Thoughts on “how to” live the Christian life.

In chewing on the simplest, most basic explanation for “how to” live the Christian life, I believe the juiced-down answer is to die.  Christ’s life, resurrection life, only flows from one place: a tomb…death.

A Christian man is a 3-part being: body, soul (mind/will/emotions) and spirit. Before we’re born again, all that we have to live by is body and soul. But once we’re born again, Christ literally comes to live inside our spirit providing a new life form to choose to live by. That’s why we’re a “new creation”. We’re no longer simply human, but we’re human mixed with divinity. But Christ’s life flowing through us is far from automatic. We must choose which life we’re going to express on a moment-by-moment basis, and 100% of our quick reactions to life and situations flow from body and soul. So when we are tempted to react, we must stop, die, turn to Jesus and ascertain His response to the situation, and then choose to express His flowing life instead of ours.

A lot of people get born again, but never learn how to live by Christ from the inside-out. So what they end up with is a religiously trained body and soul, nice-guy, do-gooder, church-going kind of person, but bears little to no fruit, doesn’t advance the kingdom or defeat the enemy, and just sit back and wait for the rapture. Or they just keep living a fleshly life and doubt their conversion experience because “nothing changed”.

So “how” do we do this dying?

  • Body – When our body is lusting for something that it shouldn’t, then we deny it (die to it), turn inwardly to Jesus in our spirit until we are “hearing” what He’s saying about the thing we’re lusting after, and then give expression (walk out) His response; which includes the grace/power to do it.
  • Soul –
    • Mind – When our mind is reasoning in such a way (normally to justify something that shouldn’t be justified), then we take those thoughts captive (die to them), turn to Jesus on the inside of us, hear His thoughts about the topic, then move forward choosing His thoughts that are literally flow from our spirit.
    • Will – When we are determined to have our way in a situation or being tempted to impose our will on someone else unrighteously, then we die to our willfulness and turn to Jesus deep inside to tune-into His will, and then express that instead.
    • Emotions – When our emotions are stirred up and pressing us to give vent to them, then we KEEP OUR MOUTH SHUT and turn to Jesus deep inside of us until we sense His feelings on the matter, and then let those flow out through us.

I believe our mouth is a master key to this death-to-Life transaction. Since the flesh has an instant reaction to everything, almost always flowing from selfishness, then when we are tempted to react, if we’ll keep our mouth shut and turn to Jesus on the inside, continuing to silently press into Him until like an oil-well His life rises up, and we give expression of His life through our soul and body, then we are living the Christian life that will actually bear fruit and overcome.

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Thoughts on “ministry” and the future of “the church”

Ministry is wonderful, signs and wonders are incredible, and planting churches is super important. However, TONS of ministry has always been and continues to be a significant mixture of spirit & self. In other words, even though we’re ministering to others, much of our motivations from deep inside are really all about ourselves. And for many, “doing ministry” allows us to only get involved in other people’s messes to the point that are comfortable with, and then we can walk away and go back home and turn it all off. Not so in family life.

Paul taught us in 1 Corinthians 4:15 that though we have 10,000 teachers in Christ, we do not have many fathers. I believe this reveals a powerful insight from Paul’s troubled heart about a crucial element that the church was and continues to be in dire need of.

Ministers, counselors, teachers, therapists, and the like are helpful; but are mostly props and Band-Aids needed due to a lack of high-quality parenting that was not done.

In the coming season where believers get more and more disillusioned with the world system and the institutional churches, and folks continue to try and live out true kingdom community, house churches, organic churches, whatever you’d like to call it; I believe the closest perspective to our heavenly Father’s heart is that these communities are designed to be family. And families are only functional, growing, and healthy if there are mature, wise, loving, patient, firm spiritual fathers and mothers. Who like in healthy natural families, view their role not as a “ministry”; but as sacrificing their lives, time, money, wisdom, & all resources to patiently raise a family to grow strong & productive in every way. Some to stay and continue long-term family life in their local community, and others to be scattered and take with them what was imported during their growing season.

The spirit of Elijah will go before Jesus to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready people prepared for the Lord Luke 1:17.

May the Lord raise up an army of spiritual fathers & mothers.

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Centrality?

“The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19)

The solar system is a great testimony to Jesus’ preeminence. As long as the sun is at the center and everything else is orbiting around it, then life is balanced and goes on. There’s still suffering, trials, life, and death. But these are all just part of the life-cycle. But if the earth somehow deviated 1 inch from it’s position, much less actually took the sun’s place the center, then all life would cease to exist. Ultimate & final death.

Jesus is to have the center, central, & preeminence (Col 1).

In the areas of our lives where there’s suffering & pain, a great question is to ask if it’s just normal trials that the Lord is using to refine grow us (transformation)? (Like storms & seasons on the earth) Or are there an areas where Jesus isn’t central? It’s a great gut-check to be brutally honest with ourselves, and prayerfully look at our deepest motives and see if Jesus really is our core motivation. Or is it pride, fear, ego, people-pleasing, etc…..selfishness/self-centeredness?

Lord Jesus, you are worthy of our orbiting around you. Teach us how to give you the preeminence in our heart, marriage, parenting, work-life, church-life, friend-life, and family-life. Your are the Life!

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The Song of the Season

I believe this song, with one tweak, is the song of the season. The tweak was to change the individual references of “me” (for example) to community references of “us”; to expand the psalm-like prayer into a more transcendent cry from the body of Christ. Of course our individual worship in the Lord is wonderful, but our corporate worship is exponentially multiplied in beauty and power.

LORD JESUS, POUR OUT THE NEW WINE!

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making
New wine
In the soil, we
Now surrender
You are breaking
New ground

So we yield to You and to Your careful hand
When we trust You we don’t need to understand

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making
New wine
In the soil, we
Now surrender
You are breaking
New ground (hey)
You are breaking
New ground

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today (oh today)

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
God, We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Sing that again, make us

Make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
God, we came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Oh, Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us (oh, Jesus)
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

It means we’re getting back on the altar
Let’s sing this to render everything, Lord
New wine out of us
Jesus, Jesus, bring new wine out of us (keep going)
Jesus, Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Oh, Jesus, bring new wine out of us

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today
Where there is new wine

‘Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
We lay down our old flames
To carry Your new fire today

So make us Your vessel
Make us an offering
Make us whatever You want us to be
We came here with nothing
But all You have given us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us, Jesus
Jesus, bring new wine out of us
Jesus, bring new wine out of us

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Which is greater? Jesus or the bible?

I’m writing this commentary because so many Christian men that I have chatted with over the years seem to aggressively elevate the importance of “right doctrine” and “correct theology” to an idolatrous level, in my opinion.

In John 5:39, Jesus said that we search the scriptures seeking eternal life, but they testify of Him. I think He’s obviously elevating Himself over the written word. Not degrading the word, but simply stating that He is the word incarnate, and intimacy with Him is to be sought-after more so than simply amassing knowledge of the written word.

Also, the mind can be lustful just like the eyes, belly, or flesh. What does the mind lust after? Knowledge. It loves to fill itself up with knowledge, knowledge, and more knowledge; to the point that it gets filled with argumentative pride. But in 1 Corinthians 8 we learn that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”. Once again, like Jesus elevating Himself above the written word, Paul is elevating the Spirit (love is a fruit of the Spirit) above simply amassing knowledge that may or may not bear any fruit. He even goes so far as to call the amassing of knowledge idolatry.

Brothers and sisters, the written word is great, especially when used as a tool to grow in intimacy with Jesus and for the Spirit to renew our minds and transform us. But Jesus Himself is: Life, Truth, Beginning, End, Door, Alpha, Omega, Resurrection, Bread, Living Water, Way, Advocate, Bridegroom, Shepherd, Creator, Dayspring, and so much more…everything. All things are summed up in Him.

I love the bible, but if you never owned one you could have an intimate, powerful, and trans-formative relationship with Jesus by the Spirit. Knowing Him (deep intimacy with Him) IS eternal life (John 17:3). Not knowing ABOUT Him (like when we study a historical famous person’s life via biography) with head knowledge, but truly knowing Him like you know your wife, children, or best friend.

In other words, He’s a person to be known way more than a subject to be studied.

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The Source of All Dysfunction

Unless there’s a severe mental or personality disorder involved, there’s one thing that is the source of all dysfunction. These 2 scriptures give us clues:

1) [Psa 19:1 NKJV] 1 …The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

2) [Col 1:17-18 NKJV] 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

From #1, when considering our universe, if the earth were 1 inch closer or farther from the sun, then our planet could not sustain life. The critical importance of the sun being at the center cannot be overstated. It keeps the universe in balance.

From #2, we see the God’s design for the individual, marriage, family, and church is that Jesus is to be like the sun in-and-to us. Head (means supply), center, first, and preeminent. And when He’s not these things, we have chaos, disorder, death, breakdown….dysfunction.

So what dislodges Jesus from being central? Juiced down to the core element, it’s self. Selfishness. Think about everything that you’ve experienced when dysfunction was present, and you’ll find someone putting their needs/wants/desires into the space of centrality. Nobody is perfect and we all do this from time-to-time, but if it’s a pattern then the “system” in which someone’s self is being consistently inserted will eventually decay and die; whether it be a marriage, friendship, church community, etc.

Also from #1, in Him all things consist. Jesus holds all things together. Our universe, our marriages, our relationships, our church communities, etc. So, when they don’t consist and they fall apart, we know He wasn’t center and preeminent.

If you’re experiencing dysfunction and breakdown, then you’ll be tempted to blame, make excuses, self-protect, and more; but all these are from the self, and contribute to the decay and dysfunction.

The key to turning dysfunction around into a growing and fruitful situation, is to consistently, day-in and day-out, month-after-month, year-after-year, decade-after-decade, put Jesus into His rightful place as head, center, and preeminence. And then you’ll see a proper orbit, balance, consistence, sustaining, and healthy growth.

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Marriage Troubles?

I know there’s a lot of people who are struggling in their marriages, and that’s so important because marriage and family are the front-line battleground. The enemy brings it to us here, because marriage and family is THE God-designed vehicle for passing down faith and grace from one generation to the next. (Side-note-News-flash for some: this transference is OUR job, not the pastor or Sunday school teacher’s).
 
So why are there so many gaps in our wall that the enemy can march right in and bring the battle smack into our living room and bedroom? I believe the answer is found in James 4; [Jas 4:1 NKJV] 1 Where do wars and fights [come] from among you? Do [they] not [come] from your [desires for] pleasure that war in your members? In other words, ** selfishness **. Far too many people get married because they’re looking to fill a God-sized love-hole with another human being, and no human is that vast. Then disappointment, disillusionment, blaming, cheating, and all kinds of selfishness sets in; and that’s really hard to recover from once it’s begun to grow.
 
So what’s the solution if we want FRUIT (love, etc) in our marriages instead of disappointment, strife, and cheating? Fruit only comes from one place, and it’s not the self. Jesus is the Tree of Life, and His fruit satisfies to the moon and back. His life and fruit makes things better and better over time, like aging good wine. Well, if I’m a believer and this fruitfulness isn’t happening, then what’s the problem. I may be a believer, but still living from my flesh and self instead of the Spirit; which produces death and rot. Fruit doesn’t lie. *** Look at your fruit and be honest with yourself. ***
 
[Mat 16:25 NKJV] 25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
 
This scripture shows the disease and the cure. Trying to “save my life”, “fight for my rights”, “get her to love or respect me”, etc are all examples of the death-filled process of “trying to save my life”. It’s all from the self, fear, pride, etc.
 
Learning to truly give my life away FOR HIS SAKE, is what brings Jesus’ transformational and fruit-growing life & kingdom into our marriages and families.
 
Make your #1 priority to seek a deeper, more real, more sincere, more personal, more intimate, more frequent, more consistent, more flowing, relationship with Jesus; and you will see an increase of fruit over time. But the mindset has to be like farming. We don’t plant good seeds, and expect a harvest the next morning. It can take YEARS of sacrificial laboring, sowing, tending, watering, and weeding before the first fruitful plant grows. But if we’re doing it for HIS sake, then the eventual harvest is absolutely sure.
 
Some huge distractions from making a deeper relationship with Jesus your #1 priority are: Looking to your pastor to tell you what to think, thinking bible study and getting your theology/doctrines right are the same as intimacy with Jesus, believing that church attendance and tithing are what make you a good Christian, thinking that being a member of the right denomination matters, etc.
 
I hope many figure this out before it’s too late.
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The Doorway into the New Covenant

Some thoughts on experiencing the manifestation of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives.
 
The doorway to experiencing the grace, power, glory, goodness, provision, salvation, deliverance, abundance, healing, peace, restoration, etc of the New Covenant is …
 
*** repentance ***
 
Jesus is a cheerful and abundant giver, and said He has already given us all things for life and godliness. So if there’s an issue of fruitlessness, it’s not with what He has provided or is willing to provide. When we turn to Him, He delightfully forgives and provides; every … single … time.
 
So if there’s an area of our lives that is not experiencing the kingdom coming to bear on it (marriage, parenting, health, finances, friendships, business, etc), and it’s deteriorating rather than growing more and more fruitful, then
 
*** there’s an area of our life that needs repentance. ***
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Worried about false teachers?

Many people in the church seem to be concerned about false teaching/teachers, etc.  So I did a quick bible study on the word “beware” in the NT, and it’s pretty revealing. The most mentions of the word “beware” are in the NKJV, and the extreme majority of the warning is to beware of “Pharisees and Sadducee’s and Scribes” (The nonspiritual, ultra-religious leaders). It’s because they are hell-bent on trying to force their unspiritual, deeply studied, ultra-religious, restrictions on people who don’t have the spiritual discernment to realize that these leaders are not of Christ’s Spirit and are simply trying to control them via their vast doctrinal knowledge & speaking skills so that their targets feel shamed & feared into following their particular view of pleasing God.

As Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun. Same junk is happening all through the church today.

Follow Christ and study the word by the Spirit folks, and you won’t come under false teaching. But the carnal brain can be convinced of many ungodly things.

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Teenagers!

After parenting 6 teens for the last 8 years, and also having 14 more years to go to parent another 3 into adulthood, I’ve learned there are 2 major things that cause a truckload of teen-drama.

  1. Brain development – As puberty cranks-up and their bodies and brains go into hyper growth mode, one area of the brain begins to rapidly mature, and another waits a few years.  The Amygdala is the area controls immediate reactions and aggressive behaviors, and begins to develop rapidly during puberty.  The Frontal Cortex is the area controls reason, logic, self-control, wisdom, etc. This part doesn’t start to develop until a few years later; and in males, may not be fully developed until they’re 25 years old. As I’m sure you can imagine, this imbalance leads to a lot of impulsive and risky behaviors that horrify parents, like speeding, fighting, risk-taking, etc.
  2. Dating – As teens go through puberty and their bodies begin to “bloom”, something on the inside wakes up too, and it’s powerful.  They become subconsciously aware of the reality that there’s someone outside of themselves and their immediate family that is required to “make them whole”, and they immediately begin trying to stuff other teenagers into that “hole”.  The problem is that “hole” is actually meant to be filled by a relationship with Jesus instead of another human, and He’s the only one big enough to fill it.  Since a human can never fill the place of God, but the longing to have that “hole” filled is so strong, all kinds of drama erupts in a short order, because a human can never love us with the fullness that God can.  And since they’re not “feeling the love”, they either go through lots of break-ups trying to find that “right person”, or they get into ugly and hurtful drama trying to control each other.

So, the message to my teens has been “Even though it feels like I’m trying to control you, I’m really just functioning as your frontal lobe until yours is developed enough to govern you to the point that you won’t do irreparable damage to yourself or someone else”.  And “Don’t date.  Spend your time an energy with friends of the same gender, having fun, gaining vision for your future, and get to know Jesus.  Once you’ve matured to the point that you’re ready for marriage, then have some healthy dating relationships, and avoid all the drama”.  They certainly haven’t followed this advice perfectly, but the seed was planted, and helped them to make better decisions once they experienced some of the foolishness of going their own way.

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