Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"Identity Reflection"

What if we as Christ followers focused more on reflection than correction? When we reflect the heart of Christ to others, Christ in us draws them to Him. By His grace through faith they receive salvation, and His Spirit in them will take care of the correction and transformation in their lives. That seems pretty obvious, right? The problem is, religion--including some western expressions of Christianity--is built on the "correction" narrative. Much of the emphasis is on personal performance, principle following, behavior modification, and shame and fear-based living. It should be on pointing to and reflecting His Heart, His Love, His Power, and His Cross! Ultimately, it seems that those who focus on a “corrective” narrative have more faith in the fallibility of humanity, and their ability to point out the error in others, than they do in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to lead & guide into truth, and the redemptive love of Christ to affect and correct the lives of people.

"Seeing As A Son"

When you understand your new identity in Christ, you no longer have to focus on the fallibility of the flesh, the brokenness of the fallen world, or on shaming ourselves into principle-laden behavior modification. That "sounds" humble, spiritual, and all, but it's actually prideful and self-righteous. We are NEW creations in Christ, and we can live every aspect of our lives from THAT reality by the Holy Spirit in and through us. We're no longer shackled by the confinements of human nature in a sinful world. In Christ, we are no longer "sinners saved by grace". We were, but now, we are sons & daughters of the King, set free to live in the reality of our all-things-new lives! #MiDentity517 #AllThingsNew #InChrist #AboveAndBeyond

"Faith Over Feeling"

Faith isn't intrinsic in humanity, but feelings are. Faith is established in eternal truth, while feelings are established in temporary circumstance. Faith is stronger than feeling, and though it may take time to see, Faith will get the final word, and what you believe for in faith will come to pass, even though the feelings and circumstance may evidence the opposite at present. We are called to a life of faith not feelings, in Christ. This is completely counterintuitive to human nature. That's why, as Paul said, "The life I now live (in the flesh) I live BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD." I have to live my "natural" life from HIS supernatural faith. #DontGiveUp#DeclareTruth #SensesLie #Stand

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

"My Journey To Freedom Through My Fight To Forgive" (In Process)

My biggest issue over the last 20 plus years relative to growing in grace, and living in the freedom and fullness of Life and my identity in Christ, has been learning to forgive every voice, movement, or messenger, who, under the guise of truth, christian living, or religious performance, has completely misrepresented and distorted the heart of God toward me and others, His character, His purpose and desires for me, His word to me, who I am IN Christ, and the reality of what the gospel really is. It took a long time to dump that junk, and get healed. I struggled for a long time with the insincerity and arrogance of people who claimed to speak for and represent the voice of God, and the controlling, manipulative ways in which they duped and shamed people with passionate & sincere hearts toward God, who had legitimate questions and doubts about their relationship to Him, and His heart and plan for them. I've seen scads of people through the years who have been damaged personally, had their families wrecked, been marginalized, ostracized, and falsely labeled by self-righteous "insiders", and had their faith turned to cynicism and a completely jaded perspective as a result of this religious travesty, and complete misrepresentation of Father God. I watched as much of modern day church in America had a way of keeping its followers in enough uncertainty and question to be able to control them, or “lead” them into conformity to a religious system and construct, instead of pointing and encouraging them, without self-serving motives, into a growing, life-giving, intimate relationship with Christ. Modern day pharisees would justify this spiritual “shell game”, since it had become quite the career builder and entrepreneurial venture to “build” churches, influence people, and market ministry. Maybe they feared that if they sincerely espoused the power and simplicity of Jesus, the reality of the gospel, and the power of the Holy Spirit within His followers to live free, abundant, committed lives to Christ without "strings" of allegiance attached to an institution, personality, or group, they might risk losing their market share, or having their “bottom line” affected. So they became “educated”, and schooled in the commentaries, the Greek, the Hebrew, the lexicons, and so forth, getting “puffed up” with all the spiritual sounding knowledge they could, adding titles and educational credentials to their names to validate their “right” to lead and tell others how to think and what to believe. They appeared to parse it out a little at a time, with a "new revelation" here, a "fresh" interpretation there, or an out-of-context scriptural spin or twist so the “sheeple” would have to continually keep coming back under their leadership to make sure they were living rightly, and getting the right answers--to "keep" their salvation current & "sure". Confusion, mistrust, and even cynicism would set in. In a sense, these “ministers” and spiritual “leaders” sort of became substitutionary relationships with God for them. They controlled through fear, shame, and a personal performance, principle-following narrative. They took on the role of middleman between God and the people. Sound familiar? I wondered what it would be like if Christian leaders were actually more interested in genuinely connecting people to their identities in Christ, equipping them in their gifts and callings, releasing them to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of their lives, encouraging their journeys into His abundant life for them, even if it didn’t include their continued loyalty to or involvement in that leader’s particular venture or organization? Many of them instead seemed to be more focused on building something, "franchising" their faith or movement for the sake of "evangelism" or "winning the lost", establishing their reputation or philosophy, or gathering a following through promoting their influence and perspectives. I thought I was over alot of that stuff years ago as I transitioned out of religious performance into a love-transformed life of grace and power in Christ, but as God began to correct my perspective, and realign me with my true identity in Christ, the light of His love, grace, and truth, unearthed the "ugly" in me. What a vulnerable journey and process it has been. I am learning to let go, forgive, allow Him to love, through me, the “perpetrators and purveyors” of the injustices and misrepresentations of God toward people, and stop trying to be the crusader and activist for those who have been so hurt and disillusioned by religion. God has been reminding me patiently and lovingly that that is NOT my fight, that “they” are not the enemy. I have a call to love and to reflect Him toward the others by His Spirit in and through me. Only His Spirit can lead and guide others into the freedom of truth. The only way to experience freedom from lies, is to encounter the Truth Himself, to reflect that Truth above all--even opinion and tradition--and to begin to see yourself, and others the way HE does! The question is, are you willing to risk reputation, rejection, and even some "relationships", and humble yourself in complete honesty and trust to a loving Father by allowing Him to do this work in you, even if it means letting go of so much baggage and misinformation that you have accumulated as a result of living in a fear-based, shame-inducing, performance-driven existence?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

"The Frustrations and Facades of Following In Faith"

The greatest frustration of faith is to live on earth in constant belief in the reality of who God is, His heart for us, His desire for an abundant life for us, and what our identity in Christ means practically; but to live that faith life here on earth, so far at least, without much evidence in the natural reflecting those spiritual realities that our faith is built on. Living up there while living down here. At what point does my spiritual reality manifest in my natural circumstances?
I've grown stronger in my spirit over the past 3 years than I could have ever imagined, and I've grown more secure in my identity in Christ than ever. However, the weaknesses of my flesh have never been more glaring, my emotional "dumps" on God have never been more honest, frustrating, and raw. What a paradox...as my Spirit strengthens, my flesh grows weaker. The toughest thing is trying to live "up there", while living "down here". And yet THAT is how we can live because of Christ in us. Our spiritual reality has authority over our natural existence. But what a tough transition it is to begin living that kind of life though. It's the process of giving birth to the new. Can anybody relate, or am I losing my freaking mind?
If I could ask God one question (two parts) face to face right now, it would be, Just how long do you consider long enough for one to stay in the same, tortuous, fatigue-filled season of struggle and obscurity? And, what is the purpose continually torturing me by what appear to be glimpses of breakthroughs into a new season, only to realize that those glimpses seem to only be cruel mirages for me to painfully observe, while continuing to languish in the same cycle of mind numbing sameness and oppression? By the way, you're not God, so save your religious answers, and empty platitudes of piety for someone else. These are real questions that arise in the very real struggle of living in faith, growing in intimacy with God, and settling into my identity in Christ. By the way, there ARE answers to these questions, but you have to be willing to hear the answers from Him alone.
For me, the fatigue has been a cumulative process. Mentally mostly. The waiting and preparing for so long has just kind of reached a tipping point. I'm discovering the priceless treasure of meditation, and praying in the spirit more than I EVER have. I have finally reached a place where I am more dependent on God for every stinking thing in my life. I have literally reached a point where I have no trust in my ability as a human to make any decisions. I have to lean on the wisdom and understanding of God for every single thing. That is completely counterintuitive to the nature of a man. We are protectors, providers, and defenders. That's been a humbling reality and process. I've been in a position where I have not felt like a provider, defender, or protector. When all the while, God was simply leading me to the place of my ultimate strength – depending on him for all of that. My understanding of my identity has been completely revolutionized! So many Christians don't have a clue as to what it means to actually have our identity in Christ! My ideas of what I thought human reasoning and common sense were have been blown to bits! It's just like what Paul said, when he said "the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the very faith of the son of God!" Everything about my life, including what I consider my strong points, have to be lived from the very life of Christ in me. Paul also said that, "In my flesh there dwells no good thing." Wow, I have discovered that first hand!
Do you ever ask yourself, can I possibly be as screwed up as I feel? Why else does the process of becoming seem to take so long? The unraveling of self is messy. But healing is messy too. Just ask any surgeon. It's in the maddening messy where we are tempted to say, just sew me back up, and keep me medicated. I'll just "manage" my misery. But healing, and wholeness will never be achieved that way. Sadly, in the natural, pain management has become big business. Killing one slowly while "managing" symptoms, without really dealing with root causes. It's the same way in our lives. Religion has devised systems of "pain management". They call it "shame management", or even sin management. I've been an open book most of my life, or so I thought. God has revealed to me that I've been selective with the pages that I freely open. It's a defense mechanism, where I try to preserve an image toward others, overcompensating for my issues by putting an outgoing, compliant, even humorous, somewhat self-deprecating persona out there as an attempt to be approved, accepted, liked, and valued. Those parts are an open book, but I've been very self-preserving and manipulative about which parts of me I let others see. Well, God has unlocked every cave, every secret passageway, and every self-protecting mechanism I had. He has laid me bare, and it feels like all hell has broken loose at the same time in my emotions, my mind, and my circumstances. It has left me feeling spent, numb, and facing the reality that I am desperate for Him in every area of my life. Now, even those things I thought were my strengths, I have no confidence in them any more. I have been made painfully aware of the reality that there is such a futility in humanity. And yet, God loved humanity so much, valued us so highly, that He gave His all—His own Son for our redemption. And, He chose to deposit His Spirit in flawed humanity, so we could have new identity—sons and daughters of a King. He chose us as His heirs, and as joint heirs with His only Son, Jesus. And now, in vessels of clay, He has deposited treasure--His heart, and the privilege to live His Kingdom and His will here and now. What a privilege. What a love. What a Life. What a God!

Monday, April 2, 2018

”Grace, Fearful Risk or Secure Reality?”

Grace is the scariest possibility to one whose spiritual identity and reality are rooted in systems of merit, shame-based performance, and a fear-motivated existence. No wonder the cross, the gospel of the Kingdom, actual identity in Christ, eternal security, and the Grace of God expressed through the atonement are such threats to man-made systems of control, behavior modification, and shame. The blood of Jesus and the cross set us free from the power by which those systems operate. Once people are set free from the power of sin, fear, and death to fully live In Christ, led completely by His Spirit, then man can no longer control with methods of sin management, the threat of punishment, and fear of being rejected, unloved, and judged by God. When the Son sets us free, it is definitely a "FREE INDEED" freedom! When Grace is revealed to you, it produces a passion for intimacy and closeness with God through our Life in Christ! That's freedom!! It doesn't, as some legalists would presume, produce a licsentious desire to live self-indulgently, satisfying every whim of our human nature! That's bondage. Grace is not a theoretical "idea"! It is not a "catch phrase" to legitimize some other message! It isn't license to live a self indulgent, careless lifestyle! It is LIFE! It is BLESSING, FAVOR, & ABUNDANCE! It is our IDENTITY, In CHRIST! It is HEALING & WHOLENESS! It draws us to the heart of God, not to the edge of the line between right & wrong! Grace changes the very desires of your heart. When you know your identity in Christ, fear becomes a non-factor. That's why Grace and religion don't mix. The day that religion ceases and relationship begins, is when we stop trying to "understand" God and striving to please Him, and instead start to enjoy "knowing" Him, and abiding in Him through Christ in us, our hope and our true identity. Striving keeps the focus on our performance, but abiding keeps the focus on Him. Understanding comes through abiding, not striving. The more you understand what Grace is and how it covers EVERY aspect of living, the more you realize how opposite it is from so much of what recent cultural religious tradition has taught us that it is!! I believe that the greatest persecution to the message of Grace & the finished work of Jesus at the Cross, will not come from sinners looking for a savior, but rather the self-righteous and religious, looking to save themselves.