The Awakened Spirit
Part 2: Spiritual Parenting
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 26 June 2004
Click here for Part 1
The world in which we live today is quite unlike any other time in history. Never has the world been more asleep spiritually. Yes, there have been periods of time where faith was all but dead, as in the days of Noah, but never was a world more spiritually drugged than it is today. And the children are drugged because the parents were drugged back in the 1960's and before. The troubles in this world are stark but your average person really isn't engaged anymore. He is moving along with a current that he can neither see nor understand, because he has been so blinded that he does not know where he is going, and is too lazy to swim against the tide even when he senses something is not right.
Day in and day out we are being programmed by a giant, semi-visible monster into thinking patterns that are dichotomous. What does that mean? It means that we are taught the words and motions of, for example, creativity, whilst smothering the creativity of the spirit at the same time. What this means in practice is that someone else is doing your creativity for you by programming you to think like the masses. And that is why, of course, tyrannical régimes like fascism and communism have always hit the intellectuals hardest by book-burning, sending teachers to work on collective farms, dismissing academics, and so on. But it never seems to occur to your Mr. Average, who has been thoroughly taught about the evils of these two systems, that the same mass brainwashing can, and does, occur in a liberal, democratic system with equal efficiency. The difference between the two is that the one does it by obvious violence and the latter by small, gentle increments such that hardly anyone notices. And to my way of thinking, an enemy you can't see is infinitely more dangerous than the one you can. An enemy who spouts his evil doctrine openly in public is less dangerous than the one who pretends to be on your side but isn't, like atheists who become ministers and persuade their flock, degree by degree, that the supernatural doesn't exist and that the stories we read in the Bible of miracles are merely symbols of what man desires as a substitute for taking responsibility for his own destiny. They say that our longing for a Father figure in heaven is a compensation for a lack of meaning in what is after all a meaningless existence and world that has no ultimate purpose.
Last week I told you how important a father's philosophy is to a child as he or she grows up. Whether we like it or not, we are shaped by our parents' beliefs, whether those beliefs are right or wrong. And a parent's belief may, in consequence be accepted totally, modified, or totally rejected by a child when he becomes a teenager and grows up into a man. The children of parents tend to become what their parents are to one degree of another, for good and evil.
Years ago, as many of you know, I entered into an Anglican Church in Oxford where centuries ago the Protestant martyrs Cranmer and Ridley were condemned to burning at the stake by the Catholic inquisition. There is a monument a couple of hundred yards away where they were actually burned as heretics. When the church building was empty, I went up to the altar in front of a beautiful stained-glass window, knelt down, and covenanted with God that I would search for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth until I had found and embraced it. I was at that time about 20 years old. I have remained true to that covenant ever since. Never in my wildest imaginings could I have dreamed then just how lost in falsehood our world is, even the so-called Christian nations themselves. It surprises me still how extensive the satanic deception really is. And the saddest part of it all is that almost nobody wants to know, because people are spiritually lazy and would rather that the 'majority' did their thinking for them, forgetting that the majority is constantly changing. They would rather flow with the majority then make ripples and be seen as 'different'. People want to be inconspicuous. They would rather let things be.
I do most solemnly assure you that as a Christian such an attitude is not only impossible but, if entertained and embraced, spiritually suicidal. It is not possible to be a Christian and not be militant, an unpopular word these days because of all the negative images it conjures up of fundamentalist Muslims, revolutionaries, and so on. Before the world and Christianity were drugged and put to sleep, believers used to sing: "Fight the good fight with all thy might, Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy might; Lay hold on life, and it shall be, The joy and crown eternally". Of course I am not talking of a literal fight with machine guns and grenades, but a spiritual fight. One of the gifts Yahweh has given me is the gift of the pen, so I devote much of my time writing in order to awaken people and encourage them to battle. But even you are not a writer, you can still open your mouths and, under the direction of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), encourage, reveal, and point them in the direction of eternal life. Sitting around wins no wars. That's what the British and French did between 1939 and 1940 as they let Hitler run around Europe doing whatever he wanted to. People called that 'Sitzkrieg' (sitting-down war) or the 'Phony War'. People who are spiritually asleep sit down and do nothing, hoping that things will fix themselves. That period of inactivity was to cost the Allies dearly in five bitter, costly and murderous years of the worst warfare the world has ever seen. And the same thing is going to happen again, except the next dictator is going to be a world dictator, and concentration camps will be in every country - there will be no neutral Switzerland's to run away to then. And all because people let themselves drift along in the naïve hope that what happened before could never happen again. Well it will, and it's going to be a thousand times worse, only this times it's going to be Christians who will be transported to a thousand Auschwitz's.
I am concerned today about Christian households whose Christian parents are partially or totally asleep because the children of such households are always affected. I would like to show you what happens when a father or mother is absent for a child's first two or three years of life and what happens to that child's spirit.
To begin with, a child can hold resentments against his parents without even being aware of it. Even if those resentments are invisible, there are fruits or manifestations in that child's life with are not. Identifying the roots of those resentments are essential.
The next critical thing to understand is as follows: just as we receive salvation by faith and not by feeling, so a child need not re-live the feelings of resentment that it deep down has against its parents - all a child has to do, even if that child is now grown up, is to acknowledge, by faith, that sins of resentment may be there, and to receive forgiveness and healing in faith. Christianity is not psychotherapy - you don't have to 'go back' into the past and re-live your traumas. When Christ operates supernaturally on you, He usually does so while these things may yet be subconscious or unconscious. This is vitally important to understand. Paul said:
"I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord" (1 Cor.4:4-5, NKJV).
Just because you aren't aware of something that is wrong inside you doesn't mean that it doesn't exist and it doesn't mean that you aren't under Yahweh's judgment for sin. Forgetting that we have a sinful disposition doesn't make the sin vanish. The great Job knew this instinctively when he said:
"How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin" (Job 13:23, NKJV).
King David likewise declared:
"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults" (Ps.19:12, NKJV).
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way" (Ps.139:23-24, NASU).
Even though we do not need to re-live the traumas of the past, we do need to know what our transgressions are by a direct, personal revelation from Yahweh Himself. We do not need to understand the mechanisms that go on inside because these things can be very complex and often beyond the ability of your average person to understand. That is why when we go to court we employ lawyers who know the law well. Christ knows your inner being better than you ever will. Ministers may know more than your average believer but even they know only a part of what is going on. What a minister needs to know is how to persuade a soul to get in contact with Christ and respond to His directions.
Throughout your life, and by heaven's design, you will be put into contact with parts of yourself you never dreamed existed or which you had forgotten about in order to survive emotionally or for whatever reason. When these moments come, it is important to be responsive and to seize the opportunity for healing that is offered you. Passing them by only compounds the inner frustration and unhappiness of a soul attempting to be reconciled to contradictory forces within. There are times and seasons for all things. Never let them pass by.
Most people are aware that things 'aren't right' inside but have no idea what to do. And they often turn to the wrong places for help. I knew a man who used to have the most obscene erotic dreams. He went to a minister who told him that this was 'normal' and 'not to worry about it'. That man missed a golden opportunity to be healed and that minister was worse than useless - he actually compounded the problem by telling him that sinful forces within were of no consequence. As you all know, I work a lot with the victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Almost without exception, these people have been horribly abused by their parents, who have no idea what loving parenthood is. They are spiritually mutilated within, vast areas of their spirits go to asleep during the abuses in order to cope with the emotional trauma, and they understandably harbour deep resentments against their abusers.
Whether you are an SRA victim or just someone who was neglected by your parents, the solution - after you have truly received Christ as your Lord and Saviour - is to kneel together with the minister helping you, in an atmosphere of love and acceptance. Having your hand held or having an arm around you - the human nearness - is often necessary to create a point of human contact, because those who have been deprived of human touch in the presence of the Ruach (Spirit) need that as part of the awakening process. Through touch, Yah'shua (Jesus) supplies love which the person missed in infancy. Then ask Yahweh to minister to the inner child. Ask the person to repent and pray aloud concerning resentments. Pronounce forgiveness when this has been genuinely done, for such is the promise of Scripture. Ask Yah'shua (Jesus) to enter the person and woo him to life in his spirit, to fill the vacuum created by rejecting resentment. Then pray that Yahweh will restore him fully where the locust of sin has eaten and the cankerworm of bitterness has destroyed (Joel 2:25). Ask that Yah'shua (Jesus) awaken and draw his spirit forth to function with liveliness and enthusiasm. This may include dragging to death whatever death-wishes and bitterroot judgments and false expectations have resulted from his being rejected or starved for affection.
What do I mean by death-wishes and bitterroot judgments? A death-wish might be saying to yourself, "I wish I could die". You have no idea how destructive spiritually such inner declarations are. It's actually a form of spiritual suicide. It's also an invitation for a demon to come in an start obliging you. What is a bitterroot judgment? A bitterroot judgment is wishing the same sort of thing on others, and especially those who have abused or neglected you, or whom you think have abused or neglected you, whom you have judged bitterly nonetheless, whether they have or not. I am going to talk more about that next week because it is critical that we understand this spiritually-crippling way-of-being.
After these prayers comes the most critical part of healing, and something that our hyper-individualistic society has programmed us against. For a person who is spiritually slumbering, the final and most important part of recovery is the church family. It doesn't have to be a big congregation or assembly - a small group of spiritually loving people will do equally well. The last and most important part of recovery from a sleeping spirit is a tightly knit group of believers who are there to incubate that awakened spiritual child within in love, to provide him what his natural family was not able to give him. It is not enough simply to 'join a church' and 'attend' it. Sitting in pews with the backs of people's necks facing you in a worship meeting will not incubate a spirit to fullness of human life. Official meetings of any kind will not do the job because they are too formal, too detached, too distant, too unengaged to reach a soul at deep heart levels. Whilst such meetings are good and necessary in the overall discipling process, so that we can grow in other areas, only rich personal encounter and involvement which reaches beyond secondary relationships to become immediate and primary can touch the slumbering spirit with life-giving power. What we are talking about is re-parenting whether you are a teen, middle-aged, or even a senior citizen!
I realise that such a notion will strike at the pride and imagined dignity of one not born again. That is why I said spiritual-rebirth, which levels all people, is essential for proper ministry to be given. In Christianity we are all of equal worth and are supposed to treat each other as such. Our spiritual needs are, at root, identical, and there is no shame in admitting this. That is why so-called 'formalism', with its artificial structures and hierarchies, is so contrary to true Christianity. Yes, there are officers in the church who should be accorded respect; yes, their are parents who are to be honoured. But in the spiritual life we are all the same - and we have to be the same otherwise Christ will not receive us. And there are no exceptions. An awareness of sin is usually enough to convince us that we have nothing to boast about, and no right to claim an exalted, detached position from the brotherhood.
I repeat, re-parenting is not just a nice option for the recovery of a slumbering spirit, it is an absolute necessity. And more so in our age. That is why the house church, with its smaller groups, where greater spiritual intimacy is possible, is meeting the needs far more than the more traditional large congregation which files into church once a week, hears a sermon, and leaves again. Church life is supposed to be like family life - one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many and in that order of importance.
Now I don't want you to form the image in your mind that spiritual parenting is necessarily formal either. When a spiritual slumberer comes amongst us we do don't assign spiritual mothers and fathers to them. These things tend to happen more spontaneously because spiritual children naturally gravitate to those who have the spirit of parenthood among them. Even so, in NCCG, we do have a system where a new member is 'adopted', as it were by a a full member whose responsibility is to help and guide him. He will have a 'spiritual sibling' too. Each full member is 'fathered' by a Sub-Deacon, and two Sub-Deacons by a Deacon. That Deacon will be fathered, together with another Deacon, by an Elder. In this way, intimate spiritual patenting takes place. Of course, this by no means stops a new member, especially one who has recently been delivered from a slumbering spirit, from forming deep relationships with other parent-figures. Sometimes a husband or wife can perform that parental rôle, and this can often be the most effective and fruitful. The important thing is that there is a caring, nurturing community. Thus in NCCG we have what we call Deacon's Cells and Elder's Cells which are both formal and informal. Everyone is looking after everyone else by covenant and by sacrifice.
When we are dealing with slumbering spirits there has not only to be flexibility but, critically, responsiveness to the Ruach (Spirit). The attitude of these 'minders' should be the same as Paul's who said: "My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you ..." (Gal.4:19, NKJV). The goal is that everyone should be able to stand alone in Christ, but practical reality dictates that first there must be spiritual nurturing, no matter the age of the convert. It takes time for Christ to form in a born-again soul for the precise reason that they have been born again and are as vulnerable infants. It's a totally new life. That is why the Messianic community is so utterly and absolutely indispensable because we can't do it alone, any more than a child can raise itself into a balanced and caring human being alone. This we discussed in my first series of sermons, The Slumbering Spirit. That is why we have Patriarchs (fathers) and Matriarchs (mothers) in the form of Pastors and Pastresses, Elders and Eldresses, Deacon and Deaconesses, and so on. We are all in need of parenting in different areas, until we are fully formed in Christ and so need parenting no longer.
But the world - and the prince of this world - has lied to us. We have been told that 'parenting' is just a subtle form of 'abuse'. What a lie! Yes, there are abusive parents who do great harm, and increasingly more of them, but that is only because they too were likely abused and harmed in their turn. A bad apple doesn't make all apples intrinsically bad. Indeed, spiritual parents are so scarce these days that they are greatly prized and needed. Hence Paul would say:
"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers [patriarchs]; for in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me" (1 Cor.4:15-17, NKJV).
Do you see? You can't just isolate a believer and put him in a bottle with Christ, abandon him, and expect everything to go well for him. Christianity is not a private gospel. It is fully integrated with human parenting. That is one reason why the Messianic Community or Church exists - it is a parenting structure, and not only a brotherhood. And if that were not essential, Yah'shua (Jesus) would never have set it up and Paul would never have expounded the principle of mature believers birthing others in the gospel.
Do you see that our responsibility is not merely to bring people to Christ but to actually disciple and spiritually parent them as well? And since when was parenting ever accomplished in a day, a week, a month, or a year? Parenting is a long painstaking business of admonishing, loving, nurturing, correcting, chastising, encouraging, and so forth. That is why every congregation has a father-figure, a Pastor, and that is why his calling is so sacred. It is also why those who abuse this patriarchal office are judged severely. It is therefore a terrible thing when a newborn Christian is abused by a wolf, for nowadays there are indeed many of them. We know that Satanists have infiltrated churches and leadership positions, and every now and then we hear terrible stories because of it. That is why church groups need to be small and intimate, because only then can people be transparent and the wolves spotted early.
To be a spiritual parent means to be willing to bear much and risk a lot. It is not an easy job, as biological parents know. Nevertheless, that is what being a Christian entails - being nurtured and nurturing in return. And it's essential to spiritual life and spiritual maturity. It's this willingness to invest in people which encourages them to open up and receive ministry.
So remember, spiritual rebirth includes both a divine and human component - it is not one-to-One in its entirety. Yes, spiritual parenting ends one day and when that happens we must let those whom we have nurtured gently fall away from our cocoon so that they can grow into parents themselves. Until then, there is much bearing and risking to do. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
John & Paula Sandford, Healing the Wounded Spirit, Victory House, Tulsa, OK, 1985, ch.5
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