Living from the Heart of Christianity

I’ve reached a point, for a while now I must admit, where I no longer feel “spiritual” anymore.

It’s not that I’ve changed what I believe about God or anything, but it’s that I’ve realized even more so that what we are taught that is the “form” of Christianity doesn’t actually encompass what truly is Christianity.

I mean to say that all the externals of what we believe “ought” to be part of the “Christian life” don’t paint an accurate picture of what Jesus lived.

Some people live out their Christianity as if there were a list of appropriate things to do when you are married. It’s as if there’s a general consensus to follow and if your marriage doesn’t look just like everyone expects it to look, then there’s something wrong with how your marriage works.

It’s like.. you should go with your spouse on dates, make love, cook for each other, have children together, remember each other’s birthdays, remember the anniversary, yadda yadda ya, and if you don’t do some or most of these things, then apparently there’s something “wrong” with your marriage.

But the whole point of marriage is one thing, love your spouse. Everything described in the previous paragraph are demonstrations of love, but it’s as if we emphasis “make sure you do these things” rather than “make sure you love.”

Because it’s possible to “do these things” because you know that’s what you should do or what is considered “normal” in a marriage. But if you actually love your spouse, you don’t need to be told “do these thing.,” If it’s genuine love, there should be room for it to look different. And so long as love is still at the core of it, who cares what it looks like?

Obviously we’re assuming the definition of love is based on the love that God has demonstrated.

That brings me to what I really want to say.

Marriage isn’t about a certain “form.” Marriage, at the heart, is about loving your spouse. The form of it will look similar for some couples, and different in other couples. If you emphasize what a marriage “ought” to look like, you’ll likely have people “doing” but not actually understanding the heart of it.

In the same way, we’re all taught what the “Christian life” should look like. Whether it’s explicitly taught or whether it’s just a byproduct of being surrounded by a particular “Christian culture,” we have an ideal of what “ought” to be the “Christian” way to live.

But I’m starting to think differently.

Just like marriage shouldn’t be put in the confines of “Oh this is just what married couples do, it’s what married couples have done for years!” Christianity shouldn’t be put in the confines of, “Well this is what we’ve known as the Christian life for years! We’ve gone through the extent of what it can look like!”

Just like marriages should have the freedom to grow in whatever way possible, evolve into any expression it wants in the confines of “love.” So should our idea of what the “Christian life” should be like. It’s not set in stone. You can do whatever you want, express it the way you want — in the same confines of “the Love of Christ.”

The reason why I no longer feel “spiritual” is because what I believed to be “spiritual activity” as I grew up in church, I no longer do on a regular basis. But the heart of it hasn’t changed. I still have a life given to demonstrate Jesus to people in a radical way, to love the hell out of people, to lay my life down to serve, build, edify, add value to other people’s lives.

But for me, it doesn’t look like going to church every Sunday. It doesn’t look like going to prayer meetings. It doesn’t look like being part of a young adult group. It doesn’t look like going to conferences or winter retreats. It doesn’t look like going to praise nights. It doesn’t look like going to outreach events. It doesn’t look like listening to Christian music all day and having Christian t-shirts and bumper stickers.

It looks more like pursuing relationships regularly throughout the week with fellow believers because I consider them family.

It looks more like a conversation with God throughout the day, whenever, anytime, because He’s my Dad, not a “superstar” that we have to crowd around and try to get His attention.

It looks like being a part of a community of close friends who would die for each other, who have given our lives to build each other up, sharpen one another because we are truly brothers and sisters by the DNA of God.

It looks like taking Jesus’s commission seriously to make disciples, to train, to equip, to build, and to help mature each other in the context of everyday life, rather than waiting for a meeting/conference/retreat.

It looks more like a life laid down to re-present Jesus to the world, not just in songs sung.

It looks like showing that I care to homeless people that I drive by. It looks like healing people who are sick and ill as I walk past them in the grocery store. It looks like setting people free from the bondage of lies and liberating them with the Truth of Jesus and the freedom He came to bring as a present day reality, not some far off answer in the distance, years down the road.

It looks like just caring for people because they’re my friends, being there for them in whatever way that they might need, not because I have an ulterior motive to “evangelize” them.

I no longer consider any of these things as “spiritual activities,” I consider these as an overflow of, “How can I show people that I love them?”

Just as no married couple thinks of engaging in “marital activities” but rather, “How can I express my love to my spouse?”

Again.. if your definition of love is skewed, you might take what I’m saying the wrong way. Ask God to teach you what His love is like, or you can read what God’s taught me in the past few years about it hereherehere, and here.

With that said, I’m not trying to create another “list” of things of what I believe “ought” to sum up what the Christian life is about.

I’m saying that the emphasis should be to live from the heart of Christianity, not live Christianity like a cookie cutter mold of what we’re taught “is” the Christian life.

It makes sense, the emphasis of a successful marriage is one that is founded on, “Love your spouse,” not an attempt to religiously copy and imitate what everybody believes is a “good marriage.” Likewise, to get your definition of what a “good Christian” does based on “church activities” is to put the unlimited Power, Love, and Kingdom of God in a very small box.

Being a Christian isn’t about how many “spiritual activities” you do, it’s about living from a place of wanting to impact people (discipleship) and serve people (love) because God’s love has taken root in you and now compels you in every way.

And when you live from that place, it’ll no longer be about whether something is “spiritual” or not, whether you have the “right” form of Christianity and it’ll be more about living from the core-heart of it.

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Blue Rose Tuesdays

Original post here

Bob and Sue Prunebottom were a few years into their marriage when Sue felt the need to challenge Bob on the lack of romance they were experiencing. Gone were the days when he initiated exciting and unexpected events that brought the two of them together romantically. Now their marriage consisted of a steady diet of predictable rituals and routines that maintained stability but lacked passion. This was, understandably, not enough for Sue. Bob agreed and committed to taking the initiative to help rekindle some of the former romance they had shared together.

One Tuesday evening, around six thirty, the door bell rang: ding, dong. Sue went to the door to find little Maureen Tupperman, their usual babysitter. Sue was surprised since she knew she hadn’t booked Maureen, and she was even more surprised when Maureen explained: “Mr. Prunebottom booked me.” Now this was a first. Bob had called the babysitter all on his own?

Sure enough, Bob came to the door, welcomed in little Maureen, and asked Sue to head upstairs and put on whatever she would enjoy wearing out on the town. Wow. Romance was returning.

Sue came down minutes later in a beautiful red dress and off they drove together. They pulled into the parking lot of a fancy little Italian restaurant. As they walked in the front door, they were cheerfully greeted by the manager. “Your table is all ready, Mr. Prunebottom,” he said with a knowing smile. Then he led the couple to a charming, candle-lit table for two in the back corner of the restaurant. Waiting for Sue at her place setting was a card with her name on it. She opened it to see something beautiful. It wasn’t the usual Hallmark special with a prefab message and Bob’s signature. It was a simple card with no factory message on the inside, but a deeply thoughtful, handwritten note from Bob about his love for – and delight with – Sue.

As the evening progressed, Bob and Sue enjoyed a truly meaningful conversation over candlelight and wine. When the dessert came, Bob reached under the table and pulled out Sue’s favorite flower – a single, stunning blue rose. His thoughtfulness down to the last detail was a precious gift to Sue, and she was moved to tears.

That week was one of the most wonderful weeks of their married life. Bob’s intentionality, mindfulness, and creative initiative filled Sue with renewed hope for the future. And Bob was feeling like he had become the husband he always wanted to be. “How can I make this last?” Bob wondered.

The next Tuesday night, at exactly six thirty, the door bell rang: ding, dong. Sure enough it was young Maureen Tupperman. Sue was again taken aback, especially when she learned that Mr. Prunebottom had made the arrangements againTwo weeks in a row! thought Sue. I could get used to this!

She did think it was a bit odd when Bob encouraged her to put on that same red dress that she wore the previous week, but gladly made herself ready for another night out together. As they pulled into the parking lot of the same little Italian restaurant, Sue thought to herself that Bob might not get full marks for creativity this time, but a night out was a night out, and she would be happy with their evening together. She was again touched to find a card waiting for her at the same table at the back of the restaurant. But her delight turned to disappointment when she saw that Bob had written almost exactly the same words on the inside. Now the evening was beginning to feel not romantic but just plain weird. Refusing to draw attention to Bob’s lack of creativity, Sue determined to enjoy the night. Bob ordered the exact same meal as the week previous, and as the evening moved forward Sue became aware of how he manipulated their conversation to cover the same basic relational territory as the week before. Now Sue could almost hear the Twilight Zone theme playing in the back of her mind. Whenever she tried to take their conversation in a new direction, Bob seemed to find a way to bring it back to the same issues, the same questions, even the same jokes that passed between them the former Tuesday. For Sue, the evening went from feeling weird to feeling suffocating. A part of her wanted out, yet another part of her wanted to give Bob every benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps the joke would soon end. It came as no surprise that when dessert arrived Bob reached under the table and pulled out – you guessed it – a single blue rose. Sue received it polite gratitude, but the tears that welled up in her eyes this night were for a different reason.

Bob and Sue enjoyed and cordially but mildly distant relationship that week, until the following Tuesday evening, at six thirty, when Sue heard: ding, dong. Once again Bob manipulated Sue through a scripted evening of supposed romance. Very little was different from the previous two Tuesdays. Now Sue was plainly discouraged. Visions of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day kept coming to mind. Sure enough, the following Tuesday at six thirty: ding, dong. And a week later: ding, dong. And so on, and so forth, Tuesday after Tuesday, blue rose after blue rose.

And today, if you asked Bob how his marriage is doing, he would probably smile with a sense of accomplishment and say, “I romance my wife religiously.” He might even boast about finding the secret to a successful relationship and encourage you to follow his system for a healthy marriage.

If you were to ask Sue how things are going, you know you would get a different take on things. Most likely, she would burst into tears and tell you she feels trapped, imprisoned in a loveless relationship by someone who means well, but who doesn’t have a sweet clue what relationship is all about. And me, I’m left wondering if this is how God feels sometimes.

Bob mistook the form for the substance. He turned their relationship into a kind of religion. He lost the heartconnection with his wife. The fact is, after months of Bob’s dinner routine, Sue could have been dining with anyone who had memorized their dating traditions. Love was unnecessary. The system Bob created allowed him to function on autopilot.

This illustrates why Jesus always – ALWAYS – puts the emphasis of his teaching on heart issues, not behavioral routines. If the heart is right, loving actions will follow.

Routines. Rituals. Customs. Traditions. They can be used to enhance or to kill intimacy. Over time, intentional thoughtfulness can be lost since the routines do all the thinking for us. We are left with something that looks good on the outside, but is filled with nothing but the bones of a long-dead relationship. This is true of any relationship, including our relationship with God.

—-

Excerpt from The End of Religion: Encounter the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus by Bruxy Cavey

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What Love is This?

I used to hear a lot of girls say, “Ooh, I’m so in LOVE with God!”

It always bothered me…but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. For some reason I just had a very hard time believing that girls would say that the exact same way I heard other girls talk about their new boyfriend.

I loved God. But, it didn’t make me react like that. I didn’t have that tone to my voice that made it sound like I had some romantic relationship.

I think that romantic love stuff sells the love of God short of what it really is. Most people who “fall in love” eventually “fall out of love.” They “fall in love” with certain aspects of that person, and then they “fall out of love” when they find aspects they don’t like or can’t deal with.

This kind of love is still about finding a reason to love someone, rather than the kind Jesus demonstrated.

Sure, it makes sense; God is so perfect, what’s not to love about Him? But to think that’s the same unconditional and raw love that He demonstrates toward us and that Jesus demonstrated, is a serious understatement.

Why is this important? Because the way we love people reflects how we believe God loves us. So if we believe God has a hard time loving us because we mess up, then we’ll also have a hard time demonstrating unconditional love towards people when they mess up.

God’s kind of love is much different.

He IS love. (1 John 4:8)

It’s who He is. And He’s unchanging.

That’s why even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). He loved us even when we didn’t love Him. He laid down His life for people who crucified Him and said, “Father, forgive them.” He treated them better than they deserved. He was able to forgive the worst offense.

It was the father who gave the lost son the best robe, a ring, and sandals on his feet, even when he deserved punishment.

It was the forgiving King who cleared all the debts of the servant.

It was Jesus who forgave and healed the paralytic – he didn’t deserve it!

It doesn’t make sense in our culture today….

How can we love someone so unlovable? How can we love someone who doesn’t deserve it? How can we love our enemies like Jesus said? How can we forgive someone that has hurt us intentionally?

It feels impossible because we don’t understand what kind of love this is. We’ve been raised with this carnal love that changes based on whether someone deserves it or not. Worse yet, we secretly believe that God sees us the same way.

We believe that God is “far away” if we sin, God hides from us if we do something bad to “punish” us. We believe that God can’t bless us if we have sin in our life; we’re taught that God withholds it to “teach us a lesson.”

This is not God’s heart. He isn’t affected by our failures. He doesn’t treat us any different based on our performance. He’s doesn’t have criteria we need to follow or a list of requirements we need to fulfill. He treats us according to His love towards us, not according to our love for Him – our behavior doesn’t sway Him.

Why?

Because He IS love.

He will never treat us otherwise, because we cannot change who He is. That’s why grace is called unmerited favor. It’s favor towards us that we never deserved.

That means your actions can’t earn it, or disqualify you from it.

That’s why in the light of sin, God gives grace (Rom 5:20). He constantly keeps no record of wrong (1 Cor 13:5), He covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), He remembers sin no more (Heb 8:12 & 10:17), and He doesn’t count sins against people (2 Cor 5:19).

Why?

He wants reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19). The father wanted to have restored relationship with his son (Luke 15:21-23).

Why was he able to simply disregard offenses?

Because He is love. And love gives grace.
That’s why “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
That’s why it says, “for God so loved the world that He GAVE His Son” (John 3:16).

For God so loved, He gave grace to an undeserving world – it came in the form of His Son!

And that’s why God never stops giving grace toward us – even in our sin (Rom 5:20). He so loves that He extends grace to people who don’t deserve it. In fact, He loves those who don’t deserve love.

Why?

Because He IS love.

And when we understand His grace toward us, it shouldn’t make us want to take advantage of grace, but instead it should change how we see (Rom 2:4), and as a result, keep us from wanting to abuse it (Rom 6:1-15).


Being Like Your Dad

When you realize how He loves, that becomes the reason why YOU love (1 John 4:19).

You’ll stop finding reasons to love people because you realize God didn’t find a reason with you.

You’ll stop trying to love people who don’t deserve it because you realize God didn’t try to love you.

You’ll stop loving people because they deserve love, and you’ll start loving because it’s the love of God that has taken root in you. You’ll love people because you’ve become part of the Vine. You’ll bear the fruit of the love of God because you abide in His love (John 15:9).

“Loving people” is no longer a spiritual chore that God “commanded” you to do, or something your pastor drilled you on how “you need to ‘love your neighbor’”, or “you need to forgive this person.” Now, you love people because you are love.

You no longer need to try to bear the fruit of love. You just understand that the love God has expressed toward you is too good to keep to yourself, so you want to freely give to everyone what you’ve freely received.

You’ll understand that you’ve been made one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17), and His nature has become YOUR nature. You’ll understand that God’s kind of love has become a part of your identity.


What’s the Point?

The whole point of the Christian life is to demonstrate love to the world the same way God has demonstrated love toward us.

It’s laying yourself (your life) down to serve, to benefit, to build, to add value to someone else’s life…freely. (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16)

It’s showing people that they are worth our time, they are worth our attention, and they are worth our care.

They can see in your eyes that it’s real, raw love, and not some hyped up fluffy love with common clichés. It’s a love that gives regardless of what is deserved or expected.

It’s a love that expects nothing in return. It’s a love that does not change based on the response of others; that isn’t offended by first impressions, reputations, or accusations.

That’s why I’ve never liked the term “full-time ministry.” We all are full-time re-presenters of God’s audacious, unchanging, furious love.

Your love for people is paralleled by your understanding of God’s love toward you.

The “ministry” is to love as He loved.

That is the distinguishing mark of the believer.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Love has no agenda other than to freely express itself to the person in front of them.

Love is in it for what it can give, not what it can get.

Love isn’t looking for a “thank you”; it isn’t looking for recognition or appreciation (though, it won’t turn it down).

Love is a no-strings attached, no conditions, no hidden catches, “I want to help you and serve you” way of thinking.

Love doesn’t feel required to give, love is compelled to give; it’s not a have to, it’s a get to.

Love gets to express grace. Gets to express kindness to those who don’t deserve it. Gets to be patient… It’s supposed to be a privilege, not a chore.

The Good Samaritan is the perfect parable.

Jesus was a perfect model.
Jesus perfectly represented the Father.

Jesus sent us to re-present Himself.

We are to be examples of what love looks like and how love treats people .
We are to be examples of what it means to be Christ-like, and how He would treat people.

All these failed marriages? They are missing love.

Broken relationships? They are missing love.

The reputation of the church today? It’s missing love.

The hurt, the offense, the unforgiveness, the hate, the envy, the jealousy, the anger, the bitterness, the insecurity, the brokenness, and all the grudges people hold against each other are a result of not understanding love and therefore, not understanding how to love.

They justify it all by saying “look at what they did,” or “look at what happened to me,” because they do not understand how God has loved them.

God loves because that’s who He is! He forgives, keeps no record of wrong, trusts, and covers a multitude of sins because that’s who He is!

YOU ought to love because that’s who you’ve become! You’ve been grafted into the Vine (John 15), you are a partaker of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:3-4)!

Friends, this is the great call. This is why Paul prayed that we would be “rooted and grounded in LOVE” (Eph 3:17).

When we understand God’s perfect love toward us, we’ll no longer have any fear and we’ll boldly approach Him (1 John 4:18; Heb 4:16).

When we learn to model that same perfect love to the world, the world will no longer have any fear in coming to us, hungry to know and experience the love we’ve been given.

Let’s grow and mature in the love that Jesus demonstrated to sinners and tax-collectors. Not this fluffy, romantic love that is erratic, unpredictable, and unstable. We’re doing everyone a great disservice by “dumbing down” God’s love to some cliché and a “nice feeling.”

This love is bold, this love is a rock, this love results in compassion, this love brings action (1 John 3:18). It’s what compelled Jesus to heal the broken, free the oppressed, help those in need, strengthen the weak, encourage the disheartened, and it’s what should compel us to do the same for those around us.

This love “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5)

By this love “all will know you are my disciples” (John 13:35)

What love is this?

God’s kind of love.

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The Blueprint of “Renewing Your Mind”

I spent years thinking that the process of “renewing your mind” was something that just naturally happened and was beyond my control. I used to think that it was something God was in control of. I didn’t know that I could actually intentionally do something to renew my mind — that I could “consciously” renew my mind. I used to think that if you just go about your Christian life, some way, some how, your mind is suddenly renewed.

But, in the last few years, I’ve discovered that it’s actually not that complicated — you can do it intentionally and it isn’t hard. I’m going to show you how it works, how you can use it intentionally, and how you can use it effectively.

How it works:

Imagine that you’ve lived at your house for 20 years of your life.

You’ve memorized the fastest ways to drive back from your work, from church, from your friend’s place, from school, and from the gym. You’ve developed a route that you take every time. You don’t think about it, that’s just the way you go home because you’ve done that for 20 years. You know the correct turns to make. You know the best time to take which route based on how bad traffic is. You know which roads have the most cops. And you know all the ins and outs of getting yourself home.

Then imagine if you move 10 minutes away.

The next day, you’re about to head back home from work. You get in your car as usual, and you start driving. Out of sheer habit and muscle memory, you take the same old highway, the same old exit, and the same traffic all the way until you get home, only to realize that you no longer live at your old house. You slap yourself on the forehead thinking, “How could I forget?! I moved! Gotta make sure I don’t do this again…what a waste of time!”

The next day is similar, you get into your car and you begin to take the same route you’ve taken for the last 20 years. It isn’t until about halfway home you realize again, “Shoot! I moved!” You pull a U-turn and head towards the new home you recently moved into.

So by this point, you’re consciously making an effort to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You create a reminder in your head, “Alright, when I reach this street, I have to make a left where I used to make a right.” You know it will take a conscious effort to forge a new pattern because the old pattern was so familiar, natural, and comfortable. But you know you have to do it because you no longer live at the old house – none of your belongings are there. Plus, the new house is much bigger, with a lot more freedom to move around.

The next day, as you leave your house for work, you make another mental note to remind yourself that you’ve moved so that you won’t forget at the end of the day. The time arrives, and you get into your car. Confident, reminding yourself that you have a new home, you get all the way home without taking a wrong turn. When you arrive, you breathe a sigh of satisfaction, knowing that you took the right route and you’re confident it’ll be easier next time.

Over a period of a few weeks, what started with lots of errors and mistakes starts to become second-nature and natural. The muscle memory and old pattern of thinking was undone and now it’s hard to imagine ever taking that old route again. In addition to that, you’ve done the same exercise with your church, school, friend’s place, and the gym. All the old routes were reprogrammed and redesigned to fit the location of your new home.

Months down the road, it’s nowhere near a struggle. You’ve forged a new routine — a new habit. You arrive at your new home every time. And every once in a while, you’ll be at an intersection you used to use when you were at your old house, and you’ll get a familiar feeling of when you used to slam the pedal to try to make the light…you reminisce on the memories.  But then you’d snap back into reality remembering, “Well…I don’t live there anymore.”

This is the life of the believer. This is the call of Romans 12:2, to “renew your mind.” As a believer you have a responsibility to renew your thinking, to rewire your brain as a result of understanding the fact that you have become a son of God, an heir of God, an ambassador of a King. As a result of understanding that you have been bought at a price (denoting worth) and that you have been given a new nature (new tendencies), it should cause you to make different choices. It is a different path — a different life than you once walked.
The old house had its own set of ways and its own set of patterns. If we find ourselves veering off into the old paths, it’s only because we’ve forgotten that we’ve moved to a new house that’s more glorious.

How to use it intentionally:

“Renewing your mind” is definitely not just about reciting a list of facts. Nor is it about confessing a phrase in an effort to try to persuade yourself to believe it. When you renew your mind, it should renew the way you do things. A new perspective should result in a new set of actions, just like moving to a new house will cause you to take new directions. Taking new directions aren’t a requirement, but it’s a natural byproduct of understanding that you have a new house.

Say for example I’ve dealt with jealously for many years of my life, and if I hear that a friend has achieved something that I’ve been trying to achieve, I get jealous and I have a hard time celebrating with them.

And then let’s say that I hear a teaching and I realize that I’m just like the disciples arguing and competing to be the greatest. I’m jealous because I’m actually performing for the approval/praise of man instead of understanding I already have approval from God. I realize the simple truth that my worth comes from what my Father has already said about me, not what other people say.

When that new revelation is received, that’s when I get a new house. Immediately, I am “free” from my old house, and I am free to not “drive back” to the old house of jealousy. I am free to celebrate with my friend instead of getting envious. I am free, but the rubber will have to hit the road.

So the next time a friend has achieved something I’ve been wanting to achieve, I have a choice to drive to the old house that I’ve been used to (jealousy), or I remember that I’ve moved on to a new house (celebrating my friend). The problem is that it will still feel natural and I will be tempted to take the old route toward the old house if I believe I still live there. I will allow the habit and the muscle memory to dictate my direction if I never realize the fact that I have a new houseBut if I’m truly convinced that I have moved, I will make every conscious effort to take the new route every time. Why? Because I’ve moved. The new house is better than the old house, and all my belongings are in the new one.

So, suppose that I failed to make it to the new house. The muscle memory and habit got the best of me the first time.

Do I deem myself a failure, feel condemned and think, “You’re so horrible for driving back to your old house, what a failure“?
No, I just write it off and think, “Wow, how did that slip my mind?”

Do I think, “Man…I guess I’ll never remember to make it to my new house, it’s just so hard to remember“?
No, I just make a few more conscious reminders to make sure that I make it the next time. I’ll think, “Alright, when I’m at this intersection, I no longer take a left…I make a right. Left is the old house. Right is the new house.”

Do I think, “I just feel so stuck. I just somehow can’t get to my new house…I feel bound to drive back to my old house…every time. I’ll never make it to my new one, this is hopeless“?

Ridiculous. I will only feel bound to my old house if I still believe I live there. I will only be bound to the same old habits and same old routes if I believe I still have the same old “home base.” When I’ve renewed my mind to the fact that I have a new “default,” a new “home,” a new “building”...I will make the effort to get there every time, because it’s a better house!

So to answer the question: “How do I intentionally renew my mind?” It’s a moot point. The same way you change the routes you take when you move to a new house is the same way to renew your mind (re-read the parable if it hasn’t clicked yet).

Using it effectively:

Naturally, when you move to a new house, it’s not just one route that has to change. All the routes change. You have to ask yourself, how do I get home from the store now? From the bank? From my friend’s house? From the restaurant? All the “courses” of action change as a result of your new “‘home.”
Every one of your old behaviors will change based on the revelation of your new house, but they will all take a conscious effort. Only you can do that for you.

Whether it’s about your poor temperament, a struggle to be patient, a habit of gossiping, getting free from addiction, thinking poorly of yourself, worth issues, dealing with fear of man, struggling with jealously like I did, or struggling with pride… it doesn’t matter. It’s the same process.

You need to understand that you have a new house, and you need to figure out what the path to that new house looks like. What does it look like to no longer gossip, but speak life and encouragement? What mindsets need to change so that you don’t get angry so easily? What lie are you believing about yourself that you need to diffuse in order to stop the self-loathing and sense of unworthiness?

If you keep digressing to your old paths, it’s because you haven’t forged a new path. If you feel like you’ll never escape your old habits, it’s because you believe that you still live in your old house and haven’t moved yet.

The Process of Growth:

You’re probably realizing now that this is everything in your Christian life.
This is how you walk out the fruit of the Spirit (even fruit takes time to mature).
This is how you walk as Jesus walked (babies have to learn how to walk, and then run).
It’s all a result of understanding that you’ve become a new creation.
You’ve been cut off from the old. The old has gone. The old has died. It has been put off.

Get it?

Here’s the beautiful thing…

It gets easier.

The more you take the new route, the less you’ll feel prone to take the old. The more you take the new, the less of an effort you’ll need the next time.

Soon, after a few months, it’ll hardly cross your mind. You won’t even be tempted to take the old route. It might cross your mind and you might reminisce, but by then, you’ll have forged a new habit and living reality. You’ll have a new walk, a new path, a new way, and by then, it’ll be an effort to go back to the old.

(1 Peter 1:13-14, 4:1-3, Col 3:5-10, Eph 4:17-23, 5:8-10, Gal 5:24, Gal 5:13)

 

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