Jack Frost grew up with a father who did not know how to express emotions or love, so Frost never experienced being loved by his father (although his father loved him). As a result, he rebelled as a teenager, eventually overdosing on LSD, where he heard his father saying over and over that he loved him. But he still lived out of the pain of feeling unloved, which drove him to being the best. He was successful at being the best fishing captain, but he was an angry, impossible to please man. He eventually cried out to God, became a Christian, and gave up the sea for ministry, where he was driven to be the “best” pastor. He was legalistic and his family saw him as impossible to please. His wife felt deeply unloved and his kids wanted nothing to do with his legalistic God. He had an encounter at a conference where God revealed to Frost His liquid love, revealing that He liked Frost. This healed his relationships a lot, and his kids saw a huge change and began feeling loved by him, but it did not impact his relationship with his wife. Finally, God showed Frost a picture of him hiding while his parents were arguing, revealing that he had built up walls to avoid the pain that prevented him from giving and receiving love, and melted the walls away with His love. Frost saw the pain that his wife had to endure from him, cried for days, and was able to start being intimate with her.
Being loved by God is foundational to being a Christian. Everything in the Christian love flows out of us receiving God’s love and giving it away to other people. If you do not think you are lovable, or you think God is angry with you, then it is difficult to receive God’s love. The reality is that the Bible says that God loves us completely, enabled by Jesus’ payment for our sins. The enemy accuses us of not being good enough, but God restores us. The Christian life is about staying in Father’s embrace: the state of being where we feel God’s love for us. When we sin, think we are unlovable, or think that God is angry with us, we step out of His embrace, and we need to repent and come back.
Frost identifies two different kinds of cycles leading us away from Father’s embrace. The first is the prodigal son’s cycle (from Luke 15). When we sin, the guilt and shame causes us to fear intimacy with God and other people, because we are afraid of being found out. So we distance ourselves, especially from God, which creates a loss of intimacy which results in an insecurity because we no longer feel God’s love. The loss of intimacy creates loneliness, which we try to escape with escapism. The escapism is sin, which fuels the cycle. Frost initially coped with drugs. The solution is to confess your sin and come back to the Father’s love.
The second cycle is the elder brother’s cycle. Here, self-love, jealousy, and being judgmental cause us to leave Father’s embrace, because he is unconditionally accepting. “Any distance from God’s love will gradually gravitate to law and legalism, and it will lead to feelings of insecurity, because it is the unconditional acceptance of the Father that gives us our true value and self-worth.” (100) We feel unworthy, so we try to earn our love by striving to do all the right things. We treat others the way we feel (unworthy). We may get jealous of other people who appear to be more successful because we think Father’s love is limited. Finally, we self-justify to make our self-love, jealousy, and judgment seem acceptable. The solution is to recognize our sin, repent, ask those we have hurt for forgiveness, and humbly accept God’s love.
Frost’s family felt deeply unloved, because he was loving out Law. He says that Law is the need to be right, or to have things done properly. “The core issue is usually insecurity and fear that is rooted in a love deficit.” (146) Law accuses, demands justice and rights, remembers faults, and just generally acts like Satan. Negativity in our thoughts and actions is a good sin we are starting to live out Law. God, however, gives grace: He forgives, advocates, encourages, honors. In our relationships we can act out of Law and destroy them, or we can give up our right to be right and give grace like God does.Much of our pain comes from our fathers and mothers not being able to express love to us. From fathers, children need unconditional expressed love expressed to them, to feel secure, to hear praise and affirmation, and to be told they are special, with a purpose in life. Many fathers tend to fail in similar ways. Many do not express love because they do not see this as part of a man’s role, or express love conditional on doing well at something . Angry fathers make children feel insecure. Critical fathers teach their children that they are not good enough. Absent fathers obviously never do express anything positive to their children.
We also receive a lot of our love from our mothers, especially at an early age. We receive love in the womb, and after we are born, through touch, eye contact, and tone of voice. If the mother is depressed, or did not really want the child, then she is likely to communicate this to the child through the lack of these expressions of love. Frost’s wife did not feel like she could handle another child at the time she became pregnant with their second child, then became depressed after giving birth for a year. Their daughter received the lack of love that her mother was giving her as rejection, and rejected her femininity. After they realized this, they started showing her love in the ways she needed and she became a warm woman.
We tend live in darkness, “a moral state where you hid things, have secrets, and [therefore] give the enemy ground to traffic in your life.” (165; from Jack Winter). This may express itself in unconfessed sin, our masks and coverups, shame from previous major sins, and other people’s darkness that invade ours (such as a spouse’s darkness). We often have pet names and excuses for sin that try to minimize it. Frost gives examples of several: “If I’m transparent, people will reject me” (pride); “I’m so tired from work, that’s why I’m been impatient” (sin against love); “I’m too stressed out from work and just don’t want to talk” (sin of separation); “I’m withdrawing because I don’t feel safe around you” (isolation and self-love).
God desires for us to walk abide in love, instead. We experience God’s love daily, both in the times when we feel God’s love very tangibly and in those times where we do not feel much, if anything, but remind ourselves that the Bible says that we are loved and our sin is gone. We walk by the Spirit as we focus on what is on God’s heart, instead of focusing on ourselves. We confess sin: “I began to recognize that anything I hid from others in order to make me look good is darkness, and I start drifting away from dwelling in Father’s love.” (193) Finally, as we become overcomers (victory at least 51% of the time) we share transparently about our problems, which weakens their hold on us and encourages others.
Frost ends with some bad assumptions in marriages and some examples of how wives react to husbands living in darkness.
This is book on the journey of a lonely, insecure elder-brother. Frost starts burning himself out and destroying his family trying to be the best possible pastor in order to get God’s love his followers. By the end, he has deeply experienced God’s love tangibly, and learned to daily walk in that love, which transforms his ministry and family into something life-giving. Along the way Frost concisely identifies the main ways Christians live apart from God’s love that we were designed for. He graphically shows some of the painful consequences, and all along the way gives prayers and steps for people to get healing.
However, I am disappointed that the book feels like one of those marriage books that says that the problem is the husband, like Every Man’s Marriage, but the title suggests that it is a general purpose guide to experiencing the tangible love of God. Instead, it seems like it would be more properly titled From Demanding Husband to Experiencing Father’s Embrace. The content is very good and quite practical, and a good marriage book as well. However, the title is just not clear about this. Furthermore, while men seem to fail very visibly in their marriages, it makes me very uncomfortable when the other side is not presented. The content suggests experiencing Father’s embrace is something that husbands need to do, which trickles down to their previously pained and unloved wife and kids. I have to assume that women are failing in their marriage, too, that some husbands are primarily suffering from their wives’ darkness, not their own. This book has nothing to say to those men and women, nor to the unloved wife, and gives the impression that a bad marriage is the man’s fault. I felt the same way after reading Every Man’s Marriage, but at least the title was pretty clear, and there is Every Woman’s Marriage to speak to the women who are destroying their marriages.
Still, this book offers a great explanation of where our loneliness and insecurity comes from, and offers a concrete path to walk for healing. I wish I had known about this book years ago, before I had experienced God’s tangible love! If you are not regularly experiencing God’s unconditional love for you, I recommend giving Experiencing Father’s Love a read.
Ch. 1: My Encounter with Father’s Embrace
- Frost’s father did not know how to express emotion or love, so Frost never experienced it. He rebelled as a teenager, and while he was in the hospital after overdosing on LSD, his father told him that he loved him. Still, everything he did was out of wanting the approval of his father, being driven by pain. He was driven to be the best fishing captain, but ended up being an angry man who was impossible to please (but also one of the most successful captains). He cried out to God to help him, became a Christian, and became a pastor, and then wanted to be the most successful pastor. He was legalistic and impossible to please to his family. His wife felt deeply unloved and his kids wanted nothing to do with his legalistic God. He had an encounter at a conference where God revealed to Frost His liquid love, revealing that He liked Frost. This healed his relationships a lot, and his kids saw a huge change and felt loved by him, but it did not impact his relationship with his wife. Finally, God showed Frost a picture of him hiding while his parents were arguing, revealed that he had built up walls to avoid the pain that prevented him from giving and receiving love, and melted the walls away with His love. Frost saw the pain that his wife had to endure from him, cried for days, and was able to start being intimate to her. He eventually wrote a poem (which he never does) about her love, and at the end she finally felt loved by him.
Ch. 2: You Were Created for Love
- Being loved by God is foundational to being a Christian:
- 1 John 4:16a: “And we have come to know [experience] and have believed the love God has for us. God is love...”
- 1 John 4:16b: “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
- 1 Cor 13:5 says “love thinks no evil,” so God’s loving thoughts are purely good.
- The devil lies to us that God rejects us or is upset at us, especially because of some sin we have done, but the truth is, God loves us unconditionally
- “Key #1: Self-image helps determine our depth of intimacy” (41)
- If you do not think that you are lovable, it will be hard to receive God’s love.
- If you think that your worth depends on how well you do (job success, career, ministry, etc.), this is a recipe for disaster.
- Many people do ministry without love, but instead to earn love from God by their actions; this is putting the Great Commission before the Great Commandment (love God, love people).
- Jesus says that life is all about loving God and loving people (the Great Commandment). Paul says that life is all about love (1 Cor 13:2-3)
- “Key #2: Recognize your need for intimacy” (43)
- Being self-sufficient and independent is contrary to how God created us. He created us to need Him (even Jesus depended on the Father for everything) and need one another (everything was good when God created it except that Adam was alone, which was not good).
- “Key #3: Embrace your responsibility for intimacy” (45)
- Men tend to think they are not responsible for intimacy. Often they fear intimacy because it is uncomfortable and vulnerability puts security at risk (the other person could reject you).
- The most important question to ask is “Father, how can I receive your love and give it to the next person I interact with?” This especially includes your family!
- “Have I done my prayer/devotion/ministry/evangelism today” is not an important question to ask.
- “Key #4: Being who God created you to be” (48)
- “Every religious duty and discipline is fulfilled in love (See Romans 13:8-10).” (49)
- “God’s love, not your achievements is what will fill the void in your life. When you truly grasp His deep and intimate love for you, it will fill you up to such an extent that the most natural thing in the world will be for you to share that love with everyone you meet.” (48)
- If you have never received unconditional love, or abuse, you may need to have a supernatural encounter with God where He reveals that to you. You can’t withdraw from the bank what you don’t have in your account.
Ch. 3: You Are Father God’s Happy Thought
- One week Frost was out of town and his daughter was in a foul mood all week and infected his sons. His wife had to call him mid-week, so his daughter was dreading him getting back and yelling at her. But the Holy Spirit suggested he try a different way, so he spent time with her, took her swimming, etc. And her attitude got back to where it should be. He did discipline her, but that was not his primary interaction. Frost uses this as an illustration of how God relates to us.
- “It is difficult to have intimacy with someone who remains mad at you [e.g. couples with years’ of smoldering arguments]. When we believe that God is angry with us, it is not easy for us to accept His love or draw near to Him.” (58)
- Christianity has tended to make the Father seem like He is always upset at us, and Jesus has to be constantly interceding for us. But Jesus said he was the exact representation of the Father (“if you have seen me, you have seen the Father”); there is no mercy/anger split in the Trinity.
- We tend to act like God is a guest in our house and we have to be on our best behavior until He leaves. God wants to live with us; He doesn’t want us to have our guest behavior, but wants to live with us as we are.
- When Frost’s daughter was learning to drive, she came close to having an accident. His wife was with her, was giving her advice, she said “Be quiet so I can think my happy thought.” She managed to avoid having a problem, and her mother asked what her happy thought was. “Daddy. Daddy would not be upset with me.” That is how God thinks of us.
- Gives a long list of verses about what God thinks of us: Jer 31:3, John 3:16, John 16:27, Rom 8:38-39, John 17:23, Eph 2:4-6, Eph 3:19, Ps 149:4, Jer 29:11, Songs 1:15-16, Song 4:10, Luke 15:31, Jon 14:23, Matt 5:13-14, Acts 1:8, 2 Cor 5:18, 2 Cor 5:20, Phil 4:13, Heb 2:11, Heb 11:16, Jer 31:34, Mic 7:19, Col 1:13-14, 1 John 1:9, John 1:12, John 15:15, Rom 5:1, 1 Cor 6:19-20, Eph 1:5, Col 2:10, Rom 8:1-2, Rom 8:31, Rom 8:35, Col 3:3, 2 Tim 1:7, Heb 4:16, 1 John 4:18, 1 John 5:18, Isa 66:12-13, John 3:17-18, John 5:22, John 12:47.
Ch. 4: The Prodigal Father
- Luke 15 (Parable of Prodigal Son)
- Son asked father for his inheritance now (essentially saying he wished the father were dead; the father could refuse, and Jewish law at the time said the father could have his son stoned to death).
- Frost compares this to the 1980s and 1990s in Charismatic circles, where churches loved the gifts more than the givers, and people sought to have manifestations and gifts because people would think they were really spiritual.
- Then the son left. “As soon as we reached [the point where we said ‘I want to do this myself'], we began drifting away from Father’s embrace, and began consuming God’s blessings on our own lusts.” (79)
- “When Christians value the Father more for what He can do for them than for intimacy and love, they eventually begin to seek to fulfill their own selfish desires rather than enjoy the relationship they have with God. Then, in order to fill the void that has been created, they seek comfort or identity in one or more of the counterfeit affections—power, possessions, people, places, performance, or passions of the flesh. This vicious cycle can continue until they realize that what they are lusting for will not satisfy them and that they have an unmet need for love and intimacy that only Father God’s embrace can fulfill.” (80)
- The son ended up being worse off than the pigs he was feeding!
- When we drift from Father’s embrace, we end up in a place of shame (the pig-pen).
- “Your spouse cannot ultimately meet your need for intimacy. If you are expecting him or her to give you all the love you need, when they are unable to do so, you will become vulnerable to defilement (e.g. affair) by someone else with an unmet love need. The kind of sacrificial love that a marriage requires can flow only out of the love that comes from Father’s embrace, from a relationship first established with God, from abundantly receiving His love, and then giving it away to your spouse.” (81)
- You may not be able to experience intimacy with another person until you have experienced it from God.
- The son went from “gimme” to “change me” and returned to the father who lavishly embraced him. Likewise, God is always eager to receive us back.
- Frost identifies a cycle of shame resulting from sin (FIG LEAF, which is what Adam and Eve used to cover up their shame):
- Fear: we fear intimacy with God and others because being fully known would expose the ugliness.
- Insecurity: the result of the fears taking root in our heart is that we become insecure with God and people.
- Guilt: results from unconfessed sin
- Loneliness: we have left the Father’s embrace and intimacy with others out of fear of being found out, so we are lonely and isolated. “... one cannot experience true intimacy in any relationship when sin and shame are in the way.” (84)
- Escapism: since we cannot experience the Father’s love or intimacy with other people, we try to get comfort from whatever is available. Food, video games, alcohol, drugs, lots of religious activity, etc.
- Anxiety: “If we are not at peace, resting in the love of our Father, we cannot avoid a lifestyle of anxiety.” (85)
- Failure: “All of these consequences of sin create a vicious circle, causing further failure to take place” (85) which then starts back over at fear.
- Frost gives the following as the way (pp. 85-86) to come back (following the parable):
- Come to your right senses: remember that the Father loves you unconditionally.
- Confess your sin.
- Forgive your earthly father (or mother) for any hurts or issues of the past.
- See Father’s house as your source of love: not your spouse, career, religious activities, etc.
- Anticipate Father’s embrace.
- Return to the presence of the Father.
Ch. 5: The Older Brother Syndrome
- Older brother syndrome is like Jonah, who wanted vengeance more than he understood God’s heart. Or like the elder brother in the parable, who missed his fathers heart at his son returning because of his jealousy.
- Older brothers look really righteous: they are loyal, hard-working, diligent. But because they do not have the experience of the Father’s love, they are working to earn His approval, and are jealous of anyone else who seems to have it.
- Older brothers sin against love.
- When the Christian disciplines are done without experiencing the Father’s love, they produce death. It is impossible to earn the Father’s love because nothing we can do is good enough. “No amount of fasting or study or servitude can earn the love of the Father, especially when the motivation behind these actions is based on a desire for personal gain and reward.” (99)
- The older brother cycle:
- Self-love, jealousy, and judgmentalism distances us from the Father.
- “Any distance from God’s love will gradually gravitate to law and legalism, and it will lead to feelings of insecurity, because it is the unconditional acceptance of the Father that gives us our true value and self-worth.” (100)
- We are unable to have intimacy with others, because we treat others the way we feel about ourselves (so if I feel unworthy, then you need to prove yourself worthy to be accepted by me)
- We start striving to get back the intimacy that is no longer there.
- If we think that our value is based on our performance, then we try to out-compete everyone else so that we have the highest value.
- Not everyone is the best, and no one is the best in everything, so we dislike those who are “competing” for the same affections of the Father.
- Finally, they become self-righteous to justify all the bad attitudes. “Most older brothers are right; they usually are the most loyal, hardest-working, best performers in the church. But often they would rather prove their rightness than promote intimate relationships. They value obedience over relationship, and they use that self-righteousness to justify their negative attitudes. And it results in an attitude of superiority and condescending tones. At that point, other people begin to feel devalued” (101)
- If younger brothers are met by an older brother before they are met by the Father, they may never come to the Father.
- Coming back home:
- Become aware of your sin.
- Repent as you see how your self-righteousness, envy, demandingness, etc. has hurt people.
- Ask for and receive forgiveness from God.
- Ask forgiveness from those you had hurt; you misrepresented the Father to them.
- In humility receive the Father’s embrace.
Ch. 6: Dealing with Father Issues
- One of the roles of a father is to take experiences that can wound a child for a lifetime and convert them to a positive defining moment by affirming love and acceptance. Both Frost and his son had big ears as a child. Their ears didn’t change size, so they were the right size in adulthood, but unusually large for a child. Frost was teased incessantly as a child and was uncomfortable with his appearance until about age 40. On his son’s first day of school, he, too, was teased about his ears and came home crying. Frost hugged him and told him how handsome he was. Then he showed him his baby pictures; they both looked identical. He asked, “who do you want to look like when you grow up?” He immediately said “you.” “Well, then, you don’t have to worry about what people say to you. I love you, and you are going to be handsome when you grow up. So when they laugh at you, remember, that one day you’ll look just like your Dad!” So his son never had an issue with it.
- We have four basic needs, which we look to parents, especially fathers to get as a child: (pp. 112 - 113)
- The need for unconditional expressed love
- Note that each child receives love differently, so learn their love language.
- The need to feel secure and comforted.
- Children need to know that their home and family is emotionally safe, and that failure is ok.
- Explosive anger is very frightening to a child
- The need for praise and affirmation.
- Dr. James Dobson says it takes 40 words of praise to counteract one word of criticism
- The need for purpose in life.
- “Children need to be told that they are special, that they have something unique to offer the world, and that they are a gift of God’s love to their family and to the world.” (113)
- Even the best of fathers will fail to meet our children’s needs all the time. Frost gives a list of “father flaws”:
- Good father: they provide physically and emotionally for their kids. They meet their needs and do everything they should.
- One problem is that they may become too attached to their father. Daughters of such a father may fail to “leave and cleave” and measure her husband according to her father. Sometimes children of these fathers become pastors, because their bond with the father is too strong for them to bond with God, so the only thing they know how to do is serve Him.
- Sometimes things not in control of the father conspire to cause broken promises, or poverty, or disappointments. If the problem is broken promises, the adult child may not believe the promises of others, especially those close to them. If poverty, them they may be afraid becoming impoverished again and react accordingly.
- Performance-oriented father: high standards of performance and/or obedience. Claims to love the child, but often only expresses it after successful performance. For example, might focus on the one C instead of all the rest of the grades which are As.
- This is common in the US because our society rewards successful performance (sports, academics, finance, etc.)
- The child will generally think that God only accepts them if they perform well.
- 80% of adult pastor’s children need psychiatric care for depression at some point. “A primary root of depression is performance orientation. ... But after 20 or 30 years of constantly striving for perfections, fear and depression begin to creep into the heart of this adult son or daughter. ... Eventually, if the pattern continues, they can collapse into spiritual burnout, unable to hear God’s voice or sense His presence at all.” (116-117)
- Criticism and performance requirements need to be tempered with lots of approval.
- Passive father: no large demands, no overt rejection. Just simply a lack of presence, even when he is there. Doesn’t generally speak out love, or hug, or cuddle his children. Often this is not intentional, he just never received it from his father.
- This can become a generational stronghold, which will need to be broken before the pattern can change.
- Fathers whose job requires ignoring emotions (workaholics, military men), or is emotionally draining (pastors, counselors) may not be emotionally there after work.
- These kind of people are often the first to criticize emotional moves of the Holy Spirit. “Any weeping or loud rejoicing or praise can cause them to feel discomfort. But walking in the Spirit should be an emotional encounter. It’s all about love, joy, and peace (emotions) much more than it is about the study of doctrine or theory.” (118)
- Absentee father
- 50% of American children do not see their real father (or possibly any father) in their house.
- Stepfathers rarely treat their children as if they were their own.
- Adult children may fear that God will not be there for them. Or they may try to please God in order to make up for some perceived failure that caused their father to leave.
- These children need to have faith that God will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5)
- Authoritarian father: more interested in Law than in Love. “They go beyond the performance-oriented fathers and sternly demand immediate, unquestioned obedience from their children. There is no real emotional relationship that is fostered between the father and the child; the only emotions that seem to be present are intimidation, fear, and control.” (119)
- Adult children tend to view God as someone to be feared and obeyed, rather than someone to love and enjoy. May work really hard to obey perfectly and feel more like servants than sons.
- Abusive father
- Abuse, especially sexual abuse, creates deep, deep pain. It also gives rise to a large amount of repressed anger, possibly against God for allowing the abuse.
- The adult children may have deep mistrust of men, authority figures, and God.
- Sexual abuse can create patterns of sexual sin that the child cannot get free from.
- May require supernatural experiences of God’s love, possibly consistently over a long period of time (months), to heal.
- It is essential to forgive your father. Be specific.
- Ask God to show you memories that this influence you, and ask God to comfort that hurting child.
- Release your father to the Cross.
- Turn to Father God and affirm that you have nowhere else to go for love than to Him and affirm that you know that He promises not to leave us orphans. Ask Him to reveal his Father’s love for you.
- Pray the verses from Chapter 3 over you. Listen to music about the Father’s love for us.
- Attend counseling if necessary
Ch. 7: Dealing with Mother Issues
- The mothering love is communicated in three main ways:
- affectionate touch
- eye contact
- tone of voice
- The “mother heart” of God: since God created us in His image as male and female, God must have feminine characteristics as well as masculine ones.
- “The masculine heart cries out to do, to form, and to create, to initiate, to know wisdom, and to rationalize and intellectualize. The feminine heart seeks to be; it longs for communication and connection, to bond, and to know and to be known emotionally. The power to receive lies in femininity; the power to give lies in masculinity.” (130)
- Frost thinks that the church has put too much value on the masculine qualities of building and producing than on feminine qualities. He thinks that the Devil hates woman, because it is her seed that can destroy him, so he has women devalued in cultures.
- Babies receive love in the womb. If they don’t get it, they are missing something deep. Frost’s daughter was conceived at a time when his wife did not think she could handle another baby, and she cried for most of the nine months, and then had postnatal depression for a year, so he daughter received the message that she was not wanted. As a result, his daughter became a tomboy and rejected femininity. When she was nine they learned how to heal wounded hearts and applied it to her, and she began to embrace her femininity.
- We can’t learn how to love, we need to experience it.
- If we seal our hearts off against love to protect against pain, we will not be able to give or receive love.
- “Love and intimacy have been programmed into your genetic code ... You cannot help but be conformed to the attributes of God’s love! To fight against that you will need drugs! You will need pornography! Or you will need a position, job, or ministry where you can try to get your need for love and acceptance met.” (137)
- God wants to mother you like a perfect mother and give you than unconditional love and acceptance.
- Just like with fathers, we need to forgive our mothers, release them to God, and let God meet our need for love.
Ch. 8: Would You Rather Be Right or Have Relationship?
- “[The need to be right, or to have things done Properly:] The core issue is usually insecurity and fear that is rooted in a love deficit.” (146)
- Contrasts law and grace on p. 147:
Law Grace Romans 7:5 Ephesians 2:3-8 What is right and fair An undeserved gift Satan traffics in law God traffics in grace Satan is the prosecutor Jesus is our Advocate Satan is negative God is positive The accuser of the brethren The Holy Spirit, the Comforter The accuser accuses The Comforter comforts
If you sow judgment... (Eph 4:26-27, Gal 5:19-21) If you sow grace... (Eph 4:29-31, Gal 5:22-23) Accusatory thoughts and words Edifying thoughts and words Criticism Encouragement Fault-finding / blaming others Seeing own fault first Dishonor Honor Demands rights Yields rights Demands justice Pronounces innocence Rehearses wounds Releases wounds Unforgiveness and bitterness Forgiveness and love Rejects and devalues others Accepts and values others
...you reap the law and release a self-imposed curse
(Ps 109:17-19, Matt 5:22-26)
... you reap grace and release God’s blessing
(1 Pet 3:9-13, Matt 5:11-12)
Resentment and bitterness Innocence restored Hardness and anger Gentleness and meekness Walls/heart of stone Transparency / openness Dishonor Honor Unforgiving relationships Forgiving relationships Pride Humility Bondage Liberty Anxiety, stress-related disease Rest, peace, divine health Wounded life Healing, wholeness
There is no love in law (Rom 7:5) Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13)
- Mark Virkler did a study that showed that 80% of most Christians’ thoughts are negative.
- We are judged by the same standard that we judge others; when we use law, we agree with Satan and get cursed (see Ps 109:17-18). When we use grace, we get blessing. “God wants us to inherit a blessing. All we have to do is give the difficult person a gift that they may not deserve, a gift of forgiveness and grace.” (149)
- Jesus knew Judas would betray him, but sowed into his life for three years, and even washed his feet the night of.
- The process of beginning to live like the law:
- Negative attitudes: focusing on the faults of others. Patterns to look for: “Are you constantly exasperated by the perceived shortcomings of other people? Do you notice yourself becoming more critical of your past, other ministers, your boss, coworkers, friends, or family members in your thoughts? Do you consider yourself ‘better’ than most people you meet?” (154)
- Impure motives: other people seem to be more favored, you get jealous, and start to do things to try to get favored. Patterns to look for: motivation for ministry, unhealthy pride in your organization, looking down on people who don’t do as much as you, angry edge at home
- Defilement of speech: might not openly badmouth them, but will not stick up for them, or might subtly dishonor them. Patterns to look for: condescending tone or attitude, demeaning people when they come up in conversation, critical words.
- Divisive actions: actions follow speech. Leads to creating an atmosphere where people do not trust, because they are afraid of not measuring up
- Damage to relationships: this pattern ends up in the family, and your family feels afraid that they can’t measure up to your demanding standards.
- Isolation: people don’t like you. “So only those very secure in God’s love or those who could maintain such a rigid standard of excellence befriended me.” (156)
- The worst price to pay for living out of law is that you lose intimacy with the Father.
- Breaking out of living law:
- Forgive each person who has disappointed you (158)
- Seek God’s forgiveness for violating the law of judging (158)
- You may need to go to each person and ask forgiveness from them. Don’t mention what they did wrong, only mention what you did.
- Begin renewing your mind daily, for example, with the table above.
Ch. 9: Walking in the Light
- “Darkness is a moral state where you hid things, have secrets, and [therefore] give the enemy ground to traffic in your life.” (165; from Jack Winter)
- Four areas of darkness
- Hidden and unconfessed sin: Frost did not confess sins in some areas to his wife or family, notably “the motives that drove me in my Christian walk—the attitudes of pride, competition, jealousy, and envy—the aggressive striving to be somebody and to be seen and known.” He was afraid that if anyone would see his sin, they would not respect him. The opposite happened when he started confessing to his wife, and later some other areas to his kids.
- Someone else’s darkness invading our light
- Our masks, cover-ups, walls, and pretenses: anything that hides what we are from God or other people is darkness, and inhibits intimacy. The Pharisee’s religiosity and the Ananias and Sapphira are two extreme examples.
- Shame of past immoral sins: when we continue to be ashamed of something after God has forgiven us, it inhibits intimacy in that area. Often this is in a sexual area, and can inhibit sexual intimacy because one person feels dirty and cannot completely open up for fear that the other person will find out.
- To stop walking in darkness, confess everything that God brings to mind in detail to Him. If it relates to another person (such as your spouse), you probably need to confess to them, too.
Ch. 10: Abiding in Love
- People experience Father’s embrace two ways: some have periodic amazing experiences, and some daily choose to abide in His love one moment at a time. Sometimes it is the latter who are transformed the most. Sometimes people use the dramatic encounter as a fix and an excuse not to walk it out daily. (However, by all means, pursue the great experience, too!)
- You don’t always feel His Presence, but if by faith you submit to His love, your character will slowly change.
- There are three areas to abiding in God’s love:
- Walking in the Spirit: this is focusing on the things on God’s heart, rather than focusing on ourselves.
- Satan uses three tactics to disrupt walking in the Spirit:
- Comparing our experiences to others’ and saying “why doesn’t God do that for me? Maybe He doesn’t love me as much.”
- “The truth of the matter, however, is that the most fortunate ones are those who do not have to go through dramatic experiences to walk in Father’s love. They enter in by faith, choose humility over pride, allow God’s love to displace the fear, and experience Him by faith every day—stress free!” (189)
- Accusing us of our failings, getting us into shame, guilt, and self-condemnation.
- Preventing short accounts with God.
- This is easy to solve: when we have not represented God’s love to someone, go and ask for their forgiveness.
- Humility before God and Man
- Not confessing our sins to others is absence of humility. Wanting to be right rather than have relationship is absence of humility.
- We tend to have have excuses or pet-names for our sins to make them more palatable:
- “If I’m transparent, people will reject me.” That’s actually pride.
- “I’m so tired from work, that’s why I’m been impatient.” Anything unloving is a sin against love.
- “I’m too stressed out from work and just don’t want to talk.” That’s the sin of separation.
- “I’m withdrawing because I don’t feel safe around you.” That’s isolation and self-love.
- “I chose to believe that anything that steals the peace of God from my heart or misrepresents Father’s love to another living thing is sin.” (192)
- “To be free, I began to recognize that anything I hid from others in order to make me look good is darkness, and I start drifting away from dwelling in Father’s love.” (193)
- Helps to have people that ask you about your relationships with your wife and children, if you are going back to striving.
- Transparent witnessing
- Confessing sin to others weakens it’s power, because you don’t want to go back and do it after you’ve admitted that you’re overcoming it.
- You become free, because you get more sensitive to when sin is creeping up.
- Honestly admitting your sins and how Father’s love is healing you is a huge testimony.
- Only openly testify about things that you are overcoming; an overcomer is someone who has victory 51% or more of the time in that area.
- Revival is when people start being convicted and crying out to God for His forgiveness and healing. Lists a typical progression:
- You become sensitized to the little sins that steal you sense of Father’s love.
- “You begin to recognize that every misrepresentation of God’s love to another individual is an area of sin and darkness in your life.” (195)
- You start confessing your sin as soon as you discover it (instead of hiding it)
- You experience forgiveness and healing from Jesus
- You feel pure, and gratitude towards God fills your heart
- You start feeling God’s Presence daily, and you start living by the Spirit.
- You get so full you start telling others, honestly and transparently
- They are convicted, and want to start relating to God in that same way
- They confess sin, receive forgiveness and healing, and become transparent witnesses as well.
Ch. 11: Walking in the Spirit
- We have three parts: spirit, soul (mind, will, emotions), and body.
- As a Christian, our spirit has the nature of Christ. We cannot get any more Christlike in our spirit.
- Our soul cannot understand spiritual things. We cannot become spiritual (living with God’s nature) by using our mind, will, and emotions.
- Our spirit wants to freely give God’s love. Our soul needs to get it’s needs met and cannot give God’s love.
- We need to learn “to recognize which voice I am listening to and choosing to follow today. Will I choose the gentle voice in my spirit (eternal) or the driven voice in my soul (temporal)? It involves making a choice to walk in what God has created me to be and to be renewed daily by His love, or to walk in the identity of my outer man, which is an accumulation of ungodly beliefs and habit structures of thinking that I have formed from all my life’s experiences, betrayals, disappointments, rejections, and self-love.” (203)
- If we listen to our spirit, it is completely natural for us to love like Christ. If we listen to our soul, it is really hard and takes a lot of work.
- How to live this way:
- Agree with God that your spirit is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit and live in, through, and by Him.
- You have to tell your outer man (soul) to be quiet and remind yourself of who God says you are
- When we can’t get out of our mind or emotions, ask God to bring us back to our spirit, and show us His love.
Ch. 12: Restoring the Heart of the Family
- The deterioration of the American family has produced rising rebelliousness, gangs, teenage crime. God is bringing a revelation of the Father’s embrace to a fatherless generation.
- “Whenever a father’s heart is turned toward anything other than his children, a curse can be released upon the family.” (217) (Proof-text Mal 4:5-6) Frost’s heart was turned to his success at work (fishing, then ministry), and his family suffered.
- Common mistakes in marriage (219 - 224):
- Believing that you will always be happy.
- Not understanding that your spouse has expectations of you.
- Not realizing that men and women have different needs.
- Keeping your grievances to yourself, hoping they will go away. (This is often done by women, especially ones from a religious home)
- Putting all your energy into hobbies and activities outside the home rather than into the marriage. (This tends to be done by men, especially when they feel they are not doing well at intimacy and family, so they do something they can do well.)
- Putting your own needs and desires ahead of those of your spouse. (Frost)
- Not accepting admonition from your spouse, even if given in a loving manner. (Frost)
- “Men, if you think your wife is nagging you, that is usually an indication that there is something missing in her life that you are not meeting. One of the greatest needs a woman has is to feel a sense of value and acceptance from her husband, but most women don’t share that need with their spouses because they can’t take the risk of being rejected in such a sensitive area. Instead, they nag—it’s not about the socks and underwear left on the floor, the anger they are expressing is the resentment they feel at not having their emotional needs met.” (221)
- Not sharing intimate details of your lives with one another.
- Allowing hurt, anger, and grief to pile up.
- Focusing only on the sexual aspect of marriage for intimacy. (Tends to be men, when they have little emotional intimacy with their wives)
- Placing a guilt trip on your spouse.
- Compacting your emotions until they explode in other areas. (Trisha)
- Turning your anger inward until it becomes depression. (Trisha)
- Not acknowledging there is a problem. (Frost)
- Believing everything is ok. (Frost)
- Refusing to take responsibility for any of the problems. (Frost)
- Five typical reactions wives have to husbands who are not meeting their emotional needs (224 - 22)
- The “no problem” wife
- Usually a good wife, does the right things. Doesn’t know what to do about her husband not meeting her needs, so just hopes for a miracle. May end up attracted to men who do meet her needs, resulting in an affair.
- The “dying inside” or depressed wife
- These recognize that they are dying inside, so they seek help wherever they can, but when it doesn’t work, become defeated and depressed.
- The silent-but-spiritual wife
- If their belief system does not allow the expression of their feelings (“It’s not right that I resent my husband spending all his time on the ministry”), they say nothing and try harder to be more spiritual. May eventually collapse from exhaustion.
- The strong-willed wife
- This kind is very outspoken about the problems, often received as a nag or criticizer. Since her bitterness is likely to be very strong, she could be seen as an unhealthy influence by the church.
- The “Well, I guess it’s not so bad” wife
- The most common Christian wife. The husband seems to be a good man, she and her family have all their needs met except the emotional ones, so she excuses him.
- “When Trisha expressed a legitimate and reasonable need to me, and I did not seek to meet that need, my actions were saying to her that she was last on my list of priorities.” (227)
- How to restore your family
- Realize that you have sought to be your needs met rather than meeting the needs of your family. (This may take a revelation from God, if you haven’t been paying attention to your wife.)
- “Second, the cry of my heart became for God to teach me what it meant to be a husband and father.” (228) You may not have experienced a healthy family and may need God to teach you.
- Need to let God flow through you to show how to love your wife and children. Because you are an adult man, you are not super familiar with what women and children/teenagers are thinking and needing.
- Place your children above work, etc. Don’t try to multitask with them, and be willing to stop work and focus on them when they come in to share something.
- Ultimately it comes down to humility; God is the ultimate in humility as He is the ultimate in love.
Ch. 13: Conclusion
- It’s usually hard to receive God’s love, and hard to do the things necessary to walk in it: seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Trying to fix pride by the flesh (that is, working hard to be humble and repentant) does not work. “Pride, the lack of humility, is the root of everything that is contrary to the Father’s love. Only humility can expel pride in me. You do not cast out the darkness; you turn on the light, and the light dispels the darkness.” (239)