Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alignment, Part 4

Alignment Questions:
Jesus, align my mind with your mind
Jesus, align my emotions with your heart
Jesus, align my will with your will
Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities

Do you remember this rhyme?
“Good girls don’t drink or chew or hang out with boys who do.”
In many ways, this was the theme of the church of yesteryear. It was very concerned with behavior. Judgments were made by the type of lifestyle that one kept: no smoking, drinking, dancing or card playing.
In some ways, the Christian sub-culture hasn’t moved that far away from this type of thinking. Many Christian colleges have students sign lifestyle statements to ensure that their behavior is acceptable. Even the Seattle Pacific University just started holding dances about five years ago because they had a donor base that didn’t approve of it.
But, my belief is that when we focus on behavior, we will only push sin underground and it looks very insidious when it is hidden. The less room for freedom in behavior, the more room for a lifestyle riddled with destructive life tendencies.
It is when we are able to say, “I am a forgiven sinner along with my friends on the journey of life” that we are free to admit our issues and find acceptance. This happens when grace is present and when we have renewed minds through daily seeking to know Jesus and discover his heart for how we are to live.
He taught us how to live a life that pleases him, and it comes first by aligning our souls with his. It is our souls: minds, emotions and will that first must become aligned to his sinless soul.
This is the order in which the three parts of our personhood must line up: spirit, soul and body. Our spirits are where God exists within us. Our spirits are instantly transformed at salvation, becoming just like God because he moved in and took up residence within us.
Our souls: mind, emotions and wills are the part of us that continue to transform as we live a life of discipleship through following Jesus. Finally, our body brings up the rear, deciding to follow wherever our soul directs it to go.
Our body doesn’t have decision making ability, does it? It is our mind and will that separate us from the rest of creation—otherwise we would be just like animals, doing things out of instinct rather than choice.
So, when we focus on behavior first, we are speaking to an area where there is really no ability to choose. We decide to eat that second piece of cake with our will. We decide to work 12 hours a day to please our boss with our mind. We decide to shout at our children in anger out of our emotions. We decide to exercise and eat well with our will. We decide to do everything with our bodies though our soul. So, our focus for living the lifestyle Jesus teaches us comes through our soul, not our bodies.
The Red Bucket speaks to this reality on day 64: “ You are not your thoughts.” Current research on the brain brings this reality to light; that our thoughts don’t define who we are, but rather beliefs that we hold. These beliefs don’t identify our core identity, but they do govern our behavior choices.
One of Missio Lux’ foundational ministries is Recovery, currently Celebrate Recovery. We have this as a foundational ministry because recovery understands and moves out of this principal. Christian Recovery seeks to live a 12 step lifestyle, which in reality is Jesus’ lifestyle. They recognize that our soul must first align with Jesus and then our addictions and our hurts, habits and hang ups will follow and begin to lead our bodies to life giving behavior. 12 Steps gives people the tools to live a satisfying and fulfilling life.
Our fourth alignment question is “Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities.”
What are Jesus’ priorities? We know that he gives us two big priorities and just about everything else he teaches falls into these categories. The first one is called the “Great Commandment.” It is found in Mark 12:30-31: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Jesus teaches us that love is our highest priority: love first for himself, Father and Holy Spirit. It is through this relationship that we are able to then love ourselves because we begin to look away from our failures, shortcomings and sin, and to look at ourselves with God’s truth about us. This is his truth: Jesus left the comfort of heaven, along with his divine power, and came to earth to become one of us. He pursues us in relationship.
When we are loved well by our perfect heavenly father, we are able to love ourselves, which then leads to the ability to love those around us. Our focus is changed from “How is everyone going to meet my needs?” to “How can I love and serve the people around me unconditionally?” We move from a place of external conditioning to an internal shift of monumental proportion!
The second priority of Jesus is called “The Great Commission.” He tells us in Matthew 28:20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
After we have loved the Father, learned to love ourselves and continue to grow in loving our neighbor, we are to share his love with others. We are not to keep Jesus’ love to ourselves or just our faith community, but we are meant to pass it on. The more we pour it out, the more the Father’s love will be poured back onto us.
Jesus commanded us to go and make more disciples. It is through this multiplication effect that the world will begin to realize that our purpose for existence is to be in relationship with the Creator who created us. This is a very high purpose and once our mind aligns with Jesus’ mind, and our emotions begin to align with God’s huge heart for the world, our will begins to move into alignment with God’s will. Even more amazingly, our bodies come into right alignment and become the instrument for us to walk out our faith.
I hope that you have discovered the joy of using the tool of the Alignment Questions to help equip you to walk out your faith as a lifestyle. Remember, the adjustments may be very slight, but in time they will become major adjustments that happened a little bit at a time. The chiropractor doesn’t turn our neck around all at us, it happens one adjustment at a time.
I also want to say that the alignments won’t all happen in the quiet with Jesus. They will take place throughout your day and may be so slight that you can miss them altogether. But, pay attention, because over time you will see growth take place that will encourage you and those around you.
The 30 day challenge is just about over, but don’t stop now! When we make a change and do it for 90 days, it moves from our short term memory and becomes a part of our permanent behavior! Our mind instructs our bodies. . . hmmm, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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