Expressing Real Love

We are called to love as God loves. What does that actually mean? How does it feel? How do we do it?

In this article, I’m going to share some things I’ve personally learned and experienced. However, to know about, receive, and demonstrate God’s kind of love for yourself is a journey. It’s a path you learn by intentional engagement. The reality of love doesn’t fall out of the ethereal sky and pop you on the head like apples off a tree.

Love Is Already Yours

Love is already yours to experience and give away. It is one with God’s children just as He is wholly one with each of them. It may be idling unused or under-used, but love is available in the same way that God is available.

Many Descriptions

Love is like a diamond that has many facets. One description doesn’t express the whole truth. Some of those words are found in Paul’s 1 Corinthian 13 ‘Love is’ passage. Love is patient, love is kind, etc.

Words That Stir Feeling

In our logically minded, definition encased culture, we try to rationally decide the truth through defining ideas. However, it has been psychologically established that our understanding of a matter actually begins with an intuitive feeling rather than a rational definition. Because I believe that is accurate, I try to use words that stir feelings as I desire to more deeply understand spiritual truths.

Look at the list of Spirit Fruit in Galatians 5:22. As you consider the individual words, a feeling arises from the word, doesn’t it? (Love, joy, peace, etc.) We can further describe the feeling to clearly communicate the meaning, but it starts with an emotional response, doesn’t it?

For me, a helpful, emotion stirring word that describes love is the idea, ‘Embrace.’

Think of what sense registers inside when you think of embracing an idea or a person. We are called to feel embraced and to embrace when we are given the commission to know and give love.

To me, that understanding is a helpful way to be more specific with what it means to love.

What About Bad People?

There are no bad people. Just good people that may have made some (or many) bad decisions and taken (even terrible) actions that brought deep pain to people. However, I believe that in the journey of learning the God kind of love, it is essential to see the beautifully designed soul of the ‘twisted’ person. I believe we find an example in Jesus’ words, “Forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

One might exclaim, “Oh yes they did so know what they were doing!!” But Jesus saw a deeper level of reality. We don’t ‘naturally’ have that kind of understanding. It’s important to realize that God is available within you to open your eyes to see what he sees. Therefore, it’s vital to realize we can, and must ask for Him to see and feel through us at the moments we naturally resist. As we want to grow, we must call on God’s ability to save us from our own resistant thinking.

Embracing Ideas

Embracing also includes ideas that don’t jibe with ours. It’s important at those times that we learn to hear and embrace the person, even though we may disagree with their belief about an issue. Again…the power of God’s love can be received to embrace the person. After all, God embraces you, wacky ideas and all. ūüôā

So, in conclusion

Consider adopting the word and emotion of ‘Embracing’ to help you know and grow in your understanding of God’s love for you, and you expressing that love to others.

Gary

Discovering Your Safe Place

We all want to feel safe and secure.¬† It’s human nature to build foundations that we think will protect us from danger.

Unfortunately, the sense of ‘safety’ too often doesn’t seem to ‘materialize’ as we hope.¬† There’s a fundamental reason why.

Fear can never produce anything but more fear.

Some people do it by learning the ‘correct doctrines’ because they believe that will keep them safe from deception.

Note:¬† I believe the Bible is a source of a potentially powerful, stable foundation for our lives.¬† I’m not minimizing the importance of good bible based understanding.¬† After all, Paul told Timothy that Scripture is profitable.

A good base of biblical understanding is very foundational.  However, all doctrines and good biblical understanding are not always the same thing.

How do I know the difference?

The primary way to be sure that what you know is infused with the heart of God is the fruit it produces; who you feel God is and what He is like.¬† Is your desire to read, study, and know His Word based on the desire to really know Him better, or is your search for understanding rooted in fear.¬† Is your concern that if you don’t have the right doctrine, you will be walking in deception, and He will be angry with you, or at least upset and disappointed in you?¬† Are you afraid of His displeasure?¬† Do you think believing the right doctrines make Him more happy with you?

I do believe that we can please God.¬† It’s good…better than good…to desire He be pleased with us.¬† But the question is…

What action on your part causes Him to be pleased?  There are a number of things we can discuss about that, but I want to focus, in this article, on the one area.  The fear motivation.

Let me repeat:¬† Fear doesn’t surround us with protection.¬† It only produces after it’s kind…more fear.¬† Fear does not have the capacity to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Discovering Your Safe Space

The place to know and truly experience God is in your heart.¬† Unfortunately, our Western culture is obsessed with the ability to pursue and grow in intellectual, academic skills. We the ability to “reason through” issues is the way to discover reality; to genuinely be safe from error and deception.

Although good thinking practices are ultimately necessary, truth and safety begin by consulting the heart.¬† We’ve too often put ‘reason’ in the driver’s seat with our hearts riding along in the back seat as a less valued silent partner.¬† In fact, that’s a big problem.¬† God never intended our brains to be boss.¬† Our ‘thought-computer’ isn’t able to see the unseen.¬† And, it’s the unseen that comprises most of what is truly real. Intellectual ability is important. However, He designed the capacity of logical thought only to articulate what was being communicated in the language of the heart.

Unfortunately…

Unfortunately, through lack of use, Western society has virtually lost the ability to discern and understand ‘heart language.’¬† The heart speaks primarily with images, feelings, and impressions that are not immediately apparent with our physical senses.¬† However, in my experience, learning what the heart is communicating is far more potent than intellectually conceived of logic.¬† As I said, the intellectual capacity is available for the purpose of ‘articulating’ what the heart is communicating regarding that which isn’t visible.

Christ Consciousness

Christ consciousness (the mind of Christ) is found in the river that flows in the canyons of the heart.¬† We are able to access that ‘river’ by a faith intention to do so, and the practice of shifting our focus through some form of ‘sinking inward’ through contemplation, pondering, or meditation…whichever description with which you feel most comfortable.

It is in the region of the heart that we develop a wonderful, living relationship with the Living Word.¬† It is the Living Word that contains the transformational power; not the humanly constructed doctrinal word…even though it may contain Bible words or theological sounding designs.

It’s vital that we allow Holy Spirit to guide us on the path of internal growth with God.¬† It is the Living Word that creates the ‘safe place’ for us to find protection.

May these words give you an itch that you pursue to scratch!

Gary

 

Peace Where Are You?

The following thought, like a butterfly landing on my shoulder, came to me this morning.  I share it with you in the hopes that the words will be life to you as well!

“Be guided in your daily life experience by the energy of peace and joy.¬† When you feel flat and without the energy of positive motivation, call out for peace and¬†call out for joy as if they were Living Personalities, “Joy where are you?”¬† “Peace, where are you?”¬† In so doing you will be ‘releasing an intention’ (an inner decision) that will open the eyes of your heart to “see/perceive” where they are.¬† You will be drawn to the Presence of Peace, and Joy which is another way of saying that you will be drawn to experience the Person¬†of God Who is, “Himself” Peace & Joy.

In your time of need, call out for what you need.¬† You will be drawn to “The Answer” (another name for God)¬† But, instead of calling in desperation, call in anticipation that Joy and Peace will respond and not keep silent.¬† Peace and Joy love you, and desire more to be found by you than¬†you even desire to find them.¬† They will respond to your heart by saying, “I’m over here…come to me”

I will be found by you…(Jeremiah 29:14)

Gary

 

Speaking For God

Being able to quote Scripture verses is not the same thing as speaking what God desires to say in any given situation.

Don’t get me wrong.¬† I very much respect and honor the Scriptures.¬† However, slapping a ‘proof text’ on an argument isn’t the same thing as knowing the Word of God in that situation.

Arguing scriptures may just be a person’s ability to present reinforcements of doctrines, or positions they already believe is ‘Biblical.’¬† We do love our doctrines, don’t we?¬† They may just enjoy the thrill of the argument.¬† They may think they are serving God when they are actually doing the same as Paul when He killed Christians in the name of God.

So, how are we to know if the Scriptures we quote are actually the heart of what God wants to say?

I’m glad you asked.

What is the fruit?¬† Did it produce misunderstanding, strife, discontent, accusation, fear, anxiety, and division?¬† Did it stir up a greater love for God, and each other?¬† Did it cause you to feel superior because you set the person straight (in God’s name)?¬† Did it create an atmosphere of hope, personal humility, and respect?¬† Was real faith increased in you and the person you’re speaking with?

Remember, because you are able to quote Scripture verses doesn’t mean you are speaking what God wants to say!¬† It also doesn’t mean you actually know the Bible.¬† A person may have an excellent memory of Scriptures that support their pre-determined position…but it may not be what God is saying at that moment.

To know Scripture is to personally experience the life of those verses.

May we learn to experience the God-like nature of the Scripture we quote.  May we speak with God His Words of life that sets free instead of further binds.

Gary

God’s Voice Feels Like

When the subject of ‘Understanding God’s Voice’ is discussed or taught, the topic is usually thought of as words that a person listens for and hears.

Feel Rather Than Listen

I’ve discovered that God’s voice is often more felt than heard. What I mean by felt¬†is best described with the words, drawn to. ¬†To me, this is a much simpler approach for two reasons:

1.  The life God desires for us is not nearly as complicated as we often make it.
2.  We are already familiar with the feelings of being drawn to something.

In non-religious terms, we might say that spiritual communication has a magnetic quality that surrounds it.

Examples Of What Answers Feel Like

When I ask God a question, instead of listening for spoken words in my mind, I anticipate that I will feel myself being drawn to something that answers or informs my request. That ‘inner magnet’ usually happens within moments or over the following few hours.

There are times I sense a ‘a thought’ in response, but even then those words come with a feeling. ¬†I would describe the thought as one that ‘feels’ like it is alive. ¬†An example from natural experience would be how the spoken words, “I love you” feels in the middle of your chest. ¬†You not only hear the words, you feel the positive energy coming from them.

Learning The Process Of ‘Being Drawn’

Although the questions can become quite specific, my suggestion is that a person begins learning to focus on the feelings of being drawn¬†by making more general requests. ¬†The inquiry might be something like, “Holy Spirit, what would you like for me to know today?”

The next step is to expect that your attention will be drawn.  Remember, this may happen quickly or over the next few hours.  Simply anticipate that you will find yourself being drawn without having to make it happen. It will occur naturally.  Your attention will be drawn to an article to read, a statement someone makes, a desire to do or learn something, etc.

It’s also important to realize that you are on a journey of learning how to know God’s ‘voice’ more clearly. Therefore, don’t expect that your answer will always come complete in a wrapped package with a bow on top. God places a high priority on the process of learning and discovery. A partnership is God’s desire and design. Initially, He will ‘spoon feed’ us, but as we begin to grow, He more often guides or points us in the right direction.

As confidence grows in ‘hearing God’s voice’ through the feelings of our¬†inner magnet, ¬†we ask more specific questions. ¬†We discover our communication with God becomes increasingly relevant. ¬†Our relationship with Him is more alive.

How Can I Be Sure Of What I’m Feeling?

I believe that a helpful answer is found in the descriptions listed in Galatians 5:19-23(a) NIV:

“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

Both Are ‘Magnetic’

As we’ve presented, communication that comes from the spiritual world can be described as having energy that feels like a magnet. There is an impulse of a pull or draw. That’s true of any spiritual level energy. ¬†Good or evil.

The way you know the difference is determining to where and to what you are being drawn. Does it match the qualities of God’s Kingdom (Fruit of the Spirit), or will the result be the described by Paul’s description of flesh. ¬†One pull results in positive life and improvement. ¬†The other ultimately produces negative and even destructive consequences personally or relationally.

Respond To The Fruit Of The Spirit

As we make our highest priority a personal relationship with God and His Kingdom, we do so by learning to understand His ‘voice’ more clearly.

My suggestion for helping you to improve knowing God’s voice for yourself is simply this: ¬†Focus on ‘hearing’ Him by learning to pay more attention to what draws you after the request rather than attempting to hear a specific thought in your mind in response.

As I’ve said, there are times that God will quicken a thought in your mind. ¬†I’m not discounting those times. ¬†Instead, I’ve personally discovered that the inner drawing¬†is more reliable and common than I would have imagined.

I encourage you to work with the ideas presented here. ¬†I, personally, have found an important breakthrough of clarity as I’ve practiced what I’ve ‘preached’ in this article. ¬†My hope is that what I’ve suggested will be very helpful to you!

Gary

 

How To Experience God’s Love

Our hearts crave experiencing God’s love.¬† We’ve heard many teachings and sermons on the subject.¬† In fact many of us believe (at least in our minds) that it’s God’s desire for us to know and experience how much He deeply loves us unconditionally.

In fact, it only makes sense that if 1st John 4:8 is true (God is love), then our very connection with Him and each other would be the experience of love, right?

Before I continue to what I’ve discovered regarding the path (not formula) to the intimate experience of God’s love, we need to check out the intent of 1st John 4:8.¬† It will reveal why we sometimes fall short in personally knowing the love of God for ourselves.

Important Key

Just before the ‘God is love’ part of 1st John 4:8 we see John’s initial thought, “Whoever does not love does not know God…” (for God is love).

There a several points that can legitimately be made here, but one of the most practical would be that it is very difficult (if not impossible) to experience God’s love at the same time as having one’s heart generating feelings of strife, judgment, and unkindness for one’s “neighbor.”

Therefore, if a person is having difficulty experiencing the feeling of God’s love for themselves, they may need to examine their personal relationships.

How I Experience God’s Love

It’s been my experience that I personally discover and feel the sense of God’s love for me (and others) as I ‘juice’ the Scriptures.

What?

Yep.¬† Juice the Scriptures.¬† That’s actually a process that is better known as ‘meditation.’¬† I love what Cable, a friend of mine, says,

“If you meditate, you won’t need to medicate!”¬†¬†Although I’m not advising that anyone should stop taking their prescribed medication without their doctor’s supervision, there’s some real wisdom in Cable’s quip.

Juicing the scriptures is using the intention of your heart and your mind to squeeze the verse or passage of its nourishment.

It takes both mind and heart working together (asking for the help of the Holy Spirit) to get fresh ‘juice’ that will help your spiritual health.

It’s important that the ‘meditator’ is not simply trying to reenforce already established opinions of what the scripture is saying, but allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal something fresh and helpful.

Many Methods of Meditation

As in so many things, ‘one size’ does not fit all on the topic of meditation.¬† There are many forms and ways to meditate.¬† In fact, being a person that seems to ‘get bored’ easily when doing the same thing over and over, I tend to use the method of meditation that ‘feels good’ at the moment.¬† I guess that makes me an ‘intuitive meditator’ (if that is such a thing).

One of the basic principles that will apply to most meditation practices is to do something that quiets one’s racing rational thoughts.¬† I personally like to listen to some pleasing instrumental music (on low volume) and focus for a few minutes on slowly breathing and ‘soaking’ in a feeling of gratitude, joy, or peace.¬† I also like to hold or focus on the thought of ‘Abba’ (Father) as I’m¬†feeling¬†peaceful, grateful, or joyful.

If another thought tries to catch my attention, I don’t try to¬† make it stop forcefully.¬† Being aggressive only gives the unwelcome thought more power to remain.¬† Instead,¬† I just pull my attention back to my feeling and word and let the renegade thought drift on by.¬† If that doesn’t work, I’ll jot down the intruding phrase on a piece of paper, and then return to where I was in the meditation.¬† Jotting down the thought tells my mind that I’ll deal with it later.¬† Somehow, psychologically, that does the trick.

Then, after a few ‘quieting’ minutes, I turn my attention to a Scripture word or passage.¬† In this case (experiencing God’s love), I begin to ‘juice’ the words of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 because that is where Paul reveals the characteristics of love.

Btw…if you look at the statements seriously, you’ll realize they are impossible to accomplish without the energy and life of the Holy Spirit working with you.

One Example:

The first word description of love is the word, ‘patient’.¬†¬†For the next few minutes I’ll ponder what it means that God is patient with me.¬† Actually, that is often a difficult one for me to internalize.¬† I find that I am, typically, very impatient with myself.¬† I need to ponder that He is supremely patient with me to override my own self-condemnation.

The next thing I will think more deeply about is how He is patient with others; especially the ones I’m particularly impatient with at that moment.¬† I don’t think in terms of judgment on myself for being impatient with them.¬† I simply let the Spirit speak to me about God’s patience with me and them…and give it time to ‘turn on a light switch’ within my heart.

I will often then ask Holy Spirit to ‘meld’ God’s heart of patience with mine so that I can feel as He feels.¬† Sometimes it takes awhile for a transformation to take place in my heart.¬† In fact most¬†times it takes awhile.¬† But, it’s important to keep giving the Lord the time to transform me as my mind is being renewed on whatever the specific subject might be.

Another trick:¬†¬†Change the word Love to God.¬† Add the words¬†with me…and with (whoever).

Experiencing God’s Love

Many times people are far too general in their approach to knowing the love of God.¬† It’s just a concept without any practical specificity.¬† And, I believe He really wants us to develop very specific understandings of His love and what that love looks and feels like.¬† We’ll never understand it all.¬† It’s infinitely wide and deep.¬† But, the meditative diligence is very rewarding.¬† I mean VERY!

Do you want to experience more of God’s love?

Juicing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 may just hold and important key!

Do you have any other methods to share?  Please add them in the comments!

Gary

 

 

 

Changing Tears to Joy


If you’re familiar with the ‘valley of tears’ (Valley of Baka) then you’re a pilgrim on the human journey.¬† Psalm 84 (to follow) opens some refreshing and reinvigorating insights.¬† We are equipped to ‘pass through’ this valley rather than set up camp there.

Psalm 84:

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young‚ÄĒ a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King, and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
12 LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.
Some insights to help your journey:
Vs. 1-2¬† Where we ‘dwell’ is critical!¬† All of our senses know they are only at home in the place God has beautifully created for us to dwell with Him.¬† Even our natural, rational selves grow weary and faint from walking in the chaotic, stress-filled external world around us.¬† What we perceive as frustration is very often a yearning to reconnect with God’s life within.
Scientific discovering of Quantum Physics has discovered that where we ‘dwell’ (focus the attention of our thoughts, imagination, and emotions) literally impacts our external lives and experiences.
V. 3 
God’s dwelling place is one with the inner world of our hearts.¬† It is a holy and exalted sacred space.¬† However, it is also inviting and loving enough where the ‘sparrows’ of ourselves are warmly welcome.¬† I believe the writers of the Psalm are expressing themselves in more than poetic form.¬† They are describing what they literally have observed.¬† Although this verse can be easily glossed over, it is important to ponder the homey reality, and allow it to shed light on the reality of God’s heart and desire for a dwelling relationship with us.
Vs. 4-5
Blessed:¬† The Hebrew word was often used as an excited exclamation that includes many ideas.¬† The ‘blessed’ person is being proclaimed as one whose life experiences are advancing and transforming in quality.¬† How Happy is also an accurate way to translate it.¬† It is also always in plural form and is more accurately expressed as ‘What a life of happinesses!’¬† -or- ‘How Blessed is!’
The life of happiness is a result of intentionally focusing one’s energy on resting their thoughts, imaginations, and emotions on what God says is yours in Him.¬† Several years ago, I had been praying (and fretting) over something.¬† He asked me what it would look like if my prayer happened.¬† I then chose to see and feel that in my heart.¬† I was actually shocked at how fast it happened.¬† Sometimes it takes time because of issues involved, but very often where we ‘dwell’ manifests quickly.¬† Actually, it’s happening all of the time, anyway.¬† Unfortunately, we are contributing more than we realize to the negative things that manifest around us.
‘Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.’¬† It is important to desire positive movement with God.¬† To experience more of the desire God already has in His heart for us, it is important to always have an attitude of advancement in His life and ways.¬† Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking on the ‘doors’ that open into greater truth.
I didn’t say, “learning more religious doctrines.”¬† I said greater truth as it reveals God’s desire for discovering His abundant life.
V. 6
We are meant to ‘pass through’ Baka (tears), not set up camp.¬† We also have the power through Jesus and the way God designed His sons and daughters, to transform the sorrowful places into pools of refreshment.¬† We have a higher calling and ability than to allow the sorrow to be swept under the rug as we vamos’ out of there.¬† Sleeping dogs have a way of waking up at the most inconvenient times.¬† Our calling is to allow inner healing and transformation to be a part of the power of dwelling with Him.
Vs. 7
As we ‘dwell’, the design is to become a habit rather than a hobby.¬† We intentional work (even 5 minutes a day) at dwelling in our inner ‘secret place of the most high’ where we refashion, according to God’s purpose and desire, the life we live in externally.
Another way to put it would be in the words, “Delight yourself in the Lord (Dwell) and the things you desire will take shape in your life.” (Psalm 37:4)
It’s a process of transformational development that we must be intentional about.¬† By accident, it’s already happening for many people in the negative.¬† Just intentionally change your place of ‘dwelling’ to experience the states of happiness that God desires for our lives.
It’s the Inner Way of life.
Take the rest of the verse thoughts and allow them to unfold in your own heart.
Dwell = Being intentional regarding what and where you allow your thoughts to process.¬† It also includes intentionally adding the God-given ability ‘to see’ the answer with your imagination and feel it accomplished with your emotions.
Remember this is often a re-learning process.¬† As you put energy into practicing Godlike ‘dwelling’ as a new skill set, you will increasingly get better at it.
What do you want out of life?  What do you believe God wants out of your life (big and little picture)?  Have you actually ever put any energy into thinking, seeing, and feeling that?
The choice is yours.  Keep making it.  The potential of experiencing the abundant life (as it is important to you), and that Jesus already gave to you (but may be lying dormant) is in your court.  Nobody else can do it for us.
Gardens don’t plant themselves with beautiful flowers, and gardens don’t weed themselves.¬† That’s our responsibility.¬† It is what God originally told Adam about ‘taking dominion.’
Gary

Conflicting Belief That Hinders Faith


According to one count, the Bible records 3, 573 promises of God that cover the major categories of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of mankind.¬† Therefore, it would be correct to believe the thought, “God’s got my back!”¬† This being true, it would be accurate to assume that we should all expect, as the song lyrics go, “sunshine on a cloudy day.”¬† Right?

There was a time…

There was a time in my life that I believed that all I needed to do was learn, declare, and decree the Bible promises that covered the needs that I would experience; at least some of the main ones from each category.

But to be honest…

However, that approach ‘preached good’ but came up short in actual experience.¬† Too much of the time, I was ‘standing’ in a kind of faith that was misplaced.¬† You see, I discovered that the life of the promise was not in my ability to do the work properly.¬† At first, I reasoned that I merely needed patience when in reality my practice was flawed.

The bedrock of faith…

What I’ve discovered is that the very foundation that supports and activates faith is not in knowing and claiming the promises, but instead becoming confident in His Character.

“Confidence In His Character Is The Beginning and End of Faith”

I can be familiar with all 3,573 Bible promises, and shout them at the moon until (as my dad used to say) “the cows come home” and have to resort to the excuse, “I’m standing and believing.”

It’s not that I don’t value patience…

I do know – and do not discount – as Hebrews 6:12 states patience is an essential part of the faith that inherits the promises.¬† Of course, a vital ingredient in faith that receives God’s promises is refusing to falter when circumstances try to discourage and tempt you to abandon your expectation.

But, I’m discovering that…

Faith is the result of trusting His Character first and foremost.¬† Instead of trusting in my ability to get the ‘faith process’ right, I’m learning to rest in the quality of His Character.

Here’s what hindered my confidence and therefore my faith…

I believed that unconditional love was the highest form of love and that it was our goal to demonstrate that to others.¬† However…

I believed that experiencing the promises of His love was based on my correct performance.  I would never have admitted it in so many words, but the facts were that I was counting on my ability to perform correctly rather than the quality of character of His heart for me.

Two scripture lessons that brought this home to me…

Galatians 3:5, “So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”

The ‘works of the law’ as applied today would be likened to ‘formulas of self-effort’ to produce the desired results.¬† The promises are always the quality of His heart.¬† They are not tools to twist God’s arm or manipulate Him to do what His heart already desires.

Note:  Do you feed your children because of your heart for them, or because they constantly told you that they remembered your promises to take care of them (as if you needed reminding).

Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

These words of Jesus were not excusing laziness.¬† However, they were making a critical point that points to God’s heart for all of His creation…not to mention His very sons and daughters.¬† Jesus specifically pointed to the Raven.¬† Interestingly, that was the very class of bird that was fowl (pun intended) to the Jews…and the disciples knew it.¬†¬† The Raven had no work ethic, whatsoever.¬† It did nothing to earn God’s favor.¬† Many of the Rabbis considered it blasphemy even to mention, or write the name, Raven.¬† Jesus was employing a form of hyperbole to drive home a point.¬† He was saying, “Don’t count on your performance for your heavenly Father to care for the things you need in life.”

Relax.¬† He’s got your back.¬† He will never leave you.¬† He will never forsake you.¬† His love for you is not based on your correct or sufficient performance.

We must start there as our foundation for faith.¬† Otherwise, or attempts at faith are nothing more than self-effort.¬† His heart overflows with gifts you don’t have to earn.

Is your faith practice actually works of a contemporary religious ‘law’?¬† Do you believe you are at least as valuable to God as a Raven?

Know and be absolutely assured of this:¬† 2 Timothy 2:13, “When we are faithless, He remains faithful…” (To the character of His heart)

Gary

 

 

 

Finding Stillness Surrounded By Chaos


The conditions of life that we often ache for, we already have.¬† Above everything else, inner peace is what we crave.¬† We wish for moments of tranquility that will serve as a breath of fresh air before we’re launched back into the unfolding chaos around us.

What if we dare think that ‘moments’ of peace could become consistent inner peace as our reality of life?

Transformed Thinking Is The Way

As the Apostle Paul stated it, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
(Romans 12:2)

The solution is transformation.  The hub of the wheel is a renewed way of thinking.  Our minds have lost their way.

Computer Jargon

What if we come to realize, in contemporary computer jargon, that we already own, through Christ, a superior Operating System that will never need any upgrades?¬† It’s the Infinite Kingdom Operating System.¬† In fact, our OS comes pre-bundled with love, joy, peace, patience, endurance, etc.¬† (Galatians 5:22-23).¬† Being bundled with the IKOS, these ‘programs’ are more advanced in capability than their natural counterparts.

Activating Our ‘Programs’

Activating the programs of our Infinite Kingdom Operating System doesn’t require years of special spiritual training.¬† It doesn’t depend on theological degrees, or the ability to remember and understand doctrinal foundations.

(Now that we’ve established computerese as a plausible way of understanding our intangible self, we’ll move on with more common vocabulary.)

Logic Is God’s Gift For A Purpose

The human ability to think logically and diagnostically is a gift from God.¬† It’s necessary for navigating our way through the material world.¬† Systematic building blocks of thought are essential for functioning in the physical world.¬† We need these abilities for building bridges, wiring generators, baking cakes, finding cures for diseases, and material progress in general.¬† Rationality is a vital element of life; but, it’s not the source of life wisdom, itself.

Slow Your Thoughts

Finding consistent peace doesn’t require the activity of more naturally rational thinking.¬† The necessary condition for realizing the quality of God’s peace is learning how to slow your thoughts down so that your mental process returns to its God-designed purpose:¬† Servanthood.¬† It helps us to communicate with a natural world, the eternal ‘Mind of Christ’.¬† (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Detached from the mind of Christ, the logical reasoning process isn’t smart enough, or wise enough to successfully navigate life in a broken world.¬† The abundance of life that Jesus freely gives us (John 10:10) is so awesome and yet practical for daily life that searching its depths with natural reasoning power is like attempting to explore the depths of the Milky Way with a $5 pair of binoculars.

Drunken Monkeys

It’s an established reality of psychology that the number of thoughts that bombards the average person in Western society is 35-48 fragments per minute.¬† When we consider the subconscious ramifications of those fragments the amount of information our minds are processing at any given moment is exponentially higher and inundating in volume.

As someone put it, “Our Western minds are like cages of drunken monkeys on crack!”

Peace is not “out there” in the world around us.¬† The peace that thrives in a place beyond rational understanding is “in here” (point to your chest).

The drunken monkeys of the mind have to be tamed.

“Be still and know that I am God.”¬† (Psalm 46:10)

The Mind Returning To Its Original Design And Purpose

Retraining and returning our mental process to its original design is not complicated.¬† Complication infers lots of mental activity.¬† The average mind loves that.¬† It’s become well trained over generations and is, naturally, very comfortable with chasing tornadoes of speculation.¬† The natural process of rational thinking, like a drug addiction, craves the next fix…the next high.

Our natural minds have long forgotten that ‘being high on (real) life’ far exceeds, in quality, the temporary counterfeit thrill that needs frequent feeding lest it tumbles into the pit of despair and depression.

Seems Too Simple

The Western mind has learned to thrive on, and honor, complexity.¬† Therefore, ‘simple’ has seemingly less value, and the simplicity of the process to quiet the natural mind becomes a stumbling block.¬† A barrier.¬† God’s Kingdom within His children, however, is so simple a child can do it.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

Be Still

The Psalmist said, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).¬† That verse can also be read, “Cease striving (to) know (experience) the I AM God.”¬†¬† Most of the striving that we experience is not physical activity, but instead the striving of our minds.

Taming Not Emptying

Don’t be mislead by any self-proclaimed guru.¬† It is not possible to cease thinking.¬†Just wondering if I’ve emptied my mind of thoughts is, in itself, a thought.¬† The goal is to tame one’s thoughts.¬† Train them to slow down as they line up, as a servant, behind the Presence of God.

Lining Up One’s Thoughts

Remember… this is going to be simple.¬† I didn’t say easy.¬† It has to be a re-learned behavior that’s not easy.¬† The mind is used to being in control.¬† It doesn’t submit easily.¬† It will ‘balk’ in all sorts of creative ways.¬† It will appeal to your pride to be rational.¬† However, if you’re willing to learn to be ‘simple’, like a cranky child, your mental process will discover that the real and eternal you has decided to be boss and it will begin getting in line.

How To Begin

Begin realizing you are learning to experience something you already possess.¬†¬†¬† Next, relax without pressuring yourself to experience something.¬† When you pressure yourself to experience, your mind is actively engaged as a ‘searchlight’.¬† It’s doing what it likes best…analyzing.¬† That is counterproductive to calming and taming the mind.¬† The process of refocusing on His Presence will produce whatever He knows is good for that moment. Just believe that the most important thing to accomplish is gently refocusing your attention to God’s Presence.

A Practical Tool

To begin, practice taming and refocusing your thoughts at a time and space where you won’t be distracted for at least 15-20 minutes.¬† You’ll be confident you are in a space where you can relax without interruption.¬† For some in our busy world, and with young families, that may sound nearly impossible.¬† But, the time can be found.

Now, slowly breathe paying attention to your breath.¬† As you do so, allow your heart to worship with a simple word.¬† I personally use the name, Abba.¬† That’s the intimate Hebrew form of Father.

It may interest you to note that the most authentic way Yahweh (LORD) was heard was the simple sound of breath inhaled and exhaled.¬† It was more of an entonation than a pronunciation.¬† I sometimes listen to myself inhale and exhale knowing that I’m worship His name.

When Thoughts Arise

Be still allowing your attention to rest on your worship word, or listening to your breath ‘say’ Yahweh.¬† After a few minutes and you more fully relax, you’ll sense I AM with you as part of you.¬† It will be the kind of ‘sensing’ that is very hard to explain with words.¬† You know…but you can’t really explain it.

At first, the amounts of time will be briefer because your mind will be battling you, not wanting to get in line behind the interior Mind of Christ.¬† But, as you apply this simple exercise as a habit rather than a hobby, you’ll find your way of thinking is transforming.¬† When daily disturbances intrude, you’ll begin realizing you are automatically ‘looking’ to your Christ mind.

Transformation of What You Think To How You Think

Your natural mind will increasingly become your servant, helping you to sense the wisdom of God in what confronts you.¬† The tempo of your life will still be full of your normal activities, but they will ride on the waters of peace instead of feeling like you’re riding the swells of a storm-raged ocean.

You’ll enjoy increasing times with the Prince of Peace being your faithful companion.

Your presence wrapped with and generating His Presence will embrace your ‘neighbor’ representing the quality and nature of God’s Kingdom.

You’ll find that you’ve always had the peace, love, joy, wisdom, and power that supernaturally calms the chaos that surrounds us.¬†¬† Now, you know the simplicity of living in it as a habit of life.

Last Word

Stillness is a learned habit, not a temporary (I’ll give it a try) hobby.¬† It will take the consistency of time to enrich the experience.¬† But, transform?¬† It will!

Don’t strive while you’re learning.¬† There not one ‘right way’.¬† Your intention for stillness is the most important.¬† I’ve explained the simplicity that truly works for me.¬† (So, give it a good chance? ūüôā ) But, also, experiment to find the best path for you to more fully know the powerful, supernatural peace and wisdom that’s found in the mind of Christ.

Gary

How Love Finds Us


I can promise you that Love will find you.  In fact, Love has probably already found you!

In fact, I could change the word Love to Peace, Joy, or whatever else it is you think you lack.

Love found me.  So did Peace, Joy, and some other life qualities.  In fact, these qualities all found me long before I realized that they had accomplished their task.

Christ Wasn’t Lost.¬† I Was.

Another way that I could state the above is by saying that Christ found me.¬† He had actually been ‘in residence’ with me for quite a long time.¬† The reason I hadn’t experienced His plan to know a much greater degree of love, peace, and joy, etc. was because I had these qualities of life buried underneath layers of ‘Christian” denominational doctrines (dogmas).

Christ Life Doesn’t Live In Doctrines.

I had been lead to believe, for decades, by the voices of teaching, and preaching (including mine) that there were doctrines of essential theological truth to be ‘believed’ in order to land on the good side of God…and those of my tribe’s persuasion.¬†¬† We also secluded each other inside chain link fences of ‘fear boundaries’.

Important note:¬† I’m not against doctrine, per se.¬† Establishing patterns of belief in an understandable and transferable way can be very helpful.¬† My objection is to living doctrines that become rigid dogmas that end conversations rather than starting them.

Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “You search the Scriptures because it is in them that you think you have eternal life.¬† However, their purpose is to lead to Me” (John 5:39)

I believe in searching the Scriptures.¬† I believe as Paul told pastor Timothy, that they are profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16).¬† I believe that God’s breath of inspiration was intended to guide me on my journey to a living relationship with Jesus as my Way, Truth, Life…Love, Joy, Peace, etc.

There’s no life in the doctrine, itself.¬† The doctrine is a mental framework that funnels us toward the Life (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.) that is already in residence and one with me.¬† When I say ‘One with me,’ I mean so interwoven with every spiritual cell of by Being that the sharpest laser couldn’t distinguish between Christ-Life and Spirit-Me Life.

You Can Stop Looking.

There’s a place for “Seek, and you shall find…”¬† But, that is a search that doesn’t really apply to the point of this article.¬† Most people have an assumed perception of what love, peace, and joy will look like when they think they’ve found it.¬† They’ve designed the version they think they desire.¬† They don’t realize the real source is abundantly better.

What I Found

I know how you feel in that vain pursuit.¬† I’ve felt the same way myself.¬† However, I found that my determined perception kept me dulled or blinded to the real deal.

So…I gave up.¬† I didn’t resign in defeat.¬† Instead, I quit trying so hard to get a feeling (my version) of love, joy, or peace to magically appear somehow.

I Started and Ended Each Day “Letting Go” and “Letting Be”

I know that sounds weird.¬† It’s honestly hard to explain.¬† I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to enter into this 10-minute ‘process’.¬† The heart of the matter is in the INTENTION.

Humbly intend to quiet the impulses of thought that keep you in the position of being your own Project Manager.¬† Allow the God you are One with to be the Project Manager.¬† Intentially release yourself to that thought and feeling.¬† Be still and gently allow the quality of His life to begin emerging into your consciousness.¬† Don’t pre-determine how it should feel.¬† Let it rise.

Wasting Time

Your rational, western trained mind will cynically voice that you are wasting time in a silly mystical pursuit.¬† Please let me encourage you that this ‘foolishness’ is what will make you wise in life.

Closing Thought

YHWH (Yahweh) is the primary and considered to be God’s highest name.¬† The most accurate way to pronounce it is in not ‘saying’ it at all, but instead hear it as you inhale and exhale.

As you practice gently ‘centering’ yourself for several minutes at the beginning and end of the day (and in the middle too….or whenever), focus on the breathing of His name.¬† As you do so, listen and realize His Presence.

You’ve already been found by what you feel you need the most!¬† Begin allowing what you already have to manifest within you.

Gary