Christians, I think, might fall into three big categories.
- Cultural Christians, who were raised that way and prefer to maintain that general philosophy to seeking their own path. They don’t see religion as urgently beneficial so they don’t engage with it.
- Religious Christians, who engage with their faith walk as a group endeavor; they attend church and small group, etc. –maybe even read the Bible for themselves as part of a study.
- Non-institutional Christians who are actually pursuing a personal relationship with God; who are turned off by formal religion so they constantly searching out resources to expand their study.
If you fall into category one, I’d like to point out that “not engaging” is a fancy way of saying “running from.” What would William Wallace say? “Run, and you’ll live, fight and you may die. But one day, as you lay dying in your bed, you’d give everything for one chance, just one chance, to come back here…” Apathy is just a passive-aggressive form of cowardice, and cowards are slaves.
If you fall into category two, enjoy the resources available to you. Know that if the people your sitting next to each week aren’t annoying you, you’re probably not doing it right. Avoid the temptation to find your safety in policy manuals, the latest techniques, and official doctrines. Invite God to be bigger and more personal than He is to you right now.
If you fall into category three, you aren’t alone. I love my church family but it’s my personal relationship with God that feeds my heart. We do need to engage with others in person and through reading ancient masters-though I’ve yet to find a verse that truly says we must attend a weekly church service. Without a professional class of pastor, you’re probably desperate for resources. I wrote this book to speak to the most important thing we must grasp if we’re to be mentored directly by God.
The Most Important Thing
One of the goals in writing this book was to take the reader on a journey through what God’s sovereignty really means. It’s not a popular topic these days and hasn’t had a close examination in the last few decades.
Simply put, God’s sovereignty means God is bigger than we can imagine. We must allow God to be big and to be in charge in our lives.
It sounds crazy, but the God who can do anything regularly limits His interaction with you to what He knows you can handle because you’ll simply reject anything that doesn’t seem comfortable or familiar. Well, the only way to go deeper, to have true abundance in our lives, is to throw off the shackles of our own understanding and let God be God.
Say you want to conquer anxiety. We all experience a ridiculous amount of fear based on things that may or may not happen. Like so many things in life, fear has a place. If you’re climbing a cliff and you look down, a healthy respect for what will happen if you screw up should work to keep you focused on the task at hand.
However, most of us are actually looking into the future and imagining what could go wrong. If you were God and someone did that, wouldn’t you be a little put-off? Like the conversation between God and I in the last chapter: If I really believe that God already has a plan in my circumstances and He loves me enough to give His life for me, then why am I stressing over how things are going to work out? Because I’m uninitiated.
Initiation a process and I’m still on that path. What I mean is that I don’t really know that I have what it takes. It’s common with men. Masculinity is bestowed on young men by their fathers. Our dad was great, but he sheltered me instead of helping me learn that I am prepared for what life will throw at me. “Wild at Heart” really helped me understand what was missing and turn to God to take over fathering me.
But the Promised Land is a Whole Other Level
But if we simplify it even more, my anxiety comes from doubting that God will come through for me. The Promised Land is a place I can’t go in my own strength. Part one is the miracle of leaving slavery. God delivers us from that through Christ’s sacrifice, which restores us to a place of intimate connection with God. Now I need Him to transform me into someone able to receive what He wants to give me.
Satan will constantly remind me of times that things in my life didn’t go perfectly as examples of God letting me down. I have a three-step process to combat these lies:
- Realize that I’m not qualified to know what went wrong or right from God’s perspective.
- Short-circuit the enemy by deciding that God is sovereign in my life and allowed to treat me any way He wants. (Fear not–He is Good!)
- Most importantly, take those memories to God and talk through them. Often, I’ll realize I’m glad it happened the way it did–eventually.
There’s a lot of potential for condemnation in how people fight these concerns in their own power even though the above methods are true and will work. The above methods are better for those who’ve been walking with God long enough to have begun to trust him.
The Beginners Method
If you’re still young in your walk with the Lord then this is a better way to think of it:
To whatever degree you do things that harm you, that’s the degree and place where you hate yourself.
I know, I know, you were hoping for a less condemning method, but follow along for a minute. If you believe God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present, then you must accept that He sees you clearly. If you believe that God IS love, then you must accept that He loves you. So the degree to which God’s image of you and your reality differ is the degree to which you don’t like yourself. The places you don’t receive His love are the places you’re holding His love at bay–either from wounding to your heart or demonic agreements about your identity.
God values you perfectly—enough to die for you. If you saw yourself from His eyes could you smoke? Could you overeat? Could you cheat on your spouse or drink until you puke?
I know we all sin, compulsively, but the only way to heal those things is to abandon your own thinking and accept God’s viewpoint. This is the heart of everything we’ve been talking about so far. If you don’t learn to trust God, how can you possibly accept His version of you? Without bringing His love and vision into your wounds how do you heal?
Understanding Our Predicament
So, what if the scary situation you are in is engineered by God because He knows how He built you? He knows you’re equipped to do it and He will do it with you so you can’t fail? And even if you do fail he can redeem it retroactively.
There’s an awesome book called The Genesis Process that goes into this concept deeply. They call it the classic double-bind:
- Addicts keep going back to their drug of choice.
- Before that, they’re trying to resist but too tired to do so.
- Before that, they’re angry because nothing’s working.
- Before that, they’re super busy trying to outrun their feelings.
- Before that, they’re afraid of making a decision.
- And at the start of their relapse they’re simply faced with a decision that doesn’t have a good answer.
The authors call it the RFASTER scale. You can literally track where you’re at by how you’re feeling. You can ‘jump off the scale’ in a moment if you can identify the not-winnable decision and choose either option. God will fix it no matter what you choose, but generally, the right option is the one that builds your relationship with God or another person.
Which is worse, having a tough conversation with a spouse (who might leave you), or falling off the wagon? Drink that chocolate shake, or tell your boss (who could fire you) that you screwed up?
The outcomes of living honestly and fearlessly in the image of God are often hard to live with. But your option is to continue to stick your head in the sand, hoping your situation resolves itself.
On the bright side, the penalties of God’s restored image in you are generally in places we’ve been mishandling for years. Seriously, when you change for the better the people who hate you seldom stop, and many of your “friends” will abandon you. But living a lie is exhausting and eventually, it’ll catch up with you in other ways.
Regardless of what type of Christianity you grew up in (1, 2, or 3) or are choosing to live now, the path of the Postmodern Cleric is about an authentic relationship with God and is the only path to abundance. When we bring God’s power over our identity we can become effective. We can achieve a breakthrough in areas where we have been a slave for decades.
So there you have it!
Your Promised Land will be a place of abiding. But we exist in a paradoxical state with a Spirit made alive through Christ’s death on the Cross and a body that’s dying from the moment it’s born. Trapped between the two is the battlefield of the Soul.
Our soul is broken and will not mend completely in this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more abundance. It’s about existing in a state of abiding, which is a topic for the next book, but don’t be discouraged if you only enter your Promised Land and then have to leave again. God arranges moments of perfection in this world, but learning to inhabit that land is a process.
The Paradox is Hell:
- Are we to try for more in life? Do we want to pursue our purpose? Yes!
- Are we to accept our lot in life, physical, mental, emotional wounds, economic challenges, relationship status and glorify God even when we can’t see how it will ever get better? Yes!
In order to survive that level of paradox, we must partner with God in making it all about Him.
- Don’t let risk or fear make your decisions for you–ask for God’s will.
- Don’t let pain distract you–declare God’s goodness.
- Don’t let your situation interpret how God feels about you–ask Him how he feels about you and trust in His answers.
When God puts something on your list, do it. Actively seek his guidance but if He’s silent move out in faith because you’re not able to screw up so bad He can’t fix it. Nothing in life is more important than your connection with God, which is something you can’t lose. It is something around which you can stumble and not experience simply because you’ve never been told that it’s yours for the taking.
Think about the name, “Promised Land.” You can’t earn a gift, but you can reject a gift. You can’t make your Promised Land happen because it’s a gift through Christ. BUT your dependency doesn’t diminish after you receive it. God wants to give it to you and then live in it with you.
You can’t enter your Promised Land without knowing who he designed you to be, which is my topic for next book. But first remember, the only way to know who you are authentically is to draw intimately close to the one whose image you bear. That’s the Primacy of God, the Path of the Post-modern Cleric, and the key to abundance.
This page under construction.
Expected update 4/21/2018