We can be satisfied by HIs glory and make it a healthy holiday season this year! So many think it has to be full of sugary foods and overeating but that doesn't have to be your normal!
We can be satisfied by HIs glory and make it a healthy holiday season this year! So many think it has to be full of sugary foods and overeating but that doesn't have to be your normal!
I had a dream a couple weeks ago that is very prophetic for the body of Christ. I thought it was just for me but now I realize it’s a declaration for you to!
In my dream I saw a person that I knew was satan. At first I was afraid because I could feel the fear around him.
Then he started walking past me, grumbling and complaining. He was muttering under his breath like a little brat child.
He had something in his hands and was putting it back from where he took it.
He certainly was not happy about it.
This God dream was super encouraging to me because the day before we just found out there was thousands of dollars in fraud with our bank account. So I knew personally, that The Lord was releasing justice over the thief.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
What the enemy has stolen he is being forced to give back, and then some!
We have already received back all the money and then some extra blessings on top.
We are here in Oklahoma with Kaylee’s aunt and uncle. As we pulled up to their house, we noticed one of our trailer tires had a huge bulge. I said, “Lord you got some stuff to take care of!” Lol it was a statement more out of frustration but He is faithful!
Sure enough Kaylee’s uncle randomly metioned he needed a little bit of yard work done and if I helped him out he would give us four brand new tires!
Come on Jesus!
This is a prophetic declaration over you today. Everything that the enemy has stolen will be given back to you tenfold!
Legally, you have access to the heavenly courtrooms to obtain justice. The Father is a righteous judge and at the cross He judged the devil and gave us power and authority over him and his minions.
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20
Every spirit is subject to you because of what Jesus has done at the cross!
So if you anything has been stolen from you:
Or anything else you can think of, I want you to receive the justice of heaven today. Don’t just let the enemy steal what is rightfully yours.
I pray you receive this with faith today. God is restoring all things. He is making the enemy put it all back!
So often, the hurt and pain we incur from life causes us to develop unhealthy walls around our hearts. We make unhealthy vows that we will never get hurt again and we use our weight as a form of self protection. So many people try to lose weight but cannot succeed. A lot of the times its because they have an underlying belief system built around protecting themselves from the pain they once felt.
Allow the healer to soften your heart and embrace the risk of vulnerability. You are worth it! See what I mean in my latest VLOG...
Embracing vulnerability is a must for anyone seeking to live whole! Its really tough and painful sometimes but it is oh so worth it to feel alive and well! Check out this video...
Here is a little bit of Kaylee's journey with nutrition. Part of her struggle was with emotional eating.
This is a struggle for many... Instead of processing emotions in a healthy way we stuff them deep inside our hearts. The result of this habit is emotional eating. We begin to use unhealthy sugary foods to comfort ourselves because we don't want to feel the pain.
There I was, feeling kind of foolish. Looking deeply into my own eyes. Speaking life over myself in the mirror. Declaring all the good things I see in myself.
Five minutes later, the awkwardness disappears and a love like I have never felt before fills my soul. It was as if I could feel exactly how The Father feels about me. Tears run down my face as I bask in the overflow of love and acceptance. The insecurity disappeared… The critical thoughts towards myself vanished. Only thoughts of love and acceptance filled my mind.
Some time ago I was challenged by The Lord to learn to love myself the way He loves me. I spent so much time being hard on myself that it was wearing on my soul. Self hatred may be a strong word but its exactly how I was living my life... Hating what I saw in the mirror, always wanting to change and be somebody different.
I am sure some of you can relate. We only accept ourselves when we do something good or praise worthy. We dare not receive love when we do something wrong… For that would be negative reinforcement. But it never seems to help. You beat yourself up over your mistake thinking that will somehow make you a better person. “Stupid! You should have known better! What were you thinking! How dumb can you be! You will never change! You will never get out of this mess!”
Man, if we talked to our friends the way we talked to ourselves we would definitely not be friends!
Nevertheless it’s the way I used to live my life. I would subconsciously have thoughts like, “once I have more money then I will accept myself. Once I see more miracles then I can feel validated and worth it. Once I stop struggling with this lust issue then I can really feel good about myself.”
This is not the way of God. Its not the way of truth or freedom. It’s a performance based mindset that only allows good things in when we feel like we deserve it.
But Grace is all about you getting what you didn’t pay for and what you didn’t deserve. Its getting what Jesus paid for and what he deserved.
And The Lord wants us to love ourselves exactly the way He loves us. Unconditionally! He loves us even when we mess up. He doesn’t turn away His affection when we sin. He moves closer!
I remember a time where I was so angry, I got emotionally triggered and was feeling like an orphan. Feeling like a reject, like nobody cares... It started by a disagreement I had with my wife who was my girlfriend at the time… I decided to go on a walk to cool off… After letting out some not so pleasant words, I said to God, “If your offended at what I am saying then your just like everyone else that I can scare away.” These were words from a hurting soul. A soul that struggled with the fear of abandonment. I was believing the lie that if I don’t perform and be a good boy, everyone will leave me.
It was in that moment of vulnerability that I received my breakthrough.
I was honest with God and He did the unexpected.
I felt Him smile and move closer to me. I could feel a warm blanket of His love wrap around me. He whispered, “you can’t scare me away son. I love you!”
This encounter wrecked me!
It was unexpected because I was so used to conditional love. How could you love me God when I am being so unloveable!? Cussing up a storm, partnering with the devil, acting like a little spoiled brat and yet you come so close with so much love!!!!?
It was mind blowing to receive this kind of Grace! I will forever be changed by this encounter with Truth Himself!
He showed me that I can love myself in the same way. Whenever I feel like I have missed the mark somehow, or I am not feeling worthy of love, I just do what Jesus does. Emotionally move closer to myself, look at myself in the mirror, and say, “I love you man, you’re a good son, you are so worth love, Jesus paid the price so you could live in freedom, no matter what you do, I will love and accept you!”
And sure enough, condemnation loses its grip, rejection and shame fall away. No longer do I feel divided within myself. I feel congruent, accepted, and loved! I feel good about myself because the truth has filled my soul!
So today I challenge you to practice loving yourself well! You are worth it! You don't have to do great things to be worthy of this love.
He simply loves you because thats who He is and that what He made you for. To be a beloved son or daughter of The King!
Here are three ways you can do that this week:
So I would love to hear from you! What has been your testimony with learning to love yourself the way God loves you? Your testimony will help many others so please be courageous and share below! :)
"For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
Righteousness by Grace is what the Gospel is all about. I've been digging into the well of righteousness for a few years now... Meditating on this reality, chewing on it, asking hard questions... And getting quite frustrated at times for it doesn't make sense to my natural mind that my performance doesn't determine who I am...
I want to share some of the glorious life changing realities I have discovered along my journey in hope that you to will be encouraged.
I remember a time a year or so ago where I was living under so much condemnation. It was my third year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and there was a day where I was just not doing well.
I was caught up in my head... Feeling a whole bunch of self pity. My thoughts were consumed with introspection. It was after I preached at one of the schools afternoon classes.
This is usually when the enemy likes to come... Right after taking risk and getting outside of our comfort zone.
I was having so many thoughts of doubt... Like I just don't have what it takes to preach the gospel... Like I really wasn't called to this... Maybe I should just quit...
I think the whole next day I was rehearsing all the things I said, analyzing, ruminating...
Basically it was a whole bunch introspective crap!
Thank God I didn't stay in that place of wallowing... :)
What got me out of this funk wasn’t my positive self talk, it wasn’t me pumping my ego up. It wasn’t me rehearsing all the good things I have done.
It was an encounter with truth.
I was in my garage cleaning and all of a sudden I had this thought... “ I am feeling this way because I am thinking way to much about myself. I turned inward in my thoughts, in my affections... My focus was on all me, my limitations and my lack.
I believe that when our focus is on us we will always come up short.
I love what the NLT version says in Philippians 3:3-4:
"For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!"
Paul tells us to find no confidence in our accomplishments, behavior, status, or performance. When we do this we are deriving our self worth, image, and confidence from a lesser place.
The word confidence in the greek is peithó, this can also mean trust.
See, I realized that when I was so caught up with my inabilities I was being self absorbed... Trusting in my self which is anti-gospel. Why? Because our performance is not trustworthy. There is only one place to put our trust and that is Jesus. As new creations we no longer identify and derive our worth from behaviors and performance!
Our identity is in Christ!
I had this quick vision where I was sitting in heaven with Jesus, overlooking the world. I saw myself wearing this breastplate of righteousness with a huge smile on my face. I felt inside me true confidence. Not a puffed up ego, but a heart fully assured of His love for me in Christ. I felt like a King! This encounter changed me. It instilled within me my identity as a righteous man apart from my performance or behavior.
A shift happened within me where I stopped looking to myself for confidence. I stopped looking inward for answers.. I stopped trusting in the flesh.
This is what Paul is talking about when he says in Romans 7:18
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out."
The word flesh here is sarx. Its the same greek word used in Philippians 3:3 where it talks about "human effort."
My thoughts were, "why would I even be surprised when I come up short? What good do I expect to find in my own flesh? (human effort or self dependency.)
In that moment I felt so incredibly free.
Because I stopped depending upon my own human effort and started trusting in what Christ has done.
What Has He Done?
He has given us a new identity... No longer do we identify with self effort, self lack, or anything to do with self... We do not live according to our own good deeds or actions.
Like Paul says in Galatians 2:20
"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
The essence of who we are is now found purely in Christ and His accomplishments.
He himself is now my righteousness. He is the place where I derive my confidence and worth.
Knowing We Are Righteous Destroys The Power Of Shame.
Shame is the voice that tells us we are failures, we are no good, we are mistakes, we will never measure up. It keeps us hiding behind our fig leaves like Adam in the garden. It keeps us from expressing the fullness of who we are.
It uses past experiences and failures to reinforce the lie that we are not unconditionally loved. When we mess up, shame tells us WE ARE MESSED UP, UNLOVEABLE, AND UNWORTHY. But that loses its grip in the reality 2 Cor 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
See, Jesus took all that shame, guilt, and condemnation upon Himself and destroyed its power on the cross. He literally became what we were so that we could become what He is... Righteous and blameless! Its WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST!
“… as He is in Heaven, so are we in this world. “ 1 John 4:17
Our identity is no longer found in what we have done or will ever do. Its not in our actions. Our identity has and will always be found in what HE HAS DONE. We were co-crucified with Him on the cross. The old man is dead, we are brand new creations.
You may ask, but how can I still sin if I am just like Jesus? How can I still feel so rotten inside if I am so holy?
Great question… I have wondered this time and time again. I am convinced first of all, that the truth is the truth. No matter what I believe it is still the truth.
Like Bill Johnson says, “ I will not sacrifice the goodness of God on the altar of human reasoning.”
I think that is so profound. Just because my experience isn’t lining up with the truth doesn't mean its not true.
Breaking Agreement With The Lies
Time and time again, when I feel condemned, unrighteous, guilty and ashamed… its because I made a mistake and have identified with it. I allowed those thoughts of shame and condemnation to convince me that I am something other than what Jesus says I am. I make an agreement in my heart with the LIES and feel that I deserve punishment because of my failures.
These are the times we must press into the Gospel. We must take those thoughts captive and make war with the truth.
Next time your in that kind of funk just ask yourself how much does the Father love Jesus? Now realize you are in Christ and receive everything The Father has given to Jesus. Unconditional love and acceptance…. You are loved just the same as Jesus is loved.
Just as Jesus is worthy so are you!
Not because you did anything to deserve it, but because He did everything to deserve it. And He really loves you a lot and decided to give it all to you free of charge.
That’s the FREE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS MY FRIEND! ENJOY IT!
The Kingdom is all about family. Growing up I had family but it wasn't the way The Kingdom does family.
I spent the last three weeks with my in-laws and had some pretty cool revelations on family and what its all about. I learned that no matter what you move closer to each other instead of further apart. You overcome offense and communicate when your feelings are hurt or else the enemy comes in and you begin partnering with accusations against the other person...
Anyhow, we just made a video about it... Check it out!
I remember a time in my life when the cravings were strong! I’m not just talking about food here… I’m talking about the seductiveness of status, money, and power. I want to talk to you today about how to beat food cravings. My testimony is more about other cravings but it can apply to the area of food as well...Lets go! I had it so bad… I remember the day I got baptized I was speaking to a pastor and I was telling him of my dream to own a house like the one I was baptized in.
It was a beautiful mansion and I was hungry to be wealthy… To have more!
The pastor said, “well son, just seek first the kingdom… Don’t worry about that stuff.”
I thought to myself, “what a powerless statement. I have been given power to create wealth!”
Now, I am not saying the desire for wealth is wrong. I just realize now, that at the time, it was not what I was truly desiring.
My cravings were misguided.
At an unconscious level, I believed that more money would bring me satisfaction. It would bring me the significance I so desired.
Because I lived this way I was the hamster on the wheel, chasing the proverbial carrot on a stick. Always chasing, never satisfied...
I achieved a relatively decent amount of success. I had more than enough money for myself. No it wasn’t millions or anything, but I owned a business, worked when I wanted to, and had tons of free time.
Still there was something missing…
I felt an emptiness, a deadness in my soul, a lack of passion for life, slightly depressed with moments of happiness.
Enter the reality of this scripture here:
“When your soul is full, you turn down even the sweetest honey; but when your soul is starving every bitter thing becomes sweet.
I was pursuing the “bitter” things that tasted sweet. Once again, not that desiring wealth was bad or wrong, it was just not what I was truly seeking!
I had a thirst that I thought could be quenched by the pleasures of the world. My soul was starving and the little bit of pleasure money brought tasted so good.
But that only lasted for so long…
It was never enough.
Everything changed for me during the month of September 2011. I went on a trip to Israel where I encountered the person of Jesus.
We were taking communion in the Garden of Gethsemane and all of a sudden something inside of me broke. (In a good way)
The Lord Himself showed up and I was undone.
He told me, “all of this was for you son. My sacrifice was for you!”
In that moment the reality of the Cross hit me like a ton of bricks. For the first time I realized in a personal way what Jesus did for me. My heart truly understood it. I felt the most beautiful, pure, love that I have ever felt.
I lost it!
I cried like I never cried before.... Yes thats how I know it was God, because I wouldn't cry in front of a crowd of people if I could help it, lol.
It was as if I was being washed clean.
I left that trip with a new craving. Not a craving for any THING, but a PERSON!
It was as if something inside of me ignited!
I remember reading the psalms in my room and just feeling the closeness of Jesus. It was as if the words I read were an interpretation of how I was feeling!
“As a deer pants for the water, so I thirst for you.” (Psalm 42:1)
“I will awake and be satisfied with your presence.” (Psalm 17:15)
I would spend hours in my room drinking deep of pleasures of God! I tell you, there is no greater pleasure than hearing the reassuring voice of your Father in Heaven!
and as I did this, something miraculous happened. I felt FULL!
My soul was filled with the delight of God. I was experiencing the reality of psalms 34:7 “Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. “
I didn't have that emptiness anymore. I wasn't full of striving to achieve some status quo, or hungry to have more money. I was lost in ecstatic encounter with the one who created me!
No longer did I crave the approval and acceptance of everyone around me, I didn't desire the status of the world, nor did I find food as the source of my comfort.
This is the cure for any unhealthy craving right here!
Getting so intoxicated with the pleasures of His presence and Word that the cravings and addictions to drugs, food, or whatever, simply become as appetizing as dog poo!
I think C.S. Lewis puts it best with this quote,
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
As I am writing this I am getting wrecked by His love all over again. My priorities are aligning, my heart is overflowing, and I remember that nothing else is as important or rewarding than encountering this amazing and wonderful Jesus. This Holy Spirit that intoxicates our souls with His manifest, tangible, presence.
YOUR ACTION STEPS
Here is one of my favorites right now:
In todays #meditationmonday we are coming to you from the Redwoods... Or at least a few minutes from the Redwoods on a lovely beach! We are talking about the power of gratitude. Staying thankful in life is such a crucial key to living the abundant life! Check it out...
Here's a short video update on our upcoming adventures!
Sometimes we need to get angry in life. We must get upset with the way things are so we can start using the authority we have in Christ to make some changes.
See what I mean in this short video I just made...
COMMENT BELOW :)
Self Control is one of the most undervalued fruits of the Spirit. It is the key to greater freedom. Self control, or discipline, is not religious its freedom. It is what allows us to have the abundant life the Jesus promises us.
Check out my latest video where I give you 2 keys on how to be successful in 2015
I had an encounter with The Lord last night and I just had to share with you guys. He is so kind and good to us. He loves to serve us. He is so invested in our freedom its ridiculous! Check it out...
No matter what we do, we are still the righteousness of God because of the work of Christ. Especially when we mess up. Check it out.
God has called us to live with a light heart. It is so possible to live free in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. Humility looks like trusting God in the middle of the storm.
We must continually drink from the well of rest. Often times we take on false yokes of responsibility that hinder the flow of Gods grace. Lets knock that off by remaining child like.
My definition? Hipsters who sit around talking about how miserable they are, basking in a powerless existence of self loathing. Sounds fun right?
I always thought that vulnerable people were either women, or whimpy men with high levels of estrogen.
Hey… I am just starting it off by being real with you! :)
I am pleased to announce this is no longer my definition of vulnerability.
Vulnerability has been the greatest source of frustration for me. Beyond the pain and frustration, vulnerability has been the avenue to ultimate freedom in my life. It has been the gateway to intimacy, one of the greatest desires of the human heart. To be known and seen for all that we are, the good and the bad, and still be 100% loved and accepted.
Thats my goal today, to be a catalyst for vulnerability and intimacy. Why? So that we can experience the depths of love like never before. So that we can live emotionally prosperous. So that we can be free from shame, guilt, and condemnation. So that we can have thriving relationships, with our creator, ourselves, and others.
The problem? Vulnerability is scary and painful. Or so we think...
The fear of pain is a hindrance to intimacy. It cuts us off from joy and adventure. When we are afraid to embrace pain we stay at a shallow place of existence. The truth is, there is no easy road to take. Struggle and pain is an invitation to a depth of love rarely experienced.
For me, I thought I always had to have it all together. My focus in life was to get rid of all the pain. In this pursuit, I brought upon myself even greater pain. The pain of not experiencing the fullness of love.
Things like… struggle and pain were foreign to me. They were things to be avoided, not embraced. After all, pain is only weakness leaving the body right? Thats what I thought to. I was afraid of pain and therefore, I became a surface dweller, abiding in the safety of the known. Here in this place I became shallow. Never showing the real me for the fear of rejection.
So how did I get rid of this pain? I created a facade that hid the real me. I put on fig leaves around my personality, my emotions, my beliefs, my dreams… Everything about me was hidden!
Its the age old lie that humanity struggles with. (If we show ourselves completely, we will be rejected and ultimate pain will come upon us.) But The Gospel is the good news that The Fathers affection never turns off towards us. No matter what we do or say, He will love us the same. It is this kind of Father we can trust with our nakedness.
One time, in a worship service, I heard The Lord say, "I want to see you naked." My first thought was, "I rebuke you devil!" Haha but God is funny. He said it that way for shock value and I knew what He meant by it. He was calling me out. He knew that I was coming to Him in a way that wasn't real.
For example, whenever I was struggling, I would simply block it all by "worshipping" Him. Sounds holy right? The problem was, I still had my fig leaves on. I wasn't bringing ME to HIM. I was bringing my perfect little self as if He didn't see the crap. Not intimacy at all!
We Need Intimacy.
True intimacy requires that both parties come together without judgement, condemnation, or criticism. It requires that we bring the real us, not the person we are trying to be, but the person we are now. That includes all the insecurities, fears, and doubts. It also includes, all the dreams, desires, passions, and hopes.
It is impossible to live a life fulfilled without intimacy… With ourselves, God, and yes, even people. It first starts with being real and honest with God and ourself, then it ripples out to the ones we love and cherish in the world.
Somewhere along the path I realized that I was failing at this intimacy thing. I was saying all the right things, yet I didn't feel… authentic. I somehow came up with the idea that I was supposed to be something better than I was. I no longer saw myself as I was, but what I should be. That is just a sucky way to live, always comparing yourself with some imaginary version of you. Not cool.
I get that we are always transforming. I get that we never want to stay at our current level. We want to increase and be better than we were yesterday.
But this is what I was missing… Grace for the process.
Without a healthy sense of intimacy, this whole transformation thing can become a very frustrating, shallow experience.
For me, it came from the desire to please God. I never want to lower the standard of the gospel so that it will make me feel comfortable. Therefore, I became so "truth" oriented that I became religious about it. I had black and white answers for everything. I disregarded my emotions in the name of "living by faith, not by feelings brother." it basically robbed me from the ability to live and enjoy life. Even though this pursuit was a noble one it eventually hindered my growth. Why? I wasn't able to love myself in the process. I put expectations on myself that God didn't even have for me. It became a heavy yoke of performance.
For example, I remember a time in my life where I was so afraid of weakness. I believed I was strong and didn't have fear, but on the inside I was really terrified. One day, in my second year of ministry school, we were doing an exercise where we were all supposed to say out loud a lie that we have believed. In our small group, everyone was going around saying the lie out loud all smiley and stuff. Then it came my turn. My response… "I am not gonna go digging inside, I don't have lies." Wow, talk about denial. In all actuality, I heard the lie, "I am not powerful." So to me, the act of actually admitting I struggled with that lie meant I wasn't really powerful. I know… Twisted. That all began to change over the next 9 months...
Through amazing people in my life, especially my pastor, Bea Ward, I came to the conclusion that I was about to enter into a season of "greater intimacy." Ya, sounds all glorious and sweet until you start SEEING everything inside you! But deep down, I am always willing to pay whatever price to have more! More love, more joy, more wholeness, just more! So somewhere in my heart, I made a promise to myself to embrace the process, no matter how much I disagreed or was offended.
To me that looked like being 100% honest, with myself, others, and God. Sounds simple enough, but it was really awkward at first. I felt completely out of control. As I began to give myself permission to feel everything, it was pretty overwhelming. I became aware of all the crap so to speak. I mean, these emotions have been stuffed away for quite some time, and now I am letting the lid off. Certainly not the prettiest sight in the world. Yet at the same time it is, for whenever a heart is being set free, I think all of heaven rejoices!
Continuing on with the journey…
In times of prayer I wasn't sure if what I was saying would offend Him or not, I would talk about all the doubts I had, the bitter emotions I had towards certain people… I wasn't even sure if I was allowed to feel these things as a good Christian, because of course, when you become a christian you have to have it all figured out now right?
Man that religious spirit is a bunch of do doo!
So as I continually gave myself permission to be real, it got messy. I was discovering things about myself I didn't necessarily like. But this is what happens when you finally allow the light to shine. See, ignoring and stuffing emotions keeps your heart in the darkness. It makes room for guilt and shame. It makes you believe the lie that, "if people find out what your really like, you will be rejected" It causes you to hide.
But the truth is that we are so completely accepted. All the good, and all the "bad."
One day while I was leaving a friends house, I felt that unfamiliar, honesty, thing rise up in me again. As I was driving, I began to tell God that I doubted His goodness, that I doubted His provision and His promises, I began letting my anger out toward Him. As I did, it was like a wave of His love crashed over me. I felt so completely naked and free. It felt so wrong at first to even think I could be angry at God. But thats what was deep inside me. It was at that point I realized, He meets me exactly where I am at. He doesn't do shallow, and He doesn't do fake. He desires for us to bare our souls before Him.
After all, He cries out, "come to me as you are!" Notice it doesn't say, "come to me as you think you ought to be."
This isn't a nice little alter call message for unbelievers. It is a life long plea from a loving Father to His children.
We often feel like we need to be perfect in our relationship with Him, its absolutely crazy. He is the safest person to be around. We can tell Him our deepest darkest secrets. As we are completely raw before Him, we open ourselves up to His extravagant love. On the other hand, if we keep our fig leaves on, hiding in shame, we will never experience the abounding love He has towards us.
Thats the problem though isn't it? Taking off our fig leaves is vulnerable and scary. But its ok, we don't have to get it right the first time. Just start somewhere. It gets less and less awkward the more we do it. The more we dive deeper into this ocean of intimacy, we realize its not such a scary place. Its actually the place of greatest adventure, mystery, and creativity. It is the place where we come fully alive, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
When we keep our leaves on, the very opposite happens. We enter into self protection, and who can blame us? It only makes sense to try and protect ourselves from pain right? It is our natural instinct, get rid of pain and find more pleasure.
Thats just it, sometimes the pathway to ultimate pleasure has scary cliffs and challenging obstacles. Protecting ourself is to never embark on the journey. It is coming to the conclusion that the risk outweighs the reward. This is what we do when we enter into self protection. Yes we may reduce the pain and discomfort in our life but we also reduce the joy, creativity, and passion!
So I am here to break it to you, if you want to experience true fulfillment in life, there is no way you can protect your heart from pain. There will always be an element of risk that requires us to trust.
As we begin to let go and drop our defenses, something peculiar happens, we enter into a level of relationship that our hearts yearn for. It is a place called TRUST. Here, we allow our Father to take care of us. Self protection is a form of pride because it says that we can protect ourselves better than God.
When we take upon ourselves God's responsibilities we start living in fear. When we are motivated by fear, it hinders us from receiving the perfect love of The Father. It causes us to take action to reduce the uncertainty. It inspires us to get things under control instead of leaning into the mystery. But of course, we christians like to spiritualize our dysfunctions, so we call it things like wisdom and honor…
Its ok, on the other side of offense is an invitation to greater freedom. (A great quote from a great friend)
But the doorway to this freedom is vulnerability. It is stepping into the unknown, it is taking a risk. It is becoming like a child, simply trusting in a really good dad to protect, just like He said He would, 100% of the time, never letting us down. This is what is available for us all. This is the beauty of The Gospel!
For me, I grew up with a mentality of toughness. I am the youngest of four brothers… Enough said.
Along with divorce in the family I created ways to shut myself off from pain. In the process I became increasingly detached from my heart. It was never ok to show emotion. When I was excited or sad it seemed like there was this regulator inside of me that kept me "balanced." In reality, my heart was in jail, chained to fear. Fear of intimacy, mans opinion, and rejection.
One night, God gave me a life changing dream. It took place in a large city. I found myself running the streets frantically trying to find my dog Koa. I was running up to people asking them if they had seen my dog. Each person gave me direction as to where I could find him. As I turned a corner, I caught a glimpse of him and my heart leapt within me. Hope began to rise in me. As I ran toward him, he ran and jumped across this large gap into a large body of water, like some sort of pool. I knew I was gonna have to go all the way around this building to meet him. But I was determined not to give up. So I ran and ran and as I turned the corner once again, I saw him running toward me. It looked as if he had a huge smile on his face. He came running toward me with so much joy. It was like a movie, he jumped in my arms and started licking my face. It felt like I was finally alive. I felt complete and whole!
As the days went on, He gave me the interpretation. My dog Koa, represented my heart. For so long my heart has ran away from me because I didn't value it. I thought it was all a bunch of sissy stuff. The city represented the journey I was on in terms of reconnecting with my heart. Cities are complicated and confusing to me… Each corner represented another level of breakthrough as I pressed on. The anticipation I felt as I caught a glimpse of what it looked like to be reconnected with my heart (Koa) kept me motivated to endure the discomfort. It was this feeling of wholeness, anticipation, and love that made the decision to keep going easy.
Enjoy The Process
Thank God for process. I have always had a bad taste in my mouth towards this word because in my culture it can be glorified. With an unhealthy bent towards process, people can be so focused on their faults that they lose sight of their identity in Christ, and that is not ok. On the other hand, without process, we feel like we need to have it all together, know all the right answers, and be perfect all the time. Both are extreme cases of error.
These last couple years have been a painful yet glorious journey of process. A process of setting my heart free. Free from the bondage of fear. It has been like open heart surgery without anesthesia at some points, but I have realized that if we are not willing to endure the pain, we will never soar the skies of freedom. We will never be able to enjoy the rivers of living water flowing out of our hearts. We will stay in a shallow, shadowy place of existence.
Simply realizing that there is a journey of discovery, that involves trial and error, will help us navigate this life in a way that causes us to live life to the fullest.
Pain Is Not So Bad
As we begin to change our views and perceptions about pain we can begin to embrace it. We can use it as fuel to affect change in the world. Thats what the King of Kings did. He couldn't bear the pain of losing His creation. He sent His son so we would realize that He never shut His love off towards us. He couldn't bear sin destroying His creation, the pain was to great.
See, pain is a part of love. We don't need to be afraid of pain. We can learn and grow from it.
We need to realize that if The Father makes Himself vulnerable to pain then who are we to think we can escape it?
Yet while God feels this pain, He is still 100% secure in His identity. He doesn't fall off the throne when He feels pain. I always used to think that the gospel made me tough, immune to hurt and offense. I always believed that if I really walked in love and identity I would never get hurt.
I got offense and hurt mixed up. Offense is when we get hurt, harbor it, and want to hurt the other person back. But when we get hurt, we can run straight into The Fathers arms to heal us. When we don't admit we have been hurt it is a manifestation of shame. For we are ashamed and afraid of weakness. And of course, being hurt means we are weak right? Wrong! Think about it, it takes more courage to admit someone hurt your feelings than it does to cover it up with the tough guy act doesn't it?
Let me clarify, I believe that when we catch a true revelation of love, we will be untouchable. We will be so secure in The Fathers love that no matter what comes our way, we will live un-offended. This is the goal and I know many that already walk in it. Yet I know that sometimes I can pretend I'm ok yet really be hurt on the inside. I find it way to easy to hide behind those fig leaves, but I chose not to. No matter the discomfort, I am determined to live a life of intimacy, knowing that on the other side of the pain lies true freedom!
So when we are honest with our feelings, we punch fear in the face and we take a massive step towards love. We slay the giant of fear and shame. How? We realize that it really wasn't anything to be afraid of. We thought it was a monster in our closet but it ended up being a cuddly little stuffed animal. Ok… Maybe not that nice, but you get the point. The fear of intimacy and vulnerability is just one big lie!
I remember one time I was sitting with my Pastor processing some things that happened the previous day. It was an incident with my girlfriend at the time, and I didn't handle it so well. I basically threw a conniption fit, and stormed out of the room not saying goodbye to her. I know… not very nice of me eh?
Well I was telling Bea, my pastor, what happened, and when it came to the part where I stormed out, it was super hard for me to tell her. Thank God she used her super power discernment gift and called me out. She was like, "ok, what do you believe, I believe, about you when you told me that?"
Whoa! I was shocked at that statement. In that moment I realized I was more concerned about my image than my breakthrough. I was afraid that, because I messed up, she was going to love me less. That if she saw me completely, she would reject me. I was living in a house that had no room for mistakes. Doing something wrong equaled shame to me. Thank God for people that call you higher! I now live in a house that has a nice little room for my mistakes. I have such a greater level of peace because I am not worried about saying the right thing at the right time. I'm also no longer controlled by the people pleasing spirit that caused me to hide my true self.
And when I do fall into the lie that it is safer to hide, I just get back up again. I don't freak out as if I never got breakthrough. I just keep running my race!
This is my testimony. As I share, my eyes tear up because I am overwhelmed with Gods goodness. I am so grateful He took me through this process. Yet I am somewhat afraid, for I know the onion has many layers. And at the same time, I am not afraid, because now my heart has tasted freedom. No lie will ever be able to enslave me back to the shallow waters, the old house with no room for mistakes, nor the stupid fig leaves! For the love of God casts out all fear and freedom is my portion!
So this is my encouragement to you today, be courageous. Be radically real and honest. Invite God to know you completely. Be vulnerable with your friends and family. Live "naked" and free, completely unashamed. For this is real courage. Refuse to cover up your doubts, your mistakes, your failures. Bring it all into the light and you will realize there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. As you take these steps of boldness, you will sink into level of identity like never before. You will be a mighty oak tree that provides shade for the masses. You will experience the ecstasy of God in its fullness. Yes, that includes pain, but don't push it away, embrace it, as you do, the fear of it disappears. This is your mission if you so chose to accept. The reward is clear, freedom, confidence, impact, and above all TRUE LOVE!