Principles and Projects | SPIRITUAL SEEDS THAT REAP CHRIST-LIKENESS


sowing-the-seeds-that-reap-christlikenessExcerpted from the book SPIRITUAL SEEDS THAT REAP CHRIST-LIKENESS volume one

Although I was married in 1959 it wasn’t until 1971 that my circumstances caused me to recognize that I was in serious trouble.  So much so, that it forced me to recognize that I needed to do some deep soul-searching and challenge myself.

I was staring at a disaster; caused by conducting my marriage from my perspective. All the time, God was patiently waiting for circumstances to drive me to a place where I would turn to Him for direction.

The time had come for my Christianity to become more than mere words and theological habits. I needed to search out; re-evaluate my life and then pursue God’s goals for my life and marriage; which I discovered, meant becoming more and more like Christ to my wife and children. I needed to accept the responsibility (as the spiritual leader in my home) to lead as Christ would. Those are also the ultimate purposes of this book.

To accomplish those purposes, here are Five Challenging Concepts (which are like spiritual seeds for the gardener who wants spiritual growth) all of which I believe God revealed to me and to which I hold myself accountable. These concepts (or spiritual seeds) yielded for me and I believe will yield for every Christian man… the same brand of Christianity the Apostles died for.

These concepts presented me with a challenge, and I’m passing that challenge on. Are we willing to become the Christ-like spiritual leaders in our homes that God requires we be?  Not so incidentally, that requires an intense commitment to God. A commitment wherein we will need to determine; are we willing to pay the sacrificial price required to gain the necessary understanding that will enable us to become more and more Christ-like!

God is going to bring every man to a place where he will have to decide; am I willing to accept the challenge of literally illustrating Christ. Exemplifying the ability to respond to all of the events in my life as Christ would?

Let me take this opportunity to mention, it definitely is the intent of this series of books, to present every Christian man with a challenge: The most demanding concepts he may ever face; requiring that he meet some of the strictest opportunities for illustrating Christ in his Christian home (and community) he may ever be confronted with.

This challenge centers on the following Five Concepts or Five Spiritual Seeds that are presented in question form. They represent seeds that need to be nurtured so they can grow and provide spiritual nutrition; becoming a part of who we are; since it’s said, We are what we eat!”

SEED #1, answers this question: What needs to happen before a man can prove he understands his own human spirit well enough that he would be qualified to be a Christ-like spiritual leader?  Proverb 25:28 requires that a man understand his own human spirit; warning him about the trouble he will encounter if he does not have, “…rule over his own spirit.” (KJV) If we do not recognize, nor specifically understand, our own human spirit, how is it even possible that we could build spiritual maturity in ourselves or in those we are supposed to be spiritually responsible for?

SEED #2, answers this question: What is specifically involved in dying to self; how does a man put his own “flesh” to death?  II Cor. 7:1 clearly instructs us to, “… cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and filthiness of the spirit.” (KJV)  Do we know how to recognize our flesh in all of its manifestations?  Do we even recognize when and how our flesh manifests itself in our everyday lives? Knowing these things enables a man to understand what is necessary to put his flesh to death, and allows him to acquire greater spiritual strength.

SEED #3, answers this question: What is necessary before a man is capable of literally understanding the mind of a woman as Christ would/does?  This capability would enable a man to discover even more about spiritual leadership and spiritual power. Then too, I Peter 3:7, commands that we, “… live with our wives in an understanding way… that our prayers be not hindered.” (ESV)

SEED #4, answers this question: What is involved in a man developing the ability to actually illustrate Christ to his wife, every day in his life?  We know that Christ was/is, spiritually mature! And, Ephesians 5:23-27 requires that we be like Christ to our wives; Romans 8:29 also requires that we be conformed to the image of God’s Son. If we are struggling in our marriages, and the evidence clearly illustrates that there is a lack of harmony and oneness, then Christ-likeness in a husband (the spiritual leader) is missing.

What resources will we draw upon to discover when, where or how we are not Christ-like? What resources will we use to help us discover how to discipline ourselves, so we would more effectively illustrate Christ not only to our wives but to everyone? How about drawing upon the help that God ordained for us? Do you know what that help is?

SEED #5, answers this question: How does a man successfully discern God’s intentions and directions in every situation? Can he interpret all of life’s physical events, in such a way that he is able to turn them into beneficial spiritual lessons?  Thereby, daily, being an example; leading his family into victorious living? Romans 8:28 says, “…all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good …” (AMP) What is the evidence that we specifically do understand, what the good is, that God wants to accomplish in everything that take place in our lives, daily?

If we are going to be an illustration of Christ to the world, doesn’t it make sense that we would have to learn these Five Concepts (plant these Five Spiritual Seeds in our own spiritual lives) before we could teach them to others?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot bring stability to the Christian community without personally providing the kind of spiritual leadership (especially in our marriages) that Christ would?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot bring stability to Christian marriages if we do not understand our own wife’s heart/spirit so well that in each situation we face in our marriages, our wives feel as though they’ve had an encounter with Christ?

Doesn’t it make sense that we cannot offer the hope of stability in the homes of other Christian, unless we are the kind of Christ-like example in our own home that brings stability? That, like Christ, we would know our wife’s spirit so well that we know what our wives would be thinking in a given situation? We aren’t guessing or thinking we know… we know! And, our wives will readily testify that we do indeed, know what their thinking would be in a given situation?

Doesn’t it make sense that we would not be able to pass on the necessary knowledge or specific understanding about the human spirit, if we don’t thoroughly understand our own human spirits, nor our wife’s spirit?

Doesn’t it make sense that if we are unable to specifically identify each of our emotions, its living proof that we are emotionally unfamiliar and dysfunctional? And when that’s true, we will not be able to identify with the emotional needs of our wives (or others) and as such we will not be capable of caring for their emotional needs. That being the case we will not be able to minister to them as Christ would.  (See Hebrews 4:14-16)

Now, having said all of that, may I propose that the most significant means God has devised; so we could develop spiritual understanding and leadership, is found within the framework of the home… marriage! It is the most challenging institution for building relationships!

Marriage is the first institution that God Himself established. His purpose is, that it is the most significant and demanding resource for training a man to illustrate Christ.

Marriage presents circumstances wherein a man’s true nature and character are revealed. Then, as necessary, he can alter his normal-to-man character; that it be conformed to Christ’s character. Marriage is also meant to be the most rewarding relationship in the world!

Concerning this role of spiritual leadership and how serious God is about it: read Malachi 2:13-15. (NASB) In it, God explains what His expectations are of spiritual leadership; expectations that require a high degree of spiritual awareness, along with a complete ability to understand our own spirit and the spirits of our wives.  Then, we can successfully provide Christ-like care for our wives and others.

Principles and Projects | Trauma In Our Lives


tsDon’t use your circumstance as an excuse for poor behavior. Let me introduce myself, my name is Tom Gussie and I have been married to my wife Sherri for 34 years and have been attending Christ Quest Ministries since 1999. I chose to go through the classes for 5 years before beginning the discipleship program to become a group leader. During this time, I was also studying to become a licensed trauma therapist. As I was going through my training, I was able to see how traumatic events in a person’s life have contributed to troubled marriages.

As a requirement for my licensure, I did an 18 month internship at the VA hospital in Phoenix. Of all the Veterans I counseled, only two were still married to their original wife. All the others were divorced, currently going through a divorce, separated, or having trouble with their second or third marriages. I even had one combat veteran tell me how his wife was boring and wanted permission to have an open marriage or he was going to leave her for more exciting pastures. I told him he was seeing the wrong counselor to give him permission to do something like that to hurt his wife.

I also have been working with veterans, first responders, and others who have suffered from traumatic events in their lives and discovered how trauma was a major contributing factor, not only to their life style, but also to their relationships.

I personally grew up in a very abusive family where my mother was my father’s most favorite punching bag, my brother was his second, and I was his third. I always tried to be the perfect child and would sacrifice a lot so my father would not beat any of us. I tried to be the best in everything I did; school, sports, gymnastics and motocross.

We looked like the perfect family. Our injuries from my father’s abuse were explained as a result of the sports we played. My mother cited accidents around the pool as her excuse. Growing up I thought this was normal behavior in a family i.e., to use intimidation, anger, physical force, the silent treatment, and other negative behaviors to keep your wife in line. Now, I have never physically assaulted my wife or children because of a vow I made as a young man to never hurt my spouse or our children. To this day, I still have vivid memories of hearing my mother crying due to my father’s treatment of her. My father ended his life by committing suicide and I helped remove his body from the back yard. Witnessing how he took his life has had a profound impact on me. These are some of the things I brought into my marriage and have had to deal with.
We have heard the metaphor “sticks and stones can break your bones, but names will never hurt me.” The reason I bring this up is because when I was 9 years old, my younger brother and I were with our father while he was talking to one of his friends. He made a comment that became a major obstacle in my life regarding ever having kids. He said, “Don’t ever have any children; these two have been nothing but a pain in my @$$ and it isn’t worth the trouble!”

As a trauma counselor, I constantly hear stories from my female patients on how they are suffering with trauma resulting from their family, boyfriend/s, or husband/s. Now for the hard part, when you have grown up in environments like these, how do you perceive God? I will only relate to my own personal experience. My perception of God? He is like a Commanding Spartan Warrior. He is always looking over my shoulder waiting for me to make a mistake and then sanction me for even the most minor infraction. I hear people tell me how they don’t feel God’s presence and God does not have time for them. I feel the exact opposite; He is always watching my every move, marking it down in His book of accountability and I am going to suffer a double jeopardy, here on earth and in heaven. I have been working hard to change my thinking of who God is. I hear He is loving, gracious, kind, compassionate, patience, gentle, and faithful. I have my days where I believe these words and then something will trigger my old beliefs and I default to that homepage.

When a person experiences trauma, the brain always tries to make sense of the incident. I tell people their worst experience of that trauma, was their last memory of it. I explain to them how we all have an emotional trashcan. During life, we have things happen where we put these incidents in our emotional trashcan and put the lid on it. After years of putting items in, we start to have difficulty putting the lid on because our emotional trash is overflowing. So what happens when our emotional trash is overflowing? It smells, people don’t want to be around us, it attracts negative behaviors like anger, bitterness, depression, anxiety, stress, isolation, alcohol/drug use, neglect of others, spending money, pornography, etc. This emotional trashcan also becomes very heavy where we can’t lift it any more and it will affect our physical body. You may begin to walk hunched over, you can have a sad countenance on your face, you don’t walk with a spring in your step and other things may manifest where people tell you how you are not the same anymore. Because of my poor representation of Christ-likeness, my wife Sherri would tell me, “You have become my joy robber” and I could see how her countenance, attitude, personality and even her posture changed.

Is there an answer for all of this? It begins by emptying your emotional trashcan, learning new coping skills from the Word and learning new Godly behaviors. What we think and dwell on determines how we feel; how we feel then determines how we act. We need God’s strength to get through life, not the speed to run away from it. In my professional experience, I see how women are more likely to seek counseling versus men. Like me, the only reason I went to Christ Quest was to get my wife to stop complaining that there was something wrong with our marriage. I thought our marriage was good, but she knew the truth and saw what was happening. To quote Ken, “Ladies, you don’t know the depth of ignorance you are dealing with.” In my case “SO TRUE.” If it wasn’t for what God taught me through Christ Quest I would likely still think I could handle my marital issues and get things straightened out by using the techniques that my earthly father taught me instead of what my Heavenly Father was trying to teach me.

I like to use the analogy of lifting weights. Sometimes, we are lifting a heavier weight than what we can handle by ourselves. We need a “spotter.” You still have to do the hard work and if you are struggling or get stuck, the spotter helps you through. That is what a counselor is; a spotter. You are not weak, you still have to do all the hard work and a counselor motivates you and gets you through those sticking points.

So husbands, if you find yourself struggling with trauma and relating issues that are resulting in a poor marriage and family, ask for a spotter. YOU ARE NOT WEAK, YOU JUST NEED A SPOT! God said I will never leave you or forsake you; and a spotter does not do that either in those times of heavy lifting. Let me encourage you to use Christ Quest as your marital spotter and a counselor for any other help. Remember, we can’t use our mental or physical issues or illness as an excuse for poor behavior.

Proverbs 4:20-22 My son be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh.

Acts 3:19-20 (TLB) Now change your mind and attitude to God and turn to Him so He can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord and send Jesus your Messiah

Join Ken Nair and Tom Gussie 7/21/15 at 3PM Pacific Time for a FREE 2 hour online discussion on TRAUMA. They will give tips on how to heal and tools on how to keep moving forward. Click on the link to participate: https://plus.google.com/events/cp05erbbvk83caos91pimg31le8?hl=en

Projects and Principles | How To Have Victory Over Sinful Desires


Like you, I have been battlingprincples2 the flesh my entire Christian experience, yet it seems as though I have been unable to create a sustainable victory over my sinful desires. Let’s face it, for most of us many of the sins that we have the most problems with look, feel and taste good to our senses. We anticipate moving towards that sin that “so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1) and it seems as though, at times, I can muster up enough strength to resist the flesh for a season, but other times resisting the flesh only increases the likelihood of my failing.

I am discovering that in Christ I am literally a new creation. I am not saying that my sinful temptations have gone away. I am saying that God has now given me the choice to choose Him. When I choose Him I am choosing Eternal Life.

While having a conversation with Nancy a few weeks ago she enjoyed the ways that I was telling her that I was receiving more success at conquering the sin that so easily wins over me. And she asked if I might write a short article on my experiences. So here it is.
I am finding that there are two things that help me more consistently win the battle with my flesh. The first is a living and vibrant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is His Spirit living in my spirit which gives me an experience of Eternality in my life. Yes, I need to “fall in love” with Christ. For me I bask in a God that loves me in spite of my brokenness, in spite of my sin, in spite of my arrogance and pride, in spite of who I know I am. This means I don’t have to listen to that little voice in my head (shame) that says you messed up, you’re no good, you will never amount to anything, God doesn’t love you, you always mess up, you already messed up so you might as well just go further, “God sees that sin just like any other sin”, so you might as well enjoy the big one. Again a great healing part of this first principle is being wholly convinced in my heart that God loves me unconditionally.

The second is a very fascinating aspect that totally took me by surprise: Accountability. Now many of us use the word accountability, but what we mean is when we get caught we have to “pay a price”. The accountability I’m looking at is a little different than that. I ask for it (accountability) before the sin happens. At that moment when God’s spirit is prompting me in one direction, and my flesh is pulling me the other, I involve a friend just as I’m about to enter the sin. So picture this, you look at something, you desire it (knowing its wrong) you start to resist, but your desire for it increases and increases. You know you can’t have it and that makes it even more desirable, and sometimes you cross the line and you get it anyway. Then you realize that it wasn’t as satisfying as you had anticipated. You had built it up in your mind to be much better than it really was and the consequences are much harsher than you had self-justified in your mind. Most of us can identify with having regrets in this way.

So I’ve discovered that as a man when I am in the throes of temptation (if I am tempted to have an affair, look at porn, or plan a mean revenge), if I will call a friend and tell him my intention the need toward the sin dissipates. I’ve discovered that there is something about hearing out loud what I am planning in my mind that seems to take away all of the thrill and excitement of doing the secret thing. One of the greatest advantages is that this action forces me to take off my mask that pretends that everything is okay when it’s not. Yes, sometimes a friend may be able to talk me out of it and may be able to help me come to my senses with regards to the consequences, but really it seems like the power of God is in the spoken word when I make that phone call… If indeed in Christ we are a new creation and we can choose, that means that Satan really does not have any power or authority in my life… the only power sin seems like it has is only there because I gave it it’s position. Prior to having the Holy Spirit, I had no choice, but after I’ve accepted Christ I now have full choice and can choose to turn away. The way out that is provided for me it’s to voice the desire or the plan. (1 Cor. 10:13)

I have full choice now that I have a relationship with Christ to choose to bask in His love enough to where that temptation subsides, becomes less important, is all fluff created by Satan, and has no real power over me. After all, it’s just my selfishness and flesh attempting to confuse me. So pick up the phone and call someone. When you take off your mask you will grow into the real person God intended you to be, as well as you will be helping the person you call (your trusted friend) by illustrating vulnerability and truth in your walk with Christ.

Written by Ed Riemersma

On June 25th, 2015 at 3pm-6pm PST Ken Nair and special guest Doup Leeper, a Christ Quest Institute Group Leader, will be hosting an online event dedicated to helping men with questions they might have on this topic. They will spend this time dedicated to giving answers, principles and projects to help defeat this area of concern. Click on website below to participate in this event.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/ckpmf2010jj6928lt38qrgal438
Please feel free to invite any of your friends and family who would be interested in discussing this topic.