Excerpts from The Way of Agape

This book is written by Chuck and Nancy Missler (mostly Nancy). It is a book about achieving personal spiritual growth. It can be ordered online at: http://www.khouse.org click on "visit our store" and type in "Way of Agape" in the search box, click "Go!" and order the textbook for $10.36. We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul said. This book in its entirety shows just exactly how. The excerpts show just exactly how you can transform your life spiritually, showing you how to let God's love flow freely through you.]

Everything seemed to come to a head in 1975, the year we moved to the San Francisco area. The boys were in a high school that they loved, but had to give up because of the move. It was a very difficult year for them. So they began to look elsewhere for answers to their questions, trying to fill the emptiness they were experiencing inside.

In addition to the boys' problems, our last baby, Michelle was born allergic to the "entire" cow. If she drank any milk or ate meat, cheese, jello, whey, casein--anything from the cow--she would vomit uncontrollably and have diarrhea for days.

Also when Michelle was 18 months old, we discovered she was hyperactive. We then began an incredible period of about four years where we tried desperately to find a suitable diet that wouldn't hype her up. She was forbidden to eat anything containing artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives. We even had to withdraw apples, peaches, grapes and other fruit from her diet because they, too, contained the natural chemicals that cause hyperactivity. This left us with a diet consisting of papayas, bananas, fish, lima beans, squash, spinach and rice cakes. Try cooking for a two year old with that diet!

If that weren't enough, at the age of two Michelle began to limp. One day she just started dragging her leg. The doctors told us she had "a disease of the bone marrow" and if we ever wanted her to walk again, we had to permanently keep her off her feet and in bed for an indefinite period of time. Have you ever tried to keep a two year old in bed for any length of time? Imagine trying to keep a hyperactive, two year old in bed for any length of time!

Excruciatingly Painful Time

This time in my life was excruciatingly painful, with our marriage breaking up, our financial roller coaster ride, the boys' problems, our continual moving and Michelle's trauma.

Many times I would go to God and ask, "Where, Lord, is this Abundant Life I'm supposed to have as a Christian? You say in John 10:10 that You have come so that I might have life and that I might have it more abundantly. Oh God, where is this life? Where is the Love You promise us in Your Word? If You are the Answer, then why is my life so empty and so unfulfilled? Why God, am I so miserable?"

Sometimes my feelings of unhappiness over our situation--or Chuck's comments--would consume me and almost suffocate me. I remember in 1975 locking myself in a darkened room and crying and crying until I thought I would "die."

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever kept on crying until you thought your heart was going to burst?

That's exactly how I felt. However, since I didn't know any other solution to my overwhelming hurts, I'd push all those emotions deep down in my heart, lock them up tightly, force a smile on my face, and come out to begin all over again. I thought that by "burying my real feelings" and putting on a smile, I'd get rid of the pain and no one would ever know the difference.

I'm convinced the world functions this way because they have no other choice! I'm certain that without Jesus in our lives to take away our hurts, we are all walking time bombs, ready to explode!

The truth is, when we bury our real feelings, we never really get rid of them; we only program them down deeper and, even though we don't realize it at the time, those hurts eventually begin to motivate all our actions. This is exactly what happened to me...

Example: Cold as Ice

Often Chuck would call from the office around 7pm, after I had already prepared a nice dinner, and say, "I'm sorry, Honey, but I have to work late tonight. I'll probably be home around 10 or 11pm."

Immediately the buried feelings of rejection and bitterness that I had never dealt with would be triggered and my composure would fall apart. I couldn't seem to control how I reacted. Those buried feelings were always right there--ready to explode.

Rather than act lovingly, as I really wanted to, my voice automatically became "cold as ice." Even on the phone, Chuck could feel my attitude change. He would say, "Is everything all right, Honey? Is anything wrong?"

"No," I'd respond icily, "I'm fine!" Then, I'd furiously bang the phone down. Anger and frustration and hurt would totally consume me. I didn't know (at that time) that my anger was just a symptom of a much deeper cause. Underneath my icy exterior lay unvented rejection and hurt that I had never properly dealt with before.

All evening long, then, rather than catch the negative thoughts as they came into my mind (and give them to God), I continually "mulled" them over and over. Constantly I entertained angry thoughts about what Chuck had done. And this was the atmosphere my poor Chuck came home to later that night. Looking back, it's a wonder he even bothered to come home at all.

Proverbs 14:1 says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: But, the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." That's exactly what I was doing, brick by brick.

I Hated Being a Phony

I knew the Bible was Truth. And over and over again in the Bible it says we are "to love"; we are to love God, and then we are to love others. Yet I didn't know how to do this without being a phony. To me, a phony is one who says one thing on the outside but feels another way on the inside. That's exactly what I felt I was being forced into doing...

God's Love Growing Cold

Matthew 24:12 is a perfect Scripture to explain what was happening to us, and to so many couples I see today. It says, in the end times, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."

The Greek word for "love" in this Scripture is Agape--God's Love. The passage is talking about people who have God's Love in their hearts (i.e. Christians). This Scripture is saying that in the end times (which is now), "because sin shall abound, the Love of Christians will grow cold." Romans 14:23 tells us that any choice we make that is "not of faith" is sin and will cause God's Spirit to be quenched. Thus, God's Love in our hearts will be blocked from coming forth into our lives.

I had no conception, at this time, that God's Love was supernatural and totally different from my own human love. I didn't realize that God's Love could only flow through me if my heart and life were cleansed.

I thought God's Love was poured into my heart when I first accepted Christ, and that all I had to do was claim it and use it. I had no idea that Agape was God Himself working through me. And the only way He could do that was for me to give Him a cleansed and unclogged vessel to use.

A Hopeless Situation

So without God intervening and doing something pretty radical at this point in our lives--breaking the total deadlock (the wall, the barrier, the pride) in one of our hearts--it was a totally hopeless situation.

I felt like I had tried every way I knew of to change our marriage--books, marriage counselors, seminars and other classes. Yet nothing had worked. Neither Chuck nor I saw any other way out of our hurts and our problems but to escape and run away--divorce.

I ended up making arrangements to leave Chuck...Right in the middle of the conversation, in response to something Chuck had said, I blurted out, "But don't you ever want to hear what God wants to say to you?" (I meant if he would just listen to God, God would show him how messed up his priorities were.)

Chuck's reply was something I will never forget. Four little words that are burned into my memory forever. He simply said, "Won't you let Him!" (Meaning, "I" was the one in the way of hearing God!)

Well, I was completely stunned at his remark and I sat back, speechless. I had always felt that I was the one who was "spiritual." After all, I was the one continually in Bible studies and prayer groups. And I was the one who had all my friends praying for Chuck. [I feel like Chuck!]

Chuck must have sensed that he struck a sensitive cord in me, because he began--for the first time--to tell me what he really wanted in a wife (and I quote):

"Someone who is easy and comfortable to be with. Someone I can just be myself with and not on guard or defensive. Someone who makes the atmosphere one of love and acceptance, not one of tension and judgment. Someone I can turn to for constant companionship and support, a team mate. Someone who would love me for myself, not for what she wanted to make me into..."

Chuck went on to say that he had always desired a family and a home because he never really had one growing up. But, he said, with my constant bickering and griping, I had eroded that desire. Then I had turned around and blamed him for putting his business before his family.

The Real Problem

So the real problem was with me, not Chuck! The problem was my holding on to and burying hurts, negative thoughts and emotions (justified or not) and not recognizing that those things quenched God's Spirit in me and stopped His Love. It was "sin" because I kept those things, entertained them, and mulled them over rather than immediately giving them over to God.

Having the original negative thought is not sin. It's what we choose to do with that thought that makes it sin or not. We have three options: We can vent that negative thought; we can bury it; or we can give it to God.

If we can recognize the negative junk when it first comes in and immediately give it over to God, we have not sinned. We are still a cleansed vessel. However, if we choose to hold on to those negative things by either venting them or mulling them over and eventually burying them, they will become sin and cover our hearts.

God had been in my heart all along; however, I was the one preventing Him from coming forth and manifesting His Life and His Love through me, because I insisted upon holding on to my own "justified" hurt feelings. These negative things then acted like a wall or a barrier over my heart.

So the first thing I needed to learn was "how" to release and give these buried hurts and emotions to God. In other words: 1) How to confess them as sin (i.e. how to acknowledge that I "owned" them and that they had separated me from Him.); 2) How to repent of them (i.e. how to change my mind about following them) and, 3) How to literally give them over to God. We will cover these steps in Chapter 14...

Example: Burnt Roast

Remember that incident I told you about earlier in this chapter when Chuck was late for dinner? About a year later, a similar situation occurred.

Chuck called around 6pm and said, "Hey, Honey, I have a free night. I'll be home around 7pm. Why don't you call the boys and invite them over for dinner and we'll have a great evening together."

"Terrific," I said. I quickly put in a leg of lamb, called the boys at their apartments and told them, "Come on over! Dad's coming home early and we'll have an evening together." We rarely had dinner together as a family because Chuck traveled so much.

Seven o'clock came and went, and no Chuck! 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, and still no Chuck. Finally, at 9:30pm, he walked in the door--genuinely sorry. He had met some "important" businessman as he was walking out of his office, and they had decided to go out to dinner to talk over some business matters. He was genuinely sorry, but he had just forgotten to call us.

Now, my "natural" emotional reaction was still the same as it had been the year before. Remember something very important: Self life (our own thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to God's) does not improve with age! No matter how long we have been Christians, our "self life" will be just as ugly today as it was the first day we believed.

My natural reaction was "to tell Chuck off": My roast was burnt to a crisp; the boys and I had wasted a whole evening just waiting around doing nothing; and the girls had finally given up and gone to bed. I would have certainly been justified (by the world's standards) to be angry and upset. But God had begun to show me a better way; a "more excellent way" to respond and to love.

All night long as I was waiting for Chuck, instead of being consumed in anger and frustration, I kept choosing, as best as I could, to give these things to God so I could stay an open and cleansed vessel for His Love. I didn't bury my real feelings like I once did or pretend they weren't there. I just kept recognizing them as they came up and verbally handing then over to God, thus allowing His Love, which was already in my heart, to come forth.

Let me tell you it's hard work, constantly choosing not to go by your own feelings. But how excited and thrilled I was when at 9:30pm it was God's genuine, supernatural, unconditional Love that met Chuck at the door and not my normal human responses. I really felt no bitterness or anger or frustration over what had happened, because God had literally taken them all away. Chuck and I were able to sit down and talk freely and openly about what he had done. [Note: There definitely is a time to "take a stand" and tell the other person how you are feeling. But we should only do this when we are clean vessels. Otherwise, we end up deeper in the pits than when we started. When we are cleansed vessels, the encounter will be done in God's Love. Then not only will the "lover" be freed from presumptions and expectations, but also the "one being loved" will respond from his heart and not his defenses.]...

There is so much freedom in this way of loving. I am no longer responsible for how Chuck thinks, what he says, or what he chooses to do. I am totally aware of those areas that need changing, and I will continue to pray earnestly about them and will share them with Chuck as God leads. But my responsibility is not to try to control and fix those areas, but only to be that conduit for God's Love and love Chuck as he is (the whole package). However, the minute I stop looking to the Lord to meet my needs and stop being an open channel for His Love, it never fails--I grab hold of Chuck, and once again, we both sink.

Loved Once Again

Of course, all this love and freedom has caused Chuck to "fall in love" with me all over again. So now I'm not only getting God's supernatural Love (as I continually lay my will and life down to Him), but I'm also getting back from Chuck all the human, emotional love that I used to dream of...

Not Perfect

I still have negative thoughts and feelings, and I will until the day I meet Jesus face to face. But as I choose--moment to moment--to give these things over to the Lord and not dump them on Chuck, my kids, or my family, God's Love can continue to flow...

God's Love through us is the only thing that will bring our husbands, our children, our relatives, and our friends back to Him. It's His lovingkindness, in spite of the circumstances, that is going to draw them.

Willing to Love

We need to be willing to love with God's Love, even if our circumstances and our situations never change. Our motivation is wrong if we are loving only to have our circumstances or the other person change. That is again conditional, human love and not God's Love...

Abundant Life

God desires us all to have His abundant Love-filled Life right where we are walking now. God's Life is: His supernatural Love, His supernatural Wisdom and His supernatural Power. John 10:10 says, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

God is not talking about heavenly life, but life right here on earth. Right now! Abundant Life is simply experiencing God's Life through us. God wants us to have this kind of life, even in the midst of our trials and our circumstances. That's the miracle He's after. To me, this is far more dramatic and more of a testimony to others than all the "signs and wonders" in the world! Joy, peace, and love come not with the absence of trials, but with the presence of God.

The question we always come back to is: Are you willing? Are you willing to allow God to perform a miracle through you? Are you willing to lay down your will and your life so that God's Love can be released through you to others?

1 John 3:16 says, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."...

The Secret

The secret is that "I am not the one loving--it's God! He's the source of Love, and He's the One in the business of love-making. I'm the one, however who gets all the benefits when I allow Him to love through me.

Oh, how our worlds would change if we would all choose to be "professional lovers." First, loving God with all our heart, will and soul; then, loving others as ourselves. This is truly God's Way of Agape.

"Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).

Chapter 14: Eight Steps to Survival

"The big task is not the finding of the truth, but the living of it!" What good are God's principles if they don't change our lives?

The following eight steps are steps that God has laid out for us in Scripture to help us deal with our sin and become open and cleansed vessels for His use. The first fours steps are attitudes we need to form daily. These are not steps we have to do each time we quench God's Spirit, but simply attitudes we need to have "on" each day. We might go over these prayerfully each morning to remind ourselves to be cleansed vessels.

Inner Court Ritual

The final four steps are mandatory steps, ones we must do each time we sin and quench His Spirit. I call these four steps the "Inner Court Ritual" because they are the actual steps the priests took in the Inner Court of the Temple in order to deal with their sin. I recommend putting each of these last four on 3x5 cards, kept with you at all times. When something bad occurs take out the cards, prayerfully go through the steps, and then choose--by faith--to believe that God has reconciled you to Himself. God is faithful. If you do your part He will do His. [I find it fascinating to find that Nancy Missler has found that God has not done away with these rituals he commanded the priests to perform, he has just transformed them--putting them back to the spiritual plane they belong on in the first place! These aren't Jewish rituals! They are rituals God commanded a people to physically perform to show what spiritually goes on between Christians and God at God's altar, at God's heavenly Temple! God would take offense at you calling them Jewish, because they are His steps for

Three Choices

The question becomes, "What do we do with our constant negative (bad) thoughts and emotions? We have three choices: We can vent them to others, we can stuff them down in the hidden chambers, or we can give them to God and be rid of them forever. We do this last choice by learning the Inner Court Ritual. reconciliation between man and Himself!]

Going through these steps every time we are confronted with a hurtful remark, a painful situation, pride, fear, resentment, bitterness and so on, is what enables us to be cleansed and prepared vessels for what God might call us to do next. It's imperative that we prevent the ungodly thoughts and feelings from accumulating in us. If we're not cleansed vessels, we will not be ready or available for God's use and we will find ourselves "contaminating" everyone we come in contact with (i.e "making a stink" as Isaiah 3:24a says).

Living Sacrifices

  1. obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when you obedience is fulfilled." (emphasis added.)

[Note: The next four steps (The Inner Court Ritual) are how we "revenge all disobedience."]

In the last chapter, we talked about the critical importance of catching our negative thoughts. We said our thoughts are vital because our thoughts are the first to be triggered in the chain reaction of our souls. Remember, our

  1. First, we need to have an attitude of continually presenting our bodies [to God] as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). What we are doing is willingly giving God permission to walk through us and to expose anything that needs to be dealt with. We need to be willing, on a daily basis, to offer ourselves to God and allow the Holy Spirit to expose what He wants in each of us. A good prayer to pray is Psalm 19:12-13, "Cleanse Thou me from [hidden or] secret faults…Let them not have dominion over me." Also, Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting."

    God Loves Us

    When something comes into my life that I don't understand, I often think of Job. Job said of God. "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him" (Job 13:15). How on earth could Job have said that, in light of all the things the Lord allowed in his life? He could say this because Job knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that God would be faithful to His promises no matter what he, himself saw of felt. God will not allow anything to happen to us or allow anything in our lives that is not "Father filtered." So we can always trust Him and rely upon Him completely, knowing He is working out His purposes in our lives and His Way. [Romans 8:28.]

    Remember, chart 6, page 161 shows us that if we are "doubleminded" (or twice souled), we will not be able to experience God's Love either for ourselves or for others.

    As you can see in Chart 6, God's Life (7) can become quenched or blocked (18) when we make "emotional choices" (9) to follow our own thoughts, emotions, and desires (19) instead of what God has prompted (8). Thus, the soul life that is produced is not God's Life as it should be, but our own self life (10).

    Where Does "Self Life" Come From?

    Let me ask you a question. If we have God's Life in our hearts (7) and this is now our true nature, where does this "self life" (10) come from? Where does it originate from? Where is it triggered from?

    I believe self life comes from the hurts, the resentments, the doubts, the pride, the bitterness, etc. that we have never properly dealt with before, and have instead, stuffed and buried in those secret, hidden chambers (6). Self life is triggered when we choose to follow what those "buried" things are telling us to do over what God is prompting us to do. Those buried things work on our conscious thoughts, emotions and desires, which in turn, cause us to make wrong, emotional choices.

    Denying Ourselves

    2) The second crucially important attitude we need to have "on" each day is one of continually denying ourselves, denying our "justified" feelings, our rights, our frustrations, our offenses, and other hurts. This is something that we do on the "inside" (setting aside our own thoughts, emotions, and desires). Emotionally, this will be a very hard step because it hurts to lay ourselves down, especially when we are "justified" (by the world's standards ) in feeling the way we do. Each time we struggle with this, I would suggest reading Philippeans 3:8-15. " "

    We must ask ourselves, "Am I really more concerned with doing God's Will in my life than I am my own happiness? There will be many times when we must choose to do God's Will, knowing that temporarily it will not bring us happiness. But, of course, the lasting joy that will come from being in the center of His Will is something to which nothing can ever compare.

    Be Willing

    Luke 14:26 reminds us that we really cannot be God's disciples unless we are "willing to" (not wanting to or feeling like it, but just willing to) lay everything down (father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters), "Yea," He says, "even our very own lives!" Again, we don't have to "feel" willing in order to do this; we simply must be willing! Big difference!

    I went to lunch several years ago with some dear old friends, and we began to talk about how very important it is simply to "be willing" to deny ourselves and follow God. One of the ladies said, "Nancy, I don't agree. I think some people just don't have the ability or the capability to lay everything down and do it God's way." She then gave various reasons why she was convinced they couldn't: dysfunctional families, co-dependency, poor marriages, physical abuse, emotional problems, and other environment circumstances.

    I said, "Surely, I really don't believe that's true! If they are Christians, then God is in them. And He is the One who makes them capable and gives them the ability to deny themselves. I believe all Christians are capable of laying themselves aside (because God is in them), but not all Christians are willing to do so! That, to me, is the bottom line!"

    The people she was talking about weren't willing to lay themselves aside. And their excuses ranged from "dysfunctional families" to "my husband is not trying." I don't believe these things were the "real" problem (because God has all the Love, Wisdom and Power they need). The real problem was that these people were simply not willing.

    [Interesting to note: The same woman that made these comments to me recently left her husband of 25 years. She is now "out on her own," doing what she wants.]

    Truly, all Christians are capable, but not all Christians are willing! This helps us understand Matthew 24:12 a little more clearly: [in the end times] "the Agape of many will grow cold." In other words, all Christians have God's Love in them, but not all Christians are willing to set themselves aside, to let it flow.

    When we are willing to lay everything down, God promises us in Luke 18:30 (as well as many other places) that He will return a hundredfold, "in this life" as well as in the world to come, all that we have chosen to give to Him. It seems in my own life, the more I am willing to lay at God's feet, the more He returns a hundredfold! Read my book, "Why Should I Be the First to Change?", and see how God has restored a hundredfold my marriage, my family and my kids. The more I lay down of me, the more I get of Him.

    1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love [agapao--totally give themselves over to] Him." So trust God completely when you lay your life down to Him; it then frees Him to perform miracles.

    Get Up and Do What God Says
  2. Another crucial attitude we must have is that of being willing to obey God's Will, no matter what He tells us to do (no matter how we feel, no matter what we think, no matter what we want). We are to get up and be willing to do exactly what God has asked us to do.

    This next step of "obeying God's Will" is different; it concerns the "outer man"--our outward actions. It's getting up and doing in action What God has called us to do, saying, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Or, like Peter said, "at Thy word I will (Luke 5:5).

    Again, we don't have to feel willing in order to do this; we just must be willing. 2 Corinthians 8:11 says, "As there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also." I would suggest reading Philippeans 2:5-9. " "

    Do you love God so much that you are not only willing to deny what you think, what you feel and what you desire, but also are willing to get up and do what God has called you to do? This is what God is asking each of us daily.

    Take Every Thought Captive

    The final attitude we must have in order to walk God's Way of Agape is to be willing to take every thought captive. 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 says, "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." (emphasis added.)

    [Note: The next four steps (The Inner Court Ritual) are how we "revenge all disobedience."]

    In the last chapter, we talked about the crucial importance of catching our negative thoughts. We said our thoughts are vital because our thoughts are the first to be triggered in the chain reaction of our souls. Remember, our thoughts stir up our emotions; our emotions then influence our desires; and our desires are what produce our actions. This is why we need to go after the ungodly thoughts first and take them captive. If we can catch these negative thoughts first, then we prevent the chain reaction altogether.

    It takes constant discipline and effort to continually recognize our negative thoughts and renew our minds. Sometimes it would be a lot easier just to give in and let those wild emotions rule. But, do you know what happens when we do this? We die! If we don't take those ungodly thoughts captive, they take us captive.

    Every time I would look at my circumstances, I would become overwhelmed, buried in my emotions, totally captive to my own negative thinking ("Why God?"), and paralyzed in my walk.

    But when I would choose to obey God's Word and take those thoughts captive (whether I felt like it or not), God would always be faithful to remove my doubt, my fears, my anger, and my confusion, and fill me with His peace and strength. Once again I could go on. If, however, I didn't catch those negative thoughts, it never failed: I would sink and drown in my circumstances. Truly, if we don't take those corrupt thoughts captive, they do take us captive!

    Spirit-Controlled Thinking

    Remember, we are not responsible for the original self-centered, negative, or bad thought when it first comes in. It's what we choose to do with that thought that produces the sin or not. If we recognize the ungodly thought and choose to give it over to God, then we have not sinned; we have not quenched His Spirit. However, if we don't do anything with that thought, and we allow it to stir up self-centered feelings, then it will be sin.

    It's critical to be aware of, recognize, and then catch the ungodly thoughts as they come in. We are to refuse them, crucify them, and annihilate them. We are not to even think them, let alone speak them. As Philippeans 4:8 says, we need to fill our minds with good things. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

    Mandatory Steps

    The next four steps are critical to do each time we recognize we have quenched God's Spirit and are separated from God. I call these four steps the Inner Court Ritual because, as we said, the priests of Solomon's Temple actually went through each of these steps in the Inner Court when they dealt with sin. First, the priests went to the ten Bronze Lavers to wash their hands and feet before worshipping, then they went to the Holocaust Altar where they offered their sacrifices, and lastly they bathed totally in the Molten Sea. (Be sure to see the Be Ye Transformed tapes for more details of this ceremony.) [Note: In the actual Inner Court Ritual, Step #5 and #6 were really only one step. But because there is so much that goes on in this first step, for the sake of simplicity, I have made it into two separate steps.]

    Recognize Self-Centered Thoughts
  3. We must recognize, acknowledge and experience the negative thoughts, emotions, and desires (self life) that have just occurred. We must not vent these feelings nor stuff them, but learn to give them to God. We need to ask God to "expose" what is really going on inside of us (i.e. bring to light the real truth).

    [Note: This is what the priests did at the Lavers of Bronze. The Lavers themselves were made of women's "looking glasses" (mirrors of polished metal). As the priests bent over to the lavers to wash their hands, they would see "their own reflection," their own true selves in the mirrored Lavers.]

    I believe what the priests did is symbolic of exactly what the Lord requires us to do. We are to ask God not only to bring to light what's going on in our own conscious thoughts, emotions, and desires, but we are also to ask Him to shed light on all those things in our hidden chambers. In other words, we want the real root causes of our negative thoughts and emotions to be exposed. Why are we reacting so violently over what has just happened? What's really going on? [Keep in mind the conscious, surface emotions are really just the symptoms. The real root causes are often hidden. If the root cause can be exposed and gotten rid of, then the surface emotions will not occur again.]

    Get Alone With God

    It is important at this point, if we can, to get alone with the Lord so we can go through these steps and deal with our sin properly. Try not to put this off. The times I have put off going through these steps, it seems I contaminate everyone I come in contact with. As Isaiah 3:24 tells us, "Instead of [a] sweet smell there shall be [a] stink."

    I stop now, whenever I find myself hurt, angry, resentful, critical, self-centered, prideful, ungrateful, anxious, afraid, confused, bitter, judgmental, or filled with any negative emotion, and I try to get alone with God and go through these steps. Jesus is the only One who can expose and cleanse our sin--and totally heal us from the inside out.

    It's so critical to be "cleansed" in order to respond to the way God would have us. Don't ever "confront" someone or "take a stand" with someone, unless you are a clean vessel! If you're not clean, it will be self life out there and not God's Life at all. And you will sink even further into the pit than you were before.

    Even if you can only go through these steps "mentally" at the time, I do it. By "mentally," I mean that, because I am busy, I'm not able, at that moment to pull away from the situation to be alone with God and let my feelings out. I can only go through these steps in my mind. Even if that's all I can do, I do it. It's critical not to let the sin accumulate.

    Acknowledge Real Thoughts and Emotions

    We are to be aware of and acknowledge the sinful feelings that are coming up. We need to recognize the fears, the insecurities and the doubts that we are experiencing. We need to call them for what they are, and "name" what we are really thinking and feeling. It's important to be truthful and acknowledge these things. God knows it all anyway.

    David was called a "man after God's own heart," and yet we read how he expressed his real thoughts and feelings to God in Psalm 55:15, Psalm 109:5-20 and other places.

    Remember, we must recognize our ungodly thoughts and emotions before we can hand them over to God. We can't give something to God if we don't know what it is. This is why we should try to describe what we are feeling: "I am angry; I am resentful; I feel betrayed; I am fearful." We can cry, scream, or yell if we want to. Remember, we are only doing this "alone with God."

    I believe it's important to experience our real thoughts and feelings. This will not only help us in understanding what we are really feeling, but it will also help us recognize exactly what to give to God. This is the point in God's plan where we can let our "self life" totally hang out.

    This is part of "dealing with our sin" and part of the healing process. Oftentimes, I will go through these steps and forget (either because of time or pressures or lack of opportunity) to really let my feelings out. After a day or so, I wonder why my peace has not returned. More often than not, it's because I have forgotten to really "experience my negative feelings." They are still bottled up within me. Therefore, I have to go back and once again go through these steps. Acknowledging how I feel, I believe, is part of the restoration process.

    We Must "See" Our Sin

    God must "expose" our negative, ungodly thoughts and emotions before we are able to hand them over to Him. We can't give things over to God if we don't know what they are! Scripture never says we won't have negative, bad, and self-centered thoughts, emotions and desires. The Bible does say, however, that we can have victory over the "desires of the flesh," if we constantly make faith choices to give these negative things over to God--not allowing them to motivate our actions.

    Galatians 5:16 says, if we choose to "walk in the Spirit," then we won't carry out the desires of the flesh.

    It's important to understand that we can't "hold on" to negative thoughts and feelings without eventually acting out of them. Even if we try to keep them buried, they still become the "motivation" for all our actions, whether we are aware of it or not. Burying our hurts, memories, fears, and so on, does not get rid of them. The only thing that gets rid of them, is allowing God to expose them and then our giving them over to Him.

    In order to be truly free of our past and be able to act out of God's Love, we must get rid of our ungodly thoughts and feelings the proper way: by allowing God to expose them, by looking squarely at them and calling them what they are, and then by choosing to give these things back over to God and be rid of them forever. (Psalm 103:12)

    Confess and Repent

  4. Along with step #5 (recognizing and experiencing our feelings), we must now confess and repent of all that the Holy Spirit has shown us. In addition we must , by faith, unconditionally forgive anyone who has wronged us, just as God has unconditionally forgiven us. (Lavers of Bronze)

    [Note: If we have caught the negative, ungodly thought and we have not entertained it or mulled it over, then we can skip this step of confession and repentance because there is no sin or disobedience involved. We can just unconditionally forgive the other person involved and go on to then next step. If however, we know we have held on to these unrighteous thoughts and feelings for awhile and mulled them over or entertained them, then we need to confess them as sin. They have already separated us from God and we need to repent of them (change our mind about holding onto them), and choose to go God's Way.]

    This step of confession and repentance is our responsibility. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, [then] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." (emphasis added)

    It's critical to acknowledge that what we have done has quenched God's Spirit in us. So we need to confess "ownership" of our negative thoughts and emotions and then simply choose to "turn around" from following them.

    Example: "I Confess I Am Depressed"

    For example, if we are depressed (I am assuming that the depression is emotional and mental, and not physiologically caused), and we have been following this emotional way of thinking for some time, we can't just say to the Lord, "Help me with my depression," and expect Him to take our sad and brooding thoughts away.

    We must say, "Father, I confess I am depressed (I "own" these emotions). I confess I have chosen to entertain and follow these morose feelings over what You would have me do (i.e., give them to You), and it has quenched Your Spirit in me. That's sin. I now choose to turn around (I repent) from following what these things are telling me to do and choose instead to follow You."

    Remember, we are not responsible to change our own feelings. We can't do that. We are only responsible to put in charge the Person who can change our feelings, and that Person is God. And we do that by confessing we "own" the feelings and then repenting of them. God, then, is free to begin to change our feelings and align them with our faith choice.

    Forgive Others

    In this sixth step, we are not only to confess and repent of our own sins, but we are also unconditionally to forgive others of theirs. God is hindered (we've quenched His Spirit) from working on us and also the other party until we have released them. And we release them by unconditionally forgiving them, whether they ask for it or not! So, we choose to forgive because we are commanded to by Jesus (because He has forgiven us). "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have anything against any, that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father, who is in heaven, forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26)

    Sometimes, it's difficult to forgive others in our own strength. This is just another place that we can give God our own hurt feelings and trust Him for His unconditional Love. In other words, if we love Him, He will enable us, strengthen us, and give us the grace to forgive others. 2 Corinthians 2:10 tells us the way we can unconditionally forgive them is "in the person of Jesus Christ."

    If we are at fault in a situation, sometimes (but not always) God will have us go back and ask for forgiveness from the other person involved. If we have offended them, God will often require us to go and reconcile with them. Remember, however, each situation is different. Sometimes we can just seek God's forgiveness in our minds and that will be enough. In each instance, we must pray and seek God's Will as to what He would specifically have us do. God is so wonderful. He will not only tell us what to do, but He will also give us the strength to be able to do it.

    Give All to God
  5. Once God has shown us not only our conscious negative thoughts and emotions but also their root causes, and we have confessed them as sin and repented of them, then it's imperative that we give all these things over to God. God will not violate our free will by forcibly taking these things from us; we must willingly choose to give these things or cast these things to Him. (This is symbolic of the priests "sacrificing" their offerings for sin on the Holocaust Altar.)

    In like manner, God wants us to give Him--to sacrifice to Him--not only all of our conscious negative thoughts and emotions, but also their subconscious root causes in those hidden chambers. In other words, He wants to purge all our sins by His Blood. As we give these things over to Him, He then is able to purge them from us, "as far as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103:12)

    A Miracle

    So often we take for granted the miracle that God really does take our sins away "as far as the east is from the west," when we confess and repent of them. Do we realize what this really means? It means that we are allowed to begin each day with a clean slate--a fresh start. Chuck and I were talking last night [about] what an incredible gift this is. It allows us to "blow it badly" with each other; and yet, if we confess and repent of those things and forgive each other, God does totally cleanse us--even with the memory of that sin wiped away. What a miracle this is!

    As Christians we take this so for granted. Just think of it. If you were a nonbeliever, all your fights with loved ones, all your guilt, your failures, mistakes, ungodliness, errors, wrong, immorality, and every sin you commit would always be with you. You would bury them in the "hidden chambers" but they would always be there to motivate your actions. You would never get away from them or have a fresh, new start. No wonder so many relationships "without Christ" are doomed to failure.

    Recognize the Battles

    Some of the things that will come up, however, are longstanding strongholds of the enemy. These often become spiritual battles in order to get rid of. So, if certain things seem to stick around for awhile, don't give up and say, "Oh, this just doesn't work for me!" That's exactly what the enemy wants you to do. Recognize it's a battle. Know you will win if you will just persevere. God is already the Victor. Luke 10:19 says that we have authority over all the power of the enemy. Recognize, however, that it might take some time before you can "see" that victory.

    [Please review Chapter 13, "Strongholds of the Enemy" about the critical importance of our thoughts.]

    Read God's Word

  6. After we have given over to God our negative thoughts, emotions, and desires, the last step in dealing with our sins is that we must read God's Word. We must replace the lies with the truth. God is the only One who, by His Word, can cleanse, sanctify and heal our souls completely. [Remember, it was at the Molten Sea that the priests actually immersed themselves bodily, in order to receive total cleansing. They had gotten all "blood splattered" at the Holocaust altar and now needed a complete bathing.]

    Reading God's Word after sacrificing is a very critical step. After we have confessed, repented, and given all to God, we are still "bloody" and in desperate need of God's complete healing power. It's only God's Word that can totally restore us. God is the One who washes us "with the washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians 5:26). It's at this point, as I read God's Word, that I literally picture myself being bathed in God's Love. One of my favorite Scriptures to read at this moment is Psalm 18: "In my distress I called upon the Lord…He heard my voice out of His temple…He bowed the heavens, and came down…(verses 6 and 9)

    Another suggestion: Try to memorize appropriate Scriptures. Often, we must go through these steps when we are away from home and don't have our Bible at hand. If we have memorized Scriptures, then we can bathe in His Word anyway. Most importantly, remember, "truth" must be put back in where the lies have been removed, so that more lies don't return. Be sure to read Luke 11:24-26.

    Now step out in faith, knowing that God will be faithful to perform His Will through you and to align your feelings with your choices.

    Praise Him

    A very important thing to do after we have finished the Inner Court Ritual is to fill our thoughts and minds with praise. (Again this is what the priests did after they finished in the Outer Court. They returned to the Holy Place where they changed their clothes and began to sing and praise God.)

    We too, after we have read God's Word, can change our clothes. We have "put off" the old and "put on" the new, and now we can worship the Lord. We can praise Him for who He is (that He has everything under control) and that He "will work all things together" for our best, since we do love (agapao) Him. See Romans 8:28.

    This Scripture (Ro. 8:28), by the way, doesn't speak to those who storge or phileo God, but only to those who agapao Him. To those who totally give themselves over to Him. God can then maneuver the circumstances according to His perfect Will.

    Example: Putting it All Together

    Here, then, is a hypothetical story which shows all these steps in action:

    Your mother-in-law (who is not a Christian) comes over for dinner. You are sitting across from her at the table when all of a sudden, in front of everyone, she makes some very derogatory comments about your dinner, your house, your kids and so on.

    At first you get flustered, then humiliated, then hurt, and then just plain angry. At this point what would you do? Do you continue to sit there and hypocritically smile at her when you would really like to sock her and tell her off?

    Remember, we are not responsible for the original ungodly thoughts when they first come in; it's what we choose to do with them that produces the sin or not. And as we mentioned before, if you don't do anything with those negative thoughts, they will automatically stir up your bitterness and resentment, which will definitely affect your choices, and eventually, all your actions toward her.

    If I were in this sensitive situation, I'd deal with my angry thoughts right then. I'd excuse myself from the table and I would go to wherever I could be alone with the Lord (my bedroom, the bathroom, my car, wherever). I'd want to catch those hurts and negative thoughts before they are programmed in and before I act out of them!
  1. The first step then, is to recognize and acknowledge the negative (unloving) thoughts and feelings I am experiencing, so I can deal with them. I can't deal with them unless I know what they are.

    In the "prayer closet" (wherever that might be), I'd tell God that my mother-in-law's remark really hurt. "It is humiliating and embarrassing every time she puts me down in front of everyone else." I'd go on and express and name all my genuine feelings about her. I'd even cry if I needed to. In other words, I would experience my real emotions.

    At the same time, I would also ask God if there are any "root causes" for why I'm reacting this way. Perhaps my mother-in-law has done this same thing numerous times over the years, but I have never really dealt with it before. Perhaps before, I simply buried my feelings. I'd ask God to expose everything He wants to (from my hidden chambers) regarding this situation.

    If God shows me that I have felt this way for years over my mother-in-law's insults (but I have never properly dealt with these things before), then I would obviously need to confess that I "owned" these unrighteous thoughts and feelings.

  2. Even though I was aware that I could give my hurts to God, I still chose to follow my "own" ways over God's ways. Therefore, it has quenched His Spirit in me, and it has become sin. At this point, then I would need to "change my mind," turn around, and repent from following these bad thoughts and emotions even if they might be "justified" by the world's standards.

    Also at this point, I would need to unconditionally forgive my mother-in-law so that God could be released to work in her life as well as my own.

  3. I would then give all the hurts (bitterness, resentment, anger, "justified or not" and anything else that God has shown me) over to God and ask Him to purge these things from me. [Computer people, hit the "delete" button on these things.]

  4. Finally, I would get into His Word and read a few of my favorite passages, so that His soothing truth could go back into the hidden chambers where the lies have been. Then I would praise Him for being my God and for doing all these things for me.

    Hebrews 10:22 says, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."

This is how the Inner Court Ritual works. It might seem like a lot to remember now because it's all so new. But, I promise you, if you are faithful to continue to confess, repent, and give all (anything that is not of faith) to God these steps will become first nature to you. Because as you will soon see there really is no other choice!

[A couple of gals suggested we make a "word game" out of the four steps. One girl named them 1) See it; 2) Say it; 3) Send it; and, 4) Supplant it. Another woman called them 1) Recognize it; 2) Repent of it; 3) Rocket it up; and, 4) Replace it. If it helps; use them.]

[This text has been slightly downsized and taken from Chuck and Nancy Missler's book The Way of Agape, chapter 14, pages 241-260.]

Chapter 14

My "Survival Kit"

John 12:24-25; 2 Corinthians 4:11.)

A. Attitudes

  1. "Present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1; Psalm 19:12-13.)

    139:23-24; Job 13:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Timothy 2:21.)
    a. Open ourselves up to God's inspection (Genesis 15:17)
    b. Remember how much He loves us (Psalm 118:6; Job 13:15.)

  2. (Inside) Deny ourselves (our "justified" feelings, own rights, frustrations, offenses, etc.) (Philippeans 3:8-15; John 12:24; Colossians 3:5,8-10)

    a. Be willing to lay everything down ( Luke 9:23; Ephesians 4:31; Matthew 10:39; Acts 20:24; Hebrews 12:1.)

    b. Don't have to "feel willing," just "be willing" (Luke 14:26-33; 2 Corinthians 8:11-12.)

    c. All Christians are capable of laying things down, but all are not willing to do so.

    d. God will return hundredfold all we choose to lay down (Luke 18:29-30; Mark 10:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:9.)

  3. (Outside) Get up and do what God has asked (Philippeans 2:5-9; Ephesians 6:6; Psalm 40:8; Isaiah 1:19)

    a. "Not my will, but Thine" (Matthew 26:39; Luke 5:5; 1 Peter 4:2.)

    b. Again, we don't have to "feel willing" (2 Corinthians 8:11.)

  4. "Take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5-6.)

    a. If we don't take them captive, they will take us captive (James 1:14-15.)

    b. Don't share negative things with others (Ephesians 4:29-32)

    c. Think only on good things (Philippeans 4:8; Isaiah 43:18.)

    B. Mandatory steps (Inner Court Ritual) (2 Corinthians 10:5-6; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9.)
  1. Recognize the negative thoughts and emotions as they come in ) (2 Corinthians 10:5.)

    a. Get alone with God
    b. Acknowledge and experience negative feelings (2 Corinthians 13:5.)
    c. Ask God to expose root causes from hidden chambers (Proverbs 20:27; Psalm 119:9-11; Job 12:22; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 13:5.)

    Why are we "reacting" this way?

    We must "see" our own sin, before we can give it over (Psalm 139:23-24)

  2. Confess them as sin and repent of them (Proverbs 1:23; 28:13; Isaiah 1:16; Ezekiel 18:30b; James 4:8-10; 1 John 1:9; Acts 8:22a; Colossians 3:13; John 20:23) (Lavers of Bronze)

    a. We also must unconditionally forgive anyone who has wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:32-35; Colossians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 2:10-11; Luke 23:34; Mark 11:25-26; John 13:14; Ephesians 4:32.)
    b. We must also know that God has forgiven us (1 John 1:9; Matthew 6:14.)

  3. Give over to God all that He has exposed (even the "justified" hurts and injustices) (Luke 11:39-40; Colossians 3:5,8; 1 Peter 5:7; Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:11-13; 2 Timothy 2:21;Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 1:7.) (Holocaust Altar)

  4. Get into the Word and reprogram the truth back into where the lies have been (Luke 11:24-26; Ephesians 5:26; John 15:3; 17:17; James 1:21; 2 Peter 1:4; Psalm 19:7-8.) (Molten Sea)

    a. God will "heal" our souls (Psalm 18, 51:7; 107:20; 119:9; Philippeans 3:13.)
    b. God will restore us back to His Image (Hebrews 10:22)

Now walk by faith (1 Corinthians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 5:7) and know that God cleansed us and has transformed us back into His Image (Hosea 2:19-20; Philippeans 1:21; Romans 8:1; Hebrews 8:12; 10:22; 1 Peter 1:22a.)

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