Throw Back Series – 14 – Wildebeests

This is the final post of the Throw Back Series. I hope you have enjoyed my journey through some old thoughts. I’m working on something new for my next post. But until then, this post was when my wife and I returned from a trip to Southeast Asia. I hope you are encouraged!

The expression of Jesus Christ organically is a life-long journey, I am learning. I believe it is my responsibility as a believer and follower of Christ to lead my family towards fitting into the Body of Christ. I believe we all have been born with natural ways of doing things. I believe it is my responsibility to be a part of another way of doing things. A couple of huge questions in this pursuit for me have become, “Why do I do what I don’t want to do? Can I keep from doing what I want to do?”

Let me be sure to differentiate the “I’s” in the question above. The first “I” is my natural person and mindset. The second “I” is my other person and mindset. The third “I” is my other person and mindset. The fourth “I” is my natural person and mindset.

Some guy named Paul asked similar questions. He wrote a letter to some of my Family members in Italy. He said, “I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.” Very similar thought of what my current journey is.

I just got back from Southeast Asia. It was very interesting to be able to fellowship with other people that believed similarly to me. While being with these people I realized a lot of them could not read. A LOT of them. If they can’t read, how can they know about this other way of living? Reading and education provides one with opportunities to learn and grow in ways illiterate people can’t, right?

I’m not so sure this is a proper perspective to hold fast to.

I believe it is our job, as believers, to carry the message of Christ to people of all tribes and languages. “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard come through the message about Christ.” When Paul said this, he was talking to people who believed in this other way of living and thinking. He was talking about people who heard this message and did nothing with it…continued to live out of their natural way of living and thinking. This conversation leads me to a thought.

Instinct.

Have you seen the Nature Series by BBC that shows many different aspects of nature? It is an amazing series of DVD’s that show beautiful angles and perspectives of nature. Nature is something we all get to experience. In this video series you get to follow a herd of geese and wildebeests, among others.

Why do these wildebeests run away from predators?

Why do they migrate in millions to a spot in the desert?

Why do they then go back to the bush in Africa?

Instinct.

Natural Instinct.

Through this natural instinct, animals all over the planet survive and thrive throughout their lifespan. At the end of their time on the planet, death awaits and their seed is passed on to the next generation. Another interesting thing is that as poachers and poor living conditions have happened over time, animals have less and less a chance to develop and grow and survive. Some animals have become extinct or are on their way to extinction.

We breath in naturally. We breath out naturally. Humans share this instinct with the animal kingdom. If you don’t breath, you don’t live. That is an obvious natural instinct in humans. If left alone, what is our natural instinct when life’s decisions come our way?

Herd.

Travel.

Forage.

Hunt.

Consume.

Reproduce.

Protect.

This brings me back to this “other” way. Not my natural instinct, but my Spiritual Instinct. Paul talks about this as well:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:5-6 (NASB)

The Natural Instinct we all have leads us to death, just like the wildebeests. We may be able to have kids and pass on our legacy and heritage to our next generation, but we still arrive at the same location. Death.

How in the world can we have life and peace?

If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11 (NASB)

What is the mind-set of the Spirit or the Spiritual Instinct?

So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live [by the natural instinct], for if you live [by the natural instinct], you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Romans 8:12-14 (HCSB)

The next logical question for me would be, how do you attain this Spiritual Instinct? I believe that is a pursuit that a lot of people are on. Being in Southeast Asia I was able to witness a Buddhist ritual ceremony as well as many Animist ceremonies in temples and such. And to be honest, I was able to witness a Protestant gathering that provided many similar rituals. Very similar journeys of doing things to try to attain some sort of spiritual level of accomplishment. These journeys are definitely TOWARDS the Spirit, however they are from the Natural Instinct. What ways can I figure out how I can get to God?

Instinctually we make a list of things to do in a natural progression that we can fit in a binder or a text message based off of a plan or map that if you start here, you too can find your destination of happiness. Is this journey something that everyone can be molded into? Does every human have the same exact instinct?

Natural Instinct.

Can we be saved from this Natural Instinct? Knowing that the Natural Instinct’s destination is death, can we find salvation from this? Can we have peace in our heart that life is attainable? How do we live another way, with another instinct?

The righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:6-10

Salvation from what? I believe it is salvation from our Natural Instinct. Salvation from death. Salvation from a predictable way of living that is based off of decisions that come from our Natural Instinct.

What would life look like if we didn’t live it through our Natural Instinct, but through our Spiritual Instinct?

Perhaps we would deny our Natural Instinct of strength and power by not nourishing it. Instead we would nurture our Spiritual Instinct. What things about this world demonstrate the author of the Spiritual Instinct?

I think of cells.

Red blood cells. Cheek cells. Cardiac cells. Intestinal cells. Skin cells.

All of these cells are a part of different systems in the body. There is the circulatory system, digestive system, skeletal system, etc. Each system reminds me of wildebeests. All of the cells in that system work together towards a common goal. The circulatory system gets oxygen inhaled into your nose to your lungs to your blood, back to your lungs and back to your nose to exhale. This system helps you breath. Naturally. Digestive system helps you digest. Naturally. The skeletal system helps provide support and protection for your body. Naturally.

If you have a body with all of these cells and all of these systems ready to go, but there is no life in them what happens? Still birth. No life. Death. There has to be something more for these cells to function and work together for the body. There has to be a source of life for these cells and systems. This is where the Spirit comes in. The Spirit indwells the person, the cells. The old body that worked out of Natural Instinct towards death now has an indwelling of the Spirit. This body is dead. However, the Spirit is alive!

What’s left?

Your mind.

You get to choose.

Die through your body. Natural Instinct.

Live through the Spirit. Spiritual Instinct.

At first it is very difficult to live by the Instinct of the Spirit. The Spirit isn’t necessarily loud. The Natural Instinct of wildebeests is very loud! Everyone is doing it. We are running from predators. We are migrating. We are drinking from this stream, going here or there.

But to live by the Instinct of the Spirit takes time.

It takes focus. (on Christ)

It takes trying. (in Christ)

It takes abiding. (in Christ)

The Instinct of the wildebeest is Natural. The Instinct of the Savior from the way of the wildebeest is Spiritual.

I would encourage you to view your life as an Instinct. How are you living? If you are living Naturally and okay with it, remember the destination. If you are looking for life, remember how to align with the Spirit: believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead and say out loud to your family and friends that Jesus is your Lord. You will be saved from your Natural Instinct and on your way to living through a new Spiritual Instinct.

Being a cell as part of a system in the body provides the cell the opportunity to function to help the body be all that he/she can be. In the body of Christ, be a part of a group of people that are helping express Christ and functioning to help the Body be all that She can be.

In that way, in that truth, in that life will there be a reduction of the Natural Instinct and an incrementalization towards completely living by the Spiritual Instinct.

Now, about those geese…

Throw Back Series – 13 – TKGE vs LIFE

Throw Back Series 13 is about fruit. This was posted just prior to our leaving for the Pacific Rim. Little did we know we would be standing in a room, with almost 100 people, describing what the last sentence in this post meant. I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

The Garden of Eden.

I wish I could’ve seen it. Well, not really. I would be really old if I would have been able to see it! But the stories we have heard about the Garden of Eden have been tremendous!

What have you heard?

Beautiful plants? Friendly animals? Flowing rivers? Two peas in a pod?

Pristine. Calm. Holy.

The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers…Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Genesis 2:8-10, 15 (NASB)

Hmmm. Sounds like a pretty cool spot! From what Scripture tells us, there was only one rule. Not a Gazillion! Not Ten. Not Two.

One.

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’

Genesis 2:16-17 (NASB)

That’s it. One rule. Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE). Every other tree is perfectly fine for nutrition.

Even the Tree of Life.

The Tree of LIFE. It’s available. It’s an option. It’s in the midst of the garden and can be consumed!

I don’t know what Adam was thinking. I don’t know what Eve was thinking. However, a few verses later the story of the serpent and Eve happens. Eve gets tempted by the serpent in regards to the fruit of the tree that’s in the middle of the garden. The fruit from the TKGE. She noticed some things about the fruit from the TKGE that was in the middle of her area:

It was good for consumption.

It was attractive.

It would help one become more knowledgeable about what is right and wrong.

She took the fruit from the TKGE and ate it. And gave it to Adam who was with her.

Busted.

Now they knew they were naked! Why? How?

The fruit from the TKGE.

Does this sound like anything familiar to you? Have you ever noticed something that was so obvious to you that it seemed to be in the MIDDLE of your life?

Was that thing GOOD for consumption?
Was that thing ATTRACTIVE?
Did that thing help you gain KNOWLEDGE about right and wrong?

I was talking with some friends yesterday and we discussed how fruit from the TKGE isn’t necessarily bad fruit. It’s close. It’s good. It’s attractive. It gives knowledge.

We then talked about fruit from the tree of LIFE.

WOW!

Right and wrong, doing things to grow my faith, meeting with certain people on a certain day to talk about a certain thing to gain a certain understanding because that’s tradition…All of these things are close, good, attractive, educational. However, what would it look like if I truly committed to living, to being?

What if I ate from the tree of LIFE instead of the TKGE?

What would change?

Would I get caught up in lists and to-do items so that I can grow in my faith? Or would I just abide? Be? Live?

What would you change?

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – Jesus

Throw Back Series – 12 – Who Knew

In honor of Leap Day, Gotta fast forward quite a bit and take a LEAP. Julie and I were married in March of 2010. We were scheduled to go to the Pacific Rim in June of 2011. This Throw Back Series post 12 is in mid May as we are closing in on the travel date. I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

Who knew we would be on the cusp of heading to the Pacific . . . Rim. We were able to go to Oregon on our honeymoon a little over a year ago. We got to see the Goonies shot of Cannon Beach. Remember when One Eyed Willie’s boat set sail with all of the treasure in it? They filmed it off the coast of Oregon. I always wondered why no one got in another boat and wrestled all of that treasure back to the shore? For all we know, OEW is still cruising in the Pacific Ocean somewhere. Perhaps near the Pacific Rim!

What is the Pacific Rim? It’s all of the countries that border on the Pacific Ocean. That’s a lot! We will be heading to the Asian Pacific Rim. That limits the countries a little bit.

Julie will be going there for her first time! This will be the third time that I have been over. We are super-stoked to be able to journey to this part of the world to begin work and encourage Family who are there.

On our honeymoon, when we looked at the coastal scene of Cannon Beach, OR, I remember seeing the rock called Haystack Rock. That was the focal point. Haystack Rock. Rock! A rock was my focal point! Yeah it’s pretty and all, but if I could have just. Looked. Beyond.

I might have seen One Eyed Willie sailing the seven seas!

Or even seen a people who are waiting to become part of a Family bigger than mine.

Now, Julie and I get to use our family to help grow Family. I hope it’s not like finding a needle in a haystack!

Throw Back Series – 11 – Your Love

As the month for Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am thankful for this 11th post in the Throw Back Series. This post was written the day after my now wife and I agreed to begin a relationship together with the idea we just wanted to be. No future projections. No past inhibitions. Be. As you can assume, this post is quite the celebration on my part! I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

Reflecting on some things in the past month, I am brought to praise.  God is Great!!  He has been my Jehoveh-jirah and Emmanuel.  He has sustained me and He has been my strength.

He is Awesome and Mighty!  I have been reflecting on that.  As I was in Florida over the holidays I was able to hit the beach between soccer games.  I had this feeling of grace and mercy overwhelm me as I watched and heard the ocean crash on the shore, wave after wave.  I remember hearing these lyrics as I enjoyed the continuous praise of the creation with the continuous tide rolling in:

The ocean is deep
The wind is loud
The water retreats
With waves crashing down

Your love is mighty O Lord
Your love is mighty O Lord
Like the oceans so deep
Your Grace is for me
Your love is mighty O Lord

As I began the new year with all of it’s challenges and all of it’s pursuits I have kept these words close to me. As I have pursued what I feel God has called me to, I am constantly reminded of His love for me!  Thank you Lord!

Some direction has come to the forefront.  As they unfold in my life I will be sure to inform you.  I feel God moving in the life of many people around me.  Currently, I hope to help others see the glory that is in them that they are able to give to the Lord.  That is my day to day call.  I feel blessed and honored to see people’s lives unfold before them.

Pray for a couple of my friends.  We’ll call them Bill and James.  They are looking deeply at what God is calling them to.  They are grasping for His will for their lives.  They are seeking Him with their hearts.  Pray that they continue to search hard.  Pray that they are confronted with the person of Jesus.  And I pray that you would have an encounter with My King that would wreck your life and ruin your life for Jesus!!

Throw Back Series – 9 – Wineskins. Old and New

Throw Back Series 9 is really where I begin to dig into some concepts that framed the path I would be going on for the next three years to present. This Wineskin passage really blew my mind, especially coming off of a 3-day fast. I hope you enjoy and are encouraged!

People don’t pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the wine will make the skins burst, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined.  Rather, new wine is to be poured into fresh skins.

Mark 2:22

New.

Fresh.

Mmmm…that is what’s happening!  New things, fresh stuff…gettin rollin!  I have had an amazing weekend…

involuntarily, yet actively…
passively, yet decisively…

listening.

removing obstacles.

Remember the juggling performance?  Remember the ball that is bouncing away and I am waiting on Gravity or Space to act?

Will Gravity pull it back into my performance?

Will the pull of Space pull it out of my performance?

Removing obstacles from one’s life allows one to hear the volume and intensity of conversation from our Lord, with no obstruction.  With no blockers.  Blue-Blockers are good.  They block the sun’s UV rays.  God-Blockers are bad.  They block the Son’s rays of conversation.  Listening without blockers…wow, Wow, WOW!!  Very loud.  I am excited about where God is taking me.

Continue to pray for where God has me headed.  I have heard some very specific things that have allowed me to understand direction that God has shown me through his Word and from separate confirmations through other avenues…CRAZY!!

I have a few conversations I have to have to finalize a few steps.  God is good.  God is Great.

He is pouring new wine into this fresh wineskin.  I feel ready to stretch and grow and continue to be.  To be who He is calling me to be.  My direction has not changed.  My steps have not taken a different course.  I am continuing on the path He is calling me!  I feel even more prepared to continue these steps!  Thank you Lord!  I praise You!

If we see our call from our Lord Jesus through the eyes of our old wineskin, we are not able to handle the new wine.  We can’t hold that call and will bust.  We must accept a new call with a new way of life, a new way of thought, a fresh wineskin.  We must allow God to make us fresh and new to be prepared for fresh and new direction!

Isn’t that something that makes you stand in “awe” that God would call you to a new place, a new direction, a new life!!?

AWESOME!

One more thing is this…Someone told me about waiting on the Lord.  They said that sometimes you wait.  You wait for the Lord to move you into something.  Someone else told me that you have to move and allow God to guide you as you step in faith.  Like a boat at a dock, God can move the rudder as much He wants to, but if we’re docked, we don’t really go anywhere.  It is at the moment we raise up the anchors and begin to set sail that God can then turn our rudder this direction or that and guide us to His destination.

What a journey!

May we be the fresh wineskin God is looking to pour new wine into, to begin a new work for His Kingdom and His Glory.  And may we set sail and allow God to direct us as we sail away from the dock in faith.

For God’s Glory and His Glory alone!