How can we flood our lives with spiritual nutrition that provides resources to walk in Jesus’ authority and freedom on our journey and to bounce well when opposition floods us?
To illustrate, after a bout with physical sickness, like the flu, my immune system is run down. I focus on what is healthiest because my body is depleted after fighting a virus. This focus towards physical health simultaneously brings my focus away from what undermines health. The amaz’n way God designed our brains is that whatever we focus our minds on grooves more deeply. “We become more like whatever we behold.”
Here’s another analogy.
To get into shape, most trainers will begin with our core muscles. Every top athlete knows that her or his base is essential, whether a tennis player or pitcher, quarterback or basketball player. We want to focus on establishing a strong base or core.
Since the physical often mirrors the spiritual, this is also crucial spiritually. When we “put off” something that disrupts the normal focus of our spiritual life, we must quickly “put on” Christ and what is true and good.
Flood your life with spiritual nutrients to strengthen inner spiritual resilience and buoyancy to increase your capacity to bounce well in the future.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
Something rushes in to fill any vacuum. The Spirit of God uses these choices to “renew our minds” (Ephesians 4:22-24). However, if we don’t refill the house after we have cleaned out the garbage, we unintentionally grant the dark forces of evil permission to return, even seven times stronger. Take Jesus’ words to heart (Luke 11:24-26 with the context in Luke 11:14-23).
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (Jesus in Luke 11:24-26, context 14
“Put on” by flooding your inner life with spiritual nutrition as an immediate event to fill the empty place that we “put off.” Then soak in spiritual nutrition to return to our daily focus and practice.“Put off” is our decisive “no.” “Put on” is our big “yes, Lord!” The NT majors on “put on” while recognizing the necessary preparatory part that “put off” plays.
Especially after any intense spiritual battle, I give myself permission to rest in the Father, Son and Spirit…and even take a meditative physical nap! Resting in His provision, even when I’m actively working, activates spiritual nutrition. I learned some time ago that God does not love me because I perform…although my forgetter also still kicks in!
The Analogy of an Allergy
Let’s switch analogies again.
It’s not unusual to pick up physical allergies as we walk through life. They belong to our fallen post-Genesis 3 world. And it’s similar with spiritual “allergies.” We begin to ape the views and values of our world. Our worldview is the lens through which we make sense of our world. We need to consistently renew our minds, or the world’s philosophies gradually squeeze us into their mold.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:2, The Message).
“Dragged down to its level of immaturity” describes a spiritual allergy.
My wife had devoured nuts all her life without problems. However, when we were in Germany, my wife developed a severe allergy to her favorite food. One nut and her glands swelled up around her eyes. She looked like she had been in a street fight. One of the best allergists in Germany gave her no hope, except shots to control her allergic reactions.
When we returned to the States, a friend introduced us to a holistic Doctor who had freed many people from allergies. However, in order to focus on clearing her allergy to nuts, the Doctor first needed to clear any allergies in a ten-element baseline essential to support healthy life. First Fran needed a healthy physical baseline. Then her body operated in a state of higher health to naturally support vibrant life. Only then could the Doctor remove the nut allergy because her body was in a healthier state to cooperate.
I write to provide a healthy spiritual DNA as a baseline.
Our physical makeup imitates God’s spiritual design. Our spiritual lives operate in a state of higher spiritual health when we lay a solid foundation of life-essentials. God fashioned us as highly interconnected beings, fearfully and wonderfully made.
We understand allergies a bit, right?
For example, we discover that our physical body is Vitamin C deprived. This causes serious long-term health problems. However, we are pounding Vitamin C rich fruits and veggies and top supplements.
What has gone wrong?
Our body is allergic to Vitamin C, rejecting what is essential for health. Some chain of events or associations in the past have wired our memories to falsely re-program our brain. These destructive cellular memories miscalculate that Vitamin C is a threat to the well-being of our body. Vitamin C is ingested, and our brain erroneously deploys its soldiers. “Destroy the enemy, Vitamin C. Disrupt the body so badly that Vitamin C will not be ingested.”
How like our enemy bombarding our senses through the fallen world-system to become convinced that what is truly for our best is bad. And what is truly harmful is good. Deceit twists the truth. This is our archenemy’s primary weapon towards Christians, deceit, like with Eve in Genesis 3. Today the world’s false equation goes like this. “This feels good to me. God wants my best. Therefore, this must be God’s will for me.”
God designed our feelings as a wonderful early warning system to tell us, “Something is happening!” Not whether it’s from God or the dark forces of evil, the world-system, our self-indulgent flesh tendencies and the devil’s henchmen. Those who are wise go to God for discernment and guidance. They in prayer and use Scripture interpreted by the Spirit to investigate what the Father is doing. Then we choose His will because it’s good, no matter what our feelings say.
Feelings are crucial to get our attention, although they are very poor guides and will lead us astray like sheep for the slaughter. I suspect we have all had times when we have felt wonderful feelings, and they led us into destructive choices. And also what felt like the yucks, yet when we did it, we found great blessings.
After exposing and clearing the deceptive physical allergy, a new level of physical health is available because our body can now assimilate Vitamin C.
It’s the same in the spiritual realm.
Flood your life with spiritual nutrition that releases and supports spiritual health. This is our daily life-focus. Then if you have a spiritual “allergic reaction,” clear the spiritual allergy so our body once again naturally assimilates the good, spiritual nutrients. If we are unaware of our spiritual allergy or refuse to take the time to clear the allergy, we can pound great spiritual nutrition yet still struggle without spiritual health.
BTW, my wife eats nuts today with no negative impact so we can clear allergies permanently.
A 50-year old acquaintance just returned from his allergy testing and gushed:
“I’ve lived 40 years with essential physical elements in my life at 10% of capacity. I adapted and thought I was leading a normal life. I can hardly believe the energy and health I now have since my baseline allergies have been removed.”
In the process of change or in the midst of assault…
…realign by asking yourself the three following spiritual awareness questions. Allow the Spirit to search your heart.
Where am I now on my journey?
Where would I like to be?
How can I get there?
Similar to our physical life, for good health we don’t focus on sickness. We acknowledge it, take our medicine regularly, and refocus on what releases health. In the spiritual realm, our focus is on our relational God and His connected relationship with His people. This focus releases the abundance of His light and love and life, even though at times we must deal with allergic attacks. Light dispels darkness. Health overcomes sickness. Love overcomes apathy. Focus on God-Reality because “we become what we behold.”
For some of you, these articles following may be simply a spiritual tune-up. After 40+ years, I still regularly “tune up” my spiritual life, and hope you also do for ongoing renewal. For others, you may identify a missing element that has caused you to crash for years. Health is then awaiting! I want to give you living hope from Scripture.
Immediately below are Ten Essential Elements for spiritual nutrition, like the 10-element baseline from our holistic doctor. I have kept these free PDF articles relatively short, yet not simplistic. Many others could be added, but let’s begin to fold these into our spiritual life with a strong bias to do them.
These big-picture questions guide our lives and provide a type of “catalog system” for our brain to file the “main & plain,” what is “clear & crucial.”
Read Genesis 1 from the perspective that what God creates flows from who God is. Read the chapter and summarize what creation reflects of the Creator.
Knowing how God sees us, our identity, is the second most crucial aspect of our life. Return to the beginning, to Genesis 1-2 to see God’s original and unchanging intent for humanity, even with the disaster of Genesis 3.
The NT (New Testament) points to the renewing or transforming of your minds in key passages on change. How do we do this practically in our lives on our journey?
When we came to Christ, we entered a spiritual battle with the dark forces of evil. They actively deceive us to attempt to settle for far less than God intends for us. Yet God’s spiritual weapons are even more powerful as we grow in the three spiritual development cycles.
God fashioned us as lovers in Genesis 1-2. The story of the Bible is a love story where God woos His lovers back who have rejected Him. Now we can now learn to live loved by the most significant Persons in the universe.
When we begin to grasp the magnitude of the love of the Family-of-Three for each of us, we are stunned, mystified how He can love us so much. Since we have never fully experienced a love like this in our natural relationships (although some foretastes), many doubt God’s love. Yes, God really does see me like He does His Son, Jesus!
About now we are asking where we can look to see a model of such an extraordinary love. Jesus has come, not only as the Last Adam to permanently deal with our sin problem, but also as the Second Man. Jesus is the first fully human being since Adam sinned.
Gods’ part and our part as we partner with the Spirit. God God initiates and we respond. Our enemy attempts to confuse us right here. Either to attempt to do God’s part and be discouraged when we fail or yield our part to God, which He won’t do. He respects our dignity as image-bearers too much.
We will be attacked in this world. That’s a given. How can we learn to spiral down less often and bounce more quickly? I suggest a practical, flexible model that begins with God’s presence and provision and provides answers for our problems.
A healthy body demands much more than the 10-baseline elements. Here are a few more suggestions. But please don’t make these topical studies the “meat & potatoes” of your personal Bible Study. Far and away (in my mind and experience) is a book-by-book study over a lifetime since “content is king in Bible interpretation.” I’ve laid out eight of these in my DiscipleMaking Companion series.
Over the years,…
…I have gathered key passages that release life in me. These are my spiritual nutrition-rich “deep wells” of spiritual refreshment. I soak in these passages and ideas from God’s Love-Letter to re-establish spiritual health. These sow in me the culture Jesus brought with Him. Because God designed us for a journey of worship (Romans 12:1-2), “we become what we behold.” The NT calls us to intentionally set our minds on this rich body of spiritual nutrition to experience LifeChange (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and Philippians 4:8 as examples).
The additional free PDF’s of the articles that follow are suggestive, not exhaustive. It’s like the vast array of nutrients the body needs in order to function according to design. Some are trace elements. Some we need a large daily intake. Be sensitive to what you need in this season. Intentionally gather your own, although feel free to use mine while you invest the time and effort to make mine into your own. However, please don’t simply breeze through what I wrote, come away with a “that’s nice” and think you are now provisioned.
In such a case, you merely become my “echo.”
What’s the difference between an “echo” and a “voice”? An echo is secondhand and hollow, distant and diminishing over time. Select one idea below and spend five days soaking in it. Make it your own refreshing spiritual well, an artesian well where the water naturally flows to the surface, cool and refreshing. I still return to these.
Some of the articles below are “paradigms” or mental maps for life. By that, I mean they provide perspectives and responses that lay a solid foundation to overcome various attacks on our spiritual journey. Others simply help me to “come home” and rest quickly again in the presence of the Father, Son and Spirit, our Family-of-Three.
Do you have passages like this for yourself to stock your pantry for spiritual nutrition?
My encouragement is to become familiar with these articles below as foundation stones in your spiritual foundation. God to the one that you feel you might need most. Reusing the analogy above. When I’m recovering from an allergy or sickness, I focus on saturating myself with nutrients. If I am low on zinc, I focus on zinc. If Vitamin C, then….
In the same way, glance through these topics and choose the one that’s most relevant for you today yet also continue with the others for long-term spiritual health. Reread these until they become an integral part of how you think. This is part of what it means to renew or transform or renew our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23).
Do this now before you battle the winds and waves of trials. Sailors learn to sail in normal weather, so they are prepared for the storms.
…the webpage Learning to Live Loved taught. All the following have been helpful for me to deal with specific arenas needing growth. View this as a smorgasbord of essentials.
Here are some more that have been super helpful for me!
If you have an inward longing to grow spiritually, God’s Word, and especially the Gospels and rest of the New Testament (NT) are essential. God’s Love-Letter lays the strong, sure foundation for worship, for community and for evangelism.
How can we adequately describe how our infinite, eternal, unlimited God chooses to relate intimately with His created, still-in-process image-bearers? It’s ultimately beyond fully So, the NT gives us three powerful pictures to begin to describe these powerful pathways.
3. A-I-D to a Flexible Learning & Change Process.
This simple lens is also quite powerful as we study God’s Word and as we progressively change. Awareness. Investigate. Do.
What a marvelous chapter Isaiah 40 is. Israel needs comfort. Isaiah provides the pillars by describing God both as a gentle Shepherd and as a powerful ruler. God then interrupts to drive this truth home before Isaiah brings the practical application.
David “bookends” in his Psalm 8 reflection on humanity from Genesis 1 with God’s unrivaled majesty. Read this in the NASB…and be stunned by David’s conclusions!
Romans chapters 5-8 are my favorite extended passages on how awesome our salvation in Christ is, along with Ephesians 1-3.
Full-orbed forgiveness transforms us from center to circumference as we forgive from our hearts. Thanking God for our forgiveness from Him afresh each time we sin. Asking forgiveness of others when we sin against them. Forgiving unilaterally (just between us and God) when someone sins against us.
What a powerful mental map David provides for us in Psalm 13 to process life with complete honesty before God through a threefold movement.
Growth means renewal. Commit yourself to a flexible process of ongoing renewal to stay flexible and adaptable, not like an old wineskin, rigid, dogmatic and unchanging.
10. A Healthy View of Trials (from James 1:2-18)
James 1:2-18 provides a healthy view of how God intends us to approach trials. Such a perspective keeps us in His arms so a loving Father may change us.
Have you ever been in really tough times, perhaps so dire that you felt that even your father and mother had forsaken you? In Psalm 27, David provides powerful focal points of distilled truth that hold us firm in such storms.
Jerry Sittser wrote superb book called A Grace Disguised, He lost three generations of women in his family in one horrific automobile accident on a wintry night. What practical wisdom he offers for anyone suffering loss.
Psalm 139 is a magnificent Psalm that describes God’s greatness as David practically lives out life with its struggles. He shatters any lingering “boxes” we attempt to stuff God into.
Today I often hear Christians say, “Jesus I love but I have no place for the church.” I feel sad! I love Jesus so I want to partner with what He is doing to deepen our relationship. He promises to build His church and the enemy cannot stand against such faith-communities. Today’s call is to return to the Gospels and discover afresh how Jesus built His church.
Jesus, the most brilliant person to ever live, sketches out a simple (yet not easy) way for each of us to thrive and influence others. I call Matthew 20:20-28 “Jesus’ 20-20 Vision on Influencing.”
Do you struggle with interpersonal relational problems? Personally, I have found no single passage more helpful for me in a broad range of relational responses as Matthew 7:1-12.
In Psalm 73, the Psalmist first chose inner turmoil, drinking from his “whine” glass as He complained to God. Then He rested in God’s presence and shifted to inner tranquility.
In any battle, it’s crucial that we know our enemies, yet not as essential at knowing our own resources and trust our good commanders. Arrayed against God’s people is the “unholy triad.” Our self-life or The world and its philosophies. The devil and his minions.
19. Faith, Love & Hope.
These three together seem to be Paul’s shorthand description for Christ-like maturity. Faith is based in the past and hope is focused on the future, and all three intersect in the present, expressed through love.
Over time through a horrific one-time event or negative scripting over time, we develop inner negative spiritual fortresses. The Spirit provides us with powerful divine weapons to shatter these.
Spiritual maturity does not mean…
…we don’t struggle or struggle as much. The battlefields often change yet we are still in a war. Spiritual maturity means: (a) we notice more quickly (awareness) and (b) respond to deal with it more promptly, pumping spiritual nutritious. A long drink from these cool, clear wells brings me times of refreshing spiritually.
- Print out the free PDF of this page if you want to think more deeply on it (click here).
- Print out and and spend significant time (perhaps a week soaking in each) in each of the Biblical concepts above. Select the one you want to begin with. Mark it up and make it your own.
- I also wrote several books to strengthen this spiritual foundation, available on Amazon.com. If you are looking to build or rebuild a strong foundation, try my two devotionals. Foundation Stones and Jesus Is Enough! on John 15. If you simply need a spiritual tune-up, the devotional Times of Refreshment revisits the ABC’s of Value and Worth.
- If life is slapping you around like a hockey puck, you may want to go to my webpage, Bounce Well for practical helps.