I think everyone pretty much understands "The Butterfly Effect". There was even a movie made about it. In short though, small actions and decisions, whimsical afterthoughts even, a glance in one direction instead of another, a spontaneous decision to do something you normally would not do, can all have repercussions far beyond what we may see or intend. Some for good, and others not so good.
As I thought about this, I stopped to wonder how much of our lives does God really care about. You may have heard it said that God does not really care who wins football games, what leg you choose to puts your pants on first in the morning, or whether you choose to listen to the radio instead of roll down the window on the way to work. However, and follow me here, are we not all spiritual beings?
We say we understand that there is a spiritual battle that wages around us, yet most Christians I would guess live 99% of their lives without even thinking about the spiritual implications of their every day lives. What's more, the few moments Christians do think about their spiritual lives are spent in more of a dis-associative moment of reflection or moment of silent thought in prayer that loses it's bearing on the "real world" the very moment they get on with their day.
We are made of spiritual material, spoken into existence by a spiritual God from a spiritual realm. Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." The physical world around us, and even our physical bodies are governed by rules created by that spiritual realm - rules which can be broken by regular people just like you and me as evidenced by Peter walking on water, and other miracles performed by men in the Bible. How is this possible? Because we are spiritual beings! Decisions and actions in the spiritual realm have effects which are felt in the physical realm we are more familiar with.
What these things all have in common is a genuine faith in that spiritual realm. All it took was tapping into the spiritual power God has placed in each of us, as God lives in us, through faith. Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Go back to the Old Testament and study up on the directions God gave for the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the physical rules God gave the people to help govern their spiritual lives, and even the directions for making the clothes of the priests. Read in the New Testament about how not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and that even the number of hairs on your head are numbered. Now, try to tell me God is not aware of the smallest details in our lives, and if aware, that He does not care.
What if . . . every decision we make in life has spiritual implications much like the butterfly effect in the physical world? What if . . . the spiritual battle that ceaselessly rages around us is also subtly influencing us in the small decisions we make each and every moment of every day?
Would it not be more important then to seek guidance and wisdom daily? To be in touch with God constantly? 1Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing." Acts 17:11 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
We check email every day, catch up on news every day, make and/or receiver phone calls every day, yet most of us cannot be bothered to make contact with God through prayer and Bible study every day. The result, we live a life 99% focused on the world around us, and miss the 99% of the spiritual battle being waged around us.
Ignorant of the dangers we face, we walk through the minefield of our everyday spiritual battlefields, taking wounds we do not understand nor see, and wounding others in ways we do not perceive. The effect is that the spiritual casualty rate in our churches, homes, and marriages just continues to skyrocket ever upwards, and everyone is blindly trying to figure out why, looking for physical responses to a spiritual cause.
In light of this, how much more important is it for us as men and leaders of our homes to make spiritually informed, wise, and correct decisions? How will the decisions you make impact the people around you spiritually, with effects in this physical world?
Reposted from www.MenRising.com
This is the fourth article in a four-part series . . .
If you have been paying attention, and if you have read the previous three articles over the previous three days, you have been wondering what all this was building up to, and where it was all going. The only problem with the Fearless Christian life is that I believe so many Christian men wrongly believe they are there.
Go back to the Floundering Christian life for a moment, and realize that when you ask God to use you, and God begins to take you into the deeper waters, there is panic. There is unease. There is a complete loss of control. When God intervenes, and we are taken back to the safety of the Favored Christian life, there is a tendency to pat ourselves on the back for having made the effort - never to try again. As God calls us again though, we begin to resist, and there is the danger. God wants us to grow, and he will nudge us to grow, and He will call us to grow, but God will never force us to grow.
Peter walked on water! He also got distracted, sank, floundered, and had to be rescued. How Jesus responds to him at that moment is telling. It is not a clap on the back and a "You did really well out there for a few moments!" comment followed by other accolades. His words are ones of disappointment of what could have been . . . Matthew 14:31 "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
It is a powerful story, because later this same Peter continues to Flounder. Ready to die with Christ one moment in the Garden of Gethsemane as soldiers come to take Christ away, he soon denies he even knows Christ by the fireside and runs away . . . runs back . . . returns to his old life as a fisherman . . . back to the favored life he once knew where all was safe, everything was OK, and the floundering could cease. However, Christ was not finished with him yet.
How many fearless men in the Bible can you name? Moses, fearless before Pharaoh. Abraham, fearless to offer his own son. Joshua, fearless to raid the land of Canaan. Paul, fearless before many trials and afflictions. What makes these men fearless? For some, the time of their Floundering is aparrent, but for others the Bible does not focus on this and it is less clear. Still, I submit to you that each of these men had their doubts, their fears, their time to flounder before coming to the point they were fearless. Why do I say this? How can I know this?
Return to the pool. Go back to the time of learning how to swim. Floundering in the water, flailing wildly, desperate to extricate yourself from the situation, you slowly built the foundation and the mechanics of swimming. I remember those times, but I also know that today I am comfortable jumping into any body of water with the sure and fearless knowledge that I can swim.
God has a greater purpose for every man's life, and it is not to continue to live the Favored Christian life either. I believe God wants to use you, too, but to get there, God has to take you into the deeper waters and allow you to Flounder. There He can teach you, train you, allow you to learn who you really are, and where your talents and strengths God has given you reside. Coming through all that, you gain a knowledge of your purpose, your place, your identity, and who you really are as a Christian man.
The problem is, too few are ever willing to enter the Floundering Christian life, and so they rush back to the Favored Christian life as quickly as possible. There are some out there though, dissatisfied with the Favored Christian life, who know there is a Fearless Christian life to be lived with a name and an identity, but they do not want to Flounder. They resist the unknown, and so they enter and step back, again and again, trying to work up the courage to surrender to the process God has for them. Of those who enter the Floundering Christian life, it seems all too few ever emerge Fearless.
Look around you. Who among you has given up and allowed "Failure" to be stamped on their life? Who among you would rather live the "Favored" Christian life? Who among you resist the "Floundering" life? Though they want God to use them, they refuse to endure. Who among you, is truly Fearless?
Reposted from MenRising.com
This is the third article in a four-part series . . .
Learning to swim was pretty traumatic when I look back on it. Jumping, or getting thrown, into the water for the first time, and the successive times after that, were horrible events. I remember lots of movement, desperate movement, trying to keep my God-given breathing apparatus above water . . . and failing that, trying to learn to breathe water. It never worked. Coughing and belching what felt like gallons of water was unpleasant to say the least, and not something I really wanted to repeat.
Everything that starts something new flounders. Baby birds flounder to the ground, a newborn colt braces unsure legs trying to take its first steps, and even babies go through a "toddler" phase before really getting their footing and learning to walk. Floundering, whether we like it or not, is a part of growth. Where we go wrong is to mistake floundering for failing, and accepting the label of failure.
I learned to swim. I learned to dive deep, and jump off of high platforms into deep water. I swam in pools large and small, creeks, riverbeds, and even the ocean. Though not as agile as I used to be, I can still swim very well. Then came the time to teach my daughter to learn how to swim. She had been in the shallow end of the pool and had really gotten used to and loved the water, until it came time to learn how to swim. In fact, where she used to ask all the time about going to the pool, she now had a tinge of dread to her voice and asked, "Are you going to take me to the deep end again this time?"
She floundered, she sank, she swallowed and belched up what I am sure must have been gallons of water to her. I do not doubt she thought for sure she was going to die. I would ease up at times, and just let her play in the shallow end. At first our swimming lessons were short, but I kept taking her more often, and for longer periods of time, out of the shallows and into the deeper waters of the pool. She was never in any real danger, because I was always with her, watching her, ready to assist when she really needed me, not just when she really wanted me.
I let her sink a couple of times. I pulled her out more than a few times. I spoke to her as she cried. I held her up when her strength was gone. I encouraged her when she wanted to quit. I kept taking her into the deeper waters.
Today, my daughter can swim. She plays in the shallow end, but she also plays in the deeper waters as well. For some people, learning to swim may come more quickly, but I have a feeling it pretty much goes the same way for just about everyone. To learn to swim, we have to flounder. However, how we react to floundering is up to us.
I am sure many of you are already seeing the spiritual implications, however, many will not as easily recognize them in their own life. How often has God, in an effort to take you out of the shallow waters of the Favored Christian life, allowed you to Flounder in the deeper waters? What has been your reaction to this? See, I believe God has often brought events into our lives we do not appreciate nor want, and we do not see the reason for them. How often do we hear people asking God "why" as they struggle mightily to get back to the shallows of the Favored Christian life?
The strange thing is, we enter the Floundering Christian life at one of two points: either we ask for it, or God sees we are ready for it and just gives us a nudge. Much the way my daughter asked me to teach her to swim, we go to church and ask God to teach us, to use us, to really work in our lives, to make us the Christian men He wants us to be, but then when God does just that and begins to teach us, and we begin to Flounder, we have one of two choices. Either we turn back and give up, preferring rather to live the Favored Christian life, or we endure.
The Floundering Christian life is not a one-time event, because there are many lessons to be learned, many skills to be developed. Have you mistaken Floundering for Failure? Is God nudging you, or have you asked God to use you? Are you ready to go through the Floundering process?
- Reposted from MenRising.com