All Posts in Category: (08) The Maintenance of Life

The Maintenance of Life – Intimacy With Jesus

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A branch must stay connected to the vine to bear fruit. It is the same with you.  John 15:4

Food, water and sleep! These are the basics for maintaining physical life. What’s required to maintain connection to Jesus? Step Eleven of Alcoholics Anonymous provides a clue:  “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God …” (The Twelve Steps)

Remember the Mentor of Life? His purpose, using the Life Guidance System, is “to improve our conscious contact with God via prayer and meditation.

Listening to the radio requires TUNING. The receiver is tuned to the specific frequency of the desired source. If one likes The Grand Ole Opry, one would tune to WSM 650 AM. To maintain connection to Jesus requires tuning of the heart and mind. This is accomplished primarily through prayer and meditation.

In the Bible “meditate” is a rather humorous picture word. Literally it means: a cow chewing its cud. So, meditation is the act of chewing a portion of the Bible over and over until it becomes a part of us. “Let the word of Jesus dwell in you, enriching your life and making you wise.” (Colossians 3:16)

Prayer is conversation. The radio above works via wireless transmission. Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless transmission, said: “In prayer the human spirit can send invisible waves to eternity.” 

Jesus taught us how to begin: “Our Father …” (Matthew 6:9)

Praying is both speaking and listening to our Father. He knows us better than we know ourselves. “You shaped me inside and out.” (Psalms 139:13-14) So, no subject is “off limits”! If it concerns you, it concerns Him! Furthermore, prayer can take place anytime and anywhere. And yes, questions are encouraged!

Combining prayer with meditation is the preferred method. For example, the Manual talks about the use of money. So, it’s best to chew on its financial instruction while having a conversation with Father about your own finances.

 

Remember, A branch must stay connected to the vine to bear fruit.”

EASTER IMPACT – Part 7c

You have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self.
This is the new being which God, the Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image,
in order to bring you to a full expression of himself.

Colossians 3:
9-11


EASTER
means RE-NEW-AL

So how do you know if you are discovering one’s true self in Christ?

The litmus test is always deep love. (It may be helpful to reflect on (1 Corinthians 13

  • Am I becoming more generous relationally and otherwise?
  • Are my motives becoming less inspired by selfishness?
  • Am I becoming less concerned with how others see me?
  • Ask yourself Is my life progression towards the things that are bigger (transcendent) than I am?
  • Are they leading me closer to God, to others in a genuine way?
  • Am I discovering deeper life peace and meaning?

Consider the beliefs that keep you hiding from God and others. Consider what things keep you running away from God. Is it:

  • Fear that God will reject you?
  • Fear that God will punish you?
  • Fear that God may be angry at you?
  • Fear that God can’t be trusted?

Ask God about these things. Remember that Jesus, the fullness of God in human flesh, demonstrated just the opposite. Jesus came to heal our relationship with the Father. When Jesus judges, it is with mercy, forgiveness and healing. 

For many, the prospect of discovering and beginning to live more authentically is genuinely scary. The fear of being rejected, being seen as a loser because we no longer have an interest in playing the game can be paralyzing. For many of us this fear keeps us hiding and pretending to be something we are not. The consequences of continuing to live a lie, to craft and fortify our false self will leave us frustrated, anxious and consume our life with a profound sense of futility.

Many of us already sense that things within us are amuck. It’s time to exchange the ill-fitting coat of false self for the freedom of authenticity and with it a greater sense of peace, meaning, relationships and love. Regardless of where you are on your journey, consider being a little more open to being found by God and step stumble and fall into His perfect love for you.

 

Hiding your hurt only intensifies it.
                                                                   You are only as sick as your secrets.

                                                                              So take off your mask,
                                                                              stop pretending you’re perfect 
walk into freedom.
                                                            Rick Warren

EASTER IMPACT – Part 7b

You have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self.
This is the new being which God, the Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image,
in order to bring you to a full expression of himself.

Colossians 3:
9-11

 

EASTER means RE-NEW-AL

 

 

So, if there is a true self, there must be a false self. In a few words, the false self is our idea of who we are and this image is formed by our families, friends, and culture. It is forged around cultural ideas of success, sex appeal, wealth, our occupation, the things we own, the things we wear and the amount of influence we wield. These kinds of external things form the false self and they are external identities that we put on like a coat – whether it fits well or not. Often when living out of our false identity we feel awkward, we are chronically stressed and lonely. Sometimes it seems like we are always striving to look good, to pretend that we are indeed worthy of the coat and not some imposter. It produces a tyrannical slavery and detachment from real life all the while screaming its false promises of the good life.

 

 

Discovering one’s true self in God is the shedding of the ill-fitting garments. It is moving away from these identities that don’t bring real life. As we learn to experience and accept the love of God we find our place in the world. We begin to realize that our belonging is not based on our ability to live up to the expectations of an often-fickle culture or even our well-meaning families. As we move closer to God, as divine love draws us we learn that we can shed our selfishness, our self-centeredness, fear of being rejected and realize we no longer have to pretend. We can begin to cast off the baggage that has obscured who we truly are and as this begins to fall away it reveals more and more of the good creation we were created to be. The life we seek, the life that really satisfies, is found in God in us, not outside of us.  Jesus taught that the issues of life flow from inside us (our heart) not what eat or drink.

 

Article – Excavating Your True Self

WORSHIP AND THE WIND

 

This is a long post!

 

 

“Sir,” the woman said,“Where would you get that life-giving water. It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his children and his flocks all drank from it.” Jesus answered: “Those who drink this water will get thirsty again,but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.” “I see you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said.“My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we should worship God.” Jesus said to her, The time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”(John 4:24)

 

Jesus engaged the Samaritan women about worship. The woman fixated on externals: a place, a well and a mountain.

In my opinion the Western church has a similar fixation: buildings, time, liturgy, professional clergy, proper attire, convenience, musical expression, Bible version, confessional standards, denominational titles and doctrinal statements … all of which miss the mark of “true worship“.

The church of Acts provides the essential of worship (today, most would vote for the preaching of the Word). When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.” (Acts 1:8) The followers (120) of Jesus were all together in one place on Pentecost. All at once there was a sound from heaven like a powerful wind. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.(Acts 2:1-4) Did you catch it? We’re not given a full picture. However, there’s no doubt: the assembled followers were waiting FOR and ON the promised, power-full Spirit! In other words, without the presence and power of the Spirit worship is impossible … period!

It was the late ’90’s. Many from Immanuel attended an interdenominational worship conference. We returned with one conviction: the Holy Spirit is the commander-in-chief of worship! However, as regards the nuts and bolts … we didn’t have a clue! Our board agreed that I and one board member would meet for prayer prior to worship to wait on the Spirit. We invited anyone from the congregation to meet with us. Most Sunday’s there were at least four present. Gradually, the Spirit revealed to us what He wanted to do. However, there was a problem: ME! After all, had I not been trained in how to do worship? Weekly the Spirit would deal with me. However, I would dismiss his prompting! Gradually and graciously He continued and eventually won! (Note: many of the congregation were ahead of me). After that, our worship was filled with anticipation of the Spirit’s presence and power.

This is important! We would gather every Sunday in the same building and at the same time. The musicians would rehearse the selected songs. I would prepare a message. This did not change. What changed is our attitude. Though we had planned and prepared, the Spirit was ultimately in charge! What He wanted to do on any particular Sunday was THE ESSENTIAL!

Now, without accusation or intimidation I ask you: on any given Sunday IF the Holy Spirit wanted to “blow however HE wills“, would He find anticipatory reception of His presence and power in your church? Practically, would He be required to fit His agenda within the confines of your hourly, (or whatever) planned liturgy? Please, I don’t mean to be derogatory in any way! Yet, Paul said: Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. Don’t despise what God has revealed“(1 Thessalonians 5:19-20)

At the same conference we attended (early 90’s) a word was given about a congregation ((it was small and unknown at the time) in Sydney, Australia: 1) it would primarily be characterized by the free flow of the Holy Spirit in worship 2) it would produce worship music beyond that which the church has ever experienced 3) it would grow into a mega-church via lost young persons and 4) it’s impact would be world-wide. All of this has happened … and, then some! Below is a video of worship at Hillsong. Notice: 1) the young adults, 2) the quality of the music (words) and 3) the passion of those gathered. This may not be your “cup of tea”. However, remember, the Jewish religious leaders missed Jesus for the same reason!

 

 


Easter Impact – Part 7a

 

E = Energy

A = Attitude

S = Success

T = Transformation

E = Excellence

R = RE-NEW-AL

 

You have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self.
This is the new being which God, the Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image,
in order to bring you to a full expression of himself.

Colossians 3:9-11

 

 There’s great mystery and often a lot of confusion when we start to speak about one’s “True Self”. Depending upon your religious background, this can be relatively normal, completely bizarre and for some, quite dubious. However, in the sense of healthy Christian faith the pursuit of the authentic self is simply discovering and sometimes scraping the cultural graffiti off of who you were created to be in the first place.

 

 

 

The first thing we need to get out of the way is that from a healthy Christian perspective, discovering your true self is not separate from or at the expense of your relationship with God. Thomas Merton, a 20th century Trappist monk, reminds us that we discover ourselves, who we really are by finding God. “It is essential to remember that who we truly are in the best possible sense is inextricably rooted in the Creator. The true beauty of who we were created to be, our gifts, talents, our best possible self is never discovered outside of this relationship with the divine because he is the source of who we are.”

That being said, contrary to some narrow Christian thought, God does not discourage us from discovering and being that person. God, by calling us deeper into himself, becomes the best way to realize our true self.  When we talk about finding the true self, we are talking about that which is our core. It describes that foundational centre that is pure, authentic, life-giving and lovely. It is important that we don’t see this as a separate part, distinctive from the whole, rather that our true self is inextricably a part of an integrating whole. We discover this by allowing ourselves to be loved by God. The source of perfect love has the transformational effect like sunshine on Spring Flowers. The sun’s warmth awakens the seed, and it bursts forth from its slumber and blooms with all the created beauty intended.

 

This journey of discovery is more like being open to God or as the mystics describe it as waking up from sleeping. It is indeed as much a search for God as it is allowing ourselves to be found by God and in the light of this perfect love releases us to be who we really are! “To be a Christian is to be loved by God, pursued by God, and found by God.” (David Platt) 

Article – Excavating Your True Self