Freedom Path – Spirit>Soul>Body

The past is the past whether years or just minutes ago. Past events leave prints in us. Sometimes we wear the prints like badges and interact with folk and situations according to that badge. Sometimes those prints are deep inside and we learn to ignore them. Or we cope with them (“you know this is just my personality”). And then there are prints we didn’t realize were still there….such distant memories – we thought purged, done and gone.

My belief is what influences the decisions (my emotions, my will) of what I will do or say. And with each experience we feed our beliefs and thoughts creating a cycle of how we deal with life – the mundane, the routine, the challenges, the opportunities, the accomplishments and the miracles.

Every moment of life brings potential triggers that recall (intentional or not) our prints, our previous experiences. It could be a smell, sound, sight, touch, taste, request, action or a combination of them. A life trigger sets off a land mine – one that is negative or positive, depends on the print.

I have no recollection, but family members often retell of an extended family trip where I almost drowned. My aunt was the only person that could swim and she rescued me. My mother enrolled me in swimming lessons soon after but I went AWOL. THAT (refusing to participate) I remember. I never did pool parties or water parks. No way, no how. So invitations sparked a negative explosion. Sometimes I would respond negatively as if I was asked to renounce God. And other times my explosion would be internal pity, disgust or shame. I had passed on the fear to my children by my conniption outbursts when they got into more than ankle deep water. Negative, right?

And then pit bulls (healthy, friendly ones) and fresh cut grass (the look or smell) create explosions for me as well. My father worked a lot. When he was home and it was daylight he would get involved with two of his three passions – his yard, his dogs and his cars. He kept THE BEST lawn. It is like thick, plush 5- 6 inches of new, organic carpet – no detail or corner neglected. When he finished manicuring, he would linger outside to admire. This is when I would come out to hang next to him in the fresh cut grass aroma. It was also the only time we were allowed to walk on the lawn so I took full advantage with bare toes. He also bred pit bulls. I would help and hang out for quality time. He would often mention to others how I was his helper. Triggers for these set off explosions of smiles, warm fuzzies and a desire to take a walk and talk. Sounds happy. And yet, sometimes when I get this happy I want to ‘extend’ the ‘feeling’. I overspend. I overcommit. I want to eat and drink without abandon. And then at the end of the month I wonder ‘What happened?’ when my account or schedule is negative or my clothes are too snug. I wish I had gotten into the car maintenance thing but it was too dirty and the music was too loud.

So we want to grow into maturity and freedom. It is a heart, mind and behavior (body) engagement. We cannot control the first initial reaction we have to a trigger. It isn’t realistic. We cannot isolate ourselves to avoid or ignore them. It isn’t the trigger or the explosion we can control. The explosion can be those ‘feelings’: happy, sad or mad; get nauseous or a headache; tense up or have nerves go haywire; go cold or crave intimacy. Our evaluation (what we can control) of the explosion focuses on the trigger and landmine and feeds our next step, the response. This response (also what we control) is whatever our habit, nature or learned response is – become legalistic or risky; go on the offense or defense; go along or reject; feel the pain or seek pleasure; flight or fight.

Our attention needs to be on the present considering where we are today. This can stabilize the response – not having to cut my eyes, curse, yell, character defame and hit, accuse, take back/destroy, refuse to show up (mentally, emotionally or physically), make poor choices because of the reaction to the explosion. We CAN diffuse the explosive response based on the truth of God’s Word. Doing this avoids entrapment or dwelling on the failures.

TWT TIN - This was then This is now

When we get entrapped, it seems as if our behavior is automatic. Sometimes we can explain the behavior with an excuse or reason. And then sometimes, we say in regard to why we said or did it, “I don’t know why I did” or “I wasn’t thinking”. Is that really true? Perhaps there was an unwillingness to think through and we justify our actions (or inaction) through fear or pride.
• Sense of entitlement (I deserve; my right; I don’t want to miss out; how I feel)
• Victim mentality (I was practically forced to; you/they didn’t help)
• Blame game (not my fault; I couldn’t help it)
• Hopelessness (I was desperate)
• Haplessness (my will; willingness to gamble; dare the consequences to come; it doesn’t matter anyway; I don’t care)

What we believe comes from the heart where the spirit dwells.
What we think comes from the mind where the soul dwells.
What we do happens through the body, our physical being.

spirit soul body

Self-improvement plans are only engaging the mind and body and after some time the mind can’t reason to keep going and the body stops doing. It wasn’t in my heart – it won’t stick. My source of support and strength is not me, or others or other things. It is God. And through Him, others can be used as resources for support. So if I really want to be free, I have to focus on what God says today. I can know what He says by searching with my whole heart. THEN He can help me get my head together. THEN my behavior, my responses will fall accordingly. It isn’t a one hit wonder. We have to search, practice and do it over and over and over and over and over and over. Sometimes there may be a struggle or a miss, but remember that a second gone by becomes the past.

Review I Corinthians 2
Homework: Research genuine spirituality (see post from June 14, 2013)

To love God is to hate evil.
God does not tolerate sin.
God does not share His glory. I Corinthians 1:29
• So no human being can brag in God’s presence.
Boast only about what God has done, not the good through you. Psalm 119:11
• I keep your word close, in my heart, so that I won’t sin against you.

Our job with others is to introduce them to Christ. Jesus will work with them once they have accepted Christ in their hearts.

Romans 8:5-8
• People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. 6 The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. 7 So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. 8 People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.
Galatians 6:1
• Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too.
I Corinthians 2:14
• But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way.
Proverbs 16:2
• All the ways of people are pure in their eyes, but the LORD tests the motives.
Matthew 10:1
• He called his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to throw them out and to heal every disease and every sickness.
Hebrews 1:14
• Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?
I John 4:1
• Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world.
Romans 8:29
• We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters.

Maturity, Freedom

When I was a young girl, I longed to be free of the rules and seemingly confining authority of my strict parents. I wanted to prove I was mature before I needed or had to. I thought freedom was having no boundaries. I used comparisons of those I knew who had parents not at home, not aware or just plain clueless as well as what the media portrayed as the happy life. I was not content. My parents seemed to always say “not now” or “no”. They always chaperoned and weren’t ‘hip’ (but you couldn’t tell my Dad that!). And I wasn’t hip either. I always had to ask for permission and I couldn’t/wouldn’t question them. My mother often reminded me of ‘how dumb’ I was. That flared up my pride. Those years through my twenties, I thought the adults were the dumb ones. It was evident they weren’t happy or living ‘the dream’.

How blinding pride can be leading the young (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to think inexperience can outperform/outdo experience without wisdom, correction, protection and encouragement. After years of living independent of my parents and God not happy or living the dream, I came to Jesus as I was. I finally understood the principle of obedience and submission. Young hearts, obedience and submission are not to be demeaning but for protection and accountability. Aren’t the mature accountable and responsible?

During pre-marital counseling, I was assigned to write letters to each parent and share the emotional distress I believed originated from my youth. This exercise was to reveal things I needed not take into my marriage. I wrote and wrote and wrote pouring it all out – writing what happened and what didn’t happen in my childhood. The notes were not disrespectful or distasteful pointing fingers and accusing. It relayed a child’s limited perceptions and feelings and how they manifested in a grown woman. The exposure of my thoughts and feelings brought sadness and trepidation. I announced with accomplishment to Pastor at a future session “I did it. I mailed the letters.” Pastor doesn’t usually show double take facial expressions during counseling but this time his brow lifted a little and his eyes widened a bit and he smiled saying calmly, slowly “Daughter, you weren’t supposed to mail the letters. The exercise was for you to capture those things from your past you hang onto.” WHAT?! Oh No! Wait!!

Now I get excited at opportunities to sit or hang with my mother, father, aunts, uncles, grands and until recently my great grandmother. I now try to ask and listen to as much as I can. I don’t have all of my children grown, married, college educated, in church homes active. My mother does. I am not a debt free home and land owner. She is. I am not married to the father of my children for 45 years and counting. She is. And her mother (my grandmother who is still living) has a greater witness and testimony. It wasn’t their youth, being happy all the time or pride that has sustained them. I AM the dumb one. Believe you me, there are no pride flare ups now to call me dumb. (SIDEBAR: Women Walking In Victory classmates – remember the Matthew 5:22 discussion? No pride either when called an idiot. Good times.) Those letters would read so differently now. Not because what I wrote wasn’t true, but because time, grace and mercy have given glimpses where my mother was and although technology and tools have changed…there is NOTHING new under the sun. Maturity (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) takes time and development. Freedom from obedience is confused with freedom from interference. We don’t want to miss out on the interference. We want bliss – no restrictions, not have to be sober to deal with the past/present, no limitations, no consequences, no sacrifices, get it now, fit my attitude. We know this isn’t real. Or rather it is real chaos whether the struggle is trusting, knowing, or heeding to God. See Romans 1:21.

Genuine (=Biblical) and wholesome (=balanced) spirituality is the goal of Christian life, Christian living.

Biblical is maturing in the Word.
Balanced is growth and development in the Word.
Spiritual is pertaining to the spirit.

Ephesians 6:12 – We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.
• Spirit beings are distinct from human
Romans 7:14 – We know that the Law is spiritual, but I’m made of flesh and blood, and I’m sold as a slave to sin.
• God’s law prospers the user

I Corinthians 15:44 – It’s a physical body when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised as a spiritual body. If there’s a physical body, there’s also a spiritual body.
Romans 1:11 – I really want to see you to pass along some spiritual gifts to you so that you can be strengthened.
1 Corinthians 12:1 – Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, and use your ambition to try to get spiritual gifts but especially so that you might prophesy.
1 Corinthians 10:3-4 – All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
Colossians 3:16 – The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by signing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 1:9 – Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

The secret place of the most high is in the Word.

1 Corinthians 2
2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom. 2 I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified. 3 I stood in front of you with weakness, fear, and a lot of shaking. 4 My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 5 I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God.
Definition of wisdom
6 What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. 7 We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. 8 It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! 9 But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.[a] 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. 11 Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. 12 We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. 13 These are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. 15 Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him?[b] But we have the mind of Christ.
1. Wisdom (:1-8) comes from God
2. The Spirit (:9-16) is given to us by God

God speaks through His Holy Spirit

Right Beliefs, Right Behaviors

During laast weeks’ Vacation Bible School, the lesson Practical Family Discipleship shared points on embracing and serving in the freedom when single (Oh where, oh where was this lesson when I was 27? And would I have listened and heeded?) as well as serving and focusing on spouses when married. An attendee asked a great question.

“Does marriage get easier?”

Responses varied including staying in one’s own role, fulfilling responsibilities, love, respect, focus on God. That seems so simple, hunh? But it doesn’t always get or stay easy, does it? When our expectations are not met (in that moment or whatever time frame) we focus on the disappointment, the frustration and the fix. Expectations are based on our history, our desires, and what we believe is the order, what should happen, what we want to happen, what we expect to happen.

I have found the pain points in marriage involve expectations with money, sex and/or children. There are others…but they all seem to tie back to these.  And those are the surface items. When we are honest, those insecurities, being in control, what I see as success or failure, being content, being happy are the root of the pain point. Our behaviors manifest in the choices we think we have to make, our decisions, our expectations…what we do and say in public and in secret (or so we think). And our behaviors (ALL OF OUR BEHAVIORS) are manifestations of our beliefs.

Not getting along at home surely makes it harder to focus. Making every choice that fits the Integrity Screen checklist.

Do the right thing

The right way

For the right reason

Expecting the right results

To benefit others

Glorifying God

It is easier to get distracted. It is easier to ignore. It is easier to focus on what will make me feel better for the moment.

Soooooooo….if it starts with beliefs, how do I start with beliefs where I am now?

Romans 12:1-3

Living sacrifice and transformed lives

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Transformed relationships

3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.

Romans 12:1 – changing the temple

Romans 12:2 – changing the mind

Behavior reflects what I believe.

Behavior informs my belief.

We lie because we don’t believe what God says about lying.

If I want to walk victoriously I must live victoriously.

Study 1 Corinthians 2

2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom. 2 I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified. 3 I stood in front of you with weakness, fear, and a lot of shaking. 4 My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 5 I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God.

6 What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. 7 We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. 8 It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! 9 But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.[a] 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. 11 Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. 12 We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. 13 These are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. 15 Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him?[b] But we have the mind of Christ.

Genuine (=biblical) and wholesome (=balanced) spirituality is the goal of all Christian living.

The Bible is the guide and test of one’s spiritual life.