You Are Not Your Own Worst Enemy

     One of the most annoying things I hear on a regular basis is the idea that “you are your own worst enemy.” For the sons and daughters of God, this is simply not true. In fact, you are not your own enemy at all.

     Christians tend to articulate this idea by saying that you are still “in the flesh,” bound with some carnal, sinful nature. You need to repetitively “die to self.” Humanists say they same thing essentially when they always talk about how our “ego” controls us. Both seem to think this problem is inescapable and always in need of our attention.

     Whether in religious or secular terminology, the idea is that we all are inherently selfish and proud creatures, and that to do something selfless for the good of others is contrary to our most basic nature. This is ludicrous.

     The truth is, we are all made in the image of our Heavenly Father. His nature is selfless, self-sacrificing, and other-centered. He is Love and His Love is genuinely caring. For those of us who have put our trust in Jesus, the image of our Father is redeemed in us. As His children, filled with His Spirit — His very heart — we overflow with the same love (John 7:38). It is our JOY to serve others, not our task.

It is our JOY to serve others, not our task.

     Yes, there is effort expended in putting the needs of others before our own. Nevertheless it is energizing when we esteem the well-being of others above our own comforts. We are fueled by the passion we experience along the way. As Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work,” (John 4:34).

     This joy is ours is precisely because we were designed and reborn in such a way that service to a higher calling would bring us a sense of reward and fulfillment in life. It is not contrary to our deepest desires or truest nature when we care for others and make sacrifices to serve them. It is an EXPRESSION of our truest nature. 

 It is not contrary to our deepest desires or truest nature when we care for others and make sacrifices to serve them. It is an EXPRESSION of our truest nature. 

     As John Crowder says, “you look just like your Daddy.” Your first and primary nature is as eternally cruciform and kenotic as His. “We have the mind [the way of thinking] of Christ,” 1st Corinthians 2:16.

     Loving others is only insincere when we are doing it because we think some external voice is telling us we have to do it. When we know how unconditionally loved we are by the One who knows us best, service to the world around us becomes a privilege, a delight, and an adventure. It is not a burden or a requirement that we need to challenge ourselves to try to reach for. We do not have to be talked into it through pressure.

To Be Humane is To Be Godly

     Further, we should know that our humanity is not our problem. Our ability to appreciate our own humanity (as it has been sanctified through the Cross) is actually what makes us humane. It connects us to others and helps us to esteem them as the beloved children of God that they are as well.

     Ephesians 6:12 says, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is a real enemy to resist, but that enemy is not within. Within us is the living Christ — the hope of Glory. Within us is the compassion and humility needed to see the value of others and fight for them to experience the same goodness and kindness that we have been given.

     So yes, do hard things for the glory of God. Live on mission, go low in humility and service, expend yourself fully on the fulfilling the vision. Do it BECAUSE it’s what you want though, not in spite of what you want. 

     You and God are on the same page in your desire to do good to others. He is with you and for you in this endeavor — and you should be for yourself in it too.

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The Best of Both Worlds

Within some Christian circles there is often talk about sacrificing the “good” in order to have the “best.” Some would say we give up “legitimate, natural pleasures” in order to enjoy deeper, spiritual joys. 

I wonder if we can actually have both.

What if it’s not God’s will for us to downplay the significance of good, permissible ways to have fun in order to focus more explicitly on honored, spiritual experiences? And what if He actually wants to blur the lines between what is a “natural” pleasure and what is a “spiritual” pleasure?

There are so many types of pleasure we are blessed with in life. There is certain euphoria we get only in corporate worship settings, and a certain peace that tends to be found more in solitude. There is an adrenaline rush we get while playing sports, and a release of endorphins when we work out. There a taste we get from delicious food, and a joy we get when our friends tells us jokes that make us laugh from the belly. There’s an appreciation for beauty that can fill our souls when we are scrolling through Instagram, and a satisfaction that comes from a good day’s hard work. And there always so many rewards that come from relational investments — when we are overcome with gratitude for the friendships that we are developing.

There are countless ways to experience heavenly bliss. Some of these might be easier to categorize as “spiritual” opportunities, while others are easy to view as “unnecessary.” But what if life is meant to be interlaced with both, continually? What if we aren’t meant to devalue or rate such experiences, but to savor them all? Maybe they are all a part of God’s benevolent plans for our lives.

I understand that there are times for prioritizing the kind of activities we will give our time to, and that sometimes we have to say “no” to good options in order to say “yes” to things the Lord has invited us to focus on. That said, we need to be careful not to create too much of a dichotomy between the material, temporal realm and the spiritual, eternal one. God is highly invested in both realms, and the two are highly intertwined with one another. I believe our lives are more fully lived when we are growing to explore and delight in the whole of the opportunities provided for us to experience joy in its manifold forms.

If we neglect any means through which God is working to lift our spirits in the name of “holiness,” we just might be getting stuck in an unnecessary rut. The Lord is highly creative, and He can make our hearts rejoice in so many ways…

That is, if we are willing to receive and celebrate all He is offering.

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Repost: A Prophecy

The following is a repost from a previous blog I published online at a different address:

Do you ever feel an unhealthy lack of fulfillment in your relationship with God, like you need more of His Spirit but sense a great distance between your heart and His? Like you know He loves you in your head, but part of you still feels unconvinced?

While in a time of contemplation back when I worked at a house of prayer in my city, I felt led to prophesy against that sense of spiritual dryness. God gave me a word to share with brothers in the Faith who are in such a discouraged state. It is a word all about His Son(s). This is how that message came to my heart as I began writing it:

“Sons, sons, sons. You are all in Christ My beloved Son, so you are all My sons. You are mighty ones, all of you children of the Most High (Psalm 82:6). You are seated with Christ in heavenly places, for you have died and your life is hidden with Him in Me (Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:3). You have received of His fullness as My Word says, ‘grace upon grace’ (John 1:16). Here at My right hand you have been made to sit – in the epicenter of joy where there are pleasures evermore (Ephesians 2:6, Psalm 16:11). You couldn’t attain to any better position. You can’t get any more favor than this (Psalm 5:12). So I say to each of you, ‘Son, you have always been with Me, and all that is Mine is yours.’ (Luke 15:31)

“I ask you, have you ever seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread? (Psalm 37:25) Even the Syrophoenician woman looking for crumbs to fall from the table was fed (Matthew 15:21-28) – and she was not consciously walking in divine sonship like you are. I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst (John 6:35). I have not left you as starving and neglected orphans, but I have prepared a table before you in the presence of your enemies (John 14:18, Psalm 23:5). Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good. Delight yourselves in abundance (Isaiah 55:2). I have provided for you every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Take and eat My flesh (Matthew 26:26). Drink of My cup that overflows (Psalm 23:5). Find your contentment in My presence, as you have been given access by faith (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18). Taste and see that I am good! (Psalm 34:8)

“I tell you, out of your belly will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38)! You’re not just looking for rain from above, for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (Luke 17:21). I live within you. Your hope does not disappoint, because My love has been poured out within your hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to you (Romans 5:5). My divine power has granted to you everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Draw from those deep inner wells and rejoice in the intimacy you have with Me (Isaiah 12:3). You are one with Me forever (1 Corinthians 6:17). Do not let the joy of knowing that be taken from you. And don’t be misled into thinking I am reserving some of My goodness from you. I withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

“Did I not say, ‘Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied?’ (Matthew 5:6) You have hungered, and I answered by not just giving you My righteousness. You became the very righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). So receive your sense of satisfaction! Enter into a greater appreciation of your own transformation that took place by My offering. Jesus became poor that you might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). He sacrificed His own sense of connection with Me so that you could experience the wealth of that love. He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) so that you could host the Spirit of adoption by which you cry out “Daddy, Father!” (Romans 8:15) You are not in lack! The whole earth groans for you to realize that and to live out of the relationship that you have with Me (Romans 8:19).

“My sons, jump into the river of my delights (Psalm 36:8)! I am with you and I will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6). My nearness is Your refuge. It is a strong tower (Psalm 144:2). Nothing can separate you from My love (Romans 8:38-39). Rest your hearts there and receive your peace. Just look at Jesus and experience Me. For in Him, I already pursued you. And I won! Now you are sealed with My Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) – even unto the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

“Be thankful therefore in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and be continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is your inheritance. This is your life. You are going from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) and you have nothing less to look forward to. You worship Immanuel – the ever present God. And I will never change…”

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