Life is a Journey

What metaphor describes your life?  Metaphors help shape our concepts which provide context and meaning.  Life is like… well, a water bug flitting aimlessly on a pond? Maybe a rollercoaster with its ups and downs?  A hamster’s wheel with focused effort but not getting anywhere?  The Bible intimates that life can best be understood as a journey with a very clear destination.

Consider the stories of journey in the Bible.  There was Abraham leaving Haran to an unfamiliar place he would receive as an inheritance from God.  Moses led the Hebrew nation out of Egyptian captivity through a wilderness hoping to discover The Promised Land. Jesus spent time in the Wilderness while confronting Evil. Many other Biblical characters went on journeys and quests of discovery. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Believers that these stories were written for our example and instruction. (See 1 Cor. 10)

So if life is a journey, then what is the destination? In the letter to the Romans, Paul declares that all things are working together for good to those who love God who are the called according to His purpose continuing, he reveals what that purpose is, that we are “conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus)” (see Rom 8:28-30) emphasis mine. This text sheds light on our Life Journey path.

I will take some liberty to sum up a rather lengthy piece of teaching gleaned from the scriptures. When God’s Spirit comes to dwell inside our spirits at conversion, the Seed of Divine Nature begins to grow within us.  That’s one reason we must be “born again”- the call to become a follower or apprentice of Jesus Christ.  The indwelling Spirit begins a process to transform our lives from the inside out. Our challenge is to continue to yield to this work as we encounter trails and “dealings” of God in our daily lives.

To give us an idea what this “Christ Life” looks like to which we are being conformed, allow me to submit this characteristic list compiled from the writings of Dr. Terry Wardle of Ashland Theological Seminary:

  • Jesus rooted His identity in His position as God’s Beloved Son. He didn’t depend on power, position or performance to define who he was
  • Jesus experienced intimacy with the Heavenly Father. He was not afraid to disclose the deepest parts of Himself before His Father or others
  • Jesus was committed to community as a context for growth and ministry. How many very close relationships do we have that genuinely love and care about us?
  • Jesus prioritized character above behavior.  His actions flowed harmoniously from within.  He never experienced tension between what he should do and what he wanted to do.
  • Jesus responded properly to personal brokenness. He saw no need to cover up or deny this part of Himself.  He dealt openly and honestly about his brokenness.
  • Jesus offered His wounds as a source of ministry to others. The source of true anointing when yielded to the Fathers love.
  • Jesus was empowered in life by the Holy Spirit. I can’t say enough about this principle in this article.  The power is beyond our selves.
  • Jesus ministered with Kingdom authority. He was always taken seriously and His words carried weight.  Discover your true voice!

Identity, intimacy, community, character, brokenness, ministry, empowerment, and authority.  Please note the progressive unfolding of this process of transformation unto spiritual maturity. We are on a journey with many exciting discoveries along the way.  This insight has revolutionized my life.  We cannot however, bring forth these characteristics on our own.  Our Helper is within and He is leading this process.  Our part is to remain on the path and continue this great quest for more of Him in our lives.

If you have felt resisitence or have been “wresting with God” and your life has held no deep meaning or purpose, listen to His whispers of Love to you.. He has something very special for you to discover.

Developing a Kingdom Mindset

A ‘mindset” can be defined as a “prevailing attitude or opinion; an intellectual climate,”  If our intellectual climate is negative or one of a scarcity mentality, we tend to be grumblers and complainers.  We view life from a victim’s point of view. We have a choice what we will focus on.  What we focus on expands and increases. Discouragement often sets in when the focus is on what one lacks.

The twelve spies sent into the Promised Land from Kadesh Barnea come to mind.  Ten accurately reported how luscious the fruit was, it truly was a land of abundance.  Their joy withered however when they chose to focus on the obstacles and their perceived lack of strength to overcome.  Joshua and Caleb had a different intellectual climate.  They had an “overcomer’s mindset.”  They encouraged themselves from the viewpoint of the Lord’s favor.  “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us” (Num. 14:8) So, they reasoned, “Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it (Num. 13:8) If we do not believe we are overcomers, it will be difficult to overcome very much at all.

One of the ways to begin shifting to a new mindset is to practice the art of thanksgiving. It is possible to reframe every circumstance in a positive light by choosing to find something to be grateful for.  Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul penned from the dark recesses of a Roman jail cell. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds.. “ (Phil. 4:6-7)

Challenge yourself to make it a practice to search for the positive in every situation. Quit complaining about what you do not have and begin practicing being grateful for what you do have. Remember, “doubt despairs, complains and is sad.  Faith rejoices, gives thanks and is glad!”

A Key to Blessing

One of the most soul comforting verses from the Bible is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths”

What awesome news. I really find myself leadership challenged at times.  My many roles often leave me perplexed and sometimes exhausted. Counselor, coach, administrator, teacher, preacher, motivator, maintenance man, leader, writer, confronter, negotiator, networker, not to mention, husband, dad, and friend.  Trust. What a beautiful concept. Not always easy to do, however. The act of trust is the way we join ourselves to the sources of what we need for business and life.  Since we have limits, we have to get what we need outside ourselves.

Dr. Henry Cloud observed, “From the beginning of life, we grow to the extent that we can trust and receive the things we need.  The more we trust and invest in the sources that provide what we need, the more we will receive them.” I certainly agree.  Trust is not easy at times because it requires two things: 1) Recognize and admit we have a need, 2) Be willing to let go and ask for help

To “lean not on your own understanding” means we do not support ourselves only on what we can figure out.  Many things are beyond our control. “In all our ways, acknowledge Him.” Two interesting words here, ways and acknowledge.  Ways refers to our methods. (Hebrew: derek) “a mode of action.” We are to acknowledge the Lord in our ways of doing things, trying to figure out stuff.  But what does it mean to “acknowledge” the Lord?

The word in Hebrew is yada which is translated “to know.” This is not come to know like you just casually observe someone and you know them.  This word means you come to know them from a direct intimate contact.  It refers to life-giving intimacy, as it is in marriage. Applied in a spiritual context, it suggest an intimacy with God in prayer that conceives and births blessings and victories.

Putting this whole verse together, we might conclude that if in all our “ways” we maintain yada (direct, intimate contact with God), God promises to direct our paths toward fruitful, life-begetting endeavors.  I want to encourage you to trust Him with whatever you are going through. He is always faithful to His word … and to those who know they need Him.

How to Receive Divine Healing

 I.   Divine Healing

There are different ways healing comes to us.

* Medical Healing- Aided by medical personnel and medicine
* Natural Healing– Promotes the body’s natural process through natural methods such as proper diet, vitamin supplements, rest, etc
* Faith Healing– Emphasis often is placed on the faith on the one administering healing or the one receiving. (often promotes undue pressure on individual)
* Divine Healing– Focus is on God and His will and heart toward the sick. Reveals the nature, fulfills the promises, acts upon the provision of Atonement.

A. First things First

There is a God-side and a man-side to healing. (Luke5:17). The power of the Lord is made available through presenting the Word.  Often the power is present to heal but one could be unaware of it. It often is not discerned by natural senses.  Sometimes if can be tangible.  Faith must come into contact with the power to effect change.

(Mark 11:24) declares the “position” a person should be in to receive from the Lord.  Desire + Prayer + Believing you receive= results.  All three must work together. Desire alone, or prayer alone does not get results.  But what is one to receive?  We will lay out 4 steps to arrive at this position of receiving. Each step should be understood to go to next step.

B. The “must” factor

There are “should do’s” and “must do’s” in life.  For example, you should wash your car, but you must put gas in it.  You should exercise but you must eat.  Hebrew 11:6 reveals 2 “musts” regarding receiving from God.  1) Must Believe He Is (a healer now, not “was” a healer) 2) Must believe He is a rewarded to those who diligent seek Him (approach Him in faith)

II. Building upon the Foundation

A. It is God‘s will for you to be made well– all uncertainty must be removed from our minds regarding God’s willingness to heal our bodies (and souls)

1. Brazen Serpent (Jn.3:14-15, Num 21:4-9) and the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7; Ex. 12:5-13; 34-38)  Both of these OT accounts reveal God’s willingness to not only forgive sins but also to heal bodies.
2. Word of Jesus reveal the Father‘s will and intention. (Mark 1:40-43) Note also the commission of 3 groups of people all contain provision for ministry to the sick (Matt 10:5-8; Luke 10:1-9, Mark 16: 15-18)
3. The Actions of Jesus (Matt 4:23-24; 8:16-17; 8:35; 14:14)
4.  The Plan of Redemption Scriptures (Matt 8:16-17; 1 Pet 2:24) Sickness is the body what sin is to the soul. Provision is provided to redeem both areas of our lives.

B. God- The Giver (Refer back to Heb 11:6… What can we expect when we approach God…? He is a…)

1. Liberal Giver (James 1:5-7) study these verses backwards
2. Gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17)
3. Freely gives us all things (Rom 8:32)
4. God is Love, the nature of Love is to give (John 3:16)

III. How God Gives to the Sick

A. Different Methods: incl.

* Anointing with oil and prayer of faith (James 5)
* Name of Jesus (Acts 3:1-10)
* Handkerchiefs and aprons “prayer cloths” (Acts 19)
* Spoken Word (Luke 7; Mark 11:23)
* Prayer of Faith (Mark 11:24)

B. The Primary Method: The Laying on of Hands. This is the primary method used by Jesus and the early church.  When there was no “manifestation of the Spirit as the Spirit wills” (1 Cor 12:11), then this is most common method to minister to sick.

1. (Mark 6:1-6)
2. (Mark 8:22-25)
3. (Luke 4:40)
4. (Mark 16:17-18)

IV. What God Gives to the Sick

A. What He does not give
– is a “manifestation” of healing. Some healings are immediate.  What we often refer to as miracles are natural process that have been accelerated.  Most healings come gradual and require a participation of faith.  Otherwise there would be no need to “believe you receive”… you would “know” you received.

B. He gives the same “ingredient” Jesus gave during His earthly ministry: Healing Power. Aka. The Healing “Anointing” or “virtue”

1. (Acts 10:38; 1:8)
2. (Mark 5:25-34)
3. (Luke 6:17-19)
4. (Luke 5:17)

Summary:

1. God is willing that every sick person be made well.
2. God is a liberal giver who freely gives all things richly.
3. The primary way He gives healing is through lying on of hands.
4. What He gives is healing power through the Holy Spirit
5. One must believe you receive healing power that works mightily to effect healing (note, keep the “switch of faith turned on” by thanksgiving and by acknowledging every day that 1) the healing power was administered to your body and 2) the power is working mightily in you effecting a healing and a cure

How to Discover Life Mission

“What do you want me to do for you?”  What if the wisest and most influential man in the world asked you that question, how would you respond? Doesn’t the thought of that make your heart flutter a little faster and your busy mind kick into search mode, looking for those dormant dream files? That is exactly what Jesus asked in two separate conversations recorded in the 10th chapter of Mark’s Gospel.  Both incidences related to getting at core longings and deepest needs.  Significance. Purpose. Vision.

I have discovered that the deepest longing individuals have expressed, beyond meeting daily needs, is a sense of mission.  Mission motivates and focuses our energy.  It gives our life meaning and helps keep us centered.  A sense of mission keeps us moving forward as life is unfolded in a discovery sort of way.  Life is an adventure. Even the “wilderness” years and dry times can be endured when there is a sense of mission about your life. How do we go about discovering mission?I would like to suggest three important principles in discovering life mission.  One can think of it as stages that must be mastered in order to experience the next level. The first two stages are shared by every person and the last is unique to the individual:

      1)      Seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God- the One from whom mission is derived.

Jesus as “the Son of Man” is a prototype human being.  He served as an example how to live our lives as humans related to the unseen Heavenly Father.  “The truth is anyone who believes in me will do the same works that I have done and even greater works because I am going to be with the Father” (Jn. 14:12) and He also shed light on a very profound truth when He declared, “I came from the Father into the world, and I leave the world and return to the Father” (Jn. 16:28)  Very simply, if we believe we were created at some point and proceeded from the Creator into a body prepared for the unseen part of us, then maybe, just maybe He had something in mind for us to become and do while we are here on the Earth.  The only way to discover that reality is to actually cultivate a relationship with Him.  A “calling” implies there is Someone beyond this natural world doing the calling.  Falling in love with Him, enjoying Him and being His child is the first stage in the discovery of mission.

       2)      Do what you can moment by moment, day by day, step by step to make the world a better place- following the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The second stage to master is the “doing” stemming from “being” a child of God. Unfortunately, there is no “map quest” to our life destiny.  We must learn to draw on untapped resources by obeying the promptings of our Love God by making the world a better place by serving.  In moments of decision make the choice to bring Heaven to the Earth by acts of kindness and expressions of love.  Love is a verb.  Be willing to be attentive to the legitimate needs of others, serving their best interest and welfare regardless how we feel about it.  Mission is discovered by the submitted heart that declares, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven” moment by moment.

3)      To exercise that talent which you came to the Earth to use in a place or setting which God caused to appeal to you the most; for those purposes which stirs your passion which God needs to have done in the world.

This last stage is uniquely yours.  What makes your heart sing and your passions to heat up?  Your mission of love will most likely be carried out through one or more of three arenas:

  1. Arena of Mind: Bringing more truth to the world
  2. Arena of Heart: Bringing more beauty to the world.
  3. Arena of Will: Bringing more perfection into the world through service

Who Moved My Tent?

“What do you see?” Sherlock Holmes asked his assistant as he nudged him from sleep during a camping outing. Watson, rubbing the sleepy fog from his eyes as he searched the heavens, replied, “I see the North Star that guided us to this spot. There, the Big Dipper and the tail of Orion. And I see the edges of the Milky Way where there are vast universes beyond…” Watson was about to continue his rapturous reply when suddenly Sherlock elbowed him and hissed, “Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent!”

While Watson was enjoying his exhilarating rhapsody of the beauties of the universe, Sherlock the detective was concerned with the crime that made their new view possible. Many times, during seasons of transition and change, we need to be delivered of our narrow, limited “tent vision” that may be holding us back.

While the Hebrew patriarch Abraham was agonizing over his apparent barrenness, God invited him to step outside his tent to view the heavens. Somewhere in his counting the limitless stars in the expanses of the heavens, he finally “got it”. It is said he “believed God”. (See Numbers 17:1-3)

Unless our internal capacity expands, we cannot embrace what has already been created in our future. Transition is not God enlarging our future, its God enlarging our capacity to handle what already exist but a current focus could not see. I have experienced seasons in my life where I was consumed over what was “moved” and missed the gift being offered. While camping, the thin nylon walls of my tent give me an illusion of security. All was needed was a stiff wind in the middle of the night to awaken me from that reality. The tent that was keeping me “secure” was really limiting my view of the universe.

What has been “stolen” from your life that provided you security? A job? A relationship? How can you reframe your current reality to a more expansive vision? What would happen if you chose to not focus on the tent that has moved, but on your suddenly expanded view of the universe? It doesn’t take Sherlock to figure that one out!

The One Thing

One of my favorite mid-life guy movies is “City Slicker” starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. In the movie, Billy Crystal’s character ‘Mitch’ and his middle-aged friends deal with personal issues like any group of red-blooded males would – they go on a cattle drive.

The leader of the cattle drive is a weather-beaten cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly is a stereotypical cowboy. He’s hard, tough, matter-of-fact, and very wise from his days riding alone on the plains.

While riding with the herd, Mitch turns to Curly and says, “Your life makes sense to you?” To which Curly replies: “You city folk. You worry a lot. How old are you? 38?” “39,” says Mitch.

“You all come up here about the same age. You spend fifty weeks getting knots in your rope and you think two weeks up here will untie them for you. None of you get it.” Then, Curly pauses and says, “You know what the secret to life is?”

“No, what?” says Mitch.

Curly holds up one finger and says, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that, and everything else don’t mean .”

“That’s great,” says Mitch, “but what’s the one thing?” Curly gives a country-style Obi-wan look and says, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

Mitch spends much of the rest of the movie bothered that Curly didn’t tell him the “one thing”, until finally he gets what the rest of us understood right away – you’ve got to figure that out for yourself. For all the mid-life crisis males in this movie, the “one thing” was family.

Jesus attracted people (and still does!) because of His single-minded focus.  “Seek first the Kingdom and rightousness (right alignment) and all these things you desire will be added to you”  His life demontrated that pursuit with incredible results that manifested the Invisible Kingdom.

Discovering your One Thing is one of the reasons you may invite a life coach along on your journey. Curly “life coached” Mitch when he had trouble connecting with what mattered most to him. Through a co-creative relationship, Mitch discovered what was already present, yet dormant within.

The power of focus is vital to a successful coaching session. By focusing on one thing, an agenda, you can break a tyranny to the impossible into something manageable. It becomes possible to deconstruct a mountain of a problem one stone at a time.

Take time each day to connect with the One Thing that inspires your passion. It’s a great way to keep the “knots out of your rope”.