WHY THE CHURCH MUST BE TOUCHABLE

The political correctness of our day says don’t touch, don’t hug, don’t spread germs, don’t subject yourself to possible accusation. And in a culture given to carnality and wrath, the Church can unconsciously abdicate the power of touch. But Jesus is a “touchable high priest” – accessible — because He is a personal God, and we as humans are made to need touch. It is no small thing that something of His life can be transferred by contact.

When it comes to the co-partnership of the work of God as sons, our work is ministering the love and life of this personal God to people personally. If we study Jesus’ ministry, even casually, we see that He ministered by touch and ordains His followers to lay hands on the sick. Why by touch? Because we need the acceptance that comes with personal contact, and He models the reality that what is in us is greater than the death, darkness and brokenness in the world. Jesus ministered above the prohibitions of the law by laying hands on lepers, and they were healed. He was not afraid to touch.

Think about how touch happens. God made man with hands – hands as a primary way to work; unique from the rest of the animal creation. Our hands provide the ability to finesse a curveball or a slider, paint a name on a grain of rice, carve a masterful statue or perform delicate brain surgery. It should not seem strange to us that in partnering with man for His kingdom purposes, God would ordain the use of hands as a primary way in which man joins in the work of God. “You shall lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” Paul speaks specifically to power of men releasing authority and capacity when he admonishes Timothy to have “men in every place lift up holy hands without wrath or doubt.”

The idea of wrath and doubt connected with lifting up hands presupposes the awareness that hands can also be used to do harm. And because of this, one must be careful as to how touch occurs. Some have been so wounded by others, that physical touch is a part of the problem. But those commissioned with a healing work must not abdicate to the sickness. It only makes our mission more critical.

The laying on of hands is a fundamental issue of authority and life-flow in the Kingdom of God — a transmission of the life of the Lord — the way the power of the Lord moves into the human scene (Notice that it is one of six points in the early Church’s “newcomers class” [Heb. 6:5,6]).

Whether that touch is a transfer of authority, a hug of compassion, a touch of healing power, or just a purposeful handshake of friendship, it is a significant part of broken people coming to wholeness. May the Church be known as a place where wounded healers are bold to hold humanity in arms of love, willing to touch one another with the Lord’s love, and without fear.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

 

WHY THE CHURCH MUST BE TOUCHABLE

WORK ZONE – FINES DOUBLE

Jesus asked a penetrating question, a puzzling question, a gnawing-at-the-soul-kind-of question: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8).

Have you noticed how little we actually talk about faith today? I know – we committed verbacide on the term (homicide of a good word). Over-used and under-valued. Like the word “awesome”.

The people of God experience some messes and then move as far away from that mess as possible. Rather than learn and lean into it.

And the tendency is to trade the embarrassment of our faith-messes for “decency and order.”

“Do all things decently and in order,” Paul said (1 Cor 14:40).

But note, Paul didn’t just subscribe to decency and order, but to “all things” as well.

We must never settle to be the spiritual experts. The gurus. The know-it-alls. Nor must we take the path of least resistance and say, “I don’t know anything about that and don’t want to know it.

I am talking about walking with God’s Spirit in a faith that refuses to settle for a life void of the supernatural.

We are learners.

We are pioneers.

Figuring it out as we go.

And experience can actually be best friend or worst enemy.

As Chuck Swindoll said, “The most dangerous thing about the ministry is that you can learn how to do it.”

Our experience becomes our exemption.

Our ticket to the comfortable life.

The Spirit of God can be messy (ask Joshua, Samson, or Ananias and Sapphira, or Paul).

He can’t be reduced to best practices.

He’s transcendent.

The Spirit of God, if we’re watching, moves in some unpredictable and unrestrained ways.

Like the wind.

And we must run to keep up.

The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will, wherever that might be geographically.

That’s where we want to be.

I hope we never think we’ve got it down.

I hope we never get so deceived as to think we’ve arrived.

I hope we stay in God’s danger zone.

Always in the nexus of chaos and order.

“Work Zone—fines double.”

Hirer risks. Seemingly flying by the seat of our pants. But not.

Faith can’t afford the luxury of no-risk living.

Neither can we.

Never settled.

A little messy.

I hope the struggles keep us begging for God’s presence.

Listening for His voice.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

 

WORK ZONE – FINES DOUBLE

Lead Us Not Into Temptation?

We all know “The Lord’s Prayer” by heart, including that strange thirteenth verse, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…”(Matt 6:13, NIV). Have you ever wondered why Jesus would pray “don’t lead us into temptation,” as though God might do so unless we ask otherwise? What’s that about? Is God hiding some sinister, sadistic side that is only restrained by our petition?

To note our inhibitions with this idea, here is how a couple of popular paraphrases handle the verse; “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! (The Message). “Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil” (J.B. Philips).

On one hand, we are comforted in Paul’s exhortation that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear, but will make a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). On the other hand, we see that as soon as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river He was led to be tempted, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”(Lk 4:1; Matt 4:1 [to be tempted of the devil]).

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit would lead Jesus immediately into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, especially since Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be tempted? Had Jesus’ own prayers failed? What is it we are not seeing, and might we be misunderstanding what God is after?

Unfortunately, our understanding of God and the kingdom has been somewhat sanitized by a notion of blessed comfort and peace at all cost, rather than an awareness of kingdom conflict that requires battle and pain. Not a popular message. We’re looking for a gospel that makes our problems go away. But an obscure verse from the Exodus gives insight that will be encouraging and fortifying.

God is telling Israel through Moses how He will fulfill His promises through the desert, “I am sending My Angel (the Holy Spirit)i before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared…For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and Hitties, the Perizzites and Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites and I WILL CUT THEM OFF,”(Ex 23:20, 23 emphasis added). HE goes on to say that He will send His fear before them to cause confusion among those people (v27).

Did you notice He is bringing them to a place prepared, right in the middle of the enemy, in order to “cut them off”? It’s both a strategy and a mindset. From this passage it is easy to see that God was not keeping His people FROM the foreign peoples for fear that they might be harmed; rather He had a strategy to conquer His enemies by sending a powerful people into their midst! These weak-looking former slaves were God’s Trojan horse. And now we can see why the Holy Spirit would also lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. This was not to prove whether or not Jesus had the goods, but to initiate the fulfillment of Jesus’ purpose – “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8) and set the course for the Lord to crush Satan under the Church’s feet (Rom. 16:20).

Could it be that we are praying for God to keep trouble away from us because we don’t really believe we can conquer? Could it be that we fail to understand what it means to be filled with the Spirit, as Jesus was, and that He will put a two-edged sword in our mouths to speak the “it is written” that is all-powerful against the enemy? Is it possible we have misunderstood God’s purpose and intention for the Church to crush Satan underfoot, not by avoidance but conquest?

This is the mindset of the Spirit: God doesn’t take us out of the world, but makes us powerful in the world, in His name (Jn 17:15). Sin shall not have dominion over us (Rom 6:14) neither should we be afraid in the midst of the world. But we must be filled with the Spirit.

As the darkness gets darker, the light will get brighter. We are not of a glory that is fading away. So when we pray, as Jesus taught us, “lead us not into temptation”, let’s do so knowing that He is leading us into dramatic demonstrations of His power, not a safe and cozy cowering from conflict. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. So let’s pray, “Lord, lead us today into places where You can show Your love and power over all the power of the enemy. We give You glory in advance.”

___________________

i Translators understand this angel to be none other than the Spirit of God, therefore they capitalize “My Angel”.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved.

 

Lead Us Not Into Temptation?

The Grand Progression of Revelation: As Revealed in Psalm 19

Here’s some wonderful news and a welcome break from the bad news and political wrangling of our world. God is not satisfied to know you from a distance; He wants up-close and personal intimacy. Perhaps you don’t have time right now to read all of Psalm 19, but let me clue you in on its wonderful trajectory. I have divided it (below) into 3 clear sections that demonstrate His irresistible pursuit of you and me.

First, He makes Himself known by His creation. We call it natural revelation (see Ps 19:1-6). The Psalmist says, “Anyone who is paying attention can see that God is speaking to us every day and every night by the world and heavens He has created. In ancient times, people paid attention to the constellations because it was their navigational necessity. They studied the order of the heavens; God spoke to every generation and every culture on the planet, not just one nation. If you could see the stars at night you knew two things; the sun is so bright it washed out the light of the stars every day, but when the sun was gone, those stars were still in place. Paul refers to this first level of revelation in Romans, chapter one. Everyone can see it. But everyone couldn’t properly interpret what it meant. So God drew closer.

God began to speak in our own language through His prophets (Heb. 1:3), as He moved on holy men of old to write the words of the prophets and the stories of God’s interventions. The Psalmist calls it “The Law of the Lord” (see Ps. 19:7-11). The Law of the Lord is God speaking to man through man. No longer is it the unintelligible speech of sun, moon and stars. God is speaking to mankind; it is perfect, sure, converting out thinking, pure, clean better than fine gold and sweeter than honey. In other words, God entered into a relationship with a man (Abraham) to get to the nations. And in heeding these words, living into the clearer language, there is a doorway opened to what God is really after – intimacy with you and me. The final step is the up-close and personal one.

Even after the giving of the Law, man is still asking “Who can really understand his errors and who can cleanse me from my secret faults (see Ps. 19:12-14)? The Law couldn’t do it. It wasn’t through the “seeds of Abraham” (God’s people) but “the seed” as in Christ (Gal. 3:16), that this question can be answered. The Psalmist shifts his focus the third time, from creation’s message, to the Law (a definite improvement), now to personal relationship. “May my words and thoughts be acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord. You are my strength and my redeemer.”

So what? Why is this good news? Because even before the Seed, Jesus Christ, put on flesh to redeem us and draw us up into the Triune life of God by the Spirit, David sees that it is going to get better. He pans the scope of God’s furious, tireless pursuit for our love and declares God’s ultimate intention. There is a way to intimacy with the Father – to know our transgressions are gone and we are thinking His thoughts. So no matter how tumultuous your life may look (David the Psalmist was no stranger to trouble), the road has been paved and the Father will finish what He has started.

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven,

And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned,

And in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me.

Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.


Dr. Kerry Woo  |  All Rights Reserved 2016

 

The Grand Progression of Revelation: As Revealed in Psalm 19

SHEDDING DECEIT AS VIRTUE

“Deceit as a virtue” was a foreign idea until I heard Ravi Zacharias use the phrase in explaining the difference between some religious cultures. Since it happened to be the first month of the year, it coincided with my reading of Genesis again in my One Year Bible. I was seeing the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and was struck again, as I am each time I read the patriarchal narratives, at the duplicity in their lives – passed down from generation to generation. And the phrase came to life — “deceit as a virtue”.

Abraham lied to Abimelech about Sarah being his sister, to save his own skin (Gen. 20). Isaac learns well from his father and lies about his wife Rebekah, and to the same king (Gen 26)! Rebekah, sister of a Syrian named Laban, meanwhile, is not a stranger to deception. She coaches her favorite son, Jacob, on how to deceive Isaac for Esau’s firstborn blessing (Gen 27). Jacob receives the blessing by deception but then has to run for his life from his brother. Where does he run? To his uncle Laban, who gives him a dose of his own medicine. Laban slips Jacob the ugly daughter on his own wedding night (how do you say “too much to drink”?), squeezes 20 years of labor out of him and changes his wages ten times — not 10 raises either (Gen 30-31). Jacob’s twelve sons are acorns that didn’t fall far from the tree. They sell Joseph into slavery and tell papa a wild animal devoured him. Judah, one of the sons, later gets caught in a prostitution sting; the prostitute is his own daughter-in-law, who has been cheated out of another wedding.

The Old Testament is loaded with story after story of deception by “the good guys”. And frankly, it is embarrassing as a Christian to see this strain of warped thinking in our patriarchs. But a few points are becoming clear about God in all this, which can only be touched on here:

1. God is willing to not only accept us as we are, but to speak to us in the language and mindset we can understand. God sends Abraham, the former Molech worshiping Chaldean, up the mountain to offer his own son in the fire. That was the language Abraham understood as a worshiper of Molech. But in the pivotal moment, God reveals Himself as not like the other gods, but as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who will provide His own sacrifice. A truth encounter.

2. God won’t leave us where we are, but takes us from deception to truth. The angel of the Lord wrestles with Jacob. Another truth encounter. Jacob thinks he has the angel pinned and resorts to his usual manipulative tactics and demands a blessing. The angel brings Jacob to the realization that he has lived his whole life with deceit as virtue by asking him his name – Jacob the deceiver, but then gives him a new name – “Israel, for you have prevailed with God”. But he had not prevailed as some think, by winning a wrestling match, but by seeing God in a new way; not as the god who holds deceit as virtue, but as the God who shines a light on the lies we’ve believed and brings us to the truth. And finally,

3. We now understand that deceit is not a virtue, because we have seen truth in the face of Jesus Christ. Deception wouldn’t bother us had we not seen truth in the life of Jesus. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no”. The beheadings, rapes and torture which are flaunted as virtues and rights by Islamists would not be so grotesque to us had we not seen love in Jesus Christ. No, the Old Testament is never the last word on God and those stories cannot be rightly understood except through the lens of Jesus Christ. God spoke to us in the ways we understood at the time, but in these last days He has spoken through His Son (Heb 1:1-3).

In much of our society, even in government, we see a return to deceit as virtue. Why? Because we refuse the life and revelation of Jesus Christ. But knowing the truth sets people free. Believers in Jesus have been given the Spirit of Truth to shed the notion of deceit as virtue and walk in the power of our true identity. Prevailing with God means seeing God for who He is, thus seeing the prince/princess that we are.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016 | Picture by Louise Feneley

 

SHEDDING DECEIT AS VIRTUE

WHICH CAME FIRST?

I’m not talking about the chicken or the egg, but the Spirit and the Word.

Reading Genesis, chapter 1 again, I am struck by the order of God’s work in creation, and what it prescribes for us where and how we live now.

Have you ever noticed the order of creation?

Genesis 1:2-3 “…The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said …”

The Spirit of God was hovering over the deep, then God spoke. It seems significant that God’s Spirit is moving before the Word is spoken. The Spirit of God is waiting (hovering) for the Word of God to give direction, authorization, focus. In short, in this instance and others, the Spirit precedes the Word.

This may seem insignificant unless we stop to think that our mental and religious defaults are set the other way around; we generally anticipate that God’s Word must be spoken, then the Spirit moves (and no doubt that happens at times). If we preach powerfully enough, teach boldly enough, sing enthusiastically enough, then God’s Spirit will “move”. But in the creation, the Spirit is brooding, working, hovering before God speaks.

We see it again in the work of the incarnation—the conception and birth of Jesus.

The angel speaks to Mary and she asks, “How can this be since I have never known a man? And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God,’” (Lk. 1:34, 35).

Notice the seed of the Word of God planted in Mary’s womb came after the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” (brooded, hovered) over Mary. The Spirit was working first, then the Word came. The Holy Spirit had to be in place to implant that seed in Mary, though it’s difficult for us to understand exactly how this happened.

In Acts 13, we see the leadership of the church at Antioch “ministering to the Lord and fasting” and then the Holy Spirit gave them direction – “separate unto Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I’ve called them to do,” (Acts 13:2). They welcomed the brooding presence of the Holy Spirit through worship and prayer, and then the Word of God came to them.

What could this mean for us? Is it significant?

I cannot count the number of times I have dutifully sat down and started reading my Bible, hoping God would speak to me, and going away without hearing. Mind you, I believe my spirit is receiving from God even when my mind is unfruitful. But I have also experienced what it means to welcome the Spirit through worship or praying in the Spirit, singing in the Spirit, and then the Lord drops something in my heart.

I’m not suggesting that there is a routine or rule about it. But I have come to believe that if we stir our own spirit, pray in the Spirit, sing in the Spirit — welcoming His presence — an atmosphere can be cultivated where God can freely speak to us. Perhaps there is a pattern in God – “Let the word of Christ

dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” (Col. 3:16, 17). He comes to dwell in the midst of our praise.

Have you had trouble hearing the Father’s voice? Cultivate His presence with song. Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Prime the pump with your own voice… and be ready to hear His. He loves to converse with His kids.

Let me know about your own experience. I would love to hear from you.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved

 

WHICH CAME FIRST?

STAYING HEALTHY IN 2016

Here’s a principle that could revolutionize your new year. Your body needs no help to heal you; it just needs no interference. This principle will help you steer personal habits toward partnership with God’s purposes for you.

Your body needs no help to heal you; just no interference. Statistics tell us that most of our illness are self-induced via poor eating and lifestyle habits. God designed the human body as an incredible self-healing machine. You are not defective or helpless. At your core, and given that healthy food is a pattern, you lack nothing to be healthy – not a pill, a shot, or anything else. If you nick yourself shaving today, what would happen in a couple of days? That broken skin would heal. Healing is in the package. It’s free, and there are no side effects (have you noticed the litany of side-effects to manmade cures?).

Every creature has the capability of regenerating itself at the cellular level, which is why creation has no spare parts hanging around. This applies to humans as well; by design, not by chance. The liver replaces 100 percent of its cells every three months. Some blood cells are reproduced every eight minutes. Our bodies are constantly reproducing cells to replace dying ones. Even under this temporary curse of death, the healing nature of the life of God is visible in the human creation. Here are three important steps for partnering with God for health and healing in 2016.

1. In order for our bodies to regenerate themselves, resources must be provided to the whole person – spirit, soul and body. Patients who fare best are those who have been able to store up resources. Those who stay full of God by His Word and Spirit (Col. 3:16, 17; Eph. 5:18, 19), will have a powerful immune system working against the negative forces in our broken world. And spending a little more for healthy food is cheaper in the long-run.

2. Guard your heart (spirit man, the hidden man of the heart) with all diligence, for out of it flow the forces of life (Pr 4:23). The greatest enemy to our health is spiritual: unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, greed, etc. Note how spirit, soul and body are impacted by fear.

Fear may be seen as an emotion, but it has a spiritual root. The emotional result of stress caused by fear is detrimental to the immune system. A person with a depressed immune system has a much harder time fighting off sickness. When a person can release the fear, the stress is reduced, and the immune system will function better to help the patient win any battle. Keeping our heart clear is your best medical strategy, and that is as easy as a conversation with God.

3. If you find the source of the interference to healing, you find the cause of your problem. If you remove the cause of the problem (spiritual, emotional and physical), your body can heal. Just give your body what it needs and you will be amazed at what it can do, no matter how bad you think things have become.

Healing belongs to you by the offering of Christ’s own body on the cross. It is also built into your human design. Begin to take steps to minimize the interference and watch your health flourish in 2016.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

 

STAYING HEALTHY IN 2016

Be a Catalyst for the New Year

What are you doing this New Year’s Eve? Will it be a proactive start for a powerful step forward in your life? Are you looking for a party or a powerful experience?

Two years ago, my wife and I had just attended our church’s New Year’s Eve service and had two or three invitations to attend parties with friends. But we both felt stirred simply to go home and spend time in prayer. No, we are not “over-saved” as some might think. We were in the midst of significant transition in our lives and felt the next year could hold significant developments or course changes.

We went home and sat down in the living room floor and had the idea of using the time to bless others. We decided to make a list of 10 couples that were leaders/influencers in our lives, pray over them, and bless them. As soon as we started praying it was as though a prophetic portal was opened up; we both began to write what the Lord was giving us about each couple. Chiqui was writing, I was writing, but we waited to the end to compare notes to see how what the Lord had given both of us corroborated with the other.

The next morning we combined the prophetic words into a cohesive statement and emailed them to each couple as a New Year word of blessing. Here‘s what I learned from that experience:

1. Responding to the promptings of the Spirit that night was more about blessing others than being blessed ourselves.

2. The fun and joy of partnering with the Holy Spirit far exceeded any fun we would have had at a party (as much as we love being with our friends).

3. The Lord is thinking about showing His goodness to others even when we are thinking about something else. I was amazed how the floodgates of the prophetic opened the instant we postured ourselves to pray for others.

4. The responses and affirmations that came back to us from those couples was an incredible reciprocity of blessing that we did not expect.

5. Sowing into others actually set us in an orbit for the new year that was loaded with one breakthrough after another.

6. If we yield to the pressure of the voice that says “don’t be so spiritual, just be normal,” we will always be stuck in the current orbit; but God is always issuing an invitation for us to partner with Him, and in doing so, to enter into a different realm of living.

I am not suggesting that one is unspiritual or carnal if New Year’s Eve is not spent in prayer; but I am suggesting that New Year’s is a great time to set good things in motion. What are you doing this New Year’s? It is possible that the Lord would want you to be a catalyst this New Year for someone else? In so doing, it could be the seed of breakthrough for you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015

 

Be a Catalyst for the New Year

WHY WE DON’T HEAR MUCH “WWJD?” ANYMORE

Part Two: The Active Ingredient

Do you remember the WWJD bracelets with the question we were supposed to constantly ask ourselves – “What would Jesus do?”

Why do we not hear the WWJD anymore? Why do we only hear parodies on WWJD?

Among other reasons, the WWJD phenomenon was based on a concept that we can be like Jesus if we just imitate His daily routines and decisions. This claim is a natural reaction to a warped view of Christianity that assumes that one can pray a sinner’s pray, accept Christ, then live any way he/she wishes and still go to heaven. So to separate the “real Christian” from those who just prayed a prayer, we erect systems of obedience asserting that we can become like Christ by simply doing what He did. One writer says, “If we have faith in Christ, we must believe that he knew how to live. We can become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced.” The writer continues by listing the practices (solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation upon God’s Word and service to others).

Please don’t misunderstand; these are all good (and even necessary) behaviors. But this is really a subtle replay of the old rabbinical form of “do in order to be.” It sounds right and preaches good. We can stir guilt easily and get rousing “amens” by preaching about what we should be doing better and how we are not laying our lives down like we should. But there is fundamental flaw in the “do-what-I-do-and-you’ll-be-what-I-be” proposition.

Jesus did not do what He did simply because He had learned the perfect Christian ethic and knew which rule the Father was most concerned about. Jesus was filled with the Spirit, overflowing with the Spirit and did everything He did by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14,15, 18; Acts 10:38). He made the decisions He made and said what He said because He was listening to the Father through the Holy Spirit. He only did what He saw His Father do and only said what He heard Father say (Jn 8:28).

Perhaps it is not about an imitated behavior but an indwelling life that comes through a personal relationship with the Father by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Holy Spirit is the active ingredient, not only for Jesus, but for His disciples!

Rather than “What Would Jesus Do?” perhaps we should be asking “What Is The Spirit Saying?” God is not looking for mimics that learn to behave in certain ways. Consistently righteous decisions cannot be made without the infusion of a righteous life in the interior of one’s being, manifested by the outworking of daily disciplines. When filled with the Spirit daily the actions consistently arise out of spiritually transformed “presets” that would make acting any other way to seem “unnatural.” Thus rather than attempting to act in an unnatural way (i.e. do the right thing), we are to be filled with the Spirit as our spiritual “magnetic North” in such a way that our life flows out of rightness. Who we “be” must precede we do. This is the “active ingredient” to living the Jesus life.

As I see it, one can focus on abstinence from “wrong behaviors” and at times feel powerful and in control – but it is deceptive. It is not by human might or strength, but by the Spirit of the Lord. To focus on fullness rather than abstinence is to constantly invite the Father to fill you again and again, to receive everything He has for you today. The joy of the Christian life is that anything the Father demands of you, He first gives to you… and He makes it available every day. Rather than ask, What Would Jesus Do, let’s start asking, “Holy Spirit, what are you saying?”


Dr. Kerry Wood  |  All Rights Reserved 2015

 

WHY WE DON’T HEAR MUCH “WWJD?” ANYMORE

THE “ACTIVE INGREDIENT” IN YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE

Have you have ever read the tiny print on the label of an over-the-counter medication or prescription? Normally, among all the talc, chalks and fillers there is an “active ingredient”. This is the real medication – what makes the difference in the prescribed treatment. Similarly, there is a lot of filler and an active ingredient in our spiritual lives and it is sometimes difficult to discern the difference between the two.

For those who know and serve the Lord as Christians, admonitions to go to church, read the Bible, pray and share one’s faith (we call it spiritual disciplines), are often confused with the active ingredient. The results is that when we do all the right things and still feel some distance or emptiness, the burden or drudgery of our spiritual walk make us feel as if we have failed in some way or seem to be displeasing to the Lord. But spiritual disciplines are actually the chalk or talc which are only the conveyors of the active ingredient.

See if you can identify the “active ingredient” in the following verses:

“Oh that may ways were directed to keep Your statutes!” Ps. 119:5 (NIV)

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who (all the while) works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12b, 13 (NIV, clause from Amp.)

“May the God of peace… make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ…” Heb. 13:20, 21 (NIV)

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Rom. 8:13

OK, I made it easy for you. God has not left the burden on our shoulders to make this Christian life happen; that would still be life under the Law. No, He has moved in, by His Spirit, as the active ingredient in our spirit to “direct” our ways, work in us, to complete what He has begun – even to help us “put to death” (mortify) the works of the flesh by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the “easy yoke” Jesus speaks of when He calls us to “take my yoke of upon you and learn of Me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).

The active ingredient, the power that is working in your spiritual life is not your will power. The purpose of the Law was to show us that personal will power is not enough to produce our salvation – else people with strong will wouldn’t need Jesus. It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. This means that what we need most for a healthy spiritual life is not more rigid disciplines, but more intimacy and inter-dependence with Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill you again today and keep a running conversation going with Him. You will find He is “all the while” at work in you, creating the will and the desire to do His good pleasure.

Looking Ahead: If the spiritual disciplines aren’t the active ingredient to our spiritual life, what purpose do they serve? A magnificent one! Watch for my next blog.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015

 

THE “ACTIVE INGREDIENT” IN YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE