Discipline of Humanity

  The life we are called to is humanly impossible. This is because we are to be like Jesus, and He is not human, therefore, it is impossible, as a human, to be like him. For many years I understood this on rudimentary level only. For those in recovery a common phrase is “progress not perfection.” Ok. I get that. I understand that perfectionism is egotistical in nature and that I do not need to work so hard to attain perfection as I usually only have egotistical motives deep down.

 I end up feeling defeated, “Well, it’s impossible for a human, but hey, we gotta keep trying, right?” Wrong! We do not need to worry about the continuation of sin in our lives, nor do we need to worry about making wrong choices or bad decisions. The key isn’t to try and try an try and persevere with futility. The key is to invite Jesus into our hearts and he will give us the strength and desire to experience the full calling for our life. Simply put, we can closely tie the definition of humane into this equation. To be humane is to be marked or motivated by concern with the alleviation of suffering. Jesus wants us to be concerned with what he is concerned with. When we pray for Him to open our hearts and minds with the love that is manifest through connecting in true relationship with God, we begin to be concerned with finding solutions to problems that He cares about. We begin to be concerned with finding opportunities to be of service to others rather than thinking only about what we get out of a realtionship with a friend or spouse. We begin to be concerned with being generous rather than working to buy the next toy, hello iphone seven hundred and seventy two.
We will not always get it right. We are not designed to get it right. Our goal isn’t to try to get anything right. Our goal is to remain as close to the Holy Spirit as we can be by putting guardrails, boundaries and disciplines in place in our life that keeps us close to the spirit. Some disciplines I was taught

:Practice self-care daily. It doesn’t matter what it is, something as simple as walking your dog, joining a zumba class or taking a bath can help alleviate the pressures of being human and give us time to gain proper perspective about our life and calling.

Read scripture daily. In today’s technology, there really is no excuse for not reading a verse or two of the bible a day. One verse read daily, coupled with one minute of reflection about the verse can help improve our human perspective. Oh, and don’t let your identity of being a “non-believer” be an excuse either. That doesn’t need to stop you from gaining wisdom from the pages.

Do at least one thing every day to be of service to someone else. This can be as simple as playing with your preschooler at the park when you would rather sit on the park bench and scroll facebook, making dinner for the family AND do the dishes or asking someone how their day is going and then actually listening to their response.

The list is endless of the disciplines we can build into our day that will help ourselves and help others and gain a kingdom perspective on our calling and our life.  

What do you do that gives you a better perspective about being human?




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?


Lost your sense of Belonging?

There is something that is inside each one of us that pulls away from belonging. Instead of identifying with a common thread in a group setting, whether it be at work, at school, at church or at family functions, we look for ways to distance ourselves from the group. We think ‘I’m the only one who doesn’t have a job, or I’m the only one with kids that act like this, I am the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend.’ We are not focussed on things we have in common, things in life we can identify with and therefore we do not feel unified with the whole.

It is satan’s great plan to distract us and separate us from each other and God. When we are distracted, we try to answer questions no one is asking.. and we lose focus and drive and motivation to move forward in life and recovery. But lets be clear, in terms of heaven and hell, they are real places on opposite spectrums but satan and God are not equal, God still has victory over satan, so no matter what we go through, what conflict we need to work through or addiction we need to kick or pain we need healing from, God is still victorious and we can also be victorious when working in line with him!

When we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and everyday lives, He goes to soul to soul to soul, transforming our lives. We cant do community ourselves. It is more than mere friendship, we are redeemed and redeeming, transformed and transforming, loved and loving, Jesus asks that we do to others what you would have them do to you…so what does dealing with people really look like biblically? How are we to BE community and not just DO community? How do we be recovered and not just go to recovery? How do we not feel so alone with our problems? How can we have a transformed life and contribute to a fruitful, transforming community?

Here are four key concepts that make for a healthy community.

1. Progress not perfection.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22, 23 NLT)

Note how it is the Holy Spirit that produces this fruit in our lives. I think we get tripped up by not feeling good enough, we see this list and remember all the times we felt impatient. All the times we gave in and had no self-control, felt fear and not faithful, we focus on the have nots instead of practicing the haves in partnership with the Holy Spirit. We do not need to be perfect before we join a group or volunteer somewhere…we are not going to be a kinder person if we never practice being kind. This means we need lots of practice…and Im not talking the be kind to your friends kinda practice…I mean God put jerks in our lives for a reason!! The people that just get under your skin and annoy the heck outta you- yeah, they are there for us to practice patience and peace and joy. The more we are in relation to Christ, the more we can be containers for the Holy Spirit and the more that happens, the less work we actually have to do to be who we want to be.

2. Give up your right to be right.
When we can get to a place of humility where the team success is more important than my opinion, we are working toward a healthy community. I see this all the time in meetings. When two or more people who all need to have the last word try to accomplish something, they just talk in circles and don’t actually accomplish anything. How much wasted time has satan distracted us with petty judgments or arguments? Give up your right to be right.

3. Don’t be afraid of conflict.
Many times we don’t know how to deal with conflict properly, so we avoid or deny responsibility. This leads to gossip or unresolved resentments that get built up in a community. Ever hear of ‘Minnesota Nice’? Nice to the face but cold as ice? Yeah. It is real. And it is unhealthy. The bible is quite clear.

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 NLT)

4. Principles before personalities.
Don’t be afraid of feeling betrayed. If we think in terms of principles before personalities, we gain tolerance, peace and understanding of people who are different than us. When we think of principles before personalities we tend to take less conflicts personally, we do not get offended so easily when we focus on principles before personalities. We are also less distracted by satan so we focus on the importance of building community, not building walls.

We are promised transformed lives and with that we can have a transforming community! And God promises to help us.

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. (Isaiah 41:13 NLT)

What principles do you think make for a healthy community?