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Danger & Devastation: Fire Insurance

We buy fire insurance with the hope that we never need it.  In the natural realm, it works reasonably well.  Even if the policy is not that good, fire insurance works well to gives us peace of mind and even a poor policy will mitigate the devastation if a fire happens.  So, a fire insurance policy is a solid investment for our earthly concerns.

Kilroy fire

December 19, 1976 – childhood home

Eternally, though, fire insurance is another story.  In fact, it is a false hope based on deadly deception.  Faith as a ticket out of hell is really a ticket to a dead end.  On earth, fire insurance is bought with hope that it will never be used.  In the spiritual realm, there is no such hope.  Death is a certainty.  It makes sense then that much more care be given to eternal insurance…assurance.

Just as earthly death is certain, Scripture reminds us that faith without works is dead.  (James 2:17).  That verse is not speaking about earning salvation.  Salvation is not based on us; it is faith in the completed work of Christ that saves.  But faith is evidence of what we believe; if we don’t act as if we believe, where is the evidence.  James 2:17 is saying that the way we live reveals the faith we possess.  Faith is belief…our actions reveal what we believe more than our words do.  Our minds can agree to something but unless we actually believe it, our hearts will not feel it and our feet won’t walk it.  Fire insurance faith gives mental assent…living faith gives united assurance.

Walking out faith

The shoes we are to wear as armored believers are Good News Shoes!  Our walk is to be one of peace…restored to a loving relationship with the One True God.  Any time our lives have ‘compartments’ or places where the sweet peace of God is not felt, we need to stop and seek the face of God.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God–unless we allow it to.  James tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.  The cry

max and marie hands fire

Picture from my in-laws living room after their home was destroyed by fire.

of the Father’s heart is ‘come to me’ — Christ’s prayer before He endured the cross was that we would be united with Him because He was united with the Father.  Total immersion in the holy goodness of God is the desire of God for each of us!

No matter what the battle feels like…the raging war and waves of horror…the end is sure.  The life of faith requires the death of self.  And death is not pretty.  Have you walked in the valley of death with a loved one?  The physical and emotional toll is great.  Scripture says Jesus endured for the joy set before Him.  That is our hope as well as we battle through to confident assurance of our unity with Him.

Engaging in Battle

Make no mistake:  spiritual battles are real and necessary.  Putting to death the old man is not easy.  There is a deadly, dangerous self-protective deception that can keep us from ever seeing the depths of our own depravity.  We can study the Word and love its beauty–and think that our studying and appreciation for it is enough.  It is not.  Appreciating art does not make me an artist.  The Word is pure and holy–but we are not.  Mental assent does not create unity with God.  Fire insurance faith is not assurance.  It is a deception that can kill.

So, how can you know?  Eternal life is the gift of God Himself.  Read that slowly.  It is not a gift of God…it is God.  Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; we live it now.  We live it when we receive it.  When we receive the gift of God, there is a war between good and evil.  It is a war that is won but it is not one we can excuse ourselves from.

But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses. I Timothy 6:11,12

And never give up.  It is always too soon to quit!  Press on for victory by renewing your mind with Truth from God…and then committing to act.  Strongholds come from conditioning of the past…negative thoughts & actions that you cannot control are conditioned responses.  What you have conditioned yourself to do can be changed as you remove anything that does not align with the Word of God.  Seek unity with Him and the double-mindedness that kills will be eliminated.  That is the death of self…that is participating in the crucifixion.  It will be painful…but it is the only way to life.

Seek to know God.  Surrender to His way.  Sacrifice to obey Him.  

And see the miraculous ways He works.  God is faithful.  Christ is victorious.  

Building Relationships

“There is no beauty in domination. Control is a cheap substitute for partnership.”  

Anna Blake

 Moving toward the goal of using the horses to improve the human capacity for connection is growing me!  The principles of Lifemanship include some theoretically sweet concepts:

  • If it’s not good for both, it’s not good for either.
  • A healthy relationship is a safe place…even for ignoring or resisting.
  • Asking clearly aids in building communication–and ultimately connection.

Practicing those theories is HARD WORK.

Gretchen is a good instructor; she ignores me really well.  Thankfully, her resistance is not with the full potential of her size and strength.  Yet, failing to connect will create an unhealthy–and potentially dangerous situation for both of us.  So, I have been investing time in our relationship.  Learning what to ask and how to ask with firm gentleness is part of my curriculum.  As we work, my conviction for the potential of learning relationship skills with animals grows:

Our world is full of unhealthy, broken relationships.  Failing to connect with God has eternal ramifications.  Failing to connect with family and friends robs us–and them–of the richness God intends for life.  God has given us all things that we might enjoy them…and give honor and praise to the Giver!

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – HORSES, HOMES & HEAVEN!

Relationship requires give and take, communication, and sharing.  Our world increasingly promotes isolation and self-gratification.  Technology simplifies the stuff of life and complicates the connections of life.  Abundant living, though, can only be found in connection:  first with God and then with others.   God created humanity because His nature is love–and love has to have expression and reciprocity. We love because He first loved us…all love that does not originate in Him finds its roots in self-satisfaction.

True relationship involves meeting the needs of both.  Before that can happen, there has to be shared communication and respect.  The horses help us see the components of healthy connection with greater clarity.  In the Lifemanship model, “Ignoring” is described as an attitude that says (in response to a request), “Not really interested, and I can take this amount of pressure all day.”  “Resisting” includes any number of behaviors…but there is no doubt that neither cooperation or ignoring are in progress.  Relationships require cooperation to reach a connection that benefits both and meets needs.

So, here’s a quick run down of how Miss Gretchen is teaching me to relate more effectively to her, to myself, to others and most importantly to God:

TIME together is a necessity.  The fact that I want to connect with her has no bearing on the reality of getting to know one another.  Thinking about her while I am busy doing something else does not build our relationship.  That same truth applies to marriage, parenting and friendships.  It applies to our relationship with God.  Relationships require investing ourselves.  Establishing priorities that honor our relationship commitments is no easy task.  We live in a busy world always calling us to do more.  Time connecting deeply–first with God, then with others allows us to enjoy life more abundantly.

AWARENESS is another critical component of relationships–and abundant living.  It is so easy to live without awareness.  Being ignored is the extreme of no awareness on the part of the one we seek to connect with.  But that is just an extreme:  a lack of awareness happens all the time!  My stress or perceptions of how we are progressing have a direct impact on how I relate to Gretchen.  Whether I am afraid, insecure or distracted by something else changes how I interact with her.  On her side of the equation, awareness about her signs of stress and confusion are also vital.  Tuning in to my part in a relationship–and diligently seeking to look through the eyes of my partner is key to connection.  God cared so much about it, He came in human flesh.  Jesus knows our struggles; He can relate to us.  In Him, our awareness of others and ourselves increases.

COMMUNICATION is individual, and clarity necessary.  Gretchen and I are learning one another’s language and misunderstandings happen.  Sometimes I am not always certain what I want…and when I am unclear, she will share my confusion.  The first guiding principle of Lifemanship helps me here: ‘Whatever I ask must be good for both of us.’  That principle gives me a goal and courage.  I’m not as timid about asking for what I believe is best for all.  The same is true in our relationship with God and others.  Every instruction of God is for our good and His glory.  It is a beautiful model for relationships!  Learning to speak with consistent clarity is a challenge to aspire toward.

GOALS are a destination to move toward, not a requirement to demand.  Building relationship is a journey toward shared goals.  What I ask of Gretchen, I ask for the purpose of growing our relationship.  The length of time it takes to get where I want to go is part of the journey.  In our connections with God and others, the same is true.  I want to spend time with the Lord not to gain some new insight that I can share–but to know Him more fully.  I want to spend time with my husband…my children…my friends, so I will know more of what is on their heart.

COURAGEOUS HUMILITY is a powerful concept Gretchen teaches me over and over again.  I don’t like to be wrong–or ask for what is unreasonable–or do things poorly.  But I’m learning right alongside her.  I don’t know her well yet; there’s tons I don’t know about horsemanship.  BUT relationships don’t require perfection; they do require courageous humility.  Being willing to be wrong…willing to be a fool for the purpose of growing your relationship is RIGHT!  Forgiving mistakes is part of bonding.

We’re working at compiling all of this into experiential learning and there is more to share in coming weeks.  Follow this link if you’d like to read more about the Lifemanship Learning for Relationships.

What one aspect of this can you apply today to your connection with God…with another?

 

Have You Seen It?

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“Pride cannot live beneath the cross.  Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice…

…Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purpose drops by which you have been cleansed…And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it:  if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him.”  Spurgeon

 

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