Monthly Archives: July 2015

Transitioning from Law to Spirit is Like that of Child to Husband or Wife

I have been speaking to young people — mostly high school and college age — about how to live free from sin. The best verse on which to base this idea is Galatians 5:16, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (NIV). I had been thinking about how so much of our ministry to this group is focused on sin — and how, by doing so, we may be unwittingly perpetuating the cycle of temptation and sin. Certainly it is important to minister to those struggling with sin and temptation, and especially for this particular age group, because I know that young people experience high levels of temptation, particularly from sexual temptation which is possibly at its highest level at that age. But I also think the verse points to a much better way.
child-830725_1280In addition to talking about sin, we also have been talking some about principles of dating and marriage. As I was thinking about the two areas of teaching — sin and preparing for marriage — the strange mashup of ideas brought a very important and perhaps helpful analogy to the issue of following the Law vs. being led by the Spirit. Just as we don’t expect children to marry until they reach adulthood — since they need to mature emotionally, socially, physically, and even spiritually before they are ready — it is also true that there is a certain natural progression we should experience spiritually as we grow.

A child is raised by parents to follow certain rules that are designed to protect the child or to help the child connect better socially or to ultimately understand right from wrong in either a religious or social sense. A child is taught to obey his parents. But when a child becomes an adult, and if that child should marry, staying a child in the new primary relationship of their life would be a terrible thing! Instead of obedience in marriage, marriage partners learn to do things that are meant to strengthen the marriage and bless their partner. The motivation of these actions is love. I’m not saying that parents don’t make and enforce rules out of love, nor that children don’t obey out of love (at least some of the time). What I am saying is that the nature of the relationship has changed from one of simply learning to control one’s self to be better able to follow rules, to one of controlling one’s self for the sake of loving one’s partner.

It is probably necessary to learn rules — to have experience with trying to obey the Law — in order to recognize a number of important lessons. These include the fact that it is impossible to keep all of the rules all of the time even when we try the hardest we can; and that the rules seem to be in place to either protect us, protect others from us, or protect our relationship with God. Yet as we move from childhood to maturity — think of us as the Bride of Christ — we recognize that in order to attain maturity in faith, we have to transition from our rules-based childhood to a higher level of relating. That is, we transition from our focus on trying not to sin to a new focus on loving God and doing what builds, protects, and enhances that intimate relationship with God. The nature of our relationship shifts from being a child learning to obey to being a wife (even guys) to God.

What the verse from Galatians tells us is that transitioning from child to wife, from obedience to the Law to following the lead of the Holy Spirit, is the only way we will ever walk free from sin. Sin loses its power when we don’t take it on directly, but rather bypass it entirely because we are so focused on the One who loves us more than any other. We focus on what we are living for, not what we are running from. Jesus is the joy set before us! As we focus on him, all other things fade. Focusing on Jesus gives us power to be more than conquerors.

Fly with Christ!

Awaken Your Heart so You Can Love God More Fully — A Quote by Stasi Eldredge in “Becoming Myself”

“Awakening and owning the dreams that God has placed in our hearts isn’t about getting stuff or attaining something. It’s about embracing who we are and who he has created us to be. In him. He is our dream come true, and the one true love of our life. But we can’t love him with our whole hearts when our hearts are asleep. To love Jesus means to risk coming awake, to risk wanting and desiring… Many of your dreams and desires are yours alone. They have been given to you by God for you to awaken to, embrace, nurture, pursue, and then offer. Let God use your dreams to guide you into the fuller expression of your unfolding glorious self!”

— Stasi Eldredge, “Becoming Myself”, Kindle locations 1341, 1347

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Paul Horichs, A Mighty Man of God

My friend and mentor of many years passed away on Friday, July 17, 2015. Paul had experienced a series of health issues recently, but I certainly hadn’t expected them to lead to his death. I was certainly praying and pressing in for some renewed strength and mobility for him. So his loss was a bit of a shock to me. What made matters worse was that I had a trip for work to Kazakhstan that I couldn’t change, and so I ended up flying out on Sunday morning, missing the visitation at the funeral home on Monday and the funeral on Tuesday.
So I’m up at midnight in Almaty, Kazakhstan, sharing my memory of him in writing, because I didn’t want to let a man like Paul Horichs pass without doing anything to recognize him for being a very important person in my life.

My first meaningful meeting with Paul came in January 1997, on a road trip with the two of us, Bruce Mock, and Will McFalls as we drove in a snowstorm from Westminster to Toronto for the 3rd annual anniversary of the Toronto blessing. We were there for around 4 glorious days, worshipping God and soaking up everything we could. I learned on that trip that Paul was after all that the Lord had for him. He taught me persistence and not giving up or giving in. I remember him going and standing in line for prayer, and then after getting prayer, he would go and get in line again, not wanting to miss anything that the Lord would want to impart to him through different vessels.

It was there that I had one of my most live-changing experiences standing next to Paul Horichs as Randy Clark prayed over every person who stepped out into the aisle for a healing touch from God. I’ll always be grateful for that, and honestly, perhaps I would not have even stepped out into the aisle, except for the fact that Paul had already stepped into the aisle.

It was during those 4 or so days, driving up, being together in Toronto, and driving back, we began to dream together of building up a church so that God would be honored and so that God would be free to move among the people, not hindered by the way church leaders had a tendency to limit God.

It was also during that trip, or perhaps soon after, that I labeled Paul, together with a handful of others, “MMOG”, or “Mighty Man of God”. And to me, this is exactly what Paul Horichs always was.

Paul and I served on the church council together either at that time or soon after, and we saw the church heading for very difficult times. He and I agreed together and labored together to try to save it. In the end, we failed, but we stuck together, and went into exile together.

At this time, Paul was very active running his own business — a pool construction business. But what really impressed me was that despite being as busy as he was, he made time to meet with me once a month over breakfast so that he could invest in me and speak into my life. I needed a lot of fatherly or brotherly advice from someone who was further down the road than I was, especially at that point when I was pastoring a church, working a job, studying at grad school, and together with my wife, raising our young kids… I will always appreciate all the time he devoted to me.

Surprisingly, Paul and I were not in church together after 1997 until 2005, when my family and I joined Harvest Church where Paul and Lana were serving as two of the four pastors. It was such a joy to be reconnected on a weekly basis with him.

One of the things he did for me at Harvest, but I’m sure didn’t realize it, is that he gave me the courage to start worshipping the Lord with flag waving — because I saw my mentor Paul doing it. So around 2010 I tried it just as an experiment to see if I could worship the Lord in some kind of alternative way that allowed greater expression of passion and love. And I have stuck with it ever since — it has blessed me, and I feel very confident that it has blessed the Lord, as well.

I will miss Paul, but I will always be grateful for Paul. I hope in some small way this little tribute to him will help stir up memories in others of things that Paul meant to them — or perhaps will just help some people who didn’t know Paul know what a Mighty Man of God he was. And writing has been good for me… it has allowed me to shed a few tears in honor of a man I love.

Affirmation Heals — A Quote by Brennan Manning in “Furious Longing of God”

“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am. When I have passed that same reality on to another human being, the result most often has been the inner healing of their heart through the touch of my affirmation. To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary.”

— Brennan Manning, “Furious Longing of God”, Kindle location 904

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How to Make Your Spouse Your Best Friend — A Quote by Gary Smalley in “I Promise”

“Regardless of how hard a person may try, deep, emotionally-based, intimate, best-friend-type of relationships only happen when you feel safe and secure in the presence of the other… When you feel safe, you automatically open up and share more and more of your deepest self. As you continue opening up, the best-friend relationship begins to happen naturally.”

“Security will never happen in any marriage until partners get over their natural resistance to openness with each other. Why do we have this resistance? Because openness makes us vulnerable, and vulnerability means risk. We’re not quite sure what our spouse will say or do when we truly open up, or how he or she may use what we reveal. What will he think when I dare to reveal this long-hidden truth about myself? What will she say when I tell her what I’ve done? Will he laugh or ridicule me when I reveal to him what I’m thinking? When you risk you can lose…”

“When the risk involves the impairment of a vital relationship, the loss can be devastating. This is why so many marriage partners pull back from connection and intimacy. Usually it’s an attempt to avoid being hurt, humiliated, embarrassed, or simply being made uncomfortable by the prospect of complete openness. We have a natural tendency to avoid risk…”

“The way to overcome this risk is to establish in your marriage the security of knowing that each of you can safely reveal your heart to the other without fear of condemnation. The only way to achieve this kind of marital intimacy is to focus significant time, attention, and energy into creating an environment in which both partners feel secure in each other’s love and acceptance when they make themselves vulnerable by opening up.”

Gary Smalley, “I Promise”, Kindle location 133, 136, 157

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Worship Aligns Our Spirits with Truth — A Quote by Stasi Eldredge in “Becoming Myself”

“Worship is an intimate encounter with God that changes us by aligning our spirits with truth even when it doesn’t feel true. We pour ourselves out onto him, and he pours himself into us. It is a divine uneven exchange that ministers to his heart and renews our own.”

— Stasi Eldredge, “Becoming Myself”, Kindle location 2844

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