Who Wants To Be Like Jesus?

humanity2The old gospel chorus echos the desire, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him…”

But what does that mean?

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

To Be Like…The Same As…

But what does that mean?

One answer is found in Acts 10:38 and gives a “full scope” answer…

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:   who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

To be like Him:

  1. Anointed with the Holy Spirit’s power
  2. Doing good everywhere He went
  3. Healing (mending) those beaten down and oppressed

I am a big supporter of physical miracles, healing, and releasing people from a demonic grip.  I practice and teach that aspect. [Make no mistake about it]  However…

I also firmly believe that a Christian can be at the forefront of “power works” and miss the majority of what “being like Jesus” – or – “Re-Presenting Jesus” is all about.

Going to church, paying your tithes, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School classes, attending seminars, etc, etc, etc.  _______________ (fill in the blank with the favored activities of your christian community subculture.)   These all have the potential of being valid.

However, I believe one can do a lot of religio-spiritual activity – as defined by your christian community subculture – and not be very much like Jesus was, or is, at all.

To be like Jesus is about putting yourself – on purpose – in the line of fire, standing for the worth of a woman (as He did) who had been condemned as a whore and thrown in the dirt to be executed.

To be like Jesus is to purposely engage in something more than spend hours a day on Facebook thinking you are taking a stand with Jesus by posting graphics and sayings about how much you love Jesus.  (sarcasm intended).

To be like Jesus is to climb down off a religiously haughty high horse and literally “touch the leper.”

To be like Jesus takes balls.  [ooop, did I just type that out loud?]

To be like Jesus is boots-on-the-ground, dirt-under-the-nails, [at least figuratively speaking], “not-on-my-watch devil” involvement.  That diamond has many unique facets.  One size does not fit all.  But…dynamic rather than passive engagement.

To be like Jesus is being a voice for those who don’t have their own voice…

To be like Jesus can be a myriad things…but many, most likely, on the other side of your “chicken line.”

To be like Jesus, however, is not simply being a “do-gooder.”  Any fool with half a conscience can do that. 

To be like Jesus is doing good and changing communities (often one face at a time) in naturally supernatural ways.  The Holy Spirit’s partnership is vital.  Like, I mean, partnering with Him…on purpose.

Gary

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Financial Miracle Testimony

In financial crisis times for many, there’s wonderful stories of great provisions from The Great Provider.  Philippians 4:19 is and always will be the same for any Jesus Follower who purposely pillows his or her head on the faithfulness, power, and wisdom of God.  One such story comes from a lady named Melissa.

May the spirit of Melissa’s story in God, be repeated in your life as wrap yourself in it’s truth.  Listen now with hope beyond hope for your own circumstances:

If you’d like to save this testimony to your computer, right mouse click “download” and select “save link as”

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How To Have The Best Breakthroughs

magic-bulletAsk 10 people how to have the best breakthroughs and you’ll likely hear several different opinions from either their own experience or the last seminar they attended.

One thing that I know FOR SURE!

There are no magic bullets.  One. Size. Does. NOT. Fit. All.

I’m not sure of all the psychology behind it, but very often we – as Western Christians – are on the hunt for the one RIGHT answer.  The BEST technique.  The MOST EFFECTIVE formula.  It probably has a lot to do with our exposure to the inundation of advertising and marketing.

Still In Search

There is a purpose for advertizing and marketing of a product.  To. Sell. Said. Product.  And to sell said product, the advertiser uses attention getting techniques that promises what it normally can’t deliver.  And that, my friend, is one of the main reasons why so many folks are still looking for yet another “one-size-fits-all” magic bullet.

But The Truth Is

The truth is…THERE. IS. NO. MAGIC. BULLET!  Breakthroughs to increasing and lasting freedom come one way, and one way only.

Knowing the truth.  Not knowing the right church doctrine.  Knowing the truth.  THE truth is a person…JESUS.  Although there are many good methods being taught that can help an individual see Him more clearly, the techniques will fail – yet again – if a person begins to believe that it’s the RIGHT way.  Even the BEST way for every individual (yourself included).

Deliverance Ministry Training

I believe in being trained to help people find their path to freedom!  I believe there are principles that can be learned that are helpful.  But these are two of the things I reject:

  1. One way is the right way for everyone.
    I am very familiar with a method called, SOZO.  It’s the Greek word meaning “Freedom.”  It’s often translated in the Scriptures as “Salvation.”  It’s powerful.  No doubt about it.  SOZO can be an extremely effect means of helping a person remove the stumbling blocks from their lives.However…

To assume that is the best right method is not correct.  If SOZO is treated as a magic bullet, folks will end up disappointed…and they’ll be on the hunt for the next deliverance ministry because this one didn’t solve all their emotional/spiritual problems.

There are a number of pretty good programs out there that can be helpful…AS A HELP.  I’m only naming SOZO because I’m most familiar with it.  And…I repeat…It’s a good one…AS A POTENTIAL HELP.

2.  The Devil Is Your Main Problem (read above…I reject that)

Deliverance ministries (often unintended) have a “get rid of the devil” mentality.  If we can just get rid of the devil, we’ll find the freedom and peace we’re looking for.  (or some such thinking).  It’s predicated on the subtle background belief that the devil is more powerful than he actually is…since Jesus stripped him of his power and authority.

Now….my friend…you may say, “Yes, Gary, that’s true.”  But what you actually believe deep down inside is that the devil is the main source of you not getting where you want to go.   And. I. Reject. That.

Then What Is The Main Source Of My Ongoing Problems?

It’s the main source of my ongoing issues, myself.

The main source is not ignorance of the right truths.  The main source of our problems is…

Wait for it….

Lack of intimately knowing God!  (Not to be confused with knowing ABOUT Him.)
Okay…sure…and the devil is keeping me from knowing Him the way I want to.

Uh-huh…what did I just say?  I said that we give the devil too much credit.

Many of the deliverance ministries, like SOZO, demonstrate that the responsibility is upon the individual in how they’ve been responding to various woundings of mind and heart.

But, if the individual being SOZO’d or Well Springed, or whatever still holds onto the belief that the devil has more power and authority than he actually has….then it’s going to be the mouse on the treadmill all over again.

I sincerely believe we have to abandon the “get rid of the devil” mentality that some hold onto.

Let me close this post with Psalm 91:14, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high , because he hath known my name.”

Many tormented people (all of us in some way whether it feels like torment or not) would say that they set their love upon the Lord, because they deeply believe He is the center of their lives and affections, but actually the memories of the offenses are what they have been rehearsing day and night.  They “know the names” of all the things that have been imprisoning them.

“To set your love upon Him.”  In the Hebrew verb tenses it’s a very aggressive stance.  It’s not passive.

The belief of many, no matter how sincere and strong in their minds, would truthfully be considered “passive.” 

It’s not about how much we do in “religious/faith” activities” that makes the tense aggressive.  It’s about how we initiate ongoing intimate relationship with the person and personality of HIM.

Pondering His name…loving His name…embracing internally the fullness of His name.  That’s a path well worth traveling.

Gary

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Handling the Feelings of Failure

WindowA person only feels like a failure because he/she has real life circumstances to back up and fuel those feelings.

But, that is a miserable place to live.  Since feelings of failure are common to all of us, we all need to know how to better deal with them.

I know what you’re feeling.  As I’ve so often said in my blog posts, “Been there.  Done that.  Bought a truck load of T-shirts.”  And guess what?  I sometimes catch myself re-visiting the ugly places.

However I’ve Discovered An Antidote

It’s sorta like the principle of Judo.  Use your opponents own strength against them.

Matthew 5:25 says, “Agree quickly with your adversary…”

Agree.  “Yes, I am.  When I depend on myself, I fail.”

Like Si from Duck Dynasty is famous for saying, “Hey.” 

Hey…it’s true.  But, Hey…Jesus isn’t a failure.  And Hey…He finishes what He starts.  He’s faithful even when…Hey…I’m faithless.  (2 Timothy 2:13)

If our success in life is based on our own perfection, then I would never succeed.

Having Said That, Let Me Also Say…

  1. Failing at stuff (even a lot of stuff) doesn’t make your identity, “The Failure.”
    The devil baits you into believing that your mess ups change your identity.  Nobody enjoys making mistakes.  Especially big ones.  And, the appropriate remedies may be hard to do, and even take some time.  However, you do have the power – through Christ and His grace and wisdom – to tackle the “clean up.”  Why?  Because you’re not a failure.  You’re a treasured son or daughter of God.  And He will NEVER leave you or forsake you.
  2. Failing at stuff may simply mean that you’ve found yet another way that’s doesn’t work well.The only “failures” are not those who fall, but those who stop getting up.  Even then…”Failure” is not your identity in God’s eyes.  You’re only His son or daughter who could have enjoyed more success, but chose the inactive path.  You see, that doesn’t make you a failure.  It make’s you an inactive success.
  3. Lastly, the first cousin to feeling like a failure (note: “feeling like”) is the “I’m worthless” card.  We are only worthy through Christ, so – in that sense – none of us are worthy.  However…

Not Worthy Doesn’t Equal Worthless.

My wife recently had a dream of me holding a handful of very large scorpions.  I was pulling out their stingers.  May this post “de-stinger” yet another scorpion that’s been tormenting you.

Gary

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Are You Living in the Shadow of Yesterday You?

shadows02xIt may sound noble.  It may sound honest.  It may sound spiritual.  But it’s not. 

What’s not noble, honest, or spiritual?

Living in the shadow of yesterday you.

It’s easy.  In fact probably one the easiest things you’ll ever do.  Remembering.  Calling to mind.  Mentally rehearsing…the ill advised, silly, foolish, sinful, dumbness that used to be you…even if it was literally only yesterday.  Focused on that will not solve anything.  At all.  In fact, it’s negative weight will keep increasing until you can’t think straight with the mind of Christ.

It may sound noble.  It may sound honest.  It may sound spiritual.  But…nope.  Not so much.

When you do that, it’s really how you’re measuring yourself now.  It’s covering your mental, emotional life with a dripping grey cloud.  It’s blocking true faith from flowing in your life.

It’s like living in the valley of the shadow of death.

Instead you have every right to be living in the hope, joy, and strength of Jesus’ shadow.

Instead of being depressed by your past, be impressed with what Jesus has done for you.  Focus your attention on the shadow of His favor.  Be impressed by the shadow of your own potential because of the NOW YOU in Christ.

As you and I become more and more impressed by His shadow over our lives, the life of His Spirit flows from us and casts a healing shadow on ours and other’s circumstances.

If you’re choosing a shadow to honor, choose His….right here.  Right now.

If this has been helpful, share it.  Let it’s shadow light upon the thoughts of your friends.  Thanks!

Gary

More Faith Please

Vintage_10_More_PleaseIt’s pretty common to hear people say – one way or another – that they need more faith.

Been there.  Done that.  Bought the T-shirt.

Those that have fairly strong opinions about what faith is or isn’t will chime into the subject with their own (“scripturally proven and supported” (sound of throat clearing) positions.

However, my suggestion for your consideration is not that more faith is needed, but more wisdom.  Here is what a rich stew of God, His Word, time, people and their experiences, and me and my experiences have taught me.  Well…at least a fraction of it.  The total would fill at least a book or two.

The Mustard Seed

Luke 17:6, “The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Because this is a verse in the Word of God, this one illustration has many rich lessons.  One of them is that the amount of faith is not at issue in experiencing spectacular results.

Sometimes I’ve waited till I “sensed” I had enough faith before I would put what I had into action.  Of course “sensing” enough faith is flawed reasoning to begin with because the very search for sensing something often takes a person the opposite direction of faith.  Although emotions are God created qualities of the soul, how we use them, in the decision making process, is often more like walking by a kind of sight than it is by faith.

Add to that:  I’ve found that many faith steps challenge what I’m feeling.  It doesn’t support what I’m feeling.  More often than not, what I’m feeling is based on my comfort zone and circumstances.

Imperfect Action

Another decision for waiting longer before taking action is often based on the flawed reasoning that great results have to have great starts.  That’s.  Just.  Not.  True.

G.K. Chesterton (a great success in his own fields of endeavor) said, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  He was not lobbying for mediocrity.  He was stating the obvious.  We won’t go anywhere or develop anything if we don’t s.t.a.r.t. somewhere.  Act on what you have.  However…

Here’s The Turn In The Road

A man of faith that I highly admired, Dr. Claire Hutchins, spoke at my church back in the day.  Since we were considered a Word of Faith church, I asked him questions about his faith.  You see Dr. Claire Hutchins had done many mighty works with God throughout his ministry and I wanted to glean from his experiences.

He said something that, at the time, surprised me.  He said, “I’ve discovered that I need less faith now and more wisdom.”  He added that wisdom had directed him in what faith steps to take and how to take them.

Faith Without Works Is Dead.  Faith Without Wisdom Gives God A Bad Name.

I’m not referring to what the Bible calls, worldly wisdom.  I’m speaking of seeking God for His wisdom as much as you are His faith.  And pleeeeeeeeease pleeeeeeeeease.  Do not interject, “Brother Gary, read your bible.  Those are the words of wisdom right there in front of your face.  If it says it in black and white, speak it and act on it.”

I’ve watched too many folks take – what they called – faith steps – that did not produce faith results.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done that.  I’ve bought a whole bunch of the t-shirts.  What (we’ve) too often actually done is had a huge idea that would take God to pull off, and launched forward in faith because ask whatever you will…right?  Nothin.  Nothin happened.  Or, the opposite happened that we were acting in faith for.

Then We Say…

  1. Faith doesn’t always see results
  2. The devil hindered

When God’s Truth Was…

He didn’t give you the marching orders you acted on.  He didn’t order the sandwich you made for Him.

Thank God For His Mercy

He bales us out of our errors.  Remember, we do need to start somewhere.  But…we also need to be humbly teachable and learn instead of defending ourselves and doing the same dumb thing over and over and over and over and over again…..and….call it acting in faith in God’s Word.

There Is More Than One Way “To Skin A Cat”

My Dad used to say that.  And, it’s true.  In life and in a life of faith.  Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing and said only what He heard His Father saying.

There are many facets on the faith diamond.  God’s wisdom shows us what facet He knows needs to be applied to each and every faith situation. 

How Do I Get The Wisdom

  1. Ask God for it.  James says, “If any man lack wisdom, let Him ask of God.”
  2. Then, don’t ignore the nudges of what I call, “Sanctified common sense.”

In other words, a six foot hole should be dug six feet deep unless God specifically, and clearly confirms the fact that you should only dig it 4 feet deep.  If it should take 3 months to do justice to a project, don’t attempt it in 10 days unless you have a very clear, confirmed word from God.  I know people who I think God has given a mercy ministry of bailing people out of foolish decisions.  How do I figure any decision is foolish?  When it doesn’t work as advertised.

Luke 14:8 advises us to count the cost of building a tower lest we start and aren’t able to finish.  Counting the cost is far more than “great big ideas,” “faith confessions,” and people manipulations.

The mustard seed of faith contains many elements in it’s dna.  Elements such as wisdom, patience, and love.

May your walk of faith be filled with wisdom, patience, and love.  May you see many more God results than ever.

If you’ve found this personally helpful, please Share It on Facebook, Twitter, or your other favorite social medias.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith and Caterpillars

CaterpillarWhat do faith and caterpillars have in common?  Let me tell you.  Caterpillars hold an important key to the quality of a persons life of faith-walking. 

Caterpillar Factoid:  Some caterpillars are born in the spring and some are born in the summer. The spring bunch eat oak catkins. That’s the dangling flowers on an oak tree. And within days, guess what? They look as fuzzy as their meal was that they ate just a few days ago.

Let’s take the summer bunch now. They eat smooth leaves because that’s what’s out then. Would you believe it? They become smooth caterpillars. It’s amazing! Caterpillars exemplify that old adage, “You are what you eat.”

Paul’s Dietary Instructions:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

What’s This Got To Do With Faith?

Living a life of faith (walking by faith) is far more than doing faith formulas or specific confessions of words in hopes of attaining a certain personal objective.

A life of faith is a quantity and quality of daily actions and attitudes that re-present the character of the Kingdom of God in the earth.

What Did Jesus Do?

Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went about doing good and healing all those who were pressed down by the devil.  This is a very rich verse.  I encourage you to ponder it for yourself.  Let it simmer in your mind and heart.  However, for now, I’m going to make a couple of observations that speak to this blog post:

  1. Jesus went about doing good
  2. Jesus healed all those under a demonic oppression of one kind or another

He did good stuff.  He did power stuff.  Although we sometimes think the power stuff is more important and spiritual, it’s the life of doing the good stuff that opens doors to do the power stuff.  The good stuff life is as much of the faith life as the power stuff life.

Many people I know that talk about walking by faith are referring to having “miracle moments” that more often than not equate primarily to healings and finances.  Don’t miss my point.  I absolutely activate my heart for healing and financial needs.  I believe strongly in God’s provision in those two areas.  But daily life on the street occupies much, much, more.  The faith life is being conscious of conducting the affairs of one’s life on both levels.  Little good things and big power things.

The Holy Spirit Empowers Little Good Things

The first part of Acts 10:38 says that Jesus was empowered to do what He did by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  And, the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the little things and the power things was a result, in large part, to the fact that Jesus followed the counsel of Paul.

[Okay…hold on skippy!  I KNOW Paul was inspired by the Spirit of Christ.  Take a deep breath and allow your shorts to unbunch.  Follow my meaning.]

You Are What You Eat

The best way I know to hinder an authentic walk of faith is to allow your mind to be occupied with things that are not true, not noble, not right, not pure, not lovely, not admirable, not excellent.  

Many times a person will say, “Well, it is true.  They did me dirt and that’s the truth.”  Sorry, but that’s not the truth.  The truth that Paul was speaking of [actual definition] is “uncovering and making plain a reality that leads one to a higher place.”  Paul’s descriptive words are all building on the same reality of thoughts of excellence.

It matters very little how many confessions of faith one makes if those declarations are isolated from an overall mental habit.   A person will be, in a life and practice of faith, what they eat mentally and emotionally. 

The Solution:

I believe that Scriptural truth is a paramount foundation, but also work diligently at denying the entrance of garbage thoughts and emotions by indulging yourself on all sources of thoughts that  are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Many people work in an environment that is anything but those things.  So, let me conclude with the analogy:

“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair.”

Has this helped?  It’s your turn to add to the conversation by commenting below: 

If this helped you, share with others on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or your favorite Social Media.

Gary

 

 

 

 

For Moms That Feel Like Failures

babyI know far more moms that feel like failures than feel successful…especially in their spiritual lives.

Today, I want to link you to a post by Emily T. Wierenga to hopefully be encouraged by her vulnerability.  .

Here’s how it starts out:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for today.

(Kasher, get your hand out of the toilet!)

Thank you for loving me in spite of me.

(Is that a fly in my coffee? No, Aiden, you’ve already watched a show–now it’s time to play nicely with your brother while Mommy talks to God.)

Thank you for sending your Son to die for me.

(Kasher, why does your hand smell like poop? Oh dear, is that poop on the floor? Hold on Lord, I’ll be right back…)

God, you still there? Me again.   (Read the rest here)

Be encouraged, Mom!

Gary

God’s Word Can Be Felt

campThe very heart of God is found through the pages of the Bible.  As I began to approach it as “an invitation to experience…” everything began changing for me.

I began discovering that there was not one right meaning to the verses and words.  I abandoned my denominational and doctrinal prejudices and biases.  I began being awed by multifaceted diamonds of truth and reality.

I began hearing His voice…

Speaking. To. Me.

I began to be fascinated with this new Book of fresh bread.  I began discovering the genius of word pictures that were painted with the original languages. 

A Picture Called Grace

Grace is one of the fundamental facts of New Covenant life.  But there is so much more to that five letter word than most modern Christians realize.

In the Hebrew mind, when the Hebrew word for grace was spoken, the listener would envision something they were very familiar with.  It was the place where shepherds would return after a long hard day of leading and protecting their herds of sheep.  The literal word meaning was, “beautiful encampment.”

Another English word that describes the same idea could be settlement or ranch.  A homestead also carries the same connotation.  To more fully understand the word, we have to tap into the emotion that those words illicit.

After a long, hard, dangerous day’s labor, the worker would head for home.  The closer he got to home, the more his or her emotions would take a peaceful deep breath.  If home was the experience for the weary worker it is intended to be, it held the promise of rest, love, provision, restoration, security.

It was GRACE.

You see, grace is better described than defined.  To properly understand the heart of our Heavenly Father, we have to “feel” the words He speaks to us.

G – ods
R – iches
A – t
C – hrist’s
E – xpense

Now if we combine those two thoughts, we have an even more thorough sense of the heart of Ephesians 2:8.

The Amplified Ellis Paraphrase:

“It is the wealth, love, might, security, peace, and provision of the Father’s dwelling place that rescues and restores us to His kind of abundant life.  We experience and enjoy the benefits of this heavenly environment as we humbly receive them for ourselves without the foolish wasted effort of trying to earn any of it.”

Let me repeat:

To properly understand the heart of our Heavenly Father, we have to “feel” the words He speaks to us.  Let me encourage you to approach the glories of His word as “an invitation to experience the feelings of His heartbeat.”

Feel His Word.  It will change everything!

If you believe this article will help someone else, please take this opportunity to share it through Facebook or Tweet it.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shhh… Chill…

shhhThe most powerful, penetrating, soul changing experiences I have with God come out of the Shhh of my soul.

The Psalmist calls it “Selah.”

We are all in desperate need of selah with God. 

The chaotic clamor of daily life dulls us to His all powerful still small voice.

I must know the shhh.  You must experience the shhh.  The shhh in our souls.

It is from the Shhh we discover the wisdom, peace, joy, and Presence we cry for.  It’s from the shhh that a word of faith springs up.  A word of faith that changes everything.

Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…”

Praying on the run is not enough.  It happens.  He hears us.  But do we hear Him as we pray on the run?  Not likely.

Day changing prayer is born from the womb of Shhh.

“Be shhh and know that I am God…”

Find the shhh of God…the shhh of soul as a habitual daily practice.  In so doing I practice the following:

  1. Before I read or pray a word, I shhh myself.  I chill.  I let let my “insides” (body, and soul) sink into a relaxed shhh.
  2. When I sense an inner settledness that is welcoming God’s presence, I begin to very slowly read letting individual words rise out of the shhh.
  3. I let my thoughts settle on ideas that arise from the “special words” that are attracting my attention.
  4. I talk to God about what I’m feeling.
  5. Every little bit, I just shhh again.

What is the result?

My soul embraces that He and not the things that cause fear, frustration, and chaos are not God.  He is God. 

And since He is God, I can just shhhhhhhhhhhhh and trust that I will have whatever I need when I actually need it.

Have you experienced the shhh of God?  How do you practice it as a habit of the faith life?  Feedback in the comments.

Gary