“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
This is the stirring of the soul. You long to breathe deeply, filing your lungs and stretching your wings to fly. The memory of a perfect world deep within each of us whispers through
our daily distractions and into our hearts. We have our expectations of what life is supposed to be, and our typical reactions of what life does to us, and somewhere along the line we learn
how to make it through another day, wondering where it went wrong.
Jesus claimed the words of Isaiah, "He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind; to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor." Most people would love to live this way, although not even the majority of Christians can prove it with their lives. That's because they don't know how to break free of a lifetime of mistaken identity.
What did you want to be when you grew up? What was your earliest ambition? Have you achieved it, and in the way you’d expected? Is it even possible dreams to come true? What if the God you thought you knew was even more powerful than you imagined, and that He’s the One that planted those dreams in your heart? If you are created in His image, then you must be something incredible! It takes a conscious effort to seek out the connection to the Source of love, joy, and the peace that passes understanding. This study encompasses the relevant steps to unblock the flow leading to and from our Creator. It combines elements of spiritual study with creative exercises to help each individual discover his unique and precious gifts. These are pearls of wisdom that lead to treasures that can never rust or be stolen.
Twenty-years as an American expatriate qualifies me as a perpetual student of ‘life to the full.’ Raising 3rd-culture children, and managing a home for an absent husband challenged me to either survive and thrive, or crumble into a midlife crisis nightmare. The need for an English-speaking Bible study for the International Christian Community of Provence was a divinely ordained task that rested like the proverbial yoke on my shoulders. The burden of writing was light. Following the 12-week format that effectively changes lives through the Alcoholics Anonymous program, relevant Scripture, quotations, creativity courses and self-help guides presented themselves to me in a combination of Divine Coincidence and “Seek, and ye shall find.”
Now, like a city on a hill, it’s time to give this message to the world. Although it was a bit startling to see the plethora of books on spiritual transformation, creativity, and Christian disciplines, very few address this trinity as practical, life-changing exercise. The Source was heavily influenced by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and John Eldredge’s Waking the Dead. The continued popularity of Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, and Michael Michalko’s Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius are indicators of the success of these relevant genres.
Currently at 68 140 words, and 386 986 characters, the manuscript is available for final editing. Agents, editors, and publishers, I welcome your introduction. Please contact me email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
Introduction: We've Got to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden
What's missing from my life? How did I lose my heart's desire?
i-1: Drawn into the Light
We're often so busy living--or trying to--that we don't realize how far we stray from our original purpose. What ever happened to our early ambitions? How do our expectations get replaced by reality? Whose reality is it, anyway? How can we get back to what we know life is meant to be? What is this stirring of my soul, and what do I do about it?
"You write from where you are…in the process you'll end up where you want to be." Awareness is strength, and in keeping a journal, you will tune your powers of observation, learn to recognize and overcome the voice of the inner critic.
i-3: Growing Strains
Transformation is brought about by inspiration and internal motivation. Words of wisdom from Dorthea Brande enoucourage us to welcome change with awareness and gentle pressure.
All of history recounts those who devoted their lives to the search for more. Something inside each of us yearns to come alive. So, what did Jesus mean about 'good news?' What does this mean for me?
What else is there? We must examine everything we believe, seeking the True and eternal, and committing to communion with others on a life journey.
Words of life help us to redefine possibility. Accepting the life of Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, being rooted and established in love, allows us to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Whatever the drug of choice, we dull our senses because we’re addicted to captivity. The addiction controls the controller, and we're trapped in a life-long struggle for control.
Rules of engagement for group study, these are promises between members to develop healthy relationships.
The First Stage: Encountering the Fear of Risk
As we grow up, we learn that what we do has some effect on what happens to us…but when what we do has painful results, we tend to create defensive measures that block us from truly living.
Answered prayers are terrific … and terrifying, because they demand responsibility—yours! All of our expectations suddenly become questions. And If YHWH really isn’t interested in
what’s going on down here, then there really is nothing new under the sun, and it would be pointless for you to try to change anything. You may as well resign yourself to life’s harsh
sting. Fair’s fair, and there’s nothing fair about life. It’s all do or die, so what’s the point?
The point is that you don’t really know or the creative force Who does hear and acts on your behalf. YHWH knows that the sky’s the limit. He created the universe. The truth is that possibility is far more frightening than impossibility, and freedom is more terrifying than any prison. If you really do want communion with the God of the universe, then He will be calling you into action on what you’ve abandoned as impossible childhood dreams.
1-2 It's a Hold-Up!
Max Lucado makes an insightful analogy between the wild-west outlaw, Black Bart, and the thief of joy. Today's questions will help you to identify what's being stolen from your life; and essential element of creating a life to the full.
The transformed life is not found in trying to live up to the Bible or other peoples’ interpretations of it, but being absorbed with the pursuit of a Holy God. You really ARE allowed to ask the difficult questions. Nor are you required to believe society's answers.
Learn to recognize, respect & honor encouragement, and move from affirmative thought to positive action.
We are created in the image of the Creator, therefore all of us reflect some aspect of creation--be it in arts and decoration, dance and music, carpentry or cooking, organizing industry or
spreadsheets. Our capacity for destruction is redeemed by our ability to create. The question is identifying and developing our particular gifts.
Seeking Him means finding His image within you. Your gift to Him is learning to use it. Whether you realize it or acknowledge it, you were created with special talents. Your unique skills have a spiritual source that becomes evident in the physical as you apply your own thoughts and intellect. This is a spark that wants to become a blaze.
The relevance of ruffled feathers and the beckoning lover. Jesus truly lived, and He invites us into that freedom. We face our barriers, and consider the alternatives.
Familiarity may not be what we want, but it feels safe enough. Captivity is security; risk comes with no guarantees, so we stay bound by the chains of fear. We need a God we can trust.
Second Stage: Seeking Love Inside Your Heart
The Holy Spirit allows us to safely observe human nature, and subsequently we grow through enriched relationships.
Your past experiences really do provide the answers for today’s choices. The energy that is invested in survival gradually replaces your receptivity to God, even if you do manage to hang on to your spiritual convictions. When you are satisfied with lesser things in your daily life, these replacements are the false gods that become obsessions, even addictions. To change direction, learn to turn condemnations into affirmations.
Everyone goes through periods of deep inner peace and joy, modulated by the unwelcome times of restlessness and doubt. The growth of faith is three steps forward, two steps
If we knew, always knew, what it is we know, then there will be no new territory to explore. The Promised Land would always remain as distant as the Great Tomorrow. Mindlessly moving through daily existence, we rarely experience the abundant life.
Invention demands creation, and creation requires a Creator. Like the slave moving toward his freedom, you’re challenged to face your fear and trust an unseen guide.
"Seeing is believing" is a lie. The eternal unseen reality is a battle, and we're in the middle of the conflict. We are called to play an important role.
The command to love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27) means so much more if you love yourself the way YHWH does. Self-respect carries a responsibility and a commitment. You need to know who you are before you can effectively give yourself away. Those who feel threatened by their veiled glory will try to keep you from unveiling yours.
Certain relationships are a destructive source and drain of energy. Boundaries are fences, not walls, and a having room of your own.
Willie Wonka gave Charlie the opportunity to break free, and like a magician pulling the rabbit out of his hat, you are full of surprises! Learn to identify your Captors & Guards; and how Solitude is a restorative date with your lover.
To have peace is to have health: mental, physical, and spiritual.
Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve has gotten me nowhere.
God’s promises are truth (maybe I just got distracted.) Why does regaining sanity feel just like going crazy?
Courage is gained only by facing what you fear most.
Third Stage: Witness YHWH's Transforming Grace
Before any change will occur, you must believe that it can.
3-1 Heart Failure! Preventative medicine as you’ve never known it
Do you want to be healed? You must guard your heart, and that means taking a closer look at a lot of things you've previously taken for granted.
3-2 Smooth Flight Requires Amazing Strength
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Soaring happens after a period of slow, steady growth, not by the occasional desperate leap. Substantial work happens on the ground, so don’t wait for a mountaintop experience. Learn how to seek refreshment from the 'living water.'
3-3 Take a Compass! It's a Jungle Out There…
If you always knew that your heart is as a valuable as the One who created it, it would change the way you live. Learn to recognize your inner navigation system. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger--all forms of malice. Don't tuck it away, deal with it productively instead.
3-4 You’re not a puppet on a string! Abide.
God could fix you in the twinkle of an ey, but He teaches you to trust Him through the storms. You can't grow up if you're expecting to be carried.
3-5 You should be ashamed of yourself! (and other common myths)
Living out your glory exposes a society to itself. A life lived to the full opens closets, airs our cellars and attics. It brings light and healing. But before a wound can heal, it must be treated, and the act of exposing the wound to air and light — the act of risk and passion — is often countered with attacks of shaming. You've bumped your head on the invisible ceiling again.
3-6 Not All Criticism is Shaming; Wisdom Comes from Knowning the Difference
Even the most severe criticism, when it hits a target, will tweak an internal response. Wisdom comes with learning where and when to find the right criticism. We must learn when criticism is appropriate and from where.
3-7 Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Some pointed questions will help you take a look at what you really like and really admire — and to look at what you think you should like and admire. Your neighbors might tell you to be Marxist while you suddenly discover that your heart belongs to Groucho.
Fourth stage: Sorting Truth From Lies
It's my responsibility to choose the true and the false.
4-1 How to Experience Culture Shock without Leaving Home
Beauty & the Beast is a timeless classic because we really do long for love to triumph, releasing all the beauty and goodness from the tyrannical beast. The phoenix rises from the ashes, as does Cinderella. Pinocchio becomes a real boy. Dorothy and her friends risk fear, ignorance and isolation to seek the Wizard. Charlie takes a great glass elevator. Alice follows a rabbit, and James reaches for the giant peach. They all find themselves resolved into a life of which they’d never dared hope. That’s the Transformation. It’s mysterious. Magical! Supernatural.
4-2 The Beautiful Stink of Squashed Grapes: Birth, Death & Growing Pains
Certain people will try to tell you that the spiritual life is grounded in fantasy. The challenging truth is that the Spirit is rooted in reality, in the particular, defined, accurately observed or clearly envisioned. This is the truth of our creative nature. It is created in imitation of God and we battle with the gods that are in us and in others.
4-3 Life is a Tug-of-War, and I’m the Rope
EXPECTATIONS & FAILURE… longing and striving for Eden… disappointment… faking it…We are so conditioned to accept other peoples’ definitions for us that it can be disconcerting to witness the emergence of self. But would we ask the butterfly to return to the cocoon?
4-4 Battling Dragons & Windmills While Doing the Laundry
It’s a natural tendency to press for change, and then retreat back to safe territory. This recurring thread runs through the entire Bible. It’s the eternal record of God’s children
looking to Him, moving ahead in trust, and then drifting into self-reliance, depending on the nearest leader, turning to their idols, swelling into pride and leading to a fall. Old habits
Learning to identify safe boundaries, avoiding guilt and coercion, and at the same time inspiring action, is to the practice of personal discipline. This is the real work that results in creativity and glorifies your Creator.
4-5 Discovering the Dangerous Distractions
If you’re stuck between your old life and the new, this is an effective jumpstart—a defibrillator of the heart. It is the discipline of fasting, and of sacrifice…it’s a confrontation of legalism versus obedience…and a consideration of a change of heart. The paradox that by emptying our lives of distractions, we are plunged into the sensory world outside of the covers. We become free to dive deep into the well.
4-6 Pick Up Your Mat, and LIVE Your Life!
Jesus Christ died for us, and more importantly, He was also raised for us. His resurrection carries far more significance His unjust death. His defiance of natural laws opens a world of possibilities for us Get out and live again!
4-7 The Treasure Hunt for Buried Dreams
Have you surrendered your entire life to this journey of creation? Can you forsake all the distractions—the “idols”—so that you really can live the full life that Jesus promised? Say ‘yes’ to your heart, and He will do the rest.
Fifth Stage: The Awakening Glory in Your Heart
The personal, eternal human search for significance
5-1 Remodeling the Mask
We’re all searching for significance in this world. Every person longs to know that he is worthy. We spend the first twenty years trying to find our place in the world, and the rest of our lives trying to find what we lost along the way…innocence…ourselves. Oh, we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden!
5-2 Turning Yourself Inside-Out and Other Transformational Twists
It’s convenient to the enemy that we are so easily distracted from the spiritual by our physical and emotional needs. But once you begin to uncover the exact nature of your shortcomings, you can confess them to YHWH and those you’ve wronged. It’s by taking the responsibility for the action that enables you to release the powerful grip that’s choking your spirit.
5-3 Bigger Than That!
How big is your God?
One of the major blocks to accepting YHWH’s generosity is our limited understanding of what we are meant to accomplish.
You hear YWHW speaking to your heart, and either discount it as too incredible, or decide that it was your own selfish desire—what heresy! Who are you to tell the Potter what kind of bowl you might be? Conversely, how can you be sure it’s really His voice that’s directing you?
5-4 Fine-tuning The Vision
Stories and characters stir something in you because they speak directly into the mystery of your true self. Jesus nicknamed two of his students the Sons of Thunder, and He meant it. (Mark 3:17) He knew them so well that He could see through their strengths and failures and straight into their hearts. What name would Jesus give you? Remember, He never condemned anyone who reached out to Him. Challenged, yes, but never rejected.
5-5 Striking it Rich Through the Vein of Gold
Knowing that the Accuser will use every opportunity to keep you from claiming your true identity, how can you defend yourself? Writing your thoughts is crucial to the recovery of your heart. You are exposing the Mystery and substantiating the supernatural. You are moving with the flow of grace, not fighting against the current.
5-6 Somebody Save Me!
Your creative self is always childlike and vulnerable. You are defenseless and dependent upon a Protector. So, you still look to others as parent figures. True maturity occurs when we can relinquish our dependencies on other people, and begin sharing in community.
5-7 Sidestepping the Virtuosity Trap
Are you getting—taking—the time of solitude that you need? In most cases, it won’t happen without a fight. Your family probably seems offended when you withdraw from them. It seems hurtful that we must be strong and courageous about such a petty issue. But there is nothing petty about it. Solitude is crucial to maintain an intimate connection with YHWH, lest you return to the trap of Virtuosity.
6th stage: Honoring the LORD's Generous Abundance
Giving and receiving are meant to be the same thing.
6-1 Encountering the Divine Paradox
As your heart is kindled with the love of GOD, you’ll begin to notice the divine spark in other peoples’ hearts, too, even if they don’t notice it themselves. Finally, you can understand that those who are the most difficult to love are those who need love the most.
6-2 Encountering Courageous Creativity
Madeline L’Engle claims, “If I’m not free to fail, I’m not free to take risks, and everything in life that’s worth doing involves a willingness to take a risk and involves the risk of failure…. I have to try, but I do not have to succeed. Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success.” It’s by getting in step with YHWH that He is able to guide you on the path that leads to life.
6-3 The New Economy of True Value
Those of us who’ve denied our hearts are starving at the feast. We’ve become so focused on our own deprivation that we’re refusing what’s offered—and in many cases, finding substitute fillers that are making us fat and miserable. It’s time for pure, authentic nourishment.
6-4 Out of Knowledge and into Wisdom
Awareness of your renewed heart isn’t enough to save yourself from future pain. John Eldredge compares having a good heart to putting Excalibur in the hands of an untrained warrior. Without wisdom you’re likely to be beaten down by shame, and then retreat to the gospel of Sin Management. This is not good news! You cannot assume that a resurrected heart is a wise heart.
6-5 Learning to Listen and Follow: Going with the Flow
Jesus was born knowing that the LORD is with us, and inherently attuned to the voice of God. He always knew right from wrong, trusted and followed the inner voice with a divine confidence. He tells us that the Holy Spirit counsels us to do the same. The challenge is learning to listen and follow—rather, to go with the flow.
6-6 Test What You Hear, and Don't Be Afraid of Fear!
When you’re struggling with your unlovely characteristics, you must stop and remember that your heart is clean. Know that the one who wants to destroy beauty will be the first one to try to tear you apart. Turn to the Word of God. Do not let yourself do anything that contracts His directive. Be determined to love, honor, cherish, be gentle, patient, forgiving… Remember thatthe deceiver twists the truth into, “Did God really say that?”
6-7 Spring Cleaning
Choose any room in your house. Pretend that you’re preparing to move into the home of your dreams. What will you take with you? What just won’t fit in that transformed life?
7th stage: A Dialogue with the Divine
Love is a choice. Will you choose to abide in the God of love?
7-1 Can There Be a More Challenging Command Than DO NOT WORRY?
Your life story is a compilation of firsts and lasts, goods and bads, smiles and tears. Do you let yourself reflect on your place in history? You’ve learned so much already, so give yourself some credit. Is it even possible to grow up perfect in an imperfect world? The Lie says that being hard on yourself will make you strong. But it is learning to cherish that brings true strength.
7-2 Perfection versus Excellence
Your heart desires action and your head knows this requires enormous risk. The Accuser is thrilled that you allow him to twist your desires into something ugly. You’ll need all the faith and courage that grace allows for you to move ahead.
7-3 True Courage is not the Absence of Fear, But the Determination to Move Through It
In order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly. Setting your limits at the point where you are assured of success, you may feel stifled, smothered, and bored to tears, but safe and in control. That way, you’ve got a guarantee of perfection with a boost of pride. Know that your safety is a trick of smoke and mirrors. Consider the Walls of Jericho: God tells us to march around it seven times, but He’s the power behind the action. In order to risk, you must circle around your acceptable limits until they crumble into dust.
7-4 Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses
Some people can live an entire lifetime doing what they were raised to do, yet wonder over the pointlessness of their existence. That niggling sense of doubt eats like a cancer in an aching heart. In a perfect world, an early understanding of a life goal would give a heart wings.
7-5 Through the Heart's Wound, I See Its Secret
When we are angry or depressed in our creativity, we have misplaced our power [abandoned our heart]. We have allowed someone else to determine our worth and then we are angry at being undervalued. [We’ve forgotten Who truly cherishes us.] Acknowledge the hurt. Grieve, forgive, release. Be willing to love others as you are truly loved.
7-6 Unveiling Your Hidden Glory
We have all tucked away parts of ourselves that can be uncovered by some gentle direct current. Your answers can tell you what you missed in the past; they will reveal what you can be doing right now to comfort and encourage the wonderfully created you. It is not too late, no matter what your ego tells you.
7-7 Unpacking the Excess Baggage
There is a court of law that grants freedom from oppression, and because we trust that Jesus paid the penalty, He promises us a worthy counselor. This is the purpose of the Holy Spirit. There is true justice that is our defense. Unfortunately, Satan can disguise his voice of condemnation to sound convincingly like the One who knows the truth about you. The evil one wants you to remain in captivity, and he will oppress you with the same baggage that Jesus wants to release.
Eighth Stage: My Weakness is YHWH's Strength
Understanding where a problem comes from is not the same as solving it. Don't let the past continue to distract you from the choices you're making in the present.
8-1 There is Perfect Peace When You Know How Deeply You're Loved: Shalom
There is true power in choosing to give yourself away. You must be sure that you are aware of the difference between giving freely and being manipulated. That can also feel as if it was your will, but subtle control denies you the right to give. Likewise, pay attention to whom you’re blaming. Perhaps your early training has robbed you of your natural boundaries that sound their alert when you’re giving yourself away.
8-2 The Sun of Righteousness Will Rise With Healing in His Wings
Have you been wounded by unfair criticism? It strikes a nerve and causes internal cataclysm. This is the criticism that sounds sincere and wrecks heavy damage by its painful condemnation. There is no redemption in unjust criticism. The Spirit of Truth can cleanse you if you’re willing. Don’t be mislead with a lie!
8-3 Wading Through the Quagmire
You can attempt any cure that comes your way, but there’s only one way that you’ll experience total freedom, and that’s through the humility of presenting your broken self in a way that will open a flow to the Source of healing.
8-4 Restoring Relationships--Start With the One in the Mirror
As you’re being transformed, you’ll start to see the ways you’ve manipulated your life for the sake of self-preservation. Quick fixes and substitutes for real love have kept you from living life to the full.
8-5 "To Be or Not To Be" is ALAWYS the Question
The cost of failing to attempt growth in this life is more lasting and harmful than the painful embarrassment of being a beginner. Allow yourself the journey, and never stop to consider the length of the trip. Every day moves forward whether or not you’re actively marching. That is your choice, and what you choose may or may not be a gift back to YHWH, the “Giver of days.” It’s reciprocal!
8-6 We Love Because He First Loved Us
“You may be surprised to learn that this gift of love is not about ‘learning to love more’ or ‘learning to love better.’ In God’s world, receiving love comes before giving love. We learn how to love only when we first learn how to receive the love of God and others.
8-7 Stepping Out in Perfect Style--Yours!
Design your perfect day…
Ninth Stage: Awakening Your Compassionate Heart
Awareness brings the truth to light; Trust in the LORD turns negative to positive, action begets action, and what once seemed a dead end may take on a new life.
9-1 Fighting For Your Compassionate Heart
Discernment is one of the primary objectives of life transformation. Its essence will accurately perceive the larger reality, and enable you to move into appropriate action. We’ve been distracted from the truth and burdened by guilt. The inability to accomplish feels like failure. Maturity allows for compassionate searching and reconciliation.
9-2 Looking at the Reflection of Your Heart
Today’s exercise is to read your journal to look back at these times in gratitude, and also find clues for your future. The only rule is to reserve your judgment about your writing and yourself. It is a mirror into your soul! See your journal as a valuable informant, not a heartless accuser.
9-3 Skipping Stones Across the Waters
Every action creates a possibility that launches a chain reaction into the world. Take a pebble and skip it across a calm lake. Watch the ripples spread outward, affecting the entire body of water. Your life is like that pebble. Life pours out of you, flowing into time and space. What you say and do really is making a difference.
9-4 We've Not Yet Begun to Fight
All of us hit the occasional creative dead end. It’s usually the things that you love the most that are most often under attack. Identify what needs to be forgiven. Know that you are not alone in missing the mark. Which of your dead ends would you like to see resurrected? Can you find a door where you once saw only a wall?
9-5 Beating the Enemy at His Own Game
As we being to see how we’ve listened and agreed with our Inner Critic, we struggle to break free. When we finally decide to percivere against captivity, we need to know his tactics. Don’t let even the smallest agreement with the Father of Lies undermine your imitation of Christ.
9-6 The Envisionary World
Living a full life is a process of transformation, recovering the self that’s been disillusioned in a sinful world. A healthy recovery requires a determined commitment to health. That takes a daily decision to set aside the privileges and attentions that are given to the emotional invalid. Character is built on successful failure. We must be reborn, and then we must grow under the loving parentage of our heavenly Father. You make your commitment and your commitment will make you.
9-7 Exposing the Spirits
If it doesn’t bring freedom and it doesn’t bring life, it’s not Christianity. If it doesn’t restore the image of YHWH and rejoice in the heart, it’s not Christianity.
Tenth Stage: Going to War to Save Lives
We are called to the fight to set hearts free. We must prepare for battle.
10-1 Preparing to Come into Your Kingdom
We are called to be the rulers of the world He created. All of us are never-ceasing spiritual beings with a unique eternal calling to count for good in God’s great universe. We must have an awareness of the 'golden calves' that would keep us from effective rule.
10-2 Setting a Bottom Line for Effective Block Removal
Denial is an issue of faith. Rather than trust your vision and intuition, or gifts and skills, you fear the path that the Spirit is showing you. Awareness is the infancy of maturity. The temptations will lose their effectiveness when you bring them to light. You know that you’re working too hard when you’re too busy to obey the still, soft voice.
10-3 Grace Under Pressure
God is gradually teaching you to guard your heart so that you will reflect His glorious image. That’s what He intended when He created you, despite your being distracted along the way. Just because Jesus has already won the victory over Satan and his dominions doesn’t mean that our battle is over.
10-4 Wearing the Armor of God--a Natural Fit!
We often hold on to behaviors that perpetuate disrespect, and consequently captivity. Out of force of habit, we continue to fall for the lies that tangle and ensnare us and those we
In order to guard against rationalization and denial, it is reasonable to set a clear bottom line. Learn how to lovingly parent yourself with safe boundaries. This requires affirming commands from the Word of God and gentle, supportive friends who can help you to focus on the larger reality.
10-5 Fleecing the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
The Enemy will always try to get you to assist him in destroying someone. The Evil One weaves a subtle lie around every individual that invites everyone in his life to dishonor him in the same way. Just as you are victim to your inner critic, so do others struggle with their own failed glory, and this conflict pervades our social interactions. Be aware that it’s not you, and turn this into a very effective weapon against captivity.
10-6 Turning an Enemy Attack Against Him
These times when you’re under attack are opportunities for you to explore the motivation of your spirit, and to locate the source of your responses. To become aware that it’s the enemy who’s seeking a secure foothold by finding the weaknesses in your life gives you the sudden advantage of predicting where he’ll turn up.
10-7 Let Go, Let Love
The desire to follow YHWH is the journey to intimacy. Success will show itself in good works, but ultimate victory is not won through good works. Striving to do well always results in a feeling of unworthiness. There’s always so much more to be done! Our basic human need to be recognized and approved turns slightly askew and makes us wonder, “am I doing well?” The right answer gives us a boost of treacherous pride. False pride is equally hurtful to God, as it is also a twisted view of who He created us to be. That is, when we consider ourselves worthy in our humanity. Resting in the LORD is the only way to receive the peace that passes understanding.
Eleventh Stage: Abiding Together
The Importance of Community
11-1 All For One, and One For All
Community is not possible without each individual. United in Christ, the separate pieces pull together to achieve what they can not anticipate. Each accepting his role, not trying to be other than what they are, not rejecting their place or judging the place of another, they are able to do together what they can not do separately: create an environment for communion.
11-2 The Tribe of Friends
While we participate in large communities, we must understand the importance of our intimate circle. Jesus had seventy-two students, and He chose twelve to share His personal life.
Likewise, we need to know one another openly and honestly.
Who's seen you at your best and worst, and accept you regardless? There is a fierce love between you which you may not have realized or know what to do with. You share a camaraderie that overcomes your differences. At times, they are your strength, and you trust each other for balance. Relationship may be messy, but it’s safe. They fight for you, and you for them. This is true communion.
11-3 The Communion in Community
When Scripture talks about church, it means community, and that is Communion. The Oxford English dictionary describes communion as, “The sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings.” For many of us, a small intimate group is draining, while others find it invigorating. What kind of vitality and life do you experience in your current group? Is it mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationship?
11-4 There is So Much More of You Than You
When the mind is focused on somthing other, the self often comes into a far more accurate focus. But you must move out of self-sacrifice and into the sacrificial self. You give and serve because self flows out of you.
11-5 Chaotic Kingdoms
A true community is a struggle to find, form and keep alive. That’s because it’s rare, valuable, and so worth the fight. This is The Church, not the label (church, temple, mass, whatever) your culture has put on it. It’s the communion of souls, and without it, you’re in solitary confinement. It cannot bear your aching needs. You are putting too much weight on the structure if you aren’t leaning on the foundation, who is Jesus Christ. Community is no substitute for an intimate relationship with YHWH. It’s not about you!
11-6 Solitude is Not Isolation
Community cannot thrive without solitude.
There is a rhythm to life together, as Bonhöffer said. We go to God alone and often, so that we have something to bring back to the community.
11-7 Sanctuary for the Soul
Create a quiet, nurturing place for your heart.
Twelfth Stage: God's Glory Revealed to All Mankind
You share the gospel through your life, occasionally even using words.
12-1 The Love You've Known All Along
Did Jesus give us this admonition so we’d keep our naughty little hearts out of trouble? We might as well lock them up and throw away the key! That’s why religion feels like behavior modification. No one can really live like that. Guard your heart like a treasure because it is the source of life. Stay alert because your life itself depends on it! This is a warning from a Father who loves us so much that He doesn’t want our connection with Him to be severed.
12-2: Are You a Watering Can or a Hosepipe?
How direct is your connection to the Source? What's your method of being filled? You can’t love well unless you’re caring for your heart the way He does. How you handle your own heart is how you will handle others’. So, if yours is empty, dried up, or locked up, then no one else will encounter Christ through you. Caring for your own heart isn’t selfishness. It’s how you begin to love. Love others as you would love your own heart (Mark 12:28-31)...Assuming that you love your heart the way the One who created it does.
12-3 We Love For God's Sake
The abundant life flows through your heart. God created you with every intention of granting you a full life; you must be resolved to keep a clear channel to the Source. This is your motivation to care for your spirit.
12-4 All Nature Sings While Round Me Rings
Musica Universalis—THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES: sound, tone—we call it ‘music’, this communication that defies language. Consider the other aspects of your life that seem to echo through time and space…
12-5 Silence Speaks Volumes
Silence and solitude are imperative, and intended to be taken frequently and regularly. Jesus modeled that, so what’s stopping you? The Inner Critic will try to stop you, keep you busy, and divert you from the Source.
12-6 Will You Accept the Wet Blanket?
As you step out of the boat, a gust of wind will attempt to sideswipe you. Will you be distracted from reaching for the Savior? In order to achieve escape velocity, you must learn to move silently among doubters, sharing your plans only with your trusted allies and to receive their counsel with discernment.
12-7 Pursuing the Adventure
We are constantly climbing, circling back on the same views, from increasingly higher altitudes of experience. Growth is a spiral journey, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping. Don’t be distracted by the heights. You may appreciate the view, but watch your step! Guard your heart.
Coming soon: the Source: Master Your Technique of Art and Living
Twelve weeks to develop the classic fine art skills, and tap into your creative potential