Mystics arise!

13 Sep

Through much of my life, I haven’t given much thought to the word ‘mystic’.  I used to relegate it to someone who was ‘over the edge’ in their beliefs and kind of ‘spooky’ in their deportment.

But historically, in religious circles, the title ‘mystic’, is used to describe some of our notable contemplatives.  In the last couple of thousand years, these ancient church mystics possessed a relationship, piety, and reality in God that set them apart.  Some of the more commonly known mystics include Francis of AssisiIgnatius LoyolaJohn of the CrossBrother Lawrence, and Jeanne Guyon, just to name a few.

Religious opinion and tradition generally require that to be called a mystic, one must have had a personal transformation… or must have effected transformation in someone else.

But if you think about it, that definition should apply to any seriously devout God-person.  In Christian circles, a personal and even radical transformation is not only sought after but is a powerfully validating evidence that one has truly had an encounter with God.  In addition, it will empower that one to be a ‘carrier’ of the attributes of the divine encounter and be able to impart those attributes to others.  A bona fide encounter with God has an inherent residual within it which will emanate effortlessly and contagiously to those around… almost involuntarily.

A sad commentary is that much of the Church finds itself diluted, even mousy, without much ‘transformational’ power resident within its gatherings and practices.  This is a travesty, especially since the Church’s Theology purports such great power.

This diluted condition is not a true reflection on the Gospel, to be sure.  Rather, it’s the ‘handlers’ of the Gospel who have lost their passion, poignancy, personal devotion, and the resulting overflow.  But lest I get too far out on a tangent, let’s return to our theme.

So recently, as I did a cursory investigation about the subject of ‘mystic’and I found something surprising.  The label and the description of a mystic is not as crazy as I had believed, in fact, if we’re seriously conscientious about our faith and relationship with God, then all devout God-lovers will become a mystic… maybe even, mystical… at least by definition.

A definition of a mystic:

~ Someone who believes in unseen realities
~ One who believes that they can have access to hidden mysteries, that transcend ordinary human knowledge.
~ One who believes that they can actually know God.

It sounds like they’re talking about any passionate lover of God.  After all, doesn’t this describe the basics of our personal relationship with God?

So let’s get a little more technical in our definition of Mysticism.

1. Unitive experience (believes in union with God)

~ A sense of union with God
~ Usually a fundamental part of defining a religious experience
~ Perceiving a unity to God or the Supernatural
~ Sense of participation in that unity

2. Paradoxical (hard to explain experiences)

~ Beyond normal reason, cannot be explained
~ Yet, believed to be true
~ Knowledge was gained, yet can’t explain how that knowledge came

Well, it sounds like ‘mystic’ should define every true believer.  So, let the mystics arise, stand up confidently… and be mystifying!!! 

— MLH

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DPM Update – 2019 Sept – Shefa / Outpouring

3 Sep

Dear Friends

Debbie & I will join Dave & Ann Clark this month for another trip to Israel.  We’ll pick up where we left off in our benevolence mission… as well as reconnect with our growing and dear friendships.  In our recent trips, we’ve made some deep relationships which have been mutually inspiring.  There can be no mistaking of Heaven’s guidance and God’s presence among us.  We’ve all felt God’s delight as we dialog about matters of the heart and share personal God-testimonies.  It’ll be a joy to see them again.

The following is just one of our many bright points in our recent trips to Israel.

We’ve become very good friends with an amazing 21-year-old young man by the name of Ezra, who describes himself as a modern orthodox Jew.  He is the great-grandson of an almost legendary rabbi, Ovadia Yosef (Obadiah Joseph), who died in 2013.  Nearly everyone in Israel knows of Rabbi Joseph and reveres him as a rabbi of almost royalty status in modern times… his picture is even posted in many Jewish restaurants.

Ezra gave Dave and I a tour of his prestigious yeshiva (religious school) Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, where he has studied with 200-300 young men for about 5 years.  We were very warmly welcomed by the rabbis, and then Ezra showed us the sizable library where some books date back 500 years.  The prolific writings of his photographic-memory great grandfather, are there in a collection that looks like rows of encyclopedias.

The really amazing part about Ezra is that he loves to dialog on any topic and easily relates it back to the Torah, Tanakh, or Talmud.  This was of special interest to us because we loved hearing his explanation of the original content and original intent of the Bible passages.  Beyond that, Ezra carries himself with much decorum and talks with ease about any topic.  One such topic was his explanation of the times we live in.

He called this present time that we live in, the “World of Process”, which might be described as the time in which man is in the process of being perfected.  He went on to say that the next world is called the “World to Come” which can have two possible meanings: after we die… or when Messiah comes.  That time is where all the ‘supernatural’ things found in Holy Scripture will occur again.  He further elaborated that the afterlife “World to Come” is not bound by time.  It is outside of time – bigger than time – so it will be and has ALWAYS been, existent.

After discussing a few topics, I asked, “What caused men of God in the Bible to experience the supernatural things, such as miracles, healings, prophecy, etc?”

Ezra said it was when they experienced the “stream” (his own word/description) out of God that they were empowered to do these unusual things.

So I asked, “How would you describe the “stream”?”

He said, “The best Hebrew word is probably Shefa.  There are lots of words to describe Shefa; such as abundance, wealth (not earthly), the flow of goodness, blessing, benefit, Divine ‘flow’, emanation or influence, etc… but the best English word is probably “Outpouring”!”

I was impacted deeply upon hearing this, because the word Outpouring, is the exact title we sometimes use to identify our Christian moves of God which are accompanied by the supernatural!  I described how we experience some of those Biblical supernatural phenomena and actually ‘reach’ for those phenomenon experiences as one of our core values.  I said that one of the common predicating factors for many of these outpourings is HUNGER… hunger for this intimate experience and for ‘breakthrough’ empowerment.

A rabbi’s description of Shefa
“Shefa is actually, on the broadest level, the flow of goodness that comes to our world from the higher planes of existence.  Shefa comes as a blessing and has many forms.  The Shefa, on one hand, is sent down… by divine direction, but on the other hand is drawn down to our level by need, by circumstance and in response to human action.” –
 Rabbi Fisdel

So I asked Ezra if he believed that Shefa can be experienced today.  He said, “We will experience Shefa when the Messiah comes… in the “World to Come”.  It will certainly be much easier to experience then.”

To that, I had to ask, “But if the afterlife “World to Come” is ALWAYS existent… and men of old have already experienced these “streams” and “outpourings”, then we too, should be able to experience it now, right?”  After a short pause, he concurred… and his exact words were, “We must learn to live in the stream.  It is the most amazing thing and the highest level of our existence.”

I could tell that this was a topic that was very dear to him, but one that may not be in mainstream conversations.  Shortly, I realized that my own heart was being strangely stirred.  I explained to him how I knew that I was having a mini Shefa, right there in the car.  Our discussion was so precious at that point that tears filled my eyes and I felt to prophesy over him that he was going to find himself drawn into the discovery of how to live in the “stream”/Shefa of God… that this quest would grip and consume him.  I continued, that his faith for this would rise as God gave him milestone experiences to surely take him into this kind of reality.  And he would be used to enlighten others about the validity of experiencing the “stream”/Shefa in their lives, too.  He was deeply moved and with great thoughtfulness responded, “I hope so.”

That evening was very encouraging for all of us.  Upon parting ways, Dave & I spoke blessings over him.  He sincerely acknowledged that this had been a most impacting experience.

We’re very happy to have met Ezra as he is a valuable resource of rich insights of original Biblical passages, but even more, I’m very proud of him and grateful that he counts us among his friends.  We’ve had several very meaningful exchanges since then and without a doubt, we will continue rewarding and stimulating exchanges for years to come.

— MLH

Lemonade and beyond!!!

6 Jun

A wise and timeless adage says: “If life serves lemons, make lemonade” (I write about that here.) Let’s unpack this process a little more.

Everyone experiences trials.  Those trials can be our bain… or our benefit.  But even more poignantly, every man and woman of faith MUST go through trials in order to be approved.  I think of James 1: 2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  

And

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.” – I Pet 4:12-13

And

Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.  When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.  You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing.  Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. – I Pet 1:7-9

And

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. – Job 23:10

And

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 

Disclaimer:  I am NOT saying that ALL tests come from God. 

1) God’s tests are intended to be redemptive, to empower us and to approve us. 

2) The devil’s tests are meant to wear us down and destroy us. 

3) This world’s trials are neuter… they’re just part of the package deal of living in this earth.

But no matter where the tests come from, we can be assured that there will be tests!  There is no getting around the issue of the testing of our faith.  Each of us experiences our unique kind of testing.  But just when we think we’ve ‘arrived’… and we get ‘graduated’ to the next ‘grade’… waiting for us there, are new testings.  (Remember school – each subject had tests to prove what we’d learned.)  Tests, in and of themselves are not our enemy.  Nor does it mean that if we’re in a test that we’ve somehow fallen out of favor with God.  Passing tests helps to affirm us… to approve us… to validate our faith… to give us ‘credentials’, etc.   Not sure I like it, but in God’s great master plan, tests are a significant part of the larger process that brings us into maturity. 

So it’s important that we don’t get angry at the tests.  That wouldn’t be beneficial to us.  Remember, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…”  But God has a magnificent way of “… causing everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  A similar sentiment is stated here:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works FOR us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; – II Cor 4:17

The important thing that I’m trying to learn and practice is to be proactive in the trials.  In other words, when I face a trial I want to get on God’s side of the matter versus my narrow-minded side. 

On God’s side, the answer is already here/“it is finished”… and He sees us as “complete and lacking in nothing”.  He’s waiting to see if we’ll accept and adopt His point of view. 

On our humanity side, we’re preoccupied with lack and pain and loss and rejection, etc… and we want our baby ‘binky’ back, NOW!!!!

On God’s side, we are learning to see from His bigger perspective… and to begin to proactively declare into being, those things which He wants in us and around us.

On our humanity side, we beg, plead, worry, fret, complain and view ourselves as lowly needy peasant creatures.

On God’s side, He’s looking for kingly partners who release His Kingdom realities on earth just as it is in Heaven.

I think God’s dream has always been to see us come out from under the tyrannical preoccupation and domination of our immediate needs… and find our solace in His goodness and love for us… and find our courage in the knowledge that He already has the answer ‘on the way’.  As this knowledge becomes more of a reality in us, we find it easier to partner with God in creating our ‘world’ around us by prophesying and calling into being those things which are lacking (Romans 4:17).

You remember John & Cheryl’s infant son Asher, who was suddenly and inexplicably stricken with total paralysis in both arms and hands last year.  I immediately informed our whole family that we WILL NOT be sucked down into a dark hole of despair and discouragement.  We will remember the trophies that came from past trials and use those trophies as launching pads for our faith in this ordeal.  Well… it’s been a little over a year and that little boy has 95% of his movement back in his arms, hands, and fingers.  And he will get it all, without a doubt!

Latest personal trial for Debbie and me! 
Recently, we were out of town for 4 or 5 days.  While we were away, a plumbing pipe burst and water gushed into the first floor and basement for nearly 1 ½ days.  Major damage!!  Tens of thousands of dollars of damage!  Insurance agencies tore out all of Debbie’s brand new kitchen and much of our basement, back to the floor/ceiling joists and wall studs.  It will all have to be replaced which will probably take several more months.  Insurance will cover everything except for the $5K deductible.

Hmmmm.  So how should we react or respond in a situation as devastating as this!?  A person could immediately go into despair and emotional trauma… or he could ‘draw upon’ the rich history of trophies gained from past trials.  And we did!  We heard about the catastrophe before we arrived home and I immediately informed our family:           

We’ll not forget the past cycles of trials!
Have we ever had trials?  Yes!
Have any of those trials yielded trophies?  Yes!

Have most of those trials yielded trophies?  Yes!
Is there any reason to believe this time will be any different?  No!
SOoooo, our confession will be, “Trials yield great trophies!”
Lemons make great lemonade… (maybe even lemon cream pie!)

Our history in God… and our memory of coming through those cycles of trials, serves as a great anchor point to help us participate with God as an asset to Him, rather than become a liability to God. (Obviously, I say LIABILITY facetiously, because His heart is so able to work with us wherever we are in our growth.)  If we forget how we acquired the last trophy we disempower ourselves in this current trial.  If we call to mind the past trophies accruing on the mantles of our lives, we can equip ourselves with peace, stability, and courage to walk through this trial.

Well, Debbie and I have already discovered a few trophies that will come out of this ‘baptism’ of water ordeal… and I’m sure that there will be many more… you just watch and see!!  We keep reminding each other of the lemon cream pie!!  🙂  

So this is life in the raw…. this is real life!  Our years of walking with God give us greater ability to face trials without being capsized or shipwrecked.  Thank you, God!

I’m sure that each of us is digging deep into our reservoir of history in God to find solid ground to ‘stand on’.  The testimony and trophy to God’s Goodness that you gain at the end of each ordeal will only serve to more deeply anchor your faith in God, make you unshakable in future trials, and empower your life message to those around you!  

I leave you with this verse:  II Cor 2:14-15

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing

Again, the same verse from the Message Bible:

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.  Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.  Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.  Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.

I proclaim, “I believe in you!!!”  And even more, I believe in God and His goodness toward you.  I believe there will be a breakthrough discovered for your situation – whether it’s a physical, spiritual or circumstantial.  I believe you will rise up and stand tall again… and tell a great story about your latest trophy… giving glory to the Grace of God!

Prayer:  I partner with God today, making prayerful declarations:  Today we call forth breakthroughs that will free up Your people.  We call forth insights and dreams that will have a ‘key’ to breakthroughs!  I speak to our spirit man to increase in strength and to be full of courage.  I call forth supernatural strength and empowerment.  Be empowered this day with fresh courage, greater perspectives, and power from on High!  And we declare the fulfillment of all of Father’s intentions to come forth in you.  We bless those dreams that Father has been holding for you… to be released in the proper timing.  Come forth in Jesus name and not one of those dreams go unfulfilled!!!  Amen!

— MLH

Reblog – Jesus Christ is how we understand ourselves

15 May

A good friend Mel Wild, posts some profound insights and foundational Christian imperatives.  A recent post on his blog In My Father’s House, addresses a vital aspect for living the overcoming Kingdom life as a believer.  I was going to write a post on this subject but I don’t think I could say it any more clear or succinct.

Our Father’s desire is that we see ourselves the way He sees us.  The Bible says that His perspective of us is staggering… likely more than is easy for us to believe.  I don’t think this topic could be overstated. 

Here’s an excerpt from Mel’s post: 

In the gospel stories where Jesus is ministering to sick people, who do you identify with…the sick person, the disciples…or Jesus?

If you answered, “Jesus,” you would be correct.

I think it is nearly impossible to live in victorious, co-heir, co-ruler realities if we don’t get this powerful truth awakened in our belief system and exercised in our actions. 

Got your attention?  Then click on Mel’s post: Jesus Christ is how we understand ourselves

Enjoy!

— MLH

Testimony: Nerve damage healed – swelling and pain gone

6 Feb

Recently, I was in some meetings in WI where God’s grace was unusually present for healing.  Reminds me of this verse:

The power of the Lord was present to heal them. – Luke 5:17

It was so easy!  Of course, I believe that God always wants to heal, but there are sometimes when it is much easier.  Actually, God had given me a picture of this meeting a few days before and I knew that He was going to heal people.  But then, that’s what true Biblical faith does… it empowers us to believe even before we see.  And as we know, true Biblical faith only comes by “hearing” (Romans 10:17).  Well, I had ‘heard’ and that morning was just a matter of walking out what I had seen.

Kerry’s testimony is just one of nearly a dozen measurable healings that occurred that Sunday morning.  Here are his before and after pictures as visual proof.  I’ve talked with Kerry and his wife several times since then and they’re both extremely grateful to our Good God.

______________________

Kerry’s healing

Before

Before

Kerry had swelling in his right forearm, hand and fingers off and on for 5 years. It got worse as time when on, including extreme pain and pressure throughout his right hand, fingers and into his joints. Even picking up a coffee cup without dropping it was nearly impossible. Therapy methods only seemed to make it worse. The doctors were baffled as to the exact origin of the ailment.

After

Before his healing on Sunday Jan 27th, he was supposed to go back to the doctor to see if there was any further remedy. But after receiving prayer several times, his right hand was totally healed.  Swelling went down within minutes and full pain-free mobility returned.  His right hand now looks like his left hand.  Ten days later Kerry can still pick up a coffee cup without dropping it and strength has returned in his forearm and hand. Thank You, Lord!!!
______________

Your Healing

Click here

Hearing testimonies of breakthrough helps open the door of our faith for the same thing to happen again… this time, in us!  If you have an illness or a need, as you watch this video, exercise your faith for healing to manifest in your own body or your circumstances.  Find a quiet place to get away.  I believe you could enter into the same atmosphere of healing.  He is a good, good Father and no respecter of persons!  Thank you, God.

Video is about 53 minutes long.


Updates
from Kerry’s wife Hidey:

At 2 weeks:  “We are good!  Kerry’s hand is great… still after two weeks!  I can’t believe it!  Well, yes I can but it still seems weird!  Cause it was bad for so long.”

At 4 weeks:  “Here’s an update on Kerry’s hand.  He did some snow shoveling today and things around the house and no swelling at all!!!  God is up to something in our lives!!!!”


Other Healings

Several more healings occurred in those two Sunday morning meetings at Prince of Peace Christian Church in Tomahawk, WI.  After telling 4 of 5 cool testimonies about healings, we asked for anyone sick to raise their hands, then rallied the rest of the people to gather around and pray for those with raised hands.  Many grateful tears, lots of smiles, warmed hearts and happy testimonies filled the sanctuary as the healings became evident.  There were more healings, but here are a few we could remember. THANK YOU, LORD!!!

Laurie – had pain in a crooked toe, felt pop as they were praying for her.  All pain left and with many grateful tears exclaimed that she was able to put her weight on her toes now.

Elderly man – both feet numb from neuropathy, healed, all numbness gone.

Char – had neuropathy, and she was healed – had no pain and now had feeling.

Louis – older man had neck and shoulder pain from a tree branch falling on him – after prayer very happily reported no more pain

Man had left elbow pain, during prayer his arm strangely went to sleep, but he now had no pain.

Woman with limited range of motion in her neck, much-improved range of motion after prayer.

Trevor – first-time visitor felt tingling in shoulders during prayer… said he would check his shoulders on the job.

John had arthritis in his knees and had improved range of motion after prayer.

Jackie had carpal tunnel pain and stiffness in both wrists, after prayer, with many tears reported that all pain was gone and happily demonstrated full range of motion.

Tim – second time visitor, businessman – after prayer was overjoyed and with many tears exclaimed, “This is the first time in my WHOLE LIFE that I have NO STRESS about ANYTHING!”

Lady felt icy hot at first, then tingling in shoulders and all pain left shoulders and range of motion returned.

— MLH

Testimony: Melted by love… changed forever

28 Jan
Shine

SHINE youth conference – Tainan, Taiwan

For 3 or 4 years in the late 2000’s, our family helped lead a summer youth conference in Tainan, Taiwan.  Several years ago I received this heart melting testimony from a Tawainese young lady who is one of hundreds who come to the Lord each year, where about 1000 young people attend the annual summer SHINE youth conferences.  This event is hosted by Living Water Church in Tainan… pastored by Matt Chen.  A large portion of these youth have never heard about God, Jesus, church, love of God, etc.  Abbie’s testimony is very touching.  Just goes to show how much a simple hug (and even and un-understood prayer) can affect someone’s life forever. – MLH
____________________________


Dear pastor Mark,

My name is Abbie, Im from taiwan livingwater church.  So first i want to tell u a story about 6 years ago.  The first time i met God was in SHINE youth conference.  That was amazing night.  The time was in the worship.

I still remember that night.  You was talking about how the God father love us and u start to call, “If u want to give ur heart for Jesus or u want to know him, please come!”

And that night was u pray for me.  I was 17 years old.  I never feel love from my dad.  And suddenly you keep me in ur hug… speak to my life!  Even in that moment i dont understand in English, BUT i can feel that strong love deep inside of me!

After that i back to my life.  My father got big change.  He never hit me again!  And i start know my father aways love me.  Maybe is takes time to see that change, but lord is faithful!

I just got baptized last November.  Since He found me, he never give up on me.  Even if i choose my way, he aways try his best to bring me back!  And Im really thankful that u pray for me.  So now is a new season to learning how to be a daughter of God and believe him!

P.S. I always swear one day i will learn English to say thanks to you!  Really hope one day I can see you again!!

blessings,Abbie
Taiwan
____________________________________________________

Follow-up (Jan 2018)

Abbie – 2009

Recently a friend found a picture of the exact moment described above.  There was a lot of Heaven in that moment.  Abbie and I both felt it… tears flowed.

Today, as I was conversing with Abbie on Facebook, she posted another pic.  This time she is ministering Father’s love to another young lady… seven years after her very first encounter with Father God… at the same summer youth conference!

Abbie – 2016

Now, my heart is really messed up.  Seeing these pictures calls up deep affections for our eternal purpose on earth.  This is the way the Kingdom of God is supposed to function.  Wow!  Thank you, God!

Father God, bless Abbie with Your tender love and unusual help from Heaven… and with angels to protect and escort her into her full Godly destiny!  Amen

— MLH

 

Living within God’s grace

12 Dec

There are many voices ‘out there’ vying for our attention, hoping we’ll conform to their standards.  Those voices could be divided into 3 basic categories; God, the devil and ourselves.  Unless we’re teachable and have great mentors as sounding boards, or a possess a strong God-centered internal ‘plumbline’, we could be easily confused or duped.

And ‘old fashioned’ character is still a virtue.  It will help to hold a person from being 1)naively impetuous… or from being 2)fearfully indecisive when these voices present themselves.  Both unbridled actions can derail us.  

Many people, without a God-centered ‘plumbline’, find themselves chasing ‘the three G’s’ – girls, gold and glory.  

For all that is in the world, the 1)lust of the flesh and the 2)lust of the eyes and the 3)boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. – (I John 2:16)

This leads to dissipation or exhaustion.  Anything that is not supported by God’s grace will automatically deplete us, because it requires our own strength to attain it.  

Jesus learned this truth and He invites us to embrace it, also. 

Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. – (John 5:19)

This truth and this lifestyle is sustainable.  For sure, ‘sabbaths’ are still needed, but you won’t ‘run out of gas’ doing Father’s business.  Listen to an insight from Jesus.

I receive My nourishment by serving the will of the Father who sent Me and completing His work. – (John 4:34 Voice version)

Our Grace level fluctuates throughout our lives. It’s imperative that we learn to live within God’s Grace.

Consider the scenario in this graphic.  We’re excited about the growth curve that’s happening in our lives.  God is blessing us with favor of many kinds.  We’re happy and life is rewarding.  

Getting more ‘things’ has become easily attainable and within our own power.  We want bigger and better positions, possessions and power.

So we ask for more favors, incur debt, burn the candle at both ends, experience anxiety and fatigue, and find that we have almost no time for personal sabbath-type refuelings.  Of course, everyone else is running hard, too, so it seems normal.  And besides, “We’ve got to keep up with the Jones.”  This reminds me of a Lily Tomlin quote: 

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat.”   

Without question, this life mode is guaranteed to have a ‘moment of reckoning’.  Something will break; health, finances, relationships, etc.  Then we’ll be forced to reconsider and reevaluate what’s really important in our lives.

If you’ve hit a snag in life… something isn’t working anymore… and your patience and endurance is running thin, consider that you may have exceeded the grace of God in your life.  You may have to ‘reduce’ back to where the grace level is.

It usually takes a pretty strong force to change a mindset and lifestyle… imagine stopping a locomotive or turning a ship.  And this ‘reckoning’ usually requires some level of trauma to ‘encourage’ us let go of self acquired things… especially, if our identity is wrapped up in them.

We’ll have to search for where we exceeded God’s grace.  Where did we grasp for something in our own strength?  Where did we exchange the unmerited favor of God, for sacrificing personal sweat?   Consider this:

godliness with contentment is great gain – (I Tim 6:6)

with food and covering, we shall be content. – (I Tim 6:8)

These two verses present values which serve as guardrails on our lives.  They show us the bottom-line.  We must coach our hearts into the ability to be happy even if these bare-bones conditions are present in our lives.  If we can be happy ‘here’, then everything else is icing on the cake.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not advocating poverty.  And this is certainly not a poverty mindset.  Rather, we’re getting back to living within the grace that God provides… whether that means to be abased or to abound.  (Phil 4:12)

This is how we stay out of the ‘sweat zone’.  Isn’t it amazing… God’s ways always prove to be better than our ways.

— MLH