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We Have Been Lied To dares you to consider that in the cocoon of mainstream Christianity there is a chance that you have unknowingly been captured by the deceptions of the enemy. Stephen Villanueva dares you to experience what it means to walk by faith in the Spirit of God and experience oneness with Him. You may love this book or you may hate it, but one thing is certain; it will change your life and revolutionize your view of the religion of Christianity. Order your copy today!

30 Years of Waiting

Jesus was on this earth for 33 years and God only allowed Him to branch out and bear ministry fruit for 3 of those years—or a mere 9% of His life. Then at the peak of His ministry fruitfulness He was cut all the way back. How is that for a perspective on how God views life and ministry?

Imagine, Jesus spent 91% of His life learning to listen only to the voice of His Father doing only what the Father told Him to do, saying only what the Father told Him to say, and going only where the Father told Him to go. He was always subject to the will of the Father even if that meant that for 30-years He never told anyone who He was, He never touched anyone and brought healing into their lives, He never miraculously provided for those in need, and He never preached the gospel to those entrapped in darkness. All He did was remain in constant fellowship with His Father and in so doing He waited and waited for the Father to release Him to bear fruit.

Abiding in Christ will look at like Christ abiding in His Father. So don’t be surprised that God’s number one desire is not that you “do” anything for Him but that you merely trust yourself to Him and remain in Him. He will do the rest.

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“doing” for God

John 15:4-5: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Abiding is such a strange concept and one that we rarely make an issue of faith—a truth that we must not only believe but also live. And, instead of resting in fact that God just wants us to be desperately connected to Him, we make our lives all complicated as we focus on “doing” for God. In fact, for many of us, some type of ministry has been our way of life; we could hardly imagine what we would do if we were not “doing” ministry. This paradigm is so hard to escape because it is pervasive and widely expected when you become part of a church or Christian organization. It is a burden we carry that God has not asked us to carry; a burden we put on others that God has not placed on them.  

There is something endemic to our old sinful nature that just loves to carry burdens, loves to be responsible, and loves to be the one to whom others look for help, and it is towards these desires that the enemy loves to feed us the lie that we must “do” something for God.

Well, here is the truth. God does not want us or need us to do anything for Him; He just wants us to be connected to Him. For if we are connected to Him, His life will produce in us the fruit that He desires. We become a vessel, a branch, through which His life flows. His requirements on our life are not this big list of disciplines, duties, and “to-do’s;” rather we are to hide ourselves safely away in His life. This is why He says in Matthew 11:28-30 that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. Jesus wants us to live in a state of total dependence upon Him where we let Him be our way, our truth, and our life and He will live His will in and through us. Do you realize that a branch can do nothing on its own? It can’t water itself, it can’t absorb nutrients from the ground, and it can’t even produce its own fruit. It is dependent upon the sap from the vine for every part of its existence. In the same way, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit as we are depending upon Jesus for all things. That is the only way to live. Now, it’s up to you to make it an issue of faith—believe it and live it!

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She said it so wonderfully

Ok, this might be a little long for a blog but I was just blown away by this email that I received and what my friend understood from the Old Testament  (yes it is possible to learn amazing things about the love, grace and mercy of God from the Old Testament. Let me share with you:

Hey Everyone!

 

So these past few days God has been giving me some really cool verses. I was re-reading my journal entry from yesterday and it’s basically what Steve teaches us every week, to trust God, but these verses really stuck out to me and I wanted to share it with all of you:

 

I was reading in Joshua and I read the story about when the Lord commanded the Israelites to destroy Jericho and everything in it, not to keep anything for themselves. They had victory and took over the land but some didn’t listen to the Lord and kept things for themselves. They next went on to take over another land but were defeated.

 

Joshua 7:12-13

…I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction…

…you will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

 

Joshua 7:15

The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has.

 

God tells us that all who belong to him must become new. Our old man, our flesh must be completely destroyed. We can’t hold on to any part of it. It must all be layed at the lords feet because God can’t fix our old nature, he gives us a new one.

 

God promises that he will be enough, that he will give us everything we will ever need! So why do we hold onto things that aren’t of God? Why can’t we fully trust God will provide for us?

 

God tells us over and over that he will not abandon us. If we trust him, if we let go of everything and give it all to him then he will not only provide us with everything we need but that he will also protect and fight for us. We get to rest in his arms.

 

 

Each week we get to witness and share all the amazing things God has been doing in this body and in our lives. Whether good or bad, hard or easy God is so present and alive and living through each of us, yet we sometimes doubt he will really be there to take care of those deep deep painful areas in our lives that we hold so tightly too. God warns us:

 

Deuteronomy 4:9

But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live.

 

God loves us all so much. He wants to protect us, care for us. He rescued us from our old sinful nature, from the loneliness, from our depression, from the constant searching. He picked us to be his and to rest in his arms, to be relieved from all those things and to just accept his gift and honor him.

 

Deuteronomy 4:20

Remember the Lord rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today.

 

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the Lord’s commands & decrees that I am giving you today FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

 

Deuteronomy 8:18

Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful.

 

We must not forget all God has done for us, everything that he has saved us from.

 

Deuteronomy 11:22

…show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways & holding tightly to him.

 

Deuteronomy 15:6

The Lord your God will bless you as he has promised.

 

God is enough. We don’t need to hold on to certain areas of our lives in fear he can’t handle them. Because he can, and the truth is he can do a much better job then we can.

 

Deuteronomy 20:3-4

He will say to them: Listen to me all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!

 

k

See it really is possible to experience God for real! It is possible!

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Living It!

Do you find that in your Christian experience it often feels as if you are lost? You think you have been “doing” what you’re supposed to do, but still it seems as if intimacy with God has all but dissipated. When you find yourself in this place it is important to stop and trace your steps back and see if you can discover that place where you first decided to start trusting yourself and not God because it is from this place that you need to reverse directions. I know this can be problematic because quite frankly our own “Christianity” is often the problem. Face it, most of us know how to behave and act like good Christians. We read our Bible, we hang out in our community, we freely give Godly advice, we make sure people are doing ok, and so on; yet, too often God is simply not in the midst of all this activity. I have found that our Christianity actually lulls us into passivity—not in behavior mind you, but in our willingness to actively be dependent upon the Lord for all things. Because we think we know what we need to “do” we forget that our walk with God is not about “doing” but about always believing that Jesus is our way, our truth and our life (and we are not)!

Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. This means that if what you do, what you think, and what you feel does not derive from an absolute dependence upon Jesus—trusting that He is your way, your truth, and your life—then it is simply NOT pleasing to God in any way shape or form. And there is no exception for trying hard, for good intentions, or for doing “Christian” things. All parts of your life must derive from faith, from your choice to believe the truth about Jesus: that He is your “I AM” and you are not; that He is your way, your truth, and your life and you are not! This is the starting place to experiencing intimacy with God on any sustained basis. So stop! Track your steps, and find the place where you trusted yourself and give yourself to Jesus and let Him lavish His love on you.

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The Way, the Truth, and the Life

In one of His most infamous quotes, Jesus said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As I was staring at this verse in John 14:6 what hit me was the implication of what He said. Few of us live as if Jesus was truly the Way, the Truth and the Life, but we live as if somehow within us we can be like Him. For many of us, we are our way, our truth, and our life. We have substituted ourselves for Christ in this passage. We trust ourselves, we trust our own wisdom, we trust our own reason, and we trust our own ability to somehow navigate the paths of our life. What a joke! Thus, for Jesus to have His rightful role in our lives, it means that we have to get out of the way, we have to actually let Him control all the areas of our life in which we seem to comfortably rule and reign. If we don’t, then guess what? We will rarely, if at all, experience the wonders of having an intimate and deeply personal relationship and experience with Jesus. By the way, I know it seems like this is just a bunch of spiritual talk; but I am telling you it is possible. It is absolutely possible to know His peace, His rest, and the comfort of His presence. Yes, the intangible God can tangibly and practically be your Way, your Truth, and your Life.

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My Conversation

I had a really interesting experience the other day with someone who says that she just does not believe in God. For some reason however she has been reading the Bible and trying to understand why I believe as I do. She was troubled because she found the Bible to be so complex and so confusing and she had so many questions about creation, the garden, the flood, the giants, and so on. I found myself telling her that I agree; there is a lot to be confused over and it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can understand anything at all. I told her, however, that there are some very simple things which are very easy to understand and to which the Bible speaks so clearly. I said that she does not have to dig very deep to know that she has lied, cheated, been selfish, hurt people, and is probably guilty of so many hidden “sins” that no one will ever know. (She started to squirm a bit as if to try and make sure that I do not see what she was so clearly seeing.)  And, surprisingly with each such indiscretion and experience there has grown a mountain of pain and guilt. (Tension began to overtake her countenance as she was clearly more than aware of her guilt, even though she has tried so hard to ignore it). I told her that the pain is just God letting her know how much she needs Him. I said that He loves her and is pursuing her and just wants the opportunity to demonstrate that to her by forgiving her of everything she has ever done and ever will do. (Her eyes started to well up with tears and she tried so hard not to breakdown but to remain strong). I told her that He wants to love you like you have never been loved before. He even wants to give you His life and come and life in yours. He wants to help you with each and every choice you ever have to make so that your life can be lived in peace and rest. (Her eyes were huge as she tried to hold back the tears, but the more she tried the more they found their release down her cheeks). I told her that He is now pursuing her and He won’t stop; He just wants to love her. (She quickly got control and navigated our discussion to a new topic). I said that I really enjoyed talking to her.  

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Her Story is Our Story

I would like you to read this blog. The pain that you read in her story is not uncommon and is the current expereince of many who are seeking to experience God for real

http://willyoulistentomystory.blogspot.com/

I posted this response on her blog:

I would like to suggest something that no one seems to really consider and that is the God of the Religion of Christianity is the God who has confused you and let you down. I think the Relgion has made it impossible to be a Christian unless you are a super A personality that is driven to disciple and success. It is all such crap. The Relgion has absolutely missed it. I am not saying that those in the Religion have intentionally caused such damage, but once it starts its like a freaking avalanche that just builds and builds and builds and before you know it everyone is lying underneath the destruction. The problem is that the Religion places all the responsibility on you and then walks away hoping you get it right. But I have found that experiencing God is altogether different. I was a product of the Religion and I was one of those top A performers, but God had to tear all of that away (in a very aggressive and what I used to consider a mean manner) in order to get me to see Him and Believe in Him and actually let Him be the I AM that He claims to be. I just want to tell you that it is possible to know and come to belive that He loves you and then experience it on a moment by moment basis; but it is all inside out and the pathway is nothing like what you would expect and nothing like you have been taught in the Religion. I encourage you to read “We Have Been Lied To – Tearing Down the Walls of Christian Wrong Belief and Unbelief” (Amazon). This book does not create a new mythical God (as in the god of the Shack)but actually helps you walk step by step to understanding all the wrong belief and unbelief (mostly propagated by the Religion) that is a barrier to experiencing God and knowing for certain that you are loved. It is possible; it really is.

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Great is thy Effectiveness

This is a very insightful article (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2008/08/great_is_thy_ef.html) on the condition of the church. It is too easy for those in leadership to confuse work and effort and striving to be obedient to God with an actual work of God. Remember, Jesus said that there will be those who performed miracles in His name, cast out demons, and healed in His name and He will say depart for the works were unauthorized. So we can never be confused by the flurry of “successful” activity in the chruch; rather, we must look to the one indicator of the presence of God and that is the fruit of the Spirit. If we are not naturally producing God’s love (as evidenced in our relationships), then we are just being religious and are not truly walking as people whose lives have been invaded by the Spirit such that we only do what He tells us to do, only say what He tells us to say, and only go where He tells us to go. I encourage you to read: We Have Been Lied To: the problem with Christian Wrong Belief and Unbelief as it address the solution to our epidimic sickness.

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Lessons from Egypt

I was introduced to this fascinating blog by kathy Escobar (http://kathyescobar.com/2008/08/09/lessons-from-egypt.) It is a good read and helps us realize how many people are out there who want God to be for them all that He says. My thoughts…. the main reason we look back to the good old days in Egypt is because we have not really understood how to experience God in our now. We are still striving to make God real to us and few have found that place of rest where their load is light and easy. This reality can be ours only when we learn to walk by faith in the Spirit of God. Yes, that sounds like a cliche but it all depends on your definition of faith. I understand faith to be about actively believing the truth a.k.a willing to bet my life on the intangible truths of the Word of God as if those truths were as real to me as the air I breathe and the food I eat.

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We Have Been Lied To?

We Have Been Lied To….humm that is a pretty provocative concept. I find it interesting that I have received only 2 types of reactions to this title: 1) those who understand that the enemy’s whole purpose is to get us to believe a lie; thus, posing as an angel of light He has introduced all manner of error and wrong belief into our lives (all cloaked in nice sounding religion) to keep us from living by faith, and 2) those who internalize this title to believe that I have said that those in the church have intentionally lied to unsuspecting believers. This is an interesting segmentation and it seems to underscore the fundamental starting place of this book. We have been deceived and are still being deceived. And the very nature of deception means that those who are deceived do not know it. The enemy has been so successful in blinding our eyes to the truth that we will even read into things, like this book, words and concepts that are not only not said, but which are the exact opposite of what is being said. It’s as if any information we receive must pass through these fixed filters before it enters our minds and the filters distort the subject matter according to the bias of that filter. It is a remarkable thing to see this in action.

THE ENEMY has worked tirelessly to pervert the truth and deceive us into believing lies because faith (which according to Hebrews 11:6 is the only way by which we can be pleasing to God) requires us to actively believe the truth. Each of these 3 components is fundamentally necessary to live in biblical faith.

Faith = Actively + Believing + the Truth

 TRUTH – If the enemy can get us to believe a lie, then in that area of our lives we will not be able to live by faith. In fact, we can believe a lie with our whole heart and with all the passions of a man or woman who is destined to die for what they believe; but if it is not the truth then it is a complete and utter waste. Oh sure, it may make for good reading in a story about epoch achievements of humanity, but it does nothing to bring us into alignment with the will of God.  BELIEVE – We can also know the truth, but if we do not believe it we will still not live by faith. We must be convinced that it is true. The Jews who failed to enter the Promised Land knew the truth about God but were not willing to believe that truth (at least not at the moment of decision); thus, they refused to cross over into the Promised Land. As a result, they died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. ACTIVELY – And finally we must actively believe. By this I mean that we must be willing to bet our lives on that truth. Mere belief is not enough for in James 2:19-20 we are told that even the demons believe and shudder, but they did not bet their lives on this truth and instead chose to follow a lie that had eternal consequences.

So getting back to the title, is it possible that you have been lied to? One way to know is to consider whether or not you are actually day-in-and-day-out experiencing the promises of God in your life. Jesus promised that His burden on our lives would be light and easy and that we would find rest for our souls. He promised that we would be free and our lives abundant. He promised that we would be full and satisfied and therefore not hunger and thirst for anyone or anything else. Is this your experience? If not, then like me, there is a good chance that you have either unwittingly swallowed the lies of the enemy and are living in a certain amount of wrong belief or else you have refused to actively believe the truth because you don’t like what it says, it is too risky, too intangible, or so on. But either way, this means there are areas of your life where you are not living by faith and that is a problem that Jesus wants to remedy.

Let’s talk

Steve Villanueva

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