Tuesday, November 22, 2011



Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Even though every believer has been ‘crucified with Christ’ in the ultimate sense of victory over sin and the grave, we must make certain choices to be crucified with Christ for victory in our daily battle with sin.  What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean to take up our cross daily?  What does it mean to truly identify with Christ in His death?  It is all about death to self… 
Let’s look at
10 Characteristics of the Crucified life…(the following is an edited version taken from Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself study)

1.   Few will understand – face the fact that there will be those around you – especially those closest to you that will question, maybe even challenge what you do with your life as God leads.  Have you been there? Have anyone challenge you about how you spend to much time at church? Why you spend your money on missions or serve the poor when you could be buying a new house, boat, car or spending your time watching sports or enjoying some other form of leisure activity every week? This is not to discount the need for leisure but many live their lives for pleasure and leisure rather than using it to replenish their soul. If we are going to live the crucified life – a life in Christ – people will not understand us! – even other believers (those that are not surrendered fully to the Lordship of Christ)
2.   You must abandon your own will and your own agenda – as long as we cling to our own agendas we will never live out the will of God.  What is God’s will and purpose for our lives?  How do we find out what it is? (audio)  How can we find comfort in the death of our own will and desires? 1 Cor 2:9-10.. However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—  the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  
 Heb 12:2  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3.   Your intimate spiritual companions will be few – we might as well face it, there are very few in the church of Jesus Christ that choose the narrow road – there are few that will take the same road of the crucified life.  God is an ‘add on’ in their life rather than ‘their life’.  Be thankful for those you have in your life that are and pray for those who are not.
4.   Intense, alone times with God are required – the best preparation any of us can do for our most agonizing trials or growth spurts is when we are the only one with the teacher. .we are the only one receiving the attention and comfort and strength from the only One who has the power to give it. 
5.   You will constantly be on the witness stand – we will always be under a microscope.  Matt 26:57-67: Jesus before the Sanhedrin   There will never be a time when we are not subject to the observation of others. We will be held under the scrutiny of non-believers and believers being called to the witness stand. In Heb 13:12-14 we find that Jesus took on our shame and disgrace – we must be willing to do the same. He suffered outside/ away from his home base – we must be willing to leave some of our comforts. He was unashamed of us – we should be unashamed of Him! 1Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
6.   You must go ‘outside the camp’ – God will continually force us outside our comfort zone if we are living the crucified life. (call to Africa – audio) When was the last time you were required by God to leave your comfort zone? If there hasn’t been – we have to ask ourselves why not?
7.   There will be times when your dignity is forfeited – think about Jesus hanging on that cross, He could have come down from there and saved Himself and His dignity. How difficult is it going to be for us to surrender our dignity when God calls us to? The promise, however, it receiving God’s covering.. Ps 91:1 1 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”  
We will be safe within the shadow of the almighty!
8.   There will be times you must forego your rights – We may have the right to be angry, the right to be bitter, the right to be happy, the right to give up on that wayward/ prodigal son or daughter.  We have many rights but is God calling you to surrender them to Him.. surrender them to His Lordship – let Him lead the way, be your vindicator, be your peace, be your strength, be your hope – He will replace our rights with His supernatural work of the Spirit.
9.   You must accept that death is painful – Death hurts. We have to face the fact that at times, choosing the will of God over our own is going to be excruciating. We love our flesh and the pleasure of sin so it is going to hurt to have its desires crucified! What makes it worth it? (share ideas)
10.Because He was forsaken, you never will be – Because Jesus agreed to have the sins of the world heaped upon Him and experience separation from the Father, we will never be forsaken. Jesus took on the full force of rejection and separation – separation of humanity, His creation and separation from the Father. Because He was forsaken, we never will be. 
1.     Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2.     Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
3.     Joshua 1:5
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
4.     Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Our salvation.. our relationship with God is secure! 

Even though every believer has been ‘crucified with Christ’ in the ultimate sense of victory over sin and the grave, we must make certain choices to be crucified with Christ for victory in our daily battle with sin. If we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must die daily – live the crucified life.


Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

1.    Of the 10 Characteristics, which gives you the most concern in your current walk with the Lord? Which spoke most personally to you?
2.    How does God want you to respond to what you have learned this evening?
3.    As you consider your current struggles, is there something you are not dying to that could literally transform you and/ or the situation?
4.    What prevents us from letting go / dying to the things we know God is calling us to give to Him and do His will instead?
5.    Discuss the final passages shared about God never leaving or forsaking us. Do you REALLY believe this? If not, why not?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will you join us? Outreach Opportunity

Hello Friends:

We are so excited to share an opportunity with you where you can invest in something that will make a difference in years to come in the lives of  leaders as well as communities in Africa.  I (Lillian) have been serving on the Board of Directors for Jasmund Outreach for a couple of years now and Mike and I were recently invited to come to join in the life-changing impact they are making.  How?  We are taking LifeCare to Africa! After a recent meeting, we have firmed up our ministry opportunities when we, Lord-willing, go to join the Jasmunds in late January for ten days.

You can be a part by investing in this trip where we will be teaching/ training area pastors as well as pastoral students in
Dome (pronounced domay) outside of Accra in the South, and Bolgatanga in the North bordering Burkina Faso. We were thrilled to hear these students and pastors are open to learning about genuine discipleship that takes in the 'whole person'.  For those who have been with us on this LifeCare journey thus far, you have learned that spiritual maturity cannot be found apart from dealing with the whole person and the matters of the heart - we must address the emotional, mental, physical and relational needs of the individual as well as the spiritual which intersects them all. This trip, which we are prayerful will be the first of many for future LifeCare teams will also allow us opportunities to meet with these leaders for counseling and inner healing work.  We are also planning to minister inner healing to the women and men separately. The women in particular have endured a lot of sexual trauma - they need to be set free and we feel the call to begin something that will continue after we leave.  The cost is expensive if it were left to one individual or family but with everyone contributing, we will be able to make this trip happen.  Obviously, the end of January is not far off and we are trusting that God will provide through people like you that believe in the LifeCare mission - a Care Center reaching out to the world to make a difference - being Christ's ambassadors of healing and training others to minister well.

Your donations are tax deductible. Simply send a check with 'missions' indicated in the memo line or contribute via pay pal on our web site at www.lifecarechristiancenter.org.  We have less than two months to raise at least $5,000.  Will you join us in this amazing venture whether financial and/ or in your prayers? And please share this with others you know who can be praying with us.  Thank you so much.

In His Amazing Service, 

          Lillian & Mike


Lillian M. Easterly-Smith, BCPC
Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, AACC
Sr. Chaplain, I.F.O.C
Executive Director, LifeCare Christian Center
33300 Warren, Suite 17, Westland, MI  48185
Sr. Chaplain, I.F.O.C.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FRUITFUL LIVING - LOVE - Part 2 - Eros & Phleo

**Be sure to listen to the audio – valuable illustrations, discussions, comments are not in the written notes.

Review the fruit of the Spirit….  Also for review…What is the fruit of the Spirit? – definition:  1. the supernatural outcome of being filled with the Spirit. 2. the living proof that the Spirit of God dwells in us.  By the way.. it’s fruit not fruits…  J  speaks of one kind of fruit with 9 different qualities.

Last week we started learning about the first fruit – Love – we learned there are 3 types of love: Eros, Phileo & Agape… We focused on agape and went through 1 Corinthians 13. Tonight we will be investigating eros and phileo together…

Eros is the Greek word for romantic love – The word actually means: longing and desire. Eros is a selfish love, it asks ‘what can I get for myself?’. This is why it has been associated with sexual love. Unless sexual love is redeemed by the presence of God, it becomes possessive. It seeks to conquer and control. Human sexuality can be a destructive force, but such was never God’s intention. For further study read Song of Solomon or… attend our seminar in January on Healthy Sexuality (2nd Sat of the month). 

Healthy marriages do not exist absent of physical affection.  Eros is an integral part of marriage. If yours is missing this element – take heart – God can change it!  Begin to pray – God can change your heart and give you healthy desires toward your mate. Sometimes agape comes before eros or phileo comes before eros…

        Our Story…(Mike & I - listen to audio).
The next type of love is ‘phileo’.. “the love one has toward a friend or companion”. 1 Peter 3:8 says “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

When one has phileo love for another, they place that person in a high personal position. We hold them in high esteem.  This love is also characterized by shared experience or shared interests that bring you both joy. Let’s discuss the different levels or types of friendships we may have…  There is the outer circle (acquaintances) , middle (common interests/ some sharing/ Body of Christ – like extended family members) and inner circle (deep, intimate) – very few people of these inner circle relationships these days and if they do, there are less than a hand full in that inner circle.  These are the friends that know your likes and dislikes, your idiosyncrasies, attitudes about certain things, your basic nature, your strengths and weaknesses, there is open sharing that is 2-way, there is intimacy on many levels – emotional, intellectual and spiritual oftentimes.
These relationships (middle & inner circle) are like family – God calls us “to love like a sister/ brother”. 1 Peter 3:8  “ 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

As we consider loving well.. we have to deal with the uncomfortable topic of ‘risk’.  When we love – eros, phileo, agape – we risk being hurt – we risk betrayal. These fears should never keep us from cultivating these relationships but oftentimes they do.
Getting beyond betrayal & rejection
1. weigh out the risks (positives & negatives)  brainstorm examples: neg: emotional pain, embarrassed, disappointment, shame, feel stupid   positive: dispel loneliness, rewarding, fulfilling, happiness, joy, act of obedience, healing
2.  forgiveness
3.  consider the source
4.  look to God first – let Him guide you to relationships rather than you ‘choosing’
5.  Seek His Divine healing & Strength
   Ps 27:10 
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
   the LORD will receive me.

Rom 11:15  For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  1Peter 2:4-10 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
   “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him
   will never be put to shame.”[b] 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,   “The stone the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone,”[c]
 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble
   and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
   They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

1.       What does the role of ‘chemistry’ play in romantic love?
2.       Discuss the differences in the ‘circles’ of relationship. What are some characteristics you look for or see in the friendships you have in the inner circle?
3.       The times you experienced rejection or betrayal, what were ways you dealt with it – positive & negative?
4.       Are you still practicing self-protection?  What have you heard tonight that will help you put those walls down and begin to pursue relationship?

Monday, November 7, 2011


Be sure to listen to the audio – valuable illustrations, discussions, comments are not in the written notes.

1 Corinthians 13 – Love!   1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We talk about it – sing about it – praise it – seek it – long for it – LOVE~!  God’s kind of love is really foreign to us. How can we have the ability to love the unlovely – not endure them – but to love them? How can we genuinely desire the best, not just for ourselves & our friends but for our enemies? Love challenges us doesn’t it? It also frightens us. Ultimately only love – the love that comes from God – love that IS God (God is love) - can change us so that we become people who love. 
There are 3 types of love:  Eros, Phileo / philos & Agape… tonight we are going to talk about the facets of Agape which is the Greek word used in Galatians 5:22.  Next week, we will discuss the other types of love. Agape – divine love, stands in a class all its own. Agape is not a feeling, it is a response, it’s not something based on common interests or connection. Agape flows from what is right and best. God is commanding us to agape – not to a feeling. He is commanding us to surrender to an act of His Spirit which is obedience – emotion may accompany agape but they are not the same nor is it necessary.
Back to 1 Cor 13 – keep in mind that ‘love’ in these verses is ‘agape’. Do you feel challenged? Overwhelmed? Feel it is unattainable? Or.. are you confident? It is evident by these words that agape is truly divine and must be supernaturally obtained.
What are the characteristics of agape?
1.    Patient – the proper definition of this Greek word is “a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so”
2.    Kind – “to show oneself useful”: willing to help, assist.
3.    Does not Envy – left to reap, envy always ends in some form of action. Listen to the news.. you’ll find out exactly what actions envy and jealousy lead to: competition, fighting, theft, idolatry of all kinds, and even murder (Examples)
4.    Does not Boast – This Greek word comes from the root word that means ‘braggart’. What is the only grounds for boasting?  1Cor 1:31  1 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[a]
5.    Not Proud – Where does pride lead us? Discuss… Proverbs 13:10    Where there is strife, there is pride,
   but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
If we are loving with agape love – what can be said about our relational interactions? Remember – quarreling and loving confrontation are 2 different things. Quarreling oftentimes has more to do with us than anything else – are we fearful of what people will think – if it’s a spouse or a child that is not acting in accord with your will.
6.    Not Rude – “to behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner” this includes things that are obscene – that is ‘unbecoming’.. If we participate in the indecent or obscene, we cripple our ability to exercise agape. Phil 4:8 provides guidelines for us so it is not quenched.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
7.    Not Self-Seeking – Self-seeking is the polar opposite of agape.
8.    Not Easily Angered – This one goes with #7 – Much of what angers us is a result of how we perceive we are personally affected by a situation.  Let’s look at Psalm 145:8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.   The assumption we can find from this passage is that we cannot be rich in love without being slow to anger.  Do you agree?
9.    Keeps no Record of Wrongs – Somehow most human beings revel in recording the failures of others – perhaps it’s because then we can feel better about ourselves.
10.                     Does not Delight in Evil but Rejoices with the Truth – Is it easy always rejoice in the truth?  When is it not easy?
11.                     Always Protects – “to cover over in silence” A good picture of this would be covering an individual with a cloak of love that their faults cannot be seen.  If I am quick to notice fault and it is easy for me to expose that fault, then I am not exercising agape.
12.                     Always Trusts – “having faith in someone” – believing in them
13.                     Always Hopes – “to expect with desire” – expect the best from them
14.                     Always Perseveres – “to remain under” “to hang in there” – this is necessary if we are ever going to enjoy long term relationships
15.                     Never Fails – “to be without effect, to be in vain”

If we allow God to exercise agape through us no matter what happens, it will never be in vain! Agape is the love of God expressed through us to others. It begins as a response and ends with a feeling.

Agape in Action – John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Additional characteristics of agape: 
Agape Sacrifices.  Agape is Demonstrative! Agape shows. Agape cannot help but be expressed because that is its essence.  Of course the greatest demonstration was the cross….
In John 17 we find at least 8 ways Christ demonstrated his love for us.
1.   He reveals His father to us
2.   ..gives us the Father’s word
3.   ..prays for us
4.   ..protects us
5.   ..gives us His glory
6.   .. places us in Him
7.   ..makes the Father known to us
8.   ..desires for us to be with Him and to see His glory
Zephaniah 3:17 CEV
The Lord your God wins victory after victory
and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
because of you,
and he will refresh your life
with his love.”

1.    Think about several people you ‘agape love’ the most – Do they know without a doubt you love them?  How?
2.    Is there someone God is calling you to ‘agape’ that you are resisting?  Why the resistance? Is your heart the problem? 
1 John 3:20  “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
3.    How does God want you to respond to this lesson tonight?
4.    Share the impact as you consider God ‘agape’ loves you.  What do you feel and think as you consider 1 Cor 13 toward you from God?

Note: much of the lessons presented in Fruitful Living come from a study by Beth Moore: “Living Beyond Yourself”