Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving from Revelation to Experience

I was recently reading a book by Pastor Bill Johnson called "The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind". It put into words something I've been feeling, and trying to express for years now.

I've actually had moments where I said "I don't want any more sermons or teaching without an opportunity to serve or my head is going to explode". I've also confessed that I feel as if there is a huge gap between what I know & believe theologically, and what I actually walk out in my Christian life. This has been a very frustrating realization, but I've not known what to do about it.

Then, I found this book...let me share some excerpts from this eye opening Chapter entitled "Understanding Is An Experience":
We must require an experience from what we believe. Renewing the mind is not merely reading words on a page and having a moment of revelation about a particular verse...renewal comes as revelation leads you into a new experience with God...You may have a moment of inspiration while reading the Bible or listening to someone preach from the Scriptures, but without taking the next step into experience, the process stalls and there is no renewal. If revelation doesn't bring us into an encounter with God, it only makes us religious. Revelation is never given to increase head knowledge, that's a by-product, at best.

When God reveals things to us, we must put those things to work. If we don't, we lose the power & opportunity that revelation offers us (Matthew 13:19)

Example: Let's say I (Pastor Bill Johnson) speak to my church about caring for the poor, something we love to do. People all across the room may be moved in their emotions. But if they don't do something practical within the next two or three weeks - perhaps finding a poor family to help out, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, then that word is open to be taken from the heart, where it has the place to transform their lives. Revelation takes us only half way there; experience leads us all the way.

The great tragedy is that if you don't move into experience, that revelation remains locked in your mind so you think it's active in your life. the next time you hear a message about helping the poor you might say "Amen. The other people in this room need to hear that," even though you have done nothing to help the poor. Hearing without doing has locked you into a form without power.

There are great audiences, great crowds of people, great denominations and movements that would fight to the death to defend divine healing, or prophecy, or many other practices, but they never see those things happen. They think, "I understand the concept. I agree that it happens. If it's God's will, He knows my address and He can give me that grace." They have the revelation but can't point to any proof of its validity in their personal experience. They can't show anyone how to do it. They are robbed of experience and can only recite back principles. It is pure religion, form without power.

I totally recommend this book - it's good stuff. Such a timely message, as just the other day I cried out to God saying "Lord, please make me a doer of the word, and not just a hearer!"

Read James 1:21-27 where it talks about faith without deeds is not really faith. In vs. 22 it says if we are hearers only, we are deceiving ourselves! In comparison, in vs. 25 it says if we'll be doers & not just hearers, we'll be blessed in whatever we do!

In Hebrews 5:14 says "But solid food belongs to those who are mature, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good & evil." The phrase "by reason of use" is better translated, "by practicing" - meaning that people who are mature in Christ are those who have experienced & practice the things they believe.

After having read all of the above, the Scriptures & Bill Johnson's book, and after having felt frustrated by my own powerless walk with God - feeling like I'm all talk and no walk, even though my heart is in the right place...I've come to this conclusion...

I am going to put myself out there and take own "walk on water" experience like Peter. It's time to get out of the boat. Whatever I believe theologically, I won't stop until I know it experientially.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Fun

I must be last post dealt with the prize that my youngest son received after completing some of his summer reading project. It was pointed out to me that I MUST give equal time to my oldest son's prize for finishing his chapter book.

Thank goodness for Target & their summer clearance shelf! Still, it's a small price to pay for getting my kids to read. Really, it is a small price to pay...this was on sale at Target for $12.98, woo hoo!!! AND, unlike my other son's toy, it's the gift that keeps on giving. As long as my boys don't bust it (which is very possible), we will have this for the rest of this summer, and then pull it out again next summer too.

Look how skinny he is...he really needs to eat!

Hope everyone is having a great Summer!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wrestling Against Flesh & Blood

I've been trying to get my kids to read all summer so they won't forget everything they learned in school. I took the boys to the library & checked out several chapter books. I did what any desperate, well meaning parent would do, I bribed them. I promised to buy a prize (not expensive) if they finished the chapter books. I thought it would take them a long time, but sure enough, the prize motivated my youngest one to read several chapters a day, and he completed the book.

He knew immediately what he wanted, so it was off to my 2nd home (Wal-Mart), haha. Of all things, he had his eye on a "UFC Championship belt" ???

I believe many things led to this particular selection:
1) He went to wrestling camp a few weeks ago at the High School (a fund raiser for the Wrestling team)

2) He watched the new Karate Kid movie

3) His Dad sometimes watches the UFC fights (mixed martial arts) at night and then shows the boys some of the moves.

He couldn't wait until his Dad got home from work that night so they could "fight". He had sleeping bags laid out in the family room, with pillows around the edge to make a boxing ring.

My last comment before the big event was "go easy on your Dad, you know he's getting old", LOL. I was upstairs reading a book and didn't watch the fight, but since I didn't hear crying or screaming, I figured all was well.

At bedtime, the boys came up to brush their teeth. In walks my hubby and I see him holding some ice to his lip. I asked what happened? His answer: "Our son delivered an "upper cut" punch and nailed me right in the mouth." His lip was getting bigger by the minute!

The next day, he went off to work, embarrassed, and sporting a swollen, purple lip. Of course his co-workers gave him a little bit of a hard time teasing him.

I too, had to exploit the situation on Facebook and to my friend Beth at I'm Heading Toward My Destiny. She was the one who suggested I blog about it, saying "the Bible says we don't wrestle against flesh & blood, but I guess no one told that to my husband & son". Too funny!

I wish I had taken a picture to show you, but at the time, I didn't think my hubby would see the humor in it. I decided to take the picture when he got home from work, but by that time, the swelling had gone down, and all that was left was a blister.

For those of you who think I'm being mean...I should let you know about the time that I was leaving for work one morning (before the kids were born). My dear, sweet hubby followed me to the door and was saying goodbye. I had a cup of Dr. Pepper in my hand, and as I started down the steps toward my car, my foot slipped on some ice and I started falling backwards. I was able to catch myself, but my drink shot up in the air and came back down, landing directly on my head! My hubby started laughing hysterically - I had to take another shower, while he called work and told them I'd be late. When I arrived at the office, the receptionist took one look at me and starting giggling. She said my hubby finally told her what happened, once he gained control of his laughter.

I wish I could say that embarrassing moments were few & far between in my house, but that would be a lie. On the bright side, I will always have lots of material to blog about.

Have a great Day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just Like the Eagle

Have you ever noticed that the Bible has several Scriptures that talk about Eagles? I'm sure we're all familiar with these well recited verses. but this got me thinking..."maybe I should learn more about Eagles."
Deut. 32:11-12 "As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over it's young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him."

Isaiah 40:31 "but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint".

Psalm 103:1-5 "bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Exodus 19:4-5 "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings, brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine."

For example:

Did you know that during the incubation stage, both the male and female eagle take turns sitting on the egg while the other goes to hunt food. This ensures that one of the eagles is sitting on the egg at all times, both keeping it warm as well as protecting it from prey.
Psalm 121:3-4 "He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Eagles go through a process called "Fledging" which is when their feathers are mature enough to learn to fly. Up until this time, the parents have been hunting and feeding the eaglets. The eaglets are not in a hurry to get out of the nest & learn to fly. The parent eagle will begin to bring the food close to the nest with the prey hanging from their beak so the eaglet can see it. The eaglets will open their mouth thinking they are going to be fed, when at the last minute, the Eagle will pull up, teasing the eaglet. This is done to create in the eaglet a desire to fly after the food. Sometimes the eaglet will go hungry several days before attempting to get out of the nest & go after the food. Eventually the eaglet will begin trying it's wings and the parent eagle will assist in feeding the eaglet as it's learning to fly.
When we're babies in Christ, it's okay to be fed milk.
1 Peter 2:2 - "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation."

After walking with the Lord awhile, we should be growing up & maturing. Sometimes we won't get out of the nest (our comfort zone) unless God gives us a push.
Eph. 4:13-15 - "till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ".

As the Eagle matures, and after weathering the elements, over time the Eagles feathers can have a build up of protein called "keratin" which makes the feathers hard. When this occurs, the Eagle must go through another process called Molting where the hardened feather falls out and a new feather is grown in its place. Molts produce feathers that match the age, sex, and sometimes season of the Eagle. Interestingly, the eagle does not molt all it's feathers at once, because that would mean it could no longer fly. Instead, it molts a little at a time, beginning with the head & working it's way down. It also molts symmetrically, meaning if it sheds a feather on a left wing, it will shed the same feather on the right wing, always keeping the Eagle in balance.

When the Bible talks about our youth being renewed like an Eagle, surely it's talking about this molting process.

- We need to be renewed when life's build-up attempts to make us hard.
- We can't go through the renewing process all at once either, or it would kill us.
- God gently deals with us a little at a time, usually starting with the head, which is the renewing of the mind, and works His way downward.
- We must be renewed symmetrically so we stay balanced. Balance is so important so we don't get off on a tangent in one direction or the other, but always keeping the simplicity of the Gospel as our foundation.

And lastly, eagles have eyelids that close during sleep. For blinking, they also have an inner eyelid called a nictitating membrane. Every three or four seconds, the nictitating membrane slides across the eye from front to back, wiping dirt and dust from the cornea. Because the membrane is translucent, the eagle can see even while it is over the eye. I was told, but I'm not sure if it's true, that because of this special eyelid, an eagle can fly straight up toward the sun, where other birds can't.
As Christians, wouldn't it be nice to constantly be renewing our eyesight and freeing our vision from the dirt in this world. Also, keeping our eyes on the "Son" is what sets us apart as God's children.

So as you can see, we have a lot to learn from eagles and how God views His people.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spiritual Freedom

On this, the Eve of July 4th, when we as a Nation will celebrate our independence, I want to focus on another kind of freedom.

It's the freedom that the Bible talks about:

John 8:32 - "you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"

John 8:36 - "if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed"

Jesus came to set the captives free. He doesn't want us to be in bondage to sin, or oppressed in any way.

I've come to realize that many born again believers, still walk around bound by footholds, even strongholds where we've allowed a place for the enemy. When you're oppressed by demonic forces speaking lies, and you enter into agreement with those demons by believing those lies, you give them legal access to come and torment you. This then creates the very lie that the enemy spoke to you about, making it a reality. It's a vicious cycle!

For this reason, the Bible has a lot to say about spiritual warfare.

2 Cor. 10:4 - "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

2 Cor. 10:5 - "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Eph. 6:11 - "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."

Eph. 6:12 - "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

As we think about freedom this weekend, let's not forget the MOST important type of freedom a person can experience...freedom from spiritual, emotional, and mental bondage from the enemy.

We must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us & set us free from anything hindering our walk with God, and from becoming the person He's created us to be.

Happy 4th of July Eve!