The Daily Battle

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Appendix C: Bonus Material!

Welcome to the fight!

This picture above is very different than anything else in the book “Primacy of God” or on my website. My target market is men and I don’t include many pictures of women unless they’re in the background somewhere. But this woman and this rose are a perfect metaphor for our daily struggle. We are surrounded by desolation. It’s a rough world. We need to find the one beautiful thing, like this girl did, and focus on it. Be thankful for it.

Graham Cooke says, for every problem, there is a promise from God. With every promise, there is a provision and for every provision, there is a pearl. God doesn’t allow anything near us that wouldn’t benefit us, or grow us in some way. He is expert at redeeming the trials and wounds in our lives. He engineers circumstances that we pray to get out of because getting through them with Him instead is the only way we can become who we need to be to inherit the next blessing.

 

Abiding & readiness for the fight

We need 4 factors–Humility, Rest, Thankfulness & our Unique Identity.

  • Humility – To see clearly that God is up to something (blind faith works too.)
  • Rest – The enemy has no patients, its a characteristic of God. We can become relentless in Christ and wear down any circumstances through our standing in Christ.
  • Thankfulness – This should happen naturally but its a good practice. It’s the key to entering His presence which unlocks the gift associated with the provision.
  • Unique Identity – Look out for book 2 – Adventure to Identity

How do we fight our Daily Battle?

The key to fighting this battle to stay in a positive place, learning from God’s flow of provision and abundance is surrendering it all to Christ. I look forward to going into greater detail in book 2 but for now, here’s a great exercise from Sam Williamson.

There is no negative in God. Any time we run across shame, or fear, etc. imaging Christ on the Cross as he suffered for you. Ask him if he died for that specific thing. When he reassures you, let your thankfulness led to praise.

The Daily Battle

PS: The Daily Battle is when we surrender every negative to God.

 

 

The 1st Battle to Fight

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Appendix B: Bonus Material!

Welcome to the fight!

You most likely landed on this essay after reading the e-book, “The Primacy of God.” Or you may have simply stumbled onto it from my website. Either way, welcome to the fight. Everything you’ll encounter in the Cleric Path makes you what John Elderedge calls, “dangerous for good.” i.e. you know too much.

Don’t be frightened. God is with you. But it’s only fair to warn you.

Tactic: You enemy likes to lurk in the shadows until someone shines a spotlight on him. When he can’t pretend he doesn’t exist anymore he’ll try for intimidation and then try to get you to make an agreement so he’ll back off.

He’s a lier. He won’t stop messing with you, but don’t worry. Operate from a place of rest. Graham Cooke has some awesome teachings on rest. If you read five experts on spiritual warfare you’ll get five different opinions on spiritual warfare. It’s not a scripted fight.

BTW: Beware of relying on experience and stick to what the Scriptures say.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, not because it’s not real, but because you don’t actually win by focusing on it to the exclusion of anything else God is trying to do in your life.

BTW: Know this, the enemy’s goal is to isolate you–from God and from your intimate allies.

That’s why shame is such an effective weapon. It’s very isolating. He’ll also use distraction, diminishment, disqualification, and depression.

Tactic: The enemy likes to tempt you, then when you fail he turns back and accuses you.

There’s a lot to this and I encourage you to seek out help from others if you feel oppressed or attacked, but I do want to cover only one aspect that I’m qualified to speak to. Then honestly, go seek more on the topic as you need.

One Final Note:

Before we begin, I want to point out one last thing on the topic of Spiritual Warfare. I personally believe that Heaven is a spiritual place, as opposed to the soul or body realms. We don’t see demons walking around in the flesh (just people who are clearly under oppression). We get scriptural references to the enemy visiting Heaven to argue over Job, and clearly, he pulled something physical off with a snake in the Garden of Eden, but when the enemy and his forces were cast out of Heaven I think they’re essentially stuck in the realm of the soul.

When I saw the “First Battle” I’m not talking about chronologically, I’m talking the first in order of flow. God’s love/glory/abundance flows into us through our place in Christ, transforms us, and then shines from us into the world. The first battle is at our place of connection to God. If we choose to take on that fight, the rest of them are much easier to fight.

The First Battle!

When Adam and Eve fell it’s called original sin, but it’s actually not. John Elderedge points out the lie, we didn’t author sin. That’s how tricky the enemy is.

“Sin is anything that separates us from God.” Mike Galeiotti

The fall created a rift. We were children who doubted the heart of God toward us. Adam and Eve’s first instinct was to cover their inadequacy with fig leaves and we’ve pretty much been doing that since. We sense, without having to be told, that we are in over our heads and we do our best to work it out on our own. But we’re not on our own!

God fixed the problem. Before Christ, they needed to believe that God would fix it and we must now believe that God did. We must take it personally. Our first battle is against anything that creates separation. Our first battle is with our own fig leaves and the wounds that inspire them.

In order for us to have a void in our experience of God’s abundance, we need to cooperate with the rock in the stream. We give permission somehow. We seed our authority in our own lives to something other than God. Often its when we worship our own intelligence, but generally its something that happened in our youth that the accusor convinces us to own.

To quote from Goodwill Hunting, “It’s not your fault.”

Even if, like me, you chose to do the terrible thing, it’s atoned for. We need restoration, the very thing that happens in a Christian’s life if they don’t hold it at bay.

Three Parts to Every Human:

When you become spiritually alive again, the Spirit of God communes with your new Spirit–in your heart (your most holy place). The Bible describes your body as a temple. That means your soul is the Holy place and your Heart is the Most Holy Place.

When Christ died the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes the flesh being circumcised from your heart. IF we allow that healing God will flow freely out through your life. But we must journey with God to restore our understanding of who He is, how He sees us, and what His restored image looks like in us.

The First Battle is to Trust God’s Heart for you.

Now Read…The Daily Battle

 

 

 

Journey Update: 5/5/18

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Welcome to Spring!

Andy “Sir Bunch Adventure Writer” Journey’s Update: May 5, 2018

If you stumbled onto this page prior to my main landing page here’s a link to the full list of current journeys and more info about what a Journey is.

Brief Overview:

I’m trying to update once a week on Saturdays, but as I mentioned last time, I’m giving myself a lot of Grace and Flexibility on that deadline because it simply may not be feasible. I also mentioned last time that I’d be at a men’s retreat all weekend last week so I wouldn’t get last weeks update done. Nothing like breaking the pattern out of the box, but that’s how things go more often than not with me.

Welcome to The Cleric Path, which is what I call this grand experiment in how to live more abundantly. This is a journey update I’m really excited about so let’s dive in.

God/Relationship/Family

May – Rewrite Primacy into my blog — ch10 of 10
I’ve been revising my next book on this blog as I go, and I’m finished with the revision. Don’t worry though, it’s not too late to read it for free. I’ll leave it up until I’ve finished the final steps.  I’ll give anyone who signs up for my list during this process a free digital copy of the book as soon as I’ve written the back matter and formatted it for publication.

I’d hoped to be finished prior to leaving for the Spring Boot Camp on the 26th of this month but it took until yesterday. I’m grateful to God for the content and to my awesome wife for helping me carve out time to finish this week. Reading it again, I’m blown away by how good this book is. Overall Score A-.

May – Upcoming (5/8/18) business meeting with my Awesome Wife to hammer out some details for the home remodeling projects.

Identity/Adventure

April – BCNW Retreat — Attended
No matter how much I anticipate the awesomeness of these retreats, I’m never disappointed. When I step out of the Matrix God always meets me with a special message. It was harder than ever to be without my family for the weekend but it’s important and well worth it. I’ll be unpacking my notes from the retreat over the next few weeks–stay tuned. Overall Score A+.

May – It’s a season change and I’m still waiting on God for some marching orders. In the short run, I’m going back through my notes from the Boot Camp. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

ORG (Growth & Success)/Learning

May – Evening & Morning challenge
I’m Excited by the opportunity take on a very unique challenge. God wants to help me learn intentionality. Stay tuned for a link when I’ve published a blog post detailing it.

June – Read Book “The Five Choices” /Summary to Blog — tabled to May
Haven’t started. Just plane bit off more than I can chew this month. It’s a common problem for me. This is a transition month and I’m glad to get time on projects like that I want to bring to a close before the next season gets in full swing. (I know April is technically the first month of Spring/ 2nd quarter, but much like the weather, Spiritual seasons don’t follow the calendar exactly.) Overall score, Jury’s Still Out.

Health & Fitness

May – Audition Nucific Bio x4 — ordered and started
I continue my trial of Bio x4. I do notice less hunger, more energy, and good stomach health. I’m still not implementing additional diet/workout, which will come soon, but it’s a good test of the product alone. Want to increased fiber etc. One side note about Bio x4, it’s one of those “take 5 minutes before each meal” type of systems. I hope to have a solution to that soon.

Increased step goal (7,500) is still going well B+ overall.

Daily Stretching — Not started, Tabled to May 15

Wealth & Freelance

June – Upgrade & Revise Blog — Table upgrade to next month
Work continues. Lots to do. I’ve been blogging almost every day. I still love it. I have not managed to raise the money for some of the upgrades I’d hoped to accomplish. So I give it a solid B overall.

Final Note:

April was a transition month for me. I felt that God was moving some chess pieces. I’m still feeling that, which is not to say that God hasn’t done some cool things already. I know this much about the coming season. God is setting me free of fear of public humiliation. He’s empowering me to add speaking my message, not just writing it.

I feel strange to do a half update like this, but there are still some things up in the air and I wanted to get it posted while its only 3 days late. LOL. God Bless.

PS. It’s harder to understand what I mean when I say journey without reading more about it in my next book, “The Primacy of God.

Humility: the Secret to Accelerated Learning.

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True humility is standing at your full height before something greater than you…

Just do an internet search and you’ll find posts like, “50 ways to be humble,” or “7 ways to tell if you’re humble.” Is Humility really something we manufacture through practice? Perhaps, but if so we’d have to practice it until it seeps deep into our character. It’s certainly not about fake-it-until-you-make-it.

Most of us struggle with the concept of Humility, but I think what we’re really afraid of is humiliation. There’s a big difference.

First off, we don’t have to search very hard to find humility. Just find someone who’s better at something than you are. Look at this great nation we have. We’re proud to be Americans, but we didn’t build this place, we inherited it. Brave men and women have fought and died to give us this peak from which to leap. It is ours to screw up and that should be humbling.

So often our response when comparing ourselves to others is pettiness and jealousy. We wish we were them, accept life is a package deal and we seldom wish we had the parts of their lives that come along with their greatness. So how do we respond with humility instead of envy? The answer is deceptively simple.

Being humble hearted is part of God’s Character. Galatians 5:22 lists “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” which paints a pretty awesome picture of God’s character. Given his power and worthiness, God is very humble. Look at how Jesus lived.

The neat thing here is that any characteristic of God is ours in Christ. When we delight ourselves in God we can reflect his character. What will happen when we do?

If Pride blinds us then humility brings clarity of vision.

There’s a connection between humility and simplicity. Perhaps that’s why so many religious groups, Quakers/Amish etc. I think that’s part of where humility brings clarity. When we’re humbled, it strips away things we think are urgent and leaves what’s important to our hearts.

I found 32 verses that seem to speak to humility, here’s a sample.

Eph 4:2, Phil 2:3, Prov 2:11, Rom 12:16, James 4:10, 1 Peter 3:3-4, Col 3:12, 2 Chron 7:14, Matt 11:29-30,

The key one seems to be Matt 11:29-30:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Why, because we simply can’t do real life without God’s help. Without humility, we can’t see the places where God is trying to partner with us. We keep asking God to get us out of circumstances when He wants to be with us through them. It should be humbling to think how much God wants to grow your relationship intimacy. If you want to get into your Promised Land you need to head into places you can’t go without Him.

The other power of humility is the power to fail. If your focus is to protect your pride then you don’t risk. If you don’t risk you don’t grow. Everything you learned you learned through trial and error. Stop making errors, stop learning.

This is why Grace is so vital. Jesus couldn’t just die once for our sins and then turn it over to us. He had to create an environment in which we could learn–be Fathered, by God.

Christians really suffer here. To understand the power of Grace. We keep asking God for an answer and then running off to do it ourselves. It doesn’t work. We need so many things, like thankfulness, BUT it all starts with humility.

PS If we don’t have Grace for ourselves then we aren’t likely to be extending it to other people. If they’ll know you are Christians by your love, then we can’t just shout at people. “I’m a Christian,” and then not extend them Grace. If there is no greater command than to love, how are we going to shine the light of God into the world without Grace?

Future Post about Humility to be included as an appendix in the Primacy of God.

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.

Journey Update: 4/21/18

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Andy “Sir Bunch Adventure Writer” Journey’s Update: April 21, 2018

If you stumbled onto this page prior to my main landing page here’s a link to the full list of current journeys and more info about what a Journey is.

Brief Overview:

Well, this update is pretty much on time, I think I’ll try to update once a week on Saturdays. Two of the key concepts of the Cleric Path, which is what I call this grand experiment in how to live more abundantly, is living dynamically through Grace and Flexibility. I didn’t think I’d have to post about that quite yet, but it turns out that I can’t do this simple update without a brief explanation so follow this link to one.

God/Relationship/Family

April – Rewrite Primacy into my blog — ch4 of 10
If you’re following along, I’ve decided to revise my next book on this blog as I go. I’ll give anyone who signs up for my list during this process a free digital copy of the book when it’s done.

I’m happy with the decision. It’s not slowing me down and as I’d hoped it’s motivating me to work on it every chance I get. However, I am behind schedule. My wife’s work schedule changed for the week and I just didn’t get the time. On the bright side, I got to spend more time with my little girl.

I’m part way thru chapter 4 of 10 and I’d hoped to be finished prior to leaving for the Spring Boot Camp on the 26th of this month. So I either need to do chapters a day Mon-Wed or blow the deadline. I wonder how God’s going to handle this? Overall Score C+.

Identity/Adventure

April – BCNW Retreat — singed up and paid
I’m excited about the men’s retreat. It’s important for me to get out of town once a year and go where cell phones have no reception. I’ve been to this retreat, based on “Wild at Heart,” by John Eldrege, several times and God always does something amazing in me.

ORG (Growth & Success)/Learning

April – Read Book “The Five Choices” /Summary to Blog — tabled to May
Haven’t started. Just plane bit off more than I can chew this month. It’s a common problem for me. This is a transition month and I’m glad to get time on projects like that I want to bring to a close before the next season gets in full swing. (I know April is technically the first month of Spring/ 2nd quarter, but much like the weather, Spiritual seasons don’t follow the calendar exactly.) Overall score, Jury’s Still Out.

Health & Fitness

April – Audition Nucific Bio x4 — ordered and started
I started Bio x4 on the 14th (ordered when we got back from vacation), and I love them so far. I do notice less hunger, more energy, and good stomach health. I’ve not had enough time to surround this with other health improvements like increased fiber etc. One side note about Bio x4, it’s one of those “take 5 minutes before each meal” type of systems. Those are so difficult to work into your day and as the week progressed I’ve started missing a pill here and there.

I did increase my step goal to 7,500 & am largely successful and I drink a lot of water already and I’ve been eating at home about the same as before despite a busy week so I’m going to give this week a B+ overall.

Daily Stretching — Not started, Tabled to May

Wealth & Freelance

April – Upgrade & Revise Blog — Table upgrade to next month
I’ve been blogging almost every day, which is great! I love it. I have not managed to raise the money for some of the upgrades I’d hoped to accomplish. So I give it a solid B overall.

Final Note:

I’ll be out of town next weekend, so don’t look for an update. However, I’ll probably have a lot to update everyone on the following weekend. So, we’ll see. God Bless.

It’s harder to understand what I mean when I say journey without reading more about it in my next book, “The Primacy of God.

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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