Pray "In the Spirit"

Praying "in the Spirit" is mentioned 3 times in scripture. It's not about the style of our prayers but rather, the means of our prayers. To pray "in the Spirit" is the intention to open the sails of our soul to hear from God and be fully lead by him. 

The Holy Spirit is not as mysterious or spooky as many believe. God's Spirit is an essential person of the Trinity and to neglect is dangerous. But the Spirit's work is both practical and tangible. Helping in "our weakness", "leading us into all truth", and giving us the "power" to live radiantly.

The need we have is simple but the fix is not easy and the war is raging – we must be still and quiet enough to hear the Spirit and not ourselves. As Watchman Nee taught so beautifully, "our outer man must be broken so that the Spirit can be released". Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit so we must invite God to break our outer man (our humanness) so the Spirit can take full control of our lives, direction, decisions, and conversations. Prayers can be prayed and life can be lived "in the Spirit"! In quietness, power is born anew. We surrender control, see our messes and our misses, confess our need, submit our will, and allow him to shape our spirit into a sail for the Holy Spirit – pray "in the Spirit". 

Keep spreading the word about a new church, 180 Chicago, on the near west side. We're already seeing God do some amazing transforming work at a heart level. Join us this weekend. Find all the info you need to know at this link.

Blessings,

Karl

Grace - Safety Net for Sin and a Whole Lot More

When Christians think of grace it's often assumed that Grace is God's favor to us and that this favor is unmerited. But we tend to think of Grace only being leveraged when we're losing not when we're winning – Grace becomes the safety net for sin. There is more, a whole lot more!

God's Grace was so overflowing in Stephen that it gave him an uncommon power to proclaim the gospel. For Stephen, Grace was so powerfully at work in him that it cost him his life – he would say the tradeoff was worth it as many surrendered their life to Christ and the gospel spread like wildfire. 

But the power to share the gospel is just one of the many ways Grace is at work in our life. Justin Holcomb, an Episcopalian professor from Knox Seminary, has assembled a comprehensive list of the ways God's Grace works in our life. Here's a look at the list:

"God’s grace grounds and empowers everything in the Christian life. Grace is the basis for:

  • Our Christian identity: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
  • Our standing before God: “this grace in which we stand.” (Romans 5:2)
  • Our behavior: “We behaved in the world … by the grace of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:12)
  • Our living: those who receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ,”(Romans 5:17) by the “grace of life.” (1 Peter 1:7)
  • Our holiness: God “called us to a holy calling … because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 2:9)
  • Our strength for living: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1) for “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” (Hebrews 13:9)
  • Our way of speaking: “Let your speech always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6)
  • Our serving: “serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” (1 Peter 1:10)
  • Our sufficiency: “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:9) “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 2:8)
  • Our response to difficulty and suffering: We get “grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16) and when “you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace...will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 1:10)
  • Our participation in God’s mission: As recipients of grace we are privileged to serve as agents of grace. Believers receive grace (Acts 11:23), are encouraged to continue in grace (Acts 13:43), and are called to testify to the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you” (John 20:21). God’s mission is to the entire world.
  • Our future: God, and his grace, is everlasting. “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
  • Our hope beyond death: “grace [reigns] through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:3)."

Yes, when we sin, Grace, is there to pick us up. But Grace is whole lot more. Grow in the grace of God today. I've learned that humility is the posture of receiving in the kingdom of God. Humble yourself under his hand and watch you life grow.

Blessings,

Karl

We All Need To Know WHY

One of the things that kills churches is the heavy yoke of duty. When people are asked to do things without the bigger yes, we shackle them to law without shining the light on liberty. We introduce legalism and miss the joy of walking with Jesus into a great adventure.

A great gift we can give our kids, friends, colleagues, and neighbors is a vision of WHY it is we follow Jesus. Why we pray must come before how we pray...or we might miss the motivation to pray. Why we study scripture can motivate us to study scripture as never before. The promise of abundance, success, joy, power, and a whole lot more are God's Why! He never asks us to do something that isn't ultimately linked to the bigger why.

Everyone needs to know WHY before we give them the what and how. The story behind the action is the stuff that matters the very most. Vision answers the "why" question. From capital investors to curious kids...it's the "why" that moves them. 

Enjoy this link and please share it with someone who needs to see God's greater vision for their life. 

Don't Count - Count On God

Why did King David get in hot water with God for doing a head-count of his army? Simply this: Anything good in David’s life came from the hand of God. All the wars were won with God’s strength. Any big decisions that went in the win-column were led by God’s wisdom. And even when David should have been killed in a cave, God kept him safe. God wanted David – and US – to get this: The greatest life to live is all-in with God and trusting God alone – all the time!

God’s power is like a hockey horn for our soul – it should signal a huge spiritual score in at least two ways: It means 1. We are not alone. 2. We are not on our own. God’s grace broke through our spiritual isolation and offered friendship. And God’s power gives us strength to go beyond our personal ability.

So how do we honor God’s friendship and power? Don’t count how many people are on our side – God can win battles when massively outnumbered. Never list the good things we’ve done as a way to give us worth – we needed the righteousness of Christ to save us AND to carry us. Resist measuring our personal abilities when looking at God-given dreams – God gets more joy out of using humble submission, than great skills, to do great exploits. Stop looking at our circumstances when God is simply calling us to walk by faith – the good stuff isn’t from God unless it causes us to swallow hard and step into the unknown. If we’re gonna count anything…count on God!

II Sam. 24

Man To Man (Remix)

Every man needs a shot of courage, pep talk or just someone who believes in him when he doesn’t believe in himself. The biggest threat to chivalry isn’t the culture we live in, it’s the resistance we experience between our ears. Self doubt and timidity can seem to creep in through the slightest cracks. This is why we all need an honest talk from time to time–man to man.

There was a young follower of Jesus who had a mentor named Paul. Paul wrote Timothy a couple letters and every word drips with passion and relevance. One epic verse hits Timothy and all men today, right between the eyes of our soul. "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (II Tim. 1:7). Let’s break it down, there’s some great stuff to digest here.

  • FEAR and cowardice is not something God places within a man. It’s not to be tolerated and fear is never to become a part of our operating system. Simply put, if God has not given us this spirit of fear it can only have evil origins and evil intent.
  • POWER is the deposit of God that enables us to take the spiritual high ground. God’s power makes us king of the mountain with fear only trying to take us down. This power is a “controlling influence” that enables the man of God to stay faithful.
  • LOVE is the pinnacle and essence of God’s power. When a man pushes back fear with God’s power it doesn’t enable him to be reckless or selfish, it empowers him to love–chivalry is the man under the power of God.
  • SELF-CONTROL is more than the ability to not be fearful or cowardly. Self-control here implies the gaining of wisdom and depth. 

Here’s an alternate translation model by Daniel C. Arichea.

For God did not cause us to be cowards. Instead he caused us to have hearts full of strength, to love other people, and to keep control over ourselves.

What an amazing challenge for any man. Paul told Timothy that when you feel kicked down and on the ground, get back on the proverbial horse and ride. Nothing more tests what a man is controlled by than when we are called to be biblically chivalrous. But never surrender to fear. And when you feel like you’ve succumbed to timidity, remember the words of Paul to Timothy. We all need to hear it man to man. 

Soak The World

When we live in the steady stream of God's grace - we can't help but soak the world around us with unmerited favor.

Conditional love is not love, it's an exchange of merited approval. But there's something beautiful about humble constant awareness of our need for God's daily grace. The streams of God's Spirit can turn a soul-desert into an oasis of love. It can cleanse us of grudges, chips on shoulders, prejudice, and selective affection.

Pride dries out the soul, but moment by moment recognition of our need for God can fill us to overflowing with love. And it's bound to splash onto those around us.

Hurdles From God

I didn't get it. Coach Bowie put a hurdle just a few feet from the launching point at our long jump practice. Then he explained a powerful truth about long jumping. "If you wanna go farther, you gotta to go higher!" Coach Bowie was right and it's for the same reason that God will slip a hurdle right in front of us – if we want to go after the greater things God has for us, we have to go higher and rise above the petty stuff of life.

"Maturity", "completeness", and "wholeness", are the result of "facing trials" and overcoming challenges...period. So God, in his wisdom and mercy, will either place challenges in front of us or allow a hurdle to stay. That's exactly what we find in a few verses of James 1:2-4. 

When facing trials (hurdles) we have to remember several things:

  • We won’t always understand why at the front end.
  • Our trajectory has to change or we’re gonna get hurt.
  • If we won’t face the trial we’ll never grow.
  • Sidestepped trials always seem to show up again and again.
  • Every trial can be jumped no matter how huge it seems.
  • Joy comes from knowing what's coming, not what we're experiencing.

One More: Consider yourself loved. God loves you enough to throw down a hurdle and say "let's go a little higher, kid"! Keep jumpin'...

"Do All Things"...Not...Have All Things

We set ourselves up for a crushing fall when we believe God wants us to "have" all things. God loves us too much to provide what we deem best for our lives. We shoot to low when we try to get God aligned with our ways–we can totally miss his will and the greater way.

One of the most twisted verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through him who strengthens me". We can read into this verse our ways and completely miss God's will. Some simple context clarifies everything. Philippians 4:12 gives us the sobering and powerful context, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

What this means is more powerful than any prosperity gospel could possibly deliver. Life has ups, downs, face-plants and souring rewards. Pitfalls are unavoidable. Mountains will certainly come for God's children but by his grace he allows us to swoop into valleys as well. And it's through his grace that we plow through these valleys with class, calm, and a contagious spirit that gives glory to God. The gospel is not that God will give us anything, it's that he'll get us through everything!

Yes, God has all things. So we can "do all things" with an wink and a smile, knowing that we are connected to the God, who with a flick of his will can deliver us, strengthen us, and give us hope in a broken world. That's the good news!

When All Else Fails

Love is not where we begin, but it's where new beginnings start.

Love makes music to the souls of men. Love goes deeper than grand claims of wisdom and insight. Love trusts in God whether mountains move or not. Love reaches for more than a wallet and gives from the heart. 

Love says "I'll wait". Love resolves to be quite. Love listens past the jeers of man to the cheers of God. Love believes that God will work it all out in the end. Love hangs on when the temptation is to bail out and grows more loving through it all. 

Love out-performs our gifting and out-lives our lives.

No person begins with love. But when all else fails, love is the surest sign that Christ has prevailed upon our hearts. 

(Just my thoughts on I Corinthians 13)


Prayer: Essential Conversation With God

God can do in us what we can never do alone! But we can't live another day measuring our lives against sub-standard comparisons. We must stop setting goals that are attainable by human effort because when we hit them they ring hollow. We can no longer undershoot God's promises, undervalue our worth, and underestimated our resources. The only way forward is conversation with God. Prayer is conversation with the one who can take us beyond our whims and our wants.

If you suspect you're leaving too much potential on the table, prayer is for you. If you're tired of rationalizing your mediocrity, prayer is for you. If you're stuck and can't seem to get going, prayer is for you. If you feel like life has passed you by but are willing to give it another shot, prayer is for you. If you know there's more inside you but can't seem to dig it out, prayer is for you. If you've been pounded and left for dead by a barrage of condemnation, prayer is for you. If you've tasted the richer life in Christ but slowly turned away, prayer is for you. If you're ready to chase a dream God gave you, prayer is for you. If you are tired of blaming circumstances and are ready to take personal responsibility, prayer is for you. If you've been trying everything in your power and can't make life work, prayer is for you. If you desire sustained victory, prayer is for you.

The God who holds the universe in his hands is waiting to talk with you...let us pray!

 

Fuel, Power & God's Word

God loves to put his power on display in our lives. Since the beginning of time and right through the ministry of Jesus, there's been a fascination with God's power. With so much modern abuse and profiteering from the gospel we sometimes lean away from the discussion of spiritual power. But lean in we must. God loves to put his power on display. God wants to show up in and through our lives in a big way.

There's only a couple real questions to drill down on: What is the essence of God's power and what is the truest evidence of God's power? We flash to television images of people who see God's power as something to be sold or purchased. But Psalm 19 lays down a picture of God's power that is neither for sale or for show. God's power is for life and relationships. The power of God is the result of truth, God's truth that irrigates our soul. God shows up when his word is poured in. The result is amazing.

People who are soaked in the word of God have a passion for God to be displayed in practical and yes, powerful ways. Here's a few: A revived soul, wisdom, a happy heart, and eyes that see what really matters. It's this power that we must seek because it's better than "fine gold".

The Psalm ends with the payoff - the ultimate test of true power. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." God's word is the fuel for us to have words and thoughts that are holy and acceptable to God. With thoughts that honor God and words that lift those around us, we have now landed on what many seek - true power. Get into the word and watch God do his work.

Psalm 19

Exceed Your Resources

Life with God kicks down walls that have kept us caged in scarcity! If we're not seeing God do things beyond our capacity and exceeding our resources we may not be living WITH God. But I'm not even hinting at getting stuff from God like he's a vending machine. I'm talking about God's work inside us that can break the limits of humanness that shape us and define us. Even people who love God can surprisingly shut Him out. But if we have a pulse it's never too late. We can let God cover our shame, increase our value and expand our vision, all we have to do is "open the door".

Living with God is all about us surrendering control TO God. Our life has more capacity than we can muster. It's a bigger conduit than we can fill. And God's plans for us can only be known as we walk in them–WITH Him. Here's the reality: Life under our control is like trying to take a shower with a squirt gun, while life with God is like a fire hose. Here is a commonly repeated truth... "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". But the bigger picture is what makes it so powerful and relevant. Here's the words leading up: "I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger...abundance and need...I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Bank on this: God is in the business of blowing away our perception of limited capacity and He can exceed our measly earthly resources. All we need to do is live it with Him!

Our greatest enemy might not be an evil spirit but rather an independent spirit. We must drive that spirit out. An independent spirit can live in anyone. You can serve independently, be married independently, counsel independently, preach independently, parent independently, almost anything can be done independent of God. But only WITH God, can we outlive our independence. With God the firehose is cranked wide open. But life with God begins or restarts rather simply. That gentle knocking may be God at your heart's door. What's on the other side is always a little scary but it's a risk you can't afford not to take. Open the door, live life with God today!

Rev. 3, Jer. 29:11, Is. 40:29-31, Phil. 4, Gal. 5:1

Man To Man

Every man needs a shot of courage, pep talk or just someone who believes in him when he doesn’t believe in himself. The biggest threat to chivalry isn’t the culture we live in, it’s the resistance we experience between our ears. Self doubt and timidity can seem to creep in through the slightest cracks. This is why we all need an honest talk from time to time–man to man.

There was a young follower of Jesus who had a mentor named Paul. Paul wrote Timothy a couple letters and every word drips with passion and relevance. One epic verse hits Timothy and all men today, right between the eyes of our soul. "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (II Tim. 1:7). Let’s break it down, there’s some great stuff to digest here. 

  • FEAR and cowardice is not something God places within a man. It’s not to be tolerated and fear is never to become a part of our operating system. Simply put, if God has not given us this spirit of fear it can only have evil origins and evil intent.
  • POWER is the deposit of God that enables us to take the spiritual high ground. God’s power makes us king of the mountain with fear only trying to take us down. This power is a “controlling influence” that enables the man of God to stay faithful.
  • LOVE is the pinnacle and essence of God’s power. When a man pushes back fear with God’s power it doesn’t enable him to be reckless or selfish, it empowers him to love–chivalry is the man under the power of God.
  • SELF-CONTROL is more than the ability to not be fearful or cowardly. Self-control here implies the gaining of wisdom and depth. 

Here’s an alternate translation model by Daniel C. Arichea.

For God did not cause us to be cowards. Instead he caused us to have hearts full of strength, to love other people, and to keep control over ourselves.

What an amazing challenge for any man. Paul told Timothy that when you feel kicked down and on the ground, get back on the proverbial horse and ride. Nothing more tests what a man is controlled by than when we are called to be biblically chivalrous. But never surrender to fear. And when you feel like you’ve succumbed to timidity, remember the words of Paul to Timothy. We all need to hear it, man to man.

Chivalry: Part 11 - First Down

“…he humbled himself"

Humility isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a posture of strength. Real men need to retool what we believed to be true about women. God’s economy is so up-side-down from what we learned in the locker room. And the way a woman is truly loved is so radically counter to the pick-up/hook-up strategies on the streets today. The most powerful posture we can take in our marriage is to initiate in humility. Be the first one down with a humble heart and your marriage will thrive–it’s the way of a leading-loving servant…it’s the way Jesus loved us.

A humble husband is a turn-on to any godly woman. And humility isn’t a spiritual gift, it’s a spiritual choice. When the husband is first down and willing to take a knee of humility before God and his woman, it’s a stroke of leadership genius and the truly humble man never intended for it to be that way. When we humble ourselves like Christ, we are aimed at a huge marital win. When we’re willing to be the "first down” in a posture of true humility  we send a signal that tenderness of heart is to be cherish and valued. And when two people go to their knees together, it’s our power. Here’s the only real kicker, men, we need to be the "first down".

But what does humility look like? It’s more than words. Humility has actions, that when in motion, proves to your wife, “he’s the real deal”! Here’s a few big ones:

Teachable - The first test for true humility is teachability. If a man claims to love God and his bride but has nothing to learn, he’s a fraud. I know that sounds tough but it’s true. But we can change and become genuinely humble. It involves coming to grips with the fact that we don’t have all the answers and that we need help from others. Teachability is the greatest evidence of true humility.

Vulnerable - Jesus did it and great husbands follow in his foot steps. Jesus was honest enough with someone that his battles with temptation came into the light and his struggle with going to the cross became known. Vulnerability is the mark of a man who admits his humanity and knows the power of being honest with his struggles. 

Help-able - Yep, I made a word. But God gave us our wives to encourage us, see around corners, and basically "assist someone who is otherwise incapable”. That’s the rough definition of Helpmate. Our wife has qualities and attributes that we desperately need. Be help-able and it’s a true sign that you’re humble.

Chivalry looks best when we’re on our knees, not cowering like wimps but being fueled by God in a posture of need. Be the first down and soon your wife will join you. It’s a powerful place to be.

Chivalry: Part 10 - First Class

“…and he praises her."

The power of words is without limits. A heart can be crushed or a heart can be healed, and it all turns on a few simple words. The easiest thing to see in another person is their faults, even though faults are the toughest thing to find in ourselves. So the work of a man is to dig below the surface, to find in his wife her greatest attributes–every woman has them. Chivalry is the result of a man who looks below surface irritants, who navigates around the many obvious faults and mines out those qualities about our wife that are truly worthy of praise. And when a man has these choice qualities in hand, he holds them up in front of her and says “you are first class, babe. Let me show you and tell you why”. 

This is a tough discipline for any man. It’s most easy to focus on failings–that comes naturally. To have thoughts of your wife that are full of affection can warm your heart but, if it’s never spoken, can leave her heart cold. And broad, general statements of praise can feel like a generic greeting card–cheap and unmoving. So real men take the initiative. We don’t wait for a mutual praise session, we start a praise session, because “he praises her.” Wise and chivalrous men do this work because the payoff is amazing. What we say about our wife will directly impact the trajectory of her life. A genuinely spoken word of praise can give birth to several more attributes that are primed and ready to grow if watered with encouragement. When a woman feels like she’s first class, things we’ve never seen begin to blossom.

But there are three concentric circles of praise for our bride. Praise must begin from the inside and work it’s way out.

Private Praise - Tell her when you’re all alone how much she means to you. A godly woman doesn't need to be praised in front of people. She needs most to be praised in front of you. One word of praise spoken alone but straight to her heart, holds more power than pages of praise spoken before men. 

Family Praise - Nothing can honor our wife or help our kids more than a man who praises his wife in front of his children. With each word of praise, it’s like branding a legacy of life and love into the doorposts of our home. When our kids see dad giving mom praise, it’s only natural that they’ll learn to do the same.

Public Praise - There comes a time when we can go public with praise. It’s powerful when praise is the overflow of what she already knows we believe. Public praise is not for mending what is broken in private or for making up for what we’ve not said when we’re alone. Real men let praise flow in public as a final relational topping on a praise party that began in private.

A woman measures our class when we treat her like she’s first class. Chivalry lives beyond what the average guy can deliver. It’s work, but praise is worth all the investment.

Chivalry: Part 2 - Secret Strength

The strength of a man has been marked, measured and sculpted since the beginning of time. Men can't resist flexing, comparing, bragging and the more slender will resort to self-deprecating. It’s all about power and a man wants to feel like he wields some power. But rather than God telling men to relax and settle for being girly men, he casts a vision for a new kind of power and strength. This power requires no supplements or protein powder, no crazy low-rep/high-weight lifting regime, and shooting-up HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is out of the equation - even God will fine you for that. This secret strength is tough to appropriate in our lives because men tend to default to what’s visible. We're hard-wired to not do it unless it can produce results and I mean quickly. It’s the toughest discipline to learn, but the results are undeniable.

Okay, it’s time to reveal the secret. Here it is: God makes men into irresistible hunks of burning love by building us into strong servants - servants who lead and love with valor. That’s it, the secret is servanthood. A woman who feels loved and led by a humble man who’s aim is to serve his wife - is a truly turned-on woman. Men who exercise all the muscles of servanthood are well proportioned towers of manhood. Some have focused getting strong in a specific area but would benefit big-time by allowing God to work us out in those areas that are naturally weaker and need more attention. The balance of these blogs will show us all the ways God intended for us to exercise this secret strength. The bulk of our content will be casting a vision for what would happen if you dared to let God work-over every part of you. The path isn’t easy, but the results will be amazing. 

Turn to the Lord...before the world turns on us.

Sometimes we can only discuss things as theory, because few can testify as to the reality of the experience. In America we have a vacuum of understanding when it comes to persecution. It's fairly easy to find those times when we've been teased for our faith in Christ. Maybe we were kicked out of a group of friends or mocked by a professor. All these things can be very difficult but they don't meet the threshold of persecution. Now I don't say this to diminish pain but rather to set the deck for what may come and how we can be ready.

Jesus presented a wonderful message of what brings joy to the life found in him. He begins with  "poor in spirit". This sets the deck for a rather unusual look at what it means to be happy. The essence of joy is framed by Jesus. He proposes that joy is found by those who live "other worldly". Nothing captures "other worldly" living like his final statement. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." This is serious spiritual attack. Being treated like this is very rare in America, but it could be on the way.

The secret for forging through events like this will only be possible as we draw life in the Spirit and settle into a peace with delayed gratification. When Jesus said "for your reward is great in heaven", he was preparing us for the reality that some of our greatest gratification will be delayed. This is where we need a power outside of us. The power of God's Spirit overflowing in our lives is the best preparation for persecution. God may grace us to miss out on what many of our brothers and sisters currently experience, or he may grace us with the power to make it through persecution. Either way, we can be joy-filled through it all. Let's do a "180 Now" and turn to the Lord before the world turns on us.

Matthew 5:11

Sick and tired...but loved and cared for by God!

God loves to make people whole, but it may require a certain level of sickness. You can hear it everywhere, "God wants you to be free of sickness", "Illness is not of God". Now while sickness is one of the ugliest elements of a fallen world, God is famous for leveraging sickness for his glory and our good. There's a whole other topic about not putting junk into our bodies, but for now let's just look at the role of sickness in making us into the people God longs for us to be. 

An early Jesus follower, named Paul, had authentic faith, and rock solid commitment to Jesus. Yet in his spiritual journey he found himself to be afflicted with, what most theologians believe to be, a persistent illness or sickness of some kind. Three times Paul asked God to give him relief and take it away. Paul wrote that God responded in the following way, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." The sickness would persist in Paul and we find no evidence that it ever lifted while he was on this earth.

The reasons God allowed Paul to sit in affliction are simple but powerful. 1. The favor of God goes far beyond physical health. To measure God's favor by our comfort is settling for far too little. 2. God's power can only be fully unleashed in the hotbed of weakness. This is so crazily different than what we assume that it seems impossible. But our weakness is the means God uses to drive us to a point of utter dependency. 

So let's look at sickness differently. Yes, ask God for relief and even release but don't measure his love and grace by whether you receive either. God has a bigger vision for our lives and a much broader view of what it will take to get us there. Do a "180 Now", ask God to use today's sickness or the one that will inevitably come our way, to be a moment in time when you trust God as never before and go his way, even if his way makes no sense in the moment. You can do this, God will help!

II Corinthians 12:9

Addiction...Go straight at it!

iStock_000004755970Small.jpg

The best way to tackle addiction is to run straight at it. Circling around addiction and attempting to sneak up on it, is fruitless and futile. Trying to learn a new angle or trick to deal with those things that enslave, has a big let-down in store. But the "straight at it" approach is spiritual gold. Addiction is like a bad friend, we get some shallow benefit but we know that they hate us, and we can't muster the courage to cut em' off. Well, it's a new day. It's time to sever yourself from addiction. Let's go straight at it.

The letter of Romans is dealing with the reality of the new birth miracle. Paul lays out stark contrast between slavery (addiction) to sin and freedom in Christ. The following verse put feet to the new birth miracle of salvation. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." This is Paul's straight at it approach for dealing with addictions that have become like an evil spirit-leach - sucking the life from our soul.

First and forever we must get in with Jesus. "Put on Christ" is inspired, purposeful, and practical. It's an act of the heart and will. Putting on Christ is a symbol of standing cloaked in Christ's mercy, grace, and power. God always calls us to trust him before we wade into a war with our addiction. Too many times we have tried to tackle addiction in our own strength and we find ourselves more discouraged than ever before. This bold approach requires a level of surrender that is unusual. But when the pain of addiction is met with equal surrender to Jesus, freedom is in the works.

Second, cut off ALL the supply lines to your addiction. Starve it, dehydrate it, asphyxiate it, or drown it, but do whatever it takes to kill it. "Make no provision" means give it nothing to live. Nothing! This requires some strategy and honesty. With have to be true to the addiction. Answer the question, "what keeps this alive"? Be honest and exhaustive. Then go about cutting that addiction off until it dies.

You can do this. Do a "180 Now". Face your addiction head on and go straight at it. "Put on Jesus" and "make no provision". Soon you'll be looking back and seeing your own personal miracle from God.

Romans 13:14