Thank you for Transformation!

Father God, I thank you for transforming what once was my fear of failure, my insecurities, my thought that I had to better than others in order to be good enough, into a confidence in your ability and a knowing that it is you who has the power to make me great. Father God, I thank you for transforming what once was my anger and jealously into passion to take back the promises you have for me. I thank you for developing in me a Godly boldness out of a need to be heard and validated. I thank you that you took my need to speak my mind and be understood and have transitioned it into clarity to speak and profess Your words. I glory in the way you moved my rage into a fearlessness to believe that the undisputed Word of God is powerful, mighty and more able to tear down strongholds and move mountains than my aggressiveness ever could. I thank you Lord for giving me the grace to find my way into a confidence and complete reliance on you through my struggles and stumbling. Lord you give and take away, you exalt and tear down, all for our benefit, that we may be called oaks of righteousness. Today Lord, I praise you for the greatness that you are, for your wondrous works, for your never ending and unfailing love. I praise you because you are GREAT, you are MIGHTY and you are MY FATHER! Amen.

Dry Drunk Christianity

If you ever attended a Recovery program or participated in any type of AA, you are familiar with the term Dry Drunk. A dry drunk is a person who although is sober, and going through the motions of sobriety, never gets past the anger stage and feels resentment. In their mind, they want their life back and the benefits that came with the addiction. Perhaps it was the inhibition, being invited to all the parties or just the escape from reality. They don’t return to the addiction due to issues that have arose as a result, such as loss of a job, divorce, legal issues or even incarceration. They are not satisfied with the change, but also realize returning to the addiction is not an option. They may even recognize the negative effects the addiction has had, which prevents relapse, but they long for the effects the alcohol itself had on them. Therefore, they live with resentment toward the change. This concept got me thinking about my walk with Christ.

For a few months now, I have struggled with feeling unsatisfied and a lack of intimacy in my relationship with Christ. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I continued to attend church, tithe, read the Word, pray…but something was missing. During my prayer time, the term, “dry drunk” popped in my head. As a therapist, I was familiar with the concept however, I decided to gather more information. I found an article on About.com on the subject and this quote stood out to me. “Dry Drunk” has been described as “A condition of returning to one’s old alcoholic thinking or behaviors without actually having taken a drink.” I thought about how as Christians we sometimes struggle with feeling like we give up so much to follow Christ, or that there seems to always be a period of waiting before the good things come. This can lead to regretting our decision to follow Christ or even resentment for it. You may say, “Well why not just backslide?” Well as Dry Drunks don’t usually return to drinking because of the trouble they were in as a result; perhaps we know that our life before Christ really wasn’t as satisfying and we don’t really want that former life. We just want the part that felt good. As Christians, the more time spent in the Word, we are able to transform our thinking to adopt the mind of Christ. A Dry Drunk Christian finds themselves returning to old patterns of thinking such as fear, doubt, worry, disbelief or resistance to change. The key component is it is in our mind. Our actions are right but our thoughts are not. A dry drunk doesn’t return to drinking just as a dry drunk Christian doesn’t return to old pre-salvation behaviors. It’s going back to our un-renewed thinking.

While continuing to read up on this subject, I found an AA website that listed characteristics of a “Dry Drunk.”

  1. Grandiosity or an exaggeration of one’s importance. It is a self-centered mentality, making ourselves the center of attention whether in a positive high regard, or the lowly victim.
  2. Judgmental or seeing things as either “good” or “bad,” no room or acceptance of gray areas.
  3. Intolerance, which makes it very difficult to delay gratification. This results in chasing after what feels good as opposed to what we need.
  4. Impulsivity, when we can not delay gratification we will make impulsive, often irrational, decisions to meet our immediate needs.
  5. Indecisiveness is a result of becoming pre-occupied with the negative results of a decision, to the point that no decision or action is taken.

While these characteristics seem harsh, when looking at our own walk with Christ, I personally recognize how some of these concepts easily creep into the mind and hearts of us as Christians. As I experienced, and as God was pointing out to me, we can go through the motions of Christianity, we can perform and do all the outward acts that appear righteous, but where is our heart? Do we have grandiose or judgmental attitudes, have we become intolerant and unable to walk by faith because we expected God to move yesterday? Are we reacting impulsively because we want our inheritance and reward now? Do we put off doing the commands God has given us, because we feel indecisive and are chasing after what feels good right now? Our Christian walk requires commitment, commitment to live by faith, pursue the things of God and make what’s important to Him, important to us. Sometimes, its not about us, in fact the whole identity of Christ was serving others. We fail when we began to place our own demands and expectations for our lives on God. At that point we lose focus of our purpose to serve, love and grow. God needs us, there is no disputing that however, our hearts must remain right for us to be used and elevated to the next level. To maintain our intimacy with the Father and develop a sense of satisfaction, we must accept His righteousness, maintain a heart to serve and expect God to do great things through us. We know God prospers, we know God heals, we know God vindicates but don’t forget the reason, HIS GLORY! Our minds must be renewed day by day. We are asked to meditate on His word day and night. This is so our minds and hearts can remain in the right place and God can be honored through our actions and speech. It has been said, if you want to feel happy, serve others. Dry drunk Christianity leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction because it takes away our desire to serve and has us chasing after instant gratification. We must make a choice to maintain our renewed minds, pursuing and being about our Father’s business.

Again, thank you for reading. Remember you are loved, valued and highly esteemed. God bless.

Survival to Grace

The last couple weeks the Lord’s really been talking to me about the concept of survival. For many years surviving was a way of life for me. It gave me a sense of pride to know that I could withstand hardships and trials. I found strength in my ability to overcome and security in my ability to not fall apart at difficulty. However, recently God’s been pushing me to look beyond this. He’s challenged me to consider life beyond survival. At first I had to really think, what does life outside of survival even look like? After all this has been my whole identity, being a survivor. I’ve survived an abusive childhood, domestic violence, death of my parents, break-ups, sickness, loss, poverty, loneliness and the list goes on. What else is there?

I started by researching Survival, its meaning, its culture, and it’s antonyms.

As I expected survival is defined as to live, to thrive, to struggle to remain alive. I’ve heard the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” It represents a Darwinian concept of being the last species standing. I looked at this and thought, “How can this be a bad thing? God wouldn’t you want us to live and to thrive?” Then I stumbled on a group of people called Survivalists. They are people who plan to survive. They constantly plan for disaster, poverty or famine. They store up for emergencies, they study ways to live through natural disasters. There whole life is spent in preparation for something bad to happen. They live in fear of suffering and therefore prepare in order to avoid it. Suddenly things started to come together, but I wanted to look deeper, so I checked out the antonyms. They were: to die, cease to exist, to fail. ????? How could THAT be what God would want? I asked out loud, “God, you want me to die????” And I was suddenly reminded of several scriptures.

Romans 14:7-9 “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose.”

Galatians 2:19-21 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live in God. I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, than Christ died in vain.”

Philippians 2:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Is it starting to make sense now? When we survive we do so on our own strength, with our own might, by our own abilities. We struggle to remain alive. Survival is selfish, it is each man for himself. With God, it’s the opposite. We don’t live because life is the prize, we live because Christ is. We live because the price for our eternity was paid through His death. We are not here to struggle, we are here to gain grace. That grace was provided when He took all struggles, all fears, all our efforts and nailed them to the cross with Him. He struggled for us, therefore all we have to do is live, live in Him. Survival emphasizes our own efforts, and if we are able to survive, why do we need God? And as Galatians states, if righteousness came through the law (our own efforts) then His death was for nothing. The Message translation, writes that passage this way,

“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.”

With Christ survival is unnecessary. If it was necessary, then death would be considered a failure. As believers we know in death we enter eternal rest, peace and are finally able to commune with God himself. So He took the burden of survival, gave us grace through death and provided us eternal life after our physical death. Life is a definite, however is it the difficult life of this world that is our challenge to conquer? Is our existence summed up by the personal accomplishments made while living this pitiful, sorry excuse for a paradise? No, it is the life we inherit after this, the Kingdom of Heaven. While here, we live remembering that all battles were fought and won through His death. Therefore survival is a complete rejection of that free gift. Survival assumes the responsibility of living, we no longer carry that burden…we live because Christ died.

Burning Ones – A Vision for the Body of Christ

 
On Tuesday October 2, 2012 during praise and worship, I got a vision. The following Sunday, October 7, 2012 we sang the song”Buring Ones,” by Jesus Culture and suddenly I was given the interpretation of my vision. I am going to describe to you that vision as best I can, as well provide the lyrics that helped interpret this vision.
I saw Jesus on the cross. He was alone on the cross and it was pitch black all around Him. I saw a small fire, like a camp fire, burning at the base of the cross. The flames were touching the bottom of his feet but they weren’t burning him. I could see the flames rise up around the cross and around his body as he remained nailed to the cross. Again, he continued to not be burned. In fact, it looked as if He was resting on the cross or sleeping peacefully. He wore the crown of thorns, he was beaten and bruised and was stripped of most of His clothes however, the fire didn’t affect Him. The fire flickered all around Him and illuminated Him while He remained nailed to the cross. Then I saw a large group of people standing behind the cross, at first they appeared as shadows. Suddenly they lifted up the cross with Christ still on it, and began to carry it forward. They were marching in unison. I could hear the sounds of their feet marching forward with purpose, determination and courage. The flames then begin to surround the people as well. The fire illuminated the people, allowing them to be seen in all the surrounding darkness. As the people marched, carrying Jesus, suddenly His eyes opened. At that moment He was clothed in a white robe with a baby blue sash. He quickly and powerfully tore himself down from the cross. The nails appeared to only tear his robe and not his flesh. He did this without any pain, but rather just immense strength. He jumped down from the cross and He began to run forward as if he was a superhero. All the people behind Him let out a huge shout and began to run behind Him with full force. It was as if He was leading us into battle. We ran with power, courage, determination, purpose, passion and excitement.
The lyrics to “Burning Ones” are as follows…
“Here inside your presence I’m taken by the wonder of You
Here inside your glory
We give our lives fully to You
//We cry holy, holy Are You//
Your love it burns inside
Our hearts are satisfied by You
Your love is all we want
It’s why we ask for more of You
Holy, holy are You
Our hearts are burning, burning for You
We cry holy, holy are you
Our hearts are burning, burning for You
We are your burning ones
We are consumed by You
We set our lives apart
We are consumed by You
So let this love be like a fire
let our lives be like a flame
Feel our souls with Your desire
Let our passion bring You fame”
After hearing these lyrics I understand this vision. While Jesus remained on the cross and the fire surrounded his body it was symbolic of His love for His people and our love for Him. Seeing Him on the cross was a reminder of how he paid the ultimate price for us, by demonstrating His unrelenting love through His death on the cross. It was the largest act of kindness and mercy any of us could have ever known. When I saw us pick up the cross and begin to carry it forward, it was symbolic of taking the message of the cross to others. Bringing the message of salvation, love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace to those people eclipsed by darkness. We carried the cross with us, demonstrating the power of saving grace through our remembrance of His death on the cross and accepting His love and acceptance of us as a people. The fire illuminated this gift in the darkness. Then the fire consumed us, illuminated our passion. We became the Burning Ones, consumed by Him, setting us apart and allowing our lives to represent the life of Christ. This passion was the catalyst for Jesus to jump from the cross and drive us into the next big movement. When He began to courageously run forward, and we let out our shout of praise and triumph, we declared victory over our lives, our circumstances, and over all the attacks of the enemy. We ran forward taking this passion, this message to the world with purpose, determination, swiftly, with bravery and courage. So as the words describe, His love is like a fire, our lives are the flame, our souls are filled with desire, to let our passion bring Him fame!
A pretty powerful vision for the body of Christ! We are united by the love of our Father. Be Blessed today friends!

Imperfectly Perfect

I was on my way to work this morning and I began to think about how so many of us find ourselves caught up in focusing on our flaws and imperfections. I thought to myself, if only I could help … Continue reading

Forgiveness, God’s Heart Transplant

When reading my blogs it may seem that I have strayed away from my title, Hope, Vision, Ambition, Completion, but in fact I haven’t at all. In order to complete the vision God has given us for our lives we … Continue reading