February 2016 Newsletter
Unconditional love is such a foreign concept. Have you considered that God loving you is never based on you or your performance? That when God loves, He is simply acting like who He is... He is just being Himself. This kind of love depends completely on the character of the 'Lover', not on the character or condition of the 'lovee.' The reason He loves, is because that's who He is.
Oh, and by the way, some might think, "You know what? I'm gonna start loving like that." And with all the best of intentions, they decide to begin trying to love the way God loves. That makes for noble intentions, however, this unconditional love can't be imitated. This is a 'one of a kind' love. It refuses to be copied, even when the greatest level of self-discipline is exerted to attempt to reproduce it. In fact, He has the market cornered on this strange kind of love.
The truth is, this love, is only found in Him. You can't practice long enough or hard enough to love like this. Loving like this begins with having His Spirit, His Life... His Love in you. And it is only because of your union with Jesus that this kind of love can be realized by you and expressed through you to others.
We need love, are designed to love. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life;he who comes to Me will not hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst." (John 6:35 NASB). "Every human being born into this poor sin-sick world is born with a craving for unconditional love and acceptance. When we learn to rely totally on Jesus Christ, we find Him to be just what He promised: the
total satisfaction for that gnawing hunger and thirst. In him we find unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, and meaning and purpose in life. All searching comes to an end in Him." - Bob George, Classic Christianity
"I have often struggled with anxiety, particularly in dealing with change and transitions in life. Depression was popping up more frequently, and I didn’t know what to do about it. As a military wife, my life has been filled with moves and transitions. With each move, my anxiety level grew worse and lasted longer. After an anxious response to a possible move and ministry opportunity, I knew my anxiety was holding me back in
powerful ways. Anxiety and depression robbed me of peace and often left me feeling miserable, insecure, and inadequate.
Going through discipleship counseling with Grace Ministries has been a practical process of understanding myself and experiencing the truth of God’s word on a deeper level. Though I had a good understanding of the term “flesh,” I did not understand how deeply the tendencies of my particular ways of coping with life and solving problems were keeping me stuck. I wanted victory over the anxiety, but couldn’t seem to make any real progress in overcoming it.
Counseling has helped me to understand my particular struggles, tendencies, and false beliefs that directly affect my identity, emotions, relationships, and security. The reason I came into the office was just one symptom of the struggle I was having with emotions, beliefs, and communication patterns. I had no idea how deeply I allowed my emotions to define what I believe to be true about my relationships, my circumstances, and myself. Fear and insecurity have been major drivers in my thinking. Understanding that emotions are not truth has been very freeing.
The most valuable thing I have learned through counseling is a practical way of recognizing and handling problems and issues. Understanding how to look beyond a circumstance and identify emotions and false beliefs helps me to practically believe what is true. It changes the way I think and approach life. I better understand what living in my own strength looks like in my life/personality/flesh. Awareness is the beginning of real growth and healing. I am better equipped to recognize and respond to problems in ways that help me to not be driven by negative emotions and coping mechanisms. This understanding helps me to depend on Christ to live through me.
I still experience anxiety and sadness at times. I understand that I will never have total control over my emotions, but I realize that when I depend on Christ and hold fast to what is really true, my emotions will settle down. This is important because I had believed that the presence of anxiety indicated my faith wasn’t strong enough and that God wasn’t really with me. Experiencing emotions isn’t a measure of truth and really knowing this makes a huge difference for me. Now I understand ways to approach anxiety that diffuses the power of the lies I have believed.
I have experienced the value of recognizing the ways I depend on myself and live out of my flesh. Learning to fully live in dependence on Christ’s life in me is the heart of the life I want to experience. This is a moment-by-moment process that I am learning to apply more and more in my life.
"Classic Christianity" by Bob George
Have you experienced trying to meet "God's expectations" for your behavior and actions? Bob George has written a classic book (so named) on understanding what is and how to live the Victorious and True Life. He begins by looking at the errors and misconceptions we have about God and his expectations of us. He discusses our understanding of Jesus as God incarnate and spiritual death and spiritual life.
He explains that in order to mature in our faith, we must walk in the fact that we are cleansed of our sins, past, present and future. In order for this to be true, Bob elaborates on what the cross accomplished, that we WERE sinners saved by Grace but we are now called Saints. When you understand your identity, you walk and act accordingly out of that identity.
We learn to walk out of this new identity through our relationship with God. Bob describes how identity plays such an important role in our life, and we discover our identity through relationship. He explains that the core of your identity as a Christian is a beloved son or daughter of God. God doesn’t look at what you do to identify you – he looks at who you are, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, in Christ. We are not defined by our successes or failures.
Bob then talks about how God provides us with unconditional love as we have never truly experienced, that we receive this love because of our identity in Christ. He walks us through the common pitfalls: the confusion with law and grace, dealing with “a license to sin”, faith defined as total dependency on God, and suggests that in order for growth and renewal, we need rest, trust and be God-directed.
Centreville Presbyterian Church
Drop-in group for everyone!
7:00 - 8:30 pm
Hope Christian Fellowship - Warrenton, VA
(No charge. Donations accepted.)
2016 Celebration Dinner
John Lynch - Author: The Cure & On My Worst Day
Fairview Park Marriott - Falls Church, VA