Made to Go After God (Soulology Day 10)

I took a nostalgic road trip last week. I had driven my two youngest boys to youth camp near Frazier Park in Southern California and decided to take a couple of hours and drive to Bakersfield to see the house we lived in back in 1994-1995. It was only a 7 month period of our life but it was perhaps the most profound because of a deep restorative work that took place in our lives during that time.

We had just endured a painful time in our ministry life and there were some deep personal issues I was dealing with as well. But something happened when we lived in that little two bedroom, 900 square foot house that drove us to God and vividly demonstrated His faithfulness to us. To this day, it’s my favorite house, not because of its outer beauty or elegance, but because of what it represents.

Something in me always wondered “what if we had stayed there in Bakersfield instead of moving back to PHX in 1995?” All of us have those “what if” moments, but here’s what God spoke to me as I drove south on Hwy 99 back to camp. “That was a time in your life when you sought me diligently with all your heart and soul. You had no money, a 16 month old son, a baby on the way and you had to trust me for everything.”

There was something in my soul in those days that was driving me to search for God. Truth is, that’s what the soul was made to do.

It thirsts for Him.

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You… (Psalms 63:1 NKJV)

It thirsts for him like the Arizona desert cries for water

I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. (Psalms 143:6 NKJV)

With unparalleled focus, it puts all of its desires on Him.

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. (Psalms 33:20 NKJV)

It lifts itself up to Him

To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
(Psalms 25:1 NKJV)

It Blesses Him

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
(Psalms 103:1-2 NKJV)

It clings to Him

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalms 63:8 NASB)

It waits for Him in silence.

My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. (Psalms 62:1 NASB)

The soul can only really find its life in God . I love this quote:

“My mind may be obsessed with idols, my will may be enslaved to habits, and my body may be consumed with appetites. But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God” (John Ortberg)

That which inside you longing for fulfillment and satisfaction is your soul crying out for God. What are you going to do with it? Will you continue to try and fill it up with things that weren’t made to fill it, or will go hard after the one who breathed into you and made you a living soul?

For me, I can only pray that I will continue to trust God and pursue Him the way I did on South ‘J’ Street in Bakersfield. I don’t want to lose it.

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Asking the Right Questions (Soulology Day 9)

This morning my wife, Gwen, sent this to me. Thought it was a perfect fit into our Soulology study. Enjoy!

Asking the Right Questions
7-24-2014

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24

One must be prepared when asking God to “Search the Heart” because He will do just that. I have found in my own life recently this to be true. I have been on a journey of taking a personal inventory of things in my life for the purpose that my soul might be healed and whole.

A person can go through their day to day life and never stop to ask themselves the question, “How is it with my soul”.

We are so accustomed to just keep on going in life and getting wrapped up in accomplishing that which we need to do for that day that our stuff gets buried underneath the load of life. We find we react to certain things in a negative way and just excuse it away due to the cares of this world. When that happens our souls continue to grow weaker, become bruised and eventually destroyed.

So I thought I might just ask myself that question…”How is it with my soul?” and God brought me to this scripture.

​“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24

When I leaned into the courage that only Christ can give, then I then could ask Him to try me, to know my anxieties, to see what wicked things I have in myself, because I truly wanted to live life everlasting. You would be amazed at how quickly He went to work. Wow the stuff that came out of my giving Him permission!

At first, I must admit I was scared at what He was revealing in my life but I had to rest in His promise that it was for my good and not my harm. I have found the yucky of my soul has to come out first before my soul can find true forgiveness and rest in Him.

This is a tool that I want to keep in my life, to daily ask Him that question, “How is it with my soul today?” and then to allow Him to lead me to quickly making the changes. Then my soul is kept from being destroyed by the plans of the enemy.

I encourage you today, don’t be afraid! Ask the right questions and allow Jesus Christ to walk you through an awesome process of healing!

Gwen

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Make the Move (Soulology Day 8)

I used to play chess. In fact, I was class champion in the 8th grade, Impressed? Didn’t think so. Truth is I never got a trophy for it and never wound up in therapy over it (see yesterday’s post). Good chess players explore every possible move and the subsequent possibilities that can arise from each move. They are usually four, five, or even six moves ahead in their thinking, but eventually they have to make a move to keep the game going.

When sin is executing its battle plan against our soul, at some point we have to make a tactical move. We can’t stay in defensive posture forever. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in the battle and then a very clear next move for us.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8 KJV)

Unstable isn’t a word we would probably use to describe our lives. It’s a word of weakness and uncertainty, In fact, the word translated “Unstable” in the original language is ἀκατάστατος which carries the weight of being “unsettled” and almost anarchic (see Strong’s concordance). James is clear: if you are double-minded your behaviors and actions will not reflect a life controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit. It has a paralyzing effect that keeps you drifting through life.

James has more to say about this idea of being double-minded.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
(James 4:8 NKJV)

Double Minded is δίψυχοι (dip su koi) in the original and means “double-souled or split-souled”

Yesterday we looked at the idea of sin waging war against our souls. Our Soul MRI revealed that sin fractures, splits and shatters your soul. Sin makes you double minded or double souled.

How many of you have ever made a statements like these:

My life is falling apart.
I just can’t seem to get myself together.
I just can’t get my act together.
I seem to be coming to pieces.
I am coming apart at the seams.

If you’ve ever said things like that, here’s why you feel that way: it’s the cry of your soul longing for wholeness. You’re only going to find that wholeness your soul so desperately craves in God. The war that sin is waging against our soul mandates a clear battle plan for us and an important tactical move.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭5‬ NIV)

The appetites of your flesh, thoughts and directives of your mind and propensity of your will are going to pull you in one direction while the soul that seeks to integrate all of this into a single, whole life before God will pull you in the opposite direction. Once you bring every thought captive and say no to the flesh and your stubborn will, you are moving toward wholeness. The truth is, the move toward wholeness is yours and yours alone.

How much do you you want it? How badly do you want a life that is whole and stable as opposed to unstable and anarchic? The choice is yours and the move is yours.

Make the move.

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“The Worst” – (Soulology Day 7)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
(1 Timothy 1:15 NIV)

We don’t like to admit that we’re bad at something. Seems un-American for us to do so. Each year, the hit show American Idol takes the first several weeks of its season and showcases the highlights from each of the audition cities that were visited.

It’s always amazed me that some of the young men and women who audition for the show actually think they’re good singers and then fly off the handle or fall to pieces when the judges say “no” to them. More than once, I’ve told my wife that someone, a parent or friend, should have pulled those kids aside and told them the truth – “You’re not good. You need to put your energies elsewhere – anywhere but singing.” Then again, the first six weeks of the show wouldn’t be near as entertaining without the wanna-bees.

Paul told his young protege Timothy that he was the worst of all sinners. What could he possibly base this statement on? The late John Stott, who wrote Basic Christianity, said “Paul did not do a careful study of every sinner in human history and conclude he finished in last place.” Rather, Paul was so vividly aware of his own sinfulness that he couldn’t imagine that anyone could be worse.

We should be impressed by this. The man who gave us half the New Testament and contributed more than anyone to the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire had enough boldness to confront his own sinfulness and enough fortitude to admit that he was the worst. But before we wipe our brow and thank Paul for letting us off the hook, consider this:

When we are truly awakened and disturbed by the Holy Spirit as to our own sinfulness, we would probably say the same thing, so for just a moment today, would you be willing to just consider that you are the worst of all sinners?

Don’t think of your husband’s sin, or your wife’s sin, or your boss’s sin, or the sin of the TV preacher you sent your money to and wish you hadn’t. As we do an MRI of our souls, ask The Lord for a gentle, humble, contrite spirit before him in considering the depths of fallenness. Can we do this?

It is only when we acknowledge our sin that we can take the next bold leap in caring for our souls.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11 NIV)

Soul work is spiritual war. We really throw the term spiritual warfare out loosely in our day. In some ways we think of it all externally, but Peter says dealing with our sinful desires is an internal thing. These fleshly, sinful desires are literally exercising a military campaign against your soul. It’s a strategic tactic of the enemy designed to take you down and destroy that part of you that so desperately longs for connection with God.

Sin breaks that connection with God and his love, and slowly begins to disintegrate our life. That’s why we have to get it right with our soul and it starts by abstaining – staying away from – sinful desires. Sounds simple enough. Abstain. But we all know it’s easier said than done. It’s a battle. It’s war. Fight it.

Until tomorrow…….

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