Author: DwightClough

Finding the right door

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Luke 18:22-23

Jesus unerringly finds the door to our heart that must be opened for Him to be our true Lord and Savior. In almost every case, that door is over our most protected pain. The rich young ruler was no exception. His problem was insecurity.

I didn’t catch that for a long time. I thought his problem was money or greed. But money was his solution, not his problem.

Jesus stood at the door of his heart and said, “Abandon your solution. Choose Me instead. I will be your security.”

As we carry out the Great Commission, Jesus assures us of His ongoing presence with us. That is not an idle or irrelevant promise. We can never ask anyone to abandon his or her solution if we cannot offer Jesus in its place. But when we bring Jesus to the right door, we will see lives transformed.

Dwight

PS. Why does God allow trouble in our lives? What is God doing with us? How does faith work? Why doesn’t hard work bring about the good life God desires for us, and what can we do instead? On 6/22/2019, in our Inner Wealth subscription, we’ll be looking at the big picture of faith and how all these things fit together.

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The successful self righteous

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:11

Do you know that the enemy probably wants some people to be good? There are some people who are disciplined enough to pray regularly, avoid all kinds of sin, and live an exemplary life.

Why would the enemy want self-made good Christians in our churches? Very simple. So they can offer the wrong prescription to everybody else.

In another passage, Paul asks us, “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

Some will answer, “Yes, and I’m doing very nicely, thank you.”

Meanwhile, the rest of us are forced to say, “I try and try, and everything I try doesn’t work.”

But here is the beautiful thing: When we finally realize that everything we try doesn’t work, God has us right where He wants us. We have no where else to turn but to Him. None of us can boast about ourselves, but rather we can boast that our God knows what to do with those of us who have no power to do good on our own.

Dwight

PS. Why does God allow trouble in our lives? What is God doing with us? How does faith work? Why doesn’t hard work bring about the good life God desires for us, and what can we do instead? On 6/22/2019, in our Inner Wealth subscription, we’ll be looking at the big picture of faith and how all these things fit together.

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Never give up

Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1

When my daughter was five years old, she wanted to make me her slave for life. “Daddy, would you please do this. Daddy, would you please do that.” I could have run ragged from sunup to sundown. But I figured something out somewhere along the line. While I was in the middle of granting one request, she had already forgotten what she asked for and was trying to get me to do something else.

I learned that if she really wanted something, she would ask me more than once. When she asked two or three times, it brought her request into sharp focus. And so I tried to respond to her requests with balance, kindness, and common sense.

Years ago, I read that great little book by E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer. I believe that was where I ran into the statement: “Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes us.” God doesn’t need our persistence to be talked into things. But our persistence helps to weld our will to His, and connects our faith to God’s inevitable answer.

God’s royal children don’t give up.

Dwight

PS. Why does God allow trouble in our lives? What is God doing with us? How does faith work? Why doesn’t hard work bring about the good life God desires for us, and what can we do instead? On 6/22/2019, in our Inner Wealth subscription, we’ll be looking at the big picture of faith and how all these things fit together.

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The location of God’s kingdom

 

…the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21

When Jesus said this, He was helping people understand something: For God to take charge of the whole world is no big deal. For Him to cause every demon to be placed under arrest, for Him to banish every evil man, for Him to make wars and every human tragedy to stop is all a piece of cake for Him.

God could bring His kingdom that way—and, of course, one day He will. But, meanwhile, He starts in a much more challenging arena—inside our hearts.

Inside us, Jesus quietly goes from door to door and knocks. We have the idea that there is only one big door on our hearts and we open it on the day of our salvation. But that simply isn’t true. There are many doors in our hearts, and when Jesus knocks we choose to yield or to resist or to ignore. So God, rather than violate our choices, navigates around all our misperceptions, our false beliefs, our nutty conclusions and our darkness to get at the door another way, to knock a little louder, or to quietly call for us to open up to Him.

And as the kingdom of God is established inside us—this is where the real miracle takes place. This is why the saints have found courage and peace and joy in the most horrible circumstances, because the kingdom of God is there, and God’s kingdom cannot be shaken.

Dwight

PS. This Saturday, 6/15/2019, in Inner Wealth, we’ll be discussing: Are we good or evil? and Are we constantly sinning?

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Worth it

 

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10 NIV

As God’s children, we must understand certain things. For example, there is a big difference between humility and humiliation. There is is a huge difference between forgiving and being used as a doormat. And there is a profound difference between unworthy and worthless.

We are unworthy. We didn’t buy or earn our way into heaven or into favor with God. We were incapable of doing that. If Jesus didn’t pay our way, we would not have made it. We are morally unworthy of God’s grace.

But that doesn’t mean we are worthless. We may feel worthless, invalidated, like a complete failure. Most of us, deep down, experience those feelings at times. I know I certainly do. But we must understand that even though these things may feel true, they are not true.

Here’s why. God is no dummy. He didn’t make junk. And He wouldn’t send His only Son to die for junk. We may feel like a worthless blob of protozoa at times, but Jesus peered into all eternity, surveyed the cross, made a decision, and decided we were worth it.

Joy was set before Him. And you are part of that joy.

Dwight

PS. This Saturday, 6/15/2019, in Inner Wealth, we’ll be discussing: Are we good or evil? and Are we constantly sinning?

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Small faith—big God

 

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He [Jesus] replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:5-6 NIV

When you multiply infinity times the smallest fraction, you still end up with infinity. Only when you multiply infinity times zero do you walk away empty handed.

Jesus is making a point. It isn’t the size of the faith that ultimately counts. It’s the size of the God who is connected to that faith. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” one man cried out. That was enough for Jesus. He performed the miracle.

Now why don’t Christians routinely uproot mulberry trees? Because faith must be connected to God, and God isn’t normally in the tree moving business. God has more important things to uproot and throw into the sea.

Don’t for a moment imagine that the word of faith you speak into this universe leaves the world unchanged. Your faith changes lives.

Dwight

PS. This Saturday, 6/15/2019, in Inner Wealth, we’ll be discussing: Are we good or evil? and Are we constantly sinning?

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Are people basically good? Or evil?

Are people basically good? Or evil?

This is an important question. If we get this wrong, our plumb line for evaluating all of human experience is off, and our views on everything will be warped.

I used to think “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) meant all people are basically evil. But now, I don’t think it’s quite that simple.

Let me suggest the following for you to consider:

1. Humanity as a whole: evil. (Genesis 6:5-6, Matthew 7:13-14, Revelation 9:20-21, etc.)

2. Any human compared side by side with God: evil. (Luke 18:19, Matthew 7:11)

3. Any human apart from God’s work in their lives: evil. (John 15:5, Romans 10:3)

4. Could I point to any human at random and say, “You are basically evil?” No. (Psalm 1, Genesis 18:23, Proverbs 10:16, etc.)

5. Is any person redeemable? Does everyone have the potential for good? Probably. (2 Peter 3:9)

6. Are the children of God basically evil or basically good? Good. (1 John 3:9, etc.)

7. Do the children of God have a sin nature? Are they sinners? Not any more. (Romans 6:6, etc.) This is important because we act out of our identity. If our identity is “sinner,” then we will sin. We might try to fight that sin, but we will ultimately fail because “sinner” is who we are. If we are sinners, then the only cure for our practice of sinning is to die and go to heaven. For us, fighting sin will always be a losing battle, and there’s not a thing we can do about it. But, thank God, “sinner” is not our identity. Our sin nature was put to death. If it’s dead, it cannot be alive. It can’t be simultaneously dead and alive. It’s dead. It’s gone. Goodbye. I know what I’m saying contradicts the standard evangelical mindset, but after careful study of scripture, I believe I am correct.

8. Can and do God’s children sin? Yes, but not because they are evil, and not because they have a sin nature. (1 John 1:8) They sin, I believe, because they are deceived. They’re trying to solve a problem with sin, and that problem can be resolved with the truth that sets us free. (John 8:32)

9. Is evil a choice? Yes, but a qualified yes. This is an enormously complex question that deserves a book-length answer. Bottom line: God has a right to judge, but He doesn’t judge using the same information we would use to judge.

10. So, are humans basically good or basically evil? Both. Are we made in the image of God, or are we children of the Fall of Man? Both. We live in a broken world populated entirely by people who have sinned. Most of the world lives in some level of misery because of not only their own sins, but also because of the sins of others. Most of us aren’t even aware of the true depth of depravity that exists in this world. Some people are deeply, deeply evil. But God sees the good that can be awakened in each of us, and God is here to activate that good inside us, if we’re willing to allow Him to do so. Eventually, we all gotta make a decision: God or evil, which do we prefer?

Dwight

PS. I plan to go into more detail on this and discuss remedies for sin for Inner Wealth subscribers on Saturday 6/15/2019.

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The Father wasn’t listening

 

But the father wasn’t listening. Luke 15:22 The Message

To me, this is one of the most moving moments in all of scripture. The prodigal son had ruined his life. He was returning home, a failure for all to see. When he met his father, he was begging not for his rights as son to be restored—he knew he could never dare ask for that—but rather that he might be taken on as a hired hand.

But the father wasn’t listening.

Eugene Peterson in The Message, captures the spirit of this verse so well with this phrase: “But the father wasn’t listening.”

The Father had better plans, and, even today, He has better plans for you and for me. “Quick! Bring clean clothes. Bring the family ring. Identify this man as My son. Celebrate!”

This is one of those great paradoxes in life. When we begin to see how unworthy we are, the Lord begins to show us how much He treasures us. It is true that we don’t deserve, but all the while we tell the Father that, He isn’t listening. Instead, He is calling for celebration.

Dwight

PS. For decades, porn has been a major problem in the church. In recent years, we’ve finally started looking at this elephant in the room. But are accountability groups and promises the best way to battle porn? On Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Inner Wealth we’re going to explore another way to get leverage to overcome this persistent addiction.

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Pushing into the unknown

 

…who will get what you have prepared for yourself? Luke 12:20

An evangelist was traveling from church to church in Mexico. As he concluded his meetings at a small village church, he told the congregation, “I need to purchase an airline ticket to fly to my next destination. I don’t have any money to do that, but I believe God will speak to one of you and this need will be supplied.”

After the service, everyone filed out of the church except one person. A poor widow remained. She walked up to the pastor and the evangelist and offered to pay for the airline ticket.

“How will you do that?” the pastor asked. “You have no money.”

“I will sell my milk cow,” she said.

“You can’t do that,” he said, “That’s your livelihood. If you sell the cow, you will have no means of supporting yourself.”

The pastor and the evangelist both did their best to talk her out of it. But she would not be dissuaded.

“You’ve always said we should listen to God’s voice and do what He says,” she told her pastor. “And I believe God is telling me to do this.”

She sold her cow. Meanwhile, the evangelist tried his best to raise the money some other way, but no funds came in. Finally, he reluctantly accepted her offering, and flew on to his next destination.

He almost forgot about this widow, until one day many months later he was preaching in a church in Mexico City. After the service, a woman invited him and others into her beautiful home for a meal. After the meal was over, she said to him, “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Then it dawned on him that this was the widow who had given up her livelihood to buy him an airplane ticket. “Tell me the story,” he said.

So she told him what happened. “When my husband died, his brother cheated me out of my inheritance, and left me with nothing but one milk cow. But when I sold it, an angel of God found my brother-in-law in a bar. He stood there with a flaming sword, and helped my brother-in-law understand that he needed to give me my share.”

Sometimes we need to push into the unknown with God. I don’t think this widow had any idea of what was on the other side of her sacrifice. But when you know that you know that the real Jesus is telling you to step out of the boat, know also that He takes responsibility for what will happen to us.

Dwight

PS. For decades, porn has been a major problem in the church. In recent years, we’ve finally started looking at this elephant in the room. But are accountability groups and promises the best way to battle porn? On Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Inner Wealth we’re going to explore another way to get leverage to overcome this persistent addiction.

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Pixie dust

 

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:20-21 NIV

In the animated Disney version of Peter Pan, Peter is puzzled because Wendy cannot fly. He cannot figure it out, until it dawns on him that she was never sprinkled with pixie dust.

Like Wendy before pixie dust, money keeps us earthbound until it is given to God. Like tentacles reaching up from the grave, so also the lies we believe about money twist and tangle around us, until we cannot escape their gravitational pull without God mercifully hacking us free.

What do we truly believe? Money is the meter that reveals the content of our hearts. What are we, for example, without stylish clothing, a newer car or a nice house in the suburbs? What damage will we sustain if those things are taken away from us?

(I realize that our readers come from many countries and many cultures, so you may have to substitute something that makes more sense for your culture.)

Where exactly is the fear line in your heart? I know where mine is. And why does God sometimes pull us across it?

Let me suggest that He wants to show us the truth we never quite grasped before: He is on the other side. Our fears seem so real, but they are illusions. God is the reality.

It seems like we will plunge into the recklessness of giving all alone. But we are not alone. He is there to catch us.

Dwight

PS. For decades, porn has been a major problem in the church. In recent years, we’ve finally started looking at this elephant in the room. But are accountability groups and promises the best way to battle porn? On Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Inner Wealth we’re going to explore another way to get leverage to overcome this persistent addiction.

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