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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ruling Over or Lording Over

(Hebrews 13:24 KJV) Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints.

This scripture seems to indicate that there are two different “classes” of people.  Those who “rule over” and those who are “ruled over.”

However, after studying our text a little deeper it becomes obvious that some leaders misinterpret “ruling over” as to mean “lording over.” When one “rules over” the driving force usually has to do with a Godly function, scriptural government or the anointing. That means that this type of “class difference” is fine and should be respected. In other words it has to do with function rather than valuing one person greater than another.

This type of “rule” is never meant to take away one’s God given rights, but to help guide one successfully through life in those rights. By submitting to this type of “rule” one not only learns how to succeed in following, but they also learn how to succeed in being a good leader.

It is a totally different thing when one “lords” over another. “Ruling over another” is meant to guide…whereas “lording over another” is meant to divide. “Lording over another” is meant to show that one person is actually better than another person. In other words, I am either better than you or you are better than me.

The Aristocratic age in Europe is a good example of this. The Aristocrats were considered to be born as a people of rank. Because of that they were often an overbearing, proud and haughty people.

Because they believed in this form of government, their whole family was also considered to be Aristocrats. That meant that everyone else was considered beneath them.

I find it extremely sad that over the last fifty years much of the Body of Christ has adopted this same “aristocratic” form of government. I am sure that it was not planned by man but by Satan, because he knew of mankind’s weakness for wanting power over others.

As a result many church leaders went from “ruling over” to “lording over” the people. This resulted in a form of “mind control.”

I have spent hundreds of hours over the last fifty plus years counseling people with various kinds of problems, including those who were affected by “mind bending” leaders.

I discovered that it was much easier to see success in healing one from alcohol problems, drug addictions and other weaknesses than it was for healing of a  “controlled mind.” The reason being…most addictions are the results of what one does to themselves by making wrong decisions. Whereas “mind control” on the other hand is the result of what has been done to one by another.

In most cases, the one guilty of such “mind control” tactics is not aware they are using a form of witchcraft in their leadership. If they did they would probably stop it.

The answer to such problems is to first recognize that the “aristocratic spirit” is not only alive and well, but it seems to be growing at a breakneck speed.

The second thing is to realize that Satan is the guilty one and not the person he is using to carry out his dastardly deed.

Father,
Thank You for giving us the opportunity to learn more about how we should lead. Help us not to respond in any harmful way to those that You sent Your son to die for. Forgive us if we have misused our authority in any way by “lording over” Your people rather than by “ruling over” them.

Amen

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Monday, April 21, 2014

You Are in Sin

(Psalms 119:11 KJV) Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Sinning is the most natural thing for a person to do. It is very easy for one to fall prey to this “disease of the soul” by doing wrong, acting wrong or thinking wrong thoughts.

I must confess there was a time when I was a young Christian that I actually thought I was totally sin free. I attended a little Holiness Church that believed in total Sanctification and that avoiding sin was an act of one’s will and good discipline.

Because I loved the Lord so much I learned to walk (in my opinion) on a straight, narrow, disciplined path. However, the older I got the more I realized that my righteousness was little more than filthy rags. I learned that outward sin was the result of sin that had already been committed in one’s heart. Discipline may keep one from carrying out the act, but if one sins in his heart he is already guilty.

This new revelation was not only a shock to my “self-righteous soul,” but it was also embarrassing to discover that I was not nearly as perfect as I thought.

It should be the goal of every believer to live a disciplined life even though discipline alone is not enough…relying on the Lord for His help is our only answer.  Trying to live by discipline alone is like standing on quick sand…one will eventually sink.

No one needs help in reaching their quota of sin and wrong doing…that comes naturally. However, when one is accused of sin when they are innocent…that is a totally different matter.

Perception is a wonderful thing, but when the results of one’s perception turns into unwarranted accusation then that is definitely wrong.

I had a friend who went to the same church with me…and believed he was perfect as well. One day as we two perfect people were driving down the road my friend looked over at me and said, “You are in sin.” He reached that conclusion because I had been laughing and carrying on about something. My happiness was his clue that I had fallen into sin.

Even though I had done nothing wrong my friend was convinced that I had. He was totally serious when he said, “No one is that happy unless they have sinned.”  As a result of his perception he looked at me differently from then on until the day he died.

The fact is “perfect people” (or at least those who think they are perfect) are the most critical people of all because no one else can come up to their standard.

Even though my friend was wrong in his perception of me his intentions were pure.

Father,
My desire is to live a disciplined life and walk on that straight and narrow path even though I know that You are my only answer for holiness. Lord I also desire to show grace and mercy to those who are struggling with some weakness of their flesh by doing wrong, acting wrong or thinking wrong thoughts.

Amen

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Natural Happiness and Spiritual Joy

(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Even though my heart’s desire is to be laden with the “Fruit of the Spirit,” I find that maintaining that standard is sometimes a struggle. However, when one is able to exhibit the “Fruit of the Spirit” as a way of life it reveals how they have attained the highest level of maturity and discipline.

I must confess that my experience in trying to mature to such a level is like juggling nine balls all at the same time…I seem to miss more than I catch…even though I keep trying.

At this present time the “Fruit” that I am focusing on the most is “Joy.”

I find that joy is often put in the same category with happiness because of their similarities, even though they are not the same. As a matter of fact happiness and joy remind me of a flower garden which has both annual and perennial plants. Both plants are beautiful and bring pleasure, but their lifespan differ significantly.

The life of an annual plant is usually very short whereas the life of the perennial plant could last for many seasons.

Joy and happiness work on the same principle. However, if one is not aware of these differences, then when things get tough logic is allowed to take over and the result is usually the loss of happiness and the gain of despair and sadness.

Joy on the other hand is more permanent than happiness because it is not governed by one’s negative life experiences, but by one’s relationship with the Lord. This means that it is possible for one to grieve at the deepest level while still maintaining a sense of joy.

A few days ago our ministry team flew into Maryland from different parts of the country for our annual Ministers Conference. It has become our custom (when we gather) for all of the “out of state team members” to have dinner at the local team member’s home. That is always a delight.

After finishing a delicious meal I sat back and watched and listened to the others talk for the next hour or so. The conversational topics seemed to fly back and forth around the table like rockets. However, I noticed that even though everyone was talking and enjoy themselves there was no closure to any of the topics.

I love to listen to others talk because as a writer it not only gives me the chance to learn, but to also study their rhythm in conversational connectivity. However, that night I did not find any rhythm at all in their conversational connectivity, but only masses of words floating around.

As we got up to leave the table that night the last topic that I recall someone bringing up was the topic of “happiness and joy.” The following conversation seemed to be more about their sameness rather than about their difference. I may not have agreed with all of the thoughts on the subject, but I learned an important lesson in the midst of that dialog. It was during this last conversation that the Lord began to talk to me and show me something significant about all the other topics and masses of floating words.

I discovered that conversational happiness did not actually require all the dots to be connected and solutions found. Perhaps the lesson for me was to learn that masses of floating words sometimes play a major role in this type of happiness even though (like the annual flower) its longevity is relatively short. In other words, the idea is to have conversation that does not always require solutions or strategic planning.

Joy on the other hand reveals that deep sense of lasting relationship with the Lord, even when all the laughter, smiles and conversations have come to an end. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can bring such joy. (Thessalonians 1:6b)

Father,
Thank You for giving us natural happiness as well as spiritual joy. Help us not to analyze things so deeply that we miss the very thing that we are seeking. I thank You Lord for giving me this needed revelation and helping me as I continue to learn.

Amen

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Wanna Join the Navy

(Luke 15:11-13 KJV) And he said, A certain man had two sons:  And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

This parable has so many elements in it that I suppose all of us can identify with at least one of them.

The young man’s sin in this parable was not that of asking his father for his inheritance or even wasting it. The money was his to do with as he liked. His sin was not leaving home seeking a more adventurous life. His sin was turning his back on his strict Jewish upbringing and attempting to take on the lifestyle of a sinful world.

I also find it interesting that he felt he needed to go to a far country in order to sprout his new wings and live his dreamed-about lifestyle. Perhaps the reason behind such a move was because he did not want his family and friends to cramp the style of his new found freedom.

However, he soon found out that even though he could run away from the discipline of his family, he could never run away from God. This point was proven by a famine coming into the land which resulted in a Godly conviction coming into his heart.

The Bible says, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.”

This could have never happened if the value of his strict upbringing had not already settled deep in his heart, causing him to be so willing to repent.

I suppose at one time or another every young man has dreamed of going to a foreign country or living a more adventurous life. The problem is not necessarily him seeking a more adventurous life, but the price he has to pay if it is the wrong kind of adventure.

I remember as a young man about fourteen or fifteen years old, I felt exactly like the prodigal in our text. I wanted more excitement in my life, so I decided the best way to accomplish that was to join the Navy. I left home (i.e. the family I was living with) and hitchhiked to the nearest city that had a Navy recruiting office. Upon my arrival I marched into the recruiting office and told the man, “I wanna join the Navy.” The recruiter looked at me and said, “How old are you?” I said, “I am eighteen years old.” He said, “Son, you are not even close to being eighteen years old.”

However, he was wise enough to set me down (without intimidating me) and share some very important facts about the kind of men the Navy was looking for. He convinced me that I was that kind of a man, but I needed to be just a little older.

We shook hands and I walked out the door…only to run into the man that I was trying to run away from. How this man knew I was there I never knew, but he was waiting for me just like the prodigal’s father was waiting for him. He kindly looked up at me and said, “John, are you ready to go home?” I said “Yes sir.”

Perhaps I was not a prodigal in the sense of the young man in our text, but I was in the sense of needlessly breaking the hearts of those who loved me. The prodigal son and I had two things in common...we both wanted adventure, but neither of us had considered the cost of our desired adventure.

Father,
I have come to realize what Paul meant when he said, “I die daily.” He was dying to the prodigal elements of rebellion in his life…which seem to take a lifetime.
Help us Lord to be as loving and patient with the prodigals that You have trusted us with as You are with us.

Amen

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