2 Corinthians 5:18 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” I heard a story today about a revival group pastor at Bethel’s school of ministry named Ben. He had trust, openness, and great favor with everyone he came into contact with. But then he found himself in bed with an intern, who then told the pastoral staff about the affair. Pastor Danny Silk was tasked with talking to Pastor Ben, who was naturally scared of being punished. But P Danny recounts (and I paraphrase) “I had faith in the ministry of reconciliation, so I had hope that it was going to work out. After some time, Ben confessed, which would have been enough for most because a confession gives cause for righteous release of punishment. But when you’re focused on punishment, it shows you have a relationship with the rules, and not with Jesus or with Ben.” Ben stepped down temporarily as revival group pastor so he could focus on ministering to his own family (while keeping a role as administrator with the church). Through a process of inner healing over the next year, Ben discovered that the root cause of his sin were broken spots of fear of rejection that ran deep from his past. With the help of Pastor Danny and the church, Ben experienced supernatural transformation and restored his marriage. Even his kids grew to a totally new level of intimacy with Ben and with God through the process. Pastor Ben has now been restored into his position, and countless people have found hope in his story. He likes to say that “punishment is so much easier than discipline.” While punishment can be administered quickly, discipline requires walking through a process of restoration and reconciliation. Lord I thank you for the ministry of reconciliation. I pray that I can have more faith in your ability to reconcile, and have less faith in the power of punishment. May I love and forgive others, because you first loved and forgave me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
I had always thought of the non-physical aspects of myself as being encompassed by the soul but recently discovered that scripture views the soul as distinct from the spirit. The soul encompasses our mind, will, and emotions, while the spirit serves as our only means of true connection with the Holy Spirit.
Most of us have healthy souls because modern society feeds the soul constantly. It is where our sense of “self” comes from, and every article we read, every meal we eat, every app we click has been engineered to make us feel or think a certain way. As companies get better at “feeding the soul” in addiction creating habit loops (see Social Dilemma on Netflix if you haven’t already), what often results are shriveled, neglected spirits that rarely connect with God deeply.
Tonight at Love After Marriage we’ll be practicing an exercise on blessing each other’s spirits. I’ve found it powerful in my relationships. I blessed my parents’ spirits this morning and I plan to bless my boys' spirits for the first time tonight. (Have left the exercise below for reference.) Lord, thank you for giving us the tools to nourish each other’s spirits. Thank you for the access that we have to connect with the Holy Spirit because of the price you paid on the cross. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I bless your spirit to take a position of prominence over your soul and body. I bless your spirit to receive everything that God has in store for you. I see in you someone who… [fill in with how God sees that person e.g. “a beloved child of God and a wonderful mother”…]
Mark 9:50 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again?” In 2017 one of our House Church members started writing a book and shared the ups and downs of her journey with us in real-time. After years of hard work, it hit the shelves a few months back to some serious international acclaim. I always had great faith in her, but the level of success she’s experienced far surpassed even my expectations. Despite now hobnobbing with some of the world’s most influential people, our friend has maintained a grounded perspective on life. She hasn’t let the fans (and even stalkers) get to her head and refuses to succumb to the pressure of making decisions from a purely commercial perspective. I’ve seen fame and money destroy so many people, especially when they come into it quickly. But I know I have nothing to worry about in her case. “All the right doors have opened for me and I think that’s because I knew from the beginning this project had to align with God’s will. I know that if I stay true to my values, everything will continue to work itself out.” Lord, thank you for so many testimonies of your goodness. Thank you for blessing our friend to be a blessing to others. We look forward to all the ways she will bring heaven’s flavor and aroma to earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.