FORMER LESBIAN PROFESSOR ON WHAT CHANGED HER HEART

A former professor of women’s studies at Syracuse University recently shared her personal journey from lesbian feminist to Christ-follower. During an episode of The Becket Cook Show, Rosaria Butterfield explained how converting to Christianity radically transformed her life, identity, and relationships.

She met a Presbyterian pastor who played an integral part in opening her eyes and heart to the Lord. “I talk about what it was like to meet a pastor, who was my neighbour when I was a lesbian, feminist, activist, professor,” Butterfield said. “I met Ken Smith, the pastor who the Lord used in my conversion. I thought this man is really smart. He and his wife Floy welcomed me into their world and they came into my world and they didn’t act as though I was polluting them.

Early on in our friendship, Ken said to me ‘there’s a difference between acceptance and approval and if you can live with that difference, I can live with that difference.’” Butterfield started reading the Bible and routinely met with Pastor Ken and Floy, which allowed her to discuss situations from a Christian perspective. “I saw the way his house functioned, it was amazing. We would talk about hard and heavy things. We would read the Bible, we would pray, and would sing songs. I couldn’t help but notice there was an aesthetic, palpable difference between my house and Ken Smith’s house.” She continued, “My house was filled with anxiety and constant frenetic, political activism. At Ken’s house, they would talk about hard things, but at a certain point, they would open the Bible. They’d pray and they would do this thing called ‘leave it at the cross.’ Then they would go on and laugh, feast, and have fun.

I was intrigued by that. I came to the Bible with a long list of things I was mad about that I needed to work through.” “In two years, I read the Bible seven times. I wanted to understand why Bible-believing Christians believed the things they did. This man-God, Jesus was and is compelling beyond description. I wondered two things: could I trust Him and is it true? And that was really the turning point. That’s when I decided that I needed to stop working with Ken Smith.” Butterfield explained that she came to a critical moment in her spiritual journey where the truth of the Gospel was visible and that frightened her. “At that point, Ken and Floy did not become stalkers but they came very close. They weren’t going to let go of me,” she said. “I stopped reading the Bible for research and started reading it for personal questions of truth, life, and death.

It was at that point that I was convicted of a number of sins. I was convicted of the sin of somehow thinking that I had been on the side of truth, justice, diversity, reparations, kindness, and compassion when it was really Jesus who was persecuted the whole time.” “I started going to church, I just showed up one day,” Butterfield said. “I discovered that sermons were this totally different thing and they would really force me to think about things that I hadn’t thought about before. I realized that part of why I didn’t understand how to be a godly woman was because I didn’t understand how to be a woman, which was hilarious because I’m a professor of women’s studies at the time,” she pointed out. “I was a mess, and I committed my life to Christ because I believed He was true and real and I had no idea what He was going to do with a mess like me.”

“Conversion put me in complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the “lost,” if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers. Often, people asked me to describe the “lessons” that I learned from this experience. I can’t. It was too traumatic. Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed.” —Rosaria Butterfield

THE HOLY SPIRIT SUSTAINS US THROUGH TRIALS AND TRIBULATION

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

Coptic Christian martyrs for Christ

While this life is fraught with many trials and tribulations, the sufferings we experience are to be counted as incomparable with the glories to come. We groan, we wail, we suffer—yet with much hope as we persevere to the end, waiting for the redemption of all creation, and even our bodies. Yet in this, the tension that all mankind faces come to the forefront, and the reason for this is simple: we must wait. This anticipation for glory builds more and more anticipation the longer we must endure this life. This anticipation for glory sustains us and brings forth one major reason why we persevere: we hope in the age to come rather than in this broken and fallen age.

Paul says, that in the same way, this hope for glorification sustains us, the Spirit sustains us, for He knows precisely how to intercede on our behalf before the Father.

Where words and utterances fail us in our prayers, the Spirit transforms them into prayers that match the will of God. The very purpose of the Spirit’s intercession is not so we can feel good about His work in doing so, though we should have much joy in this fact. Rather, the Spirit’s work in transforming our failed prayers likewise culminates in us reaching the finish line, where we are ushered into the presence of our Triune Lord for all eternity. In other words, the Spirit’s work of intercession on our behalf is part and parcel of our endurance; we endure not only for the hope of the age to come but specifically because part of the Spirit’s work is to bring about endurance in us.

Here then is where we find our particular reference that God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And what is that purpose? Paul says, the “good” that God is working all things together for, is explicit.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Human suffering has a purpose that culminates in glory. To make that ever clearer: the purpose of our trials and sufferings is to bring us to final redemption, where we see God face to face, free from the pain, devastation, and destruction caused by the curse of sin, our adversary Satan, and death itself.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39

God sees to it, from eternity past to eternity future, that those who love God, that is, those who are in Christ, will one day be glorified, first to assist Jesus in His Millennial reign on this earth and then, after the White Throne judgement, to be ushered into a world free from the Fall and its effects. All of our groaning, all of our longing, all of our deferred hope for what is to come, shall be satisfied in the fullness and richness of God’s saving love through Christ.

Adapted from an article by Jason Gilbert “God Works All Things for Good” August 23, 2022, http://www.patheos.com

WALKING IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

What a powerful testimony by Torben Sondergaard on the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.

People have just been celebrating Passover/Easter all over the world, and we have been hearing the words “He has risen,” and yes, indeed He’s risen, but what does that mean for you?  Many people don’t understand what it truly means that Jesus has risen.  How does that influence your life?

Read Torben’s testimony and watch the video. You will be challenged, encouraged and some even inspired to truly start walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Torben’s Testimony

“I went to an Easter service in America for the first time yesterday.  I had not been to church on Easter in the U.S.A. before, because personally I’m not into all of those traditions, as I know its root, but I love Jesus, and I want to celebrate HIM – and we can ALWAYS celebrate that He has risen!  But yesterday I went, and it became very, very powerful! 

I saw a girl there with crutches, and I knew this was her day.  This was her day!  As soon as the meeting was over, I went down and prayed for her, and she got healed!  She got set free!  She got filled with the Holy Spirit, and her life got changed!  And I got it on video.  At the beginning of the service the priest said, “Walk in the resurrection power!”  But what does that indeed mean? 

There were a few thousand people in the church that day.  Many could have prayed for her.  Many could have set her free.  Many could have helped her, but they didn’t.  Why?  Because many don’t understand what it means to walk in the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are here to help you out there to walk the life Christ has called you to.  Watch the video.”

CONTROLLING OUR THOUGHTS

Since we cannot bear righteous fruit without God’s Spirit, how can we take captive thoughts that are unwholesome?

The Apostle Paul said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians10:5. So how do we demolish such thoughts when they enter our minds? Again, without God’s Spirit, we have no hope of reforming our own thoughts.

Paul said that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4

So, until we’re set free from the clutch of Satan and his minions, we remain blind, even though we think we can see. Only by trusting in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit do we have the power to resist the Devil, and only then will he flee from us. David had a way of resisting evil thoughts and then having those thoughts bear sin. He wrote:

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Along with the Spirit of God, we have the Word of God to help us avoid such evil thoughts, and only then are we able to “not sin against” God.

LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

The Christian life is supernatural but not magical. God does not make us happy when we make work, sports, leisure, or sex into our idols. If we choose to seek happiness elsewhere, the Holy Spirit will not force Himself on us. And He certainly won’t give us happiness in what’s not from Him.

GOD IS A TRINITY AND MAN, MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE IS A TRINITY: BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT

We must understand that Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the Spirit of every believer. The third person of the Trinity takes up residence in your Spirit. He is our counsellor, teacher, and comforter. He enables you to live the Christian life and we are clearly told that we can grieve Him and quench His work in our life.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Ephesians 4:30

Do not quench the Spirit.1 Thessalonians 5:18

He will open up God’s Word to you each day if you ask Him. He will guide your steps each day if you ask Him. Only then will joy and happiness envelop your life.

Our actions must be in concert with our prayers—we should pray to find happiness in God and then take the kind of actions that will help us find happiness in God.

Some people who claim to be Christians say, “I thought I would experience joy in the Christian life, but I never have.” Is that because they spend hours a day on social media but “don’t have time” to join a home Bible study? Do they fill their day with activities but not regular times with God? Why do they expect to be happy in God when they are not choosing to spend time with Him and to do what they can to learn, study, and discuss who God is, what He has done, and what He’s doing?

Adapted from an article by Randy Alcorn Finding Happiness in God is not Automatic – Patheos

SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

This Scripture tells us we need to let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions so that we can view the world through God’s eyes and live our life according to His principles. May this be true particularly in the area of our finances but may it be true in every area of our life.

Even the money we work hard to earn ultimately comes from God. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Knowing that it all belongs to God should convince us to welcome God into our financial lives! We have the opportunity to walk with God, even in this sector of life knowing that He will use it wisely and it will bear much fruit that will have eternal value.

We need not be concerned about provision for our family if we are truly seeking first the kingdom of God.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

God is the source of all good things—our provider. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalms 24:1).

How important it is during this time of testing that God has sent with Covid19 to hold to these truths of God. There is no doubt that if you have “all joy and peace in believing” people around you that are fearful will want what you have. Opportunities are opening up for me to talk about the scriptures particularly “end times” prophecies, as I have never had before, particularly with my non believing family members.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7

The persecution that Christians are experiencing now will escalate in the years ahead. Scripture reveals Christians will be refined during the time of tribulation that precedes the Rapture but will also be used mightily by the Holy Spirit at this time. It is time to start living with an eternal focus knowing Jesus prophesied return is near.

What role will Jesus assign to you during His Millennial reign?

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:4-6

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10

The Second Resurrection and Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.Revelation 20:11

ARE YOU EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT?

This is important new teaching from Torben Sondergaad. Whilst the series is called FIGHTING FOR THE TRUE GOSPEL, the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit. In the first video Torben looks at the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life. In the second video he looks at the Holy Spirit in the early disciples’ lives. In this video, the focus is on HOW TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is such an important message. He starts by looking at Pentecost and what that day was all about. Torben connects Pentecost with the first harvest, and to the Law given by Moses at Sinai. When you do this, you really see how beautiful it is. At Pentecost God did not write the Law on stones. Now, He came down to write the Law on our hearts by the Holy Spirit! We also see that Acts 2 was really the birth of the church! We are also looking at how people in the early church received the Holy Spirit, and that it was not something which happened automatically when people came to faith, as sadly many people think today, and where they misquote Ephesians 1:13. He also looks at the misunderstandings there are today with the baptism of fire, as John was saying in Matthew 3, that Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. What was that fire baptism?

You will love this teaching, and it will challenge you, and bless you, and give you a clear understanding of how we receive the Holy Spirit!

IN WHOM IS YOUR HOPE PLACED?

Acts 5.40-41,when they (Sadducees) had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”

After being beaten, Peter and the other apostles were rejoicing.

The same spirit in the Apostles is in us. So, we have the power to stay faithful and rejoice, if we acknowledge His presence and ask Him.

1 Peter 4.12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.

Our hope is in the knowledge that Christ has already won the victory over Satan and that He made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to be all we need to be overcomers during the coming tribulation and trials. Also, we know that His glory will be revealed at His second coming and that Biblical prophecy reveals we are in the “last days” prior to the final seven years before Jesus’ return, spoken of first in Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy.

First coming in the clouds to raise the dead Saints and rapture the Saints on the earth
Second coming to earth, after God’s wrath has been poured out on an unrepentant earth with the trumpet and bowl judgements. Jesus returns with the Saints to redeem Israel and rule and reign for 1000 years

THANK YOU FOR THE CROSS

A message you need to imbibe. Imbibe is not a word I use. It just came to mind and it means “to take or receive into the mind”. The Holy Spirit does His work to give you the right word at the right time. Hopefully, the message will not only be received into your mind but it will inspire, even empower you to act and step out to do what God has for you to do in these “last days”.

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

Jesus commands us: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28),  We can’t do this in our own strength. It takes yielding to God’s Holy Spirit within to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,” and “pray for those who abuse you.”

I am sure Abraham did not completely understand what God was doing by asking him to sacrifice his son, but he was prepared to do it anyway. Likewise, there are times when I cannot understand why we are commanded to pray for our enemies, do good to those that hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us but, I do it anyway. And never have I ever regretted it.

I might not precisely understand what God’s Word tells me to do in some cases, so I must trust the Spirit and yield to His influence. The Spirit might prompt me to do something that I would not ordinarily do, and even though my own flesh says, “No,” I sense it’s what God wants me to do, and more often than not, I discover that, in His sovereignty, God had placed me in such a place and time to do just what He willed for me to do. I know that if what I do helps others; if it glorifies God, and it’s revealed in the Word of God, then I must do it, even if I don’t fully understand it at the time.

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