Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Experiencing God, living in His community and being transformed into His image

"Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us."
Charles Spurgeon

The last three months have been a time of incredible struggle for me. God has pressed on me in a way I have never before felt. My flesh is screaming, my ego is smarting, my mind is racing. I feel as though I am in the midst of an incredible battle, a war where my flesh is pitted against my soul. I know what I need... to be focused on Jesus. I know what God wants... for me to climb into His loving arms and be close to Him. This may seem as easy as just deciding to do it, yet it is by far the most daunting process of my 42 years. My entry below describes a little of my fight. Starting when I was in Africa and then through the summer of camps I sensed God's presence, differently than ever before, He was asking me for more. It was this question of trust and control that was hounding me. I fight allot with wanting to control my own destiny. My flesh is fighting for all it is worth, not wanting to let go. When I say let go, I mean totally letting go, a free fall. It is a scary proposition, while I grasp onto things from our broken world knowing they cannot fully bring joy, happiness, or contentment, they still bring momentary comfort, the illusion of control, and faux joy.
One of my big problems is my dependance on food to fill moments of pain, boredom, loneliness, stress, or any other feeling I have. So instead of finding God in those moments, Instead of receiving His love and comfort, I have developed "ways" of soothing myself, which is just another way of saying "tricking my mind" for a moments relief. This process, while not always food based, is one human kind has in common. Sin has divided us from God, and we now have our flesh to deal with. Our minds tell us the very opposite of what our souls need. Our minds will even use good things, spiritual things, to fill our aching hearts. I love the movie "The Matrix". Not for the special effects or action, but for the way it describes the battle we have with our minds. The battle we are pitted against with our flesh. Here is conversation from the movie between Neo and Morpheus that describes exactly what I have felt through my life with little understanding of what I was feeling:

Morpheus: I imagine that right now, you're feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that's not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here... You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you want to know what it is?
It is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes.

It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

I know you might be thinking I have jumped off the deep end, that I have lost myself in extreme thinking and weird ideas. But I have never been closer to God, It has never been more clear to me what my soul desires and how my flesh is divided from God. I do not want to be a slave to my flesh, I want to live in the freedom of Gods embrace. I desire closeness to God more than ever in my life. I know this road will be hard, harsh and my flesh will battle me at every moment.

I have read Romans over several times, especially Romans 7 and 8. I see the same struggle that Paul encountered, and reading commentaries on it I see some Biblical "Scholars" did not understand the struggle he wrote about. I am at a crossroads most do not turn at in their Christian walk and I understand why...It is hard, bordering on impossible! Yet, I believe with all my heart I am in good place, a place of battle to continue moving towards God. But still, I am in a place where it would be easy to turn back and stay where I was, so I ask for your prayer.

This fall we had a special speaker at our church, she went to dinner with all the Pastors and Elders of our church. She spoke to us after dinner, telling us God had laid a message on her heart for us specifically. She spoke of our need to dismantle our very supporting structure, and be guided solely by God in rebuilding it. That what we have built on is faulty and prone to crumbling, which would destroy us and those working around us. She said we must be in direct communication with God in order to know what to build, what to do, and not to build using formula or any man made concepts. She stressed that we could continue as we are, fixing and patching the surface and be ok there, with minimal results, and always being a moment from collapse, or we could move into a new thing God had for us, which is bigger, better, and would lead to incredible things. She was speaking to the way we "do" church and also to "the church", which is us, each one of us as individuals. Her message from God hit home for me, confirming all that God has been doing in my heart and our church. I look at it as pivotal moment for me, am I ready? No! It is painful, unnatural, and daunting. I feel taunted, pushed down, pained, punched and beat up. It is a never ending tug of war, constant argument in my mind and takes more vigilance than I have to be recognizing my motives, my ego and my wish to blessed beyond anything else. It will become easier I know, the more of the pile of stuff that gets out of my way, the easier it is to see Jesus. The easier to see Jesus, the more I realize my need to be near Him. As Neo began to realize so am I; I am imprisoned by my mind, corrupted by sin, and blinded from truth. As my perspective turns heavenward I see better the world that is pulled over my eyes. As it becomes clearer the enemy is more recognizable and easier to fight.

So to sum up, I believe God is working in me and wanting to build His church. I am working to move closer to God, to experience His presence in me and others. As I relate and love others who are broken and also are being transformed we become more like Jesus, encouraging and being light for each other to continue to move and bring others with us.


  1. A great Christmas message, I think. How so, you ask? "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us". It was the only way. Otherwise we could never come to the place of trusting our God to help us in the battle. The world, the flesh and the devil. We battle these three but who would argue that the flesh is constant in warring against our spirit. Hard? Yes. Brutal? Who can argue. Possible? Absolutely! "Be not afraid, the battle is not yours but God's." Thank you, Lord. We only lose if we quit. Keep battling, my friend, my brother, my co-laborer, my nephew. You can't lose. You have too many fighting with you and for you. And if God be for you, who can be against you? You know the answer. I love you. Merry Christmas!!

  2. Clearer. That resonates. Moving past just being comforted, because it really no longer comforts. I'm bored with being comforted, feeling stuck in "the way it has been." Oh, man, God asks what we think is a lot. "Show me Your Glory" is a prayer that just warped into something much more vast, encompassing, revealing. I'm thinking if God really shows me His Glory, whatever impossible thing I'm asked to crucify will shrivel into insignificance. Was listening to Kirk Franklin this morning and he was quoting Revelation-"They shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst any more, for God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes."-and it suddenly occurred to me I have yet to cry. I love you, Tony. You sharpen me, you ignite me, brother.