have worked in such a way. God is always bigger than the devil, and we have to remember that. We need to become familiar with Scriptures as well. The devil has to bow at the Scriptures. He knows Scripture better than any of us, but his version is twisted and we need to know the untwisted version of what he is saying, in order to counteract what he is saying.

   My friend, whose stepdaughter was given as a human sacrifice, had told me several horror stories of when she and her husband were married. The Enemy did many things to torment them. She was saying that it was too bad that they didn't know anything about spiritual warfare or how to put on the armor of God. I wonder how things would have been different if they did know about spiritual warfare.

   The goal of fear is doubt. The devil uses many things to get us to doubt God. He will lie to us. He will take truths of the Scriptures and point out things we don't understand, and will cause us to be afraid. Could that be the reason God says 'Fear not' so many times in His word? If we take those lies that the devil is feeding us, we will begin to distrust God. We will question God and doubt His love for us. Eventually, we will stop trusting God, because we become afraid of those things which we do not understand. 

   The antidote to fear is faith. How do we get 'faith'? Faith comes by hearing God's word. Faith grows as we learn more about  who God is. God's love casts out fear. Those who are in fear are not made perfect in God's love. The more time we spend with God, the less fear will have a grip on our lives. It will not hold us anymore. We will be able to rest in peace as we wait upon God and listen to Him as He speaks to us. Knowing God's word will help us counteract fear for many reasons, and it will help build trust in God, as we get to know Him better.

   Perhaps you have never come to the place in your life where you have realized that your sins have separated you from God, and maybe you have never understood your need for a Savior. You will not be able to overcome fear until you surrender to God. When you place your trust in the only One who can take away your sins and make you a new creation in Christ, then you will never have to be afraid any more. When times of fear come, you can turn to God and call out to Him for help. It is ok to ask God to help you not be afraid. It is not ok to try to overcome fear without the power of God in one's life.

   For more information on the Gospel and how to know God, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The 'One-Anothers' In The Bible

  I guess, the one anothers probably began in the book of Genesis, when Cain killed Abel, and God asked Cain 'Where is Abel, your brother?', to which Cain answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"

  In the New Testament, we are to 'bear one another's burdens'. We are to 'love one another'. We are to 'exhort one another'. Some other 'one anothers' are to be kind to one another, comfort one another, serve one another, forgive one another, be at peace with one another, addressing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, submitting to one another, admonishing one another, abounding in love for one another, encouraging one another, building one another up (this is not talking about ego building!), living in harmony with one another, outdoing in showing honor to one another, praying for one another, loving one another, seeking to do good to one another, stirring up one another to love good works, confessing our sins to one another, instructing one another, greeting one another, praying for one another, showing hospitality to one another, using our gifts to serve one another, clothing ourselves with humility toward one another, and having fellowship with one another. John's epistles talk much of 'loving one another'.

  This seems to indicate that those who make up the body of Christ are supposed to be in relationship with each other. Maybe this is part of discipleship that seems to be missing today, in many, if not most, churches.

  If people think of 'going to church' as attending a meeting once a week, without ever getting to know the other people that are part of that body, then the concept is wrong. The early disciples actually met every day, in houses. They seemed to be very committed to 'one another' as revealed by their actions as we see in the Scriptures.

   The Bible also instructs us on things we should 'not' do to one another. For example, we are not to backbite one another. We are not to pass judgment on one another. We are not to compare ourselves to one another. Provoking one another is also not allowed as well as lying to one another. Some of these things should seem obvious to us, especially is we treat others the way we would like to be treated.

   I know there are struggles people have with discipleship and trust issues. How do we know if we can trust anyone? We can trust the Lord at all times and He can guide us into the body of believers He wants us to be joined with. Over time, we can get to know people and we can learn who we can trust and how much we can entrust to them.

   The Bible has a lot to say about love. Everything we do with one another has to be based upon love. If we are manipulative, or use people for our own ends, then we do not love. If we slander and gossip about people, we do not love. If we complain about people and do not try to work things out in our relationships with them, then we are not showing love and respect. We are not going to be best friends with everyone in the church, but we can serve those whom we get to know and who we become friends with.

   You cannot get to know someone by looking at the back of their heads once a week. Getting to know people requires humility and intentionally reaching out to them. You will have no idea of what kinds of struggles the person sitting next to you is going through, unless you ask them questions that are deeper than 'How are you?' every week.

   It takes time to get to know people and to trust them. People might put on a facade for a while, but over time, you will begin to see through it. Sometimes, people put on a mask because they are afraid of rejection. Sometimes, people put on a false front because they really do have evil intentions. Be patient with people and you will learn a lot about someone.

   Relationships do not come overnight, nor do they come automatically. They take a lot of time to build them. Over time, trust develops. That doesn't mean we will never be hurt and betrayed, but the chances are better that hearts will be revealed as people reach out and try to draw someone out and get to know him or her.

   I think we can look at 1 Corinthians 13 and see what love is all about. If we have any other motive than love, or if our love is mixed with other motives, then we need to let God change our hearts. We cannot build relationships without love in our hearts for one another. The Bible commands us to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strengths, and, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our love for one another reveals whether we really love God or not. We can ask ourselves this question; Do we really want this other person to be successful, even though I will have to sacrifice some things in order for that to happen, or, do we want ourselves to be successful at the expense of our self love in place of love for them?