Personal Culture vs Lifestyle Design

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Lifestyle Design gets a lot of attention these days, and it deserves a closer look. At long last, folks are attempting to put things like success, happiness, and wealth into personalized perspective. They are asking the postmodern question, “if I pursue what everyone says is the American Dream, will that bring ME satisfaction?”

I wrote on a related topic in my post on stoic reality. The gist is that we do need personal definitions but we also need to realize that reality doesn’t care about your definition. Sometimes the things that are difficult in the short run bring more life in the long run. Sometimes we need to lean into discomfort, or even pain, in order to pursue more LIFE. Sometimes we need to risk personal disaster in order to live in line with our values.

The famous quote from William Wallace’s character in the movie Brave Heart comes to mind. “Everyone dies, few men ever really live.”

So, I advocate something I call Personal Culture. It requires you to create your personal definitions, but then test it against your values. The trick here is that most of us don’t really think through our values. It takes an intentionality that isn’t possible in the typical busy American schedule.

The Average American Life

(Note: I use the term American a lot before things I’m criticizing. I’m not bagging on the U.S. I love America. Out of all the ways we do government and culture, America has figured out the best over-all way. Since I myself, and most of my audience, live in America I’m using it to indicate typical way most of us live. )

The two biggest challenges facing most of us are fear and shame. I plan to write on these at greater length, but my mentor, Sam Williamson covered shame far more brilliantly than I can.

The thing that makes fear and shame so terrible isn’t the temporary grip on our emotions, it’s that they take hold deep in our identity and become a guiding force in our decision-making.

If we don’t live from God, we live from fear or shame…or both.

Guilt vs Shame

As I mentioned above, unless we heal the wound in our ability to trust God we won’t be able to slow our pace enough to develop an effective personal culture.  Guilt is a soul level issue that can motivate us to make changes, but shame is at the level of our heart.

Guilt says, “I did something bad,” where shame says, “I am bad.” –Chris Skaggs

They require different weapons to combat. If you have debilitating guilt talking actually does help. Talking with a counselor can identify shame, even create ‘understanding’ of it, but it cannot heal it. That takes God.

Sam’s post will describe how to heal shame, permanently.

Cleric Path

A major factor in walking the Cleric Path is living inside out, authentically, in line with your values. As the 1st book in the series, The Primacy of God, points out; abundance flows from God, through us/changing us, then out to other people. We must subordinate our lives to God or we are relegated to a life on the hamster wheel–trying to outrun our problems and succeed in our own strength.

When Christ said he came that we may have life abundant, I believe him (John 10:10).

Very few people I know, Christian or not, live a truly abundant life–including me. The Cleric Path is my journey to receive abundance. The vision is a bullet-proof Tarzan, who could manage a kingdom or lose everything and still function in my purpose. I want to be responsive to what Micheal Q Pink calls Spontaneous Wealth–those flashes of epiphany that seem to almost accomplish themselves which we commonly ignore for lack of time.

What’s the Differences?

The key differences between lifestyle design and personal culture are the direction of flow and the source of the answers.

  1. Clearly, I’m going to advocate for God as a solution, but hear me out. The secular answer to shame, for example, is to be self-compassionate, improve self-esteem, think positive, or recast our stories, etc. Basically, try harder/run faster on that hampster wheel. Which leads to more failure and more guilt. We must have a source outside ourselves to defeat something bigger than ourselves and believe me, our problems are larger than us.
  2. Instead of living outside in, where your actions arise from a desire to create a desirable environment, we must live from inside out. Want to stop playing whack-a-mole with your problems? Stop reacting to urgent crap and let your actions arise from who you really are.

 

Personal Culture (see also this post)

 

An effective Personal Culture has three elements:

  • Mythic Reality Vision
  • Intentional Pacing
  • Authentic Actions & Rebounds

Mythic Reality Vision

We need to get a bigger perspective. When we worship our own intellect we tend to blind ourselves to things that are beyond the scope of our influence. The result is we live in a smaller story where the right thing to do is everything you can do to improve your existence. Sure we want to help people but what can one person really do, right?

Well, we lack the perspective to effectively make decisions in our lives. Only by seeing ourselves in the context of the story God is living, can we begin to glimpse the factors beyond our immediate circle of influence. On your most triumphant day at work, the most truly important thing you did all day, in God’s eyes, was smile at your barista.

While we’ll never be able to predict the unintended consequences of our actions, positive or negative, we can view life through a larger lens by consulting God about every situation.

Intentional Pacing

If we can learn to trust God we can move at a slower, more deliberate pace. You actually get more stuff done. How? Well, when your actions arise from your authentic identity you feel more satisfied. You spend less time on urgent things that turn out to be meaningless (although sometimes you’ll swear its the opposite). You also gain a secret blessing called multiplication.

While the world is telling you to multitask (split your focus and do several things at once) God’s answer is to bless you with manifold outcomes to your single efforts. God is the original two birds with one stone guy. He has given his people crops they didn’t plant, and victories over armies without lifting a finger. He will bless you manifold if you do everything you do with Him.

Authentic Actions (Journeys & Rebounds)

Living outside-in is when you try to change your circumstances. You’re always reacting to your circumstances because that’s how you know what to do next.

Living inside-out means letting your actions arise from who you are and then living with the consequences. You actually end up living above our circumstances.

For example, God is always abundantly giving to you. If you lose your job you could drop everything and seek a new job to replace the income. Or, you could ask God what He’s up to. Are you now poor because you don’t have an income? Or are you now rich in time to work on things?

God does understand that you need to provide for your family, but if you live from the assumption that God has your back you gain the ability to look around for God’s blessing in the hardship. You are free from the myopic and self-limiting belief that without money you can do nothing.

I’m not actually advocating that you throw your hands in the air and take whatever life hands you. We are given stewardship over our bodies and our kingdoms, which means we are authorized to manage these things. In fact, Jesus told an entire parable about a rich man leaving talents with his three servants. It didn’t go well with the servant who buried his talent. His reason, BTW, was that he feared his Master and couldn’t risk losing it. If God gives you a hammer find a nail and start swinging–it doesn’t go well for that third servant.

So here are two Godly ways to pursue God’s abundance in your sphere of authority: Journeys & Rebounds.

Journeys:

Journeys – a mini-adventure to remove a constraint to the flow of good things from God through us to our unique audience.

If you want to improve your physical fitness, financial outlook, or organize your environment better you can take on what I call a journey.

A journey looks a lot like the sort of secular mission-driven effort to fix our lives through our own strength but there are a couple key differences.

  1. You take a journey with God and as a result, it should draw you into a more intimate relationship with your Father.
  2. While you are trying to accomplish the goal of the journey (changed situation) your goal is to reveal constraints (wounds) that impede the flow of abundance through you.

About Journey Plans

For more on Journeys see this post.

Rebounds:

Rebounds are habits we undertake to make incremental improvements. Where a journey is more like a project to lose 15 lbs by efforts x, y, & z, a rebound is an attempt to replace certain bad habits with beneficial ones.

The goal, again, is to bring you closer to God.

Examples of rebounds:

  • Prayer before meals
  • doing 5 pushups on the counter before you brush your teeth
  • keeping a gratitude journal
  • parking further from the door so you get more walking in

And so on. The idea is to replenish you by doing things that make you more aware of God, more aware of your decisions, and to increase the bring more heart satisfaction.

More on Rebounds coming in a separate post…(Link?)

 

Food: Good, Bad & Ugly

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I’ve decided to make this post so I can collect and track tips I get about the nutritional value of different foods. Not the specific vitamin/fiber/calory stuff, but basic is it really good or a wolf in sheep’s clothing type of stuff. I intend to update this post periodically, but I wanted to have a place to start collecting so I’m posting now.

To my mind, food falls into three broad categories (when viewed thru a lens of health).

  • Junk Food – Just plain not good for you body (although in tiny bits it might make your heart feel better).
  • Regular Food – In moderation, contains a balance of good things that justify the calories they contain (although you may be more sensitive/allergic than other people are).
  • Health Food – So packed with nutrition and devoid of contamination that you should eat it whenever you get hungry for a long, and healthy life.

In the health food category, there are four sub-categories:

  • Fake Food – Food that actually isn’t healthy for you at all.
  • Food that’s so healthy it tastes terrible.
  • Food that is healthy and delicious and EXPENSIVE!
  • Food that is healthy and delicious and priced well.

I really need to keep track, at the brand item level, of which foods fall in which categories so I don’t keep having to re-read labels or get derailed on my eating plans.

So here we go…

Fake Food – Food that actually isn’t healthy for you at all.

Cool Whip – puts on the label that it contains no transfats because it weighs nothing so it limbos under the bar of having to report it.

Tic Tacs – their tiny so that they can round down the sugar to 0. Take 2 and you’re getting 1.5 grams of sugar.

 

Food that’s so healthy it tastes terrible.

 

Food that is healthy and delicious and EXPENSIVE!

Bear Naked Granola – this stuff tastes amazing and has fewer calories than their competitors without all the bad stuff. Costs about $5 for a small bag.

Food that is healthy and delicious and priced well.

 

Scripture Meditation vs Bible Study

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Something hit me while sitting in church the other day. The pastor quoted 2 Cor. 10:5 “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV). In the context of Matt. 18: 3, “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I’ve never come to that verse in that context. It’s always studied in the context of 1 John 3:15, “15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

The condemnation of combining these verses is clear. We are meant to infer that if we don’t instantly control our emotions we’re outside Christ. That’s so condemning!

What are the fruits of that? We end up emotionally constipated and guilt-ridden when God wants passion and enthusiasm for his Good News.

One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, yes. (Galatians 5:22) It’s part of His divine Character, available to us if we’re in Christ. We don’t take every thought captive to avoid sin, we choose to battle in the place of perspective. This is actually our permission to slow down and keep our thoughts on God.

God has you in His hands. He asks us to take his Yoke upon us for his burden is light (Matt. 11:29).  2 Cor. 10:5 is an awesome key to the process of reflecting God’s glory into the world.

How could I have read it wrong all this time?

Easy, I attended Bible Studies. I’m not anti-scripture. It’s just that the real goal of those Bible studies was to indoctrinate me on biblical principles instead of using the Scriptures as a vehicle to a relationship with the author.

Religion is institutional. It just is. God moves through the church, of course, that’s all we give Him to work with. In all our ways we must point to Christ and that doesn’t come from creating bible-inspired religious tenets.

Is there a better way?

I suggest adding scripture meditation to your practices. Pray before reading, that God would join you. That he would provide understanding, and use it to reveal Himself.

Yes, the Bible is full of Truth, but truth without love can be brutal. So start with declaring the times and ways that God has come through for you. If nothing comes to mind, try declaring that He’s good by faith. Try saying thank you for saving me. Try anything that helps you remember that God is on your side.

I pray that God would save you from a religious reading of His awesome love letter to you.

 

 

The Question of God’s Goodness

The Question of God’s Goodness

You may have noticed that I don’t differentiate between God’s power and His goodness. I have a whole section on God’s goodness coming up, but, for the left-brained among us, here’s a quick paragraph.

sunset-2754909_1920Good and bad are generally relative terms. What’s good for me is good and what’s bad for me is bad. I’m not personally a big fan of any kind of moral relativism, but in this case, it’s true. If you’re all powerful then what you say is good/bad becomes the standard for anyone else who isn’t all powerful, which is everyone. If you are all-knowing then you know what is Good/Evil and can choose to abide by it or not. Therefore, if you are both you need only decide if you’re selfish or selfless. Will you act in your own self-interest or will you uphold a universal right/wrong even if it causes you harm? If you are all powerful then you can accomplish your desires despite any constraints, so why would you violate the right/wrong standard?

This dips a little bit into those unanswerable questions like, can God make a rock so big that He can’t lift it? Except, that in this case, we have an example that gives us an answer. Sin. So many people are angry at God because of the wages of sin when in fact the fall of mankind proves that God doesn’t force anyone to behave. The fact that He created humans knowing we’d fall speaks to His character also.

He’s willing to sacrifice himself, heroically, to restore things to what he intended. He doesn’t have to avoid making humans, because he has a solution. All knowing combined with all-powerful equals always accomplishing goals. Therefore, God has no motive to be anything but good because abiding by any laws doesn’t prevent him from doing or having anything. It does, however, cause him pain. He suffered to restore us because He loves us, and therefore He’s selfless. Therefore He is good.

Grace and the Wild Goose

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The State of Grace

When I first came back to a relationship with God through Christ. I was told that mercy was NOT getting what you deserve, and grace was getting what you don’t deserve. That definition worked for me for a time.

Ultimately, two different mentors of mine pointed out that Grace can’t be undeserved favor because Jesus deserved it. Christ’s death in substitution for us means that we inherit all that was coming to him. We can boldly go before the throne. God is relentless in his pursuit of us and in us God is well pleased. It can be a hard pill to swallow

I now see Grace as a state of being, in which we are free to try things and fail at them. Since its a given that I’m falling short of God’s glory, the only thing that matters is that I’m connected to God as a source of everything good. The process of being connected both obliterates my shortfall but also provides the vehicle for improvement. (2 Cor. 3:18).

Graham Cooke points out that God doesn’t see what’s wrong with us since we are in Christ, he sees what’s missing. He’s seeing awesome journeys that we’re going to take with him.

The Wild Goose

The Celtic Christians are known to have called the Holy Spirit a wild goose. It makes a wild goose chase takes on a different meaning, eh? In fact, even though our concept of a wild goose chase has a negative connotation, I firmly believe that we’re supposed to take them. Often!

In his amazing book, “The Rainforest Strategy,” Mike Q. Pink speaks of spontaneous wealth. He means that some of the best ideas we’re going to have will come in a flash of brilliance. I’ve had dozens of transcendent thoughts that I didn’t have time to do anything with. Worry, fear or just plain being busy have stolen countless brilliance from me that might have transformed my life. (Matt. 18:2-4)

How many times have I gone to God and said, “why don’t you just give me an answer to problem X?” I truth, he probably gave me the answer a week before but I wasn’t in a place to pay attention.

That’s why I Started Blogging

The real reason for doing more with this blog is to shorten the cycle of blessing. I want to have a direct path of good things from God to others. I want to receive all the abundance God wants to give me and do something with it. In the process, I will be transformed.

What I’ve learned is that God is truly generous in his outpouring and relentless in his pursuits. If you feel like you lack the resources to do something or you desperately want a different circumstance the answer is deceptively simple.

Everything good comes from God and nothing good exists that didn’t come from God. (James 1:17)

2 Corinthians 3:18 paints a pretty good picture of life when you’ve come out from under the law. What if it’s not just the religious law that sin is death. What if it’s everything we consider to be a rational truth?

What if ‘last place’ is really ‘first place’? What if you have to give away your life to find it? What if stillness (rest) is the way to accomplish more than running faster or working harder?

What if hitting every red light is the best way to drive to work today?

What if the lawn mower broke because you don’t need to mow?

What if the best thing you did today is the genuine smile you gave your barista?

What if the person who annoys you most thinks you’re their best friend?

What if we aren’t qualified to know what we ought to be working on today? What if all the urgent things you must do today aren’t worth you’re time at all? What if the best use of your time today is a wild goose chase?

Personal Culture: The Journeys to Improved Self and Life

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Personal Culture: The Journeys to Improved Self and Life

I consider myself an adventure writer on the path of the Postmodern Cleric. I define “a cleric” as a person who pursues wisdom by adventuring with God, and sharing what he/she learns to help others. Writing is my way of sharing what I learn.

I know postmodern is a loaded term these days, but I simply mean the pursuit of effective ways of living based on wisdom.

Wisdom is simply the ability to apply knowledge effectively.

When I look around me, I see tired people running as fast as they can in the hopes of catching a break. We’re all busy. It’s not a wise way to live and I think technology has been a blessing and a curse contributing to our inability to slow down because we don’t use it well. But technology is just one aspect of our modern lifestyle. We need to take a look at what I call our personal culture and decide if the life we’re living is the best it could be.

Lifestyle design is all the rage these days but I’m advocating something a little different with personal culture. In addition to working on the areas that create dissatisfaction, we need a changed perspective about our lives. We must view our lives as an adventure with God, and the problems we face as opportunities to learn and grow.

If you feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with life’s emergencies just to survive the good news is that there’s a way through it. One deep problem can cause a multitude of symptoms which leaves us treating an endless list of issues. The opportunity here is to dive deep on a few crucial battles and actually correct several problems with the one effort.

I call them journey’s and here’s a list of my current journeys.

Lifestyle design does make sense, we used to all have the same definition of the American dream but we’ve had a mega-shift in the last thirty years (ending the industrial revolution) and we need a new map to success. We now need a more individual/personal definition of success. Hence the question, what do you really want your lifestyle to be like?

The big difference between lifestyle design, which is what most of the ‘Gurus’ out there are touting, and personal culture through journeys is that we are taking the journey from outside in–not living our lives outside in.

Inside out life is choosing our actions based on our unique identity and living the results. Outside in life is letting our circumstances dictate our actions. Anytime we look at how our life is and how we wish it were and then make a list of actions that we think will move us toward that lifestyle we’re living from outside in. Anytime we’re living outside in we’re reactive to the tyranny of a thousand urgent things that come up. There’s no way to focus hard enough on achieving an external goal without losing focus on something else that’s equally important to you.

Most people who achieved wild success in one area of life sacrificed another area. This is the group most of the gurus below too.

  • Join us on the minimalist farm surrounded by friends, homeschooling our kids, growing healthy food (we won’t mention that we owe the IRS and can’t afford to take our kids to the doctor.)
  • Learn how I made my first million before age 30, (nevermind my 3 divorces and 6 kids I never see.)
  • Learn how my husband and I paid off all our debt including our house in ten years (it just gave me diabetes and my husband heart disease.)

There are people who seem to have it all, but they didn’t do it by picking 12 goals and pushing day and night on all of them. They did it by discovering the single, authentic thread that connects their passions–that grand adventure which produced results in multiple areas of life through effort mainly on it.

Journeys (See also)

Journey–A mini-adventure to remove a constraint to the flow of good things from God through us to our unique audience. The Key here is that you’re doing it with God.

It’s going to seem like I’m completely reversing myself with this next part, but there’s a subtle yet important distinction between lifestyle design and taking journeys.

In order to discover our authentic path we need to take some journeys to explore some of the problems we notice in our life. So we are looking at the things in your life that you’re dissatisfied with and planning your pursuit of a solution.

I realize that I’ve been shouting from the rooftop not to use your circumstances to determine your actions and that’s true for how you live your life. What I’m saying is to prayerfully consider the areas of your life that aren’t reflecting the abundance God promised you and then sitting with God to ponder what the two of you are going to do about it.

sand-3325309_1920When you take a journey it’s experiential learning. When you learned to ride a bike you learned how to avoid falling down. You also lost some of your fear of falling down. You can gain several lessons from a simple skill building exercise. So how much can you learn by having God mentor you through an effort to move cities, lose weight, change jobs, or write a book?

What’s important here isn’t whether or not you succeed at any of the goals, it’s what the journey reveals about your authentic self, how God wants to relate to you and learning to see yourself through his eyes. A single journey could take years. Expect to fail several times along the way because any journey worth taking will reveal the deep issues holding you back.

Consider this: Every smoker has been told that cigarettes harm your body. They choose to smoke despite believing that it’s not good for them. If you loved yourself perfectly would you tolerate a habit that harms you? If you quit smoking do you think it might uncover a place in you where you don’t really love yourself?

I’m not trying to pick on smokers here. We all have self-destructive habits. Mine is unhealthy eating. At this point it’s not even about being physically fit anymore, I’m just angry that there’s someplace in my soul I hold God out of because if I let him in, his love would heal it. Why can’t I receive that healing? I don’t know yet, but I’m on a journey to find out.

The disease is always not receiving God’s love and accepting who he says we are. We’ve been masking the symptoms (or living with them), our whole lives. It’s time to pressure the symptoms until our flesh cries out at the place of brokenness.

We aren’t just looking for heart wounds when we journey. It can also reveal our adventure or our battle. It can repair our understanding of relationships with other people. It can reveal our true life’s calling. All these things come when we address the issues in our lives in relationship with God, instead of trying to fix the problems ourselves.

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4 Types of Journey

Heal a Wound:

In his groundbreaking book, “Wild at Heart” John Eldredge covers this topic far better than I can hope to reproduce. This is the single toughest topic for men to take on and it requires a level of vulnerability with yourself and God that is foreign to all but the most courageous of men.

In short, the words and actions of those we look up to as we’re growing up can place a mark on how we see ourselves, other human beings and God. Unless or until this shattering is healed a man walks through life broken hearted and unable to receive the full abundance God designed for him.

Gain Understanding:

Again from the book, “Wild at Heart,” there is always a lie that accompanies a wound. We get the wrong idea about the critical things in life. The message of the wound is that you, personally are unacceptable. It may be more subtle, like “you are a mistake,” “screw-up,” “a failure,” and so on, but it all adds up to be something we hate to hear and embrace. Some men live to prove that lie is false and others surrender to it, but either way, it becomes the defining reality that you accept about yourself.

The reality is that in Christ we are acceptable. When being justified and restored to relationship with God becomes the defining thing in our lives we can accept God’s larger-than-life opinion of who we are. We can walk forward with a whole heart. Even if you accept that this is true, it can take a journey to make this truth a part of your DNA.

Battle for Freedom:  (from addiction/etc.)

When wounds aren’t healed for a long time they become encased in scar tissue. We’ll call it the flesh. We achieve a state that’s no longer bleeding but not yet repaired. We treat the pain of wounded place by not looking at it, ever, under any circumstances. The pain of the wound continues and we’ll do anything to treat the pain–short of healing the wound.

It leads to chemical addiction, eating disorders, porn addictions, rage fits, and so on. Battling something in your life that you’ve learned to live with can expose a deep wound but it also creates lasting victory. When you dry out a drunk using a process like alcoholics anonymous you get someone who’s potentially less destructive to themselves and their world but still an alcoholic. They often relapse repeatedly or exchange one addiction for another. If you journey to the source of the addiction you can have a lasting victory.

Clarify your Identity/Relationship with God:

There’s something unique about every single human being. It’s the goal of your enemy to convince you that what sets you apart is actually what makes you a freak and unable to have deep relationships with others and God. It takes vulnerability to be in a relationship and if you see your superpowers and mutations you’ll pull back from offering your uniqueness to others. You’re left feeling rejected for the very things only you can contribute to the community around you.

We must take our identity from who God says we are because we’re built in his image. That means cultivating a trust in him because he’s going to have a vision of you that’s more glorious that we’re ready to accept. It takes a journey to remove the color-distorting glasses we’ve worn our whole lives and stand unapologetically in our full magnitude.

Primacy Back Matter

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Primacy Back Matter

Where we acknowledge those who’ve helped and provide additional resources to help you put this information to good use.

Glossary of Terms & Unique Definitions

Cleric– A person who pursues wisdom by adventuring with God, and sharing what he/she learns to help others.

Cleric Path–Living life in pursuit of wisdom & abundance instead of busyness through living inside out (an open flow of good things from God that transforms us and that we then share with our audience in our unique way.)

Community–has two levels; audience and Fellowship

Our Audience–the community of people we can minister to because of our unique expression of God’s glory into the world (requires healthy boundaries).

Fellowship/Rescue–Every man has people he needs to rely on and people he needs to come through for. We’re built to live in relationship, and the two key partnerships are spouse & family, and fellowship community of other men (our band of brothers). These are covenant relationships and require a deeper level of intimacy, vulnerability, and interdependence than other relationships.

Battle–There are two levels of battle; our personal daily struggle and the larger battle of our lives.

Daily Struggle–The enemy is the prince of the air. His goal is for us to agree with his interpretation of our circumstances and be so distracted that we live from outside in (our circumstances dictating actions instead of our standing.) Every day we must deliberately elevate our standing in Christ over the demands of the world (live inside out.)

Our Battle–Each man has a battle to fight that is his uniquely. It’s set against him and his war against it sets others free. (Mine is against busyness/overwhelm/fatigue.)

Adventure–Each man has an adventure with God. It’s a desire in his heart that he takes on with God at his side. (Mine is to the Cleric Path, learning how to receive Good, grow from it, and share it with my audience.)

Journey–A mini-adventure to remove a constraint to the flow of good things from God through us to our unique audience.

4 Streams–Healing, Counseling, Spiritual Warfare, Walking with God (constraints tend to be in one or more of these areas)

4 Types of Journey–Heal a wound, Gain Understanding, Battle for Freedom (from addiction/etc.), Clarify your Identity/Relationship with God

Constraint Theory–a system of management based on fluid dynamics pioneered by Eli Goldratt in which the output of a system is limited to the smallest throughput. It has inspired me because the Cleric Path is a flow of Good things from God to others through each Christian. Therefore, if I’m not having the abundant life I want and that God wants for me, then I have constraints in me I’m unaware of.

4 Major Types of Constraints (in a human life)–a Wounded in your Heart, a Confusion (about how things work or what it is), an addiction (physical and numbing pain instead of processing it with God), OR Doubting the Heart of God for you/doubting who you are in Christ.

 

Appendix A Humility: The Secret to Accelerated Learning

Appendix B The First Battle

Appendix C The Daily Battle

Thanks to All our Editors/Contributors

I’d like to thank Greg Zschomler for the prayer/encouragement & his awesome editing skills. Without him, this book wouldn’t exist.

My beautiful wife Kristin and my daughter Olivia have lived without me on many occasions so that I had time to work on this project. Their sacrifice amazes me.

 

This page under construction.

Expected update 4/23/2018

Back to Primacy Work in Progress (WIP) Page

Primacy Chapter 10

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Christians, I think, might fall into three big categories.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

the-pilgrims-trail-2441192_1280One 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.

For Example:

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.

sea-2224418_1280However, 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:

  1. Realize that I’m not qualified to know what went wrong or right from God’s perspective.
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.

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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?

nature-3367316_1280The 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.

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Primacy Chapter 9

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I want to get to techniques I’ve used in my life to create the habit of putting God first. But as I ponder the topic I realize, as handy as they are, life’s not about techniques. I need to cover one piece of philosophy first, to put it in context and then expand our definition a bit.

First, the philosophy bit.

Every adventure in our lives is about deepening our connection to God. In the context of adventure, hardship is simply part of the escalating dramatic action.

If you woke up in a story instead of a life, what type of story would it be? A comedy? A tragedy? A romance? It’s all of the above and your story is actually one vital chapter in the story God is telling.

I know that statement can cause a deflated feeling depending on your perspective when you read it. I’ve often been annoyed by folks insisting that I’m not the hero of my own story. I’m not really saying that. God’s a big enough superhero that he surrounds himself with heroes. But you can read all about this in the awesome book “Wild at Heart.”

My point here is that your adventures, hardships, celebrations, and sorrows have only one point, and that’s to connect you intimately with God.

In paradise, we operated in a state of innocence. Our mistakes could be viewed by God the way we view a toddler who falls while learning to walk. But mankind left the intimate walk we had with God when sin entered the Garden of Eden. Sin separated us. One day we’ll be reunited, but Christ’s heroic sacrifice created an atmosphere of GRACE.  God can from now on ignore the separation and work with us as if it never happened.

Yet, somehow, it’s surprising that a God who’s suffered a terrible separation from us would focus on reconnecting.

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Here’s a typical conversation between God and I:

Sir Bunch: “Dad, you know I just lost one of my jobs. What am I to replace it with?”
God: “Have you tried the new almond M&Ms?”
Sir Bunch: “Once, I think. I need you to focus on what I’m struggling with. I’ll need to start working soon or I can’t provide for my family.”
God: “Since you have the day off, why don’t you buy some M&Ms and go to the park?”
Sir Bunch: “God I don’t really have the day off, I’m out of work. I’m really stressing here.”
God: “Why are you stressing?”
Sir Bunch: “Because I don’t have a job!”
God: “And you want me to help because you believe I’m powerful enough to help?”
Sir Bunch: “Yes.”
God: “Do you believe that I love you enough to give my son’s life in exchange for yours?”
Sir Bunch: “Yes, of course.”
God: “Do you believe I already have a plan to help you?”
Sir Bunch: “Well, I guess I do.”
God: “Would you like to hear it?”
Sir Bunch: “Very much.”
God: “Then come eat M&M’s in the park with me today.”

And so on. God doesn’t stress over our “problems” and neither should we. The story Jesus gave us on the topic is the Prodigal Son. God is saying, “Yes you screwed up, I want you back more than I want to be angry about it.”

Expanded Definition

With that context in mind, we need to expand our definition of what it means to put Him first. We need to think of all the places in our lives that He can be elevated–and that’s in every area.

Anything that can be managed, like money, time, energy, relationships, a household, a business, and so on. We can sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm ways to subjugate those things to God. It’s a fun exercise.

What would it look like to put God first in your money? This gets a lot of talk time in many churches because of tithing. I’m going to suggest that whether you start with money, or time, or your marriage, or whatever, something will come against that decision instantly. So pick an area that you can handle getting emotionally hammered.

money-2724245_1920Let God guide you in choosing your battles. Let God guide you in what and how to be faithful there. Maybe it’s not 10% of your money to start. Maybe it’s 5% and the challenge isn’t setting it aside, it’s finding the right place to give it. What do you do when God tells you to give 5% of your paycheck to that homeless person on the side of the road? Would that be a place you and God would need to have a discussion? Would that conversation probably bring you closer to God? That’s the whole goal of life. Nothing is more important than drawing closer to God. NOTHING!

Drawing Closer vs Experiencing God

That’s not to be confused with experiencing his presence. I’m a big fan of soaking in God’s presence, but just because you aren’t feeling God at the moment doesn’t mean He’s not there. The reality is that God is everywhere. (Bill Jastram wrote a great book on this topic.)

My point, and I’ll come back to this in Chapter 10, is that God can be trusted to mentor you. He takes responsibility for your friendship. We can trust him to look after our physical needs and also to be kind when we screw up, repeatedly. He isn’t tapping His foot waiting for you to figure it out. He’s eager for you to engage in the process of growing up with Him.

So, while this book focuses on the need to put God first, and I’ll now suggest a few ways to put that into practice, I don’t want to be condemning in any way.

That’s what I see happen over and again in my own life. I figure out a way to be holier, or God reveals an awesome truth, and I’ll circle it to the exclusion of everything else (including being responsive to God). If I operate from a place of shame or try to do it in my own strength, I burn out. I need permission to not be perfect yet in order to grow toward it. (2 Cor. 3:18)

Grace is a State we Abide in

I do this because I struggle to accept that God created Grace so that He’s free to interact with me as though I haven’t screwed up, even while I’m constantly screwing up. He doesn’t make me a better man for the purpose of making me acceptable, He does it because growth is a by-product of relationship with Him and we both want me to grow.

“Grace isn’t undeserved favor because Jesus isn’t undeserving.” Graham Cooke

Well-meaning Christians used to say things like, “you’re a terrible sinner who’ll never be free from needing God’s forgiveness. You should become better, but you’ll never become perfect.”

As true as it technically is, I prefer God’s way of stating it. I’m going to transform you from glory to glory. You’re going to go from needing grace to needing grace. Yes! But along the way, we get to journey with God. The focus is not on me improving, it’s about me being with God and doing something–together.

The Recklessness of Grace

Here’s the crazy extent to which God has taken this with me. I once complained about my progress and He said I wasn’t qualified to judge myself. Really? Yes. I’m not in a position to even know how good I’m doing.

The Bible says we don’t even know what to pray (Romans 8:26). I think this is in reference to the same issue. We often pray for release from a circumstance engineered by God to bless us. We stand in judgment of the world around us and are often hardest on those who fail right in the same place we struggle, yet God says we’re not qualified to judge.

This blew my mind (you can probably tell). I can spend a good amount of my days feeling bad about what I don’t get done. Feeling powerless. Repeating mistakes. Then God says, “if you saw you through my eyes you’d be very impressed.”

Well, there’s a couple reasons for that. Chiefly, that He sees us in Christ, so the sin is erased and what remains is immaturity.

We throw tantrums because we don’t get our way when that’d be the worst thing for us. God doesn’t get angry when we fall down because we’re just learning to walk. He doesn’t see what’s wrong, only what’s missing.

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Ways to Put God First

Now I’m going to list some ways to put God first, but please swear to me you won’t make a religion out of these. This isn’t a list to get through, it’s a list of potential ideas to inspire you to make your own list. When you make your list don’t make a religion out of that either. And don’t condemn yourself when you fail at any of this, you’re not capable of knowing what you actually accomplished or not.

Starting with Biblical ideas:

  • Old Testament law required 1/10th of your increase and 1/7th of your time.
  • Micah 6:8 suggests that you “Do justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly…”
  • Ephesians 6:10-18 recommends “putting on the whole armor of God…”
  • Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus put it as “loving God above all and your neighbor as yourself.”

Ways I’ve tried to put God 1st:

  1. There’s a First 5 movement. I haven’t taken part in a formal first 5 group challenge, but I follow the basic premise of praying the moment you wake up. I love the half-awake state of mind when you can just snuggle in and listen to God. It helps to ponder something with God right before going to sleep and pray that you’ll dream about it. (I have to say the downside was that I generally need to pee within a few minutes of waking.)
  2. Writing Morning Pages. I’ve tried a dozen times to be a journal keeper, but I never stuck with it. If you get a chance to read the book, “The Artists Way.” Julia Cameron describes free-writing three pages every morning to clear your mind and gain focus. She’s not writing a Christian targeted book and she’s ascribing magical properties to the simple process of journaling, but I’ve really enjoyed making this “decluttering process” part of my morning with God.
  3. Ponder Walking is my own invention (if you can call it that). It’s literally walking with God. Whenever I hit a roadblock of any nature I leave what I’m doing and walk around the parking lot or neighborhood and have a conversation with God. The goal is to consult God before attempting to resolve my problems.
  4. Fasting, or go on a radical diet or workout routine. I recommend the “Virgin Diet.” It eliminates everything.

Fasting? Really?

The point of fasting is to two-fold. First, by not eating put your body back in its place. Our bodies tend to be like a toddler, it wants what it wants and demands it until we give in or give it a firm, NO! By simply denying your hunger for a set amount of time you declare to your body that it’s not in charge–that the spirit is more important. That you don’t live by bread alone, but by your walk with God.

The second reason to fast is to remove distractions. You can fast from anything. TV is a good one, especially the news.

Idle chit-chat is another. You don’t have to take a vow of silence; you can simply decide to answer truthfully to any question you decide to answer. In that way, you avoid small talk and sponsor actual conversations with people. It will also annoy people but hey, you’re probably already annoying someone, it’s not the end of the world.sea-2777839_1920

I recommend fasting from gossip. God hates gossip because it means you see a problem, and instead of helping you just talk about it to someone else that isn’t going to help.

My favorite fast is not feed myself for a day. Basically, I won’t bring food with me, ask for it, or turn it down. If God wants food in my belly then He will provide it. This is a crazy good way to foster your relationship with God no matter what happens.

Another type of fast is to take on something you aren’t sure you can do. Men, in particular, will stick to things they’re good at. So do something you’d like to do at which you may very well fail. Try to write a book in a month. Try to run a marathon. Try to learn a foreign language. Get up an hour early every day and write letters to people you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Tell them God loves them or just offer encouragement.

D.A.w.G. Days (Day Alone with God)–This is a great one. Take a day and go out into the wilderness with God. Read the scriptures, journal, pray. That’s it. Here’s a link to good information on the topic from Boot Camp NW.

Well, there you have it. A short list. My list. There’s a lot more you could do if you think about it. Be sure to contact me through my website (https://sirbunch.com/) and let me know if you try these or think of a new one.

 

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Primacy Chapter 8

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How Does God See Me?

As we move closer to our identity the question will become, “How does God see me?” That’s a great question and should become the basis for our actions going forward, but the first two questions discovered here in Primacy don’t go away. We must answer them repeatedly to stay on track for an abundant life.

Question #1 is: Can I really trust God? As I pointed out before, there’s the intellectual answer, “I’m a Christian, of course I trust God.” AND there’s the wholehearted answer:

“I believe he’s all-powerful. I believe His grace is sufficient to overcome my sin. I believe God desires a relationship with me so much that He let his son live the way I couldn’t and then die in my place so that He can ignore what’s wrong with me. I believe that He wants to spend the rest of my life training me to live in my new life. I really believe that He doesn’t even see what’s wrong with me, only what’s missing, and He only wants to heal me.”

Question #2 is: What is God trying to be for me in this season? That’s a crazy-sounding question, but if we accept that we are colanders and God’s grace pours through us, then we already share God with everyone in our broken state. God’s agenda for us is only that we would heal for our own sake. God’s abundance will continue to flow into us relentlessly, but we will begin to overflow with his goodness instead of just leaking it out. We get more experience of him as we are transformed from glory to glory. So in each season, God gently nudges us toward healing.

Man in Three Parts

We exist on three levels, Spirit, Soul, and Body. I go a lot more into this topic in my book, “On Becoming a Man.” I’ll also go into it a lot more in the upcoming book, “Walking the Path of the Postmodern Cleric.” In short, our spirit communes with God and drinks in the fullness of his Grace, but our soul is our willpower, emotions, and intelligence. It’s the level of our self-concept.cube-2375281_1920

We often think of our soul as the deepest thing about us but that’s not true of the saved man or woman. It was true when our Spirit was dead (severed from God by sin). Back then our soul was the deepest thing about us, and we lived according to our own understanding of right and wrong.

While fallen, we became deeply wounded by the words and deeds of others. We built an identity for ourselves that worships our own intelligence or feels inferior to everyone because of our failures. Our daily actions were based on our scar tissue (experience) instead of real wisdom.

But as saved/born again/redeemed children of God our Spirit is restored. God has a spirit, yes, but so do we.

Our fallen nature/separation from God plays out a little differently on each level of our being. (To get a better explanation of this consider Psalms 32:5)

  • Sin
  • Iniquity
  • Transgression

Definitions of Sin include:

  • Galatians 5:17 Doing the opposite of what’s right.
  • Proverbs 24: 33-34 Doing what turns out to be wrong.
  • James 4:17 Failing to do what you know is right.
  • Exodus 10:16 Sin against another person, not just God.
  • Romans 3:23 Ultimately it’s just falling short of God’s Glory.

Transgression is:

Transgression can be thought of as willful trespass. There’s a decision to do wrong. Still, we could have a reason. We can disobey an authority we believe has ordered us to do something immoral. We are deliberately in violation, but not necessarily trying to be evil. Like running a stop sign in a parking lot when there is no other car around to be harmed.

Then there’s Iniquity!

When David plotted to kill Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife, the Bible describes this as iniquity. David calls it that himself when he writes his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51:2). He indulged in his lust for a woman married to a friend, plotted the man’s death, (it took two tries to make it happen) then he takes her as his own and doesn’t even repent it until he’s called out for it all by a prophet. That’s a whole chain of wrong!

A Symptom of Separation

Sin, for all the hype, isn’t even the deepest crime against God; it’s just a symptom. One reason the scriptures might make this distinction is that the problems occur at different levels.

Ask the world about levels of sin and you’ll get distinctions like it’s worse to do something that hurts another person than what hurts only you. Or, it’s less sinful to envy what someone’s got than to actually steal it.

Institutional Christianity also spends a lot of energy on what I call, “sin management.” Some sins get labeled redeemable and others, like pedophilia, are so terrible that you must be put out of fellowship.

3 Levels of Sin/3 Levels of Human, Coincidence?

I think sin levels match up to the different levels of a human. I used to have ringing in my ears. I went to the doctor and he said it was just a symptom of my hypertension. He gave me pills which treated that underlying disease, but he didn’t treat the real reason I had high blood pressure. The reality is that I had a high-stress job, I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t eat well and I seldom exercised.

Sin is a physical symptom of transgression, which is rooted in not knowing who we really are. We lack identity because we aren’t connected to God. That’s the root cause of all our issues.

The deepest place in us is the place of our spiritual connection to God and, when that informs how we see ourselves, it heals our soul. Then our physical actions (level 3) improve and eventually we steer a different course in our daily lives. It seems obvious, but when you think about it–we overcome sin from the inside out.

Am I Healed or Am I Forgiven?

It always drove me crazy that Jesus never drew a line between being forgiven and being healed. But there really isn’t a distinction. If you’re connected to God by accepting His forgiveness, then you just have to learn to accept His Love in every broken place until you become complete.

The path of the postmodern cleric is about walking with God, receiving his healing forgiveness, and becoming who we are designed to be. Then we’ll have abundance in our physical reality. The last part actually becomes less important to us as the inner reality grows, which is good because until Christ returns life will always have hardships.

So, “who is God trying to be for me,” is a pivotal question to pursue daily. The physical world is going to feel more real during a lot of this process. Things like pain–whether physical or emotional–tends to snap our attention back to physical reality. But staring at a wound doesn’t heal it, nor does ignoring it. What we can do is stand before God pointing at it and crying, “Daddy fix, Daddy it hurts.” We can take everything to God.

Comparisons

Adam and Eve had everything. As long as they looked at God they felt loved. When they shifted their focus to themselves they felt inadequate and pursued pain & darkness in order to gain equality. All it did was further open their eyes to their inadequacy. So they put on fig leaves to try to cover their own shame. Compared to God they were adequate, but who cares?

When the spies of Israel entered the Promised Land, ten of them compared themselves to the giants who inhabited the land. They saw themselves as inadequate, as insects. You can’t enter the Promised Land by seeing yourself compared to others, or even compared to God.

Where the Question Reverses

You enter the Promised Land when you receive your identity from who God says you are. Two spies who entered the Promised Land carried God’s presence with them. They existed in a state of grace where the work of delivering God’s gift to them was God’s problem. They saw the bounty God was trying to give them, not the boundaries between it and them. You can’t receive abundance from Christ by staring at what stands in your way. It takes grace. It takes KNOWING that God is trying to give you something from every perceived hardship.

Genisis assures us that God made Adam in His image (male and female he made them.) We are image bearers of God. The question, “who is God trying to be for me today,” becomes “how does God see Himself in me?” Every time a broken place is healed His image in us is further restored, and hardships have a way of revealing broken places. Places we’ve tried to heal our own problems.

Respond to every situation by asking God what He’s up to. Before you even start your day, God already knows what’s on the way: try asking Him what His plan is for you. Ask from a place of confidence that He’s partnering with you on your experiences. His goal is to shrink the holes in your soul so that you can experience more of His goodness in your life.

 

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