Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Journey Back To God


      Were you raised in church? I was. Did you learn "all about God?" I did. Most may believe this is great, and that I had an amazing jump start on someone who has no knowledge of God or Christ's sacrifice for us. I would beg to differ. This may offend some, but I'm going to say it anyway - there are bad churches. There, someone said it. There are churches that do not teach the Gospel as it is laid out in Scripture.  There are churches that do not teach against sin in order to create a place where everyone is welcome.  There are churches that, simply put, do not know who God is at all. I was raised in such a church. Did the church have good people, who loved one another? Yes. Did I benefit from what I learned in this church? Yes. Before this comes off the wrong way, I'm not saying that my being raised in church was not helpful, or "good."  My point is that my understanding and knowledge of who I am in Christ and who God is to me was skewed and misled, and is in some ways hindering me from growing in my relationship with God.
     The reason I mention this is because I had an interesting experience recently. I have been speaking with a friend for some time now. I have been sharing the Gospel, as well as many thoughts on situations, the Bible, and life in general. This person was not raised in church, as I was.  As of late, I have been reading Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson.  In the first chapter, the author confronts you with an exercise. He asks, "Who are you?" Most would answer, initially, with their name. But that is your name. Who are you? Then they may say their occupation, but that is what they do. Who are you?  They may even respond with "I'm Baptist" (or fill in whatever you like). But that is their denomination. Who are you? At this point, I'm frustrated. Who am I? Finally, the author explains the simple answer that never crossed my mind - You are a child of God. That's it. Done. He goes on further to expose this as an exercise to show us how much we rely on things of this world to define us. Really, truthfully, we are defined by God.  Now here is where my point comes in: my friend answered the third "Who are you?" with "Oh you mean the basics of who I am. I am a child of God." Whoa... First, this person ruined the exercise :)  But what's more is that they completely threw me for a loop. How did they grasp it so quickly, when I was so focused on other things?  You could say different personalities, different spiritual understandings, etc..., but I think it is deeper.  I am coming from a point of extremity. I am coming from a place where God is structured, understood, and defined by my preset beliefs and notions from my childhood teachings.  My friend isn't. My friend is starting from scratch, starting completely new.  This person has no preconceived notions of God, nor any prior claimed understanding. It is so hard to me to throw my teachings of the past away, and let God be God. 
     So I have started a journey. I have to journey past all of the extremities in order to get back to the middle and really know who I am in Christ and to have a real and intimate relationship with Him. I have to scrap everything I have learned and start over. I personally believe this is an introspective moment we all should have. Do you believe you have God "figured out?"  Do you think you know how He works, and what He can and can't do? It definitely takes faith to reopen your mind to allow God to be free. To put God in a box and define Him, limits the unlimited. How can God be all powerful in our lives if we are constantly trying to define Him, understand Him and His ways, and put Him in a manageable box? This is a definite journey. I have to one by one destroy my notions of who God is in reference to this world, and grow in an intimate relationship, through faith, so that I may not define and limit Him, but define who I am in Him.  I do this so that I may be a vessel in which He can do great works through me, works beyond that which I could ever imagine. Let us stop trying to define God, and let Him define us.

God Bless

Monday, July 2, 2012

Driving Force For Victory

    So I've started something new, and it has changed my life.  I have started driving with the power of God. I know this sounds strange, but let me explain. There is a constant battle going on in all of our minds over our thoughts.  The enemy is trying to control us by us allowing control of our minds through our thoughts.  Our battle plan? Captivity. Take bad thoughts captive. Sounds relatively easy, right? Well, here's the kicker. You must not only take the thought captive, but also replace it with God's TRUTH.  Let me give you an example, by explaining my practice in this awesome battle plan.
When I drive, I get mad. I have a bad case of ROAD RAGE.

 This is my main time when bad thoughts are most prominent.  Someone cuts me off, and I am all of the sudden imagining myself throwing knives (which I don't keep in my car.....I promise....) out of my window at their tires.  Wow. Before I even know it, I am not only a master knife thrower, I'm also intentionally hurting someone, even if only in my mind. How did that even happen? I'll tell you how - my mind is a battlefield, and the battle is for my thoughts.  So this is my plan: I take the thought captive, out loud identify it as a lie from the enemy, and replace it with God's truth. So I literally say out loud, "This is a lie from the enemy, I have no right, nor any reason to hurt this person in any way." Then I replace it with God's truth, "Ephesians 4:26, 'In your anger, do not sin.' Ephesians 4:32 'Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.' In the name of Jesus Christ, I claim victory over this thought."  It is so freeing! How amazing it is that the enemy does not control my thoughts! He does not control my mood! He does not control ME! I am free in Christ, and He is free to fight for me! Because, I'll admit, I get so much practice doing this while driving....I have begun to integrate this battle plan into my daily life.  My thoughts are of God - of LOVE, and what a blessing it is to be free.

God Bless

Monday, June 25, 2012

Adding God to My Calendar

   I write this with a million things running through my mind - "What do I need to pick up on the way home today? What do I need to accomplish at work today? Where did I leave that paper that I need? What bills are due soon?".....etc...  It's SO hard to stop. What happens if I do? In my mind, my whole world falls apart. That's what. I have to be honest. That's how I feel sometimes. We all like to say how much we trust God, and how much we are working on trusting Him more every single day (which I'm not saying isn't true); however, we all have to admit that there are times when we get too busy, too focused on our wants, too wrapped up in what we begin to think is OUR lives. This is the great fallacy of our minds. By our very acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, we relinquish control of our lives to God. We agree in that moment, and all the moments thereafter, that God will be our guiding lighthouse into the shore, our driving force behind our actions, and our whole lives. But we're human. Is that an excuse? No. It's fact. Like the fixed time of prayer or David (Psalm 55:16-17), the set prayer times of Daniel (Daniel 6:10), or Peter and John and the Early Christians (Acts 3:1) we also need OUR time of prayer. But it's like we need God to break us to our knees, or we need someone to shake us and tell us that our soul will shrivel up and die without this life giving, relationship building, most powerful time with our Father in heaven. Peter Kreeft said, "Praying is more important than eating because your soul is more important than your body." When we focus on the things of this world and what we think is our own lives, we push out God's voice, and strain our relationship with Him.  I am saddened today, because I realize I have done this. I haven't written a post for this blog since last year. I'm not saying that having a blog is necessary for a relationship with God, but this blog has provoked more study and research of God's word, and given me more clarity and release of thought than anything else in my life ever has.  My prayer time increases and my study time increases when I am searching for answers throughout my daily life, and when I journal them in my notebook I keep for prayer and thoughts as well as transferring them here, for all to see.  This transparency is what I feel led to do, and it builds on my relationship with my Creator.
     I think of it as one of the old school communication devices, a string and two cans.  When the string is stretched tight, the vibrations are carried across it between the person at one end to the person at the other, and communication is possible.  Well God has held his can in the same place the whole time, yet the line is slack. Who moved? Me. My communication with God has suffered because I let the link get slack. The only think that prevents me from praying is more me.  It's my own inflated sense of self-importance, the elevation of my work, of my agenda, that keeps me from prayer and communication with God.  You know what Scripture calls that? Idol worship. I don't pray enough because I'm practicing idol worship. Romans 1:25 says, "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." That "creature" became me, myself, and I.  The extent of prayer in one's life is a direct function of whether something else has been set up as more important than God.  In this action, we operate separate from God. Not because He has left us, but because we have left Him.  We consider it "too much to go up to Jerusalem" (1Kings 12:28-30).  Instead we create our own "golden calves" and worship them until we realize how far we are from God.  What is saddest of all is that we then wonder why...   The easiest way to find time for God is to weave Him into every facet of your life. Consider His counsel in every decision, no matter how small. Have a constant conversation with Him every day (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Make your prayer time His time, not yours. When all else fails, add God to your calendar

God Bless.