The Restraining Force

New Testament clearly portrays that prior to Jesus’ return the world systems will be in darkness, steeped in lawlessness.
Scriptures 2 Thess 2:3-6 & Rev 19:11 – 20:6 make reference to this.
Something is restraining the man who embodies the fullness of rebellion toward God!
So who or what is this restraining force?
Initially we would think it might be the Holy Spirit but His work is to woo the people of the world to Jesus (1Cor 12:3)
So how about the only other possibility and that’s the Body of Christ?
Have you ever considered that the body of Christ can restrain lawlessness as Jesus himself did by reigning in life?
Jesus said ” As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5)
Is Jesus Christ still in the world?
Yes he is but its not His head, but His body – the bride of Christ. That’s us.
Scripture never refers to the Holy Spirit as the light of the world.
Jesus says “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14)
Christ is the head and we are His body.
.
As Jesus is, so are we also.
We are the light of the world.
Light restrains darkness. Darkness can never overcome light.
Light always permeates dark even if only very faintly.
Consider this thought:
If only a few Christians in the body of Christ realize who they are in Christ, and they walk in the power of grace, then the world is dimly lit.
This is the problem in the world – we have only dimly lit the world!
But it doesn’t have to remain that way!
Imagine a light-filled body of Christ comprised of all ages, inclusive of men and women, awakening to what God has hidden within and arising in His glory and power?
Believers will live in such an extraordinary manner that multitudes will be drawn to the kingdom of God, not merely through preaching, but by the compelling demonstration of how they live and their remarkable feats!
This is what Isaiah prophesied in Isa 60:1-3
“Arise, shine;
for your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
and deep darkness the people;
but the Lord will arise over you,
and His glory will be seen upon you.
The gentiles(unbelievers) shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Note that although there will be darkness – LIGHT WILL COME!
The glory of the Lord will ARISE, not descend.

Many Christians are looking for a spectacular outpouring of God’s Spirit to come upon the church bringing a great revival.
BUT
What if God is waiting for us to wake up, to realize who He’s made us to be and to activate the power deposited in us.
Once we do these things and truly believe, we’ll become exceedingly bright and light up the entire world.
So let us embrace the gifts we find in the grace of God to enable us to live incredibly salty lives that will increase the light of the church in this dark world.

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How to empower women in the church!

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Recently I have read about a phenomenon called stereotype threat. This term refers to the pressure individuals feel in the classroom or workplace due to perceived stereotypes about themselves. For instance, women are sometimes stereotyped as being less capable at math, which can influence the way young girls perform in their math classes. If they believe they are worse at math, they are likely to perform worse regardless of natural ability.

Numerous studies have shown that the simple presence of a stereotype can inhibit academic performance, but it creates an additional obstacle. If a student or employee anticipates being stereotyped, some will actively try to undermine the stereotype. For example, a businesswoman may fear being perceived as overly emotional by her male colleagues, so she intentionally minimizes her emotions and conducts herself stoically. Unfortunately, the cognitive energy she puts into combating the stereotype also inhibits her performance. Likewise, students who find themselves resisting a stereotype in a classroom setting are less able to learn and engage the subject matter.

It is remarkable and troubling that a stereotype can be so powerful. Fortunately, researchers have also looked into the best methods for breaking the power of stereotype threat, and they have discovered two primary options:

1. An authority figure publicly debunks the stereotype. In a study at Stanford University, a group of men and women were administered a math test and their performances were recorded (Spencer and Steele, 1999). Then, the same math test was administered to a different group of men and women, but with one small change. This time, before the students began, the test administrator told the group that there was no previous gender discrepancy in performance on this test.  This simple statement debunking the stereotype about women and math made all the difference. The women in the second group tested better.

2. In-group role models. It is also helpful for victims of stereotype threat to see individuals from their own group (ie. women or minorities) functioning competently outside the stereotype (McIntyre, Paulson, Taylor, Morin and Lord, 2011). Having a talented female math teacher, for instance, can help dispel the myth that women are not good at math.

This research is fascinating, and it has led me to wonder about its application to women in the church. There are many stereotypes out there about women that are both sociological and psychological, so the cycle can be tough to break. If women believe they are not capable of thinking theologically, or leading and teaching in the church effectively, then that stereotype perpetuates an unfortunate cycle in which women are hesitant to even try.

That said, there are two applications that evangelicals can take from the above research. The first applies to men. In the same way that authority figures have the power to break stereotypes with a simple word, men in the evangelical church have that power as well. That is not to say that women should not also speak out against unbiblical stereotypes, but research seems to indicate that the power group–the group that is stereotyped as being naturally gifted or authoritative in a certain area–has particular influence in this regard. If men were to tell their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters that women can think theologically, that women should be important voices in the church, and that the church needs the contributions of these women, that message would have a tremendous, positive impact.

In short, men, we need you! Challenge your wives and raise strong daughters!

The second application from the above research concerns us ladies. If we want to see younger generations of women pushing themselves and using their gifts for the Kingdom of God, then we need to be doing that ourselves. Change can be slow and discouraging at times, but the more women who are out there studying, growing and leading, the more we can expect younger women to follow our example. Change begins with us.

Ladies, How To Get Your Husbands To Do Anything You Want (via Brian Dodd On Leadership)

Ladies, How To Get Your Husbands To Do Anything You Want "Forget it!  I'll just do it myself!"  As a husband, I hear those seven words more than I would like to admit.  But the good news is that I'm not alone.  From what I hear, those words are repeated by wives all over the world.  The passivity of men is a global, systemic epidimec. So what's a hard-working women to do?  I have an a suggestion for improving spousal performance that doesn't require you doing what you think you have to do. Fast Company … Read More

via Brian Dodd On Leadership

Judgementalism in the church

Judgmentalism in the church by David Loveless

Discussion or journaling questions:

1. Who are the groups or types of people I am most prone to judge?
2. Who have I offended Lord, with my judging? What would You have me do to make this right with them?
3. Lord, help me understand: what is the real need inside me that makes me want to appear better, smarter, more godly than someone else?
4. What can I do to cleanse this wound that drives me to think and behave like this?
5. Lord, I have sensed the judging eyes and tongues of these people on me…. ( List them here) They have hurt me Father, please heal my pain and give me Your power to forgive them for the wounds they have caused in me.
6. Bless each person- one by one -and see yourself release each of them to God to deal with when and how He determines.
7. Now spend the last few minutes thanking the Lord for the incredible worth and value He placed on you with His fathomless love.

Christian Atheists

Does your life look like a Christian life should?
Are we courageous enough to admit our hypocrisy?
How often have you offered to pray for someone and never followed through?
Do you know what God wants you to do but still do whatever you want to do?
Belief in God is not the same as personal knowledge of Him.
Is a personal relationship with God unlikely, unrealistic & unattainable?
Is your experience of God found only in your memories?
Are we cultural Christians?
75% of our country claims to be Christian but neither our country nor our churches reflect this stat.
So this indicates that we indeed are Christian atheists!