Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Whose Wings"

It's just a fact of our nature. We humans simply can't help it. We just love to elevate our experiences, our work ethics, our good deeds, and our accomplishments to a place of using them as standards, measures, litmus tests, or examples for people to follow in order to attain a certain level of success or goodness. That gives a delusional sense of rightness or arrival on our part, so we can justify leading others, and conforming them to our ideas and standards. We use our experience to shame others into performing up to our standard, in order to somehow be validated in their work and experience. The reality is, our so-called strengths have a way of becoming weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our own character. The purpose of anything good that might come through us, is to point back to the only true source of anything good--Father God! The strongest are those who recognize their human weakness, and are completely dependent on the strength of Him from whom we derive our true Identity, In Christ. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” The higher we rise or succeed, the more vulnerable we become. There is greater temptation to lean on our own strengths, abilities, and experience. The enemy knows this, and camps out in those subtle spaces in our lives where we think we are strong, qualified, or dependable—the places where we are more aware of what we think we CAN do, instead of humbly knowing what we CAN’T do, and that we can ONLY do from our identity in Him! We must be acutely aware of our dependence on God, and the need for intimacy with Christ—living life from Him, in Him, and through Him. It’s all Him! Human nature tends toward self-reliance and personal performance, and it resists dependence, especially when we experience a level of “human success”, validation, or even power. The higher we fly, the more needy we are, and the more crucial it is to rest under the shadow of HIS wings. THAT’S how we truly fly.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

“Love, The Reality or the Illusion”

God is Love! It is HIS nature, and it was HIS idea--His expression to humanity in and through Christ. Therefore genuine love can only be truly expressed from an intimate connection to the heart of God. Humanity's warped, self-indulgent, emotionally controlled ideas of love, acceptance, diversity, and validation have corrupted and distorted "love", and have misrepresented HIS heart of true love. The wounded hearts of people whose choices and decisions have been made as a result of being hurt, abused, or rejected do not define or change the true meaning of love, regardless of their attempts to do so. Love brings us into God's heart for us, it doesn't leave us in our erroneous ideas of what Love is, nor does it invite us into ANY false sense of self-indulgent expression which is contrary to His heart and destructive to our lives. Sadly, much of christianity has been complicit--albeit sometimes in ignorance--in distorting His heart, and His Love, and in failing to understand and live according to our identity IN CHRIST, and what that looks like in every area of a Christ follower’s life. This has led to gross mishandling and ineffective ministry relative to the issues of culture, and a failure to see revolutionary heart change through the manifestation of His Kingdom in this earth. Instead, the systems of this world have stepped into the "leadership" vacuum of culture, created by an absent or introverted "church", and culture has taken it upon itself to define right, wrong, love, hate, and the like. The body of Christ was created to define culture from the heart of God, NOT to be some "reactionary" group that is constantly on the defensive, seemingly one step behind the enemy's agenda, thus "swinging & missing" at each opportunity to positively effect the lives of hurting people through the Gospel of Jesus, and the establishment of His Kingdom in this culture.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

“You’re Doing What”

The terms "living for God", and "working for God" no longer make sense to me. I mean, He's already done all the work, right? For salvation and for living! He finished it! I now live by His life, and align with, and engage in the work that He has done. My life is a process of coming into alignment with my real identity--In Christ! He invites me into that, and I enjoy the benefits of His work! I don't impress Him by what I do, even by what I do in His name! I mean He created the universe by the word of His mouth in around 6 days!! I'm pretty sure I am not gonna impress Him! I now live by His faith, His power, and His Spirit. It's about identity & alignment! Because of the Cross, His life is now mine! I am in Him, and I am new, in every way! There's a reason we are called human "beings" and not human "doings". Out of our intimate connection to Him, and His life in us, we get to engage in His Kingdom work, and experience abundant life in every aspect of life. In Him, we live, move, and have our identity (being)! "The life I now live (in the flesh), I live by the faith of the Son of God". (Galatians 2:20) Any "good works" that may come through my involvement only come as a result of my being properly aligned in Him, by His faith, & because of His finished work! Our performance driven, works oriented nature resists surrender to His life, and therein lies the conflict of our dual nature. Walking into our Kingdom identity comes only through surrender to the reality of that identity working in & through us! It's a waste of time to try and achieve holiness through works, or standards of behavior. It's the result of position not performance--our position IN CHRIST! Because of His work on the Cross, and the shedding of His blood, holiness and righteousness become our identity!! HE is our righteousness and holiness! As long as the focus is on our attempts to be holy or righteous, we'll never experience the abundant Kingdom life that Jesus came to give. It's only IN HIM!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

“Standing Up or Standing In”

Over the past few months, I’ve been in somewhat of an “observational” mode on social media, and shockingly, I have discovered that evidently there are more experts, consultants, informational gurus, & activists than at any point in the history of mankind! I say that somewhat in jest, but my recent observations have been quite revealing. I repeatedly have to keep my head down from the shrapnel, aftershocks, & volatile verbal fallout with the plethora of social, moral, political, and religious volatility that consumes the airwaves & newsfeeds. Those type things really uncover some interesting, telling, & even unfortunate realities about how reactionary, emotionally unstable, self seeking, and easily distracted human nature can be, even those who consider themselves to be of the christian persuasion. I am learning not to air my opinions on Facebook relative to the “symptomatic”, issue-centered discussion, or join every freakin’ “support this” & “boycott that” page that various & sundry pissed off and emotionally charged people felt compelled to start! No, I instead chose to focus on the root cause of these symptoms, and tried to encourage people to get beyond their emotions, opinions, & activist mindsets for just a moment, and try to understand the reality that evil is gonna always be…..evil! Immorality and those who perpetrate evil and immoral deeds are gonna make decisions, say things, and respond in ways and words that wreak of, well, evil and immorality! Duh! Why would that surprise you? When a nation devolves into a state of moral & ethical relativism, where every line of right & wrong is blurred and distorted in order to accommodate the ever darkening human condition that craves self indulgence, and where personal responsibility is replaced with entitlement & blame, this is what you're gonna get—the american culture that we’re experiencing! The reality is that a world which insists on existing in its depravity and flaunting freedoms with no responsibility—and doing so from a defiant paradigm that sees no need for a Saviour or the abundant, redeeming Life found only in Jesus—will certainly look exactly like what we’re seeing today in popular culture, media, politics, religion, entertainment, and so on! I have made the choice to magnify THE ANSWER, and to take my “stand” from my identity, IN CHRIST! I feel quite certain that every “show” of conviction, every “boycott” or “protest”, and every “group or page” that I join on social media will do little to nothing to change the heart & mind of one person who believes differently than me. If you feel the need to be “heard”, or to have your opinions and “stands” validated, and maybe even somehow compensate for your insecurity in some area, then by all means, go for it! Good luck with that! I happen to think those who insist on engaging in that type of behavior are probably more interested in making a point rather than making a difference.
People are an incredibly interesting study…me included, I’m sure. Or maybe I’m just a flat out “weird” study! The dynamic that exists, and the passionate connection between people and their belief systems has been exponentially magnified with the advent of social media! My whole philosophy has changed over the past 1-2 years relative to the best, most productive, and enjoyable ways to use social media. To some, social media is obviously the greek term for "soapbox", & to many others, it’s simply a way to reconnect with old friends, family, and groups of peeps with similar interests. And sadly, there are some people who use social media primarily as a means of gaining validation & approval from others—oftentimes complete strangers whose only connection is that they may happen to have a few “mutual friends”. They seek this validation by continually “exercising” their freedom of speech (or freedom of typing), and their rights to “Speak up or Stand Up” for what they feel passionate about! After all, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, right? Sure sounds noble, huh? Actually, I believe that quote is tucked away somewhere in the book of “Self-righteous logic 1:1”. They feel that speaking their minds, and sharing with the rest of us, what they may be feeling or thinking at any given moment, makes them “real”, genuine, or honest. And social media has given them instant gratification and an immediate outlet to pontificate and bloviate, sharing their every thought, emotion, or soapbox that happens to be “stoking” their “principled fires” at the time. They give little thought to the wisdom, timing, and Christ-centered “heart” that should responsibly “govern” their words & sentiments. However you try to twist or distort scripture, the fact remains, Jesus never demanded His rights, yet He never compromised truth. He always dealt with the heart—the root issue, and not the superficial symptomatic. That's where the religious heart wants to keep the game. Even though He was the embodiment of truth, He chose to refrain from defending Himself, and instead, in every instance, He reflected the heart of, and carried out the will of His Father! Even on the one occasion we’re quick to refer to & justify our “anger” or emotionally driven “righteous indignation”—driving the money changers from the temple—His actions were motivated by His Father’s heart, and not His own personal agenda. His frustration was actually directed at the abuse and distortion, by religion, of the original purpose for His body—the church. Unfortunately, that's still goin’ on today, and yet there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of an outcry or push back from the religious crew as there is toward gay marriage, Starbucks, A&E Television, or the like. Jesus remained silent before His accusers, and chose not to engage His detractors in futile arguments which were merely “smokescreens” to camaflouge the condition of their hearts. Even though He knew He was right, He never insisted on “grandstanding” His rightness before those who stood against Him! Even at the moment of His ultimate act of surrender—His death on the cross—He wasn’t “touting” His rightness, but instead, forgiving those who had wrongly accused Him, hated Him, and stood against everything He was. He gave His life instead of protecting His own reputation! How different that picture is from so many of His modern day “followers” who feel compelled as “activists” to defend opinions, sacred views, or speak out at every opportunity against anything they deem as a threat to their ideology. Ultimately, I’m more interested in standing IN CHRIST—my identity—, and reflecting HIS life in everything I do, than “standing up” for an opinion, right, or viewpoint which may, in fact, be noble—my ideology! HIS Life is the ONLY thing that will truly bring about heart change! I think THAT takes much more “backbone” than spewing opinions and arguments simply because you have that “right”. Of course, many consider this (under the religious sounding guise) “standing up for what’s right”! What makes you “real” isn’t being willing to regurgitate everything you feel or think in any given moment. That often times makes you look like a “real” fool! Let wisdom & love—not your desire to be heard, agreed with, or validated— guide your heart, your words & your motivations to speak.
It is most obvious that there is an attack on the things that are near & dear to the heart of God, including those of us who seek after His heart, and live our lives IN HIM! It’s been that way forever! Good & Evil have never been “fishing buddies”! That really shouldn’t surprise you! It’s imperative that we understand who the real enemy is! Our battle is not with “flesh & blood”, it is a spiritual war! Boycotting & behavior modification do nothing to change the condition of the human heart! Symptomatic “management” only disguises & distorts the real needs of the heart! Humanity needs healing! It needs a Saviour! But when we insist on waging this war from a position of “flesh & blood”, we will lose every time! The enemy of our soul is an expert on human nature. He knows how to distract, to distort, and to cause us to put our “faith” in our own futile strength, personal beliefs, convictions, traditions, and performance! That's what he is doing now! He doesn’t want us fighting the war from our position of strength in Christ, and HIS Spirit living through us! From that position in our true identity, the war has already been won! We are free to live from THIS place, and watch HIS supernatural power & life be the change in the lives of the people of this culture! At what point will we stop simply standing up, piling our religious eggs in the basket of our own “belief systems”, opinions, and rightness, and start STANDING IN our identity IN CHRIST, by HIS SPIRIT, through HIS GRACE AND LOVE! These are not about us and our abilities & performance! They are about Him! He is the answer! He is the change! He is the hope for all! CHRIST IN US… At what point will those who claim to be His followers, actually start following?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“Puzzled By Parts”

We are so prone to make much ado about the smaller parts of the big picture! It’s easy to forget that the world doesn’t revolve around our whims, agendas, or our legendary attempts to manipulate the “cosmos”. We’re simply a “small part” of a much grander, far-reaching purpose than we often times seem to be aware of. Just like it’s nearly impossible to identify or guess the “finished product” of a one thousand piece jigsaw puzzle by focusing on one small, seemingly insignificant piece of that puzzle, so is our futile effort to try and identify the “whole picture” and the significance of our existence, by looking solely at “random” circumstances, events, or seasons of time by themselves, without the context of the greater purpose in which we simply play one part!
We’re so good at taking ourselves way too seriously, and exhibiting an over-inflated ego through the choices we make, the priorities we set, and the way we view the world and people around us.
Anything of substance that we see through our lives will only come through our connection with Love Himself in relationship, allowing Him to work through us for the GREATER PURPOSE—not simply to further our “small part” of the Greater Purpose.
We make our “small part” the WHOLE puzzle, and thus put the emphasis on our success, our performance, others’ perspective, outside opinions, and validation of “our small part”. Our efforts are predominantly spent for the benefit, and the sake of our “small part”. Our motives for doing what we do usually live on the side of self promotion and preservation of our “small part”. We evaluate the world and it’s goings on through the keyhole size lens of “self”.
We constantly look for the comfortable, familiar, or convenient to express our “small part” so we can somewhat control, manipulate, and orchestrate the “success” of our “small part”. It’s a “ME-centric” culture and paradigm that is so easy to fall victim to.
Our desires are motivated by our “small part” instead of HIS Greater PURPOSE!
The betterment, advancement, and display of the skills, gifts, or talents relative to our “small part” become the center point of our existence, instead of being willing and available to exhibit our gifts, talents, and abilities in WHATEVER capacity benefits the GREATER PURPOSE—even at the “risk” of obscuring our “small part”!
The greater purpose of Love Himself should be central to who we are. Our intimacy and relationship with Love Himself can fill us to the point of overflowing to the “outside-of-us” world—where our very lives are lived, naturally, peacefully, and passionately serving the Greater Purpose! Living relaxed, unencumbered by the constant assault of selfish whims and motivations, is the picture of what I tend to believe it really means to live a “John 10:10” kind of life—an abundant life.
Our “small part” will have varying impacts on the greater purpose from time to time—sometimes seen by the masses, and sometimes seen by only 2 or 3, but when our “small part” becomes the cornerstone for our existence and the focus of all our efforts and decisions, it’s then that it becomes difficult to love, to live loved, and to allow His greater purpose to invade our lives in beautiful, unique, powerful ways. We keep Love Himself in a “box”.
When we’re controlled by a self-seeking motivation to promote and express our “small part”, then all we’ll seek is acceptance, validation, and the approval of others, and THOSE are like drugs! You never get enough of them, and will never be satisfied, thus, our obsession becomes to seek the good of our “small part” at any and all costs, instead of seeking and serving the greater purpose of the establishment of Love’s Kingdom!
Lasting and significant promotion comes from God, NOT from self. When our focus is on the greater good, our gifts and abilities have a way of finding their place of greatest impact and service, however, the motivation for using, and achieving through our gifts should find their heart in a desire to help facilitate The greater purpose of life— which is something much bigger than our “individual” cause.
That’s why our hearts and our gifts must remain intimately connected to Love Himself. His life lives through us, reaching, touching, and serving the world around us—even at times, allowing us to enjoy the “spotlight” or the accolades. Of course, if our hearts are in the right place, the “credit” or “affirmative words and actions” are reflected back to the source of “every good and perfect gift”, Love Himself.
We are called to ONE PURPOSE. Our abilities, “vocational expertise”, or talents do NOT define us. HE does! And His love-motivated, heart-reaching “definition” of us transcends how “big or small”, how hidden or seen, how grand or “obscure” our parts may be. They are ALL needed and valued to help fulfill Love’s greater purpose! For no matter how small the piece of a large puzzle may be, without that one piece, the puzzle is still incomplete!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

“The Navigator is Not A Lincoln”

The journey to the end of yourself is long, agonizing, and maddening. I should know something about this, as I’m presently engaged in the journey. Not only that, but it is a “one lane” road—you have to travel it alone. Of course, you DO have a Navigator and guide who is more than willing to travel with you, if you so choose. But be prepared, for much of the time, He may be silent. At times, He only listens to your questions and frustrations, offering little explanation as to where you are on your journey or why you’re there. Though sometimes your emotions would lead you to believe He’s absent in your tears, be assured, He’s there holding you, silently weeping with you. He’s been exactly where you are, He’s felt ALL the emotional upheaval! You will “feel” alone, abandoned, rejected, mad as heck, but regardless, HIS truth stands AND is a reality even though every sign, every mile marker, and every familiar landmark give evidence to the contrary.
The deeper you get in this self-revealing journey, the more helpless you’ll feel. The more nauseated at yourself you’ll grow. This could be a side effect of pride leaving you. You’ll start feeling less and less the need to defend yourself, or make yourself “look” good. You’ll humbly accept responsibility instead of searching for excuses. There may be a tendency to completely loathe yourself, and everything and everyone who had a hand in your development. Ask the Navigator to reveal the root causes, but do NOT look for a place to lay blame. Extreme emotions will demand a voice and a response. You’ll comply many times, BUT, never let them take root in your heart. Let the Navigator preserve your heart! He’ll guard it with His life! You’re safe in your frustrating expression to Him. Abandon yourself to the wisdom and mercy of the Navigator! He can handle your emotion, your questions, even your mis-placed blame and anger! Just stay close to Him! Never pretend with Him! You never have to! You never look bad to him!
You’ll be reminded constantly about the things you’ve grown to hate in yourself. You’ll see those things in other people, systems of thinking, and beliefs. You’ll have a hard time separating the spirit behind those things from the people who evidence them in their lives. Hang in there! Don’t keep it inside! Cast it all on the Navigator. He invites you to! He can handle it! You’ll be judged by others continually! You might as well just accept that! It will still piss you off, and make you want to “rip them”, fight them, expose them, or loudly accuse them. But sadly, you can’t keep people from judging or giving their “ivory tower”, self righteous, “demi-god” perspectives. Ask the Navigator to free you from the opinions of others! You’ll NEVER be able to love them, until you care nothing of their opinions of you OR their validation and approval!
It all starts, continues, and finishes in faith in the reality that the Navigator is for you—He loves you completely and perfectly! Live and journey in THAT reality, and let THAT reality be the force that gently, purely, and surely guides you on this journey!
Allow the Navigator to help you see through His perspective! He knows the way and everything about it!
You quite possibly will lose every hint of self-assurance, self-esteem, and self- confidence! Don’t fear this! The Navigator wants to properly place the assurance, esteem, and confidence safely in Him alone!
You’ll be prone to hurting those closest to you at times because you’re wounded. All you know is “it hurts”. Like a wounded animal, sometimes you don’t know the difference between help and hurt. Your trust may have to be restored in relationships—even the relationship itself may have to be rebuilt—The Navigator’s way. You’re experiencing a death of sorts, you’re being re-made…that is IF you allow the Navigator to continue leading you on this journey!
As the Navigator lovingly unearths things in you, your reactions might be drastic and erratic. Just hang in there! Don’t “abandon the journey”! Don’t suppress your emotion! Vent to the Navigator! Just “collapse” in the love, mercy, and wisdom of the Navigator! You’re safe there! He’ll hold you tight for as long as it takes for you to renew your strength to continue the beautiful, yet painful journey of coming to the end of yourself. As the journey goes on, look for new strength, new love, healing, freedom, peace, and oases to stop off at and join with other “pilgrims” to rest, refresh, encourage, and love on those who are on this same, yet unique journey with the Navigator! And so we travel on.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"Senseless"

We are all guilty. We are all human. (Well, the jury’s still out on some people I know.) We depend heavily on our senses to define our reality. I’m not a religious person, nor am I a “traditional american christian”. By the way, neither was Jesus, so I think I’m cool there.
I am, however, a passionate Christ follower! And THIS is what has turned my whole world upside down, wrecked my long held ideas and opinions, undermined and redefined my paradigms, and quite frankly, revolutionized my life in a beautiful, love-showered, peaceful way! Now, I’ve not “arrived” yet, but I have had a glimpse of my true identity, and I’m “in route” toward that!
I never realized until the past couple of years just how much I’ve depended on my senses, my tainted logic, external opinions and perspective to define my identity and my reality. It’s easy to fall into that trap, especially when society, and a majority of the people I know seem to follow that path. It’s easier, more popular, and more people can identify with you. I guess it’s true that “misery” DOES love company.
The thing is though, I’ve never been one that is cool with conformity. I’ve never accepted for my life the standard reasoning of “everyone’s doing it”, “that’s life”, or “it’s the recognized norm”. I’ve experienced a sort of clash of the titans within my soul for years. On one hand, I’m a creative, child-like, hopeful, free spirit who desires to explore possibilities and who dares to believe for the best. But on the other hand, I have faced an intense fear of rejection for years which has indeed caused me to accommodate others, be controlled by their opinions of me, and compromise my unorthodox, God-given yearnings for the sake of being validated and accepted! So, you can imagine what a hell-ish existence THAT can be! A constant tug of war, with my heart caught in the middle. And lost in all of that chaotic crap was the truth of who I really was, and how abundant my life could be when I discovered that reality and lived in that space. LIVING LOVED! What a freedom! What a Life! And yet, for years, I only believed, in theory, and in anyone else’s life but mine, that THIS might be experienced in some limited and temporary way. My senses, surroundings, and experiences were my lenses of life.
Love Himself sees us in a different reality! It is NOT filtered through religion, opinion, or intellect. Love sees us complete, full of potential, lacking nothing, and priceless! Through the ultimate expression of Love, Life, and Giving, our identities were forever changed! THIS identity is true! Love Himself sees us not through the fickle perspective of opinion, reputation, or human validation. Love’s reality of us is pure, and cannot be improved through self help, self promotion, or self “worthiness”. When Love Himself declares who and whose we are, that is settled! It’s a done deal! Our fight comes in placing our faith in what Love declares about us, and not what our senses tell us about who we seem to be. Our senses are constantly changing, and forever influenced by external happenings, ever-changing perception, and fickle humanity, quite frankly. Love’s definition of our Life is the unshakable, secure foundation that nurtures powerful possibilities, limitless wonder, and divine creativity! We have an example of what this life can look like. He’s our one standard, our source of faith, hope, and strength. He IS Jesus, Love Himself! His life CAN BE our life! He’s inviting us into this incredible reality! But, it just might lead you on a journey, a journey of trusting in Love Himself, a journey that may seem………senseless! What a journey, what a reality, what a LIFE! Peace!