From Worship to Sonship

It is increasingly clear that the Lord is pouring forth not just a greater understanding of spiritual son-ship and fatherhood, but also a realization of our possession and place as His children and heirs.

The Lord deals with the sin issue immediately after receiving Christ as our Savior. However, the Lord’s dealing with our “character” may take a lifetime, depending on our position and response to Him, as His sons. He becomes “Lord” when our character is offered as a sacrifice.

Because of our failure to understand the heritage and inheritance that we possess as mankind, much of the church has moved in a weakened position of presumption and fleshly leadings. Abraham and Sarah realized the promise that the Lord had spoken to them concerning a son to pass on their inheritance and spiritual heritage. Instead, they moved in fleshly presumption and created “Ishmael.”

Once an “Ishmael” is produced in our lives and societies - they are very difficult to get rid of and they will always persecute the heart of “Isaac.” In other words, all works, words, and choices acted upon without hearing the Lord’s voice will create a type of Ishmael and ultimately lead to sin in our lives.

Think about the following verse for a moment. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” If there are “these” sons it must also mean that there are “those” sons who are not lead by the spirit.

The hour is at hand that we must continue in our pursuit of allowing the Lord to draw and surface our hidden issues for the purpose of healing and transformation. I want to take just a minute to draw a comparison between sons which are saved and healed and those sone who saved and unhealed. Many of you may already know much of these foundational behaviors, but I feel it necessary to lay these traits out as I build upon the core of this message. It reveals many characteristics exhibited by those who have not been healed of “rejection” which is humanity’s deepest wound and most difficult to cure.

Those who are spiritually unhealed see the image of God as a master. The spiritually healed son recognize God as a loving parent.

The unhealed son is independent and self-reliant. The secure son is interdependent and recognizes his need.

The unhealed is insecure and lacks peace. The healed son is at rest and has peace.

The unhealed strives for the praise, approval, and acceptance of man. The son is totally accepted in God’s love and justified by grace.

Those spiritually and emotionally unhealed have a need for personal achievement as they seek to impress God and others. Or, they possess no motivation to serve at all. The son of God serves and is motivated by a deep gratitude for being unconditionally loved and accepted.

The motive behind sacrifice and service for those unhealed is bound to a form of duty and earning God’s favor. Or, they have no motivation at all. To the son, sacrifice is a pleasure and delight.

The motive for sexual purity to the unhealed is that they “must” be holy to have God’s favor, thus increasing a sense of shame and guilt. The son desires to be holy. They do not want anything to hinder intimate relationship with God.

The self image of the unhealed suffers self-rejection from comparing themselves to others. A son of God has a self-image that is positive and affirmed because they know they have value to God.

The unhealed  seeks comfort in counterfeit affections: addictions, compulsions, escapism, busyness and hyper-religious activity. A son of God seeks times of quietness and solitude to rest in the Father’s presence and love.

The relationship with peers of the unhealed is competitive and has rivalry and jealousy toward another’s success and position. A son of God will cultivate relationships that are humble and seek unity as they value others and are able to rejoice in their blessing and success.

The unhealed handles others faults by accusation and exposure in order to make themselves look good by making others look bad. The son of God will cover other’s faults by love and seeking to restore others in gentleness.

The spirit of the unhealed will view authority as a source of pain; distrustful toward them; and lack a heart attitude of submission. The son is respectful, honoring; as they view authority from God and of value to their maturity in life.

The unhealed has difficulty receiving admonition. They “must” be right, so they easily have their feelings hurt and close their spirit to correction. The son is willing to receive admonition (correction) as a blessing and need in their life so their faults and weaknesses are exposed and put to death.

The spiritually and emotionally unhealed is guarded and conditional in their expression of love. Their love is based upon another’s performance as they seek to get their needs met. The son is open, patient, and affectionate as they lay their life and agendas down in order to meet the needs of others.

The spiritual condition of the unhealed is bondage. The son lives and resides in a heart condition of liberty.

I hope that this comparison has shed some light upon the many divisive and judgmental issues that we have and are experiencing in the church, as well as in our own individual lives. I personally can relate to many of these comparisons in my own life and I can only thank and praise God that He has delivered me and is still healing me from some of these same issues that I have carried since childhood. Just ten years ago, I never would have conceived of sharing what I am about to share with you…I would have much rather desired that you saw my spiritual maturity and strength, rather than my weakness and need.

When I look at the lives of the prophets of old, I recognize men and women who walked in the anointing and power of God. However, the Lord also paints a picture in His Word to show us their humanity and weaknesses as well as He continued to refine and work in their lives. What a wonderful assurance of God’s grace, patience and love for us.

We have been designed by God with purpose and meaning. He created us in His image — and that image is the image of LOVE. The Bible says that “God is love.” God, upon defining himself, simply states: “I am” and “I am love.“ With that said, we were created for relationship to love and to be loved. But it’s not that simple. We are to be loved how God designed us to be loved and that is a loaded statement! We may have had wonderfully kind parents, but if they did not love or express love in the manner of how God designed us to be loved; we have already moved into the roots and affects of rejection.

We must understand this “reality” to move into spiritual healing and maturity. We were designed to be loved in the love of God expressed through those who are His sons, daughters (our mothers) and spiritual fathers. Once again, there is a stark difference between being spirit-filled and spirit-led. Spirit-filled is a gift of grace through faith. Being spirit-led is a choice of obedience! Sons move in maturity and relational intimacy…They are led by the Spirit of God and are obedient to God’s voice and will. The Bible states that obedience is far greater than sacrifice.

Let’s parallel our spiritual (church) and our natural families: Just because we are a family member “by blood” and a part of the household, does not mean that we will experience the blessing of inheritance passed down by the head of the household our fathers in the natural and Christ in the spiritual). It is freely given to the one within a family whether natural or spiritual who moves in the function and heart of a true son. This is contrary to the modern prosperity message because you must first be son before you can become a father.  Only genuine sons partake of the inheritance in Christ. Just like a natural inheritance – a spiritual inheritance is not for the dead – but for the living.

Areas of rejection in the unhealed believer will soon manifest in adverse behaviors such as chronic lying as a young child, eruptive behaviors for attention, and an unexplained knowledge of sexual activity and thoughts. As a very young child of 3-4 years old, I somehow, without reading or experiencing sexual actions, understood them and had a desire or curiosity for them. Many would wonder why? The answer is in the fact that “rejection” is the greatest pain that humanity suffers. (example: Christ) The wounds of rejection are the deepest and most painful left unhealed. Pain will almost always seek out areas of pleasure to relieve or band-aid itself. Something in the soul of fallen man (even a young child) moves into a spiritual avenue of darkness when not accepted in the love of God or experience how the Father has designed us to be loved through a godly parental and spiritual example.

As we grow a little older, the rejected soul will usually gravitate toward music. Music holds within it tremendous power and influence for both the spiritually good and the spiritually bad. Demonic entities understand the powerful influence of music upon the soul of a child. The gravitation toward music at such young ages is not so much about the understanding of notes, singing style, sound, or even as a means of expression, as much as it is a vehicle of escape.

Rejected or spiritually unhealed children and even adults will escape into music at such a degree that they actually create a false reality of themselves singing and playing the instruments they are listening too. They create an illusion of being admired by a make-believe audience. I found myself escaping in this for 20 years. Why? Because I wanted to be praised, loved, affirmed, and admired in my rejected and unhealed condition.

It is not long before pain left unhealed spreads into others of life. Most by this time have repressed the pain of rejection so deep, that they are essentially unaware that they are truly hurting and in their bondage moves or escapes into pornography or pre-marital sex as a means to cover that pain. The purpose is to garner affirmation and what we perceive as real and genuine love. Young men will escape into a magazine, video, and a false reality of having sex with a person who in reality is not there. Young women will escape into a warped sense of love through physical touch (sex ) to meet their need for approval and affection. This is a characteristic of young women who have been neglected of having a father express tender and healthy affectionate love to them as well as complimenting then on their “inner beauty” Fathers were designed by God to mirror Himself in the lives of our children…especially our daughters. The lack of giving and affirmation of inner beauty has led to many co-dependent behaviors in women.

The rejected human soul by this time in life is starved and famished for the unconditional and affirming love of God. But few understand the source of God’s love and continue to escape through synthetics (drugs and alcohol) or turn to man to quench or cover their pain through means of the flesh or what is natural.

Without the healing and affirming love of God we grow into to our teen years and young adult life escaping into a “works oriented” lifestyle to meet our needs for love and affirmation. This of course will carry over and manifest itself in the church for the true church is simply a microcosym of the families actions Monday thru Saturday that comprise it.

False imaginations begin to rule the day as we visualize ourselves performing a task well. The rejected and unhealed individual will visualize a false reality of someone whom they desire to love and be loved virtually watching them perform the task they are doing well. In reality, this person is not really there. (I have found this to be a common trait among teen and young men such as myself at this age) The unhealed soul escapes into a realm that creates that person being present and watching as to somehow harness that person’s approval and admiration. Many go through their lives knowing they do this, but they tend to bury these “realities” and refuse to face the truth of their bankruptcy of knowing or resting in the unconditional love of God and our need to be affirmed by Him alone.

It is soon that the escapism that many have been living for most of their lives begins to strongly influence and distort the life that they live and the relationships they have made. In other words, many of us have lived the better part of our lives in the false reality and grip of escapism. The insecurities begin to surface as jealousy, criticism, self-doubt, judgments, and even outbursts of anger. It doesn’t take long before the rejected adult finds comfort in seeing others fail so they might feel better about themselves. Especially, if it is a similar function, such as a co-worker. The unhealed person doesn’t go out of their way to see others fail; they simply “feel good” about themselves when others do fail. The success of others becomes a stumbling block rather than an occasion for celebration. We have now grown older and have moved into a life of bondage and drudgery, continually comparing ourselves to others and living in the past.

God’s plan is that we would live an abundant life and one full of joy, rest, and peace. God loves us with an everlasting love that can never be earned, purchased, or attained through religious striving and works. His love is unconditional and always available. It is when we truly understand ourselves; that we can present ourselves to our loving Father who we truly are and come “just as I am.”

This was a pinnacle moment in my life. It was then that the anointing and fragrance of Christ was allowed to flow through my life without the contamination of my buried hurts and issues. I never experienced the reality of God’s power and inheritance because I was rarely “real” and living in the “real world.” I am still very much a work in process and progress. But, I am now truly living the abundant and prosperous life — both naturally and spiritually.

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A New Year with New Habits and New Behaviors

As we enter into the new year, many will resolve to incorporate resolutions in their lives. It’s embedded in our human nature to look for times and recognize reasons to change certain habits and behaviors in our lives that are in need of changing. The ‘New Year’ just happens to be a yearly point of reference for many as a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and even prophetic declarations. In a nutshell, a myriad of prophetic words have already come forth as typical covering a wide range of activity from doom and destruction to greasy grace boarding on New Age doctrines.

I would like to cut through the red tape of ‘christianese’ verbiage, prophetic catch-phrases, and the seemingly never-ending messages which are just re-canned and re-packaged under another name and author. The Bible states that the Lord is coming back for a ‘glorious church’. This is a fact and something very spiritually profound is going to take place that will transform and move the church (you and I) from a shade of grey and stained to being adorned in a bridal garment that is sparkling white, without blemish and glorious for his return.

The million dollar question and one we should be asking daily is how is this going to happen and what will be required of me? The corporate manifestation of his glory begins at the individual level. It is time to buckle up and knuckle down. The signs of the times are indeed changing and it is changing in yours and my life. A new years resolution is not what the Lord is requiring in this hour…He is requiring a new years ‘resolve’ in completing your maturity and overcoming all that would prevent this from becoming a reality.

Gathering or attending a church is far different than ‘being’ the church…Just as being filled with the spirit (a gift of grace upon salvation in Christ) is much different than being led by the spirit which is a personal choice.

Being the church and fulfilling the leading of the Holy Spirit are personal choices that we make in everyday life. Many do not gather together and the lost do not seek salvation because they have already been to ‘church’ once and have tried the ‘interesting experience’. It is not the building, paint scheme or neighborhood that has promoted the various reasons for many not to return to church or seek salvation – It is what they have experienced in the lives of those who go by the name or title of ‘Christian’. Sadly, the history of the ‘church’ has proven some very good reasons and justifications of why an individual would not desire to be a part of the ‘rank and file’.

The Lord is speaking to us individually that we have much work to do in regard to perception of how humanity views us. All of us, without exception are in need of a spiritual facelift, emotional overhaul, and examination of self-discipline if we are to fulfill our purpose and our destiny in ushering his return. Our wedding garment is stained with centuries of abuses and in need of soulish cleansing as the church moves from its stained state to sparkling white. The transformation of the bride of Christ begins on a personal level which will unfold as a corporate expression of genuine love, unfiltered truth, and creative solutions. The Bible states that only those who are holy will see the Lord in his fullness.

What our families, friends, and society recognize in our lives dictates the type or quality of seed (words and acts) we have sown. Trust me, whatever we sow will soon grow into plain view for the saved and unsaved alike to see. It will either exude the fragrance of life or the fragrance of death. We can only sow, reveal, and impart to another what we truly possess. There will be a tremendous amount of “information” that will be released as the new year approaches. Much of these writings and declarations will be interpreted or passed on as ‘revelation’. However, for information to move or transform into revelation – it must be revealed or be a reality in our own lives. Otherwise, it’s still simply good ‘information’ and of no spiritual value.

The genuine anointing is that simple – It is the fruit of the spirit and kingdom revealed in our lives and imparted by the life we live – It’s who we genuinely are. The fruit of the spirit can not be purchased, picked from a tree, wished for, or imparted by magic foo-foo dust. It must be received from the Holy Spirit through intimacy with Christ to be revealed in our lives which imparts change to the world around us (building the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven). Who we really are and what we truly have to offer (our anointing) is the end result of this message. The heart and center of this message is who we are and what others ‘perceive’ us to be which are the habits, compulsions, and mindsets that we possess and have chosen to obtain over the course and experiences of our lives. It’s the ungodly habits, compulsions, mindsets, and addictions that first must be dealt with if we are to truly fulfill our personal part and function within the corporate body of Christ. Only then, will our lives reflect value to humanity with everlasting benefit. Only then, will trust in the name ‘Christian’ be restored.

There is a structure behind most habits (that lead to strong cravings) which many in psycology field know or refer to as ‘habit loops’. I strongly sensed upon seeking the Lord for this message that I needed to share a base knowledge along with tools to overcome habitual tendencies which are preventing many from realizing the kingdom and fullness of God in their lives. The bible states that we are set up for emotional hurt, loss, pain, and even destruction because of our lack of knowledge.

Habit loops consist of three main parts. First is the ‘cue’ which is the trigger from the environment that tells your brain to go into autopilot and which habit to use. Next is the ‘routine’ which is the mental or physical action you take whenever presented with the cue. And lastly is the ‘reward’ which is what you get from the habit that fulfills a craving in your brain.

When the pattern of ‘cue-routine-reward’ gets repeated many times it becomes more and more automatic. This is because the more we repeat it, the more it gets hard-wired into our brains. In neuroscience, this is known as ‘long-term potentiation’. This is natural and how God created us. Otherwise we would essentially shut down with mental exhaustion if our brains were perpetually in high gear to perform basic tasks endlessly without the benefit of habit loops. There is a little oval the size of a walnut in our brain called the Basal Ganglia which essentially stores our habits and habit loops.

The process in which the brain converts a series of actions into a routine is known as ‘chunking’. This is the beginning of how habits and cravings form. There are hundreds of behavioral chunks that we rely on everyday. Some are simple such as putting toothpaste on a toothbrush, putting on our socks, or even how we fold our socks. We perform these functions over and over with very little thought or brain power. On the same hand, some chunks can become so complex that it is a miracle that such a small part of the brain can produce such powerful responses.

Let’s take for example, backing a car out of the driveway. When we are first learning to drive, it required a good dose of concentration (brain power) just to back a car out of the garage and for good reason! We had to open the garage, unlock the car door, adjust the seat, insert the key in the ignition, turn the key clockwise, adjust the mirrors and discern the how near or far objects really were, putting our foot on the brake; moving the gear shift into reverse, removing our foot from the brake, mentally gauging our distances and obstacles such as the mailbox and trash cans while keeping the wheels aligned, monitoring for oncoming traffic all while applying slight pressure to the gas pedal and brake. However, all of these responses within a relatively short amount time required hardly any thought all.

This routine occurs through the dynamic and power of repetition and the brain creating a habit loop. Millions of people perform this function every morning unthinkingly. As soon as we grab the car keys, our basal ganglia kicks in – identifying the associated habits stored in our brains in regard to backing out a vehicle. Once that habit starts unfolding, our grey matter which is closer to the cranial surface is free to quiet itself or chase other creative and complex thoughts. Habits occur because our brains are constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devises, the brain will try to make any routine a habit loop because habits allow our minds to ramp down and adjust.

This type of brain efficiency is biologically necessary because it requires less room and allows for a smaller head which makes child birth easier and infant/mother mortality less likely. It also allows us to quit thinking about basic behaviors and routines such as walking and choosing what to eat so we can invest time inventing spears, irrigation systems, and eventually airplanes and video games. But conserving mental effort is a double edge sword because if our brains power down at the wrong moment, we might fail to notice something important – such as an oncoming speeding car as we back out of the driveway! (The Lord is addressing our natural and spiritual blind spots) Our natural propensity to create and store habits is biologically necessary and a tremendous blessing when stewarded well. It can also be a curse when abused for self serving motives within the temptations of a corrupted world.

By better understanding our habit loops, we can more easily disrupt vicious cycles and rewire our brains to new habits which glorify the Lord and reflects Spirit led precision. For example, let’s take something simple or generic and say everyday after dinner you sit on your couch to watch TV while eating a carton of ice cream or munching a bag of chips. It’s a nasty habit – and it’s probably the reason you’ve gained 25-50 pounds over the past few years. However, no matter how hard you try to break the habit you can’t seem to change it. Why is something seemingly so simple as eating habits so difficult to overcome? Especially being the temple which stewards the Lord’s Spirit? Look, if you cannot steward and discipline your earthly tent well, how should I believe you are stewarding well other spiritual structures?

The primary goal to victory over adverse or even destructive habits is to identify our habit loops. What are the routine(s) that we desire to change? What are the cues triggering us to fall or fail within the routine? And what are the rewards we are getting as a result of that routine? By better discerning and understanding the cycle of “cue-routine-reward” we can more easily modify our adverse or unhealthy behaviors.

Find the cue.

A cue is a stimulus from your environment that triggers us into a particular routine. Often we have trouble identifying cues because there is so much unconscious information that motivates our habits.
For example, do you eat dinner at a certain time each day because you are hungry? Or, is it because the clock says 6:00 PM?  Maybe, it’s because your children start asking for dinner? Is it routine because you’re home from work, and that’s just when your dinner routine is supposed to begin?

There are different categories of habitual cues that often trigger and lead to unwanted habit loops.

Location – Where are you when your habit loops are triggered?

Time – What time of the day is it?

Mood – What’s your emotional state?

Thoughts – What are you thinking?

People around you – Who is around you when you act out these habits?

Immediately preceding action – What do you do right before the habit starts?

Once we understand the cues that trigger our habit loops, we can use that insight to modify or completely change our behaviors.  For example, say you’re an alcoholic whose habits are triggered by your location (party, bar, or club) or the people you are with (friends who like drinking as a social crutch). One way you can try to disrupt your habit loop is by avoiding places or people that motivate you to drink. If pornography is your habit, you must break the cue or trigger of a particular time, location, or internet site. NOTE: We must understand that any pain caused by an event in our daily lives will always or naturally seek pleasure to relieve or justify itself. We see this clearly in the act of overeating. The first step is to recognize the trigger or cue.

Try out different rewards.

Once you find the cue that triggers your behavior, you can experiment with different rewards to see what your brain is actually craving. Let’s go back to the example of eating ice cream or chips (foods that lead to being overweight) while watching TV. By trying out different rewards we can recognize what it is we get from the activity. Are we eating ice cream or chips because we’re hungry? Or, are we just bored due to inactivity and it’s a way to pass the time? Maybe, it’s something we do to socialize with family or friends?

There are a myriad of reasons we may construct a certain habit, but it’s not always clear why we do the things we do. Regardless, we choose by the gift of free choice to enter into a routine that served a particular or false need in our life. By experimenting with different rewards, you can discover what it is you are really getting out of your routine and find a substitute or healthy habit that is spirit led.

It may take a couple weeks before you discover what it is your brain is craving. People with addictive or compulsive behavior patterns already know what their craving (e.g. drugs, alcohol, pornography, gluttony, pattern gossip, etc.) Maybe, the first day you experiment with eating a salad, but afterwards you still feel an urge for ice cream or chips. This clearly points that the reward you’re getting is probably not related to hunger but to drives within the brain designed to mimic hunger to fulfill the reward mechanism.

You might try socializing with the family in a different way, such as playing a game together instead of eating ice cream together. After this activity maybe you find that your craving for ice cream goes away. If that’s the case, your routine of “eating ice cream” may be a result of your desire to connect more in a deeper level with your family. This is just one very simplistic or generic example for reference, but hopefully you get the idea. People do things for many different reasons, but experimenting with different rewards can help us find what it is our brains actually want fulfilled. If we understand that, we can replace our old habit loops with new habit loops that still fulfill the rewards we want and bring glory to God, our personal witness, and our personal wellness – both naturally and spiritually.

Make a plan to change adverse habit loops.

Once you identify the “cue-routine-reward” behind your habit loops, it becomes much easier to make a plan on how to change them.

Psychologists have found compelling research that making a plan to act in a certain way at a certain time and place makes it much more likely that we will commit to new and healthy behaviors. These are called ‘implementation intentions’. The basic idea is to form an “if-then plan” to help instill new habits. Write down and repeat your plan, such as, “If situation X arises, I will perform response Y.” X refers to the cue from your environment. Y refers to the new routine you want to replace with the old routine.

Habits have become the destiny of many with adverse affects. These habits can affect those closest to us as well as society. Habit loops can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it is also true that once the unhealthy habit loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in healthy or spirit led decision-making. Unless you deliberately recognize, engage, and fight a habit — unless you insert new responses to cues and rewards — the old pattern(s) will unfold automatically.

The Lord is all about your victory. Victory over death and the grave was accomplished at the cross and this is our eternal “reward”. However, the Lord also desires personal victory in our everyday life which is a composite of daily choices. These daily choices are birthed within a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and a honest perception of who we really are and where God would have us. We must understand that our perception of what is right may not be God’s! Our willingness to be holy rolls off our lips so easily, but yet our mind and eventual actions so easily deceive us. The truth is that we all have created adverse, unhealthy, as well as ungodly habit loops and once patterned in our brains – they will never go away and will always be there. In other words, once hard-wired, they never disappear. The good news in Jesus Christ is that new and godly habit loops can transpose or overlay the old ones in our brains or consciousness. When we recognize the cue or trigger for a bad response – we can choose to be led by the Spirit to respond in a new way. Trust me, it will not take long before this becomes our new expression and perception of how others see us. If we’ll only be consistent for a few weeks, our resolve will become the resolution of others! This is the power and witness of our testimony.