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June 4, 2018, 6:44 PM

The Man In The Arena



"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." ~ U.S. President (T.R.) Theodore Roosevelt

 

~ How easy it is to judge the motives and actions of others when we are not in the midst of the fight. Just as those who have never been involved in combat ‘know’ what they would have done under the circumstances. They are quick to judge the actions of men and women whose lives and the lives of others reside in a few split seconds of action. Or those who have never parented who ‘know’ what they would do with everybody’s children but their own.

So it is with those who do not serve the Lord Jesus,or try serve Him half-heartedly. These have worldly views often based upon bitter and hateful emotions and text books written by those that resist the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Let the voices that speak into your life be those of people that have lived in the arena of life while serving God with all their heart. Those that know about worldly pressures that battle the mind, backslidden family members that laugh, sickness that brings the body low and yet, live joyfully and fully unto the Lord Jesus!   Give me someone who knows what it is like to be in the arena and not merely sitting ringside betting money on the outcome. 

 

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit”

Ecclesiastes 7:8

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

Romans 8:37



Comments

06-13-2018 at 10:17 PM
Kevin L. Nix
Amen!!
06-05-2018 at 3:42 PM
Andrew Masley
Brother Savala thank you for the reminder that we should not stand on the outside as critics but rather be the one who is in the ring fighting. God bless you.
06-05-2018 at 3:18 PM
David Boyd
Thank you, my Friend for such an encouraging word. God less you as you bless others.
06-05-2018 at 10:59 AM
Keith Nix
Excellent, my brother! Thanks for writing this.
06-05-2018 at 10:32 AM
Rick McGuffey
I enjoy reading this blog. Post are thoughtful, easy to understand, and immediately applicable to real life. Thank you.
06-05-2018 at 7:01 AM
Scott Kitchens
Very good blog, and so very true!
06-04-2018 at 6:18 PM
Peter Connell
Great post! And the word “great” is not an exaggeration.
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May 22, 2018, 12:00 AM

Time For A Change



There's an old sea story about a ship's Captain who inspected his sailors, and afterward told the first mate that the stench of the crew was horrible. The Captain suggested perhaps it would help if the sailors would change their underclothes regularly. The first mate responded, “Aye, aye sir, I’ll see to it immediately!”The first mate went straight to the sailors berth deck and announced, “The Captain thinks you guys smell bad and wants you to change your underclothes. Pittman, you change with Jones, Leroy, you change with Witkowski, and Brown you change with Schultz.” (Anonymous)

The Moral of the Story: Someone may come along and promise “Change”, but you often end up with the same old smell. 

 

~ Here are a few thoughts I have taken from this humorous but poignant story.

  • I will never change what I allow myself to tolerate. You know, like making excuses for being late to work, church, and other important events. Idenitfy bad habits and make up your mind to change them. Remember, a double minded person is unstable in all of their ways (James 1:8).
  • Achieving excellence is attainable right now; it is the maintenance of excellence that is so difficult. Start small and increase your efforts. Praying 10 minutes a day equals 1 hour and 10 minutes a week. That's 52.8 hours in a year or 2.2 days of prayer. The same principle applies to anything you desire to learn (music, langauge, business, et al) and begin to excel in.  
  • Change always requires a degree of sacrifice. Do it with joy for the end result.  

True change is a transformation of the habits of one’s mind. It is a mixture of a person's will embracing the will of God, “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). ~ JPS

 



Comments

05-23-2018 at 12:46 PM
Brian Enochs
Wow, thanks for sharing! : )
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January 16, 2018, 12:00 AM

What Motivates Your Habits


“The chains of habit are to light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Warren Buffet

   Habits are powerful patterns of thought that affect both the shape and health of the brain. More importantly, habits reveal our spiritual condition. It is possible for all sinful and emotionally debilitating habits to be broken. Now, don’t let some of the scientific terminology scare you from reading. It’s important to understand that science is catching up with principles that God placed into action thousands of years ago with words that everyone can easily understand. Dr. Caroline Leaf wrote, in her outstanding book, The Switched on Brain (2013), “This scientific power of our mind to modify the brain is called epigenetics, and spiritually it is as a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). The way the brain changes as a result of the mental activity is scientifically called neuroplasticity. And spiritually, it is the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1) (p.56).

   This is absolutely wonderful to me! Through obedience to the Word of God (Bible) and becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), the former habits of our mind can be brought into captivity and our minds are transformed with new habits of a Christ centered mind. It has been proven that the human brain can rewire itself as one Harvard study documented, “…the formation of habits affects the physical properties of the brain. For instance, a subset of neurons in the brain called mirror neurons, fire when an action takes place actions take place and when the same action is observed in others" (Humor, Laughter, and Those Aha Moments. 2010, Spring).

   Basically, what one sees and listens to produces a desire in the brain of the observer to act out (mirror) what they see and hear. This begins a transformation of their minds for good or evil. Just as laughter often produces laughter in the physical mind, the ‘mirror neurons’ of the spiritual mind respond accordingly. The Christian strives to imitate Spiritual habits that Jesus Christ left for us to follow and create new ones that coincide with Biblical principles (1 Pet. 2:21). Consequently, the spiritual motivation for the change of habits only occurs through repentance and submission of the human spirit to Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9).

   Conversely, carnal motivation leads to the pride of self will or addictive-like habits. For instance, a person might stop the habit of smoking because they do not want to die and yet, they continue cursing.  The motive behind the changed activity is not to please God (spiritual formation) but to live longer and accomplish more of what the self-will desires. The ability of some to ‘kick a habit’ often compels them to be prideful of their accomplishments and to become contemptuous of others who cannot or will not change similar habits or addictions.

   People that become addicted to drugs, pornography, gambling, and such like are according to Duhigg, C. (2011), “Moving from ‘wanting’ to an obsessive craving can cause people to act in self-destructive ways even if it jeopardizes personal reputations, family relationships, and financial security" (p.50). This is the condition of the world and even some that claim to be Christians.

   The psalmist David begged God to test him so that his heart and thoughts would be known (Ps. 139:23), and Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). The testing of the heart-soul-mind by the Word of God and the Spirit of God reveals the spiritual motive of the thoughts and habits performed by the body.

   In summary, habits reflect the spiritual imaginations and thoughts of each person.  This is called the ability to be self-determinate and according to Wilson Ed.D., N.J. (2003), “Choosing to start, or accept, the process of bringing spiritual form out of one’s potential is an act of the will and requires courage-courage to act, to decide, to choose, to emerge” (p.79). “Jesus said unto him, If thou can believe, all things are possible to them that believe” (Mark 9:23). These words were spoken to a terrified father that was tired of spiritual habits of the mind that controlled his child. The mental condition of the boy was such that he could not speak or hear and was controlled by the demonic spirit. But the words of Jesus were stronger than the mental instability caused by spiritual darkness.  

   Once a person has been born again and begins to choose to change self-destructive habits of the mind and spirit through the power of God that works in them, all expectations of what was initially asked or thought can be exceeded(Ephesians 3:20). Therefore, all past failures, emotional baggage, and sinful nature means nothing to God. What matters most to Him is that we will allow Him to transform us by receiving the Holy Ghost and allowing our minds to be transformed by His Word, the ministry, and personal devotion to Jesus Christ. And that, is exciting!

References

Duhigg, C. (2011). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. New York, New York: Random House.

Humor, Laughter, and Those Aha Moments. (2010, Spring). On The Brain, 16(2), 1-3. Retrieved from https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf

Leaf, Dr., C. (2013). Switch On Your Brain. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

Wilson Ed.D., N.J. (2003). Ultimate Leadership Volume 1: The Defining Moment. Sacramento, California: Reach Worldwid, Inc.



Comments

06-13-2018 at 10:21 PM
Kevin L. Nix
So good!!
02-04-2018 at 3:38 PM
Brent Crosswhite
Great words! One man said the mind is like a wild horse that has to be restrained by the will that is in cooperation with the Spirit. Thanks, Bro. Savala!
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November 11, 2017, 7:17 PM

They Ran Out The Front Door



     It started when I was about 9 years old. In the early 1980’s the popular evangelistic fads were Prophecy Crusades and Rock and Roll Seminars (maybe I should write a story about the Rock and Roll seminar) – anyways this story revolves around the prophecy crusade.

     What’s that you might ask? Well, it’s a series of service preached by an honest hearted minister attempting to put a date on when Jesus is returning. They do this by relating events of the “last days” to Bible scriptures and then scaring all the listeners into the altar. Don’t laugh – it worked – for about two weeks. Then the people that repented realized that the world didn’t cease to exist and that Jesus didn’t come back and so, the majority went back to their worldly ways. And that is what happens when folks are scared into starting a relationship with Jesus rather than repentance in love and humility.

     So, here’s the set up: On the last night of the Crusade, the speaker showed a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud and then made the following statement, “If you are not ready to meet Jesus and you miss the rapture, this may be the last sound you hear you face Jesus at the Judgment Seat” – and then, over the PA system, came the sound of a nuclear explosion. Hundreds ran to the altar weeping and crying out to God in repentance.

     Well, how about that? Now, a boy of 9 or so that lives in the hoods of Highland, CA doesn’t understand all of the dynamics of altar services and such like. He saw how folks responded to the crusade and figured that must be how it’s done.  Now, I didn’t have the PA system or a fancy projector - but, I had some Time and Newsweek magazines and a tape recorder. With the addition of listening to the prophecy tape several times, I was ready to teach my first home Bible study.  

     That’s right! On the day in question, I invited about 10 or so of my neighborhood friends into my bedroom. And did I ever teach about prophecy…they watched transfixed as I showed them cut out pictures of nuclear missiles. To further illustrate the point, I had made a warhead out of Popsicle sticks. No doubt, it would have been the greatest spiritual outpouring since Azusa Street…

     If only I hadn’t played the taped explosion.  I used the same lines as the prophecy preacher and was expecting the same results, which I did receive only in reverse…Eyes grew large, breathing quickened, and they all ran out the front door! Yes…that’s how my first Bible study ended. My first evangelistic excursion was a dismal failure – some of them may still be running. Who knows? It was said in the neighborhood, “You may play outside with that boy but you may not go back into his house.”

     Well, it’s been 36 years since then and many more Bible studies have been taught, many of them successfully resulting in someone being born again unto the Lord Jesus. However, I’ve never forgotten my very first Bible study – nor I have I taught about Bible prophecy again.

May you be encouraged to keep on trying in spite of any percieved failure. God bless!



Comments

01-05-2018 at 2:58 PM
Rick McGuffey
Funny post...
11-19-2017 at 9:16 PM
Steve
Sorry, I meant to post that to article five! “They ran out the front door” is great too! Very funny story
11-19-2017 at 9:13 PM
Steve Walker
Very powerful article Bro. Savala! “We the People” need real Holy Ghost revival very desperately in this hour. The unashamed spiritual blindness of this world - it’s no wonder the Lord asked Luke 18:8
11-19-2017 at 1:41 AM
Peter Connell
Loved the story! May we all teach another Bible study and see fruit that remains.
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November 1, 2017, 4:05 PM

Binding and Loosing in Historical Context


    A Fresh Look at the Influence of “Pop Theology” on Apostolic Doctrine - By Kelly Nix

    “We stand on your Word that whatsoever we bind on earth is bound in heaven and       whatsoever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. We bind the spirit of confusion and contention…” declares one Internet blog. “You have authority over Satan (Luke 10:19). You exercise it with the prayer of binding and loosing,” echoes another.

     Sad to say, these same words might provoke a fervent chorus of “Amens” if they came across an Apostolic pulpit. In fact, over the past couple of decades, we have seen a mass infatuation with the “theology of prayer” – an oddly pretentious and somewhat mysterious phrase for a practice so simple that even children are expected to engage in it daily – within Pentecost. The disturbing part is, we seem to be learning our terminology – and some of our theology, unfortunately – from Trinitarians and Charismatics. This “theology” is replete with “spiritual warfare” tactics that, though popular, have little or no connection to the intent of Scripture.

Enemies of the cross?

     Paul made an interesting and cautionary statement that is often overlooked: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ….” (Philippians 3:18). A look at the context of this scripture shows Paul urging the believers toward humility and the realization that we have “not yet apprehended” and are still “pressing toward the mark” – the complete antithesis to the smug proclamations that we are somehow in an exalted spiritual position where we can archly issue commands to angels, demons and situations.

     In fact, by “the enemies of the cross,” Paul seems to be referring to those whose attitude leads them to claim for themselves the credit for victories that were purchased at the cost of the blood of Christ…and for which we have no claim to personal glory. Sad to say, this is an attitude that occurs within the church.

     This mentality pervades much of Apostolic music. Songs in modern Pentecost are full of claims about our “rights” as believers, crowing about the chains we can break and the devils we can bind. Believers jump, dance and sweat in the frenzies these songs produce…but all too often, the church is exalted as the main protagonist and Jesus is only an afterthought. And the glory of the One who bought it all with groans and agony on a rugged cross is neatly stolen….

     But the cross is about crucifixion, self-denial, and dying to the flesh. The glorification of the human element of the church is counter to the spirit of the cross.

The Power to Loose and Bind

     What the Apostolic church desperately needs in this hour is a baptism of humility. Rather than strut and posture about our power and what the church is going to do to the devil, Paul’s writings were far more centered on the way our weakness should exalt the power of Jesus Christ – whom he stated in Romans 16 will be the One to crush Satan. The New Testament writers never worshiped the church; they worshiped the God of the church, realizing that it was only by grace that we, the church, have any claim to salvation at all. Paul did write about power, but it was the power of the gospel, not the church. And interestingly enough, the writing Apostles were not fascinated with the devil and demons the way the modern church is. In fact, they rarely mentioned them. Instead, their writings glorified God and admonished the church.

     It is this self-glorifying mentality that has led the church into one of the most egregious errors of hermeneutics – that of “loosing” and “binding” angels, demons and situations. Entire “theologies” of prayer have been built on this concept…but an honest look at the scripture on which the concept is supposedly based will quickly reveal that it, in fact, has nothing whatsoever to do with modern Charismatic spiritual warfare theology.

     In Matthew 16:19, addressing Peter, Jesus said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

     This is the passage used to support the doctrine of “loosing” and “binding” spirits. While in Matthew 12:29 Jesus does speak of binding a strong man in order to spoil his goods, this was spoken in the context of a direct confrontation with and casting out of a specific demonic spirit from a man – not a general command uttered into the ether and intended to have an effect on unseen demonic hosts.

     In fact, the loosing and binding referenced in Matthew 16:19 are terms taken directly from the teachings of the Jewish elders of Jesus’ day. According to the historian Josephus, the various schools of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day claimed for themselves “the power ‘to bind and to loose’; that is, to forbid and to permit.” The Jewish Encyclopedia, in its article referencing Josephus’ explanation, goes on to say that “in this sense Jesus, when appointing his disciples to be his successors, used the familiar formula (Matt. xvi. 19, xviii. 18),” and that “by these words he virtually invested them with the same authority as that which he found belonging to the scribes and Pharisees….”

     In other words, the power to bind and loose relates to the formulation of doctrine and ordinances, not the commanding of spirits. “Binding” ordinances were ordinances that forbade certain practices, while “loosing” ordinances were ordinances allowing certain practices. Alfred Edersheim observes that “’binding’ and ‘loosing’ referred simply to things or acts prohibiting or else permitting them, declaring them lawful or unlawful,” and adds that “this was one of the powers claimed by the Rabbis.” He also affirms that “in the view of the Rabbis heaven was like earth, and questions were discussed and settled by a heavenly Sanhedrin…in regard to some of their earthly decrees, they were wont to say that ‘the Sanhedrin above’ confirmed what ‘the Sanhedrin beneath’ had done. When Jesus invested the power to bind and loose in His Apostles, He was in effect making the statement that they would formulate the doctrine of the church (bind or loose on earth), and that Heaven would back them up (bind or loose in heaven). What an endorsement of the New Testament epistles!

     James Freeman contributes another important perspective to the discussion. He posits that the expressions “shall be bound in heaven” and “shall be loosed in heaven” in Matthew 16:19 are “examples in Greek of the periphrastic future perfect passive construction and should, therefore, be translated ‘will have been bound already’ and ‘will have been loosed already’ in heaven,” and goes on to make the point that “Peter’s pronouncement of ‘binding’ or ‘loosing’ is dependent upon what heaven has already willed, rather than earth’s giving direction to heaven.”

     If Freeman is correct in his argument, this places an important limitation on the license Jesus gave His founding Apostles to formulate doctrine. Whatever doctrine they formulated and whatever ordinances they imposed must first have been established in heaven. In other words, all of the Apostles’ doctrine had to coincide with what was already given of God’s word. This rings true, because the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), and the anointing Spirit would not violate the boundaries of what had already been spoken (John 16:13).

Getting it right

     To use Matthew 16:19, then, as a directive to bind and loose spirits is at best a misuse of Scripture. At worst, it represents a presumption into areas of the spirit realm we are not really intended to be preoccupied with, and an arrogance of spirit that could bring about tragic results. Consider the fact that even the Archangel Michael was careful in how he exercised authority in the spirit realm (Jude 9), not even daring to bring a “railing accusation” against the devil; he chose instead to simply say, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Continuing with the same thought, Jude 10 cautions against those who “speak evil of those things which they know not.”

     If the church were half as enamored today with keeping those things “bound” and “loosed” by the Apostles – the core doctrines of the Church – as we seem at times to be with flexing our muscles in the spirit realm, we might not be facing some of the critical trends that threaten to erode our doctrinal foundations.

     May God help us to renew our friendship with the Cross! It is necessary for Jesus to increase, but for us to decrease. And if Jesus Christ is rightfully worshiped within His church, the devil will be defeated and bound anyway.

 

Books by Kelly Nix: https://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Nix/e/B00RCN67VY

"BINDING AND LOOSING (Hebrew, "asar we-hittir"; Aramean, "asar we-shera")." Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906. Web. 1 Sep 2012. .

Ibid.

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. 531. Print.

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. 532. Print.

Freeman, James. The New Manners & Customs of the Bible. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998. 356. Print.



Comments

11-03-2017 at 11:52 AM
Bro M R Hennigan
Thanks for a very enlightening commentary on this subject.
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