22nd November 2017
The Romance Part 2
Over the previous couple of blog entries, I have been attempting to unpack what it means for Father God to “romance” his children. Before continuing that theme, I’d like to ask if you attempted either of those ‘heart exercises’ I suggested last month? (If you’ve just joined the conversation I would highly recommend going back and reading my last two blog entries, then give those exercises a go!)
Regarding this “romance”, I firmly believe Abba Father has been trying to pursue me for quite a while. (The greater truth is that He’s been trying to get my attention for decades. I have been too dull to notice Father God’s advances towards me until more recent years).
What I have learned personally on the journey thus far is that we cannot orchestrate what “The Great Romancer” does in this expedition of the heart.
Father God simply calls and invites. Our role is to accept or reject. For too many years I chose to ‘reject’ His gentle invitations.
But I have also come to understand this… to gain the most out of what Father God is up to - requires a stance or a posture that we must take. It requires an openness to His pursuit of our heart. It requires vulnerability on our part.
Most of us, sadly, are not so great at being vulnerable or opening our hearts… for that is how we got hurt in the first place!
For other people their life experiences suggest “Father” is not a safe term.
Whatever the negatives are in our story… we won’t find it easy to open up to the “romance” that we are being invited to enter until those areas are healed. The ‘Catch 22’ situation we find ourselves in, is that we will need to trust Abba Father in order get healed!
If we don’t learn how to let God begin “romancing” us we will never be able to let go of the fears that prevent God getting close to us (or let anyone get close for that matter!).
If we can just take a few deep breaths; and let go of the steering wheel even just a little… we might be surprised how God might come alongside us. If you can let go, even just a fraction… that may release God to connect with you in a more intimate way.
Unfortunately, many find it a struggle to believe God would ever give them anything good. If your formative years were not all that they should have been, and you’re one who struggles to trust… then you probably find it difficult to believe that God has good things to give you.
If you’re in that camp… I have some things I’d like you to ponder:-
Scripture says God is a good Father. Would an evil father give their child a snake when they ask for an egg – no of course not – so how much more will your Heavenly Father, who is good, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask? (Luke 11:11-13).
At some point in this “romance” we have to take a chance that God is actually safe! The struggle to believe that He is good is often the obstacle that stands in the way of letting God pursue us. If we have bought into the lie that God is not good… then we won’t believe God has our best interest at heart; ultimately, we won’t believe God can be trusted.
No romance can truly succeed without trust.
So let me dig a little deeper on this issue:-
Can you learn to trust God in a way that lays down all of your defences?
Could you ever allow for a life that exists beyond trying to protect yourself?
Is it possible to move away from the realm that always requires analysis; to let some portions of your life be impractical; to cease evaluating all things based on their utility, function or effectiveness?
I’m basically asking are you willing to let go of your doggedness to control?
Bottom line - are you willing to let go… and let God in?
If the answer is ‘yes’… then you are closer to entering into this “romance” with God than you first thought.
In the Blog to follow (which will be in the New Year), I’ll wrap up this little mini-series on “The Romance” with a closing article next January.
For now let me wish you a very happy and holy Christmas from myself and the whole Ellel Sydney team. Let me leave you with the description given in Isaiah 9:6 of this God who is pursuing us: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will rest upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” (who wouldn’t want to be “romanced” by that God!)
Until next time,
Centre Director, Ellel Sydney
24th October 2017
Last month I wrote about the passing of my Uncle Mick and how his death tapped into something deep within in me. What it touched into was a longing to return to a very special time of ‘romance’ in my childhood. It was a delightful season which God took me back to so He could come alongside me and reveal things I had not previously seen or understood about that season. Through that, Father God brought further healing and clarity to my heart in some much needed areas (See last month’s blog to read more about my story).
Since then I have had some conversations with one or two folk who were touched by what I wrote in the last blog, but the one thing they could not grasp was that a Holy God would want to “romance” them! And judging how a handful of others have since asked me “what exactly is this romance with God that you’re referring to?”... that suggests to me there might be more than just a few Christians who find it hard to comprehend that God wants to “romance” them.
So over the next one or two blog entries, I might try to unpack what it means for God to “romance” his children.
To be honest, ‘the romance” is not an easy thing to describe! It’s about the mystery of how a Holy God continually looks for ways to pursue our hearts and this idea that God wants to “romance” us is really describing the intimate ways God tries to connect with us.
The biggest obstacle to entering into this “romance” with God – is actually ourselves!
You see, whether we realise it or not - we have shut our hearts down. The wounds we have suffered and the lies we consequently believe have caused us to close our hearts. It’s a form of protection. But sometimes in attempting to protect ourselves – we harden our hearts. For most of us it’s just too risky to open up and allow a mysterious romance to begin with an Almighty God… in which we have no control over the outcomes. It is always our fears that drive us to control things in life… and being in control of our life gives us the illusion of feeling safe.
This self-protection mode we find ourselves in urges us to block Father God’s advances towards us.
In those moments where our fear and rebellion close our heart to God’s advances – it is trust that has been lost. Our God is a gentleman. He will not draw near to a person who outwardly is saying: “Where are you God? I need you!”, but on the inside is screaming: “Don’t come any closer! I do not trust you God!”.
And so Father God will not draw near out of respect for our truer wishes… but the consequences are that we miss out on His embrace; and He misses out on cuddling His kids.
If we are serious about wanting to go deeper on this ‘romance’ with God… it will require an unravelling of all the above-mentioned issues that lead us to be afraid; untrusting and controlling. Undoing all the root causes of that is not an easy or a swift assignment.
The first time I heard about God wanting to “romance” us came from a book called “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. The theme of God desiring a sacred romance with us is brilliantly unpacked in this book. (If you are serious about wanting to understand this better, do yourself a favour and call the Ellel Reception and order the book!).
The key point from “The Sacred Romance” is that the Lord desires to come alongside us by recovering from our memory those fond childhood moments – through which He may want to speak to us.
So how does Father God connect with us and “romance” us through childhood memories?
Well, Holy Spirit could surprise you in a number of ways, but it will always be very unique and special to your story, for only Father God truly knows your heart:-
- It might take place as you hear a song on the radio that takes you back to a different time and deeply impacts you…
- Or perhaps a book you are reading touches something deep within you and moves you powerfully…
- Or you find yourself watching a movie and a particular scene brings a tear to your eye…
When we experience any of those above moments, we are often rattled and confused by what is surfacing in our own hearts. In such emotional instants, when something deep in our spirit is uncovered, we usually dismiss it quickly or bury the memory or feeling… why? Because we like to control our lives, remember. We don’t like it when Father God makes advances towards us that cause us to become undone. So we resist and close our hearts once again.
To enter into “The Sacred Romance” we need to learn to respond differently in those moments.
Whichever way God chooses to get our attention, whether it be songs; books; movies or in other ways… His desire is to surface a longing or yearning in our hearts, so He can address something in us today as the adult. He wants to go deeper with us. He wants to “romance” us. God is in fact courting us in that moment.
The next time a Holy God slips past your guard and you are ‘undone’ by a song; or a book; or a line in movie;… I want to suggest you ask these questions:- “Father God, is that you calling to me? Why is this impacting me? What are you trying to show me or reveal to me in this moment?”
I hold great hope for those willing to ask such questions that they will enter the sacred romance.
Ultimately, the “romance” is about Father God’s pursuit of His children’s hearts.
To gain eyes to see and understand this requires us to take a certain position. It requires a re-orientation of how we view God. It requires a shift in how we learn to recognise Abba Father reaching out to us. I’d like to explore this further next month…
In the meantime, I’d like to you to consider these two exercises:-
- Would you make time where you can just stop; pause; breathe; and be still. Don’t rush this. Take a few minutes to quieten your heart. Then from that quiet place, invite Holy Spirit to meet with you. He just may take you back to a special time during your formative years. A memory of His choosing; not yours! Not a memory that you have to strive to come up with; but rather a memory that Father God surprises you with! A time perhaps when you were young and all was good, safe and fun-loving… And if such a memory comes to mind, just simply keep your eyes closed and stay in it. Enjoy it. Allow Abba Father to make Himself known to you in the midst of it. Better yet, ask Him to show you where He is in that memory. Then simply enjoy His presence…
- The next time a Holy God finds a way to slip past your guard and some emotions surface, please don’t bury that thought or feeling. The next time you are ‘undone’ by a song, book movie, etc., ask this question:- “Father God is that you calling to me? Why is this impacting me Lord? What are you trying to reveal to me in this moment?”
To do either of the above is to ask God to “romance” you.
Until next time,
Centre Director, Ellel Gilbulla
20th September 2017
Uncle Mick's Passing
On Sunday, 3rd September 2017, an uncle of mine named Robert (Mick) O’Connor passed away.
I had penciled-in to go and visit him in hospital the very next day on Monday 4th September, but death is no respecter of diaries. I was deeply disappointed not to have seen my Uncle Mick one more time. I would have loved to have enjoyed a few last moments with him, laughing and reminiscing about extended family holidays and hearing some very entertaining stories (none that I could repeat here!).
What I really wanted to say to him was a personal thank you for his ‘father-like” investment in me in the absence of my own dad. It would have been nice to have honoured him in that way face to face. However, that was not to be. And just as disheartening was the fact that his funeral clashed with a long standing commitment I had made to run a Modular event at our Ellel Perth centre… so my disappointment was doubled when I could not attend his funeral held on the 10th September. (However, I must report that God honoured that sacrifice by doing some amazing things in the lives of those who attended the WA event!).
But in all, I have to honestly report that my uncle’s passing last week has been somewhat unsettling for me.
Uncle Mick was in some way “the last of the Mohicans”! His passing represents an end of an era for my extended family. All of my older male ancestors are now gone. He was the last of my parent’s generation.
I am now the elder patriarch of my family line. And I find that rather sobering.
So the question I have been pursuing in these last few days is “Why has my uncle’s passing unsettled me?”
Admittedly there has not been much time to just stop and try to process things. But once I completed my Perth assignment and settled back into Aisle seat 28B on flight QF569 home-bound for Sydney, that gave me 4 hours to be still and invite Father God to reveal some missing pieces of the puzzle to me. Here is what Father God has been showing me ...
A book came to mind that I read years ago by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge called “The Sacred Romance”. One poignant point from that book that stayed with me was how God could use a special time in your childhood to “romance” you today as an adult – (ie God getting your attention today as an adult, by recalling to your memory the way He pursued your heart in fond childhood moments). The message of ‘The Sacred Romance’ is that God can ‘call to us’ as adults by surfacing precious moments in our childhood in a way that deepens our walk with Him today. Perhaps even reveal something fresh that He wants us to pursue for His kingdom purpose in the future.
With regard to my own “Romance” in childhood, Uncle Mick (and his era) represented a special window of respite for me from an otherwise broken and dysfunctional upbringing. It was a unique time in my childhood that has long since passed. But nonetheless it is a time set deep in my memory and my heart which the Lord has been ‘calling’ me back to recently. Almost as though there is more healing and restoration He has yet to do in my heart or more of destiny and purpose He wants to reveal from that childhood experience.
That “Romance” period of my life involved every Christmas school holiday from ever since I could remember until I was 18 years of age. Every summer my mother, my brother and I would travel and gather with the whole extended family for about a month at my grandfather's holiday home at Narooma on the south coast of NSW.
They were an amazing four weeks every year in my childhood, where we’d alternate between days at Lake Corunna water-skiing; days playing and swimming at Narooma or Dalmeny beach; and days out chasing bream and flathead on streams and lakes!
If I close my eyes I can remember the smell of the freshly caught fish cooking with lemon-pepper seasoning on the open wood barbecue in the backyard or a big sizzling steak hitting the hotplate! Cousins running around everywhere playing ‘chase’! Aunties all busy in the kitchen or attending to children’s needs. I can still picture the intricate sand castles we kids erected on the beach whilst all the adults lazed around like beached whales sun-tanning on their beach towels. Back then sun protection consisted of a beach umbrella and zinc cream (which only came in one colour – humiliating white!).
I can remember the smell of high octane V8-engined water-ski boats thundering across the water pulling us along. With every new level of waterskiing skill that I gained, it was testimony to my uncles who patiently coached me until I’d mastered each skill. It was like a series of mini rite-of-passages for me… learning to ski on knee boards; then two skis; two skis to one ski; one ski to no skies (ie barefooting!). And the cheer of encouragement those ‘proxy’ fathers gave me when I mastered a new level… It made me start to believe that I did have what it took to conquer the challenges that lay ahead in my life. There was a significant sense of value and worth imparted to me from those men during that era. That is an investment I will be forever thankful for!
My Grandfather, Uncle Graham and Uncle Mick (my mother’s father and her two younger brothers) all played key roles in filling an empty place in my soul at a critical time in my development. My early formative years were filled with the trauma of a parent’s separation and divorce, the abandonment of a father who’d moved out and the uncertainty that followed.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate more and more just what a staggering gift and dramatic rescue those summers were for me. (Thank you Father God!). Oh how I wish everyone could have been as blessed as me during those fun-filled family Christmas holidays.
In fact the “Romance” can come for each of us in many ways, thank God! What was it for you in your childhood? Did you chase grasshoppers; visit the old library with a grandparent; read favorite books? Was it your first snow trip; roasting marshmallows over an open fire; secret tree houses built high up in a tree? What fond memories of your childhood does God keep bringing to mind? And what is He trying to communicate to you through re-visiting that time?
Can I just say this from personal experience… that re-discovering that time and allowing Father God to show you where He was in those years and what He was doing, perhaps previously unseen by you —can be one of our life’s greatest treasures for us as an adult. What God may speak into our hearts during that process could be profound.
Although I did not get to say this at my Uncle Mick’s funeral, I would like to say it here:
“Thanks Uncle Mick (and Uncle Graham and Grandad) for the legacy you deposited into my heart and into my spirit. My own five sons and daughter have benefitted greatly – because they are now receiving what was poured into me during that season. I pray that I am half the patriarch you all were. May you all rest in peace”
And I want to also say a huge thank you to my Heavenly Father, who for so many years I believed had abandoned me during those early formative years (just as my own earthly dad had done). But in fact God was right there during that turbulent period of my youth weaving and orchestrating His rescue plan for me!
He truly is an amazing Father.
Until next time,
Centre Director, Gilbulla
23rd August 2017
Ever had a day when everyone seems to get a look-in except you?
Let's quickly re-visit the story of Korah's rebellion from last month in Numbers Chapter 16.
A Levite priest wants to usurp Aaron and take over the priesthood, and at the same time remove Moses from leadership!
The key person at the centre of this story, Korah, was a descendant of the Kohathites. They were Levite priests granted high duties in the service of the Lord at the Tabernacle. But for Korah, this high honour was not enough. He desired more. His ultimate ambition was to assume the role of High Priest. He wanted to replace Aaron. So he manipulatively rallied others to his cause in an attempt to achieve that ambition. But to achieve that goal, he would also have to depose Moses as Leader!
Korah rallied a large group of prominent men to come alongside him. In Numbers 16:2-3 it states: “With them were over 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the Council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron…”.
Now, let’s pick up where we left off last month and see what happens next…
The text describes how the disgruntled men who stood against Moses and Aaron were challenged to come to the Tent of Meeting with fire in their censers. (This trial was now to be decided by fire!). The 250 men aligned with Korah came arrogantly to stand against Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The Almighty spoke with words of impending doom for this rebellious group (vs19-21). Their punishment was fittingly ironic: The 250 men who dared to present themselves as priests before the Lord with fire in their censors were themselves put to death by fire (vs 35) sent from the Lord, after they had been swallowed by the earth!
What a powerful vindication of Moses and Aaron by the Lord God Almighty!
Interestingly, it was the true Priests who were asked to collect the censers of the 250 deceased impostors. The true priests plucked the censors from the impostor’s charred remains and hammered them into bronze sheets to form part of the Altar in the Tent of Meeting. That bronze Altar became a memorial to the folly of a “self-proclaimed” priest (vs39-40).
So, what lessons are in this story?
Back to my opening question! Ever feel like everyone else seems to be getting a look-in except you? Ever had days where you feel like you should be getting a lot more recognition offered to you? I’ll bet there have been times you grumbled and complained because you felt you were owed something… right!?! Perhaps it has even crossed your mind to whine to others about your plight in the hope of gaining a following that supports you in your cause…. (you wouldn’t be the first!).
What Korah’s Rebellion teaches me is that whenever I’m “owed something” I am on very dangerous ground! The temptation is often to take things into your own hands and try to manipulate to get the result you want.
Instead of taking that track… far better to take my complaint to Father God.
Once I’ve unloaded all my disappointment and anger on God privately… it’s amazing how much clearer I can think AFTER the emotions have been ‘handed over’ to the Lord. Suddenly, the “fog” clears and I can begin to see what it is the Heavenly Father needs me to understand at that time.
Allow me to offer some simple advice…
…next time you’re thinking you’re owed something and you want to take matters into your own hands (to self-promote)… consider what happened to Korah and his 250 mates!
Sadly, just as Lucifer was not satisfied with the key position he had been given in heaven, so too Korah and his followers were clearly unhappy with the high position given to them. Korah was operating under the same ‘Luciferin influence’ that caused the very first rebellion in heaven (Rev 12). The similarities are too many to discard!
The outcome for both Lucifer and his fallen angels and similarly Korah and his rebellious priests – is not something I particularly want to experience!
I have never seen it work out well for those who take the path of ‘self-promotion’. But those who keep their heart right and choose to put their trust in the Lord (like Moses and Aaron) are often vindicated in due course.
Maybe the next time you feel hard done by; or overlooked; feel unheard; unvalued; or not appreciated…instead of trying to get the result you’re after (via grumbling, gossiping; or manipulative means of self-promotion) you might want to ask yourself these questions:-
“What are you trying to teach me in this situation Father God?”
“What issues in my heart are you trying to surface through this road-block?”
“What is it you want me to see about myself, that I’ve never had eyes to see before?”
“What are you asking me to let go of Father God, which I have been resisting?”
“What is it you want me to do Lord, that I have been too fearful to do previously?”
“Is there anything unholy within me, Father God, that you want to dismantle?”
I do not hold much hope for those who insist on the path of self-promotion (and I certainly do not want to be standing next to them when the fire falls!).
However, I hold great hope for those who are humble enough and courageous enough to ask God those above-mentioned questions!
In fact, it’s my experience that those prepared to ask the Heavenly Father those kind of probing questions about the state of their own heart… they are usually the ones who end up being both vindicated and elevated by God – in due time at the appropriate hour!
Go back and read through those questions again.
Allow them to sink in, so when you next feel ‘owed something’ or ‘overlooked’… those questions might come to mind… and save you from a truck load of trouble!
Until next time,
Centre Director, Gilbulla
19th July 2017
When We Think We're Owed Something
Have you ever felt like you are owed something, or deserve better or even feel like you are being overlooked?
I want to follow on from last month’s concept of ‘feeling overlooked’ where we examined how Lucifer wanted to steal God’s throne for himself (described in Isaiah 14 in the Five “I Will’s”). You might recall the outcome involved Lucifer and about one-third of the angels being thrown out of heaven (see Rev 12).
Interestingly, that kind of desire to elevate oneself isn’t really isolated. Scripture reveals similar stories from time to time where something unholy surfaces in the heart of a person and the consequences that outwork are disastrous!
This month we’ll look at an individual in the Bible who wreaks havoc simply because he felt he deserved better! This person takes the path of ‘self-promotion’ which always a dangerous path!
In the Book of Numbers, Chapter 16, there is a story about a man named Korah who led a rebellion against Moses. The outcome is shocking!
Every time I begin to feel disgruntled, or overlooked or when I think I’m owed something… this tale reminds me to check my heart attitude before I say or do something that I may later regret.
It is a story that sobers me every time I re-visit it!
Let’s explore it together and I’ll offer some key “insights” as we go…
The key person at the centre of this story, Korah, happens to be a descendant of a man named Kohathite.
The Kohathites were Levites who were granted high duties in the service of the Lord at the Tabernacle. But for Korah, this particular high honour was not enough. He desired even more. His ultimate ambition was to assume the role of the High Priest. He wanted to replace Aaron. So he manipulatively rallied others to his cause in an attempt to achieve that ambition.
The scriptures reveal that Korah “…became insolent and rose up against Moses”. (Numbers 16:1-2).
In fact, Korah had rallied a very large group of prominent people to side with him… It states in Numbers 16:2-3:
“With them were over 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the Council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron…”.
I always find it interesting that when a person ‘rises up against’ those in rightful authority… they often convince others to side with them in their offense!
Insight No 1:- When someone else is offended and begins to gossip against those in authority… be wary of the enemy’s plot to ‘rally a mob’. This strategy is designed to get others to also rise up against Godly authority… do not join them!!
It is not our role to ‘remove’ key leaders from positions of authority. That is God’s role. Daniel 5:21b states: “…the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them any one he wishes”.
God is the one who ultimately appoints and removes those in leadership. Be wary of those who want to go about such things in ungodly ways… it only ever leads to pain and misery.
So how did Moses respond to Korah arriving on his doorstep with 250 grumbling men?
Moses wisely chose to let God be his defender rather than squabble with this aggravated hoard. He simply declared:- “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to Him and who is holy…”. (vs5).
Insight No 2:- Moses immediately recognized what was unfolding before him was unholy. Moses was confident that neither he, nor Aaron, had done anything to deserve the assault that came against them. Therefore he trusted that the Lord would defend him!
Sometimes I wonder if we act too soon to defend ourselves with rash responses and actions when situations come against us. If our hearts are truly right before God and there is no wrong doing on our part… maybe we need to have a little more faith that our Heavenly Father will come through in defending us.
Do you believe that Abba Father wants to protect and defend you when you come under assault?
When we look closer at what steps Moses took when he was under assault… he did offer this strong rebuke:-
“You Levites have gone too far!” (Vs7). “…isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near to Himself to work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community to minister to them?”(vs 9-10).
“…but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together”. (vs 10-11).
Insight No 3:- When we rise up against leadership who have been rightly appointed by God, those above verses demonstrate it is not just the individual leaders we are challenging… We are also standing ‘against the Lord’ who appointed those leaders (when we grumble, gossip and complain about them!)
Furthermore, I never cease to be amazed at how those who are offended end up with ‘distorted lenses’… for example when we get to Verse 13 we find this group charge Moses with having led the people “out of a land flowing with milk and honey”! Now that is bizarre… because by some strange alchemy… in the minds of those coming against Moses, Egypt (the nation that had enslaved and tortured them) had somehow transformed from prison to paradise!
It truly is amazing how sin blinds us to the truth! Wounded embittered people often lose sight of the truth and buy into deception and lies.
Next month we’ll continue exploring this tale of ‘Korah’s Rebellion’ to discover whether or not God rescues Moses and Aaron from this angry mob… the end result is truly astonishing!
Until next time,
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
24th June 2017
Be Wary of the Five "I Wills"!
Have you ever felt like life is just unfair sometimes?
You know those times when we think we’re owed something!
Maybe your boss is under-selling you! Or he’s just not seeing your true potential? Did you ever wish you could just elevate yourself to the position you believe you deserve?
The problem with self-promotion is that it doesn’t have a good track record in the Bible!
You might recall there was once a mighty Angel in heaven named Lucifer, who also felt a sense of entitlement! And that led to a rebellion in heaven, where Lucifer and one third of the angels who also rebelled with him – were all cast down to earth (Rev 12).
In Isaiah Chapter 14 we get an insight into Lucifer’s sense of entitlement expressed in verses 12-15, in what theologians refer to as the Five “I Wills” that display Lucifer’s dissatisfaction, pride, rebellion and desire for self-promotion.
Vs 12 “How you have fallen from heaven O morning star…” (in scripture, angels are often referred to as ‘stars’!) “…you have been cast down to earth”.
Vs13 “You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven." (Self–will)
“I will raise my throne above the stars of God.” (Self–exaltation)
“I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” (Self-enthronement)
Vs14 “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds.” (Self-ascension)
“I will make myself like the Most High.” (self-deification)
Vs15 “But you are brought down to the grave to the depths of the pit”
Lucifer chose a path ‘independent of God’ – which is really the definition of rebellion.
Satan believed he knew better. In his pride, he exalted himself. He wanted to take the place of God!
Consequently, he was brought down by the Most High. We see in Rev 12:7-9, the Arch-angel Michael and two-thirds of the holy angels that stayed true… threw Lucifer and the rebellious one-third of the ‘stars’ (angels) out of heaven and down to earth (see also Rev 12:4). Even Jesus testified to having witnessed ‘Satan fall from heaven like lightning’ in Luke 10:18.
Lucifer thought he deserved the top job.
In God’s eyes, that kind of pride made him dangerous!
Ironically, when we feel we are owed something… that can make us dangerous too! It never ceases to amaze me how we often want to take things into our own hands and manipulate the situation to our advantage… to get the result we believe is the right outcome. We might whine or whinge to others. It could be through gossip or possibly speaking poorly of those in leadership over us. Basically, we’ll do whatever it takes to make those who are ‘ticking us off’ look bad! And then do or say whatever it takes to make ourselves look better!
Can I offer some simple advice I have learned on the anvil of life’s experience…
…next time you’re thinking you are owed something and you want to take matters into your own hands (to self-promote)… Just consider what happened to Lucifer!
Sadly, that once mighty Angel wasn’t satisfied with the lot he had been given… and I have never seen it work out well in the long term for those who take the path of self-promotion.
But those who choose to trust in the Lord, who are prepared to be taken on a journey… I often see elevated in due course.
So, consider again the Five “I Will’s” when next you feel overlooked:-
“You said in your heart, I will ascend…” (Self–will)
“I will raise my throne above the stars…” (Self–exaltation)
“I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly…” (Self-enthronement)
“I will ascend above the tops of the clouds…” (Self-ascension)
“I will make myself like the Most High…” (self-deification)
The next time you are offended and sense of entitlement begins to rise within … check your heart for any of those above sentiments … and remember -
“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
Perhaps instead of trying to get the result you are after (via self-promotion) the next time you feel overlooked, it would be far better to humbly ask a question like:-
“Father God, is there anything that needs to change in me, before You see me as ready to be promoted?”
It’s my experience that those who are prepared to ask the Heavenly Father those kind of questions are usually the ones who end up being used powerfully by God in the long term!
In my next blog, I might share another biblical scenario of a man named Korah who also thought that he was overlooked and was ‘owed something'.
Until next time,
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
24th May 2017
Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart - Part 4
Yep, you thought last month's instalment was the final one .... but, no there is no end to being thankful, even in times of panic and despair as we read in this next instalment.
In this series on “Thankfulness”, I have been attempting to broaden our view of what it means to practically to live a life of thankfulness.
In Part 1 of “Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart”, I recommended starting a ‘Book of Remembrance’ which is basically a Journal recording key people whom God has used to positively shape and mold us as individuals. It’s a tool that allows you to recall and be thankful to God for the integral part key individuals have played in our lives.
In Part 2, an invitation was offered to seek out family or friends whom God might bring to mind to approach and say what you’re thankful about regarding the impact of their life upon you.
In Part 3, we focused on the Luke passage about the ten lepers healed by Jesus where we learned how important it is to cultivate a grateful attitude before God, who clearly notices when we don’t say thank you!
Now in this fourth instalment, we’re looking at Daniel and how he demonstrates that thankfulness steadies the heart under pressure!
In the Book of Daniel (Chapter 2) we read about King Nebuchadnezzar having a dream that troubled him greatly! The King refused to share with his mediums and occult practitioners (ie the ‘Wise Men’) what he had dreamt, demanding that they must tell him not just what the dream was about… but also share what the interpretation of the dream is!
None could offer what he demanded.
As they had all failed King Nebuchadnezzar, decreed that every one of the wise men in the land were to be put to death!
At this point in the story, Daniel the prophet of God and his friends, who was included amongst these wise men, were also placed under this death penalty. However, Daniel asked the King for more time! He was granted that time.
Daniel then asked his friends to intercede. Stunningly, we read in Daniel Chapter 2, Verse 19 that “During the night…”, suggesting Daniel seems to have gone to bed! - where in the middle of the night, the Lord revealed the mystery of the King’s dream to Daniel!
Now, let me ask you this question… would you be able to sleep the night before your execution?
No! …me neither!
But Daniel, appears to have rested peacefully overnight, where God came to him and gave him the needed interpretation! Then the scripture states that Daniel praised the God of heaven throughout the verse in Daniel 2:19-23. In verse 23 Daniel says” “I thank and praise you, oh God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you”.
Clearly, this man of God knew what it meant to wait upon a holy God with a thankful trusting heart… even in the midst of impending death!
In fact, I imagine Daniel’s heart was already poised the night before – through a trusting, thankful, peaceful heart that waited patiently on God to come through... and Daniel indeed experienced his God come through for him and his friends!
And the key in this stressful circumstance?... Thankfulness!
Thankfulness and praise steadies and protects the heart from panic and despair!
The key here is that God always had this situation under control. In His sovereignty, the “crisis” was no surprise to God. Daniel’s intimate relationship with God gave him the faith and trust to know that. In fact in every “crisis”, there is always an opportunity for God to be glorified, provided we can give thanks in unnerving situations and learn to ask Him to rescue us in the midst of our trial.
God is never surprised by a ‘crisis’. He has everything under control – whether we can see that or not!
However, for most of us, we rarely attempt to steady our hearts in a crisis. Simply because we usually fail to trust in our God to come through for us. We usually believe it depends all on us. But if we could learn, to steady our hearts with thanks and praise… we too just might see God to display His hand in a powerful way.
Remember, the key lesson Daniel teaches us is that thankfulness steadies the heart from panic and despair! If we can learn that from Daniel… we just might see how God could move come to miraculously come through more often for us when crisis comes in our life.
Next time you’re faced with a pressured situation that carries an uncertain outcome, ask Father God to steady your heart. Choose to be thankful in such pressured situations – regardless of the negative circumstances that surround you – try it - see if panic and despair aren’t put to flight!
Your God is dying to come through for you! And He will!
(Why not just thank Him ahead of time?)
Until next month…
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
18th April 2017
Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart - Part 3
In Part 1 of “Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart”, I recommended starting a ‘Book of Remembrance’ which is basically a Journal that records key people whom God has used to positively shape and mold us as individuals. It’s a tool that allows you to recall and be thankful to God for the integral part key individuals have played in your life.
In Part 2, I provided an invitation to seek out family, or friends, whom God might lead you to approach and share what you are thankful about regarding the impact of their life upon you.
In this 3rd instalment of learning to cultivate a grateful attitude and a thankful heart, I would like to begin by looking at this passage in Luke 17:11-19 on the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus:-
Ten Healed of Leprosy
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a]met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
14 When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
Allow me to ask this question:- “How many lepers returned to say thank you to Jesus after being healed?”.
Only one! Right!?!
A despised Samaritan returned alone to Jesus, throwing himself at Christ’s feet to acknowledge him as Lord and to say thank you to Him. What a great shame that the other nine, who were also miraculously healed by the Saviour – failed to return and say thank you and acknowledge Him as Lord also!
Now, note carefully this critical point in the story that highlights how Jesus responds to this failure to show gratitude… Jesus asked in Verse 17-18, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
After Jesus had healed all 10, with only 1 returning to say thank you, He asks “Where are the other nine?”
The key point here is that God notices when we don’t thank him!
God loves gratitude – because it’s actually worship!
Our thanksgiving reveals a grateful heart… it is like worship to Him.
Allow me to ask… when you have done something for someone and they fail to say thank you… do you notice their ingratitude? (You do, don’t you!).
If you were to keep getting requests for favours from a particular person, which you continually help them with… but they never say ‘thank you’… do you think you would eventually notice that lack of appreciation?
I’m fairly sure you would indeed notice their lack of appreciation!
Then recognize that the One whose image we are molded from also notices when we fail to thank Him!
God notices ingratitude.
We often pray asking God for some favour, or healing or other request to meet our life needs at specific times.
But I wonder how often we actually remember to pause and deliberately thank a holy God when He has actually answered our prayer?
Here is my practical assignment for you:-
Sit down quietly, ask the Lord to remind you of the things you have asked Him for in prayer over the last 12 months… (either for yourself, or for someone else).
Then, once you have a list of prayer requests made over the last year or so… consider which of those prayer requests have actually been answered?
Once you have identified how many of those prayers have been answered…ask yourself this question: -
“Have I deliberately paused to offer thanks and praise to God for coming through for me on those prayer requests?” (Remember, God notices ingratitude).
If you haven’t actually stopped to thank Him… It’s never too late!
Until next time,
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
20th March 2017
Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart - Part 2
In Part 1 of “Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart”, I recommended starting a ‘Book of Remembrance’ (ie a Journal recording the key events and people whom God has used in a positive way to shape and mold you). It’s basically tool that allows you to recall and be thankful to God for the integral part key people have played in your life.
In Part 2 here, I would like to build towards another practical suggestion that I will offer at the end of this article, which I hope will also help improve how we relate to others around us – particularly when it comes to cultivating a grateful attitude and a thankful heart.
Let me begin by reminding you of a scripture we often use at Ellel Ministries when discussing how the words of others can affect us…
“The tongue has the power of life and death” (Prov 18:21 NIV)
The words we speak over others can either bring blessing and encouragement, or they can bring rejection and curse!
With regards to cultivating a thankful heart, one way we can show gratitude and appreciation for those God has put around us, is to actually tell them how thankful we are for their influence they bring into our life today!
Through the healing retreats and ministry we offer here at Ellel Gilbulla, we are often asking Jesus to ‘undo’ the damage caused by negative words that have been spoken over people by others (e.g. parents, siblings, other family members, etc,).
The tongue that is capable of causing incredible wounds… is also capable of speaking wonderful encouragement and life giving words over people.
I’d like to share a story that will help ‘set the scene’ for regarding how we can better use our tongues to bless and be thankful for others.
Click on the button below to read more.
Next month I will be posting the final instalment.
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
23rd February 2017
Learning to Walk with a Thankful Heart - Part 1
Have you stopped to consider what God thinks about thankfulness?
It’s an important point to ponder… because it has to do with where our heart is!
I’d like to do a multi-part series in this blog on ‘Thankfulness’. Each article I hope will bring some practical aspect to help overcome the negativity this world can throw us.
In this Part 1, I’d like to start by making you aware how thankfulness is closely linked to praise and worship. Have a look at Psalm 100:1-4:-
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Note the link between thanksgiving and praise.
Also, did you know that it was a duty for the priests in the Old Testament to thank and praise God every morning and every evening! (Read 1 Chron 23:28-30). Back then it was a dutiful requirement for the priests to be thanking God at least twice a day to set a model for all the people. Clearly, God saw thankfulness as important enough to have the Levites model it regularly to the Israelites, in the hope that everyone would follow suit… and learn to live a life of thankfulness as part of their daily worship of Yahweh.
I’m pretty sure the Lord still requires the same of us today, simply because as a modern day Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, to have a thankful heart ensures we avoid the pitfalls of a grumbling generation that were left to perish in a desert long ago.
Back when Moses led Israel to the edge of the Promised Land, it was here that a generation faltered, simply because they failed to recognize all God was doing for them. Instead of thankful hearts, they were ungrateful, complaining, hard-heartedness and rebellious. Listen to the following Scripture in Hebrews 3:7-9 referencing that grumbling generation that were left to die in the desert because of their lack of appreciation for all God had done in rescuing them from Egyptian slavery:-
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Clearly, in that passage, God viewed that whole generation as being ungrateful for how He rescued them during the Exodus. That passage uses words like: “sinful”; “unbelieving”; and “hardened heart”; which is seen as “rebellion”! Even more concerning is this sobering statement by the Lord that “they shall never enter my rest”!
All for failing to be thankful!
It got me thinking about how we might allow ourselves to be blindsided in the same way. To the point where we fail to be thankful and appreciate what the Lord has done for us! If that occurs, we could also fail to enter His rest, courtesy of our complaints, grumbling and hardened hearts!
To explore that further, I want to look at some key verses that have challenged me to become more mindful and appreciative for the things Father God has done for me.
In Phillipians 1:3-6 we read:-
“3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul in that verse is being thankful in recognizing those people God put alongside him during his kingdom exploits.
I am not good at remembering and being thankful for those God has brought alongside me over the years who have impacted me. But, quite a while back a mentor suggested to me I create a ‘Book of Remembrance’. It’s a journal recording all the key people God has brought alongside me over my journey, to remind us of how every one of them was used by the Lord to play an integral part in who I have become today. If it wasn’t for that “Book of Remembrance” I am sure many of those precious folk that have crossed my path would have been long forgotten. And every time I pick it up when things are not going so well, God always finds a way to lift my spirit and encourage me.
So, who are the people that God arranged to be alongside you during crucial moments in your story? How did God use them to bless you? How did Abba use them to bail you out of trouble? Or rescue you?
To have that ‘on file’ reminds me regularly that God has never forsaken me. It builds into me the faith that He will be with me in my future trials. Also, recalling how the Lord used those folks at pivotal points in my life ensures I have a far more grateful and thankful heart, not just for those people, but far more gratitude for Father God who ordered their steps. Such a book reminds me of His wonderful deeds in my life… and it reminds me to be forever thankful for those individuals He used!
The obvious question now is – who are those people whom you “thank God every time I remember you”?
Why not start creating your very own “Book of Remembrance”?
It could be a great antidote to a “sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb 3:12).
I guarantee you that when you start to grumble, feel negative, or ungrateful… pull out your “Book of Remembrance” and re-read it. It will help ward off ‘hard-heartedness’ that leads to rebellion. And instead you will be thanking and praising God for His intervention in your life.
Go on, give it a try…
Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!
Paul Ryan. Centre Director
Ellel Ministries Gilbulla
24th January 2017
The Difference Between Guilt and Shame
Last month we enjoyed an excellent weekend here at Ellel Ministries Gilbulla with Ken Hooper from Peninsula City Church in Victoria sharing about moving from Slavery to Sonship. It was a brilliant weekend. The testimonies gave full credit to the work Father God had done in every person who attended.
Sitting in and listening to Ken got me thinking about the impact of guilt and shame on a person and how shame in particular affects our ‘sonship’. In fact, Ken’s input reminded me of another great teaching on shame that comes from Gordon Dalbey’s ”Fight Like a Man”.
Both Ken and Gordon’s perspectives exercised my mind regarding the following question:
“What exactly is the difference between guilt and shame?”
So, here are some thoughts regarding my answer to that question…(and I want to give credit to both Ken and Gordon for the truth they have collectively helped me to understand about this topic).
Firstly, I have come to understand guilt as the feeling we experience after we have stepped outside of God’s protective covering. When we are experiencing guilt, it is my personal conviction that we are feeling exactly what God intends us to feel after we have sinned. At that moment we sin, our conscience will be actively telling us “you are guilty of breaking God’s commands! Confess. Repent. Get back under God’s covering, quickly!”
God has given us a conscience for that very purpose.
So if our conscience is functioning as it should, you are supposed to feel guilty after you have transgressed. (Although, if you have hardened your heart and sinned in an area long enough - your conscience can become seared and shut down to the sensation of feeling guilt).
Guilt is in fact the emotion we are designed to feel when we have done something wrong. And it’s been given to us by God so that we can do something about it!
We may need to apologise. Go and say we’re sorry. Correct a wrong. It is meant to make us run back to God!
Guilt moves us to get relationships right with God and with others whom we may have hurt or failed. Guilt moves us to confess sin, to repent, to be forgiven, to be reconciled.
In one of his psalms, King David expresses what he is feeling as he responds with a broken and contrite heart, speaking of how guilt affected him. Listen to how he expresses it:-
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Selah) Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “ - and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32. 3-5
I love the honesty of David sharing how his heart was in a real mess when he tried to cover over his sin. It was destroying him not just emotionally, but also affecting him physically. I know these symptoms well when I have been burdened by guilt. But once David opened up to God and confessed his sin, God forgave him and released him from the weight of that burden.
Another Psalm where David has to face the mess he has created is in Psalm 51. David wrote this psalm after committing adultery with Bathsheba:-
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge”. Ps 51:3-4
In fact, that whole Psalm is about David expressing his plea for mercy and being aware of his sin and asking God to create in him a new and clean heart, asking the Lord to deal with his sin and blot out his transgressions, to wipe it away, to cleanse him. In other words, remove his guilt!
Guilt is designed to let you know that certain thoughts, words or actions were wrong or inappropriate. Another benefit of feeling guilt is that it can actually help you identify what your sinful behaviours are… leading you to know exactly what needs to be repented of, and what we need to seek God’s forgiveness for!
If I had to summarise and define the role and purpose of guilt I would offer this:-
a) Guilt helps us recognise, through our conscience, what we did was wrong.
b) Guilt should be accompanied with a spirit of conviction that always leads to hope (for change; forgiveness; etc,
c) Guilt leads us to repentance so we can be cleansed and set free
d) True repentance deals with the sin issue and therefore removes the feeling of guilt that used to attach to the sin before it was placed under Jesus’ blood
e) God’s purpose and plan is that we do not continue to carry either guilt or shame… because Christ is our guilt and shame bearer at Calvary – He died in our place to remove the stain each of them carries.
Gordon Dalbey makes a key statement about the difference between guilt and shame:-
“It’s one thing to make a mistake, even to choose to do something when you could choose to do it right. That prompts guilt, which goes away when we make amends, and do it right next time. But when you are incapable of doing it right, when the more you try, the more you get it wrong, the gap between what you ‘should be’ and what you ‘are’ is filled with shame”.
Shame is something that goes much deeper, than guilt. Shame touches right into the core of our being. It attacks our identity; our ‘sonship’. It affects how we see and feel about our self.
Even worse, shame lies to us about how God sees us.
The key difference between Guilt and Shame is really this:-
Guilt says: “What you just did was wrong.”
Shame says: “Something about you is very wrong!”
Guilt says: “Your response was bad”
Shame says: “You are bad!”
To read how to overcome guilt and shame, click here to download a PDF of the full article
Until next time!
Paul Ryan. Centre Director
Ellel Ministries Gilbulla
26th November 2016
Managing or Leading?
Ever since I was first entrusted with some form of leadership responsibility, I have regularly prayed asking God to help me understand as best I can exactly what ‘leadership’ encompasses.
John Maxwell defines leadership as primarily ‘having influence’…
I can certainly resonate with that… as a parent you undoubtedly offer leadership to your own children and want to positively influence the direction of their lives. As a Connect Group Leader or Small Group Leader you want to have influence over those you are caring for weekly. As a boss in the work place you obviously desire to exert influence. As a Church Pastor, you would certainly see one of your key imperatives is to guide, equip and influence your flock to be all they can be for Christ in their sphere of influence within the community.
John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement, defined Leadership as ‘managing conflict’…
I can absolutely resonate with that too! In my very first role in leadership, I was a little shocked at how much just one particular decision I would make caused some people to become quite confrontational! Sadly, in leadership you can never please all of the people, all of the time. (The truth is ‘people-pleasers’ do not make great leaders). Real leadership is going to press a few buttons in those under you!
However, what I am finding in my own experience is that real leadership requires vision… vison to see what others cannot. In other words, to foresee a kingdom future that others cannot foresee. A future that with God’s supernatural help, can be brought into being!
I read an article on a recent flight from Sydney to Melbourne where the author was summarizing the collective consensus of a secular conference in America of corporation giants and elite institutions. The conclusions of that conference about leadership in general came up with some startling conclusions.
They agreed that much of society was being guided, not by leaders, but by managers!
The summary overall included the observation that there was a serious shortage of genuine leaders across all sectors, who possessed the vision and character to take any organization into the future confidently and safely. That summary spoke of fear, uncertainty, and confusion amongst managers in the current light of world pressures with wavering financial markets, governments toppling; and terrorism rising.
For me, it re-surfaced my questions about what exactly is leadership? And how do we go about offering real leadership to a troubled world?
Most books I have read on leadership largely deal with improving leadership performance using better programs and theories for organizational structure and implementing better management technology tools.
If this is all that is offered at seminars and in training manuals for present or future leaders… it’s easy to see how we get the idea that to lead effectively… you just need to be a good administrator who uses great management tools to take your organization forward.
But are you in fact a good leader, simply because you are a good administrator or manager?
I don’t believe so.
It is possible to have a great leader, who is also a very good manager. Or even an excellent manager, who can also lead. But I think it’s crucial we understand that the two functions are in fact very different.
Tom Marshall in his book on “Understanding Leadership” states that management is really the stewardship of resources that makes an organization more effective and efficient. To achieve this requires logistics, information, teams, budgets, ways to measure performance, progress reports and systems to bring corrective action when required. You could be gifted in one or all of the above areas - but still not be leading.
Tom Marshall further states that Managers have to react to various situations as they arise, then bring remedial action to change the outcome or enhance the result. That is what defines good management.
If you have all those skills… wonderful!... But Tom Marshall stresses that does not necessarily make you a good leader.
True leadership of others is not management, nor is it administration.
Tom Marshall warns us “do not mistake a good administrator for a good leader! A good administrator makes for a good manager… but not necessarily a good leader”
Tom Marshall defines the key quality of Leadership as ‘having Spiritual Foresight’… (ie having the ability to envision a future kingdom reality that others cannot see).
Over recent years, I have been asking the Lord to open my eyes to ‘see’ what His redeemed future looks like for the sphere of influence I have been given responsibility over. Gradually the answer to that prayer has been coming with an increasing sense and belief that the God will guide Ellel Ministries into becoming a significant para-church ministry that will provide hope, shelter, healing and equipping for many in the difficult days that lay ahead. It will also be a very ‘visible’ ministry that offers sought after transformation for the Body of Christ here in this nation. It will be a ministry that works very closely with Church Leaders and assists them in developing their people to fulfil that church’s vision.
Most of what I (and my excellent leadership team around me) are doing right now, involves positioning Ellel Gilbulla to be positioned and ready to be that kind of influence for the Body of Christ in our nation.
I have observed that it is only restored, whole and mature Leaders that can possess spiritual foresight. So I have been asking Father God to continue honing my character when it still needs to be refined. I have seen too many wounded and insecure leaders make decisions that either appease others, or make decisions that best serve themselves. That kind of leadership does not serve God’s purposes well.
Kingdom Leadership encompasses having influence over others in a way that safely offers the security that the Father’s Heart intends. But it is balanced by leadership that also offers loving discipline… because Hebrews Chapter 12 reminds us that God only disciplines those He loves as ‘sons’.
True leadership also appropriately manages conflict with wisdom from on high… such kingdom leaders raise disciples that have been mentored and ‘fathered’ well, who become sons and daughters capable of offering real transformation to others. True Kingdom leaders recognize that true kingdom fruit produces ‘eternal seed’ that will reproduce. Those same sons and daughters being restored and raised up, will understand they need to be more conformed to the likeness of Christ if they are serious about becoming leaders of calibre.
Have I become a leader that ticks all those boxes yet? Not quite. But I am growing. And Abba Father is faithfully answering my prayer day by day.
My heart is not just to become such a leader with that kind of spiritual foresight and character… I want to be raising many others to become such leaders for the next generation!
How about you? What kind of spiritual foresight and influence are you offering to those around you?
Until next time!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Miinstries Gilbulla
25th October 2016
How God Develops Men Into Maturity
In the light of our “Proven” men’s event coming up soon in our calendar (24-27 November) I thought I might write some reflections on how God develops a man into maturity.
Ladies, I would ask that you please excuse the fact I am directly targeting men as I write this article… our evidence at Ellel Ministries strongly suggests that if a man can be transformed by his Heavenly Father… then every woman will indirectly benefit. However, I would suggest you still read on… simply because Holy Spirit may find a way to impact your heart too by what is written. At the very least it may help you understand us men a little more.
So where does a man go as an adult to learn his true worth... to know that he has what it takes? Where does a man go to learn his true nature and character... one that can never be stripped from him? And how do we find that kind of identity?
How do we get that deep heart knowledge that helps us understand who we truly are and believe in ourselves? Who can give a man that kind of identity and help him discover his real identity?
Why, God alone can!
In the last book of the Bible we read of The White Stone of Revelation (Rev 2:17) which is given only to those who ‘overcome’.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NASB
That passage seems to speak of a new name which is given only after we have learned to overcome obvious adversity (that is, must come through tests, trials and ‘initiations’ that will have to be faced).
It stresses that name is given only “to him who overcomes”. That is to those who have what it takes! And with that comes a new identity which is forged within us in the process of ‘overcoming’.
In the end, what is given is our true identity, which can only come from God.
The only way I have witnessed a man receive this new name and new identity involves several key steps:-
• Understanding first where you have come from and what has shaped you
• Facing a series of trials that life will serve up to seriously test you
• There is often an arduous journey that has to be undertaken
• And you will have to face down your enemy ... and if you will face this enemy (usually within) and trust your Father God to help you ‘overcome’ him... then a new name and identity is given.
It might seem innocuous when just simply written down like that… but let me assure you from personal experience… this is no easy journey.
You see, to find our true identity – our real name - can only come through a series of initiations, tests and trials over time. Father God wants to travel with us on that journey. To succeed it will require something of us as men. (Many men never complete this journey. Some never undertake it!). But for those who allow Father God to strip away our masks and develop us, once we have ‘overcome’ – we are indeed given a new name – in fact, our real name. We’d much prefer to take an easier road.
But there is no other way. Not if we truly want to become ‘sons of God’, true Kingdom warriors… proven men. If this is your desire… then this is the only way!
To find out how you can overcome, download this PDF.
Until next month!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
28th September 2016
Addiction – why is it such a struggle?
Whether we are prepared to admit it or not… most of us are addicted to something. If you’re unsure about that, ponder on this definition of addiction from Gordon Dalbey: “An addiction is something you do consistently to avoid facing the truth about yourself.” (Read over that a few times… allow it to sink in!)
So now, let me ask, when pressure comes on you… what habit, or escape, or comfort, or way of ‘busyness’ do you consistently run to, rather than go to Father God for comfort and help? And what is the truth about yourself that you are unwilling to face? Or allow Jesus to heal?
Those are the questions that need answering if we truly are to be free from our addictions.
My personal understanding of how essential those questions are to this topic has come from learning about addictions through this ministry that I serve and also from the impartation of two key men.
The first of those men is Gordon Dalbey. He has been a personal friend and mentor who has invested into me from time to time over the last decade (something I am very thankful for). Regarding this topic on addiction, I’d like to highly recommend his book ‘Fight Like a Man’ wherein he unpacks many powerful truths on this key subject and in particular how shame impacts on addictions.
The other man who has influenced me greatly on this subject is Gerald May. I’ve never had the privilege to meet this man, however, he has passively mentored me through his excellent book “Addiction & Grace” which carries powerful insights.
What I’ll share with you from here on will draw significantly from both of these men of God from their abovementioned books, and from my experience in ministry at Ellel Ministries.
For most people who come to us trapped in some form of an addiction, they are not always just held captive by what we might refer to as a ‘classic addiction’ like alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sex or food. Addiction can have many faces, especially if it is something we are substituting to avoid letting God reveal a deeper level truth about ourselves that we have never wanted to face.
Examples of other types of addictions might include:- another person (codependency); or addiction to a style of music or a certain artist; to a sport or activity; etc… it’s something you do consistently to avoid facing the truth about yourself.
If we dig deep enough, what is usually unearthed is a behaviour or habit that we’ve allowed to become ingrained into our personality (like a besetting sin). That behaviour is what we have substituted for going to a Holy God for true comfort. Eventually, if you go to that habit or comfort often enough, you will eventually lose your ability to say ‘no’ to that pattern of behaviour and you will find yourself trapped.
You will have been ‘mastered’ by it. Enslaved to it. You have become an Addict.
In Webster’s dictionary it notes that the word addict comes from two latin roots, the preposition ‘ad’, meaning “toward,” and the verb ‘dicere’, meaning “to speak.” Join the two together and we get: addicere, which means “to speak toward,” or as in Webster’s definition: “to give assent, to give [oneself] up to a [a strong habit].”
In other words, if we’ve “given oneself up to a strong habit” we have actually ‘given assent’ (ie approval; sanction; agreement) to something in our lives. Another way of saying it is we have given permission for that habit or false comfort to have a prominent place in our lives… a permission we never should have given. What we have done is elevated it above the throne of God! In other words, if we have a habit or behaviour or false comfort… a more relevant place in our life than even God… when we do that we break the 1st Commandment: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’.(Exodus 20:3 NIV). In verse 5 in Exodus it adds this: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”
Friends, whenever I break this commandment, I am committing Idolatry… and it always gets me into a truck load of trouble!
However, the bigger concern for God isn’t that we have sinned, but that we have chosen to run to a ‘lesser lover’ to comfort us… rather than run to the One True Lover of our Soul! That is what breaks His heart… we reject Him and settle for an act of idolatry that places us in bondage and if it gets out of hand - could eventually destroy us and those closest to us.
Think about it for a minute…whenever life goes pear-shaped or calamity and despair descends (eg a fight with your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend… or a relationship breakup… or a scolding from a boss… you fail at something… a rejection… a betrayal… etc), usually the first thing we run to is some form of false comfort like getting busy at work, or alcohol, or chocolate, or pornography, etc, etc.
In the past whenever I responded like that, you could hardly say I was taking my issue or my pain to God to seek His comfort… could you?
In fact, when life’s pressure mounts and I willingly (rebelliously?) choose to run to ‘something else’, rather than run to Abba Father… I am choosing something else over and above Him. I am in fact, bowing to an idol. I am trusting in something else other than a Holy God to rescue me or take my pain away. And that is what the enemy is depending on… because that is the hook upon which he gets us addicted (Latin: “Addicere” – Webster’s definition: “to give assent, to give [oneself] up to a [a strong habit].)”
Every time we run to something else for comfort other than God, what we are doing is really a surrender of sorts. Any time we surrender to a false comfort of the enemy… there is usually a snare waiting to trap us. Romans 6:16 NIV states “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey…” To surrender to an ungodly habit or false comfort is to ‘offer yourselves… as obedient slaves’ and the result is we fall into the enemy’s grip. All because we refused to receive true comfort from The Comforter. Instead, we surrendered to the enemy’s ploy of false comfort.
Curiously, the same action that gets us addicted in the first place… is the same means by which we must be rescued… ‘surrender’!
One path of surrender to the Father of Lies makes us ‘slaves’ … the other path of surrender to Abba Father makes us ‘sons’!
To read more about my testimony and how you can be set free from addictions, you can download the PDF here.
Until next month!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
22nd August 2016
Why do I break the 4th commandment ... and brag about it?
If I was to own up to one command I have broken more than any other, sadly it would be the 4th commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 NIV).
And if I am really honest… it is the one command that I think at times I have even bragged about when I break it!... “I’ll bet you didn’t work as many hours as I did this week!… And next week is looking worse! The family won’t see me for days!”.
I know there are peak periods of stress in each of our lives and work places that we just have to absorb. But I am finding that the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ is upon me every day of the week and it is stealing me away from my family and from an intimacy with God that I need to start fighting to recover!
When we consistently indulge in overwork we end up overwhelmed and exhausted. All of the rushing at great speed, becoming busier and busier somehow makes us - less human. I don’t know about you, but it results in me becoming irritable, anxious and impatient around others. I have no time for those who need me to stop and just listen. I find myself not actually wanting to stop and talk to anyone when I am overwhelmed with tasks that have to be done! Before I know it, this bullet-train of busyness grows at ever increasing speeds; and I find myself chained to a missile I don’t know how to get off or disarm.
I am certain you know what I am talking about.
Surely, if we just judge all of the above by the fruit it produces in our hearts… busyness is a clear work of the enemy. It is certainly opposed to true rest.
I once understood Sabbath to be a day of diligence, spiritual focus, bible study, prayer, and religious practices. I also understood that day to be Sunday. But more often than not Sunday’s are full of rushing around with getting to and from church, then later that day mowing a lawn, then preparing some job lists for the week that lay ahead… it felt anything but a rest day!
In the Old Testament, three different Hebrew words are found that carry the concept of rest: (i) sabat; (ii) nuah; and (iii) saqat.
- Sabat – the root word for Sabbath – implies ceasing or coming to an end of an activity as God did when He completed creation in Genesis.
- Nuah – suggests relaxation, being settled, the absence of movement and a psychological release from pressure or tension.
- Saqat – signifies an absence of inner anxiety from external pressures. Each of these words communicates a rest through a trusting relationship with God. The benefits implied include security, confidence, peace and an absence of fear or anxiety.
I am slowly coming to understand Sabbath is not merely the cessation of work, it is turning from work to something entirely different from what we normally view as ‘rest’ or ‘leisure’.
When we take a holiday, we are not just taking time off work, we’re usually attempting to disconnect from the pressures of work by indulging in diversions. We sunbake on beaches; sip cocktails at a poolside; lose ourselves in a novel; block out the world with our earpieces listening to our favourite playlist as we travel. But actually none of this is Sabbath. It is simply escaping our work pressure in the hope of filling ourselves with a temporary pleasure, hoping we get ‘rested’ before we have to go back to work again!
Dan Allender in his book ‘Sabbath’ takes up this discussion:- “Many modern day vacations have the allure of cotton candy – a brightly coloured candy puff on a stick that promises a feast of fullness and is nearly impossible to eat without sticky compromise. Once we tear into the sugary diversion, it disappears in a flash and offers no substance. It is not enough, and it doesn’t satisfy, even for a minute. The end only increases the desire for more”… a challenging, but I believe accurate, description of what our traditional holiday patterns have become. Rarely are they true rest.
Sabbath is meant to be far more than a ‘Cotton Candy’ diversion from our work pressures. It is meant to be a rest that involves an encounter with God Himself.
Mary Dalbey in her book ‘The Rest of your Life’ says: “to partake in such a rest designates not the absence of work, but rather the presence of trust (in God)…. Biblical rest doesn’t mean comfort and ease, nor idleness or irresponsibility. It doesn’t even necessarily require the cessation of activity, but instead bestows serenity and security even in the midst of strenuous activity. God’s rest doesn’t require the luxury of a settled life, but rather the comfort of a secured soul”.
I am learning that Sabbath rest is not about what we don’t do. It’s about what we allow and trust God to do for us!
Biblical peace doesn’t mean the absence of conflict or perfect tranquillity. Biblical peace promises not the peace that surpasses ‘sugary diversions’, but the peace that surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7). True peace can only found in the Prince of Peace. It’s not a state of being, it is the cultivation of a relationship with the Almighty. Sabbath rest is only found in a deep and intimate connection with Abba Father. Sabbath is meant to be a day of delight in the safe embrace of my Creator.
Jesus of Nazareth never wanted us to live separated from Him by the idolatry of busyness. I don’t know about you… but I need to repent of bragging about breaking one of God’s commands and I need to start asking the Father to help me surrender all of my anxious ways that lead me into rebellion! The moment I surrender to Him… I immediately find Holy Spirit doing a work in my heart that puts me back on to experience true Sabbath rest again.
So, what is causing you stress; driving you to overwork; robbing your peace; stealing your rest?
If you would like the Lord to help identify the answer to the above… then consider these reflection questions to ask Father God:
In regard to what causes you stress, or robs your peace…
- What would you lose by letting it go?
- What would you gain by letting it go?
- What prevents your letting it go?
- Are you able to ask the Father to help you surrender it to Him today?
The more time I spend surrendering to Abba Father, the more He delights in exposing the counterfeit ways I find solace and pleasure (that I used to think were joy!). The result is I am growing hungrier to enter true Sabbath rest… an invite to run into the everlasting arms of my Heavenly Father.
And I hope you realise that same invitation is open to you too.
Until next month!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries, Gilbulla
22nd July 2016
I'm still getting used to this blogging business, and learning as I go ... so here's the second one!
Our heart here at Ellel Gilbulla has always been to resource the local church and support the frontline of the Body of Christ. Our schools and courses are all designed to offer core training that transforms lives and offers prayer ministry skills for any disciple who desires to be equipped!
In Matthew 28:19-20 we have Jesus' last words to us before he ascended back into heaven:-
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(NIV)
We take very seriously the Great Commission and everything we do is centred in offering true kingdom discipleship. We trust in His promise to be with us until the end of the age, helping us by His Spirit to go and make disciples… teaching them to obey everything that He has commanded!
Peter Horrobin, the Founder and International Leader of Ellel Ministries globally, stated some years ago that: “Unless we bring a person to a place where their relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else (including their healing), all ministry is pointless!”. Peter’s main point here is that discipleship is first and foremost centred in being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ – and anything less than making Jesus Lord over every area of our life… is simply not true kingdom discipleship!
In fact, it is our experience that where Jesus in not Lord over some aspect of our life (eg fearful responses, addictions, lies we believe, etc.) then that points to an area that requires Jesus' restoration. And that is quite simply our main goal here at Ellel Gilbulla … to bring every saint to the place in their discipleship where Jesus is in indeed Lord over every area of their life.
Until next month!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries Gilbulla
26th June 2016
Welcome to our first monthly newsletter!! Each month we want to send you an article of interest, an update on upcoming courses and perhaps something that the Father has been teaching me. It will be different every month … a bit of a surprise package really, but for this inaugural monthly newsletter, I just want to offer an initial welcome and a thank you for being part of the continuing journey of Ellel Ministries at Gilbulla.
In fact, ‘welcome’ is a big part of what we do here at Ellel and as most of you would know it is part of our key verse, Luke 9:11 .. “Jesus welcomed the people, he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need of healing”… This was the God-given blueprint for how this ministry was to function from the very beginning at Ellel Grange in the UK back in 1986. It is also the basis on which we launched Ellel Ministries here in Australia when Ellel Gilbulla was opened in 2002!
“Jesus welcomed the people”… that word ‘welcome’ embraces a practical expression of love. If we welcome you in a way that connects with your heart, makes you feel safe, loved and accepted – you will be far more ready to hear what we have to teach! We want everyone who comes in contact with this ministry to know that they are loved first and foremost by our Father in Heaven. Only then will that person be willing to receive what God has to offer through our ministry.
And so at Ellel Gilbulla we are following this time honoured blueprint for the way God wants us to minister by showing the love of the Father as we welcome and connect with people, teaching them about the kingdom of God, offering the Saviour's healing and restoration to all those in need.
I like that blueprint!
Until next month!
Paul Ryan, Centre Director
Ellel Ministries Gilbulla