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? 🙂 ) 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

The Taste Test

only-the-word-of-god-can-do-thisThe “Disciple Makers” (Teachers) of the Old Covenant used to start the first lesson with a batch of new students by putting a dab of honey out for the pupils to lick.  The teachers then repeated the words of Psalm 34:8, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good…”

This sensory perception emphasized that the Lord is not simply a rational (Western) concept; but, instead something to be experienced.

Seek To Experience God’s Kingdom

The Hebrew world view – which is our foundation of faith – was more than concept in the way it was thought of and expressed.  In their minds, a “concept” was not actually learned until it was concretely experienced.

In other words, the rationale of a truth is critical, but wholly incomplete without the actualized experience.  Experience without the guidelines of the rational application of the Scriptures is like a bird attempting to navigate the skies with one wing.  However, the “rational only” approach is the same scenario just with the opposite wing by itself.

It is therefore not inappropriate nor inaccurate to say, “Make it your highest pursuit in life to experience as well as understand the rationality of God’s Governmental Rule.” 

Breath The Scriptures

How can we advance in experiencing God and His Kingdom?  Well, the first thing to understand is that His Kingdom is not a set of static principles to be manipulated.

God’s Kingdom is alive because it came out of Him.  He is the Source.  Therefore, His Kingdom is a living, breathing expression of Himself.

Meditation – to be more than a mental exercise – starts with the desire to experience being one with His Word.  To not only rationally dissect and define points of doctrine.  Instead, to allow Holy Spirit to reveal it also through the pictures of your imagination, emotions, and senses.  To “feel” what God is saying.  In other words, the full process of “the ponder” (Scriptural Meditation).

To meditate is to breath the scriptures allowing Holy Spirit to help you become part of the “fabric” of His living word.

It’s Not An Easy Task

It takes diligence, practice, patience, even a personal plan that leads to a habit.  It’s counter productive to what many “rational approaches” to meditation have taught you.  It is certainly counterproductive to the religious expressions that worship at the Western alter of Intellect.

But, if it was easy, Jesus would not have had to say “Seek” (even as for hidden treasure).

Don’t Misunderstand

It is, in fact, very important to do due diligence to good research into accurate word meanings, cultural concepts, etc.  But, as you engage directly with Holy Spirit and dig for the gold you will begin to experience Kingdom life on an entirely fresh plane.

Btw…I believe the best way to “engage directly” with Holy Spirit, your Supernatural Tour Guide, is through praying with your spirit (tongues).

Would you like to experience the Zoe Life of God’s Kingdom?  If your answer is yes then…..Seek it as your highest priority of life.  I, nor Jesus, didn’t say your ONLY priority but your HIGHEST priority.

Questions or comments:  Please do so!

Gary

 

 

 

There’s Not An App For That

TheresNOTAnAppForThatHeaderFirst, let me start by stating that I have many useful apps and they’ve been a big help.  But, “help” is the key word.  There are apps that have pointed me in a good direction to connect with God. 

But, I have to do the rest!

There’s Not An App For That

I might benefit from an app that keeps tract of the number of steps I take on my “power walk,” but I have to get off the couch, go somewhere, and put one foot in front of the other.  The app won’t do that for me.

I might have an app that would help me keep track of how many calories I’m consuming each day, but I have to be the one who has to stop with one reasonable portion and then push myself away from the table.  The app won’t do that for me.

I do have an app that enables me to have several translations of the bible on my smartphone, but….(you know the rest of the statement)

The Bible app YouVersion has given me the ability to have a whole host of Bibles in my pocket and that’s often been a blessing to me.  But…it won’t meditate those scriptures for me.  I have to take the time to do that.

New School Technology

New school technology potentially puts tools in our hands that can enhance our relationship with the Eternal One, but “old school” one-on-one with Him is the key to growth.  There isn’t an app that will “lean your heart into God.”

There isn’t an app that will stir your heart for the soul in front of you.

There isn’t an app that will heal oppressed minds and bodies for you.

There isn’t an app that magically causes you to re-present the attitudes and actions of Jesus in your community.

There Are Lots Of Helpful Apps

Technology has its place.  Apps have their place.  But they don’t replace human and divine interaction.  (Neither does Facebook, btw)

Use the apps that help you, but remember they aren’t made of flesh and blood, and they don’t connect you to the Living Eternal God.  Jesus does.

Btw…P.S.

I’ve discovered a translation of the Bible that I’m over the moon thrilled with it.  Check it out here: The Voice Bible Online 

Gary

 

 

The Delicious Bible – Page 1

deliciousHow much more enticing and fulfilling would your experience with the Bible be if it were NOT seen as academic brain pinching labor? (Unless, of course, you like that sort of thing.)

What if you anticipated your “Bible time” the same way you look forward to something delicious to the taste?

Second Question…

conversationHow much more would you look forward to devoting time to daily prayer if you saw it with the same anticipation as a stimulating conversation with a close friend?

God never intended that the two primary sources of relationship with Him (bible and prayer) would become a lifeless, guilt driven,  tasteless experience it’s become for so many.

Your Bible And Prayer Experience Can Be Transformed

Over the next several posts, I’d like to introduce you to some ideas that will help inject new life into your own experiences with the Bible and Prayer.  I’m not promising easy.  I haven’t completely arrived, myself.  However, I have made some discoveries that have launched me into a whole new arena of life with God.

I Stopped Studying The Bible

Yep.  I stopped studying the bible.  I traded in the idea of “studying the bible” for “searching for treasure.”  Sounds like I’m mincing words.  Maybe I am, but the “mindset” was important to my progress.

I Knew There Was More To Be Found

I became unsatisfied and bored with just scratching the surface of profoundly deep truth that points the way to the abundant life we seek.  I also decided that I couldn’t be satisfied with letting someone else chew all of my spiritual food for me.

So, I decided to use tools easily accessible via computer, smartphone, or an ipad type devise, and “bust open the books” and begin digging for hidden treasure.  You may already know what I will be sharing in the next several articles.  But, if not…hopefully this will help you search and find your own hidden treasures of abundance.

Let’s Take The Word, “Persuaded.”

My understanding of faith was injected with fresh life and richer depth when I discovered more elements behind the Bible word (Greek) “Persuaded.”

I discovered that it has more shades of meaning than to be convinced of something.  The Greek word is also used in the idea of making friends with someone.  And, it also contains the meaning, “tranquilize.”

I made the discovery on http://www.blueletterbible.org/

The essence of faith is being persuaded that all your life is bound up in the heart of God.  He is the Source of every solution.   Faith focuses on Him.  That focus of persuasion or conviction is the doorway through which His creative might flows into your circumstances.

Faith Is A Word Of Relationship

So, as I “chewed” on the phrase, ‘I am persuaded,’ I came to a richer understanding of faith.  I let the brushes of my imagination paint inner pictures of what it is like to pursue making friends with God and the Words of His mouth.  As with any good friend, I realized that the presence of a friend introduces a sense of peace (tranquilize).  The more I pondered and searched out practical visual applications, I saw how much the Lord yearns to be a friend that de-stresses my experiences with daily turmoil.

Now, I don’t study for doctrinally correct definitions.  I search for ever clearer descriptions of life with God.

And the sum of that is more stimulating conversations with Him.

(to be continued…)

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

 

 

YBH – Yes, But How?

unzip headUnzip your brain.  Let it breathe.  You’ll discover stuff that helps you in your journey of living deeply with God and each other.

Accurate information about anything is important.  It helps set a foundation for a dynamic life.  Those bits of data have the potential to help us develop a thriving life with God and others.

However, the information – no matter how accurate/biblical/scriptural it is – has not completed it’s God intended cycle until it becomes out-formation in a way that brings practical, see-able, touch-able, feel-able, attitude-able Jesus like change in people’s lives.  To be very blunt, without that, our belief’s are so much wood, hay, and stubble.  Valueless.  Like a hamster running on a treadmill.  It thinks it’s going somewhere, but it’s just making a disk spin.

YBH – Yes, But How? 

1.  How can I give birth to this truth in my own life in a way that authentically re-presents Jesus in attitude and action in myself, my family, and the community where I have influence?”

2.  Another way to put it would be, “Are my favorite teachings and opinions” producing fruit that others would say is improving their lives?”

3.  Finally the question, “Can my beliefs be understood and acted upon by someone else?”

Because I’m betting you don’t need any more theory from the pages of Scripture, let me finish this article with a YBH’s of letting the Word of God begin working mightily in you.  And…btw…this is something you can teach others to do:

Take passages of scripture that are familiar to you.  Unzip your brain and let the words breath by re-writing them.  My suggestion is that you take one of Paul’s letters, take a verse or two, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you imaginatively re-write them as if Paul was sitting across the table from you.  Imagine that Paul is your best friend.  He knows your life and circumstances inside and out.  And, he is speaking directly to you.  Write down those words.

Remember…truth is only truth if it looks like Jesus in attitude and action.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Technique of Quiet by Gary Ellis

“Everything is so busy, Lord.  How can I get quiet to hear your heart?”

That’s the question I was asking this morning.  I was struggling with a mental mountain of momentum. No worries, especially.  (Well, that’s not totally true.)  There always seem to be natural worries. But not the terror of impending disaster kind.  Just mental activity filled with positive plan making.  The “making a list and checking it twice” kind. <And, sometimes a renegade little fox of fretting>

Thing is…I need – want – “The Voice” of my Master and Friend ever present in all the stuff that makes up my days.  And, I’m aware of the great need for the solace of meditation, musing, pondering, quiet time…whatever each of us may label it.

So…

When the thought and heart desire is to “get quiet” when at the same time the mind has been active since…well, practically before my feet hit the floor out of bed….

In other words, when part of the mental activity is just another thought on top of thoughts which turns into the fretting feeling, “Lord, I need to get quiet.  How do I do that right now!?”

How do I accomplish that?  The quietness of heart and mind that can “hear.”

  1. Recognize that when the desire becomes fretting, it’s become a “law” of sorts.  It’s very much akin to the question, “What right things do I perform in hopes of getting Him to respond to me?”
  2. It’s realizing that stressing at a time like this indicates there’s whispers of accusation in the background that are saying, “You haven’t read enough of your bible. You haven’t prayed in the spirit enough.  You haven’t…haven’t…haven’t…”  Those whispers of condemnation never surface from the voice of Grace.
  3. It’s trashing natural “technique” as a way to garner favor.
  4. It’s settling into the conscious sensing of God’s presence around you.  Not with your head, but simply acknowledging the reality of that regardless of the persistent mental momentum of the moment.
  5. It’s doing what I’m doing right now.  Writing about it, my heart, my desires.  Affirming His love in words typed from my heart through my finger tips onto the monitor in front of me.

So, maybe quietness of mind is sort of a technique…but not.  When the thoughts of need for His presence are accompanied by a sense of guilt or displeasure…know that even the heart of meditation and communication with the Lord is FROM Grace…not For Grace!

Any thoughts? Thanks for your comments.  And, if you haven’t already, and if my articles help you in any way, please subscribe.

Gary

Couch Potatoes Are In Training

Yessiree.  Couch potatoes are in vigorous training to become really burned out, burned up potato chips.

Couch potatoes misunderstand “trusting the Lord” as passively hanging out until God decides to do something they are asking for.

Couch potatoes have developed a “que sera, sera” belief system.  (Whatever will be, will be).

Couch potatoes put everything in God’s hands and take little to no personal responsibility.

Couch potatoes are always hungry for something to “snack on.”

Couch potatoes are never really satisfied.

Couch potatoes think trust is passive when it’s actually active.

Psalm 5:11 says, “Let all those who put their trust in You rejoice.  Let them ever shout for joy because you defend them.  Let them that also love your name be joyful in You.”

This is a very active verse of instruction.  It doesn’t work very well for people who are convinced that their goal in life is to develop couch potato faith.

The verse doesn’t say, “who trust in You.”  It says, “Who put their trust in You.”  That’s making an active choice.  That’s swimming against the stream of opposing circumstances…as an active choice…again…and again…and again.  The word “trust” can also be translated confident hope.  That starts as a choice…a decision…not an emotional response.  (Emotions follow when we stick with it.)

The verse goes on, “Let them ever shout for joy…”

The word ever is primarily a word of duration.  Keep at it.  But the root of the word also contains the idea of covered or secret places.  In other words, let us ever shout for joy in the hidden places of the heart.  It may not be appropriate to shout for joy in some places.  But, you can continue to do so loudly within.

Finally, I love the word that is the reason for our continuous joyful shouting.

It’s because the Lord defends us.  The primary idea that we think of is that He’s protecting us.  And, that’s true.  But the original Hebrew word here for defend also means “to join to.”  In other words, the Lord “actively joins Himself with us to surround and protect.

Couch potatoes don’t seem to experience the joys and peace of His salvation.  Perhaps it’s because they are responding to the Lord like couch potatoes.

You may be saying, “Yea…I know…I should be dis…dis…yuck…disciplined.”

I have a better idea that the Lord put on my heart when I said the same thing to Him.

He said, “I’m not suggesting better discipline.  Instead begin training yourself in primarily two areas.  Train yourself to be a meditator of My word.  And, train yourself to pray continually.”  Just those two.  Everything else will fall into place.”

Ask Him to be your Personal Trainer.  He will jump at the chance.  But know this….”He’ll help you sweat.”  🙂

Gary

Jesus and Me (Before You Pray…2)

What is prayer…really?  Actually, it’s many things.  One of the most important descriptions I’ve discovered is that it’s “Jesus and Me.”  It’s the nurturing of a personal relationship with Him.  In fact, to me, that is the form of prayer that is first and foremost in my life.

With many people, prayer is primarily saying, “Thankyou” for food at meals.  It is also an opportunity to ask God to answer a requested need.  But, prayer is so much more. As a matter of fact, one of it’s primary purposes is to nurture personal relationship with Jesus.

Personal relationship with spouses, family, and friends includes the ability to simply sit quietly in each other’s presence without having to say much if anything at all.  My wife and I enjoy being in the same room together, sometimes each reading, other times watching a favorite T.V. program.  Being together and sensing each other’s presence has deep value in the nurturing of love and companionship.

That may sound a bit strange as it relates to prayer and spiritual nourishment.  However, it is of more practical help than many imagine.  Just learning to be quiet and confident together.  Most of us give too little acknowledgment of the “little things” that add together to make our relationship with the Lord powerful.

In my next post I want to ask the very important question, “Soaking Without The Word?”  There is no true powerful prayer in it’s fullness without the Scriptures as illumination and final authority.

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