Monday, February 25, 2008

Breathing Underwater VII: Every Day With God

Breathing Underwater…with the breath of God and not drowning.

What’s wrong with the world?

“Dear sirs: I am.” G. K. Chesterton

Breathing underwater with God’s breath is for EVERYONE.

Patrick Morley in his weekly email highlighted the plight of men in five statements. These could be easily applied to women as well:

First, we're tired.

Second, we often have a lingering feeling that something isn’t quite right about our life.

Third, our lives are not turning out like they planned. "I thought I would have more impact."

Fourth, a lot of us feel like our lives are coming unglued.

Fifth, most of us feel like nobody, with the possible exception of family, really cares about us personally.

It sounds like we all need God to help us Breathe Underwater!

We need to bottom out to take the first step. And we sometimes need to bottom out to go to the next step! Gravity roller coaster: we can easily be fooled that, “I’m okay now, I don't need to do that step.”

Step 1: I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

My reach always exceeds my grasp.

Man to psychiatrist: ‘I might have a problem…’

Psychiatrist to man: ‘I think you’re obsessed with sex.’

‘You’re the one showing me the dirty pictures!’

Step 2: I believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

We grow up learning this lie: ‘Total trust is suicide.’

Step 3: I choose to commit all my life & my will to Christ's care & control.

Following Christ isn’t a ticket to heaven; rather it is a way of life that transcends death.

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. G.K. Chesterton

The experience of being accepted is the beginning of healing for the feeling of being unacceptable. Lew Smedes

Step 4: I will examine & confess my faults to God, to myself, & to someone that I trust.

Either your past is serving as a springboard to a better tomorrow, or it is the proverbial albatross keeping you from moving forward today. Les Parrott III

If you uncover it, God will cover it. Ed Young, speaking about sin

Step 5: I submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to begin removing my character defects.

What do you think about the idea of giving God blanket permission to clear out everything in your life He views as a character defect?

How do you feel when you consider surrendering?

A character defect is anything that keeps you or me from being in touch with the reality of ourself, others and God. The purpose of getting free is to be able to do God’s will.

What’s one defect that gives you pleasure?
What about one that has helped you survive? (eg independence)
What is one defect that you really don’t like?

What kind of resistance are you encountering or putting up?

Step 6: I will evaluate all my relationships with the help of God. I will offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

Matthew 5:23-24: Leave your gift at the altar & go and be reconciled.

You can’t walk in someone else’s shoes and step on their toes at the same time.

The death of the past occurs as you forgive old wounds and make amends for your mistakes.

What excites you about this possibilty?

What scares you?

How will it affect you to do this in your family?

My memories of being bullied by my brothers.

If we are not willing to see and accept those events in which we have been the source of others’ suffereing, then we cannot truly know ourselves or the grace by which we live. Greg Krech

Step 7: I will continue to take personal inventory with God, and to allow myself to draw closer to Him through prayer & meditation.

Mark 14:38
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

There are no other surprises out there. Andy Pettite, speaking on his steroid controversy

When you’re tempted and things are going bad, who you gonna call?

Lately, when anger comes up I try to ask myself “What am I working so hard to protect or avoid?” Every time I ask this question and breathe instead of trying to run from or shut down the conflict, my anger eventually turns into compassion for myself and for my so-called “attacker” who most likely is defending one of his or her own hurt places. The words “I feel afraid or sad” come out more easily… our eyes go soft. We get to help each other heal. Annie O’Shaughnessy

"Don't go breaking my heart." I gave you my heart- so don’t go breaking my heart!

You must continually ask, 'WHY am I doing this?' The WHY always determines HOW LONG. Your perspective always determines your persistence. Rick Warren

Jesus promised his disciples three things--that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble. G.K. Chesterton

This is the way to Life.

Relapse. The enemy? Hurry, busyness and noise.

"How then can we either reach this God, or avoid Him? The avoiding in our time and place is fairly easy. Avoid silence, avoid solitude, and avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, health, status and above all your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them carefully. But you'd be safer to stick to the papers. You'll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with sexy or snobbish appeal.

About the reaching or finding God, I am a far less reliable guide. That is because I never had the experience of looking for God. It was the other way round; He was the hunter (or so it seemed to me) and I was the deer. He stalked me, took unerring aim, and fired." C. S. Lewis

Would you rather be right or well?

How do you react to, “I needed my past. It brought me to God.”

Ephesians 1:17-23

Ephesians counters 4 primal desires we have:

To become a City Builder- Genesis 4 & 11

To become a Fire Lighter- Isaiah 50:10-11

To become a Wall White-Washer- Ezekiel 13

"Wall whitewashers cannot welcome tribulations as friends. . . Character isn't the goal of a wall whitewasher. Safety is.” Larry Crabb

To become a Well Digger- Jeremiah 2

My own fleshly desires to control my own life (being a city builder), to create a plan I know will work (fire lighter), to protect myself against the uncertainties of life (wall whitewasher), and to find my own ways to feel good when I want to (well digger) are countered by Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 64:6-12
"... all our righteous acts are like dirty rags." City building? Destroyed! Well digging? Desert! Fire starting? Everything is burned up by God! No walls are left to be white-washed- everything is exposed. We are vulnerable.

We try to fill up that ghastly hole in the pit of our stomachs that is really in our souls. We try to fill it with food, with power, with sex…we begin to realize that this hunger will never be satisfied, not in this life. It is the hunger for the face of God, and the only possible food is prayer. Maggie Ross

“What God, are you wanting to do in me through this shaping?”

Ephesians 3:16-21
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

The early catacombs are covered with art, with the most popular depiction being the resurrection of Lazarus. They were obviously fascinated with that story. Could it be the story they lived out of as a persecuted people? They didn’t flee Rome in the midst of the horrors they might face. Resurrection began for them before death. There is something worse than death- being lost.

There was also something better than life- to be found by the Father. ‘Lost No More’. It’s better than the pidley life we crave after: our city building, our fire lighting, our white washing, and our well digging.

"God's love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that "anything" were to collapse, then God's love would crumble as well. But with the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can live freely and to the fullest. Remember Atlas, who carries the whole world? We have Christian Atlases who mistakenly carry the burden of trying to deserve God's love. Even the mere watching of this lifestyle is depressing. I'd like to say to Atlas: 'Put that globe down and dance on it. That's why God made it.' And to the weary Christian Atlases: 'Lay down your load and build your life on God's love.' We don't have to earn this love; neither do we have to support it. It is a free gift. Jesus calls out: 'Come to me, all you Atlases who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.' Brennan Manning

It’s okay to not be okay. You don't have to fake perfection. You don't have to pretend you have it together if you don't. Just come as you are with your past, pain, challenges, and junk. God promises to meet you where you are, but He won't leave you there. He’ll begin a work of transformation in your life.

A prayer of honesty:
Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you, O Lord; ... Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

1. Thanksgiving
Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you.
Today, for what things am I most grateful?

2. Intention
Lord, open my eyes and ears to be more honest with myself.
Today, what do I really want for myself?

3. Examination
Lord, show me what has been happening to me and in me this day.
Today, in what ways have I experienced your love?

4. Contrition
Lord, I am still learning to grow in your love.
Today, what choices have been inadequate responses to your love?

5. Hope
Lord, let me look with longing toward the future.
Today, how will I let you lead me to a brighter tomorrow?

Father, open my eyes and my heart to your people and the world. Help me to know the depths of your love—and that I am loved.


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