Monthly Archives: December 2013

Escape from the Box Life (Part 9)

Perhaps you think I have gone over the edge. Perhaps you’re thinking—I was taught this or I was taught that about the Holy Spirit. He does not act that way any longer. I was taught the same things but I lived as a prisoner in a religious and emotional box. I could see freedom from the window of my cell but stretch and strain as hard as I might I could not reach it—it was just beyond my fingertips.

I finally got so desperate that I began to read the Bible with a ravenous hunger. I refused to accept what some denomination, or professor, or preacher, or teacher, or theological system that limits God had said, and instead I sought to find out what the Bible said. I came to the point where I was willing to accept what Jesus said at face value. As I read, I began to cry out for what he promised his followers. “God I want what you promised and gave to those believers back in the book of Acts. I want the same thing! I want all of you! I want nothing more, but I refuse to accept anything less!”

All the verbiage and deductions that sounded so good in neatly packaged sermons, lessons, and lectures was not producing the kind of life I was reading about in Scripture. It was not working for me. I talked to friends and mentors and their advice was to read the Bible more and prayer harder. I had heard this kind of advice for most of my Christian life and it never worked. I had plenty of information but no saw little transformation. I was filled with knowledge but not the power of the Holy Spirit. I was like a power saw fitted with a brand new blade, but my electrical plug was lying inches away from the power outlet. I was close but not plugged in. I was close but no cigar. Close is not good enough. I was frustrated, empty, and boxed in.

So I began to do what Jesus told us to do. I began to seek—to ask—to knock. I read the Scriptures through with new eyes and listened to what God was saying with new ears. I put my presuppositions away. I laid my theological systems and excuses down. I humbled myself and ask God to forgive me for my arrogance and stupidity. I asked him to forgive me for attempting to put him in a box and I did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

Please listen very closely and carefully this is not rocket science. I am not talking about being slain in the Spirit or falling down under the Spirit’s power. I am not talking about speaking in tongues or any other manifestation that may or may not have occurred in the experience of other believers in the past. I not saying it won’t happen either. So just relax a little whichever way you lean.

No—I am not talking about an experience (though there might be one)—I am talking about an encounter with Jesus where the empowerment of the Holy Spirit comes and that encounter or experience or whatever you are most comfortable calling it changes you forever. It plugs you into the power source and your spiritual motor starts to spin at a high RPM and the boxes start exploding like firecrackers. I’m talking about knowing for certain that you are walking in the presence and the power of God. I’m talking know so not hope so.

It is possible if you obey what Luke 11:13 tells us to do—what Jesus told us to do. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

I found when I obeyed God’s Word that God honored my obedience. “What did you do?” you may be wonderking.

I asked!

Escape from the Box Life (Part 8)

Perhaps you are hesitant in letting go or giving up. Perhaps you are fearful that God might judge you or give you what others may think you deserve. Perhaps you are frightened he might give you what you think you deserve. Take a deep breath for a moment. Clear your brain and then read this entry closely.

That box life you are holding onto is nothing more than a life measured by constraints and limitations rather than the limitless potential God has placed within you. God the Father sent God the Son to join us in our human box. We were not created originally in a box, but the disobedience of Adam locked all of us in a human box marred by sin. Jesus joined us, but his box was empty because he had no sin nature, nor did he sin in word, thought, or deed.

Jesus was human—he was flesh and blood just like you and me. He got tired, hungry, thirsty, angry, sad, bled when cut, and bruised when struck. He was the real deal. Yet, he was not limited in his humanity. Not because he was God (and he was—100%), but rather because he was a man wholly empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus understood what it takes to live the life God has called each of us to. He accomplished it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God has no desire to punish or embarrass you. His desire is to heal you and fill you with his presence and power—with his Holy Spirit. Jesus promised he would empower all his followers and he would do so through the filling or baptism (you choose the word you are most comfortable with—they are both biblical) of the Holy Spirit.

Most Christians live powerless lives chained to the bondage of the past. A powerless Christian is an oxymoron. The words powerless and Christian do not go together. It was unknown in the books of the New Testament. Jesus promised his followers he would baptize them in the Holy Spirit and fire. He was not talking about the indwelling of the Spirit that comes when a person is born again. He was talking about an empowerment to do what he has called us to do—an empowerment to live the Christian life to the fullest.

The fear you are feeling may be there because the power you need is lacking. I am not questioning whether you are a believer or not, so relax. The question is: are you empowered by the Holy Spirit? He is the only one who can destroy your box. If you are filled with the Spirit your box can’t hold you—it’s simply too small.

This is just a thought—you can take it or leave it, but please consider it a bit before you make a decision one way or another. If Jesus needed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to complete the work he had been sent to do—if Jesus needed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the temptations and tricks of the devil—if Jesus needed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to stand firm against the threats and questions of the religious elite—don’t you think you do as well?

If Jesus needed to be baptized with the Spirit or filled with the Spirit (both of which took place in his life according to Luke), don’t you think you do as well? Forget about the boxes for a moment—this is really a question of what you truly believe.

Are you experiencing the life-changing presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life right now? If not, why not? Perhaps that’s the real issue. Do you remember the limitless potential I mention back in the first paragraph? If you belong to Jesus Christ, that limitless potential is the Holy Spirit.

Escape from the Box Life (Part 7)

This is what freedom looks like!

Perhaps a definition might help all of us as we seek to break the bonds of the boxes that bind us in bondage. Darkness is the absence of light and light is the absence of darkness. If darkness reigns in any area of our life—in some deep corner of that box—light has not yet penetrated it. And if light is shining into a box the darkness cannot overcome that light and must flee. This is simple truth—the kind of truth that liberates the prisoner from the cell.

Liberation begins with a settled understanding that what has transpired in our life—our failures, our wounds, the transgressions of others, abuse, or misuse—are things that have happened to us or were perpetrated on us, not who we are. They are not our identity. As such, they cannot determine what we become because they are not a part of the eternal inheritance God has given us through his grace…unless we refuse to give them to God.

That’s where the light and darkness issue arises. All of us are dragging baggage around. God has a deep, loving desire to take the baggage off our back and heal all of it, but he will not wrestle us for it. He will not force you to open your suitcase up or jump on your back, ride you to the ground, and rip that bulging knapsack off your shoulders.  But, if you will stop running from the past and crack open the latches, God will shine his light into those dark places. That light will point to those things you must release and give to him. Rest assured, he will never force his hand into that place and take something you are unwilling to release.

He may point to that box of abuse, or negative words, or loss, or failure, or sin, or abuse and say, “Give me that box—yes that one—and I will take it and heal the wound it has inflicted. I will give you liberty and release from it.” But you must put your hand inside your own soul and take hold of it. You must offer it up to God.

We are so afraid God will dump our bags out and hold up our most embarrassing memories or wounds and embarrass us before all creation. He won’t! Grace-filled restoration and healing guided by a loving heart is his motive. The fear you feel right now did not come from him.

Even as you read this, God is working. He is shining the brilliant light of his endless love onto your baggage. He is gently asking you to give him whatever has hurt, or wounded, or limited, or contained, or destroyed, or confined you. He wants you to give him all that has kept you from enjoying the endless delights of a shame-free, guilt-free, and condemnation free relationship with him. Why? Because he loves you!

Perhaps God has stopped you dead in your fleeing tracks at this very moment. You have a choice to make. Life is a journey and the journey is tough enough without dragging tons of unnecessary baggage around with you everywhere you go. Will you give up those boxes and receive the healing God so desperately wants you to walk it? Or will you run some more hoping somehow, someway you can eventually outrun the pain, the sorrow, and the loneliness?

Escape from the Box Life (Part 6)

 

The damaged baggage of the soul

What does emotional or soul baggage look like? Certainly it bears no resemblance to the flashy alligator bags or supple calfskin suitcases that are the crowns of luxury in travel shops. No, these boxes are hidden deep in the cracks and crevices of our wounded souls. We keep them hidden in the back of the closet fearful that once opened our deepest secrets and wounds will be exposed for all to see.  These unhealed wounds lock us in a box of bondage that translates into a happy face on the outside and a hopeless person trapped on the inside.

Perhaps you have been told that you’re worthless by parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, pastors, and other who were in authority over you. Perhaps you’ve been called stupid, dumb, ugly, fat, loser, too slow, too tall, two thin, or too whatever. Words have wounded your heart and those wounds are as raw today as they were the day they were inflicted. Listen closely—those words were a lie. You are a prisoner right now because you have believed the lie and locked it away in your heart. Expose the lie and embrace the truth.

Perhaps you’ve been hurt and rejected by someone you loved and who supposedly once loved you. You’ve been abandoned and your heart is shattered in a million pieces like shards of glass from a broken mirror. Perhaps you’ve gathered up every little piece and carefully stored them in a box and hid it what you considered a safe place. Yet the pain won’t go away. You’ve tried medication but all it does is make you numb and lifeless. You feel unloved and unlovable, and you are keeping God and everyone else at arm’s length because you’re afraid of rejection. You are drowning in unworthiness, unable to find the love you so desperately long for. Fear has paralyzed you. Listen closely—pour out the broken pieces of your heart before the Lord. He loved you so much he sent his Son to die for you. Allow him to mend your broken heart with his tender love.

Perhaps you are filled with shame. Perhaps you were abused or used by someone who was nothing more than a predator. The enemy has lied to you and convinced you that you are “less than—damaged goods.” Perhaps you have believed his lie that you deserved exactly what you got. That shame has filled you and you are so afraid someone might see the filth you feel you are covered in. Shame, humiliation, and embarrassment are your constant companions. Listen closely—God says you belong to him. You are not what happened to you. That abuse or misuse by a predator does not define who you are—it is not your identity. God says you are the apple of his eye and he has drawn you to himself with lovingkindness. Allow him to restore your heart and your emotions.

Perhaps you’ve made some mistakes. We all have. Perhaps it was a bad decision that led to a behavior or action you can’t undo or redo. You’ve racked your brain raw trying to figure out how you could have been so stupid. You’re ashamed and filled with condemnation, so you’ve pushed it down in a little box and taped the lid tight so no one will ever find out. Like a broken record all you can hear is God can’t forgive this.  Listen closely—take that event, that lapse of judgment, that stupid decision, that hidden sin out of the box and present it to God. Come into agreement with God that it is whatever it is. Forgiveness will come. He will not hold it back. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

These are the things that line the baggage boxes of most believers. They will ferment and eat away the linings of our soul unless we offer them up to God. Darkness thrives in darkness, but it flees when exposed to light. Perhaps the time has come to turn on the light.

Escape From The Box Life (Part 5)

All of us drag or carry around invisible boxes stuffed full with memories. For some it might look like a backpack or a carry-on bag, but for others it’s a Pullman suitcase or a steamer trunk. Our stuff is stored in these emotional boxes. There are good things there—our accomplishments, successes, victories, and achievements. There are memories of the perfect day when everything went right and the decisions we made were spot on.

 But deep down inside that same baggage, crammed into the hidden pockets or jammed as deep as we can push are some things that are not so good. We all have a past. We’ve all failed, sinned, made terrible choices, been hurt, wounded, abused, shamed and/or ridiculed.

All those moments, experiences, and events (both good and bad) are imprinted on our souls, whether we can call up the details or not. If it happens to be an emotional wound or hurt and it has not been healed, it is as raw and real as the day it happened even if it occurred years ago. Time does not heal all hurts—that’s a lie the devil perpetrated to keep us wounded and bleeding. It’s what we do with the time that matters.

These unhealed pockets from the past break hearts, imprison us in the enemy’s jail, and create countless types of bondage. They affect us at many different levels, especially on the spiritual level in our ability to respond to God’s unconditional love. The very thing we need to heal is the thing that frightens us the most due to our bad experiences from the past. It becomes junk in our trunk that slows us down and leaves us emotionally stranded and shipwrecked on our journey through life.

This is the unnecessary baggage we drag around everywhere we go and into everything we do. It creates all kinds of boxes with stuff that most would rather not deal with. Just the thought of facing some of those ghosts from the past feels us with terror. So we paint a smiley face on our box of pain and stuff it farther down. But—behind the smiley face is a hurting person…a helpless person—perhaps even a hopeless person.

These are the boxes Jesus came to destroy. Has your bag become too heavy to drag around? Perhaps the latches and zippers find it hard to keep all the stuff in and the pain is spilling over the sides? Are you willing to unpack your bag, clean out those hidden pockets, and offer Jesus your pain in return for his peace and love? God the Father has already placed the junk in your trunk on the shoulders of Jesus as he hung on the cross. Perhaps the time has come for you to leave that invisible baggage where it belongs—with Jesus.

 

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