Life. Day 47 of Lent. How to feel alive.

Life. Day 47 of Lent. How to feel alive.

i-am-the-resurrection-and-the-life-john-11-25-26

Life. It’s really what it’s all about. Being alive. Feeling alive.
We know death when we see it. Simply it’s the absence of life.
And it makes most oddly uncomfortable.

If you are ever alone and just stop to sit still and be, instead of do,
usually an unsettling awareness begins to form.
It usually gets most people up and moving quickly, because its uncomfortable that feeling, of being aware of who we really are authentically, of being who we are instead of doing something to feel like somebody.

The problem is shame, that dawning awareness that something is wrong with me.

Man’s solution since the fall is to engage our ‘knowledge of good and evil’ to fix this uncomfortable feeling. We don’t like the growing awareness that something is wrong with us so fix #1 is to convince ourselves its not us but someone/something else who has made us feel this way.  Get rid of that someone/something and wa-lah problem solved.  But it’s not…

Fix # 2, we hide.  We cover up this awful awareness. We add on personality to mask the shame. By the time we are teenagers we’ve developed a distinct pattern of coping with this feeling. We are a personality type– each one of us. Hiding is the beginning of the ability to lie to ourselves and believe we can fix the problem our self and so we arm our self with ego and put on the mask of ‘its all good’.

Fix #3, we work to fix it.  To relieve the sensation and hide the truth that something is wrong with us, we set about fixing everything and everyone except the condition worsens, the defenses strengthen, the lie grows stronger and the emptiness grows deeper because fixing it is really just arm wrestling with ourselves. We can’t fix it.

Fix #4, we fill it. To fix this feeling of emptiness because we still believe the lie since we mask the shame, we stuff things into our life to make us ‘feel better’. We find hobbies and habits. We eat and smoke and drink. We enjoy shopping and sex and other temporary pleasures. We seek after power and prosperity. We rule and we control and we get really good at it.  But we never can quite fill our own emptiness.  Because built into this emptiness is a ‘way of knowing’ that makes it very unlikely we will even see our problem, much less agree that the problem exists.

The things that people do that we think of as sinful are a result of this emptiness that can not be filled. No one likes to feel empty.
We all want to feel alive.

We ache, deep, deep down under the false filling and the fixing and the armor of our personality, in the soul we ache to feel alive. This is the problem with the human race, its not just bad behavior we traditionally have called sin, the problem with the human race is emptiness because we are separated from God. We are empty of the thing that makes us most who we are and make us feel fully alive. We are empty, dead inside and it drives us all towards something, anything that will soothe the uncomfortable awareness that something is not right.

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” Augustine once determined.

And there comes a moment for each of us too, when we realize even though we are faking it and fixing it to feel alive, we are really dead inside. This is why our quest to feel alive is so intense.
Who wants to feel dead? No one wants to feel dead.
And it is this death in me that makes it so uncomfortable, even painful, for me to be alone with me, to just be instead of do.

Jesus died to exchange the life in Him for the death in me.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

When people talk with words like redemption and salvation and being saved they are speaking about this exchange. Death for life. Our death for His life, His death so that we can be alive.

Jesus came to offer you this great exchange. To die to forgive me for who I am, not just what I have done.  Jesus death and resurrection sets me free from who I have become- the fixer and filler and faker hiding from my awareness of the dead emptiness inside of me.
Jesus opens the door to make a connection again to the source of life.  Christ says I can be born again. And I must be if I want to live.

I want to live. I want to feel alive.
If you ache to fill that emptiness then tell God, your source of life, the cry of your heart. Receive the free gift of eternal life by faith, trusting in the finished work of Christ death on the cross for you, where He exchanged your sins for His righteousness. Jesus called that being born again. Born again, I am born from the breath of my Father God and not the womb of my mother. This is a spiritual birth and I am reconnected to the source of Life.  Born again we are spiritual men and women again, with the Holy Spirit deposited into our very being.

We are alive!

Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'”  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37

The word “innermost being” is the Greek koilos, meaning hole or empty place. It is often translated belly or womb. In Jn 7, Jesus is describing a spiritual empty place in the heart of man, not a physical belly or womb. This empty place is the source of thirst and the divine solution to this hunger/thirst is to fill it with living water from the Holy Spirit.

Born again, we are filled with the Spirit of God. Filled we can overflow with this aliveness and influence others with the love and power of God.

Today, maybe you are a Christian and you still feel that aching emptiness. Maybe you’ve agreed with the faking, filling and fixing that goes on as we try to ‘feel alive’ apart from God in the ‘old man’ style of self-sufficiency.  Maybe you’re still uncomfortable being and only comfortable doing. May I suggest you stop fixating on the outward behaviors of your life and fix your focus on Jesus Himself.

Abide with Christ. And let Him fan into flame that passionate animation of abundant life connected to Him. Abiding allows the Spirit of God to fill us and fulfill us as we find passion and purpose living as we were made to be. Abiding with Christ we are aware of grace instead of shame.  We find love and we realize we are loved exactly as we are as God continues to transform us into what He was ordained for us to be.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Live loved.

#Silence. Day 46 of #Lent. The tomb of Christ.

Silence. Day 46 of Lent. The tomb of Christ.

hans holbein the-body-of-the-dead-christ

In the silence of Saturday our focus is on the Tomb of Christ.
This is no ordinary grave. It is not a place of corruption, decay and defeat. It is life-giving, a source of power, victory and liberation.
A day between the horror of his sacrificial death and the joy of His resurrection, the day is full of watchful expectation. Just as the Sabbath is our rest and reflection day, our foretaste of our final eternal rest with God, so this silent Saturday is our foretaste of anticipation when mourning is transformed into joy.
The day embodies in the fullest possible sense the meaning of xarmolipi – joyful-sadness, the bittersweet emotion that is the wonder of the holy week.

Saturday is the day of the pre-eminent rest.
Christ observes a Sabbath rest in the tomb. His rest, however, is not inactivity but the fulfillment of the divine will and plan for the salvation of humankind and the cosmos. He who brought all things into being, makes all things new. The re-creation of the world has been accomplished once and for all. Through His incarnation, life and death Christ has filled all things with Himself He has opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from the dead, since it was not possible that the author of life would be dominated by corruption.

Paul tells us that: “God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Cor 5:19 Eternal life and light Himself penetrated the depths of Hades. Christ who is the life of all destroyed death by His work on the cross. That is why the Church sings joyously ” Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.”

The solemn observance of silent Saturday helps us to recall and celebrate the great truth that by faith we are buried with Christ, seeing in Christ’s burial our own burial of all of our sins, of our past life. Our sin is dead and buried with Christ. Like burning a bridge we can’t go back. The victorious life is hindered by the memory and rehearsal of past failures. We can not live the abundant life when we continue to cultivate a root of bitterness over past injustices done to us by others or of our own sins we feel are unforgivable—all must be given over to Jesus today to be good and buried with him. To participate in Christ’s burial is to put away once and for all the old ways of thinking, the former wrong emotions and habits and attitudes toward God and others and our self in order to be completely free from the past to live a new resurrected life. As we choose to live as though buried with Christ, the power of His work on our behalf makes us realize that the memory as well as the influence of former habits has lost its power and is truly dead and buried.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Cor 15:16-17

#Darkness. Day 45 of #Lent. It’s three o’clock on #GoodFriday

Darkness. Day 45 of Lent. It’s three o’clock on GoodFriday

jesus on cross

It’s three o’clock,
Light rolls back,
the sky turns black, thunder groans across the horizons.

It’s three o’clock,
“Ichabod!” a dismayed mother calls her son home,
Unable to give reason to the swollen, angry black sky.
She covers her head with her shawl,
the air heavy with the chill of darkness
“Get in the house,” she pulls and threatens, “Get in now!”

It’s three o’clock.
A bleary bartender twists away from a prattling patron,
to notice the sky. Is startled, but only for a moment.
“Pour me another!”
He turns back to the wine, the world, the aching addicts.

It’s three o’clock.
Quick! The Sabbath comes in three hours.
“Break their legs,” the Centurion commands the soldiers.
They smash their bones with fist-thick clubs.
Impatience hears no agony.

It’s three o’clock.
In darkness the Nazarene sags into His agony.
Crowned with the curse.
Betrayed, beaten, battered to a cross.
The Cup empty of the dregs.
His heart is brim full—
Bulging.
Gasping to finish.
Trembling.
Accepting all.

All.
Yours and mine. Every sin.
Stuffed in his holy frame.
Every choice, from everyone
They fill him.
And the shame and guilt no longer can hide.
They become His.
He becomes sin.
Separated.

It’s three o’clock.
Wrath finds its vengeance.
The earth shakes.
A curtain rips.
A spear pierced side sheds its Passover blood,
and the cleansing water pours forth.
The final sacrifice is accepted.
And Jesus the King of the Jews has died.

Tenebrae – Latin for darkness

Nothing reminds us of the weight of sin like darkness.

Does cold exist? In fact cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat.

Does darkness exist?  Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness.

Evil does not exist. It is just like darkness and cold. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happened when man does not have God’s love present in his heart” Albert Einstein

Meal. Day 44 of Lent. Christ our Passover Lamb.

Meal. Day 44 of Lent. Christ our Passover Lamb.

The symbolism of the Passover

Passover-lamb #lent

Passover is the retelling of the great story of how God redeemed the Jewish nation from enslavement in Egypt. The celebration centers around the Passover lamb which was sacrificed and its blood put over the doorposts as a sign of faith after the Lord told then He would Pass Over the home during the last plague killing every firstborn in Egypt.

The Passover lamb was to be a “male without defect.” When the lamb was roasted and eaten, none of its bones were to be broken.    It was customary during crucifixion to break the leg bones of the person after a few hours in order to hasten their death. The only way a person could breathe when hanging on a cross was to push up with his legs, which was very exhausting. By breaking the legs, death followed soon by asphyxiation. The soldiers broke the legs of the other two men, but did not break Jesus’ legs since He was already dead.

The New Testament reveals Christ is our Passover Lamb whose blood was shed for us and whose body was broken for us.

During Passover week, Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem five days before the lamb was killed in the temple as the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Five days before the lamb was to be sacrificed, it was chosen. Jesus entered Jerusalem on lamb selection day as the lamb of God.

The day Jesus was crucified was the day of the Passover celebration and the day that the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. For the previous 1,200 years, the priest would blow the shophar or ram’s horn at 3:00 p.m. – the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice for sins on behalf of the people of Israel. At 3:00, when Jesus was being crucified, He said, “It is finished” and gave up His spirit to His Father.

As the Passover lamb was sacrificed and the shophar was blown from the Temple and the sacrificial Lamb of God died, the veil of the Temple-a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that marked the Holy of Holies- tore from top to bottom. Christ sacrificial death represented a removal of the separation between God and man.

The festival of unleavened bread began Friday evening at sunset. The Jews would take some of the grain – the “first fruits” of their harvest – to the Temple to offer as a sacrifice. In so doing, they were offering God all they had and trusting Him to provide the rest of the harvest. It was at this point that Jesus was buried – planted in the ground. Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of those raised from the dead in 1 Corinthians.

As such, Jesus represents the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide the rest of the harvest – resurrection of those who follow the Messiah. In the Seder, the Passover dinner, three matzahs are put together representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The middle matzah is broken, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus. The matzah represents Jesus, who was striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah,  David, and Zechariah. Following the Seder meal, the “buried” matzah is “resurrected,” which was foretold in the prophecies of David.

It was during the Last Supper, a Passover seder meal, that Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself and that He was instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. The celebration of this covenant has become the ordinance of communion in the Christian Church. At the end of the meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body. Then He took the cup of wine, which would have been the third cup of the Seder meal – the cup of redemption. Jesus said that it was the new covenant in His blood “poured out for you.” It is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are declared clean before God, allowing those of us who choose to accept the pardon by faith of his redemptive work through his cross, burial and resurrection, to commune with Him – both now and forevermore through the eternal life He offers.

Fifty days later, on the anniversary of the giving of the law Pentecost, God left the earthly temple to inhabit those who call on the name of Jesus through His Holy Spirit and issued the Great Commission that we might spread the good news of the gospel to the world.

To learn more about Christ our Passover lamb visit this site.

Pray. Day 43 of Lent. A Must.

Pray. Day 43 of Lent. A must.

Prayer Power

“Only when a man flounders beyond any grip of himself and cannot understand things does he really pray. Prayer is an interruption of personal ambition and no person who is busy ever has time to pray.” Oswald Chambers

Prayer is not part of the natural life. If you struggle to keep focused and prayer is work, hard work for you, that is because it is not natural, ordinary, worldly-minded way of doing life.

Bill Hybel say, “The holy spirit gave me a leading so direct that I couldn’t ignore it, argue against it or disobey it. The leading was to explore, study and practice prayer until I finally understood it. I obeyed that leading. I read 15-20 books on prayer. I studied almost every passage in scripture on prayer in the Bible. Then I did something absolutely radical: I prayed. . .The greatest thrill has been the qualitative difference in my relationship with God. . . I’ve gotten to know God a lot better since I started praying…God will reveal himself to you, breathing more of his life into your spirit… Through prayer God gives us peace. . . People are draw to prayer because they know that God’s power flows primarily to people who pray…and that changes circumstances and relationships…when we work, we work but when we pray, God works.”

Prayer is a practice. It’s a personal discipline, yes. But for some, it becomes not just a habit but a sacred addiction. As Brennan Manning says, “In a significant interior development you will move from a should pray to I must pray.” May that be your prayer today.

Teach us to pray, the disciples ask the Lord and His answer was the outline of the Lord’s prayer, which is really the disciple’s prayer from Luke 1:1-13. The passage is a way to form your own prayer, filling in your words as you move through the verses.

We should pray without ceasing, which means we have an ongoing spiritual conversation with God all day.  Especially at critical times. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

“Worry means there is something over which we cannot have our own way and in reality is a personal irritation with God,” Chambers explained. Worrying it out in prayer does something to the inner spirit, it allows us to hand the burden over and trust that God is a reliable keeper of the problem as well as a keeper of the soul. We release it and accept the presence of His peace. And we keep thanking Him that He is there, no matter what is happening, God is here with us.

The missionary knows this as does the mother. We find the secret to quieting the soul in unsettling times is not indifference but the knowledge that God is present with us, that He loves us, and that He is aware of what is happening and will give us the grace in which to stand up under the present situation whether it be a martyr’s death or an infant’s colic.

Prayer doesn’t necessarily changes things as prayer changes us to handle things.

When we pray sometimes things remain the same but we begin to be changed.

Why Pray?

We need it. Prayer will change me.
Luke 11:1, Ps 107:13-28, Romans 8:26, James 1:5

We must do it. Prayer will change others.
Luke 18:1, Matthew 6:8, John 14:12-13, 1 John 5:14-16

We are empowered through it. Prayer will change circumstances.
John 15:7, Luke 11:9-13 James 5:16

Ask. Day 41 of Lent. Thanks for Asking.

Ask. Day 41 of Lent. Thanks for Asking.

2 blind beggars

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

Matthew 20:29-34 is a layered story.
One that arrests you if you let it.

First of all, it’s about beggars – the pure ragamuffins among us, the poor in spirit and the actually poor of people, who are in need. Spiritually we need to never forget that is the blessed state we should migrate our minds back to as we seek to live humbly.
So we find two blind beggars, they’re sitting by the side of the road, and they find out that Jesus is coming their way, so they began shouting.

This is where it gets uncomfortable for a crowd. Especially a churchy kind of crowd who either are very concerned about not missing a word that Jesus would say or other churchy folks who just don’t like things out of the box and people misbehaving.
Well these two guys are yelling at the top of their lungs, trying to get noticed. This is what desperate people do. People who are at rock bottom and see a way out, they break the rules of society, they go anti-social and anti-politically correct and they don’t even know it and least of all care about it, because, ‘Hello!’ they are desperate.

Most of us self-sufficient strivers would be embarrassed by this display of neediness, and if we had kids with us, we’d pull them close and cover their curious eyes, if we were with friends we’d give each other the look as they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”

I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if someone in the crowd got it. If instead of shhhh-ing them they said, “Hey, come with me. This Jesus he can heal you and I’ll get you to him. Take me hand.”
But this crowd tried to shut them up and push them out. It’s uncomfortable to have desperate people screaming for help. It’s uncomfortable to have people with such obvious needs, being so obviously needy. And maybe this crowd had seen these guys for years and they’d given and given until they were annoyed. Who knows. But these desperate beggars, they got rowdy and shouted louder. I like these two ragamuffins. They know they have a need, a great need and a once in a life time opportunity.

And then we read two awesome words: Jesus stopped.

Then Jesus stopped and asked them a dangerous question. It was only the second time he’d ask this question. Earlier he’d ask James and John the same thing, when they were scheming and dreaming and fixated on being great and sitting to the left and the right of Him. (Mark 10:36) It shows me there is always an endless amount of layers in the Scripture, overlapping subtexts, from past to present, linking A to B and this person to that person, and one lesson to another. I’m sure this question re-asked, got James and John’s attention because it cuts to the very heart of the matter.

“What do you want Me to do for you?”

Do you ever get that one? The bold request to put your finger on it, exactly, what it is you want Jesus to do for you. To name it specifically. It’s a crazy intense kind of heart probing question. But these two guys knew exactly what they wanted, and it wasn’t all that spiritual. “Lord,” they said, “We want to see.”

Jesus felt compassion for them, touched their eyes, and suddenly they could see. They were delivered, “Made Well” and received their sight. Then they ‘followed him‘.

What exactly do you need from Jesus today?

Sometimes it makes my heart pound when I imagine Jesus asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I think the question cuts through all the motives and the spiritual grandeur. It takes the wide and makes it impossible to fit into the narrowness of the request. It wants us to name it specifically, with honesty and authentically what we need.
And thinking it through I find I’m just as needy as these ragamuffin blind beggars and what I really need isn’t something Jesus wants me to whisper quietly to Him now. He wants me to be blessed and to have His divine favor rest upon me, so this poor in spirit Christian needs to open her hands and beg.

What?
I can hear it. I really just heard you say it or think it. Beg?

Yes.  Beg. It’s the spiritual word for people who realize their spiritual poverty. It’s the mature way the sanctified ‘Ask’. We get in the humble posture, we agree we can’t do this or get this need met on our own. We lift our empty uncapable hands out and up to God. And we beg, out loud, in fact loudly in this case would be from a pounding heart of a body that is suddenly urgent to express a need, a great need, feeling like this is a once in a life time opportunity to get that need met because we heard Jesus ask us the question, “What is it you want me to do?”

We need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable with the fact that we need help.

Everybody is desperate to know that Jesus still stops for them.
Everybody is desperate and needy, especially the ones who look like they aren’t. Everybody has a need that Jesus wants us to express specifically.

Jesus ASKS “What is it you want me to do?”

Lord, we are the crowd who sometimes get in the way of the needy. We hush people up. Shame on us. Help us to love the ragamuffins, to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable, to lead people to you, not shut people down and keep them out.

We are also the beggar, poor in spirit, and how blessed to know that you stop, Jesus, you see us and Ask us what we need. Lord let us speak out loud our need. Let us shout it once we realize, let us beg you for it. And let us not forget the answer came with your infamous ‘follow me’.

Thanks so much for stopping to ask us, Jesus.

Walk. Day 40 of Lent. Be inspired.

Walk. Day 40 of Lent. Be inspired.

Walking to Improve creativity

Like the Greek philosophers, many writers have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking, thinking, and writing.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau once wrote in his journal.

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so inspirational to thinking and writing?

The answer begins with changes to our physical chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps quicker, more blood and oxygen circulate not just to the muscles but to all the organs, including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa or thoughts change the nature of how our bodies move. Sports Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have found what many of us already know: high tempo music motivates us to move faster.  But did you know that walking at your own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of your bodies and your mental state that you cannot experience as easily during any other kind of movement.

Walking is defined by an ‘inverted pendulum’ gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step of locomotion.  When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down. And because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander and to overlay the landscape with images from our mind.

This is precisely the kind of mental state that studies have linked to innovative ideas and strokes of insight. Stanford published a set of studies that directly measure the way walking changes creativity in the moment. The bottom line is this- walking is a great activity for brainstorming ideas but not so productive for laser-focused thinking.

Where we walk matters as well. A small collection of studies suggests that spending time in green spaces—gardens, parks, forests—can rejuvenate the mental resources that man-made environments deplete. So parks will be more productive to your creativity than city streets. Psychologists tells us that attention is a limited resource. It is continuously drained during the day.  A city scape populated with activity volleys our attention around. While walking in a park allows our mind to drift peacefully from sensory experience to another as the landscape changes. If you are overstimulated, go for the serene setting of a nature walk. If you need stimulation, a walk in the city will give you a variety of sensations for your mind to explore.

The reflection found on a walk reveals the relationship of walking, thinking and expressing ourselves. After a brisk walk when I return to my desk I find similar aspects in walking and in writing.  When I walk my mind decides the map, my footsteps following the mental path I’ve laid out for the stroll as my body makes that ‘inverted pendulum’ gait. Similarly, writing forces my brain to review its ideas, plot a course of story and transcribe the imaginative thoughts into narrative and descriptive passages through the guiding hand of the strokes on my keyboard.

Of course the delight of a good walk is always the inner conversation you can have with God.
The rambling prayer that skips and lingers, circles back only to look ahead. And somewhere in the walk I usually pause or smile or have that ‘ah-ha’ moment when my spirit and mind bump into the Divine. Glory. Right?

Want to be inspired, go for a walk.

Pain. Day 38 of Lent. Phantom pain of the old sin nature.

Pain. Day 38 of Lent. Phantom pain of the old sin nature.

the_phantom_pain_logo

The International Association for the Study of Pain’s widely used definition states: “Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”

Nociceptive pain is caused by stimulation approaching or exceeding harmful intensity. The most common categories being “thermal” (heat or cold), “mechanical” (crushing, tearing, shearing) and “chemical” (iodine in a cut, chili powder in the eyes).

Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or disease affecting any part of the nervous system involved in bodily feelings. It is often described as “burning”, “tingling”, “electrical”, “stabbing”, or “pins and needles”. Bumping the funny bone elicits acute neuropathic pain.

There is another type of neuropathic pain- Phantom pain is pain felt in a part of the body that has been lost or from which the brain no longer receives signals.


Phantom limb pain is a common experience of amputees. It is often described as shooting, crushing, burning or cramping. Local anesthetic injections into the nerves or sensitive areas of the stump may relieve pain for days, weeks or, sometimes permanently, despite the drug wearing off in a matter of hours. Vigorous vibration or electrical stimulation of the stump, all produce relief in some patients.

Spiritually speaking, have you ever felt this ‘phantom pain’ of the old sin nature?

I love how Bob Hamp explained this in his Freedom series of teachings.

A Parable: The Kingdom of God is like: Phantom Limb Syndrome

Our flesh is the part of you that you travel around in. Go read Romans 5-7 to learn more about it but here is a short course. There are Three Characters at war within you:

    1. Old Nature (Sin Nature, Old Man, Dead Nature)
    2. Flesh (Body, Container, physical needs, desires, nervous system)
    3. New Nature (Spirit, Born Again Spirit)

In Salvation the old nature is crucified and buried but the nervous system has been programmed by the old nature for years. Just because the old man is dead and buried doesn’t mean the program stopped running. You’ve got baggage from the past, it’s like you can’t wipe the hard drive, there is still all your old data stored in there, and viruses that you didn’t clean out.

New Nature is born inside the Flesh. The New Spirit is meant to re-program from the inside out working through you.

Because there is a war within you, the Old Nature keeps trying to tell you it’s still around, in fact sometimes you wonder if it’s not still in control.  It’s painful.  Just like Phantom Limb Syndrome.

When treating Phantom Limb Syndrome, doctors tried to treat giving Tylenol when the missing foot hurts, they actually found they strengthen the nervous systems embedded reactions telling the brain the leg is still in tact. It was successful temporarily, but it maintained the lie over time. This was because as the treatment made it better for a moment and then it got worse again, and more medicine made it better, but then it got worse again, and it only strengthen the programming of the brain that the limb was there.

Instead doctors learned to prescribe a series of treatments that engage the new nerve endings at the stump of the limb. Touching the NEW nerve endings with hot things, cold things, prickly things, soft things, as many new sensations as possible to stimulate the NEW nerve endings, telling the nervous system through new experiences that something has indeed change, the limb is gone and allowing the brain to be re-routed for this new information.  These treatments got the brain to focus on what is the NEW condition.

Like Phantom Limb Syndrome, in order to allow the New Nature to reprogram our nervous system we must begin to stimulate the new nerve endings, which allows the nervous system to reprogram those new experiences into our beliefs.

Many people who get saved are told to go to church, read your bible, pray, etc… doing those things, good things, don’t save you. “By grace we have been saved through faith, and it is not of ourselves it is a gift from God.” Eph 2:8 However the Bible is a book full of Words written by God for you and it’s full of information about what has been done in you already. Instead of wrestling with a dead man who isn’t there anymore-fixating on it; what we are dealing with-then medicating it with ‘solutions’ only to fixate on it again-is not a process that works. Instead we can begin to stimulate our nervous system to what is NEW in us. Going to church and being with other believers, hearing the Word Taught, but also talking WITH other believers allows us to renew our nervous system to that which is NEW there. Bible Reading, Pastors Messages, Prayer, Church Gathering, Etc are all ways to stimulate what is New about you, that which has ALREADY happened.

The more of these you do, with the mindset that you are not doing them “to become”, but rather, “to discover” what you “have become”, the faster we can re-program our nervous system to understand what is new about us and what has really died.

The lesson of the parable is this: don’t focus on the Old, stimulate the New and keep your focus on Christ, abiding in Him we draw all that we need to bear fruit for His kingdom and if you take a look at the list of the fruit of the spirit-love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal 5:22-23,  that is what happens supernaturally as we abide in Christ.

 

This writing was an adaptation on the message from Bob Hamp and my notes from taking his Freedom Series class.

http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/freedom-kairos/media1

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Broken. Day 37 of Lent. Psalm 51.

Broken. Day 37 of Lent. Psalm 51.

Ps51 broken

When I am broken I go to one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Psalm 51
A psalm of David.

I love this version song by Jars of Clay.


1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

HOME. Day 16 of Lent. Living in light of eternity.

HOME. Day 16 of Lent. Living in light of eternity.

HOME In-my-fathers-house-there-are-many-dwelling-places

This is not my home.

I recently moved. Again. So people who know me will nod their head at that opening statement. They’d tell you the Kellys move a lot. They rent homes while they build homes only to sell the house they’re in. After living in 3 states and 9 different cities inside 3 apartments and 10 different houses during 27 years of marriage, I can honestly say, “I’m not HOME yet.” I consider Heaven my Home and it keeps me living in light of eternity.

Hebrews 11, the great chapter about faith and the faithful reminds us of this~ “Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.”

If your time here on earth were all there is to life, then you should really live it up and I mean immediately. If you don’t believe there is a God or a coming judgment or a final destination than you should forget morals, ethics or values or any consequences of your actions and indulge yourself. Be selfish, get it all now, make yourself at HOME here on earth if you thinks this is all there is.

But God…He planted eternity in the human heart (Eccl 3:11) God designed us in His image and wired our brains with an inborn instinct for immortality. Even though we know death runs in the family, we feel like we should live forever. But one day we will die physically, it will be the end of our time on earth but not the end of us. We are DUST. Our body frail and finite, a temporary container for our spirit.

God calls our earthly body a tent and refers to our future body as a house. “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not hand-made—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. 2 Cor 5:1-5

Heaven isn’t a false hope. This life is not all there is. This is not my home. And we know this because God put a little of heaven, that eternity into our hearts. David, knowing he was tempted to hope in the temporary treasures of this life, asked God to remind him of this reality, to remind him that our lives are extremely short. Our lives are so tiny that David uses words like “fleeting,” “nothing,” “breath,” and “phantom” to describe man’s life. In this short life we are offered many choices where to call Home, eternity will offer only two: Heaven or Hell.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ on earth will determine our destination in eternity. Love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ and spend eternity with him or reject His love, forgiveness and salvation and you will spend eternity with yourself, apart from God.
C.S. Lewis said, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your way.'”

Jesus promised, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)

Our world will tempt us every day to have a temporal perspective, to live as if our current life is all there is. The only time most people think about eternity is at funerals. We need to think more about eternity not less. More about death, which is simply the door to eternity, not with fear but with anticipation knowing the deeds of this life are the destiny of the next and LIVE for Christ. We must continually renew our mind with the truth of eternity. That life is fleeting and knowing Christ by faith is just a preparation for knowing Him fully for eternity. Living in light of eternity reprioritizes how we live today. Relationships matter more than riches. Service matters more than being served.

The Kingdom of God is upside down to the kingdom of this world. Have you accepted the fact that we are called to be foreigners, transients? Are you HOME yet?