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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

Journey to Freedom 4: Victory over Automatic Responses

In our previous blog we said the first step to freedom is to recognize the internal conflict, and the second is to forgive and release the offender. Those acts set us free on one level, but living life in this new freedom is a challenge because we have developed self-defeating habit patterns. Situations continue to trigger the internal memories of being victimized. In this blog we will address the issue of overcoming on a day-by-day basis.

We all know Paul’s pronouncement, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love, power and discipline.” The word translated discipline (literally a healed mind) refers to the “mind of the heart,” or the subconscious as we call it in our culture. It does not refer to the mind of information, logic and analysis, but to the internal “programs” that produce automatic action. When we say something we didn’t intend to say, it was the heart-mind that reacted.

Solomon said, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.” The activities (issues) of our life flow from the internal programs of our subconscious, especially those actions that automatically respond to situations without thinking. So our success as an overcomer requires that we reprogram our heart-mind. How do we do that?

We access the heart-mind by monitoring our internal dialogue, the things we say to ourselves about ourselves, about others (or to others when they aren’t there), about how things work in the world (what I have to do to succeed) and about God (like, “God doesn’t love me as much as others”). Our internal dialogue was originally programmed by words spoken or implied by important others in our life.

As a young boy, when I made mistakes on the jobsite with my dad he would say, “You’re dumb. You’ll never amount to anything.” Those words continued to be my self-definition long after he passed on. I said those words to myself every time I messed up. They became my identity: “I AM dumb,” I would say to myself. Those words plagued me for years until I began to understand the inner-workings of the heart-mind.

To reprogram our subconscious we simply change our self-talk. Yes, it’s simple; but it’s not easy. Our old programs fight to remain in charge because in them we think we have safety. To counter those thoughts, we must replace them with empowering thoughts. I began to say to myself what I read in Scripture about myself as a new creature in Christ.

“I am more than conqueror through Christ who strengthens me,” I would say over and over until I began to experience it. “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” was a mantra until I felt its truth deeply. I would say, “I can do all things through Christ.” Saying, “The eyes of my heart are enlightened to know…,” helped me to begin to see the mysteries of the kingdom. As I continued to speak thus, the “spirit wisdom and of revelation” became a reality in my life.

The old adage, “Say it till you see it,” is true, but only if you are saying it because you know it’s true. If you’re trying to make it true by saying it, your self-talk won’t work. This is the problem of positive affirmations: they don’t work unless you already believe. So we must go one step deeper and monitor the deeper self-talk that occurs while we are talking to ourselves. The deeper level of self-talk exposes the lies we believe, lies we allow to influence our behavior.

Phrases like, “Not really; this won’t change anything,” will pop up. It’s necessary to correct those phrases immediately before we continue the affirmation. Confront the contrary phrase head-on. Counter it by saying to yourself, “It is true, because God said it. My present experience does not change the truth.” As you continue this over time, the truth will change your experience, your triggers will become weaker and your life will begin to change.

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Looking Forward,
Fount Shults
President and Founder
On Word Ministries

Seeing and Hearing 9: Measured Attention to Voice

01/13/2012 1 comment

“Pay attention to [see] what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.” (Mk. 4:24)

The mention of “the measure” requires clarification.

The parable is about hearing the word of the kingdom in a way that will produce kingdom fruit. The “measure” apparently refers to the amount of serious attention we pay to (how well we see) what we hear. The measures indicated in the parable are reflected in the different qualities of the soil. The hardened soil of the path gives the word no positive attention. The rocky soil gives it some attention, but not enough to bring it to maturity. The soil infested with weeds gives more attention to the cares of this world than to the word-seed.

Our focus in this blog will be on the fact that Jesus said to pay attention to (see) what you hear. There is a voice connected to what you hear. It could be the voice of the old nature, the voice of the new nature (human spirit), or the voice of God. Jesus did not say to pay attention to what you read. Reading Scripture is a good thing, but we must learn to listen while we are reading.

We do hear a voice while we are reading. Sometimes we hear our own voice commenting on what we’re reading. Sometimes we hear the voice of Paul or Moses. Sometimes we hear the Holy Spirit while reading, especially if we know the author. We can hear the voice of God while reading Scripture if we’re intimately acquainted with him. But focus on our interpretations can filter out our Father’s voice.

When we speak of voice, we do not necessarily imply an audible voice. There is the voice of our conscience. There is also the voice of the internalized authority. For many years after my father died (I was 23) I heard his voice telling me I was incompetent and stupid. Those voices were obviously not audible. Voice simply implies that something is being communicated to those who hear. So the question is which voice is influencing you; which voice are you hearing?

Unfortunately, while reading Scripture many hear the voice of their favorite preacher or the voice of their denominational leaders rather than God’s voice. Many hear themselves congratulating themselves for a new insight they deem worthy. These voices are in the foreground for them; they are facing these voices and allowing them to influence their interpretation. They seldom listen to the voice behind them saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa.30:21). The fact that the voice is behind them indicates they are walking away form the one speaking.

The measure of attention you give to any given voice determines how much influence it has in your daily life. If I am living for the approval of the crowds, I will hear their voice and behave in a way that (hopefully) will gain their favor. The word ‘hopefully’ indicates that the voice may be the internalized voice of the crowd; it’s what I think will please them. If I am living for the approval of some human authority, I will respond to their voice even if it goes against something I consider important. I have done that in the past.

So the voice we “hear” receives our measured attention. And the word-seed from that voice will produce fruit according to its kind. “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6). If we are living for the approval of man, responding to that voice will produce flesh activity. If we are living for our Father’s approval, his voice will produce fruit of the kingdom. This is why Jesus said we must pay attention to what we hear, which voice we are listening to, because the measure you give will be returned to you with increase. We choose flesh or spirit increase by giving attention to voices.

In my meditations on the returning prodigal, Invitation to Intimacy, I defined repentance as seeing things differently. The shift in the way we see things happens when we hear a voice that’s different from the one we’ve been listening to. The prodigal “came to himself” when he realized his father was a man who cared for others, even his servants. He had been listening to his own voice telling him otherwise. He was now hearing a voice speak a different message, and he paid attention to this new voice; he saw it.

Paul did not tell us we need to transform our way of thinking. He said, “…be transformed by the renewal of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). The passive voice indicates we are not the agents of that transformation. The agent is the word-seed that we choose to hear and give measured attention. The direction of our life shifts when we turn and hear the voice behind us saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” When that invitation comes, we will choose to walk differently if we really “hear” the word.

The purpose of the exercises we have suggested has been to help you identify the voices you normally give attention. We are really not ready to hear differently until we come to a crisis where it is obvious we’ve been listening to the wrong voices. In the pig-sty we are able to hear a new word from a different voice. But, why wait for the crisis? Have the courage to listen for a word that will contradict your flesh.

Our new exercise is this: begin to listen for the voice “behind you” and be willing to give measured attention to that voice. None of us are void of areas in our life where we need to be corrected. In this way we live life preparing ourselves for encounters with our Father and his loving embrace.

If you desire to be notified when a new blog is available, simply enter your email address above to the right. For access to all previous blogs go to http://www.cwgministries.org/

Looking Forward,
Fount Shults
On Word Ministries http://onword.org

For more on hearing God, go to http://www.cwgministries.org/

Return to Intimacy 4

In our first blog, (Trouble Hearing from God), we learned that there are laws in the social world. If we disregard the laws, our relationships are damaged just as our face is damaged when we disregard the law of gravity. In Return to Intimacy #1 we saw the need to receive Father’s forgiveness, and then we learned to forgive others in #2. We saw in #3 that intimacy is only possible when both partners are open, and that Father has proven himself trustworthy as one who is open to you even in your shame.

Now we turn to the next step: Recognizing and renouncing the lies we have believed. Here we speak of lies we feel are true even though we know in our mind they are false. We call them “heart-felt beliefs” Our words and our behavior in moments of stress always come out of how we feel toward the situation. The fact that we know better is revealed when we regret our words or our actions. The problem is that it’s too late when we notice the words or deeds were wrong.

Our life flows out of what we feel in our hearts (Prov. 4:23). As long as we feel like (believe) the lies are true, we will continue to say and do things we know are inappropriate. It is the heart-felt beliefs that influence us to do things that do not bring glory to our Father. Paul defined sin as falling short of (failing to reflect) the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). With this definition even preaching can be sin if we use preaching to glorify ourselves.

The major category of lies we believe is what Arthur Burke calls legitimacy lies. These lies have to do with what makes us feel significant. “I am significant when I can drink more than the next guy,” or “I am significant when I can make my wife submit.” The most atrocious of these legitimacy lies are the religious lies. “I am significant when I pray longer, preach better, worship more enthusiastically than others.” The first lie causes one to drink too much. The second causes one to be harsh with his wife. The third breeds religious pride and hypocrisy.

The difficulty is when we try to discover the lies we have buried in our hearts. We are not consciously aware of these heart-felt lies. They swim around under the surface waiting for an opportunity to devour the bait the enemy throws in the water. We seldom think about it, but a fisherman lies to the fish, “This is good for you,” the fisherman says. The desire for food is not the fish’s problem. The fish believes the fisherman’s lie.

So how do we bring the lies to the surface of consciousness so we can renounce them and break their power over our life? It’s really simple. Listen to your inner conversations with yourself. But don’t just listen for words. The language of the heart is imagery. Pornography works on the imagination by presenting pictures that say, “This will really make you feel more like a man.” When you believe that lie, you’re hooked by the other fisher of men.

Spend some time asking Father to show you the lies you have believed. Journal his answer and write out the lies. Take them one at a time and repent for ‘believing’ that lie and for living your life as though it were true. Forgive anyone who may have contributed to your believing that lie. Receive Father’s forgiveness and allow him to cleans you of this iniquity (I John 1:9). Pause to receive deeply in your spirit. Don’t rush this.

Then renounce the lie and verbally break its power over your life. The final step is to listen to Jesus and the Spirit of Truth as he shows you the truth that will replace the lie. When he shows you, journal his answer and review it daily until it settles in your spirit.

Return to Intimacy 4

In our first blog, “Trouble Hearing from God,” we learned that there are laws in the social world. If we disregard the laws our relationships are damaged just as our face is damaged when we disregard the law of gravity. In Return to Intimacy #1 we saw the need to receive Father’s forgiveness, and then we learned to forgive others in #2. We saw in #3 that intimacy is only possible when both partners are open, and that Father has proven himself trustworthy as one who is open to you even in your shame.

Now we turn to the next step: Recognizing and renouncing the lies we have believed. Here we speak of lies we feel are true even though we know in our mind they are false. We call them “heart-felt lies.” Our words and our behavior in moments of stress always come out of how we feel toward the situation. The fact that we know better is revealed when we regret our words or our actions. The problem is that it’s too late when we notice the words or deeds were wrong.

Our life flows out of what is in our hearts (Prov. 4:23). As long as we feel like (believe) the lies are true, we will continue to say and do things we know are inappropriate. It is the heart-felt lies that influence us to do things that do not bring glory to our Father. Paul defined sin as falling short of (failing to reflect) the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). With this definition even preaching can be sin if we glorify ourselves by it.

The major category of lies we believe is what Arthur Burke calls legitimacy lies. These lies have to do with what makes us feel significant. “I am significant when I can drink more than the next guy,” or “I am significant when I can make my wife submit.” The most atrocious of these legitimacy lies are the religious lies. “I am significant when I pray longer, preach better, worship more enthusiastically than others.” The first lie causes one to drink too much. The second causes one to be harsh with his wife. The third breeds religious pride and hypocrisy.

The difficulty is in discovering the lies we have buried in our hearts. We are not consciously aware of these heart-felt lies. They swim around under the surface waiting for an opportunity to devour the bait the enemy throws in the water. We seldom think about it, but a fisherman lies to the fish, “This is good for you.” The desire for food is not the fish’s problem. The problem is that it believes the fisherman’s lie.

So how do we bring the lies to the surface of consciousness so we can renounce them and break their power over our life? It’s really simple. Listen to your inner conversations with yourself. But don’t just listen for words. The language of the heart is imagery. Pornography works on the imagination by presenting pictures that say, “This will really make you feel more like a man.” When you believe that lie, you’re hooked by the other fisher of men.

Spend some time asking Father to show you the lies you have believed. Journal his answer and write out the lies. Take them one at a time and repent for ‘believing’ that lie and for living your life as though it were true. Forgive anyone who may have contributed to your believing that lie and receive Father’s forgiveness and allow him to cleans you of this iniquity (I John 1:9). Pause to receive deeply in your spirit. Don’t rush this.

Then renounce the lie and verbally break its power over your life. The final step is to listen to Jesus and the Spirit of Truth as he shows you the truth that will replace the lie. When he shows you, journal his answer and review it daily until it settles in your spirit.

Return to Intimacy 1

In our last blog we spoke of blocked intimacy and its effect on all our relationships, including our relationship with God. Now let’s look for the solution to the problem.

Return to intimacy is related to repentance and forgiveness. We begin our journey back to the Father when we see things differently. We discussed this at length in our latest book, Invitation to Intimacy. When the prodigal son realized how good his father was, he was ready to begin the journey back home. In that moment he suddenly saw things differently, in his mind his father was no longer one to be avoided. That’s the picture of repentance in the context of Luke 15.

A broken relationship with our fellowman affects our relationship with God, as we noticed earlier. A good time to deal with those broken relationships is on our way back to Father’s embrace. In fact, if we are having trouble getting back to God, it may be because of those broken relationships. We can never experience the fullness of Father’s embrace until we deal with the painful and disappointing situations of the past.

Most of us have simply stuffed the pain and learned to live as though everything is fine. Since we are able to get through life with a measure of success, we assume there’s nothing we need to deal with – until we try to develop an intimate relationship with God. Then we come face to face with our inadequacy. No matter how hard we try, we can’t find intimacy with God. Where is he? He’s on the other side of our broken relationships.

When we consider our early years we come to realize that our parents did the best they could. They were dealing with their own issues while they were raising us. But this awareness alone is not enough to return us to intimacy. Another insight is needed: We responded in a wrong way to their inability to care for us the way we needed.

We may have responded the best way possible for a child or a youth; but as adults we must put aside those childish ways of dealing with conflict. Our way of coping with the situation may have been the only way available to us at that time, but Abba Father has designed a superior way for those who follow his Son. His way is repentance and forgiveness.

So our first step toward renewed intimacy is to confess our wrong response to the one who wounded us or disappointed. We need to be specific in this confession. Was your response to get angry and rebel, to withdraw into yourself, or to compromise your integrity by doing the wrong thing just to keep peace? These response may have been the only option for you when you were little, but it’s still wrong. Pray the following:

“Father I confess that my wrong response to those who wounded me was a wrong response. You said if I would confess my sin, you would forgive me of the sin and cleanse me of the iniquity (I John 1:9). I receive your forgiveness and cleansing.”
(Pause to receive his forgiveness and cleansing. Take your time.)

In our next blog we will look at step two in returning to intimacy.