This blog explores the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of total health with some children's stories thrown in to break the intensity.

Faith


Definition of Christian faith: 

Belief and trust in Jesus.  Having such confidence and trust in Jesus that we base our actions upon that trust and belief, without physical evidence as a basis.  A spiritual knowing that the thing you hope for is established even before there is material evidence of that knowledge.

Definition from the Bible:  

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Heb 11:1

What do we hope for?

We hope for the things that God desires.  From study of the Bible and from hanging out with God (prayer, active listening), we learn his heart.  We let our spiritual eyes, ears, and hearts be trained to understand God’s desires and to seek the same things.

Earth is not our permanent home, but it is our temporary dwelling place just as our bodies are. Yet, this earth will become the New Jerusalem and our bodies will be glorified, therefore neither is to be trivialized.

We are called to bring heaven on earth to this place. (Mt 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.)   We are called through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring the kingdom of God (God’s sovereign rule) here and now.  (Rom 5:17 TEV All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.)  (Rom 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.)

What does faith do? 

Faith brings God’s provision from the spiritual realm into the physical realm. (Mat 6:10

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven)

Faith brings salvation (Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.), answers to prayer (Mt 21:22  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer), and effective ministry  (Mat 17:20b  … For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.)

Faith causes us to know in our hearts before we can see with our eyes.  (2 Cor. 5:7  For we walk by faith, not by sight.”)   Faith brings the victory that enables us to overcome the world. (1 Jn 5:4  for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.)  Faith allows us to please God. (Heb 11:6  Without faith, it is impossible to please God.)

The Relationship Between Grace and Faith

(Eph 2:8  For it is by grace you are saved through faith–and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God.)  It is God’s grace that saves us–God gives us the grace that we need to be saved. However, that grace comes through faith.  Grace is the empowerment, gifting and resources from God for us to accomplish his purposes.  Faith is the pipeline through which grace flows to us.

2 Categories of Faith.

Human faith–This faith is based upon the 5 senses.  Based upon what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel, we decide whether something or someone is trustworthy.  For instance, we decide if it is safe to fly on a plane or ride in a car based upon our physical senses.

Supernatural faith–This faith is a gift from God to every Christian.  (Eph 2:8 printed above, Rom 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.)

Extraordinary faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 12:9  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit).  This is an amazing trust of God to do as he has promised.  It exceeds the faith found in most Christians.

Saving faith versus functional faith  

We are each given a measure of faith when we become Christians as seen in Romans 12:3 (For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you),

When Jesus speaks of great faith,  (Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith), he is speaking of functional faith.   Also, when he mentions little faith (Mat 8:26  “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”), he once again speaks of functional faith.

We are all given faith that is the same stuff as Peter and Paul’s faith.  It is a matter of how we exercise our faith that makes it more or less functional–greater or smaller.

How do we get saving faith? 

(Rom 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.)  People need to hear the gospel to believe.  We hear the Word.  The Holy Spirit empowers the words.  God’s supernatural faith enters us.

How do we increase our functional faith? 

Know that these steps are not to move us back from grace into works (achieving by our effort).  These are privileges and not duties–sources of joy not burdens. They put us in the position to receive God’s help.   

  1. Increase your understanding of the Word, and pray the Word.  (2 Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture   is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.)
  2. Feed your spirit godly food, not the junk food of the world. (Jn 4:34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.)
  3. Privately pray in tongues, if you have received that gift.  It builds you up.  (1 Cor 14:4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.)   If you have not been given this gift yet, then  ask the Holy Spirit for it as well as the other spiritual gifts.  (1 Cor 14:1  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.)  (1 Cor 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.)
  4. Obey Holy Spirit promptings– put your faith into action. (Rom 2:13  For it is not those who hear the law that are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.)  Give thanks.  (1 Thes 5:18  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.)
  5. Develop a worshipful life.  (Ps 100:1  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.)
  6.  Speak the Word.  (Heb 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.)
  7.  Seek purity.  (Tim1:5  The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.)
  8.  Move constantly deeper towards love. (1 Cor 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.)
  9. Tame your tongue with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Our words build or destroy.  They show what is in our hearts.  (Eph 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.)

A picture of faith and grace. 

We have blood pumping through our physical body.  Grace is like the blood to our spiritual body.  The life is in the blood.  Nutrients, oxygen, cleansing, and much more come through the spiritual life-giving blood which flows from God’s Holy Spirit to our spirit.  This blood brings power and all that we need to accomplish God’s purposes for us.

Faith is like the circulatory system through which the blood of grace is pumped to our spirit.  It is the pipeline that allows the grace to bring life, growth, healing, nutrition and every resource to the spirit, soul and body to enable us to accomplish God’s purposes.

Our circulatory system gets stronger as we exercise it. As we put more demands on it,  it becomes more able to meet those demands.

As we use our faith, in good times and in trials, we grow it functionally.  We have the measure originally given to us, but we increase its functional ability by constantly and deliberately pushing it to new levels.

More on Grace

Grace is also the sheep-gate that we enter into the kingdom through.  It is the narrow road that we travel to God’s heart.  Grace is all of God’s gifting and bounty which he pours out upon us in love.  It is our relationship with the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) through the blood of Jesus which empowers us.  It is the spiritual ground that we stand upon, food and drink for our spirits, and the spiritual air that we breathe.

Examples of Great Faith. 

Study Hebrews 11 to see what great functional faith looks like.  Notice that great faith is grown through suffering, trials and battles.

Faith, Grace, and Suffering  

It is true that suffering can speed our maturation by growing our faith through exercise thereby bringing more grace (God’s empowerment and resources).  While we need to embrace all that God has for us in times of trial and suffering, we must remember that much of our suffering comes from the evil one.  (Some we bring on ourselves.)

While we embrace all that God has for us in the midst of the trials, we remember that we are in a war with the evil one who wants to kill, maim and destroy.  Therefore, while joyfully accepting God’s blessings, love, and teachings in the midst of the trial, we fight back with all the weapons that God has given us against the enemy.  This simultaneous embrace of all that God has for us and fighting Satan’s plans is possible through the Holy Spirit.

Many times God wants us to be released from the trial, but he has told us to use our authority to accomplish that release.  It is crucial that we do not let our trial and suffering become our new identity.  We can let the trial redefine who we are.  That gives the victory in the battle to the evil one.

The Faith Walk–Exercising to Increase Our Functional Faith

As non-Christians, we start out bouncing around in the world, looking for love in all the wrong places. Finally, all Christians by faith enter through the sheep gate which is Jesus.  This faith walk can be pictured as taking place in the tabernacle of the Israelites, through the progression of courts.

We come into the outer court through the sheep gate as an acquaintance of Jesus.  At any point in our walk, we may wander around, get stuck or move forward. There is a narrow path which is grace, which leads towards the Holy of Holies. This path of grace is our relationship with Jesus, through which we are empowered for his purposes. In the outer court is the bronze altar–there we learn to bring ourselves as a living sacrifice to God and to die daily.  Also in the outer court is the laver.  This is where we get into the habit of washing daily in the Word and seeiing ourselves through God’s eyes in the reflection.

To the left and right of the path are ditches of legalism and licentiousness.  We can fall into these and require help in moving into forward momentum again.

As we grow and learn, we can progress into the inner court.  Here we become friends with God.  God becomes less of a sugar daddy to us–we become more concerned about him as opposed to ourselves.  The show bread is is made available to us–we begin to hear and see with our spiritual eyes.  We become aware of who God is–we obey more quickly and completely.

The final destination is the Holy of Holies.  This represents the heart of God–in the Holy of Holies we move to the relationship of lover.  When we move to this point, we are feeling God’s pain, his desires, and his purposes.  What he wants becomes more important than our temporary pleasures.  This is the point where we begin acting to bring God’s kingdom to earth by our prayers, our words, and our actions.  We use our authority to do what the Holy Spirit prompts us to do.  This is where we start our reign with God, not for glory to ourselves but fully for his glory.

At any point on this path, there is freedom.  We may go back through the sheep-gate for the purpose of ministering to wounded or lost sheep.  We may go into the green pastures for rest or nurturing.  This is not a regimented path.  It is a living, relating path–the path of grace.

Holy Spirit Led Prayer


1.  What is Holy Spirit led prayer?

  • It is personal time with the Ruler of the Universe.

Prayer is more than just conversation.  It is conversation with the one who created and controls the universe.  Yet God allows his followers be so personal that we can know him as Daddy (“Abba”).  While we have a reverent fear and awe of God (the knowledge that God is the ultimate power and authority), he in a sense allows us to snuggle into his lap and join our hearts with his to pray.

Rom 8:15  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba”, Father.

Rom 8:26  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Heb 4:16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Ezek 22:30  I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

  • It is conversation with the Father through the Holy Spirit who resides inside of us.

Prayer differs from regular conversation in another way:  our interactions actually take place with the help of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God helps us in our weaknesses to know what to pray as we talk to God.

Jn 4:16   And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.

Romans 8:26  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

  • It is 2 way conversation.

Spirit led prayer involves 2 way conversation.  Just as we would quickly weary of a friend who talked nonstop and never listened, prayer is meant to be talking plus listening.  As we move higher and deeper into Spirit led prayer, it grows constantly in the listening component.

Jn 14:16   But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

  • It is more than bringing our plans and asking God to bless them.

Although we can dump every concern, need, heartache, and even our hopes on the lap of God, he is still actually God.  We do not direct him by telling him what to do, rather, we ask him to align our hearts with his heart so that we become part of his plans.  We ask him to put his plans upon our hearts.  We may move ahead in faith as we follow Biblical principles without a clear answer from God, but never should we make important decisions without asking for God’s heart on an issue.

The principle of seeking God’s heart is modeled in the Lord’s prayer.  The focus is first on God and the needs of his heart.  Only then do we present our needs to God.  Indeed the acronym of ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication) is based on the model of the Lord’s prayer, with us placing our needs at the very end.

Mt 6:10  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Rom 8:7    For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

Rom 8:27    And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

2.  What is the scriptural basis for Spirit led prayer?

There are many scriptures about this.  The Bible as a whole seems to be about individuals gaining spiritual eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to absorb and obey the will of God.  Here are a few scriptures:

1 Jn 5: 14-15  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God.

James 4:2b-3  You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

3.  How do I move into Holy Spirit led prayer?

  • It is a process.

As with many things in our walk towards God, this becomes better with practice.  It is wonderful to practice this in community.  God usually gives two or three witnesses to confirm his nudges, so Spirit led prayer is especially safe in that context.

Rom 12:12  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer 

Jn 8:17  Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact.

  • Start with the Bible.

God expects us to listen to what he has already said in his Word.  Anything we hear in our listening prayer should match up with the principles of the Bible.  Knowing these principles is necessary for survival. Through our study of the Bible, God may highlight a teaching, a chapter, or even a specific verse that speaks right to us.

Heb 4:12   For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

  • Be humble.

Repent when needed, even on the small stuff. Stick a pin into any pride that starts to puff up self for any reason (Ask God to help with this.). The Holy Spirit loves a humble and contrite heart.

Ps 51:17   The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

  • Constantly seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance; like using the GPS device in your car.

Let him direct your life.  It works much better when we invite the Holy Spirit to give us guidance as we navigate through life.

Prov 19:21   Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

  • Be agenda neutral.

It is a safer mode of operation to go to God in a neutral frame of mind.  If we have an agenda, it is better to pray to ask God to bring us to a place of joy in accepting God’s plans.  There are many examples in the Bible of God giving someone the desires of their hearts, even if it is not the best choice.  (Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20 for one)  We want to pray until we are willing to accept God’s best for us, instead of asking for our natural inclinations.

Jer 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

  • Be thankful.

A thankful spirit in us fans the fire of our relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Ingratitude quenches it,  just as it does with any close relationship.

Col 3:17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  • Have times of stillness.

It is difficult to hear when our lives are full of noise or constant activity.  Did Christ have a crazy, frenetic life?  Simplify, simplify!  God expects us to clear space on our plates so that we have time with him.

Ps 46:10  Be still and know that I am God.

  • Hang out with God

How can you get to know someone if you do not spend time with them?  In a marriage, we often know each other so well that we can finish each other’s sentences.  We come to know each other’s hearts.  Relationships like this only come through lots of together time.

May our whole lives become prayer walks. “ What now Lord?”  “Lord, help in this situation.”  “Please help this person.”  “Shine your light here.”  Or, that most holy prayer — “Help!”  Flash prayers invite the Holy Spirit more deeply into your life.

1 Thes 5:17   pray without ceasing

Mt 6:6 (Message) Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

  • Be absorbed in God.

Time with God is a joy, not a duty.  Spending time communicating with God is a gift.  It is a goal in itself, not a means to get what we want.

Neh 8:10  for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.

  • Expect confirmation of what you hear.

The Bible shows repeatedly that two or three witnesses are expected to corroborate truth.  We should be given a confirmation of Holy Spirit nudges and directions.  This does not mean we should not instantly obey when that is what is necessary.  It means that God can corroborate, when needed,  so there is no doubt.

2 Cor 13:1 In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

  • Be victorious.

God has shown us who the winner is in this life.  He is!  When we seek and then pray the heart of God, we can have confidence.  No matter how it looks in the immediate, the victory is God’s.

4.   What is the goal of Spirit led prayer?

  • To conform to Christ

It is not possible to make ourselves be like Christ by studying and imitating him.  This amazing transformation is the duty of the Holy Spirit.  Our part is to trust, listen to and obey him.

As we do this, the Holy Spirit transforms us to look more like Jesus. This may be a slow and frustrating process, with the fastest growth often taking place in the times of the most pain.

Spirit led prayer is a big part of this transformation process.  Without the Bible and the communication with the Holy Spirit, we are flying blindly.  We do not need to — the map and the navigator are right there for us.

Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

  • To reign with Christ eventually and right now

We all want to make a difference in an eternal way.  All of our projects, efforts, and work may be for nothing if we are not actively listening and getting our direction from the Holy Spirit.

Our efforts, if not in God’s plan, are like the hay and stubble which will burn.  If the Holy Spirit directs our efforts, then we are doing something eternal which will produce jewels for his glory.

2 Tim 2: 11-13  The saying is trustworthy, for:  If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him

5.  Does this mean I should never do anything without a clear directive from the Holy Spirit?

  • No, it does not mean that.

It would be so awesome to have a word from God on everything, but God also expects you to take action and make decisions as he would make them.

We should pray before making important decisions, make sure our choices lines up with the Bible and move forward.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit is decidedly silent.  However, we may have to readjust as God makes his plans more clear.

6.What makes the Holy Spirit be silent?

  • Not being consulted

The Holy Spirit most definitely gets more silent when we do not ask him about things in our lives.  He is a person (of the God type, not the human being type).  He can be grieved and quenched.  If we want the Holy Spirit to give input into our lives, then we must regularly ask him.

1 Thes 5:19  Do not quench the Spirit

  • Not being obeyed

When the Holy Spirit gives a directive which is ignored, he waits patiently until we are ready to listen.   “I will obey right away, all the way with a happy heart” (from “Growing Kids God’s Way”), is the best response to the Holy Spirit.

  • Not being acknowledged or respected

How often do we even say or hear the name of the Holy Spirit?  Do we acknowledge him?  Do we give him credit for what he does?  Jesus made it clear that the Holy Spirit is the one on earth with whom we interact.  He also made it clear that the Holy Spirit is to be respected and honored.  The Holy Spirit is our way to be reminded of what Jesus taught us and how we might love and obey God.

John 14:26: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 

7. How can I be sure that I am hearing from the Holy Spirit?

  • It will conform to the Bible.
  • It will have reliable confirmations from 2 to 3 other sources (the Bible or other reliable wise Christians).
  • The Holy Spirit will develop a track record of truth with us.

We will grow to know the voice of the Holy Spirit better with experience.  We will learn to trust, listen and follow him more.  Obedience makes his voice grow clearer and louder.

 

8.  Is there a deeper level of Holy Spirit prayer?

  • Becoming a watchman on the wall.

The Holy Spirit may assign us watch times to pray as watchmen on the wall.  He may show us a danger that is coming and tell us to pray about it.  He may have us pray for someone without any knowledge of why.  Later the reason may surface, or it may not.

Ezek 3:17

  • Prayer walking

Putting feet to our prayers (literally) in prayer walking, takes our prayer into the world.

9.  Any other hints?

  • Write it down.

If the King of the Universe speaks to us, we may want to write down what he says.  Keep a journal.

  • Ponder his lessons or answers in our hearts.

There may be more riches that the Holy Spirit will keep uncovering when you have this trusting, listening, and obeying relationship with him.  If we get a word or picture, we may want to ponder it so the Spirit can bring us to a fullness of understanding.

  • Enjoy the amazing time with the Holy Spirit.  The wonder of it only increases.
  • Think of the big picture.

The big picture of our walk with the Holy Spirit is like a journey toward the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of God’s chosen people.  Before salvation, we wander around looking for love in all the wrong places. Finally, at conversion, we come  into the tabernacle through the sheep gate, which is Jesus himself.  Then we start upon the narrow road towards conforming to Christ and reigning with him.

The road can be called grace (or it can be called abundant relationship with the Holy Spirit).  There are ditches on each side which can stall us.  One ditch is self righteousness, and the gully on the other side is self indulgence.

We travel by the Bronze Altar where we offer ourselves as a daily sacrifice.  We also stop daily at the laver which is the Word of God, giving us cleansing and a true look at who we are.

We start as acquaintances to the Holy Spirit when we enter the outer court.  After time with him and some transformation, we move into the Holy Place where we begin to be friends with the Holy Spirit–we know his voice better and are learning to obey.

The next change takes place when we actually know him so well that we know his heart.  Then we move into the Holy of Holies and into the very heart of the Holy Spirit.  We become lovers of him.  We seek to do his will more than our own.  At this point we can start to reign with Christ making a difference for eternity.  This is the place from which we want to be praying.  (Disclaimer:  I am not in that place yet.)

pastedGraphic.pdf


Ingredients

14 dates / or 10 prunes and 2 dates

2 tablespoons of organic grassed ghee

1 ½ cups almonds

1 pint blueberries  (you may use any fruit)

 

Instructions

Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch pan and preheat oven tp 350 degrees.

Process these ingredients in Blendtec by pressing pulse a few times.  The almonds should be coarsely chopped  and the mixture even and crumbly.  

Rinse 1 pint of organic blueberries and place them in the pan.  Top with mixture. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  

Cut and serve while warm.  


Experientially, we have discovered that salvation is just the beginning of a great journey. It gains us entrance through the narrow gate (which is Jesus himself) into the outer court as an acquaintance of Jesus. Then the journey on the narrow road begins. Progress upon this road is named sanctification. The road itself could be called grace. God‘s Riches At Christ‘s Expense.

It can be more easily understood if we call this road “relationship with Christ”.  God the Father gives us his riches to use for his purpose,  under the shadow of the cross of Jesus, directed by the Holy Spirit.

The Israelites thought that the narrow road was the law of Moses, only to discover that they could never keep the law. Even the tiniest infraction meant guilt in the total law. A dot of sin resulted in being painted a complete sinner.   A few amazing people saw where the law pointed–to the Messiah. They looked to the Christ to come and were able to have a relationship with God.  Among these were Abraham, Moses, David, and Anna.

The difference between the law of Moses and the living law is that the first brings death and the second brings life. The law was meant to be a pointer or a tutor to guide us towards Jesus.  Jesus brings the Mosaic law to life, because the law is part and parcel of the character of the triune God. When Jesus spoke all of creation into being, the law was reflected in all created things.

When Jesus came, he revealed himself as the way to God and to true and lasting life. He showed who The Father is and who the Spirit is.  He did not tell us to follow his own example as one who followed the law–rather, he told us to let him build us to the point that the Living Law (Jesus himself through the working of his Spirit) remakes us. He will tear down our old structure of character which tends towards legalism and self righteousness (following the dead law instead of the living, relating person of Jesus).  He will also tear down old structures that lean towards self indulgence, entitlement and justification of our sin (following the flesh instead of Jesus).

The narrow road is grace, a relationship with Jesus that unlocks the resources for living a Spirit-directed life. The ditch that can derail on the right-hand side of the road is self-righteousness, a return to performing in our own strength.  The ditch to the left side of the narrow road, which can equally lead off track, is self indulgence or entitlement,.  The key word in each ditch that can get us stuck is “self”.

The next purported destination of the road of grace is the inner court or Holy Place. This is where we move from friendship with the world to friendship with God. We grow into a closer relationship with God.  We wash in the Word daily as at the Laver in the Holy Place in the temple.  We offer self as a daily sacrifice upon the altar. We choose to make God (Father, Son and Spirit) fully King and ruler over our lives. Areas where we have put our desires ahead of God’s are being put to death. We learn how to crawl up on Jesus’s lap as he sits upon the throne in our heart. In good and bad times, we lean our head against his chest and hear his heartbeat.  Trust grows daily as we know him more.

The final destination of the narrow road is inside God’s heart.  This correlates with the Holy of Holies in the temple. The movement forward on the narrow road is brought about by choices to listen and obey. We move from friend to lover in our relationship with God.

In this place, we learn to value God’s plans above our own. We seek to know his desires through prayer without ceasing. Our lives become one big prayer walk. Our hearts learn to listen to God’s heart until his words and desires become part of us in every cell, in every thought, and in our spirit. We move to the place where we reign with God, albeit imperfectly.

Unless The Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain. Christ is the foundation for our house of character which is being built as we walk this narrow road.  The total structure of our house of character must be grace. Until heaven, this house is never finished.  It is being constantly built and rebuilt by the hand of the Holy Spirit.  It is a house of character connected by the cross of Jesus, put in place by the Holy Spirit, and whose architect is the Father.

(I just realized that I needed to add a note explaining that I do not feel like I am at the end point of this journey yet.  I thought that fact was self evident.  Just in case anyone thought I was deceived enough to think I am at that wondrous point of being in tune with God’s heart, please be disabused of such a notion.)

The Ketogenic Diet


Some studies are out relating to an anti cancer diet–the ketogenic diet.  I started doing this diet about 3 months ago.  There are resources online to help you to learn about it.  It is not a risk free diet, but, of course, living with cancer is not risk free either.  Knowledge and monitoring of ketone levels during this diet is a good thing.  A quick, concise book to bring you up to speed is  A Low Carohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Manual by Dr Eric Westman MD.  

 

Basically this diet starves the cancer cells of glucose which it needs to survive.  The ketogenic diet  forces the body to be fueled by ketones, a byproduct of breaking down fats from the diet.  Normal cells can survive with ketones as their fuel, as opposed to cancer cells which cannot.  It is a fairly simple diet– no sugar and very low carbs.  This means a diet consisting of good quality (organic, grass fed) meats in moderation, low carb dairy, fish, eggs,  low carb veggies, plus nuts and seeds.  No grains, no fruits, no potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes or carrots.   A carb counter helps to get educated on which veggies are low carb.

When I started this diet, I noticed some fatigue and burning in my muscles with exercise.  Other than that the transition was smooth.  My body learned to use a different fuel.  Lee can smell ketones on my breath which I know is not pleasant.  Sorry.  I brush my teeth lots with this diet.  

Cravings for carbs disappeared in about 2 weeks.  (My craving for chocolate never leaves me however.)  I found a great brownie recipe that can be eaten with this diet.  I will post it in a later blog.  

When I have my next MRI, I can report on the effectiveness for me personally.

Here is a link to an article related to this diet.  http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2012/december/starving-cancer-ketogenic-diet-a-key-to-recovery/ 

 


Previously, I blogged about grace–the wonderful place of God’s absolute love.  Since my revelation of grace, I have been fascinated with the many definitions of grace that are out there.  A few are: “unmerited favor; unconditional love; God’s empowerment for his assigned tasks; God’s gifts; God’s riches at Christ’s expense; God’s love and mercy; the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done; the kindness of God we don’t deserve”, and there are many more.   

My personal definition is that grace is every gift that God pours out upon us for our good and for his purposes.  God is building our houses of character from the top down by setting the timbers in place upon the solid bedrock foundation of Jesus.  These timbers are love, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control and so many more.  These are all grace!  Our part in the house-building is obedience of the listening, loving, and responsive sort.  Yet, even this very inclusive definition of grace falls far short of expressing what grace is, because it must be experienced to understand it.  It seems to me that grace is such a difficult concept to grasp that it cannot be adequately put into words. It also seems that grace is an elusive state to inhabit long-term.  We tend to return to rules and striving.

Now, add in the concepts of law and works , and watch how you really muddy up the waters.  Paul says that it is all grace, and  there can be no return to the law, yet that seems to invite the abuse of the freedom that we have been given in grace.

To me coming out of the law camp and into the grace camp, it seemed like an “either or” type of scenario.  You either strive to keep the rules as one living under the law, or you accept God’s grace completely with an attitude of thanksgiving and cooperation.

Now, I think there is a third camp to inhabit.  The camp of joyful grace.  It is not moving out of grace back into the law.  This is not even moving to a place in between.  Joyful grace is a new, further-in and higher-up place of obedience to Christ motivated by great love for him.  The spiritual disciplines become the spiritual privileges.  Reading scripture becomes letting your beloved father talk to you.  Praying becomes a walk with Papa, holding his hand and talking things over with him.  Obedience becomes saying yes then watching God unfold the adventure.  Suffering turns into  learning to pray and do warfare in the midst of a tough time, knowing that at the end of it, it will be clear that Christ has been with you through it all.  Mistakes and sin become opportunities to grow, knowing that God’s love is not dependent upon performance.

I liken these 3 camps to the sections of the tabernacle of the Israelites in their early days with Yahweh.  In the tabernacle, there were  3 parts:  the outer court, the inner court and the Holy of Holies where God resided in the ark of the covenant.  

In my walk with Jesus I started out as an acquaintance of God, in the outer court.  I was his child and relied upon Jesus for salvation, but I was trying to live by rules.  I did not get the idea of grace at all.  

In the last few years, God drew me into being friends with Him, into the inner court, the Holy Place.  Grace finally brought an end to my striving.  Grace also brought a willingness to let God do all that he wants with me and in me, without my asserting my will (much anyway).  That was the subject of my last blog entry on grace.

Now, I understand that there is an even more intimate place for lovers of God.  This is the Holy of Holies.  It is the place where saying “yes” is a joy.  In such a place,  we hunger for his riches because they give us more of Him.  This is not an easy place to inhabit either, because there is always that tendency to go back to the horrible slavery of Egypt.  In this place, however, we choose to draw near to him out of love, not duty, so that he can draw near to us.  

 

 

Small Miracle 3


IMG_6647Last summer, I was riding on our John Deere tractor on our farm in WV.   The grass was a bit dewy, and on the downhill leg of a fairly steep hill, the tractor went into a slide and spun around quickly, throwing me off.  The mower did not stop immediately and my foot went partly under the mower deck.  I could tell my foot was mashed some, but was really afraid that when I pulled it out, it would completely mangled.

The miracle is that my shoe was chewed off completely to my toes yet no further.  I was somewhat bruised.  However, thanks to God all of my toes are still there.  Another small miracle.

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