Obsessed with the Outer Reality

Sometimes, there are people that come across our paths at the oddest times, and they eventually leave as quickly as they came. I met such a person some years ago. For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Alexa. She’s nice enough, pleasant to talk to, and very savvy, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as uncomfortable around anyone as I was her. To say she was always impeccably dressed is truly an understatement. Hair beautifully coifed, makeup tight, with a perfect manicure to boot, I was super impressed and a little intimidated to be honest. Her kids were as immaculately kept as she appeared to be. Everything was designer this or that, and the Italian and French names rolled effortlessly from her lips.

As I got to know Alexa a little better, her obsession with status was hard to miss. The car, the home, private schools for the kids, all of it had to be top notch. Her need to keep up with it all was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. It would be wonderful to say that she was as adamant about her relationship with the Lord and with the condition of her soul as she was about shoes with red bottoms, but I personally saw no evidence of this. What I did see, however, was how a life can be totally devastated when an accountability to spiritual principles is ignored, neglected, or refused.

There is a very base level of consciousness that most human beings never seek to elevate. It may sound like a judgment, but truth is not bound, hindered, or bothered by any individual’s judgment. Truth stands on its own and proves itself. When we’re obsessed with the outer reality to the point that we’re neglecting the inner reality, every aspect of our existences will begin to mirror this neglect.

In 1Thessalonians 5:23(NLT), God commands, Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” We are made in the image of God. The Godhead is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In like manner, He created humans to be triune as well. He is our Father, we are His children, and it is therefore undeniably logical and perfectly intelligent that our makeup should mirror His. He’s a God of order, and everything He does has order and purpose. We are an on-purpose people serving and honoring an on-purpose God.

Three parts make up the sum of our being, and without all three parts, we would not be human beings, we’d be something else. We have a human spirit, a human soul, and a human body. All three parts are to be in harmony, and to be unified to such a degree that all are functioning and operating in the very same way that Christ did. A Christ-level of being is the ultimate and the highest state than any living creature could ever hope to attain. To help us achieve this highest state of living and being, God has given us a part of Himself. He’s given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and sealed our human spirit with His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 The Message(MSG) affirms, “ It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Our human spirit was recreated by Jesus Christ through the born-again experience and is perfect in every way. It is the highest part of us, and the soul and body must obey it in order to be in harmony with the Lord. A base level consciousness refuses to be obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ, and because of this refusal, the souls of many people are not fed the diet of God’s Word they desperately need. Our recreated human spirit contains our new nature, and this new nature wants to do what is right, but the soul is a very different story. The soul has the old nature, one that craves whatever will make the body feel pleasure. It is a flesh driven existence, one that keeps a person craving the very thing that defeats them.

The old nature rebels against the ways of Christ, and it causes the kind of self-sabotage that not only destroys our lives, but it can take others down with it. I saw the beginning of this with Alexa. Her need to control, her temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way, and the nastiness of her arrogance were corrosive. When her life began to crumble, the shame of it was too much. The marriage, the home, the car…all of it gone. As quickly as her life had crossed my path, it faded from my view, as it did for many others.

To give ourselves the greatest chance for fulfillment and peace during our sojourn on earth, we’ve got to disconnect from the old nature and feed our souls the diet it desperately craves, which is life in the Spirit. Everything in our entire being is aching for us to let the Spirit be at work within. Ephesians 3:20(NLT) says, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” God’s power works in us through His Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is His seed, and He has placed His seed within our human spirits to help us lead a successful life as followers of Jesus Christ. Letting the Spirit take the lead over our lives through Christ is the very best decision we can make, and it will benefit the whole of our existence. The question that you and I must ask ourselves is whether we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to be at work. If we aren’t, now is a terrific time to start.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

“Obsessed with the Outer Reality”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Practicing the Peace of God

Not long ago, a friend said to me that she’s rarely had occasions when she didn’t feel the gut-wrenching discomfort of fear churning away inside her. With everything that is going on in our world, she believes her fears are getting worse. She’s often heard folks speak about the peace of God, but she finds it very challenging to accept. My friend is afraid of everything, and much of her time is spent preparing for the worse. Many of us have been there, and some of us are still there. The anxious gnawing away inside us is the response to our fear of eminent danger, and it’s because we feel powerless to do anything about what we perceive to be a threat. Whether or not we can readily identify any immediate danger is irrelevant. Our internal register tells us that we’ve been wounded before, and we are in jeopardy of being wounded again.

Romans 8:37 declares that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us! The “more than” takes it over the moon for me, because it conveys overwhelming victory through Christ. A life filled with fear is operating in a whole other dimension than a life fully operating in Romans 8:37. It’s almost as if the two individuals, one trusting Christ and the other overwhelmed by fear, are on two different planets. Our fears, worries, and doubts do nothing to help any situation that arises, yet most of us gravitate towards these heavies more than we do towards faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The thing that I shared with my friend is that fear has a ravenous appetite. It doesn’t know how to take one bite. It just wants more and more and more. Anxiety and worry feed it and continue doing so until this cycle of feeding and wanting more takes over a person’s life. At some point, we have to get off this rollercoaster and realize that although it’s fast moving, it’s not getting us anywhere.

The peace of God is our destination, and there are certain choices and decisions it requires for the journey forward. The first of which is understanding that we’re not in charge of God’s peace. It isn’t something we calculate, manipulate, or ration. Fear makes us think that by feeding it, we have some degree of control. We don’t, and this mindset will not fly with the things of God. He is sovereign. This means that He’s in total control, and the only way that you and I can experience His blessings is through our humility. We must humble ourselves before all that He is. Fear is from the kingdom of darkness, and fear does not acknowledge that God is in control.

Another important choice we must make is that of no longer practicing fear. This is not to say that we must totally eradicate every drop of fear in our lives. From where we stand today, none of us are even totally conscious of how much fear and doubt is in our hearts. But to the extent that we are aware, we must focus our attention on God through the person of Jesus Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We have to be willing to surrender everything to God in prayer, understanding that our faith in Him through Jesus Christ is what transports us from chaos and confusion into His perfect peace. We cannot steer, and we don’t own the map. All we are required to do is to trust Heavenly Father and train the eyes of our hearts to continually look to the Lord, as we allow our souls to rest in His peace.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Practicing the Peace of God”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Resurrection Power!

When the food in our refrigerators or kitchen cabinets is passed its expiration date, most of us will throw it out. We don’t think twice about it. Nor do we think too much about the expiration date until it dawns on us that maybe we’ve held on to something too long. The expiration date is an indication that holding on to stuff can cause harm. Having this date in small letters stamped on jars and labels is something many folks take for granted, but we should be thankful because these little dates are quite useful. Good health is a very wonderful thing to have, and we need all the help we can get to preserve it. So, those simple but useful expiration dates can be the difference between spending a day enjoying life or spending it doubled over with nausea, stomach cramps, or worse.  Many of us have been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again. It ain’t fun, and if we’re wise, when something is past its expiration date, we’ll throw the old stuff out because we understand that it’s harmful to our health and overall well-being.

It’s no secret that there are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t stamped, but they very definitely have passed their expiration date, and many of us have ignored it. There are relationships for instance, there are also people, attitudes, behaviors, and lots of other situations that we’re allowing to hang around way past their shelf life. We don’t often recognize how harmful they are to us until it’s too late. Why do we do it? Why do we allow things to remain a part of our lives when it’s pretty clear they’re driving us further away from God and the life He wants us to have? One of the reasons might be that we’re not convinced that if we let the wrong things go, the right ones will show up.

Not only does this fear come to the surface when it involves relationships and people, but it pops up in the behaviors and attitudes we hold as well. In fact, fear cleverly hides away in our thoughts and attitudes, and it gets fuel from our behaviors and deeds. God has given us instruction in His Word for handling this. Through the Apostle Paul, He tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT), “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” People these days don’t like hearing about the ‘old sinful nature’. Many preachers don’t talk about it because folks get angry when they’re confronted with their sin. They like the nice flowery stuff, but God’s truth and standard is the greatest treasure of anything in existence, and He wants us to throw out the stuff that is past its expiration date and isn’t good for His plan for our lives.

The stuff that’s past its expiration date is the stuff that Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. The gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, resentment, rage, arrogance, lying, cheating, and all the other heavies that harden our hearts and keep our souls weighted down. Some of the people that have attached themselves to us are feeding off this old nature part of us. They have no interest in spiritually growing in Christ themselves and feel most comfortable when we’re turning our backs on it as well.

2Corinthians 5:17(NLT) tells us “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Our time on earth is the only opportunity that we will have to make an extremely consequential choice. Either we will remain blind and continue to indulge those things that hold us back, or we will embrace the new person we were created to be. It’s up to us to realize that the old life is gone, and to stop reaching back to old dead things that are way past their expiration date.

As the time approaches to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we must remember that he gave his life on the cross so that we could be made whole through his love. He took all our sins upon himself and paid the price we could not pay. 1John 4:10(NLT) says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Our precious Lord and Savior got up from the grave with all power in his hands, and all the suffering and sin was left behind. That’s where we should leave it.

Often the suffering and discomfort that we experience in life is because we haven’t left the old stuff behind. We’re trying to make it come alive again, and that’s not a workable strategy. Our Heavenly Father has told us what works for a life made brand new. It is to throw off the old sinful nature and all its cousins. Then, we are to make our minds new by flooding them with God’s Word. As we celebrate the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s remember that God has given us a fresh start, and we ought to take it.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Resurrection Power!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Motivational Shift

God desires the absolute best for His Children. If you’re a parent, this is very easy to understand, because our children tug at our heartstrings like nothing else. We want them to be happy, and we’ll do just about anything to make this a reality. The love that our Heavenly Father gives us infinitely exceeds that of a biological parent’s love and care. It may be hard for some people to believe this, but it is true. John 3:16(NLT) tells us, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” The amazing reality that God gave his only begotten Son as a sacrifice for our sins is the evidence of His love. There’s no other love that compares to it, and there’s no other sacrifice that will ever compare to what the Father risked in order to save us.

Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message (MSG) tells us, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” God has a plan for our lives, and it is that we learn to love like Him. A lot of us are not aiming this high. We are motivated by many things in life. Some of us are chiefly motivated by our professions and careers, others by artistry and creativity. For many of us family is the central focus of our existences. All of these are wonderful, but nothing can take the place of serving God, and doing it with a heart that pleases Him.

One of the things that we are required to do as Christians is to search our hearts and examine exactly what our motivations are from day to day, because this matters to our Heavenly Father. Through the Apostle Paul, God challenges us in 2Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” The evidence of our faith is reflected in our commitment to Christ, and how we live this out daily through our conversations, attitudes, deeds, confessions, and motivations.

Ephesians 3:17(NLT) tells us that God desires that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, so that we are rooted and grounded in love. Our hearts can carry a rich treasury. We produce good things from it when our roots grow down into the Lord. Only then will we have the spiritual strength and stamina to be a foundation for all those we love and support. When our motivation is to grow in Christ and love like him, we are not swayed by what we receive, or moved by the disappointment of not receiving enough. A shift to go higher in him is where we have to continually aim our sights, because that is the glue that will forever and beautifully hold our lives together.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

“A Motivational Shift” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!