“Born Crucified“, written by American-born Canadian educator and minister, L.E Maxwell (1895–1984), can probably be best summed up in this excerpt from chapter 3, The Secret of Victory Over Sin:
“If Christ died to rid me of sin, should I not rather die than retain it? But if we are not yet sick enough of sin to be rid of sin, we can only bow, and bleed, and hug our chains, until we are “sick unto death” of sinful self. We must be driven out of our unholy duplicity and made to own our double-mindedness.
“But God is good. Christ is a jealous lover. He wants every believer delivered. He will not shrink from reducing you to shame and despair if only you may be exposed to the power generated on your behalf at Calvary. You must learn by kindness or by terror. God’s sword of providence may be laid successively to every tic that binds you to self and sin. Wealth, and health, and friends, may fall before that sword. The inward fabric of your life will go to pieces. Your joy will depart. Smitten within and without, burned and peeled and blasted, you may finally, amidst the dreadful baptism, be driven from the sinful inconsistency of living for yourself. You may at length be disposed (blessed word–sweet compulsion) to yield self over to the victory and undoing of Calvary. Oh, the glorious power of the Cross! How can we longer hold out against it? All the power generated at Calvary is at your disposal.”
16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Ever wonder “how to pray without ceasing”? I mean, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, but how do you do this?
“The Game with Minutes” is a devotional developed through 20th century missionary, Frank Laubach. Here, Frank encourages his readers to make a game of placing their minds and hearts on God every minute of every day, in order to walk a more spiritually-fulfilled life.
Saint Teresa of Ávila was born on March 28, 1515, as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada. During her time as a Carmelite nun, she became revered as a Spanish mystic and a theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. 40 years following her death on October 4, 1582, she was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic church.
As the author of the Interior Castle, Teresa portrays the spiritual development of the human soul and its response to God as being like a great castle, wherein lies seven rows of mansions. With each graduation, the soul moves from the outer mansions to the inner mansions, ever moving into closer union with God.
The first three mansions are considered to be stages of active prayer and asceticism.
First mansions – Though they are entering a state of grace, the souls are surrounded by sin and only starting to seek God’s grace through humility.
Second mansions – The soul seeks a deeper relationship with the Father through daily thoughts of God and daily prayer.
Third mansions – Here, love for God is growing so great that the soul develops an aversion to sin and a deepening desire to love and serve others.
The fourth through seventh mansions are considered to be mystical or contemplative prayer.
Fourth mansions – God begins to increase His role in the supernatural development of the soul.
Fifth mansions – God deepens union with the soul, preparing it to receive the gifts of the Spirit.
Sixth mansions – The soul spends increasing amounts of time torn between favors from God and from outside afflictions.
Seventh mansions – The soul achieves clarity in prayer and a spiritual marriage with God.
“Teresa candidly reveals this interior journey as being inseparable from her love for Christ and that the highest mansions can only be gained by being in a state of grace through the Church sacraments, fervent devotion of the soul’s will to Him, and humbly receiving a love so great it is beyond human capability or description. Through prayer and meditation the soul is placed in a quiet state to receive God’s gifts (she calls “consolations”) of contemplation, and Teresa notes that man’s efforts cannot achieve this if it is not His divine will.”
Upon first hearing about “A Guide to True Peace” and its influence upon one pastor A.B. Simpson, I did what I always do when seeking an older publication—I tried to find a free copy online. Though it has long been in the public domain, I was surprised I could only find a single rough scan of the 1815 edition. (There was originally an 1813 edition that underwent some refinements and emerged as the 1815 copy.)
Being that the scanned copy of the 1815 edition was rough, smudged and cut off in places, I felt compelled to send it out for transcription into this cleaner, digitized format. When the transcription came back, it too needed work, and so I was blessed with the opportunity to groom this edition line by line. An intimate process, to be sure!
Through this effort, I have come across several typographical errors and places where modern spelling conventions scream for correction, however I have chosen to leave most of these events untouched. These errors were not a result of the transcription process, but were actually found in the 1815 edition itself. My desire is to leave you with a very true copy of that edition, right down to the page separations and Roman numerals.
Having invested time into studying the work of A.B. Simpson, I recognize him as being a man who understood the character of our Creator better than most. If Simpson points to “A Guide to True Peace” as one of the most influential writings in his spiritual walk, you can be sure it offers priceless insight for you as well.
I was born and raised a Catholic. As a child, I always had a close relationship with the Father, though it would many years before I truly understood the deity of Christ or could claim a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Growing up, I would pray every night before drifting off to sleep. I was the only kid I knew who would occasionally cross the parking lot to the church to sit with God in St. Patrick’s large, empty cathedral while my friends played during recess.
Still, by the time I reached high school, I had little respect for God’s Word and certainly didn’t understand it. But hey, I was going to church twice a week, so I must be in good standing, right?
Around age 18, I experienced my own personal apostasy when a Jehovah’s Witness friend ask me some tough questions I was ill-equipped to answer. She asked me questions like “Why are there no women priests?”, “Did you know the Catholic church helped to fund the pill?” and “Why would a parent of unconditional love condemn their children to fiery, eternal damnation?”
These questions blew apart my fragile Catholic faith (if you can call it that) and I spiraled into an agnostic haze for a couple decades. Through that time, I maintained a loose relationship with the Father, defining Him as was comfortable for me to live for myself in whatever fallen way I chose. I still prayed occasionally (usually when my choices led me to a humbling low,) but Jesus became “a good teacher” and the Holy Spirit was still some mythical power given to the Apostles about 2,000 years ago.
By my early thirties, I found myself married. My wife and I came from two different sides of the spiritual tracks. I was the disaffected Roman Catholic and she was the liberal New Ager. For me, the last straw from the Catholic Church was when the priest (who always read his sermons anyways) played an audio tape from one of the church officials petitioning for money again. Feed their spirits and they’ll feed your coffers, I thought. It was the good excuse I needed to leave the church. We were barely surviving popping out four children in five years anyways, so taking a couple spiritually-nullifying hours every weekend was a luxury I easily dismissed.
As the children grew older, we taught them to pray over meals and at bedtime. We hoped a connection with an ever-present God would bring them emotional stability when Mom and Dad weren’t around for life’s challenges. Spiritually, we plateaued here for a few years.
One day, my stepfather loaned me a book called “The Harbingers” by Christian rabbi, Jonathan Cahn. In it, I saw the very real hand of God on America. As a result of that book, I resolved to commit a couple hours every two weeks to growing my relationship with God by returning to church. Trinity was the closest church I knew, so I gave them a shot. I wasn’t hopeful. Years prior, a friend had loaned me a tape by pastor Brad Mitchell where he actually promoted the Iraq war. Even in my spiritual ignorance, I found war to be completely uncreative, errant and un-Christ-like. Still, I visited Trinity anyways and pastor Marvin Williams delivered a great message that hit me square in the chest. Next, I began bringing my oldest son. Then my wife surprised me by suggesting the whole family attend. We’ve been going to our non-denominational church ever since.
Even though I was attending church service, I was still full of questions. If Jesus says we can do “all these things and greater,” why wasn’t I seeing it in the Church? What about His lost years in the Bible? (Really? Two decades of His life unrecorded?) And what about that whole doctrine of being sent to eternal damnation by a Father who loves unconditionally and with unending mercy?
I began starving to know Jesus’ path. I decided meditation had to be part of the answer. I looked on YouTube for “guided meditation” and found an eastern guru teaching Kriya yoga meditation. I chased this path for about a year until some well-meaning Christians found me on Facebook and YouTube and offered me new information. Still, I hadn’t completely let go of the eastern meditation arc until God placed a spiritual mentor in my life. This Christian man asked me the right questions and pointed out I was trying climb the wall to God without going through the narrow gate of Jesus Christ. Enter my salvation experience and re-baptism.
From here, the regeneration—which had been going on for years by now—heated up. Professionally, my energies shifted away from chasing the Almighty Dollar and toward studying the Lord, His character, His promises and who He calls us to be. Near the end of 2014, I began dismantling my web practice. After over 20 years in the online marketing industry, we had managed to build a solid client list, however something was still.. missing.
The fact is, marketing work doesn’t feed the soul as much as it feeds the ego. And, as my ego became diminished through the spiritual quickening offered by meditation and prayer, I began to realize the ONLY thing in this life that would fulfill me (or any of us) is a deeper relationship with our Creator.
In fact, I think that’s about the only reason we’re here.
As 2015 began, this revelation was further reinforced as I pushed out over 400 accounts in a few short months. That was when I truly realized all I had been building for the past 20 years was smoke. It was nothing. Temporal.
Professionally, I no longer take on any new clients whose work does not point others to God. I work as a digital marketing manager at the State of Michigan housing authority for the steady income. I have returned to school to pursue a degree in religious ministry.
On the spiritual front, I am growing in my identity in Christ, spiritual discernment and authority. I am studying healing and its place in ministry, and am recognizing the huge importance of spending time in that secret space with Him every day.
Around quarter past seven one evening, my oldest son Gabriel holed himself up in the bathroom. At first, I didn’t think anything of it, expecting only a simple nature call. After a while past, I went to check on him. As I neared the restroom, I could hear his mother counseling him from inside. As any nosey parent would do, I listened at the door to see if I could overhear the problem. Seemed he was distressed by a Tolkien-esque series of books he had been reading all weekend.
Eventually, my wife and son emerged from the bathroom. My wife told me my son was going to bed and that I needed to go talk with him. She said she had asked him if he wanted Dad to come in and talk with him, but he had said, “No. Dad will just want to pray and I don’t want to pray.”
I went to his bedroom. The light was off and he was already in bed. I flicked on the light and told him to sit up as I took a seat in his reading chair.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Mom asked me to talk to you.”
“I don’t know, ” he moaned, burying his face into this sheets.
“Nope, that won’t do,” I said. “We’re here and we’re going to have a grown-up conversation.” (Frankly, I might have said “big-kid conversation.”)
Gabriel started rocking a little and he said, “I don’t know, okay!? I am just hearing a voice in my head that says I need to either run away or kill myself!”
“Yes! It says I need to run away or kill myself!”
With gravity setting in, I said, “Okay buddy. Now listen. There are three voices we hear in our heads: the Holy Spirit, our flesh, and the Enemy. They all sound like us; they have our voice. I can tell you your flesh doesn’t want you to die and the Holy Spirit doesn’t want you to die. That leaves the Enemy. You need to grow up in this, so I want you to do the praying.”
He nodded, took a breath and tried to begin. Nothing came out. No words. He tried a couple times and each time he would gag as he pressed into the attempt, placing his hand on his throat. Finally, in despair, he cried, “I can’t! I can’t do it!”
Faced with a deepening understanding about the forces at work, I said, “Okay, let me. In the name of Jesus Christ, any demonic activity, listening or watching is to cease immediately. You are to go straight to the feet of Jesus Christ without communicating with anything on the way, never to return here again. Go NOW. You are under contact.”
I gave him a couple moments to simply rock back and forth. Then I asked him, “How do you feel?”
“A little better,” he said.
“Okay. Now pray.”
The floodgates burst open at this point. Gabriel let out peals of anguish and a simple prayer he repeated over and over, “God, help me!” True biblical travailing. I had never seen my son pray with such an earnest heart. He was truly wrecked and pleading for God to rescue him.
I stood up and placed my hand on his back. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, I thank you for setting Gabriel free from whatever was on him tonight. I know you love him and you call him a son. I thank you for raising him up as a young man in God and I love what you’re doing in his heart….” As I continued to pray, I began feeling an ever-so-subtle energy moving from my hand to the back of his shoulders.
I closed my prayer and sat down again. I asked him how he was feeling.
“Better,” he nodded. “A lot better.”
Right about that time, his mother came in. Cracking a joke to break the tension of the moment, she climbed onto the bed behind him and gave him a hug. She suggested he go to sleep now and he agreed, so she kissed him good-night and left the room. As I hovered over him, I looked into his face and said, “You feel better now, don’t you?”
He smiled, still crying, and said yes. “Is it okay that I’m still crying? It feels weird, but I’m really happy.”
I chuckled at him and said, “That’s the love of God you’re feeling right now. The Holy Spirit touched you. It’s very alright. Keep talking to him. Good night, pal. I love you.”
Turns out my wife had been listening at the door for only the last few moments, so I told her all that had happened. She was a little surprised. She agreed with my decree that book series was to no longer come into the house and asked that I sleep on his floor that evening. I told her I was confident there was nothing coming back to him that night, but I agreed anyways, thinking it might do his heart good to see me there when he awoke.
That next morning, my wife came into Gabriel’s bedroom to rouse me while he was off eating breakfast. Turns out, he had immediately sought out the books he so quickly cast aside in his despair the night before. When my wife asked him why he thought that was a good idea, he explained, “Oh, well it turns out it wasn’t my voice; it was the Enemy’s!”
Okay. Send him in. We need to talk, obviously.
I hadn’t told him anything about doorways or treacherous media. When he came back in, I explained how certain books, video games, shows, music.. you name it.. can open doors into us if we allow them. “You had a spiritual experience, last night, buddy.” I told him how his flesh was going to try to pull him right back into those old patterns and how it was at odds with a spirit that desires God’s love and light. “Does the message speak life or does it speak death? There is no neutral ground,” I said. I affirmed I might be able to work with the Holy Spirit to get him free of something once but that I couldn’t necessarily keep him free; that was on him. I let him know that now that he had been freed of his spiritual attack, he needed to fill back up with Jesus otherwise he was risking opening himself up to worse oppression. (Matthew 12:43-45)
Gabriel didn’t really like this story, but he understood and accepted it with a pouty face and slumped shoulders.
Did Gabriel grow from his experience? Absolutely. A couple days later he handed me Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” saying he was uncomfortable with the book because one of the characters received a dead rat for a gift. It was one of several classics his mother brought home from the library in an effort to feed our voracious reader healthier material he would still find interesting. I accepted the book from him, giving him kudos for using his discernment. The following day, Gabriel told me about a book he didn’t pick up at the school library because he recognized it as “spiritually unhealthy” (my words, not his.) He’s getting it.
I feel blessed to have received teaching on the authority of the believer by my church and my studies. Without it, I would have likely tried to reason my son out of his spiritual oppression through natural attempts like logic, mental manipulation, etc.
Glory be to God!
Turns out the book series my son was reading was “The Last Dragon Chronicles” by Chris d’Lacey. Apparently, the series grows rife with demonic possession, reincarnation, sorcery and magic. Interesting to note the first book starts off quietly with squirrels and clay statues of dragons. By the time a reader reaches the third book in the 7-book series, per Wikipedia:
“In Fire Star, Gwilanna, the evil sibyl that first starred in Icefire, returns. She plans to reincarnate the last dragon, Gawain, and use him to open a portal to the dragon dimension Ki:mera. If she succeeds, the concentrated fire of all those dragons will be released onto an unstable Arctic, already threatened by global warming and in no need of any more heat to push it over the brink. The wishing dragon G’reth is whisked to another dimension by mysterious forces and brought back with an entity that calls itself the Fain. Meanwhile, David and Zanna are on the trip they won to the Arctic, and David is writing another book, an epic book about dragons, polar bears and a mysterious fire star. But when the book, like the one he wrote before, starts to mirror real life, and when Zanna is kidnapped and presumably killed by polar bears, the expedition is cut short. Back at home, he arrives to find Lucy has been kidnapped by Gwilanna for a ritual to raise the last dragon Gawain. Zanna is proved to be alive and learning the ways of the Inuit in a small village. Then, Gwillana’s plans are revealed by a twist of fate that reunites Liz with her former husband Arthur, who is using a powerful relic of Gawain to affect the flow of time. In the dramatic climax, David, Zanna, Arthur, the Pennykettles and the clay dragons have to side with a polar bear army to stop Gwilanna, as well as a darker evil from the past of Ki:mera and Earth. There is however, a final twist, David is stabbed by one of the Ix controlled humans on the expedition with a shard of ice and supposedly ‘dies.’ (At the end, David reveals that he was not dead, but combined with the dragon, Gawain.)”
So, if you’re seeking a Christian book review on “The Last Dragon Chronicles” by Chris d’Lacey, I can safely recommend against it. Not a good idea for your children to be opening themselves to this kind of spiritual pollution. My son explained the Ix are essentially demons. Avoid this one.
P.S.- Cover art for “Dark Fire”, the fifth book in “The Last Dragon Chronicles,” is pictured as the feature image for this post.