2017.12.09 Faith/Abiding/Identity/Intimacy

Far too many Christians:

find their own daily experience with God disappointing enough that
they can only hope Christianity will work better for others
than it does in their own day to day experience.

Such Christians may have a rich experience of God’s long-term faithfulness, yet lack daily joy and other fruit of the Holy Spirit and are thus unlikely to personally invite or draw others to follow Jesus.

Until recently I myself have been in the state described above, and frustrated that I was unable to help a believing but recently suicidal friend out of his despair over his pornography addiction.

What follows is an attempt to distill the influences that have brought me again to experiencing consistently a renewal of my first love and the joy of my salvation. Below is what I adapted for my friend. I am waiting to see what if any of this connects for him.

This summarizes what I have been learning about abiding:

The power of the Gospel is ‘Christ IN YOU.’

Father God allows every circumstance in our lives, good or bad, in order to:

  • move us from relying on our own strength to relying on His,
  • conform us to the image of His Son, and
  • so deepen our intimacy with Father God and Jesus.

God isn’t looking for people who will be strong in their own strength, but for those humble enough acknowledge their weakness and let His strength shine in the midst of it.

The power of God over sin does not come from focusing on fighting the behavior we want to avoid, but by relying on God rather than our own efforts.

Mike Wells book Sidetracked in the Wilderness explains how God uses our failures to humble us to the point of usefulness to him. Mike then tells these two stories to illustrate the difference between fighting in your own strength and relying on God’s strength:

1. Jesus delivers a woman from overeating

The woman had struggled with overeating for years. She tried therapy, hypnosis and hospitalization, but nothing worked.
“What should I do?” she asked Mike.
“Go home and eat,” Mike replied.
“You don’t mean that!”
“I do. If you could fix yourself, you would. If I could fix you I would. Give your problem to Jesus. Each morning pray: ‘Jesus, I can’t do anything without you. I give you my overeating, and I thank you that you have taken it no matter what.’”
Soon the woman contacted Mike to joyfully report how Jesus had taken away her eating disorder.

2. Jesus delivers a man from cocaine

When a cocaine addict accepted Christ he asked Mike, “What shall I do when my craving for cocaine hits?”
“Do you really want to be free from your addiction?” Mike asked.
“Yes! Absolutely!”
“Then let’s pray and give your addiction to Jesus: ‘Jesus, I can do nothing without you, including freeing myself from my cocaine addiction. I give You my cocaine addiction, and I trust You that You take it, no matter what.’ Then stop fighting your addiction; take your cocaine, but put your trust in Jesus. Each morning repeat the prayer we prayed.”
Three days later this new believer contacted Mike to joyfully share what happened:
– The first morning he prayed and took cocaine.
– The second morning was the same.
– After praying on the third morning he couldn’t pick up the needle. He was free of his addiction!

Throughout life we can focus on our problems and fight them in our own energy. This is often fueled by a false belief that God can’t love us until we clean up our act.

Or we can focus on Jesus and rely on His love to deliver us in time as we stay focused on the ‘author and finisher of our faith.’

Satan and our flesh will fight against the latter, but biblical faith keeps us turned to God rather than relying on ourselves.

Over the past few weeks I have been drawn heavily into materials that have helped me understand this through what God has been teaching His people about “identity” and “abiding.”

Among the materials I have found most helpful are:

• Many Dan Mohler YouTube videos, especially the first 20 minutes of this one on developing intimacy with Father God through prayer guided by pursuit of Father God in faith—rather than pursuit of outcomes or emotional experience.

• Mike Wells teaching on abiding in Christ, as summarized on the Abiding Life Ministries International site:

Abiding in Christ
In John 17 is a promise that we can be one with Him as He was with the Father. We never pray, “Help me be strong. Help me have love. Help me have kindness, etc.” We pray this: “Jesus, in this moment You come to be my love, my kindness, and my peace, for without You I can do nothing.” We believe in a purpose for suffering, and there are things learned in suffering that cannot be learned in comfort. To that end, we believe God permits what He could prevent. We also believe in being offended until we can no longer be offended, and that in every relationship God is working something spectacular in our lives.

While there is very little of Mike’s stuff online, someone uploaded his full 5-hour audio teaching on how “abiding in Jesus” transforms us and our marriage as a YouTube video. This is also of direct relevance to many other aspects of abiding.

Mike’s thesis is that Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and that Father God is just waiting for us to stop “trying harder,” acknowledge our inadequacy, and invite Him to live and love through us. Good things are happening in my home as I am learning to do this moment by moment.

The two new resources listed above converge with insights from Elton Gillam’s book The Restoration of Biblical Prayer.

These three men (Elton Gillam, Dan Mohler and Mike Wells) and their messages have a common core within their different emphases, which I distill as follows:

  • Father God created us in His image, for intimacy with Himself, to become His Son’s body and bride through abiding in Him.
  • Through deception our forefathers believed a lie that led to disobedience and broken relationship and opened the door for us to believe further lies.
  • The Truth is:
    • Father God never stopped loving us, even when we were enemies in our minds because of our rebellion against Him (Col 1:21).
    • So Father God not only paid for our sins but he canceled the law (Col 2:14) and invited us to join Christ in His death through baptism (Col 2:12).
    • As a result we can be born again of the Spirit so that He might live through us to live and love in His power rather than our strength.

Our battle is not primarily with temptation and circumstances that come to us through the world, the flesh or the devil, but against the lies that lead us to

  • fight and fail in our own strength
  • rather than acknowledging Father God’s love and our weakness and relying on His power to will and to work in us.

Our “NOT faith” entertains the lies our emotions and reasoning tell us as they misinterpret our circumstances and experiences.

Faith however comes through contemplating and enjoying Father God in His glory, which leads us to see reality and our identity through Father God’s revelation. And this leads us to pursue and experience intimacy with Father God, resulting in contagious joy regardless of our circumstances, experiences, emotions, and reasoning.

Such faith also leads us

  • from striving to imitate Christ and please Father God in our strength
  • to pleasing Father God by
  • acknowledging our weakness,
  • inviting Him to live through us, and
  • resting in Him as He works through us.

• Elton Gillam distilled:

Father God allows every circumstance in our lives, good or bad, in order to:

  • conform us to the image of His Son, and
  • so deepen our intimacy with Father God and Jesus.

The victorious believer lives from this reality—gazing at Father God, glancing at circumstances, and praising Father God even for difficult circumstances because of what Father God is doing to conform us to His image through those circumstances.

By contrast the defeated Christian gazes at his circumstances, tries to work them out in his own strength, and only glances at God to appeal for God’s help and deliverance from those circumstances.

The prayers of both are shaped by their focus, which is in turn driven by their faith (or lack of faith) in Father God’s love in every circumstance.

Gillam calls this “the gaze and glance principle.”

As I was listening to Jesus about this He gave me the phrase “We become what we behold” in conjunction with 2 Cor 3:18:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Gillam commends a simple pattern of prayer (alone or with others) to shift our focus toward gazing at Father God:

  • Read any passage of Scripture aloud
  • Stop after each verse to praise Father God for who He is, as the verse prompts you
  • When doing this with others:
    • take turns reading a verse (or two to complete the sentence) and praising Father God,
    • limit each praise to ONE of Father God’s attributes (especially in larger groups),
    • feel free to “pass” by saying simply, “I love you Lord,” and
    • say “Amen” so the next person knows you are done.

For couples, Gillam testifies to the power of praying this way daily with your spouse, and appreciating the qualities of Father God that He has revealed in your spouse.

• Dan Mohler distilled:

Father God calls us to intimacy with Him through faith based on His revelation.

What undermines our faith is the lies we accept as our reasoning and emotions elevate our circumstances and experiences above Father God’s revelation.

• Mike Wells distilled:

Satan tells us he is fighting God and winning. Father God tells us he is using Satan to perfect us in weakness. Father God is not looking for us to be strong in ourselves, but to acknowledge our weakness and invite Him to live and love through us.

2 thoughts on “2017.12.09 Faith/Abiding/Identity/Intimacy”

  1. Pingback: 2019.10.20 My Breakthrough in Hearing God – Robby’s Thoughts and Projects

  2. Pingback: 2019.12.30 My Journey in Hearing God’s Voice – Robby’s Thoughts and Projects

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