Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jesus said, "I Am the Way..." But What Does that Really Mean?

Steve McSwain 

From The Blog ~ Huff Post Religion

My own suggestion is this: instead of believing in Jesus, why not live similarly after the manner of Jesus? 

Jesus said "I am the one comes to God but through me" (John 14:6). But what does that really mean?
For years, I was taught that it meant Jesus was the only way to God. That is to say, if you did not "believe" in Jesus, you could not know God. And, of course, that raises an entirely different question. "What does it mean to "believe" in Jesus?"
Does it mean there are certain words you must say about Jesus? For example, as a child, I was taught what Baptist people called a "Sinner's prayer." I prayed it, recited it, and genuinely believed that, if I spoke these specific words, I would be "OK," meaning, I would be "safe." In other words, I spoke those words largely because I was afraid. I was scared. I lived, as do many believing people today, in fear, afraid of God...afraid of not being good enough for God...afraid of spending an eternity away from God...or, worse, afraid of suffering in a place called hell.
So I recited these words, and others, with vigor and with frequency. And, temporarily, it seemed to work. That is, I felt better. But, as is always the case when your religion is more about your "beliefs" than about your life--how you live--before long, I was afraid again. When those times of anxiety returned, and they did so often, I would not go through the entire "getting saved" routine again (if you were raised in an evangelical fashion as I was, you know exactly what this means), but I would secretly pray the "Sinner's Prayer" again...and again...and again...and again still. In other words, no matter how much I would say, "I believed in Jesus," the words alone never quite seemed to be enough. As a consequence, I lived with this haunting fear that, in spite of my religious vigor, I still might not make it.
This is many people's daily religious reality. Is it yours?
One day, I finally just gave up. That is to say, I quit believing. I quit trying to "believe" enough to make it with God. I gave up the fruitless effort to find God through words, or confessions, or the "right" beliefs. And, when I finally gave up, that's when the transformation seemed to happen. To this day, I do not know what to call it. I'm not even sure how to describe it. But the mystery of grace was born in me. All the fear I had known disappeared. Since that day, I have never felt separated from God again. And, this is not because I finally found the right set of beliefs. Further, it is not because I had finally attained to a higher level or better quality of believing.
Not at all. In fact, it might be precisely the opposite. Not until I quit believing did I start living. Not until I gave up trying...gave up searching for the "right" beliefs about God that I discovered the Source of Mystery within.
I have since come to know that spirituality...that is, knowing the Divine...has little if anything to do with what you believe. "Beliefs," writes one of my spiritual mentors, "are a cover-up for insecurity. You only believe in things you do not know." In other words, it's not about words. And isn't this what your beliefs are? Are beliefs not mere words, albeit carefully selected words that your denomination or group has determined are the "right" words, but words nonetheless? Spirituality is really all about how you live, not about what you say...about the WAY you live, not the WORDS you say.
Sure, you can go through your life, as many do and as I did for decades, arguing over what Jesus meant by these words "I am the way," defending and debating your belief that he's the only way to God. But I assure you no amount of arguing and defending over this question will make you feel one iota "safer," or more "Christian," or closer to God. Further, believing this will not make you more Christ-like in how you live. I know. I tried all-of-the-above for decades. Most likely, you will discover, as I did, that all the defending and arguing only makes you feel all the more frightened and insecure.
And, when you do, what will you do? Argue and defend your beliefs all the more. You see, I now know, whenever I meet someone who vigorously defends their beliefs, I am really meeting someone who is frightened...insecure...who really knows not what they believe...and, so, they cling to words, to concepts, to ideas, to beliefs, and so on. They have confused living for believing. As a consequence, the little ego in them clamors for something to hold to...something to give their frightened little self a sense of security...of permanence. So, while they may call their defenses "Christian apologetics," what they are really debating and defending is an illusion.
But, of course, they are likely unconscious of any of this. Yet, the fact remains, they're engaged in a delusional effort to overcome their inner fear of separation.
An effort so, so unnecessary, too.
Today, I realize that what Jesus was really saying is this: "I am the way," as in, "I know the way." "I've discovered it" which, by implication means, "you can, too." Elsewhere, he put it like this: "I and the Father are one" and he prayed that we would discover the same as well (John 17). Which is precisely why he said continually, "Follow me." In other words, it's as if Jesus was saying, "If you believe anything, believe not WORDS but the WAY to Life itself. My way, like many other ways, will guide you into the Eternal. In fact, you cannot separate the way to God from God herself. The way to God IS God."
My own suggestion is this: instead of believing in Jesus, why not live similarly after the manner of Jesus? A life of self-denial, of compassion, of trust and surrender? Why not give up believing there is anything you must believe, as in beliefs or dogmas or doctrines or certain words you must pray? Give up believing...give up the religious performance...give up the belief systems...give up the catalogue of things you don't do, as well as the lengthy list of things you do, in, religious practices you engage in and specific behaviors you try hard to avoid - and all because you're afraid...not certain you're good enough...trying hard to please fit in with some dysfunctional religious group...and on and on. None of this is necessary and I assure you none of this will get you anywhere.
Why? Precisely because you are where you need to be already. And, where's that? Right where you are. You are accepted already. You and the Divine are ONE already. If you live from this place of knowing, you will be free--free of the religious dysfunction so prevalent in virtually all religions, Christianity included...the nonsense of thinking "Our beliefs are're beliefs are wrong or, at a minimum, not as right." "We're the chosen're not." It is pure insanity.
Choose to be free--free of the fear of God...of feeling you're constantly auditioning for his approval. Know and observe that the way of Jesus, not somebody's words about Jesus, is the real meaning behind, " one comes to the Father but by me." For me, the choice was clear. I could argue and defend and so hope to arrive. Or, I could live knowing I had arrived already. This kind of "believing" gives way to living--real living. Which is why Thomas Merton used to say, "When you are disposed to being alone with God, you matter where you are: in the monastery, in the city, in the woods, in the streets. At the precise moment it would seem you may be in the middle of your journey, you have actually arrived at your destination already."
For what more could you ask?

Becoming a Carrier of My Glory ~ Not a Spectator . . .

Show me Thy Glory ~ In the Struggle . . . 

"Prayer is not pulling God to our will, but the aligning of our will to the will of God."  May we all pray like never before in the midst of crisis or blessings and begin to prepare the table for His miracles to appear in our lives and the lives of others, in Jesus name. Amen.

The old ways of seeing, believing, and reasoning will not help us alleviate our current situation. Our survival is at stake. We need a new paradigm. We need a spontaneous Re ~ Mission . . . Who of us ~ will choose ~ to step out of our cocoon, Trust ~ Follow the signal of Love & Re ~ Birth ourselves into ~ the new Kingdom ~ thereby ~ empowering Grace?

The Healing Power of Love & Grace ~1. We admitted we are powerless over people, places and things - and that at this moment right now ~ our life is unmanageable

Roman's 7:18 - "I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out.

The Healing Power of Faith ~ 2. Come to believe that a power greater than ourself can restore us ~

Rom 5:6 – “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” & Philippians 2:13 ~ "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

The Healing Power of Surrender ~ 3. Make a decision (become willing) to turn our will and our life over to the care of God, as we understand Him. 

Roman's 12:1-2 - Therefore, I urge you Brothers and Sisters, in view of God's Mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy & pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is ~ his good, pleasing and perfect will."

... Mercy Triumphs over Judgment!

Isaiah 54:2-3, "Enlarge / Expand the place of your tent..." ~" Do not sit down outside to contemplate My Glory. ~ Leave that to those who do not know Me yet. Let them who have not seen me before see My Glory. You (have) become a carrier of My Glory and not a spectator." Ezekiel 1:9 ~ "...move within My presence and expand My glory toward every direction" ~ J. Conrad Lampan ~ Revival Highway

Friday, March 9, 2012

~ 'Wits' End Corner' ~ Author Unknown

My Mother used to quote this poem to my family when we were 
troubled and discouraged 
and things seemed just out of our reach . . . 
I hope this blesses you today!
(Psalm 34:19; 107:27)

Are you standing at ‘Wits’ End Corner’
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in battle alone?
Remember – at Wits’ End Corner
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at Wits’ End Corner,
Blinded with wearying pain,
Felling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy and dazed and dumb?
Remember – to Wits’ End Corner
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at Wits’ End Corner,
Your work before you spread,
All lying, begun, unfinished
And pressing on heart and head,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember – at Wits’ End Corner
The burden Bearer stands

Are you standing at Wits’ End Corner
Yearning for those you love,
Longing and praying and watching,
Pleading their cause above,
Trying to lead them to Jesus,
Won’ring if you’ve been true?
He whispers – at Wits’ End Corner
I’ll win them as I won you.

Are you standing at Wits’ End Corner
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of him who faileth not!
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at Wits’ End Corner
Is the ‘God Who is able’ proved.

Bobby Conner: God's Amazing Grace: Life Without Limits

Bobby Conner

As Believers, we are instructed to live our daily lives with true goals, aims, and divine purpose. We cannot achieve this unless we walk in God's grace.
What is the key to experiencing God's grace? Embracing our weakness!
God is not looking for strong people to help Him accomplish His work. The truth is that the Lord is looking for people who are weak enough to be used. We must remember that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). The key to experiencing supernatural, liberating strength is personal weakness.
Understand that personal weakness does not mean weak character or faulty Biblical knowledge. On the contrary, God is looking for a people who have come to the place where they have lost confidence in their fleshly power to accomplish the work of the Spirit. Only when we embrace the weakness of ourselves apart from Christ can we become strong and "graced" to accomplish things for the true advancing of God's glorious Kingdom.
This truth is clearly displayed in the story found in Psalm 107:23-28, which describes the strong, seaworthy sailors who made their living upon the high seas. One day, however, the Lord raised a stormy wind that blew away every last ounce of their self-confidence. They found themselves at their wits' end and cried out for the Lord's grace and help. Although they were skilled and experienced, the winds and waves of the sea convinced them of their dependence upon God.
Have you encountered the winds of change in your life? If not, you can be confident they are on their way!
Christ Jesus declares: "Without Me you can accomplish nothing!" (John 15:5). This word "nothing" means completely, totally nothing. It truly means less than nothing. Ours is a life of unspeakable joy when we come to the place where we understand that only the work of the Spirit can advance the Kingdom of God.
The Deposit of Grace
In other words, absolutely nothing you have ever done in the past and nothing you could ever accomplish in the future will match the unparalleled joy of letting Jesus live His life through you! God has exactly fitted for each of us a unique walk of grace. As we yield our wills and ways to the Holy Spirit's control, we begin to experience this walk of grace. Through yielding and embracing our personal weakness, we experience the abundant grace that enables us to accomplish all that God has assigned for us to do (see Philippians 4:13).
This deposit of grace is what makes the fire of passion burn so brightly in new Believers. They are overwhelmed with all that God is doing in their lives. Their happiness and excitement is contagious. Their entire life is ablaze with God's love.
As pastor, I was able to teach a new converts class, and my heart was always blessed by the joy of those who have only recently experienced the amazing grace of God. It is this same amazing grace that causes the light of contentment to dance in the eyes of mature Believers who have also learned to abide in God's glorious grace. Our life should testify to the ability of God's awesome grace to use us to accomplish great and mighty things for God's glory.
In short, we were saved by grace and must continue to live by grace: We cannot separate our daily responsibilities and activities from a grace-filled life. We are saved by grace and we are kept by God's magnificent grace!
The Body of Christ seems to understand much concerning the grace of God touching an unbeliever's life: It is only by God's grace that anyone comes to the place of repentance and salvation. However, we lack true understanding concerning God's ability of grace to operate in Believers' daily lives, thereby bringing them into a daily faith walk of radical effectiveness and extreme fruitfulness. Grace does not just change our mind, but learning to embrace our weakness and function through His strength alone has a profound, all-pervasive, transforming effect upon our lives. Grace is a powerful motivator, provoking us to reach higher and accomplish more for Christ and His Kingdom.
Essential Ingredients for Grace
The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Paul declared that the grace of God was not wasted upon his life, but he labored more because of the active grace in his life.
Although we are radically dependent on God's grace in all that we are and all that we do, we are still called to labor abundantly to advance God's Kingdom. This is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life. It is only by and through grace that we accomplish anything, yet God expects us to labor diligently in His service. Charles Spurgeon once said: "Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the window which hope has opened."
Just as diligent labor is required to extract all of the grace that God has given us, humility is required to obtain grace. "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (1 Peter 5:5).
Grace is promised to the humble. A great saint of years bygone, made this observation: "The moment humility announces herself she is already on her way out the door." If we would be truly humble, and careful not to usurp God's glory, always giving Him praise for what He is doing, I am sure we would receive more grace.
The Lord warned me once that the highest form of treason was to take the gifts and graces He has given leadership to win and woo the Bride to Himself, and use these gifts and graces to win the Bride to ourselves.
May each heart embrace the promise given in Psalm 84:11"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory." In this passage we see the true key to advancing God's Kingdom. It is by God's gift of grace that we are able to behold the glory.
Any good thing ever accomplished by mankind is the direct result of the anointing and impartation of God's grace. May we walk a grace-filled life in order to see the glory of God fill the earth!
Grace is an open door, which bids us to draw nearer to God. InProverbs 8:17, 21, God declares, "I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me... That I may cause those who love Me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries."  This is an awesome promise and powerful incentive. We are called to find God. And when we find Him, He indeed blesses us with overflowing treasures.
We must never forget that God has great plans for His people. Hear His promise stated in Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' saith the Lord, 'thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.'" It is time to open our hearts wide to God's grace and experience the good plans He has for each of us.
Waiting Upon God
The Lord desires to change us. He seeks to bring us up into His purpose. He waits for us to reach out to Him and knock on the door of His heart. Just as Esther had to approach her husband's throne, we too must prepare ourselves to approach God's throne. He, too, has extended His scepter. Now is the time grace has provided an open door in Heaven. Now it is time to approach the throne of God's grace to find favor and help during these days (see 2 Corinthians 6:2).
In Psalm 46:10 we are instructed to be still and know that God is God. Spending quiet time in the Lord's presence is necessary and carries great importance. It is as we wait upon Him that we are renewed in power and strength (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Each of us must find a special quiet place where we can shut out the cares of this world and get alone with God. Each day, we should come to our "set apart place" to worship, acknowledge His goodness and grace concerning us, and thank the Lord for His guidance and blessing upon our lives.
Great grace is released when we truly enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Make the time to praise the Lord and to bless His Holy Name!
As we take time to behold Him with an unveiled face, we are changed into ever-increasing glory (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). In this place of quiet worship and prayerful reading of His Holy Word, there is a release of His grace, which produces "Spirit and Life."  His Holy Spirit flows into our being to build our faith and provide the "enabling grace" for obedience. It is essential that we set apart time each day to be in His presence.
Attending local church services is vital and not to be neglected, but this is no substitute for our devotional times alone with the Lord of Glory.
Being One with the Lord
Have you noticed in Luke 3:2 that the Word of God came to John the Baptist while he was alone in the wilderness? The programs of the "church" of that day were in full operation, yet John was called apart to be with the Lord alone.
So also today, there are those who are spiritually hungry and seeking something more, who likewise are being called apart to be alone with the Lord for a time of preparation. As a result of his being alone with the Lord, John came into a oneness with the Lord that could not have been accomplished in any other way.
When John was asked who he was, his response testifies to this experience. He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said'" (John 1:23).
Each one of us should come to the place where we also could make this statement, "I am the voice of one." There is an urgent need for this "voice" to cry out in the midst of the frustrations and perils of our present day (see Isaiah 40:3-5). We live in a world that must have the grace and peace of God.
The need today is not new-fangled methodology, but rather a turning aside to stand in the manifest presence of the Lord, to be prepared as "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" of our day.
May it be stated of us, as it was of the disciples of old, that it is apparent that we have been with Jesus. This and only this will make the changes that must occur if we are to reach this hurting world with the message of God's redemptive, transforming grace. We must be radical reflectors of His life.
I heard about the testimony of a preacher who, toward the end of his life, was asked what he would do if he had his life to live over again. He said he had spent seven years in preparation for 45 years of ministry. Instead, he would spend 45 years in preparation for seven years of ministry. It is very important how we begin, but it is far more important how we end.
The Lord is seeking to bring us to the end of our abilities so we can tap into His ability. This requires that we recognize His presence and turn aside to stand before Him. Only then will we be enabled to become the expression of His voice – a voice crying in the wilderness of our day. The most noble quest of our day is to seek HIS presence. The presence of the Lord will make all the difference! Prepare for His presence!
Bobby Conner
Eagles View Ministries

Bobby Conner: This "Gentle Giant" is uniquely anointed with refreshing humor and razor-sharp prophetic accuracy which has been documented around the world. Bobby's dynamic capacity to release outstanding demonstrations of the miraculous – healings, signs and wonders – reveals the very heart of the Father toward us! Surviving a dramatic abortion attempt by his mother, being rescued again by the hand of God from drug dealing and suicide, the story of Bobby Conner is a display of a man who now walks in his God-ordained destiny to set others free! Highly esteemed as an internationally acclaimed conference speaker, Bobby has ministered effectively to over 45 foreign countries as well as here in the States for many years.