Saturday, August 13, 2011

How I See It... (Aug. 12)

How I See It... (Aug. 12)
The believer has two sources from which to live: the Spirit or the flesh. Choosing to walk in the empowerment of the Spirit will result in a demonstrations of Jesus' life flowing through you. Choosing to walk after the flesh will result in a demonstration of all the unpleasant ways you have pursued a false sense of life apart from God. You can't refuse to choose, it's either one or the other. Choose Empowerment!

How I See It.... (Aug. 11)

How I See It.... (Aug. 11)
Fear is an emotional reaction we feel when we do not know what might happen and anticipate an outcome that will bring hurt into our lives.  When we let fear control our thoughts we fail to trust that there is One who sovereignly works all things in our lives together for good.  But when we hold up our anxious thoughts against the promise of His continual presence and eternal life, our fears give way to peace.

How I See It....(Aug. 10)

How I See It....(Aug. 10)
The idea that we can control people & circumstances to secure a sense of well being for ourselves is a lie as old as time. By holding on to this notion, we place our faith in ourselves & assume responsibility for the outcomes. In so doing we miss out on the very experience of life for which we're searching. However, when we relinquish our death grip on the fears & expectations that drive us to control & place them into the care of God, then we're finally free to live.

How I See It… (Aug. 9)

How I See It… (Aug. 9)
It is critical for a wounded soul to rediscover his will. For the will is integrally connected to faith. While the blessings of God are given by grace, they are received & experienced as we place our faith in what God has said and done. If we believe that we can't choose & have no power to decide or trust, we will be paralyzed as victims of our circumstances. God has given us a spirit of power. We have what we need to believe, to trust, to choose!

Monday, August 08, 2011

How I See It.... (Aug. 8)

How I See It.... (Aug. 8)
We who are in Christ are new creations. Because of His great love God sent Jesus to become sin through crucifixion, so that by grace, through faith we who were enemies of God might become His righteousness in Christ. That's radical transformation! That's grace! And it changes everything! Our great challenge is believing that God has made us righteous in Christ- living righteously will flow out of that believing.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

How I See It..... (Aug. 6)

How I See It..... (Aug. 6)
The world, our flesh & the devil oppose our walk in reliance upon the Spirit. So perseverance is essential in the Christian's life, but our perseverance must be at the level of our trusting, believing & relying on the resources of God for victory rather than our own. It is His adequacy, righteousness & life that we depend upon. Yes, we persevere in saying "no" to ungodliness, but we must first be diligent in saying "yes" to the fullness of God's Spirit as our source.

Friday, August 05, 2011

How I See it.... (Aug. 5)

How I See it.... (Aug. 5)
God (who is love) does not change.  He is just, and He must judge & punish sin.  Because of His great love for guilty ones, He satisfied his own just demands in Christ, & by grace He has offered the free gift of forgiveness & redemption to anyone who reaches to Him in repentance & faith. Jesus bore the judgement for my sin, & offered me His eternal life.

How I See It.... (Aug 4)

How I See It.... (Aug 4)
Everything that is true about love is true about God for God is love. He is patient and kind. God does not envy or boast, and He isn't proud. He does not dishonor and He isn't self-seeking. God is not easily angered, and He keeps no record of wrongs. He despises evil & rejoices in truth. God never ever fails.

How I See It….(August 3)

How I See It….(August 3)
Freedom is not as much about having victory over being tempted by a particular sin as it is learning the truth about what Jesus has done regarding my sin. It has been paid for. He has set me free from bondage to it. I don't have to live as a slave of it. I am empowered by the righteous Spirit of Jesus to live in freedom if I choose. I am only one choice away from walking in the freedom Jesus died to give me.

How I See It..... (August 2)

How I See It….(August 2)
Biblically speaking, death is separation from God, & life is relationship with God. Jesus came to give us life to the full (Jn. 10:10), By His death, He made it possible for us to have a full & meaningful relationship with God. What a tragedy that this simple message has been misfigured into complex religious systems that often leave people longing for life rather than overflowing with it.

How I See It..... (August 1)

How I See It….(August 1)
I believe that we were created to live dependent upon God: not people, not wealth, not status, not governments. These are only tools in the hand of God. Sometimes it is only when we realize that they cannot be relied upon that we finally take hold of God as Living Water, Bread of Life and the Vine through which everything we need flows.

How I See It..... (July 31)

How I see it..... (July 31)
Many of us use prayer, obedience, giving, even positive thinking to secure certain blessings from God. In so doing, we're showing that we believe we can control God. This false belief is similar to the serpent's lie, "you can be like God." Pray passionately, obey without hesitation, give generously & think truthful thoughts, but do so in love for God, not to secure the blessing of God.

How I See It..... (July 30)

How I see it.... (July 30)
We can't live the Christian life. It isn't just difficult it's impossible. Only one person can live the Christian life, & that's Christ himself. We can't produce Christlikeness apart from the empowerment & inspiration of Jesus who indwells us. On the other hand, consider all that can be accomplished through us if we're living fully surrendered to the One who indwells us!

How I See It..... (July 29)

How I see it.... (July 29)
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ make up the climax and center of Scripture. As we read everything leading up to it, we read of how God is setting the stage to fulfill all things in Christ. In that which follows, we can see the outworking of that redemptive work through the New Covenant in those who believe.

How I See It..... (July 28)

How I see it.... (July 28)
God has given to us divinely powerful weapons to deal with the thoughts, ideas & speculations that are hurled in our direction. We have the power to take those thoughts captive & bring them into submission to the will & way of God. While these thoughts are relentless, God's power is equally continuous & much greater than the power of any enemy we face. Your victory is sure, walk in it!

How I See It..... (July 27)

How I see it.... (July 27)
God's has not asked me to try to be like Jesus so much as He has invited me to trust that Jesus is now alive in me to live His own life through me. All of my attempts to duplicate the life of Jesus are doomed to failure unless I'm restfully yielding my will to His and allowing His Spirit to guide and empower me. So, we get to choose: Trying OR Trusting? Running OR Resting?

How I See It..... (July 26)

How I see it.... (July 26)
An environment that measures performance against a standard & encourages the keeping up of appearances will produce shame & striving. Each failure to meet the expectations of others will push us further into hiddenness. Maturity & healing happen best in an environment that values authenticity & generously accepts people wherever they are in their journey.

How I See It..... (July 25)

How I see it.... (July 25)
God knows who we are, what we've done & what we will yet do. Still, in love He offers us the gift of His Son. Each who believes is transformed from sinner to saint, from darkness to light, from enemy to friend, from death to life. As we grow in trust & understanding of what God has done for us, we will see the emergence of new desires, priorities, and behaviors- that's maturity.

How I See It..... (July 24)

How I see it.... (July 24)
The law of Christ is love- love God, love others- this is true. But all our loving, no matter how consistent and purely motivated, cannot take away our problem of sin. Only a perfect sacrifice can satisfy the just demand for righteousness, and God Himself has graciously given this to us in Christ. Love? Yes, but do so as an outworking of His grace, not to become worthy of it.

How I See It..... (July 23)

How I see it... (July 23)
As a believer in Jesus, my proximity to God is multi-dimensional. I am "in Him" & He is "in me" (Jn. 14:20-21). The Bible says I WAS in Christ when He died & rose again & now I AM "seated with Christ in heavenly places". All of this is true whether I'm lying on my bed, driving my car or sitting at my desk. It's not a future promise; it's a present reality, & I can rest in the security of it today!

How I See It..... (July 22)

How I see it.... (July 22)
For the believer in Jesus, physical death is the God-appointed moment when our outer man gives way to earthy circumstances ending it's temporal existence to enter the presence of Jesus for eternity. The great hope of the Christian Gospel is an everlasting union with God that begins at the moment we believe & never ends! We don't have to wait to begin enjoying the benefits of our everlasting LIFE!

How I See It..... (July 21)

How I see it.... (July 21)
Because my new heart longs to honor God, my greatest hope for NOT walking after my flesh is choosing to walk in the Spirit. Focussing on my sin will only lead to more of the same, but when I'm living right in the middle of all that God says is true about me and the Spirit of God is empowering me, I'll naturally fulfill my heart's deep longing to glorify God!

How I See It..... (July 19)

How I see it.... (July 19)
To be "in Christ" means that my life has been joined together with His- I died with Him, I was buried and rose from death with Him. In Him I live and move and have my being. As I choose to believe and live in these realities, He lives freely through me, revealing His glory and bearing fruit that is Spiritual.

How I See It..... (July 18)

How I see it.... (July 18)
Sin is best dealt with by a process called redemption- my attempts to manage my sin are tantamount to saying that I don't need a Savior. Sin cannot be dealt with by works- it must be dealt with by grace. Repentance of sin involves me changing my mind toward it- seeing it as God sees it- forgiven, forgotten and inconsistent with my new identity in Christ. "Christ in me, the hope of glory"

How I See It..... (July 17)

How I see it.... (July 17)
Grace is the free gift of God's favor lavished upon those created in His image without condition or expectation. Because of grace prodigals can become heirs, sinners can become saints, and those bound to sin and evil can become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Unhealthy Sources of Identity

Unfortunately, I often define myself, not only by my past sins, but also by my past wounds and successes. Sometimes the failures of my past shape my identity and I see myself as a pervert, a narcissist, a liar, a Pharisee or a gossip. The enemy loves it when I drag my failures forward, and he’s all too willing to add his two cents to the discussion. He’s also happy when I look at my successes to define myself. He is a major proponent of the “I am what I do and how well I do it” philosophy. Allow a success or two- even in the area of victory over sin- to happen, and it’s not long before I’m seeing myself as an excellent counselor, a gifted singer, an anointed preacher or a clever IT guy. All or none of these things may be true, but they NEVER define me! What I do is NOT who I am! When my wounds, hurts and losses rise up to become a theme in my thinking, I can fall into the pattern of believing that I am defined by them- I am a victim. I am detestable to others. I’m not a real man. Blah, blah, blah! Again, I am not defined by the wounds of my past! They are a historical fact, but they don’t say a thing about who I am!

To find my identity, you have to look at whose I am. I belong to God. He is my creator and my Father. I am His precious son. I have been brought out of death into life, out of darkness into light. He has given me the righteousness of Jesus. He has “removed” my sins from me and has raised me to walk in newness of LIFE. This is the supreme reality of my life and the source of my identity.

I must continually remind myself where Identity comes from and what Papa says of me. The key to believing this truth is hearing it from Him over and over again. As I know and love Him, I become more and more convinced of His love. He shapes my will, aligning it with His own and empowers me with the very life of Jesus to do that will!

Getting what I didn't get as a child.

I have come to believe that God is “re-parenting” me! By that, I mean that He is becoming everything to me that my father was unable to be. He provides for me in perfect ways what my mother was imperfect in providing. This happens as I live in personal relationship with God. Knowing Him as Papa, I bring my hurts, fears and feelings of inadequacy to Him, and He speaks to them with truth- teaching me what I don’t know or helping me walk out what He’s already taught. It is imperative that intimacy and relationship become my supreme ideals- more than victory or maturity. In an economy of grace, victory must be secondary to intimacy. Progress outside of relationship is usually the result of law, and it’s only temporary.

Not only does this happen in the context of relationship with God, but God also provides me with mama’s and papa’s with skin on- people who speak His truth to me. They love me unconditionally (in His strength) and I learn to live loved. They delight in me, and I feel valued. They care for by providing wise counsel and instruction, and I grow like boy learns from his mom and dad.

In these ways, He is "Father to the fatherless" to me.

Thanks, Papa!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Godly Sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Godly sorrow is a profound awareness of the loss experienced when you live out of your own resources apart from the Vine. It is regret for a wasted opportunity to experience God’s best. I don’t believe that it produces shame or condemnation, but a sort of grief. Godly sorrow doesn’t paralyze or polarize us. Rather it moves us toward our longing to live consistent with the truth and draws us back into intimacy and dependence upon Christ. Godly sorrow doesn’t feel like unforgiveness, more like disconnection. It awakens the wanderer to independence and self-reliance and guides to brokenness and surrender.

When my soul has grown cold, indifferent and disoriented because I have yielded more to my flesh than His Spirit, I experience a quickening in my spirit. It feels like a dissonant chord sounds when two or three unrelated notes are played simultaneously. It’s a sense of not belonging. “Hey, John, something’s not right here. You and this sin don’t go together.” The foreign feeling is an indicator that catches my attention. Upon realizing that I have wandered, I see the ways I’ve given time, effort and energy to my flesh. Godly sorrow is the deep sense of sadness I feel for what I’ve done that compels me to turn in God’s direction. If I’m wise in that moment, I cry out to the Father and choose LIFE- aligning my will with His. “Lord, draw me from my wandering and independence back into complete dependence upon you!”

On Overcoming and Victory

I believe that my only hope for overcoming the areas where I still struggle is to really connect with and believe the truth of my identity “in Christ”. As I become convinced of who I am, I will learn to live from that core belief. As the Spirit leads, I will be sorrowful over the times I live contrary to my identity and repent by choosing to align my will with His. Christ in me will live through me to the extent that I surrender to Him. Living loved, I will bear fruit of righteousness, and my flesh will weaken as I walk in the Spirit.

Victory isn’t my goal. Relationship is. It’s important to me to keep this focus, because it pulls my focus off of sin and self on to relationship with the Father through the Son. I want HIM more than I want victory for me. If my struggle causes me to need Him and depend on Him, then I welcome the struggle- even if it isn't pleasant.

I am free to stop focusing on “victory” as my supreme goal because failure isn’t my supreme problem. The problem of “sins” was resolved in Christ at the cross. By faith I received Him and was placed into Him. By propitiation God’s righteous demands were satisfied, and I have been forgiven, cleansed and set free from the power of sin and death (1 John 4:10). I have been given victory, so I am free to pursue intimacy! This is LIFE! (John 10:10)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

True Self / False Self

My true self is what God says is true of me in the New Covenant. I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live. I have been raised into newness of life. I am risen and free in Him. All of the guilt and shame of my old self has been dealt with in the death and burial of Jesus. Now I am raised up with Him to walk new, whole and free! My true self is not defined by the yearnings of my flesh, by the temptations that swirl around me, or by the dysfunctions in my biology. Sin can no longer be used against me because of the finished work of the cross. I am defined by what has become true of me in Christ. I am known. I was chosen. I am loved. I have been adopted as a son. I am a joint heir with Jesus. I have been made righteous. I am forgiven. I am free. I will live forever.

The false self is a fabrication of my flesh. I created it to cope with my shame. It’s the mask I wear and coping mechanisms I press into when I’m suffering form “Identity Alzheimer’s”. When the shame and self-hatred of sin convinces me that I’m lacking something, I pull out the false self and try to cover my pain or numb out from the pain. Personally, I become “Mr. Nice Guy”, a virtual fountain of compassion and help. I divert attention from my own pain by trying to help and fix other people. Perfectionism is also a manifestation of the false self. I hold myself to the impossible standard of doing it right, doing it well, doing it better than… Any flaw or failure becomes a tool with which I punish myself. I also have a victim suit in my false self closet. He is skillful at gaining pity before people have a chance to reject him. He must do that because it’s not possible that anyone could love him for who he really is (shamed, ugly, flawed). And so the cycle continues as long as I’m living as if Jesus didn’t die to set me free!