From Soul-Fried to Stupified

by Andy Wood on June 6, 2016

in Consumers, Five LV Laws, Gamblers, Insight, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Protecting Your Investment

Edge of a Cliff

(Fumes, Form and Fashion, Part 4)

Phillip and Amanda are an item. Second marriage for him, first for her. Two kids together. Christians.  Raising the family. Paying the bills. Doing life.

And they’re both exhausted.  It’s more a case of life doing them.

Phillip, as mentioned here, is nearing 40 and finds himself yearning for a return to more structure and discipline that kept him in shape, both spiritually and physically.

Amanda, as mentioned here finds herself choking emotionally and desperate for some sort of life-energizing change.

They each have a sincere faith in God and are committed to each other.  They each are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.

They need to hear the voice of God in a fresh way.

They both, but especially Phillip, need to go back to the basics.

They both, but especially Amanda, need a change in scenery, starting with that internal scenery we call vision.

And they both are on the cusp of something new and exciting.

And unbearably stupid.

Those Three Sources of Renewal

Given the capacity we all have to experience inward renewal in such a way that our souls are energized, it is vital to remember where that comes from.  As seen in the three previous posts, drawing from our three “creation words,” we experience life by

  • hearing God speak,
  • taking action within the world of form, structure, and purpose, and
  • creating new visual worlds, both outwardly and inwardly.

Word, Form, and Fashion.  Those are God’s three creation – and re-creation – elements.  One speaks to hearing, one speaks to doing, and one speaks to seeing.

Truth, Order, and Vision.  That’s another way of looking at it.  To renew is to reconnect somehow with one or more of these, and preferably all three.

(If you haven’t read the posts that describe each, I would strongly encourage you to do so.)

What Could Possibly Go Wrong with That?

What makes these three elements of renewal so energizing is that they each represent a return in faith to our Source – our relationship with God.  It is God’s words that has life and truth to them. It is God’s calling and direction that provides our lives with structure, purpose, and direction. And it is God’s vision or creative ability that fires the imagination and forges a new future for all of us.

But for every authentic source of life, we can also identify a counterfeit source of ruin that looks so close to the real deal, it’s easy to be fooled.

(Remember when Eve – wired to bring a change to the scenery – was tempted?  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise…)

Each of these three sources of life and renewal has a counterfeit. And when a person is soul-fried, they often lose their ability to discern the real from the fake.  One leads to renewal. The other can lead to ruin.

The Voice of a Stranger

In identifying Himself as our Good Shepherd in John 10, Jesus spoke of the importance and potential of hearing His voice.  He said by way of illustration that the sheep don’t follow the voice of a stranger, whose intent may be to lead to danger or destruction.

But we, like sheep, can be deceived. And often in our desire to hear a fresh word from God, if we get desperate enough, any spiritually-sounding “word” will do.

That’s when people do nutty things and blame God for it.

That’s when Christians can fly off on tangents or charge into spiritual windmills.

That’s when we can use our Bible to “speak” things to us that it never was intended to communicate.

That’s when we can abandon the truth of scripture completely and land in all sorts of error at best, complete deception and self-justification at worst.

The ultimate standard for discerning God’s voice to the human heart is His written word, the Bible. Every other truth claim, or claim of direction from what’s supposed to be the Lord must be evaluated in that light.

Rigid Religion

Dead religion is the product of what happens when men are left alone to guard the church house. In our search for form, structure, and order, left to our own devices, we will soon elevate procedure, form, and ritual to a point where it is more important than God Himself.

How does this happen?

When we engage the habits but forget the purpose.

When we lose our sense of wonder and our awareness of our “why,” but still keep practicing that old-time religion.

When we get lost in the idea that our form and structure is the only one that’s valid.

When we get so satisfied with ourselves and “the way we do things around here” that even Jesus is left on the outside, knocking on the door of His own church.

Visual Seduction

When souls get desperate for a change in sight, sometimes any old change will do. Sometimes it’s an escape to a fantasy world that can become all-too-real.  Sometimes it’s a relentless pursuit of things – not for function, but for fashion’s sake alone.  Sometimes it’s the pursuit of an imagined or empowered self.

But can something like that happen to passionate, devoted Christians?

All. The.  Time.  “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, NLT).

While visual change, new dreams, and creative imagination can be very renewing, becoming a slave to “fashion” (in the sense I’m using the word) can lead to broken marriages, financial bondage, and ultimately deep, deep shame.

New can get old and ugly very fast.

Finding Life on This Side of the Cliff

So how do we experience renewal – the ongoing internal soul recharge of Word, Form, and Fashion – without being deceived into doing something stupid?  The answer is found in what I’m calling “God’s Golden Triangle.”  It’s a cheesy name, but whatever.

More on that next time. But for now keep this in mind. If you want to avoid crash-landing on Idiot Rock in the Valley of Fools, monitor these three things:

  1. Your ongoing communion with God. Renewal is not a jump-start. It’s a trickle-charge.
  2. Your active community with other believers. Communication and accountability as part of a larger spiritual community can help provide renewal while at the same time help you avoid being blindsided.
  3. Your commitment to gratitude. No spiritual discipline is more vital.

Finally, if you find that you have become your own worst enemy and made some stupid choices, I want to encourage you with this:

If Jesus truly is Lord of all, that means He’s even the Lord of your stupid choices and colossal failures.

The word for that is grace. And yes, it’s pretty amazing.

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