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20 Minutes that Changed My Life (and it will change yours too!)

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God had told me I needed to learn how to rest. Not knowing what in the world He was talking about, I was on the lookout for a Hawaiian getaway. As I was about to find out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Step one, I was about to learn, was to develop a baseline or reference point, an experience of silence and stillness for my relationship with God.

My very first experience of rest came in the wee hours of the morning, and was related to the fact that that I hated stillness and silence.

I had never availed myself to the awareness of the inner presence of the Holy Spirit within me for more than a couple of minutes. Remember, I hated silence with a passion and stillness was my greatest nemesis.

However, I was about to discover the most profoundly spiritual practice—one that would change my life.

I was about to quit. I was about to do nothing. And my life was about to be revolutionized!

This, I have since found, is one of the most difficult things for any human being to do. It may be easier for some to climb the snow-capped, oxygen-deprived peak of Mt. Everest than to do nothing and just be.

A friend suggested one morning that we sit and meditate on the presence of God. I agreed. The duration of time was pre-determined to be 20 minutes.

The only objective was to meditate on this amazing truth: “Be still and know that I am God.” For 20 minutes, I was to focus and be consciously aware of the fullness of His presence in me. To meditate.

As God said, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Those are much more than just words on a page. They are far more dynamic than an impressive slogan. They are real, tangible realities to be experienced with actual senses, not just the mind.

That meant no praying and no entertaining incoming thoughts aiming to bump me back into chaos. I was simply to rest in a meditative state of consciousness where every cell, molecule, and atom in my body was being commanded to stand at attention and realize the current fullness of the presence of God. The objective was to be still—eyes closed—and be quiet with the Lord for the entire 20 minutes.

So I embarked on this painfully simple journey.

The first few minutes were some of the most difficult moments of my life.

Torturous.

It’s astounding to find out how many things are floating around in your subconscious mind, wanting to play a game of “hinder the progress” right as you try to get still.

Thoughts, pictures, and sounds bombarded me from every direction.

I would entertain one of them, and it would take me down a rabbit hole, and before I realized it, I was far from being present.

This happened several times until; finally, I made the willful decision that enough was enough. I was going to rest in the Lord, going to receive His wonderful gift, no matter what.

With a new sense of determination, I realized it would be beneficial to ask God for the empowering grace to be able to take captive the incoming thoughts dead-set on bombarding my inner environment (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Once I made the decision and asked for the empowerment, the assistance was not far behind.

Before I knew it, the Holy Spirit had equipped me with the wisdom I needed to take captive the barrage of distracting thoughts.

Slowly, I began to sink into a state with which I was not very familiar. The descent was accompanied by an ever-increasing joy and peace.

Eyes closed, able to see in the spirit, I could see a cloud beginning to accumulate inside my person, coming from my lower torso area.

It steadily rose, and, as it did, I became more and more overcome by the intoxicating reality of the glory of God.

It was tangible and had a beautiful substance to it.

As it approached the level of my neck and continued toward my head, I wondered if, when it engulfed my head, would it kill me.

“Are you going to kill me?” I asked God. I wondered, “Could His tangible goodness really snuff me out?”

The cloud rose higher and higher until it consumed my head. It did not stop at my head. I was gone—overwhelmed by the Spirit. While it did not kill me, I was filled for the very first time in my life, with the awareness that I was already dead. I suddenly knew that I had died and was risen with Christ. I was alive! Fully alive!

For the first time, this transforming truth of Galatians 2:20 was not a theory but an intoxicating reality.

In typical God fashion, I was given the experience prior to the understanding.

The Voice of God: Part 3

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The second lesson I learned related to the amount of inner chaos in my life and what it means to really rest. Rest is a place every human desperately wants to visit. This place is safe, free of stress and uncertainty, removed from the pull of anxieties and agendas. It is soft and calm. The prevailing mindset regarding how one attains this blissful state of rest goes something like this: If I work hard enough, I can justify resting for a week or two, get away to my favorite vacation spot, and escape all my worries. Rest will finally be attained and will hopefully carry me over through the following year.

The Holy Spirit told me, “Many people retreat to find rest, only to vacation just outside the door to rest.”

This idea changed my life. My inner chaos had acquired for me a prescription for hypertension medication since the age of seventeen. I was reactionary in every sense of the word. And my constant internal chaos kept me from truly connecting with God. Think about it. If your emotions and mind are swirling and always chasing after a million things, it is impossible to focus on or connect with anyone, let alone a God you can’t see with your natural eyes. The answer is rest, which fortunately is a place we all want to live in anyway. Simply put, it is living from the reality of Christ’s summing up of all things on the cross. Through revelation knowledge of this truth, we are able to truly live freely, divorced from self-effort and relying completely on the power of the life of God that flows out of us.

The first step in my journey toward rest was to deal with what God had shown me to be the largest cause of blockage in my ability to hear His voice—inner chaos. In a loud and busy world, stress and anxiety can easily become the loudest voices screaming in our heads. That looks different for everyone, and there are many self-imposed causes for inner chaos, but for me, the biggest cause was my use of technology. I’m pretty sure a lot of people can relate to me on this one, too.

Technology itself is morally neutral. It is a wonderful tool that can be used for good or bad purposes. It can be managed, or it can manage us. I love and enjoy using many of the improvements of modern technology. But like anything else that is good and enjoyable, it can become addictive. For me, it certainly was.

It all started with TV. From a young age, I was hooked. My parents did a great job moderating my intake, though I attempted to push the boundaries as far as possible. When I left for college and could fall asleep with the TV on and never turn it off, I was pumped. I could endlessly feed my addiction without any accountability. What I didn’t realize was that I had created a relationship with technology. And I loved it very much.

I was absolutely unaware of my addiction to chaos. I didn’t know why silence freaked me out. The eeriness of being by myself, with just my thoughts and a quiet room, was enough to make me twitch—literally. As a technology junkie, I desperately needed the buzz of something electrical humming my way. (And I know I’m not alone in this!) Like so many others, I would wake up in the morning and immediately and compulsively need to check Facebook, Twitter, my email, and whatever else before I even got out of bed. Once my feet hit the floor, the next step was turning on the TV so I could make breakfast while surrounded by the comfortable hum of technology.

As I mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 1, the time between when I woke up and when I left the house was consumed with compulsive social media and other random Internet activity. And thanks to my smart phone, this didn’t have to stop just because I was driving. The same was true when I returned home.

Without realizing it, in a very real sense technology had become my Holy Spirit. Rather than resting in the timeless and unchanging God and learning to renew my mind to operate with the mind of Christ, I was changing with the world and allowing my brain to be rewired by the things of this world, as communicated through technology.

When I first discovered my addiction to technology, I tried various formulas to discipline myself into freedom. It didn’t work. It didn’t matter how many times I resolved not to turn on the TV or look at my phone for an hour while I read my Bible and prayed. If addiction could be broken so simply, it wouldn’t be addiction. And God was not impressed with my efforts. Later, I realized He wasn’t interested in me squeezing Him into my life. He didn’t want a time slot; He wanted to be my everything.

Thankfully, He was (and is) very interested in meeting with me in a very real way, even in the midst of my chaos. And through His patient pursuit of meeting with me, eventually I discovered He offers a better version of what I subconsciously thought I needed from technology. He wanted all of me, but He didn’t invade my party; instead, He politely and relentlessly invited me into His. He wasn’t too concerned about my dysfunctional framework—actually, He had already fixed it on the cross—and He was inviting me into that reality. I love how He works.

I always considered myself a pretty chill person, but internally I was all over the place, and mass confusion was my only constant. I didn’t even realize it until I tried to sit still in silence for twenty minutes.

God had told me I needed to learn how to rest; step one was to develop a baseline, an experience of silence and stillness, for my relationship with God. Like many people, I couldn’t remember a time when I had actually experienced silence and my soul was not filled with a tangled mess of jumbled thoughts and feelings. Even when I tried to get quiet, those thoughts, feelings, and emotions started to confuse me at first, and it bothered me almost to the point of physical agitation. As I persisted, they became even louder, and I started to distinguish certain thoughts I hadn’t even realized were there.

Through this process, God kept telling me, “Don’t quit!” When the bombardment would hit me, I wouldn’t flinch. I wouldn’t allow myself to be distracted, but instead took the opportunity to ask the Spirit of grace to renew my mind and wipe out the distracting and chaotic thoughts warring against me and my awareness of God. I focused on my fullness and His glory, which abundantly dwells within me. I asked the Spirit of God to fill every fiber of me, to invade and take control of me. This was how I learned to rest. To just relax and enjoy Him. As I did, I became increasingly aware of Him, and His peace and joy swept over me and overwhelmed me with His warmth and goodness.

Eventually, as I did this over and over again, I began to reach a place in my spirit where I felt so full of God that I wondered whether I had left planet Earth. In that awareness of God and my fullness in Him, the things I thought were so important, the things I had been planning to talk to Him about, no longer mattered to me at all. Over and over again, I became so enveloped in His overwhelming embrace and the rapture of His presence that I could do nothing but be. And in that place, I began to hear His voice for the first time in a way that left me saying, “Aha! How did I miss this all along?”

I began to discover how wonderful it is that our Father has invited us into fellowship with Him and has withheld nothing from us. I found He is very interested in our discovery of this wonderful truth of His generosity and forethought about us. And our inclusion in the perfect communion of the Father, Son, and Spirit was His purpose for us all along. He met me along my journey to pull me into His reality and show me not only what He has already done, but who I really am and how He wants to use me to relate His will to the world.

He wants to do this for you, too. The communion of the Father, Son, and Spirit is a cosmic party, a delightful dance of peace and unity that we are invited to attend. As we do, we will continually grow in our understanding of the meaning of this wonderful mystery. He talks to us because He enjoys us and wants to spend eternity with us. Because of the desire of His heart for us, He has eternally bound Himself to us and made us one with Him. When we understand that, the only question that makes sense on this topic is, “Why the heck wouldn’t He talk to us?”

The Voice of God: Part 2

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One of the first misconceptions about the voice of God that had to go was my tendency to try really hard to hear Him.

Through most of my life, I usually only approached God with a question when I faced something urgent. I felt like I really, really needed to hear Him say something right now! “Do I take this job offer? Do I go to this school? Do I propose to my girlfriend?” But by the time my question had become urgent enough that I asked God about it, I would have very little peace as I anxiously awaited an answer from on high. As I’m sure you can guess, it didn’t work so well that way. Not only would I be too stressed and too out of practice in conversing with Him to actually discern His voice in the midst of the noise, but it was also less than ideal relational dynamics. After all, it is weird and not very complementary to have a relationship with someone, let alone my eternal Father, only when I want or need something. This is especially true since He had been pursuing me and talking to me all along (and I had been, for the most part, ignoring Him).

Thankfully, He is really patient and doesn’t hold it against us when we do this. He really does have our best interest in mind and wants us to know His voice. What He showed me is that I am always listening to something. Often, it’s just not Him. Even the worry related to needing direction from Him or the guilty feelings about not listening to Him become noise that blocks Him out. I learned I just needed to chill out and take it easy. He is not stressed, and I shouldn’t be either.

One time the Holy Spirit said to me, “I talk to you more than you talk to Me. I’m just a better listener.” Ouch.

At times I am a good listener; at other times, not so much. One of the greatest benefits I’ve found in journaling my development with the Lord is the ability it gives me to look back and see when I’ve have been a poor listener in my relationship with God. For example, I would ask Him something one day and then switch to another thing the next day, not realizing He was in the process of answering my previous question. I look back with the benefit of hindsight and see how idiotic I was, but the truth is, it was accidental. It is a growth process.

We all have the ability to discern whether a person is actually listening to us when we talk. God is even better at that than we are. It is so easy to say we want to hear God and even to ask Him a question, but often the idea of treating Him with the respect we would give to another person hardly crosses our minds. If while I am having a conversation with Shannon, I frequently look at my phone or am off in la-la land, I am communicating to her that I don’t really want to hear what she has to say. The same is true in my relationship with God.

The Voice of God: Part 1

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It was 4 a.m. I had a quiet house and two full cups of coffee steaming next to me—a perfect recipe for a fun time with my best friend. During the silence of the early mornings, while the city enjoyed its sleep, I discovered a life-altering treasure. I began to encounter God in ways I didn’t know were even possible. Quite literally, I had no grid for what He had begun to show me. It didn’t take long for those sacred times to become my favorite thing to do in the entire world. While I sipped my coffee, my Father sat and talked with me. I had begun to hear His voice regularly and often, but the mornings were unique. He spoke so loudly and with such clarity that it really was like conversing with Him as He sat on the sofa next to me.

One morning, He started telling me about His voice and how He talks to people. Suddenly, He appeared in front of me in an open vision (when your eyes are open and an image appears before you). I saw a square frame like a television screen, with His face smack dab in the center of it, except His person was only light. It looked like a box on a website where there is supposed to be a picture, but the picture is not there yet. It was just a blank frame from the chest to the top of the head.

“Jeremy,” He said, “people need to understand that I am always talking.”

I knew He talked often, and all people have the ability to hear Him, but I never considered that He might be always talking.

“Yeah, watch this,” He said. Immediately, He started saying over and over and over again, “I’m talking, I’m talking, I’m talking, I’m talking…” And as He repeated those words, His voice was crystal clear, and nothing was drowning it out.

Picture a window frame with a head, from the shoulders up. In the area around His outline, there was nothingness. Then, as if a curtain was being rolled upward, images began filling the surface area around His outline from the bottom up, things like cars, trees, buildings, roads— basically city life. All the while, He was repeating, “I’m still talking, I’m still talking, I’m still talking…”

The images came with sound, too. As they scrolled up the screen from bottom to top, the corresponding sounds of cars driving by, birds chirping, and so forth also increased. Still, He kept saying, “I’m still talking, I’m still talking, I’m still talking…” But as the pictures moved higher and the sounds grew louder, His voice became fainter, drowned out more and more by the additional noise, until it was completely indistinguishable.

Then the reverse happened. The images began descending on the screen, and their noises began decreasing in volume. As they did, gradually, in proportion to the fading of the other noises, the voice of God increased in volume. And there He was: “I’m still talking, I’m still talking, I’m still talking…”

Once it was only Him again, He said, “See, I’m always talking. You just need to learn to tune into My voice in the midst of loud, chaotic lives.”

“I never want to let Your voice be tuned out,” I said. I was determined to maintain this closeness and dialogue the entire day. However, by the time I got ready for work, got out of the house and into my car, and was headed for work, I was nearly completely tuned out.

Hearing the voice of God is a lifestyle that is practiced and cultivated over time. I obviously still had some growing to do. This began a season in which God taught me a great deal about how to hear Him and how to deal with the things that so often crowd out His voice in our daily lives. This is something He desires to do for each of His children, to walk us through the process of learning what His voice sounds like and how to decipher it from the noise and endless stimuli of our modern world.

Here’s a bit of what He taught me.

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Be Loved. Be Love.

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When you are intimate with another person, it is the little idiosyncrasies and the special world that the two of you forge together, that creates a lasting, unbreakable bond.
The special language, the inside jokes, the effortless communication and synchronicity is the tie.
The flow of mutual understanding and cooperation done in complete vulnerability and selfless trust. A life done in tandem.
This is what Holy Spirit desires with each of us.
This is intimacy. Becoming intimately acquainted with the Completion that already exists within us—realizing that you are home, full and satisfied in Christ.From this place of knowing, we can love others.
From this place, we can build lasting community and real intimacy with other people.

Be loved. Be love.

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Pick A Color

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This isn’t for everybody, but can be for anybody. Whether or not it’s for you…that’s for you to decide…This morning I got a special beach edition encounter and word from The Lord.
I have a feeling that it may benefit a few of you, soI’ll share.
While sitting and talking with The Lord, I became increasingly intoxicated by the awareness of His awesome fullness. We were just enjoying each other.
Before long, He grabbed me and took me into a vision. Just a moment prior, I was looking across the room at a table and chairs by a wall. Suddenly between me and the table appeared a large, three-dimensional circular color wheel. The wheel, floating in between the floor and ceiling, was held in place by the power emanating off of it. The Holy Spirit. The wheel was three dimensional and had many brilliant colors on it, and also had texture.The Lord said, “Pick a color.”

So, I reached out and poked a random color with my fingertip. As soon as my finger touched the color, it popped all the way out of the wheel and I was able to see the brilliant complexity of it from the inside. There were hues, tones and undertones, all illuminated on the spectrum of light. It was amazingly dynamic. He proudly chuckled as He said, “Let other people argue over black and white. Those who want to be my friends can come and play and explore the color spectrum with Me, if they want.”

Wow…

This kind of thing is enough to ruin a person for the mundane.

There is so much to explore of/with God and I am dead-set on enjoying my friendship with Him as much as possible.

I am fully committed to not looking around at what everyone else is telling me I should be looking at, and paying attention to and trying to do, rather, I will be busy playing around in the color spectrum with God and telling others how cool it is and inviting and helping them do the same.

There is a time and place for black and white to be defined and it is necessary, but there are plenty of capable folks who feel that’s what they are supposed to do…that’s very cool, but I will do what I have been invited to do. Period.

Once you have the black and white defined for you by the leading of Holy Spirit, I strongly encourage you to ask Him to begin to take you into exploration mode into the the color spectrum.

You will never be the same…

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Big Buck Bunny

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