The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship – Pt. 4: Building Across the Briar Patch

In this and the following part of this series, we will delve into the sensitive issue of how we can lovingly and wisely engage with others when it comes to the more divisive and “thorny” issues of culture, politics, and religion, especially when other people’s perspectives and passions differ widely, and perhaps even wildly, from our own.

The underlying reality of these matters is that the more consequential an issue is, the more value that people place upon it and, therefore, the more “love” that is ascribed to and invested into the matter.  Furthermore, the stronger the “love”, the stronger the protective, “hate” response that is generated against anything that might oppose, threaten, and/or violate it.  This is why issues regarding culture, politics, and religion, have some of the strongest positive and negative emotions, attitudes, and actions bound up with them and are often the most polarizing and “thorny” to engage in.

We need wisdom to know when we ought to interact with others in these matters and also how we ought to interact with them when it is timely and appropriate to do so.  I will be focusing here mainly on this second aspect of how.

~ ~ ~

The goal in any and all engagements with others, especially when they concern “thorny”, divisive issues, is to get ourselves, and, to whatever degree possible, the other person walking on the path of love and truth in relation to them.  Only as these two aspects are pursued together can any interaction hold the prospect of bearing positive, long-lasting fruit.

In this pursuit of love and truth, love must lead the way!  Love is “the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:14 NASB) and as such, has a “drawing, unifying effect.”  Truth on the other hand, though being that which is necessary to bring liberation from all untruth and its subsequent bondages (see John 8:32), also has the nature of being a sharp, two-edged sword that divides (see Hebrews 4:12.)  Thus a path that leads to unity and freedom must have love as its firm foundation with truth doing its discerning, liberating work supported by and carried along on the stronger, unifying platform of love already laid down.

In this post, we will focus on building this platform of love and tackle the dicier matter of engaging with truth in the next.  In both, we will do so peering through the “lens” and applying the principles/phraseology of what has been shared in this series thus far.  For a refresher and for future reference, then, please see the previous post: The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship (mid-series review/redux) for a bulleted review with related links.

~ ~ ~

Now, before we consider the most fruitful way of engaging with others on the opposite side of a particular cultural, political, and/or religious divide (no matter which side we may be on), let’s briefly see the unfruitful, even harmful, way of engaging in such situations.

The Bloody Way Into and Out of the Briar Patch

When we encounter those who believe and behave differently than ourselves, our initial conscious or unconscious response may be to view them as in another “camp” and, therefore, as somewhat of an “enemy.”  That is primarily because we view their beliefs and behaviors as those which, by their contrary nature to ours, pose some level of existential or actual threat to what we value and love.  This tends to evoke within us the protective, rejection/separation, “hate” response of the “love”-“hate” relationship.

If we react and relate to them out of this rejection/separation, “enemy”/”hate” position, even if it is mild in nature, we will undoubtedly set the tenor and tone of our engagement as a “thorny” one and invite a similar rejection/separation response in return.  If we try to interject our perception of truth into the interaction, our perspectives will most likely be viewed as a threat to what they value and love, be rejected, and, in the end, serve to harden them in their position and increase the distance between us.  The focus in such interactions generally accentuates the differing “loves” and “hates” that exist between the two sides and thus tends to fuel the “friend of my enemy”/”enemy of my friend” “hate-generating” response.  This approach lands both parties smack dab in the middle of the briar patch with no “un-bloody” way out.  No matter what side of an issue we find ourselves on, we must resist this temptation and choose the more excellent way.

The High-Way of Love

Boardwalk1

There is a “friendlier” and more fruitful way in, through, and out of the briar patch of divisive, contentious issues, however.  This way is one that is elevated up just above the muck and mire that the briars grow in, but not so high as to be removed entirely from their prickly reality.  It is like a long, winding boardwalk that spans the entire distance across the thorny landscape. This high-way is constructed of love, and it is up to you and I, by the grace of God, to set its footings, lay its planks, and secure its railings as a matter of first priority in our relationships with others.

Depending on the strength of this “high-way”, varying weights of truth can then be supported by its travelers as they traverse and converse from side to side.  If the planks of love are weak or rotted, however, they will break when the weight of truth gets too heavy for them, and both travelers will end up down in the muck and mire, thrashing about in the briars of hate and untruth.

Although in the end it will take both parties choosing to walk on this friendly, fruitful way in order to make it to the other side in greater unity and mutually-increased understanding, first and foremost, we are responsible for ourselves in choosing, building, and navigating this more excellent way.

Loving our “Enemies”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:43-45 NIV

According to the teaching and commandment of Christ, we are not only to love our “neighbor”, we are to love our “enemies” as well.  If we look at God’s commandment to love our “neighbor”, we will find the key as to how we are to love them, and by applying that same principle, how we are to love our “enemies” as well.  God says, “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself?” (Leviticus 19:18)  The key to understanding how to love our neighbors, and our enemies, is found in understanding just how we love ourselves.

If we look closely at this aspect through the “love”/”hate” relationship “lens”, we will see that we love ourselves primarily according to a “first-generation love” based on the inherent value we consciously and unconsciously ascribe to ourselves and/or recognize as having been given to us.  Because of the intrinsic worth we place on all that comprises our self-concept as a unique person made in the image and likeness of God, at our foundation and core is a “first generation love” for ourselves based on our God-given and self-internalized inherent value.

If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then, we must, likewise, at our foundation and core, love them with a “first-generation love” based on their own God-given and self-internalized inherent value as a unique person made in the image and likeness of God, regardless of what they believe or how they behave!

This then, is how we are to love not only our “neighbors”, but also our “enemies.”  Any secondary and subsequent effects of the “friend of my enemy”/”enemy of my friend” dynamics that makes them in some degree our “enemy” are to be transcended by the “first-generation love” that we have towards them on the basis of their inherent value as those uniquely created and loved by God.  On this basis, we can learn to love even the ones we find most difficult to like.

This is where the “new commandment” Jesus gave His disciples likewise factors in: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV) He eternally and unconditionally loves us with a “first-generation love” based on the inherent value He ascribes to us as His beloved Bride.  Furthermore, He demonstrated His love for us while we were His enemies; as those who posed an existential/actual threat to all that He values and loves.  On the cross He bore in Himself all of the rejection and separation that we generated by our choosing to embrace “rival loves” (sin) that He might remove all “hate” effects and dynamics from the relationship.  He is now free and fully justified to love us entirely on a “first-generation love” basis and He invites us into this “enmity-free” relationship with Himself as well.  It is this kind of sacrificial, “first-generation”, “hate-transcending” love that He now commands us to have for “one another”, for our “neighbors” and also for our “enemies.”

As we walk in this “first-generation love” towards those we differ from and disagree with, our feet stay firmly on the “high-way” of love as we traverse the briar patch of “thorny” issues.  This sets the tenor and tone of our relationships and interactions with others as one of genuine esteem and respect, which in turn has the effect of drawing them upwards to, likewise, come out of the muck and mire of enmity and division onto “the more excellent way” of love!

Building the Platform of Love

As was shared in Part 1, love is comprised of three aspects: 1) esteeming affections, 2) beneficial/sacrificial actions, and 3) a drawing/unifying effect.  As we build this platform of love in relationship with those who differ from us, we should keep these three aspects in mind.

Esteeming affections – These are the foundations and footings of love.  These deep attitudes of the heart constitute the “pylons” of the boardwalk that bridges the “briar patch of hate.” Because our attitudes towards others are so often based on “secondary and subsequent” layers of the “love”-“hate” dynamic, it is difficult to esteem them deep down in our affections.  When we have a negative view of what they believe and/or how they behave, attitudes of rejection and separation quite naturally generate within our heart.  It takes a determined act of our will to separate the person from their passions, the “sinner from the sin“, in our hearts so that we can love them the way that God loves. The ultimate key to this is in recognizing and reckoning on their inherent value as those created and inestimably loved (valued) by God, regardless of their inward or outward condition. 

No matter who the person is, we can build this type of “first generation love” towards them in our hearts and minds because it doesn’t ultimately originate with and depend on us.  God is in us to give us His esteeming affections towards them.  If we do not have this as a foundation in our attitude towards another, the problem actually lies with us, not with them!  Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the pagans do so?

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV

Digging down and laying pylons is not easy or glorious work, but the stability of the platform built upon them lays in their hidden, immovable strength.  We must begin right at this point by cultivating “first-generation love” in our heart towards others we might normally deem as our “enemies!”

Beneficial/sacrificial actions – With the  “pylons” of esteeming affections firmly grounded and built up in our hearts, we need to then begin to lay the “planks” and build the “railings” of this platform with loving words and deeds.  It is through these that our unconditional, unshakeable, “first-generation love” is communicated and made known in our relationships.

These words and actions should, first and foremost, be that which benefits and blesses the other person.  These expressions may also be that which is costly to us in some way (even if it is just the sacrificing of our underlying prejudices, pride, and personal comfort.)  As was shared in Part 1, the measure of benefit to the other person combined with the degree of cost to us is what equals the amount of love that is expressed.

Every relationship and situation is different, and each one requires its own unique combination of wisdom, sensitivity, creativity, and, often, time.   Here, then, are some practical suggestions that we may be able to incorporate into our relationship with another in order to begin building a platform of love:

  • Pray for them specifically and regularly.
  • Offer a friendly greeting, using their name with a smile.
  • Ask a conversation-eliciting question about something that’s of interest to them.
  • Use some good-hearted humor to lighten the moment and make them smile.
  • Offer to help them with a task.
  • Include them in something that you are doing and express your appreciation.
  • Give them a sincere, affirming compliment regarding something they are responsible for.
  • Do a small, unexpected act of kindness.

Little by little, we need to think of and implement practical ways of showing and affirming our esteem for them as a person.  This is how we begin to show our “first-generation love” towards them and begin to lay the “planks” and build the “railings” of the platform of love.

Drawing/unifying effect – As we build esteeming affections in our hearts towards the other person and continue to practically show esteem for them in loving words and deeds, we will begin to feel our heart being drawn to them and, very likely, their heart will begin to be drawn towards us as well.  This is the powerful effect that love has and it is the first thing we should pursue in relationship with others…especially with those who are different from us in regard to their views and values.

~ ~ ~

In the next post we will explore how we may, after building this platform of love, engage with the other person in the sharing of truth so that there can be a greater understanding of one another’s viewpoints and also possibly come into a greater unity of perspective as well.  [Note: the four “keys” discussed in Part 3 will vitally come into play in the next post.  I encourage you, if possible, to familiarize yourself with those four points before we move into that discussion.]  I look forward to sharing some unique insights that an understanding of this “love”-“hate” relationship reveals when it comes to communicating with others in truth!


Series posts: Part 1: “Love”Part 2: “Hate”,  Part 3: “Generational Dynamics”, and “mid-series review/redux”

 

Posted in Spiritual Dynamics | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship (mid-series review/redux)

This past summer I began a series exploring the relationship between “love” and “hate.”  Given the intensifying, world-shaping focus on “hate” in our cultural and political environment today, I felt an urging in my spirit to begin exploring this matter from God’s perspective.  As I followed the “bread crumbs” of understanding that the Holy Spirit began to lay out, they led me to a set of “keys” that unlocked a myriad of doors with expansive hallways.

I began to realize that this “love”-“hate” relationship, in its dynamic simplicity and yet pervasive complexity, is fundamental to all things human: psychology, sociology, and even spirituality.  As I’ve searched to see if this understanding has been explored and expressed similarly elsewhere, in both the Christian and secular world, I found a surprising lack of incisive inquiry into and clear analysis of this most fundamental issue.  So I feel grateful and also responsible to share this perspective with those who will take time to consider it.

In the first three parts of this series, I sought to, as simply as possible, lay out the initial bread crumbs that led me to the set of keys and to show in some practical applications how these can help to unlock some of our personal and psychological conditions.

I was in the midst of preparing Part 4 in the series when I was interrupted in my spirit by what I can only describe as a prolonged “trumpet blast.”  (I spoke about that experience in the post The Final Call to Repentance and The Return.)  Along with that very distinct spiritual impression came a prophetic burden to focus a number of timely blog posts on the subjects of repentance, prayer, and intercession for our nation.

Although that spiritual burden still remains,  I now feel it is timely to return to this unfinished series and see it through to its completion.  (Indeed, I believe the best is yet to come! 😉 )  Because the three-fold foundation of this teaching was shared so long ago, however, and there are also those who might not have read the initial posts, it seems prudent to give a mid-series explanation and review at this point before launching into its final parts.

I do want to emphasize in giving this review how important it is to “follow the bread crumbs” from the beginning and truly grasp the “keys.”  Some of the concepts may seem unfamiliar, surprising, or even a bit challenging to grasp at first.  Although the principles themselves are profoundly simple, in their application they are simply profound, and so it may take some time and consideration in order to process and truly make them your own.

I would encourage you then, not to move on until you truly “get it!”  If you do, I think you’ll find that your eyes are opened in an unexpected way and you will begin to see the world, and even your relationship with God, with a whole new level of clarity.  That has been my experience at least, and I hope and trust it will be yours as well!

If you haven’t read the initial posts or you’d like a full refresher, then, you may navigate to them using the following links:
Part 1: “Love”
Part 2: “Hate”
Part 3: “Generational Dynamics”

For those who’ve read and “tracked” with the initial posts and merely need a quick refresher, I’ve “bulleted” the main points of each part below for your review and consideration.  (If at any point you’d like a more thorough explanation, you may also click the heading for each part and refer back to the original posts.)

~ ~ ~

The “Love”-“Hate” Relationship
Overview: Parts 1-3

Part 1 – “Love”

    • Love comes from God.
    • Love has as its very essence the ascribing and giving of value.
    • Love ascribes value and sacrificially gives that which is of value to its recipients.
    • Love is both a virtue of the heart and a corresponding outward action; a passive noun and an active verb.
    • Love is also “the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:14 NAS) and as such creates a drawing, unifying effect.
    • Love, therefore, is an esteeming affection, a beneficial/sacrificial action, and a drawing/unifying effect, all in one.

Part 2  – “Hate”

    • Hate is the “unexpected child of a virtuous mother”: LOVE.
    • The biblical concept of “hate” is derived from the protective nature of love (see 1 Corinthians 13:7.)
    • We hate that which opposes, threatens, and/or violates what we love!
    • Whatever we hate, therefore, can be traced back to something that we love being opposed, threatened and/or violated.
    • These “two sides of the same coin”, love and hate, are proportional.  The greater the love, the greater the hate that is generated towards that which opposes, threatens, and/or violates what is loved!  If we did not love, neither would we hate.
    • Hate, in and of itself, is morally indeterminate.  Its moral character, whether good, neutral, or evil, is established by the moral nature of the love it is derived from, as well as its motivation, focus, and manifestation.
    • The primary Hebrew word for “hate” is “sane” (pronounced “saw-nay”)  which carries the primary meaning of rejection and separation.
    • The original Hebrew language is pictographic in nature with the individual letters depicting a certain meaning.  “Sane” is comprised of letters that depict a thorn and seed.
    • The function of a thorn is to create rejection and separation.  The function of seed is to facilitate generation and reproduction.  Hate has the effect of fulfilling all of these functions.

Part 3 – “Generational Dynamics”

    • Working together, the love-hate dynamic is the primary force that creates, contours, and characterizes most of the psychological, sociological, and spiritual conditions generating in and from the human heart.
    • In the complexity of the heart, both “loves” and “hates” each have the power to generate additional “loves” and “hates” as they intersect and interact with each other and with those things which either ally or are at enmity with them.
    • These “generational dynamics” follow certain principles which are essential to understand to rightly discern and wisely engage with most human conditions, whether psychological, sociological, or spiritual.
    • These generational dynamics yield a four-fold set of keys that help to unlock the complexities of the human heart:
      • Key #1 – “First generation loves” are unique from all else that follows.
        • A “first generation love” is derived simply and purely from the inherent value ascribed to an object on its own terms.
        • All that is generated thereafter, from the “first generation hate” to the “secondary and subsequent generations” of both love and hate, are mixtures of whatever inherent value may be ascribed to the object on its own terms, plus or minus whatever effectual value, the object has in relation to the loves or hates that it interacts with, whether positively or negatively(The “peanut butter pizza” example given in Part 3 helps to illustrate this point. 😉 )
        •  “First generation loves” are the initiating, primary forces in the “love”-“hate” relationship and through their protective nature are alone responsible for generating “first generation hates.”
      • Key #2 – In “secondary and subsequent generations” of the “love”-“hate” relationship, both loves and hates each have the power to generate additional loves and additional hates according to set principles.
        • These generational dynamics may most easily be understood by employing the well-known phrase: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and then by further re-wording it to show three additional possible variations. (Employed in this way, we should understand that “enemy” relates to hate, and “friend” to love.  Similarly, hate connotes a negative value, while love a positive one.)
        • In the original phrase, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a double-negative of hate (“The enemy of my enemy”) surprisingly generates a new, single positive of love (“is my friend.”)  This illustrates how existing hates can create new loves in the secondary and subsequent generations of the “love”-“hate” relationship.
        • Re-wording the phrase to be, “The friend of my friend is my friend,”  illustrates how a double positive of love (“The friend of my friend…”) generates a new positive of love (“is my friend.”)
        • Thus, both double negatives of hate and double positives of love each generate new positives of love in the secondary and subsequent generations of the “love”-“hate” relationship.
        • Further, by re-wording the phrase to be either, “The enemy of my friend is my enemy,” or “The friend of my enemy is my enemy,” it illustrates, in both cases, how a single positive of love (“friend”) interacting with a single negative of hate (“enemy”), generates a new single negative of hate (“is my enemy.”)
        • All loves are not the same, therefore, with some being “first generation loves” based on inherent value alone (as in Key #1), some being the product of a double negative of hates, some being the product of a double positive of loves (as in Key #2), and some being a combination of two or more of these generational dynamics.
        • Further, not all hates are the same, with some being “first generation hates” (as in Key #1 – springing from their enmity towards a “first generation love”) and others being “secondary or subsequent hates” as either the product of a single positive of love interacting with a single negative of hate, vice versa (as in Key #2), or a combination of two or more of these generational dynamics..
      • Key #3 – Most conditions and situations are a mixture of “first”, “secondary” and “subsequent” generations of differing loves and hates.
        • These all integrate together in a complex, counter-balancing, competing, complementing, flipping, fortifying, and re-generating way to form some sort of  internal “algorithm” that produces a uniquely expressed outcome!
        • As such, most conditions and situations cannot simply be taken at face value but must be discerned and engaged with at deeper levels.
      • Key #4 – In order to rightly discern and wisely engage with any condition or situation, the secondary and subsequent layers of loves and hates must be peeled back until the primary “first generation love(s) that generate all else thereafter are uncovered.
        • Only as we rightly discern a situation or condition at this primary, root level can we rightly perceive the most generative and formative matters of the heart that are ultimately at work.
        • Only as we wisely engage with a matter at this primary, root level, in love and in truth, can true transformation and change potentially take place while maintaining the unity that comes from love.
        • This is the ultimate key in the key set!

~ ~ ~

In Part 3 of this series, I introduced these “keys” and gave some examples that related primarily in the realm of personal and psychological conditions.  The next two posts (which will follow shortly) will apply these “keys” primarily in the realm of interpersonal and sociological situations, especially focusing on how we may lovingly and wisely engage with others who may differ from us culturally, politically, and/or religiously.  I will close out this series by applying these principles to the spiritual life in relationship with God and His people.

I look forward to exploring with you these most elemental dynamics of the human heart which form and fashion the full expression of our lives as those made in the image and likeness of HIM who is LOVE!

Posted in Spiritual Dynamics | 3 Comments

Important Blog Update – Please read!

I am sending this post out very early on the morning of January 20, 2021, the presidential Inauguration Day in the USA.  We are living in extremely unprecedented, unpredictable, and, frankly, unfathomable times!  It is hard to project what the state of our nation will be even by the end of this day, let alone in the days, weeks, and months ahead!  Things are changing rapidly and dramatically (to say the least!)

One thing that has become abundantly clear over the past number of months is that there is a deeply disturbing war on free speech in this country.  Those holding and expressing views that conflict with the “official narrative” and what is “politically correct” are increasingly being demonized, shame-labeled, censored, banned, de-platformed, and persecuted.  The foundations of freedom that have been the hallmark of this country for so long are quickly eroding and being replaced with a ubiquitous spirit of cultural, media, technological, and governmental control.  In the name of “diversity” and “tolerance”, uniformity and intolerance are being foisted upon our nation and have become the atmosphere we’re being forced to live and move and have our being in.  Because there is little to no accountability and consequence for those propagating this intimidating and forceful conformity, the push towards complete thought-speech-action-controlling tyranny is accelerating.  If unchecked, what follows after that is not a mystery (to those who know and understand history!)

As of New Years Day, I began my tenth year blogging at Christ-Centered Christianity. Although it’s my desire and intention to continue blogging through this coming year, I’m aware that there are major developments that may greatly curtail or even crush that prospect.  My purpose in this post is to bring attention to that reality and to offer some appropriate suggestions and even passionate urgings in light of it.

First of all, no matter where you may live as you read this post, I ask that you would earnestly pray and intercede for the United States of America at this critical crossroads!  I believe that the future of this nation will greatly determine the future course of the entire world geo-politically, economically, technologically, and culturally.  The Church is also greatly divided in our nation by the political and cultural polarization that has been stoked by “the powers that be”, especially over the past four years.  This is deeply grievous to the Lord and needs to be the focus of concerted intercession.  It also seems that a time of intense persecution and even purging of Christians is being planned, coordinated, and may be shortly unleashed on the Church in America if the godless, globalist, Marxist forces that have infiltrated nearly every aspect of our society have their way.  I’m afraid that Christians in America are gravely ill-prepared for this level of persecution should it come.

Secondly, no matter where you may live (yet especially to my brothers and sisters in the USA), I urge you to take advantage today of the following free resource hosted on this site while it is still available: Principles for the Gathering of Believers Under the Headship of Jesus Christ by Gospel Fellowships.  Of all the content and resources on this blog/website, I feel this is the most important and essential at this time to prepare the Body of Christ for what may be coming shortly!  To make this as simple and accessible as possible, I’ve made a PDF of the Resource page on this blog of this work for you to easily download to your computer, tablet, or phone.  This will give you quick access on your own device to all of the links for the print and audiobook formats to then download individually while they remain available.  That PDF link is here:

PRINCIPLES Book (Complete PDF, mp3, and more)

You may also access the Resource page for this book right here on the blog by clicking here or from the Resources tab on the header/menu at any time.

I urge you to take advantage of this resource today, and then share it around with those in your circle of fellowship and influence.  I cannot guarantee how long it will be available for.

Thirdly, I’m working on converting what I feel are some of the more important posts and pages that I’ve written over the past nine years into PDF format and am listing the links to those on a new permanent page, “PDFs“, found on the header bar/menu.   I’ve begun that process and will continue it over the next few days, weeks, and months as the Lord leads and circumstances allow.  Given the present atmosphere and what may be imminently coming, however, it’s possible that all of this content may eventually be de-platformed and disappear from the web, so I want to be faithful to steward these teachings/resources in the most efficient and expedited manner I can at this time.  If you think you may have any interest in these resources going forward, I encourage you to transfer them into your possession now, “while the getting’s good”, and then you will at least have options going forward as to how you may use them.  Please feel free also to share these with those you are connected with if you feel they serve the purpose of the Lord in your circles of influence.

Finally, since I last posted, I’ve added four new resources to the FREE AUDIOBOOKS section of this site.  These are all extremely well written/read and carry a very timely message for this present hour.  They are as follows:

A First Century Message to Twentieth Century Christians– by G. Campbell Morgan  This is an in-depth exposition of the first three chapters of the book of Revelation focusing on the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor.  It is as relevant today as it was in the first (and “twentieth”) century.  I highly recommend it!

Prevailing Prayer: What Hinders It? – by Dwight L. Moody  This title speaks clearly for itself.  Interestingly, this production was published by LibriVox shortly after I published my latest post, Stoking the Fires of Prayer and Intercession (especially for those who struggle) and its chapters tie in very closely to the different aspects I focused on in that post.  If there is one burden I feel at this time, it is for the Body of Christ to increase in the degree and depth of prayer and intercession for the Church and the nations.

The Night of Weeping– by Horatius Bonar  This is a classic treatise on the purpose and promise bound up with suffering and hardship in the Christian life.  I truly feel this is a book richly written under the Holy Spirit’s anointing and is very timely for the Body of Christ at this time!  It is also wonderfully read by a LibriVox volunteer.

Paul the Dauntless– by Basil Joseph Matthews  This extraordinary piece of literature on the life of the apostle Paul really took me by surprise as to how well it was researched, written, and read.  I would call this one a “hidden classic” that, while being in the genre of “historical fiction”, gives great care to the details of Scripture, geography, culture, and the like.  It really “brings to life” the full sweep of the life of Saul of Tarsus/Paul the apostle.  I believe that the spirit of this dauntless man is what will mark the remnant saints at the end of the age, and so we will do well to immerse ourselves in his life.  As he said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

All of the free audiobooks hosted on this site have serialized players added for ease of listening as well as links to download the entire book.  Please take advantage of these wonderful blessings while they are available!

Dear saints, we are living in unprecedented, Biblical days!  God is on the Throne, and He is our High Tower!  We do not fear, but we must be prepared in spirit, soul, and body for what is coming and is even upon us!  I give you my best as a fellow follower and servant of Christ.  I am far from perfect and greatly covet your prayers in this hour for my family and me!  We are all in this together for the glory of God and the expansion of His unshakeable Kingdom!  May He find us faithful!!

In His love,
David

Update:  Some very significant, insightful, and helpful comments have been contributed to this post after it was published.  Please be sure to scroll down and take the time to read through what has been shared!  It is as important, and even more so, than what I have written!  All blessings!!


PRINCIPLES Book (Complete PDF, mp3, and more) – PDF link
PDFs page
FREE AUDIOBOOKS main menu page

Posted in Audiobooks, Blog Updates, Christ-Centered Resources | 28 Comments

Stoking the Fires of Prayer and Intercession (especially for those who struggle)

Does the call to a life of prayer and intercession seem daunting to you?  Do you feel that an effective, consistent prayer life is beyond your reach?  Have you tried to pray and intercede for others regularly but have failed miserably?  I can relate to all of those sentiments and conditions at one time and another in my walk with the Lord.  There have also been regular seasons in my life that have been marked by a deep, fervent, and abiding spirit of prayer and intercession.  I’ve known both ends of the spectrum, and a wide range in-between.

In the drier times, I’ve felt like I have this little “match” of faith and desire and I place it up against these giant logs of prayer and intercession and all I get is a little puff of smoke.  The match goes out and I’m done.

The fact of the matter, however, is that it only takes a tiny match to get a fire going that has the potential to not only set big logs on fire, but an entire forest.  If all you and I have is a tiny match of faith and desire, we have all we need to start a fervent, consuming, prayer life.  It’s simply a matter of what we do with that match that makes all the difference.

Natural Fire Building

When I build a natural fire, I gather the logs I want to burn, but I also include smaller logs, branches, kindling wood, and paper.  I build it from the bottom up, from the most easily ignitable material to the least.  I further make sure it is constructed with the right balance of proximity of materials to each other as well as needed space for airflow.  I then take my match and only concern myself with lighting the most readily combustible material, the paper.  If the paper catches, I might have to blow on it a little to get the kindling wood burning, but, eventually, the flames take over and the fire burns hotter and hotter until even the biggest logs are crackling and popping in the blaze.

Now, if I tend the fire regularly and keep feeding it when it begins to burn down, it’s not hard to keep the fire burning for hours and even days without having to start all over again from the beginning.  However small or large a fire I may eventually obtain, however, it all is set on fire with just a single, tiny match.

Spiritual Fire Building

If we find that the fires of prayer and intercession in our life have burned down to mere ashes, or maybe were never kindled in the first place, we need to start at the beginning and build these fires on the hearth of our heart employing the wisdom gained through natural fire building.

To start with, we will need to make sure we have the right “materials.”  These will include some “big logs” of our primary objectives in prayer and intercession, but we will also need to incorporate into our pyre of prayer some smaller logs, branches, kindling wood, and paper.  Unless our prayer life is regularly fed and tended, we shouldn’t assume that the “big logs” will easily or automatically catch.  We will most likely need to first build a “starter fire” under them consisting of the other, more readily combustible “materials.”

“Paper”

The first thing we will need, then, is the “paper.”  In this analogy, may I suggest that the “paper” is representative of the Scriptures.  As we begin our time of prayer, it is a wise and helpful practice to begin by meditating on and “praying into” a selected portion of Scripture.  This can take various forms and can be focused on anything from simply one spiritually rich word from Scripture (“love”, “peace”, “holy”, etc.), a Scriptural phrase, verse, portion of a chapter, or an overview of an entire chapter.  We should choose a portion that our heart is drawn to and focuses our thoughts and desires on God Himself, revealing something of His character, promises, purposes, wisdom, works, and/or ways. (The Psalms are an excellent place to draw from.)

As we meditate on and begin “praying into” God’s Word, we must engage not merely our mind, but also our heart, allowing our “match of faith and desire” to “burn up into” and “envelope” the portion of Scripture we are focusing on within our spirit.  Through the quickening of the Holy Spirit, this uniting of faith and desire with the truth of Scripture will begin to ignite and generate increasing measures of both “light” (revelation) and “heat” (spiritual desire.)  Thus our faith and desire will be further kindled and enflamed. 

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…”
(2 Timothy 1:6 NAS)

“While I meditated, the fire burned; ” (Psalm 39:3 NIV)

“Kindling Wood”

As these initial burnings of faith and desire begin to increase within our spirit through meditation, our first responses in prayer ought to be those of thanksgiving and praise.  These expressions are the flames that are most readily kindled by the Spirit as we muse on God’s Word.  The “kindling wood” which our thanksgiving and praise are fueled by are the character, wisdom, will, works, and ways of God revealed in the Scripture portion before us.

In order for this “kindling wood” to fully “catch” then, we should begin to express focused prayers of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord drawing from the portion of Scripture we are meditating on.  Such expressions begin with words such as, “I thank You, Lord, that You are…”, “I praise You, God, for…”, etc…  This is how we begin to “pray into” God’s Word.  As these expressions of gratitude and exaltation begin to flow from our hearts and lips to the Lord, they further feed and fan the flames of faith and desire within our hearts drawing us deeper into prayer and praise.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)

“Large Sticks and Small Logs”

As the fire begins to grow, the “large sticks” of confession and repentance ought to most readily catch next.  As we lift God up with thanksgiving and praise, we, in turn will find ourselves coming into a greater position of humility before Him.  As the light of revelation through His Word begins to shine brighter, we will find the areas of our hearts that yet harbor shadows and darkness will begin to be exposed.  This will lead us very naturally to confession and repentance in prayer.

In the “light” and “heat” of our Scripture meditation/praying, we should ask the Lord if there is some aspect of our faith that needs to be increased in relation to His Word and some corresponding aspect of unbelief that needs to be confessed and repented of?  A prayer such as is recorded in the Gospels is always in order, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

We should further ask if there is some aspect of obedience that is lacking in relation to His Word, and if there is some corresponding act or practice of disobedience that needs to be confessed and repented of?  Confession humbles the heart before God and opens the way for a greater “wind” of God’s grace to blow in and fan the fires of prayer in our heart. 

“For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.” (Zechariah 12:10 NIV)

“Take words with you, And return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” (Hosea 14:2 NKJV)

 

In close proximity to the large sticks of confession and repentance are the small logs of supplication. Supplication by definition is a humble entreaty for oneself.  As we humble ourselves before God in confession and repentance, we also humbly entreat Him for His mercy and grace that we may be forgiven, cleansed, and enabled to walk in a greater measure of faith and obedience.  The deeper the humility, the greater the grace that is given and is able to be received.  We should seek to sink very low before the exalted Lord if we desire the fire of prayer to burn brightly and intensely.

Through meditation on Scripture, exalting God through thanksgiving and praise, and humbling ourselves through confession and supplication, we are in the most fitting and “flammable” place for the spirit of prayer to then begin to ignite and consume the “large logs” of petition and intercession.

“Large Logs”

There are two related types of prayer that comprise the “large logs” of our prayer life: petition and intercession.

The word “petition” comes from a Latin word, “petere” which means “to make for, go to; attack, assail; seek, strive after; ask for, beg, beseech, request; fetch; derive; demand, require,” (Online Etymology Dictionary)  In these descriptives, we see the intensity of the word “petition” as a focused and fervent beseeching of the Lord in prayer.  In Scripture we are entreated: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV.)  We are further encouraged by the words of James, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(James 5:16 NKJV.)  Petitioning prayer is one of the greatest privileges and highest responsibilities we have as the children of God and when the fires of prayer burn hot, these large logs begin to burn brightly and feed the flames with substantial fuel and fervent heat.

Closely related to prayers of petition are prayers of intercession.  While prayers of petition can be for ourselves as well as for others, prayers of intercession are strictly on the behalf of others.  The word “intercede” comes from the Latin prefix, “inter” meaning “between” and “cedere” meaning “to go”. To intercede is to “go between” the Lord and another on their behalf in prayer.  This is the essence of priestly ministry which is the high calling of every believer.  It is, likewise, through intercession that we can most powerfully encounter and be conformed to the heart of Christ in His heavenly ministry as He who “always lives to make intercession for [us].” (Hebrews 7:25)  There is very little in the spiritual life that is more effectual in decreasing the self-life and increasing Christ’s life within us than importunate intercession for others.  This is the second type of large log that God desires our prayer lives to consume.

Burning Embers

As with natural fire, our spiritual fire of prayer goes through stages.  There is that which involves our intentional kindling of a “starter fire” through meditation, thanksgiving, and praise, followed by our willing cooperation to fan the flames through confession, repentance, and supplication, followed by our active participation to feed the fires the substantial and sustaining fuel of petition and intercession.  As the fire of prayer transitions through these stages, the flames burn hotter and brighter, but they also build up within us a lively bed of red hot embers that continue to burn and throw heat long after the active flames have died down.  Those glowing embers are the coals of intimacy with the Lord that are built up in the process, and as a consequence, of the active aspects of our prayer lives.  Not only do these coals continue to burn in our hearts long after we have moved on from active times of prayer, they also become the hot bed upon which our next time of active prayer will be built and easily kindled afresh.  As long as these burning embers are tended regularly with the fuel of meditation and active prayer, the fire will never go out!

This, indeed, is the key to building and sustaining an active, intimate prayer life with the Lord. It does not happen automatically, nor without intentionality and consistency, but neither is it beyond our reach.  All it takes is the wisdom of natural fire building applied to our prayer life and a small match of faith and desire to get it all started.  Before long, we will have a fervent, abiding spirit of prayer within us that not only consumes and radiates within our own hearts, but also warms and enlightens those around us.

I pray that you are encouraged “to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…” even unto a consuming fire of prayer and intercession through the wisdom and grace He has given!


Related:
A Continuing Urgent Call to Prayer and Intercession
1857 Prayer Revival – Can it Happen Again?
A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – by Madam Guyon (free audiobook)
Prevailing Prayer: What Hinders It? – by Dwight L. Moody (free audiobook)

As an example of one way of “praying into the Scriptures”, I commend the following relatively short podcast episode by John Piper.  As you listen, please notice the different aspects of thanksgiving, praise, confession, and supplication that are interwoven into his prayers related to the Scripture portion he is meditating on!

Posted in Prayer and Intercession, Spiritual Dynamics, The Inner Life, Video | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments