8.31.15–>”The Two Super Powers”

us china

Colossians 3:1-2

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things which are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth…

It’s really quite amazing how much power is at our fingertips, granted to us by YHWH, when you think about it.

He has given us our mind, with has at least a modicum (or much more) of free will, and He has given us Jesus Christ, whom He hs given all authority in heaven and on earth.

For the most part, we can choose what we think about and, therefore, program our minds however we would like. (I say “for the most part” since I don’t understand the details of brain damage as well as those who have given up their free will to habits and allowed auto-pilot to take over–see Romans 1:24ff)

Unless we acquiesce to habit and auto-pilot takeover, we can fill our very powerful minds with that which omnipotently gives peace–Jesus Christ. I think we are all seeking inner peace, and I believe it truly, and ultimately comes only through Jesus Christ–the very real, the very alive, Son of God.

Our quintessential existence is to be one with God, just as Jesus was. “I and the Father are one” (Jn.10:30). Jesus was our prototype, not our wishful thinking. “Anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father” (Jn.14:12). To be one, you are to be in constant communication and communion. To the point that our desires become exactly the same. Our ways of seeing start to close together. So then, whatever we ask for, we receive, because we are asking for exactly what YHWH desires already and wants to bring to fruition through you.

I’ve always believed that the mind is the best weapon. -John Rambo

Free will can be our most glorious gift used for blessing, or else the most heinous of curses. It all depends on how we use it. What we choose to focus upon. We have seen, in an empirically verifiable manner, the plasticity of the human brain. That it operates like our muscles, lungs, and heart, in that, whatever we put it through over and over becomes easier and easier. You go to the gym to do weight training and/or cardio. The second time you go to do that exact same routine, it is easier. Same with the brain, except we normally do not think of training the brain at the neuro fitness center. Yet that is exactly what is asked of us by Jesus and throughout Scripture–see John 15. It is clear we are to fix our minds on Jesus (Heb.12:2). This is done through prayer, meditation, Scripture memorization, imagination, music–all with the telos of fixing the mind on God and training it to stay there at all times, not wandering off. The more you train, the easier it becomes.

Anyone can do this.

Doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging or will not be met with considerable resistance.

But we do that which is most important to us.

It is difficult to describe the peace and joy this gives, to remain in constant contact with Christ, looking to Him for every answer and for every comfort in every situation. To defer to Him in every circumstance. No, I’m not perfect at it, but I’m light years ahead of where I was five years ago. Due to intentional training to stay connected, open, and available to the Holy Spirit.

Anyone can do this.

Many Christians are what some describe as “saved but not free.” This is because, though they believe, they have not undergone the training necessary for the renewing of their mind (Rom.12:2). Hence, many settle for the default crappy auto-pilot setting which is the path of least resistance.

There is no greater thing our mind can behold than God, His beauty, and His love. Anything else falls  pitifully short of that. Dwelling on the pinnacle brings you into it. Whatever you focus on most and treasure above all else is where your heart will be.

Your beauty beheld, Oh Lord, cancels out all in my mind that is harmful and unneeded. 

8.28.15–>”Rats & Garbage”

rats

John 14:30

I haven’t got much more to say to you. The ruler of the world is coming. He has nothing to do with me.

Wherever you have a lot of garbage, you’ll have rats. Because there is something to easily feed upon.

Wherever you have a lot of sin, you’ll have demonic activity. Because there is something to easily feed upon.

If you do not want rats, remove the garbage. This is much easier than kicking the rats away over and over while doing nothing about all the trash lying around.

This is a good picture of the very real spirit world all around and within us. Demons harass even us Christians. They do not possess us. Demon possession is not mentioned in the Bible actually. It simply says he or she “had a demon.” They can and must be commanded to leave in Jesus’ name, but you always want to first remove what they feed upon, because by harboring sin, you are giving them a legal right to be with you.

This can be the not-so-obvious sins of the thought life–self-deprecation, a contemptuous attitude of judgement, nourished anger, coveting, and the biggie: unforgiveness.

On my hiking trip to Colorado earlier this month, we took a shuttle from the airport over to the car rental place. In the shuttle I noticed the plethora of handles to hold on to and stabilize yourself inside. The more handles you have, the more people who can hang on and ride safely. All of those toxic mind sets mentioned above, as well as actions against God’s ways are handles for the demonic to hold on to for a smooth ride. The more handles you provide for them…

This verse, John 14:30, is one of the most intriguing in Scripture to me. It’s somewhat obscure, easy to gloss over, but so very insightful. It’s Jesus talking of course, and some translations read “He [Satan] has nothing in me.” Jesus had no handles for the evil one to hold on to. No garbage, so no rats lived inside or were welcome or had anything to feed upon. The devil tempted Jesus, but had nothing to sink his teeth into because Jesus heart was so pure and focused on His Father.

Your actions are pretty darn important. Your thought life is extremely important. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. Eph.4:26-27

Don’t give the devil a foothold.

Do not give evil anything to feed upon or hold on to.

May we become more like Jesus as our hearts become more and more pure, giving less and less for evil to cling to, and eventually no legal right to be here.

8.27.15–>”Jesus’ Words are Life”

breathe in spirit

John 6:63-64

It’s the spirit that gives life; the flesh is no help. The words that I have spoken to you–they are spirit, they are life. But there are some of you who don’t believe.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that Jesus’ words are Life. His actual teachings are spirit and sustenance to our souls in the most practical of ways.

What if we fed on Jesus’ words as if we were starving to death and this was all there was to eat? What if we believed everything He said?

If I understand correctly, the teachings of Jesus as we have them are to be reverently read and obeyed–carried out in our actions, empowered by our life-staking belief in them.

There is not much more powerful force than belief in Jesus as sent from God, belief on all He said as absolute truth against which all other claims are to be measured against, and the doing of everything Jesus said to do. See the end of Matthew 7.

Jesus made over 1,900 statements that were recorded. I wonder how many pastors or ministry leaders are intimately familiar with all Jesus taught? How many of us are?

Are you keenly aware of all that Jesus said? Is that important to you? If He was truly the Son of God, isn’t all that He said of the most ultimate importance?

The teachings of Jesus are Life and give Life when ingested and acted upon. Reading, praying, contemplating Jesus’ words everyday is ALWAYS good, ALWAYS life-giving on some level.

Two things I don’t think you’ll regret on your deathbed: spending “too much” time with your children, spouse, or parents, and absorbing the Life of Jesus.

Jesus is Life.

8.26.15–>”Some Thoughts on Humility”

Jesus washing feet

Matthew 18:4

So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Humility-A modest or low view of one’s own importance.

That old saying, “It’s not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” is profoundly true. Humble people are always thinking of others.

We can be servants and yet not be humble. We can serve others, all the while talking about ourselves. Or about our service. Asking few questions of others, showing that we are, in reality, not all that interested in others. More interested in our service. In ourselves.

That is simply an outflow of our inner self-focus. We draw attention to our serving.

“Now that I’ve helped you, let’s talk some more about how awesome I am.”

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.  Matthew 23:12

My workout partner said that people should be surprised to hear about the good things you do. At first I thought he meant because it is so unlike me to do kind things…since I was of course focused on me. He meant it should be a surprise because of how little attention we draw to our deeds.

Oh.

Right. I knew that.

Humility is not so concerned with self and its wants. And, hence, we see the profundity and possibility of the prayer:

I let go my desire for security and survival.

I let go my desire for esteem and affection.

I let go my desire for power and control.

Because we are fulfilled by God alone, and rest in these six as provided by Her, we can humbly serve. We know who we are, therefore, we  “stoop” to wash others’ dirty feet (Jn.13:3-5).

What is always in our mind? Our own comfort or others’? Being served or serving? God’s glory or our own? Being loved or loving? Our reputation or God’s?

And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

Never let you forget some favor I did for you-because I’m tacky.

-Weird Al Yankovich

8.25.15–>”11 Common Features of All Temptations” 11

root of problem

(11) When there is a case of obsessive thoughts that are probably due to some deep repression, it is probably best to bite the bullet and seek the help of a therapist. It may take time and effort but the freedom and lightness of being that can result will make everything worthwhile. Without some professional attention, we will be burdened unnecessarily, maybe for the rest of our life.

So you may not agree with the whole therapy thing, but sometimes there is a benefit for someone who is on the struggle bus, from which three wheels have fallen off, to seek some assistance from a trained person, or a gifted person of insight, or just someone who can really help them see what’s going on underneath their stuff in order to live fully.

Perhaps God can point us to professional people He would like to use to help you onto the right path of healing, the path which leads to Himself.

You can call me–I’d love to talk to you about all your problems! Oh, I’m kidding. But seriously, call me.

Actually seriously, I think it is worth it to get out from under that unnecessary burden instead of living with it all of your life. Think of people who never open themselves up and get close to people because of past hurts. How lonely that feels, and how much they are missing out on. YHWH made us for connection to Himself and others. When we close that off we’re not living anywhere near what we were made for. I’ve known people to stay at a distance from God or even God-related activities because of past church hurts.

Is this what God desires for us?

It reminds me of the story in book 7 of The Chronicles of Narnia–“The Last Battle” in which an ape and a donkey found a lion skin, and so the ape stitched it up to fit over the donkey in order to impersonate Aslan, the great Lion and ruler of Narnia. They led many astray through their selfish and abusive deceit and treachery. Later, a good king exposed the lie and then called on all those who were deceived to follow him to the real Aslan. But the dwarves declined saying they’ve already been duped before and they’ve had enough. This king never anticipated that just because someone had pretended to be Aslan that people would actually stop believing in the real Aslan.

8.24.15–>”11 Common Features of All Temptations” 10

temptations

(10) At some stages, we may find it useful to explore with another person the fantasies which fuel our temptations. Usually these are not entirely bad. Often enough, the images that shout for our attention point to neglected elements in our own depths. To make contact with these images through active imagination or in some other way can help us to get out of the trough of temptation and set us more firmly on paths that lead to progress.

We do not get better by merely talking about our problems. We progress through the exploration of what is underneath our recurring issues with the purpose of exposing these roots to the light of God’s presence which melts them away over time. The more honest and intense this exposure, the quicker the melting away. Some of this depends on the length and grip-strength of the tentacles that have dug into our very self, making it difficult to see what is me and just what is sin. And much of it depends on my level of willingness to surrender, as well as my desire to truly be rid of what has latched on and become a very part of who I now am.

A part. It is not me. It does not define me. It never has to define me, yet it can if I allow it to.

I’ve been in plenty of groups with people who love to talk about their problems. Love to stay in their problems, to justify their vices, to wallow in self-pity, to make excuses. To stay in laziness. This is not getting out of the trough of temptation. This is not the freedom that Jesus offers to all of us. It’s simply fear and lack of desire to do what it takes to live in freedom. The cost has been counted, and in their estimation, the price of freedom is too high.

So they choose to stay.

They choose.

Uprooting is painful and difficult.

Much more so is living as a slave.

8.23.15–>”11 Common Features of All Temptations” 9

shame

(9) To speak to another about the specifics of our temptations greatly reduces their power over us. Such conversation not only subverts any incipient process of repression, but it also offers us the benefit of a wiser counsel which reinforces a more positive identity. Our confidant may not always be able to offer us spectacular advice, but we find the experience of  being listened to and heard is itself a source of comfort and new resolution.

Remember how to grow shame in a petri dish? You need three ingredients:

  1. Secrecy
  2. Silence
  3. Judgement

And remember the antidote?

Douse it with empathy.

You can’t experience empathy while cowering in secrecy and silence. You need some of that “Shame-Away.”

Go get some.

8.22.15–>”11 Common Features of All Temptations” 7-8

temptation4

(7) Oddly, temptation and failure can coexist with genuine spiritual progress and attainment. Often, as we grow in spiritual self-awareness, we become more conscious of the compromises that hitherto have been comfortably accommodated in our habitual behavior. We are disturbed by these and try to do something about them; but casting off a long-familiar pattern of behavior is not so easy. In this way, progress ushers in a phase of struggle and defeat. We may be surprised that our desire for God increases apace with our perceived failures.

(8) It is important for us not to identify with our temptations. They may say a lot about us, but they do not tell the whole story. “Even though our hearts condemn us, God who knows all is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn.3:20). “God knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps.103:14). Temptation tends to make us forget that, fallen though we are, we are greatly loved by God. There is more to us than our sin. Especially in time of temptation and afterwards, we need to avoid attributing to God the reproach we direct at ourselves.

You know, the old phrase, “It’s not wrong to be tempted?” Though we seem to acknowledge it, I wonder how often we really believe it. Part of temptation is to cause excessive amounts of guilt and shame to accommodate the temptation itself. Maybe that’s even the more harmful part.

We start thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why am I still tempted by this?” We feel as though we should no longer be tempted to wrong things. Sure, some things do fall away over time, but we must be cautious not to think we are ever above temptation, for in fact that is what we are thinking when we start feeling we should not even be tempted by things. Again, yet another brilliant aspect of temptation. No, I didn’t give in, yet I feel horrible for being tempted by it again. “Mission accomplished,” says the demon. Without even getting you to give in directly.

You are loved as you are being tempted to do wrong and go against said Lover. You’re tempted because you are human. It’s OK. Remember, the more you do resist by not actually giving in, the stronger you become.

There is a certain amount of evidence to suggest that the more strongly we seek to channel our energies in a particular direction, the fiercer the temptation. One who is merely drifting knows no such torment.