It Matters.

Breonna Taylor’s life matters.

Black lives matter.

Muslim lives matter.

Trans lives matter.

Immigrant lives matter.

The victims of sex trafficking and

forced labor matter.

If you’re reading this, YOUR life matters.

However you might feel maligned, marginalized or lacking, I pray that — no matter what contradictory messages our culture gives you right now — you would be deeply convinced that you have endless worth. This was true of you before you even left your mother’s womb, long before you lived a life that the dominant society around you might recognize as making a valuable contribution to its agendas.

Your life matters, not because of what you are able to make of it through your own success or good, moral performance. Not even because you respected the value of others around you properly. It is simply because of WHO you are. Or maybe better said, because of WHOSE you are.

You matter to the gracious Source of all life from whom we each originated. You matter to the one who dreamed you up, who came to redeem you, who constantly reaches out and speaks to your heart to remind you of how incredibly cherished you are…

“He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of the poets have said, ‘For we are all His offspring.’”

Child of the Divine, trust that your very being in this world is significant and ought to be dignified. Your Maker deems it to be utterly precious.

 

The Deficient Theology of the Hungry

     If there’s anywhere I think we Charismatics have consistently gone wrong in our theology it is in the area of “hunger preaching.” People are constantly talking about “being hungry for more of God” as if that is a requirement for healthy spirituality. We must always be desperate, always be thirsting, always be “pressing in deeper.” Why? Because supposedly what we already have is just a teaser of God’s Presence in our lives.

     The Bible verse referenced most often for this kind of teaching is Matthew 5:6, which reads, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The way this verse is interpreted, it is assumed that none of us are sufficiently righteous already. We are still lacking in fullness, lacking in sanctification, lacking in union with God. We need more of the fire to cleanse us, more of the anointing to make us feel connected to God, more of the glory to at last fill us up with what we’ve been missing out on. This is supposedly evident by the fact that we don’t see all the hospitals around us getting cleared out by healing evangelists, all the stadiums being filled with spontaneous revival meetings, and all the riverbanks and shorelines filled with new converts constantly being baptized. If we really had it together with God, He would open the heavens for us and we’d actually start to walk in His power (finally).

     The problem with this line of thought is it starts from a place of lack rather than a place of fullness. It tells us we are super deficient, rather than complete in Christ like the apostle Paul taught us. It sets us up to live a very driven, need-focused lifestyle — often overextending ourselves in fasting, prayer, and event-attending-hype in order to pursue the next level of impartation and breakthrough. It undermines any sound teaching on the virtues of contentment, restfulness, or self-care. Meanwhile it underscores the lie of the enemy that says “you will never have enough and never be enough.”

     I am someone who is legitimately all for the wildness of the Holy Spirit. I love the crazy, intense manifestations. I love to challenge people to receive good gifts more freely from God, to expose themselves to different ways He is moving on the earth, and to ever grow more familiar with His Presence. I understand that all of this often takes risk, patience, endurance, and intentionality. The life of a revivalist is an adventure and a constant learning experience.

     One thing we do not need though while we are on this adventure is to live hungry and thirsty. Orphans live hungry. Orphans do not get fed enough to have a full belly. But we are children of the King. We have bellies so full they are overflowing with springs of living water! We are the temple of the Living God! And we are already as righteous as it gets, because we have received Christ’s righteousness as our own.

     Nothing could be more satisfying.

     It is perfectly possible to live a thriving spiritual life — growing in the knowledge of God, becoming increasingly activated in His gifts, expecting Him to move in new and surprising ways — and still be 100% satisfied. In fact, I would like to suggest that dissatisfaction can be more of an indicator of spiritual immaturity than of readiness for what God wants to do next. Dissatisfaction often gets our eyes off the finished work of the Cross and onto ourselves. It calls us to look at where we might be failing and to constantly wish we were more resolved to really be radical for God now. That only leads to a broken cycle that always ends in disappointment.

     Worse yet, our constant hunger keeps us from fully appreciating the beauty of how present and active God is in the here and now. The spiritual and emotional highs He gives us can’t be properly enjoyed for what they are, merely because they don’t often lead to instant and immediate transformation in all the areas we have been contending for. If an encounter did meet a significant need, we know there is still an endless sea of more needs yet to be contended for… It’s an exhausting schema.

     My advice; give up entirely on trying to get more hungry for God. Don’t stop making healthy changes in your life where you need to. Don’t stop engaging in spiritual warfare. Don’t stop indulging yourself in enjoying God’s Presence and revelations. Don’t stop getting out of your comfort zone to be used of Him in a manner that stretches your faith. Do great exploits to demonstrate His love and spread His fame. Just do all that stuff completely, entirely satisfied in the love of God.

You are enough.

Christ in You is enough.

Holy Spirit indwelling you is MORE than enough.

     Let your confidence in those truths redefine all of what you are reaching for. Then, join with the Psalmist and declare, “I shall not be in want.”

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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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Where Are You Headed?

My name is Destin Michael, which means “destined to be like the Lord.” It’s not hard to guess that the concept of “destiny” has played a huge role in my thought life since I was a young kid.

I often think about where I am headed in life and how I am going to get there. I want to grow in the direction God would have for me — to know and enjoy Him more, and to fulfill His purposes.

In the process of reflecting on this, I have grabbed a hold of a few ideas others have shared over the last several years. I believe each of these proverbial statements can add guidance to the formation of our destinies.

Consider these ideas and how they might help you reflect on where you are headed:

  1. You are going in the direction you are pointed.

What do we put most of our focus and attention on in life? How do we spend most of our time? What practices and routines do we each follow on a daily and weekly basis? All of this can be highly predictive of where our lives will be in five years, or even further ahead.

Put some consideration into the choices you are making in this season. Our divinely-inspired dreams will not just come to pass on their own if we are always casual with the lifestyle we are engaging in currently.

2. You are who you hang out with.

People rub off on each other. It’s just the way life works. We tend to talk like those we spend the most time with, assume the same mentalities that they have, and learn to like a lot of what they like. If we want a good picture of where we are headed, we can look at the people we are closest to.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who challenge you out of your comfort zones, who encourage you and believe in you. And choose friends who are givers that are dedicated to contributing to your wellbeing. A community of healthy, mature, non-toxic peers is essential to our growth as people.

Whatever type of leader or individual we want to become will be determined largely by the character type of the those we are inviting into our inner circle today.

3. You will live in the fruit of this moment.

It’s easy to dream about the big picture of where we want to go in life. Often that dream feels intimidating to try to reach for. Really all destinies are fulfilled though as the result of the continual investment we make in a brighter future, starting right now.

Don’t just think about the kind of steps you want to take in the right direction through major lifestyle changes. Think about how you can make the most of your time and fully embrace the opportunities given to you over the next few hours. Set your intentions in the best direction you know how, and find simple ways to realign your trajectory in the space of time immediately before you.

If we think like this continually, in due time — we will see a harvest from these very moments.

4. You are already a success.

Our culture often encourages us to “make something of ourselves,” as if we can become a better, higher quality person based upon the accomplishments we achieve in life. I don’t like this perspective.

Human potential is best manifested in those who really learn to just be themselves, rather than striving to “make something” of themselves.

We are all created with the image of God within us. That is, with the desire to serve others, to impact society for the greater good, to create and to influence. These things will come from us naturally as we progressively learn to accept and express our God-given identities.

We are not reaching to become something great. We are already incredibly great in our Father’s eyes, and it is the validation He gives us that motivates us to practice walking in greatness through our life’s work. We need to be constantly reminded that we are already a success just because He says we are lovable… long before any external successes we accomplish in days to come.

5. Invest in the Eternal Kingdom.

Our dreams and passions are shallow if we are limited in seeking to serve our own interests. A truly significant dream is one that includes others, even future generations.

Every life has a ripple effect on the lives of those it touches. Let’s be conscientious about what kind of things we are setting in motion in the lives of those around us. We are contributing to the progress of humanity, joining in with Christ’s ageless movement to bring redemption wherever it is lacking.

Each one of us is leaving some kind of legacy. Our aim is to have it be one that fully maximized in helping bringing about God’s long-term agenda for total, widespread restoration. We don’t want to waste our short lives on what only we can experience for ourselves before we die.

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Eternal Life Today

Jesus said that He came “to bring life, and life more abundant” (John 10:10). Some versions say “life to the full.” This is eternal life – the life found in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In religion we sometimes piously project this “abundant life” far into the future. We put all our hopes in the after life, a postmortem experience. We wait to die or to be resurrected from death at Christ’s return. We limit our understanding of eternity to this future experience, downplaying the significance of the here and now.

Even more commonly though we take a less spiritualized approach. We look forward to a future day when things will get better on this side of eternity. A day when we will graduate college. A day we will get married. A day we will finally get into shape like we want. A day we will get a better job.

But Jesus said He came to give us life to the FULL. And we are alive right now. Today.

Everyday we can choose to live in abundance. This is not an exaggeration. We can live in expectation of what is yet to come, but we can also take full advantage of our present opportunities.

We can connect with people who contribute to our well being. We can indulge in contemplative prayer, appreciating God’s nearness and dwelling on His goodness. We can go outside and enjoy the Sun and get our bodies moving with physical exercise. We can express ourselves through art, or through purposeful acts of service to our communities. We can make decisions big and small that result in our health and well being, following the rhythms of grace that produce both greater maturity and a more constant sense of delight in our lives. We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to live to fully and to practice contentment.

I frequently remind myself that the Spirit of God is within me already, so I already am walking in eternal, Kingdom life. Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is… righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” These things are all given to us freely in the space we are in right now.

It takes a conscious shift of mind sometimes to fully appreciate all that is at hand. When we do though, our days grow much brighter. We live much more accomplished and much more restful if we just lean into the life Christ offers us as we walk with Him in THIS season of life.

And we trust that there is only an eternity of more life to unfold before us.

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