Finding freedom through imagination

Recently, I’ve been listening to a series from Greg Boyd called Animate. In his series, Greg talks about how to find true transformation and freedom through our imagination.  He describes how the church has tried in vain to find freedom.  He describes three common attempts:

1. Try Harder

How often have you heard it said, “If you want to overcome this problem, then just try harder.” It’s so engrained in our culture and now it has permeated into the church.  “To find freedom, you must try harder.” But, it’s not true. While there may be some elements of truth to working harder, it’s not the end-all path to transformation.

2. Wait on God

This is the pendulum swing the other way from “try harder”–just wait on God. Instead of being actively engaged in transformation, this ideology is just to wait on God, wait for transformation to come, wait for God to move, wait for the Holy Spirit to transform.  Again, there are elements of truth to this, but it’s not the solution.

3. More Information

This is another path that is quite common today.  Knowledge.  And, with the Internet so pervasive, we have information at our fingertips.  But, more information is not the solution.  If it were, then the Pharisees would have been perfect. In their time, they were to the keepers of the Biblical information.  But, information does not lead to transformation.

So, where does transformation come from?

More on that later.

Information or Revelation

I was hit with a pretty intense revelation the other day. It’s basically this: when God speaks, he’s not just communicating information. When God speaks, he’s often activating a new reality. He’s realizing (making real) something new when he speaks it.

For most of my journaling experience, I would journal with this notion that when God speaks, he’s only communicating information. I’ve realized now that it’s more than just information. When God speaks, he creates. He activates. He “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). He brings into reality something new, something alive, something with purpose when he speaks.

For example, in Genesis, God said, “Let there be life” and life was created. God said, “It is good.” And it was good. It was blessed as good.

When God needed a Savior, he sent his Word (John 1). God’s Word became flesh. When God spoke, his tangible, experiential existence came into being. We could see, taste, hear, touch, smell the Word of God. He became real.

Immediately, I must repent. I must change the way I’ve been thinking. I take time to journal and listen to God, which is not a problem. That’s a good thing. The problem is that when God speaks, I only receive his words as information, not a declaration. I need to receive what God says to me as a new reality, a newly created existence or situation. When God speaks, reality is created.

Something that was not will become when God speaks.

Divine Whispers of Love

I had  a rough week. Problems were pounding me on every side. Nothing big. Nothing major. Just those little problems that nag and harass and cause you to lie awake at 4 in the morning trying to figure it all out — car repairs, upset clients, business decisions, financial demands — all pestering my typically quiet mind.

As I was driving down the road, my mind spinning with issues, I heard that Divine Whisper of Love speak into my soul, “Russ, what are you worried about? I’m here. I’ll take care of you.”

I just lost it. Right there in the car, I started weeping because deep in my soul, I knew he was there all along, but for him to remind me in such a clear manner was so overwhelming. My immediate response was simply this, Yes, Father, I can trust you. I’m sorry.

The stress, the burden, the racing thoughts all stopped. And I knew that he was there. He had my back. I could trust him.

Immediately, I thought of Matthew 6:25-27,

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

Are you struggling through something right now? Is stress continue to pound against your mind and thoughts? If so, I encourage to tune into those Divine Whispers of Love, and let God encourage you.

Hearing God 17 – The Reward for Obedience

From Alan Smith’s Blog

Genesis 22:17-18
Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” NKJV (emphasis added)

I’m fascinated by Genesis 22:18, specifically the phrase “…because you have obeyed my voice”. God doesn’t really promise anything new here. The content and themes referred to here have been part of God’s promises to Abraham all along. God initiated these promises from the beginning in Gen 12 when Abraham was a pagan, and then again in Gen 15. Abraham didn’t do anything to merit them or deserve them. Then at the end, God says that it’s “because” of Abraham’s obedience.

Earlier we see that righteousness is accounted to Abraham because he believed the promises, but the promises themselves and their fulfillment have nothing to do with Abraham’s performance. Now, after all that, Abraham somehow gets the credit based on performance, based on his obedience.

God initiates. God redeems. God fulfills. God brings us to a place of living faith worked out in obedience, God rewards us, and then God says it was because we obeyed. He rewards us for the obedience he produces in us.

This would be easier to swallow if I were a Calvinist, but it does give me some context for what Paul says in Romans 2:

Romans 2:6-7
“Who will render to each one according to his deeds” eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” NKJV (emphasis added)

Romams 2:13
“For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” NKJV (emphasis added)

In Romans 10:17 we see that faith comes from hearing His voice. In Genesis 22:18 we see that we are rewarded when we obey his voice. We hear, we believe, we obey. Through this process we enter into the purpose, promise, and reward of God.

Hearing God 16 – God’s word and the Miraculous

From Alan Smith’s Blog

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Col 1:17-18
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Rev 4:11
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

Heb 1:3
who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power ,

In these verses we see that all things have their origin in and are presently sustained by the Word of God. All of Creation came into being through the Word. All of Creation is currently upheld by the Word.

God spoke and from nothing everthing came. This is miraculous don’t you think? All that appeared in that moment owes the continuance of its existences to the continuing reality of the Word. Is this any less miraculous? In fact, it is in the exact same category – existence resulting from the voice of God. Want to see more miracles? Consider that your very existence and the existence of the material world in which you live are both miracles.

We usually think of miracles as being those things God does which are outside the norm of nature. But what if nature itself is miraculous? If that is true (and it is), then there is no categorical difference between my observation that the sun came up this morning and my expectation that today God might speak to me about healing some sick people. No difference at all.

Ps 107:20
He sent forth his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.

Matt 8:8
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word , and my servant will be healed .

Are you listening?

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