The Zombie in You

Zombies. In the bible. Yes, you read correctly.
I am an uber geek. I love zombie movies. Movies about zombies lets me have at least two hours to really detach from reality. Cause I’m sorry, no matter how good the script is, no matter how well the actors portray their characters, no matter how well the scene was shot or the make-up was put on, reanimated humans will not ever happen, I don’t buy it.

And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split. [Exod. 26:31-35.] The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep in death were raised [to life]; And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus observed the earthquake and all that was happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, Truly this was God’s Son! (Matthew 27:50-54 AMP)

I know what you’re thinking. I must be watching too much ‘Walking Dead.’ But could it be that our drift toward the undead is simply our subconscious searching for the truth that the son of God truly is miraculous? Is our human nature and desire is to be at peace with the thought that there really has been dead that have risen? And if so, wouldn’t it be safe to say that a God that could raise the dead is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-encompassing and desires us to know Him more and that is why we want to believe? Perhaps it is human nature to believe in zombies.
Thinking about zombies also makes me think of chainsaws. Or axes. Or a two-handed Japanese sword. I suppose cause something that could cut heads off would be my weapon of choice in a zombie attack. Which of course makes me think of something Jesus said in Matthew:

And if your hand—even your stronger hand —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:30 NLT)

Perhaps the issue of whether or not Jesus was crucified and rose again isn’t disbelief, it is detachment. Maybe not as drastic as detaching a limb so you escape a zombie virus or a walker coming up on you to attack, but a look at letting go. Letting go and restoring the true self. Look at step three of A.A., we made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God. The message version says it this way:

And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump. (Matthew 5: 30 MSG)

Jesus is telling us to detach from the habits that hold us back from our true selves. When we lose our temper, revert back to the behavior that is not healthy, feed the addiction that is not beneficial to our lives, it is those behaviors we must detach from. Until you learn to let go, it is kinda like mixing clean spring water and sewer water and expect to be able to drink it without getting sick.

“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”-Romans 12:1

This living sacrifice is often misinterpreted as us losing something. If I sacrifice then I will be without. But when we turn our will over to the care of God and our lives, we are abundantly free.
Step three is about discipline, but the discipline that held us back for so long was the thinking that, we needed MORE self will. “oh if I had more will power I wouldn’t get mad and hit my kids or I wouldn’t mouth off to my boss and get fired or if I had more will power I could quit drinking, smoking ,eating, spending, lusting, whatever have you. It is not about having not enough will power, it is actually about having too much. When we cut the arm off that is sinning so to speak, we aren’t out an arm. We gain more strength because we are working in God’s strength. God gave us free will. This is a gift.
Detachment is about separating ourselves from idols that are not God. Self serving goals and agendas just end up poisoning the fruit He wants us to produce with our lives. Letting go of the notions of money and power and position is what makes you who you are. Circumstances do not make you. Trusting God with the outcomes rather than yourself so you do not have to feel like a failure every other minute. A life in which you can honor others without feeling like you have to manipulate or control them, that is freedom!
When we practice the 12 steps and we learn to let go, when we decide to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God, we have freedom from our jobs, from society, from addictions; we are free to live as our true selves, we learn to live with acceptance even when things go into descent, loss or death. And because we live in a way that finds God amidst these things, learning to let go prepares us for the final let go- death.

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mark 8:34-37 MSG)

Jesus died to change the truth about you. What thinking do you need to change?

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Attention Retained

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

Why did the apostle Paul pray for the church to be rooted and grounded in love?

In a 2012 poll taken, 76% of Americans identified themselves as Christians while only 36% of those attend church on a weekly basis. We attend church and listen to a sermon, message, teaching, whatever the title of the talk is, the point is the same- to teach us biblical principles and how we can relate to scripture and apply it to our own lives. The trouble with saying we are christian but not having regular church attendance is the lack of retention of what we learn or the ability to carry the principles we learn on any given Sunday morning into the rest of our week. Well, we can hardly call ourselves something we know nothing about. It would be like me calling myself a pilot because I fly as a passenger to Florida once a year. What’s more, there are different styles of learning and if we are not connected to a christian community the chances of retention drops dramatically.

Paul wanted all people to be made complete with the fullness of life and God’s power. To fully experience God and the love He is takes training. By learning how we and our children retain information we will be in a better position to practice biblical principles in all our affairs and thus gain a better understanding of God’s love and experience the promises He gives.

There are four styles of learning. They are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Here is a description taken from and article by Dr. Mary Smialek.

“Visual learners best remember what is seen. They tend to remember faces instead of names, are good readers and have good imaginations. They respond best to instruction that includes reading, posters, graphs and videos. Visual learners:
take copious notes
often close their eyes to visualize and remember
usually neat and clean with carefully coordinated clothing
benefit from illustrations and visual presentations
are attracted to written or spoken language rich in pictorial imagery
seek quiet, passive surroundings ideal

Auditory learners best remember what is heard. They remember names well, respond easily to phonics instruction and may like to talk when writing. They benefit most from instruction based on lectures, discussions and questioning. Some good methods to use with auditory learners include singing songs or listening to tapes that relate to content area to be studied and developing rhymes and mnemonics to help remember information. Auditory learners:
remember names, tend to forget faces
may not coordinate clothes but can explain what they have on and why
hum or talk to themselves
enjoy listening to themselves and others
likes to read aloud
remembers best by verbalizing
have difficulties reading maps or diagrams
have little trouble learning in a noisy environment

Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, experimenting and involvement. These learners remember what was done, not necessarily what was seen or heard, and might have difficulty paying attention and staying focused on their schoolwork or homework. Kinesthetic learners benefit most from hands-on instruction, using manipulatives, role-playing or building things. Kinesthetic learners:
need to move around, be active and take frequent breaks
speak with their hands and with gestures
seek out and find ways to move around
tinker when bored
rely on what they can directly experience or perform
enjoy manipulating materials

Tactile learners like to use their hands and fingers to learn. Those learn best by writing, drawing, doodling and tend to be creative.They benefit from instructions such as sewing, painting or drawing. Tactile learners:
need to touch or feel objects when learning a new concept
enjoys designing things
likes to illustrate written work
finds sculpting, painting and drawing relaxing
Appreciates physically expressed encouragement (e.g. a pat on the back)”

It is not only helpful as individuals and parents to know the differences of learning styles to understand how we learn but it is helpful in understanding how we can teach. When you are involved in a church community you begin to serve. Whether you serve in a church service or the children’s programming, creating an environment that serves as many of these styles as possible helps church attenders retain and grow. And the more we know, the more we grow in Christ’s love. Make church attendance a part of your life, find one that suits not only your style of learning but everyone in the family. When we are connected to a church family we gain wisdom and understanding of humanity, ourselves and in the fullness of God, we are made complete.

Perspective Imprisoned

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLT)

Empty vessel. An object used as a container. When I think of being an empty vessel for the Holy Spirit to use me for God’s glory, the human tendency is to look with fear. What about me? Where do I go? What will happen to me?

Does this mean I am to be a shell of a person? Does us becoming less and less like it says in John, mean that I am meaningless, that I am not special, that if I was only a shell of a person then life is pointless? Well, then God could find someone else to be an empty vessel if that is all it was! This is ego-centric perspective. The center of all choices, all decisions, all reasons for being are made with our best interests. Our needs first. Our well being above all else. This is a world perspective, a me-centered perspective and we are often imprisoned by it. My hope for humanity, for our kids, is to dispel that perspective. I hope to learn and love and live and teach in the kingdom perspective.

The Kingdom Perspective is seeing life through three viewpoints. God’s purpose, God’s process and God’s promises for our lives. By allowing our decisions big or small to manifest with the Kingdom Perspective we can live in peace, harmony and happiness that we seek in sometimes all the wrong places; drinking, drugs, sex, relationships, money, all the worldly security we seek out identity and it isn’t fulfilling because it isn’t the Kingdom Perspective. By looking at God’s purpose, God’s process and God’s promises in our lives we find the fulfillment in our purpose, we find peace in the process and we find happiness in the promises.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8 NLT)

What perspective do you need to look at today?

Pass the test[imony]

Most of my choices and decisions in life is based on the question, “How would this look in a biography of my life? If they made a movie of my life, what would it look like?” Does anyone else ask those questions? If I asked that right now, Ha! Yeah. Currently? Hmm, not so good. Jobless, unable to have children, strife in the family, struggle with relationships, feeling disconnected from my community as a whole, the story of my life is not something I would want to read much less write about! In that moment, asking these questions, I feel in the middle of an unsustainable life, hanging by a thread. In my movie, something has got to give.

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. (Revelation 12:10, 11 NLT)

These two verses speak of Christ’s victory over satan. The accuser has been thrown to earth. And they have defeated him by the blood of the lamb and by their testimony. We cannot defeat past present or future demons in this spiritual warfare without Jesus. Addiction, codependency and the dysfunctions they create in a family is spiritual warfare. We cannot live a victorious life without Jesus. When we look at our lives not as a biography but as a testimony of Jesus in our lives, our viewpoint is different ergo the outcome is different too. Rather than being defeated by your circumstances, remind yourself that Jesus wins. And when you are on His side, you win too. By changing our thinking to testimonies of Jesus rather than a biography of life, we can live full, abundant, sustaining lives. When we share our testimonies with each other, we live a victorious life where we win. In everything. What could change if you lived for your testimony instead of your biography?

Cuts of the Tongue

Integrity:
1. (n.) moral soundness.

As addicts and deniers of truth, we can manipulate what is means to have moral soundness. The definition of what it means to be moral changes to suit our needs. We justify, we lie to others, to ourselves, we compare ourselves to others and grade on a curve. To live a life of integrity is complex, to change the pattern of thinking from addict mind to a christ-centered mind takes intentionality, and when we spend time looking at what is says in the bible, this great big instruction manual for life, we can gain the perspective we need to make real lasting changes in our lives.

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. (James 3:2-12 NLT)

What point is James trying to make through these illustrations? With all of the comparisons, we see that words are powerful. We taught our kids to say sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me, which is ridiculous and not biblical! Words are powerful, our tongues can be like poison; killing everything it slashes with our bite, or it can be a small rudder or bit guiding us and those around us. It can be contagious like a wildfire and it can either destroy or rebuild growth depending on the control of it.

Much of our human expression is through words. If you want to know someones heart you need to listen. So often we are on the defense in life and we are not out to listen, we are out to protect what we are really feeling, making sure we don’t hurt feelings, making sure that other people we don’t trust don’t figure us out, cause if they figure us out then they will not like what they see, cause we don’t like what we see. We haven’t fully surrendered our position as a child of God, we take on responsibilities we were not intended to take on, identities we were not meant to carry and it steered us so far away from the life designed for us.

Integrity; say what you mean, do what you say.
Don’t over analyze, keep focused on God and you will bear fruit in your life. You will feel healthy, fulfilled, your purpose will be shown!

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18 NLT)

Look at this second definition for integrity;
2. (n.) an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting.

The God-sized hole we either currently or used to try to fill with “sex, drugs and rock and roll” still left us feeling divided, broken and incomplete. With integrity we no longer need to compartmentalize our lives, acting differently with different groups of people. One way at church and another at the bar. One way at work and another way at home. To live with integrity means we are complete, undivided, the same across the board. With Jesus, we find integrity of this proportion, with nothing wanting. Better than any other high, any other idol, any other solution. We can own up to the past and our pettiness, our responsibility in our irresponsibility. We can practice humility and we gain wisdom and integrity in the process. These are God’s promises for our lives.

Empty Hands

Choices. We make them everyday but they make us. Big choices like college over the armed forces or one job over another develop our skills, they are also developing our character.

character: the inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions; “education has for its object the formation of character”- Herbert Spencer

In working the 12 steps, step one is admitting powerlessness over the hurt, habit or hangup we face. When we surrender to God to help us in our circumstances and say, I can’t, He can, I think I ‘ll let Him, it is too easy to sit back and rest on our laurels, not making any significant changes to our heart, our thoughts and our circumstances. On learning to live life on life’s terms we go to the other extreme and instead of controlling every area of our life, we toss up our hands and say, ok God, you are running the show, I am done.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. (Romans 6:12-14 NLT)

Because of God’s great love for us, He gave us free will. The capacity to choose is always with us, even in powerlessness of another persons behavior toward us or illness or job loss. We cannot control situations or people, but we can control our reaction to them. The bare edge of freedom is insured and preserved inside us by God, and no matter what forces oppress us from without or within, we are indestructible if we choose to be.

Saint Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. What do you need to let go of in order to receive God’s grace?

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Suffer No More; The Key

In Buddhist tradition there are four insights to the way things are. They are suffering, our response to suffering, transforming our response and a path to transformation. The 2nd insight says for every external event or situation that life brings us, we have an internal response. It is the combination of the two (the event and our response to it,) that causes our suffering. This is good news! We can change our suffering, by changing our response to it. We have so much more control of our suffering than we allow ourselves to have. For instance, tricking ourselves that a life of procrastination is “just who we are.” Or “I do better under pressure.” Are we so used to the suffering? So used to the chaotic, ill-prepared drama of life that we can’t see God’s vision for our lives thus never realizing and living our potential? I think more than we realize.

“But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen. I planned for you to crush fortified cities into heaps of rubble. That is why their people have so little power and are so frightened and confused. They are as weak as grass, as easily trampled as tender green shoots. They are like grass sprouting on a housetop, scorched before it can grow lush and tall. (Isaiah 37:26, 27 NLT)

If you feel weak, if you are suffering, if you feel more like the people of a crushed city than the people God empowered, take heart..

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. (Jeremiah 33:6-9 NLT)

The solution is Jesus. Don’t focus on the suffering. Focus on Him. If you need a church home, I encourage you to check out Evergreen Community Church They have a great pastor, staff and amazing people that will meet you where you are at, free to meet Jesus at your own pace.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)

What have you got to lose but a bit of suffering?