Sunday, September 28, 2014

Intimacy with God - It's a journey

From a letter I wrote over 14 years ago:

"Learning to listen to God is a process that starts awkwardly and grows slowly but develops and matures until it is hard to see how you could ever have lived without it."  A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer 

We are on a journey. "And all who receive Me will experience everlasting life, a new intimate relationship with You (the one True God) and Jesus the Anointed (the One You have sent)" John 17:3 Voice. 

If you are a believer the Three-in-One resides in your innermost being. His indwelling presence makes deep intimacy with Your Creator a real possibility.
"I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now ... when that One I have spoken to you about comes—the Spirit of truth—He will guide you into everything that is true. For He will not be speaking of His own accord but exactly as He hears ... He will bring glory to Me for He will draw on My truth and reveal it to you. Whatever the Father possesses is also Mine; that is why I tell you that He will draw on My truth and will show it to you." John 16:12-15 J.B. Philipps
We'd love to hear about your journey. Please leave a comment, question, or insight below or drop an email to Click on this link to pick up your copy of "God Guides."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Laboring to enter His rest

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Hebrews 4:10 NASB
True inner freedom arises when a man or woman doesn’t have anything to prove, when what he or she does isn’t an attempt to earn something missing or to impress others. When service isn’t motivated to make up for personal deficits and an individual moves towards others motivated by a sincere interest in their welfare, this person is entering into His rest (Philippians 1:15-16) (Philippians 2:20) (Philippians 3:19)

Rest is a by-product of not being on a desperate search to meet my yearning for security, significance and self-worth by who I know or what I do. It comes from the experience of having my longings met by in an ever-increasing intimacy with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Rest frees a person to be able to do what he or she does by faith that expresses itself through love (Galatians 5:6). It liberates a person to genuinely care about what is best for others as in Philippians 2:3-4.

Entering the rest permits me to draw near to God because of who He is rather than for what I can get. Rest is freedom from the tyranny of the self-oriented focus that deficit motivation creates, and the birth of a focus on sincerely loving God and others from the heart (1 Peter 1:22). It has to do with recanting unwise vows and giving up my self-protective strategies (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). It is related to His magnificent power being revealed in my paralyzing weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It means taking my place as a sheep and giving over the reigns to the Shepherd. Rest is Christ being formed more and more fully, and completely deep within me (Galatians 4:19).
Rest is not being completely free from struggle and difficulty. It is not a vaccination against misfortune. It does not mean things will turn out just as I had hoped in every situation. Rest does not guarantee that I will not fail or be hurt by others. It carries no warranty against disappointment, nor does it mean that what I do will not require personal sacrifice and discipline. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

From God’s perspective, the desired by-product of the trials and crisis we go through is to draw us closer and closer to the realization of the utter foolishness of trying to satisfy our deep innermost longings with our good works (Philippians 3:8-9), productivity, and polluted well-drilling (Jeremiah 2:13). It represents a unique opportunity in our lives to see the futility of our carnally motivated pursuits and come to a much greater and purer dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:20-21). It's an invitation to resolve unfinished business from the past (Psalm 147:3-5) that we somehow never got around to, face hidden pain, feel it, examine it, dialogue with God about so He can heal it (Isaiah 61:1), and triumph over it by faith through the grace revealed at the Cross (Romans 8:37).

At first, the idea of laboring to enter rest doesn't quite compute for most of us. Rest somehow doesn’t seem compatible with living and laboring among the lost (Matthew 11:28-30). However, when we consider the deep day-to-day struggles most of us go through, we see that without diligent work, devoting ourselves to time alone with God, getting help where we need it, and dealing with the past; we will never come to the point of entry. We may make external readjustments, change jobs, replace one strategy for another, change life-styles or other external things … but unless we uncover and deal with root issues (Hebrews 12:14-15) we will not enter the rest.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:8-10

Listening Prayer Exercise

     The satisfaction of our spiritual thirst is an extremely powerful and driving force behind most of what we do.
  • When we say that people thirst for security, we mean that we yearn to be loved and accepted completely for who we are.
  • The yearning for self-worth carries with it the idea that in the core of our being we desire to experience ourselves as valued and having real worth.
  • We also hunger to have our lives count for something that we consider to be important: we thirst for significance. 
Thirst is not at first recognized in most people (John 4:13-15). We may have chosen to deny it, disguise it, satisfy it illegitimately, reduce it, or minimize it in some other way.   

After praying through the Listening to God Guidelines, dedicate 15 to 30 minutes listening to God over the following questions.

1.   What is my deepest longing (security, significance or self-worth)?

2.   What do I usually look to satisfy my yearnings? (i.e. other people, people pleasing, my performance, perfectionism, my work, my spouse, my family, my intimate relationship with God, etc.) ___________________________________________________________________

3.   Lord Jesus, what do you have to say to me about quenching my thirst? ___________________________________________________________________

Monday, September 15, 2014

Growing in the Grace of Loving & Accepting Myself

“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity. People who do not experience self-love have little or no capacity to love others.” Nathaniel Brandon
“Love others in the same way you love yourself.” - Mark 12:31

The idea of accepting myself has been subjected to a broad variety of interpretations, some of which conflict with the concepts of absolute morality and human responsibility. A philosophy of self-acceptance that attempts to tranquilize the guilty conscience at the expense of moral truth is both ineffective and unwise. It will not motivate a person to deal with deep roots that motivate human behavior and discover true inner healing.

Self-acceptance has to do with the idea of bringing behaviors, wounds from the past, personal characteristics, and defective relational styles into the light in order to come to grips with them. We don’t have to like an aspect of our life nor condone it to accept it. However, it's not really possible to come to peace with our past and grow in Christlikeness without fully recognizing our inner reality.

A spiritual base that’s firmly rooted in salvation by faith through grace will make this type of inner honesty a lot easier. Without truth in the innermost being, the possibilities of true self-development or of overcoming deficits in our past are impossible. I cannot change an attitude, emotion or behavior that I refuse to recognize or accept as being true of me.

For most of us, the defective ways we’ve dealt with past hurts and wounds come to a head somewhere between our mid 20’s and 50. More often than not we’ve stuffed and become oblivious to the hurts that deeply imprinted and wounded us via some form of denial or self-protection. Unresolved, they undermine our ability to relate deeply, sincerely and fervently. The added responsibilities, changing roles and relational challenges of adulthood urge us to do whatever is necessary to bring these faulty adaptation patterns to the surface.

It’s important to emphasize that the issue of self-acceptance, imprinting, unhealed wounds and defense mechanisms are problematic for all normal people. These are not merely issues that are reserved for those with deep emotional conflicts or deep psychological problems.

Let’s look at Bill’s story. “Five years ago, when my wife would point out where I was failing as a young father, my typical response was to criticize an area of weakness in her life, or point that I was doing better than many others. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was not accepting myself in this area and hiding behind my defense mechanisms. In the last year, I've got in touch with many negative imprinting events from my childhood. The end result is that I’m more able to see the ways in which I fail my own children as a father. Today, I’m more inclined to accept observations my wife makes about how I’m doing as a father and work at changing.” This is an example of the benefits of growing in self-acceptance.

In many people, a strong idealism as to what ought to be may be our greatest hindrance to growth in self-acceptance and leads to living in denial and being unwilling to explore how past wounds are impacting us in the present.

The acceptance of the true self is the foundational step that can break the strangle hold that previously hidden agendas of adaptation have exercised over us. Just a car can not be repaired until the faulty performance is recognized and damaged parts clearly identified and replaced, so we can not overcome our relational tendencies, phobias and fears until we fully recognize and accept where our performance is defective. Then we can take the time to explore how these patterns came into being and seek God’s help to heal them.

Nathaniel Branden designed an exercise to help a person in the area of self-acceptance that I’ve adapted for this post. His technique consists of rapidly completing phases without allowing too much time to micromanage our answers.

·  Six things about myself that are difficult for me to accept are:
(1). _________________________________.
(2). _________________________________.
(3). _________________________________.
(4). _________________________________.
(5). _________________________________.
(6). _________________________________.

For each of the six areas, complete the following phrases with six to ten endings.
·  The reason I find it difficult to accept ________ is (answer with 3 to 5 endings).
·  If I were to accept ______ completely then (answer with 3 to 5 endings).
·  If the reality is that the truth is the truth whether I accept it or not, then (answer with 3 to 5 endings).
·  I am beginning to realize (answer with 3 to 5 endings).

Where are you in your journey of the grace of loving and accepting yourself and spiritual transformation?

Source: Nathaniel Brandon, Como Meiorar Su Autoestima [How to Raise Your Self-Esteem] (Barcelona: Paidés, 1987, 48.


Click on Picture to View 4 Minute Meditational Video

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Process of Becoming

For those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ, and are in a transformational relationship with Him, we are in the process of becoming who we were created to be. We aren’t who we used to be … even though we fall, stumble, and stray from time-to-time.

In our daily life, we aren’t yet fully who we truly are. Even though God is presenting us faultless before His glory with exceeding joy, we live in a body that is riddled with the life-threatening disease the Word of God calls “sin.” At times we seem to be incapable of doing the things that we should.

Still, day-by-day and moment by moment we’re being transformed (Greek = metamorphoo) by the inner renewing power of the Holy Spirit who resides in our innermost being. We are like a lowly caterpillar that completely metamorphoses into a beautiful butterfly. This supernatural transformation takes place from glory to glory as we behold the radiance of God in His Word. In actuality, it is God, the Holy Spirit, who accomplishes this miracle deep within us.

God undertakes this phenomenon in much the same way that He created all that we see in the genesis of the human raceHe speaks to us through His Living Word day by day and over time, He calls us into being who He truly designed us to be! It’s like Ephesians 3:20 in The Message: 
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Romans 4:17 in the NASB has a curious phase that captures this creative work: God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. Day-by-day as we invest time in His word to be intimate with Him, as we pray, and as we listen, He calls into being facets of our character and passion for Him that were previously absent or missing. He’s calling us to be all and everything that He planned for us to be. In mind-boggling fashion, He predestined this identity before the foundation of the universe. 

As Henri Nouwen wrote from the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are

                   Click here to see yourself 
                     in the English mirror .                                

                    Haga clic aquí para verte 
                     en el espejo en Espanol

How about you? Where are you at in your journey? Are you riddled with doubt about your standing with God like I was for most of my first couple decades in Christ? Do you struggle with self-hatred and feel like God is distant from you? Are you engaging in the spiritually transformational discipline of listening to God on a regular basis? Are you meaningfully engaged in the process of becoming?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kansas Listening & Healing Prayer Seminar

I'm excited to announce we'll be officially "Meeting God in Our Broken Places" on Friday September 12 (1 to 6 pm) and Saturday, September 13 (9 am to 6 pm) in Manhattan, Kansas.This Listening and Inner Healing Prayer Seminar will be held at: 

     Faith Evangelical Free Church
     1921 Barnes Road
     Manhattan, Kansas

The seminar includes worship, teaching, an opportunity to put the teaching into practice, sharing in community, as well as a time for questions and answers. The seminar will be taught by Rusty Rustenbach and Kathy Hatfield. Our time will be divided into four primary areas of focus:
1.    Deepening Intimacy With God Through Listening
One aspect of the seminar will focus on learning to listen to God so that He can speak to us in a personal way.
2.    Identifying Root Obstacles To Inner Renewal
A second aspect of the seminar focuses on identifying the root obstacles to spiritual renewal and outlines a solution.
3.    Experiencing Freeing Truth That Leads To Inner Renewal
This aspect of the seminar will include a time alone with God to personally experience His healing truth, and opportunities to share your life and experiences in community with others.
4.    Introductory Training In Facilitating Healing Prayer With Another Persons
          Learn how to facilitate this ministry with family, friends, and with others.
Registration will be $50 per person. To register or for more information you can email Ken or Diann. All materials, lunch and coffee breaks are included.

Please arrive at the church 15 to 25 minutes early so we can start promptly at 1 pm. 

Hoping to see you there!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Hunger for Father

“It may surprise us to know that the most powerful common denominator influencing men's and women’s lives today is the relationship we had with our fathers… Of the hundreds of men and women I have surveyed, perhaps ninety percent admitted that they still had strings leading back to their fathers, (even though their fathers may have been dead for years), for approval, acceptance, affection, and understanding.”
Ken Druck with James C. Simmons, The Secrets Men Keep
(Italicized words added)

One unrecognized but powerful motivator in the lives of men and women is what the American Psychoanalytic Association has termed the syndrome of “father hunger.” Adult men and women experience a deeply submerged, but nevertheless very real inner yearning for the love and acceptance of their fathers. This unconscious hunger may be even stronger in the lives of men and women who felt rejected by their fathers or by those who were orphaned.

In her book Every Mother’s Son, Judith Arcana wrote: “Men and women long for fathers who are warm, receptive, physically affectionate and comforting, open and honest about their feelings, and approving and accepting about their failures … Most sons and daughters are perpetually disappointed.” (Italicized added)

Oftentimes, it’s very difficult for people to be honest about the hurt they experienced in their family of origin. We frequently hear contradicting statements like, “My dad never paid much attention to me, but he was really a good father. He was just too busy earning a living.”

We excuse the damaging effect of some of the things that our parents unwittingly did to us, or gloss over what they didn’t do. The problem with this tendency is that we inwardly blame ourselves for the treatment we received. Our thinking as a child was something like, “If I were a more interesting, more talented, better looking, more intelligent, more athletic, more ____ (Fill in the blank) then my father would have truly loved me more, spent more time with me and accepted me.”

As we move into the adult years, this thinking becomes deeply buried within us and unconsciously influences many of our actions and motivations. However, the truth is that the defect was in their parenting style and not in us.

A good friend of mine, Alberto, opened up about how his father tended to judge and value him based on his performance. He rarely praised him, told him he loved him or otherwise affirmed him. I was surprised as Alberto said what a good man his father was. It’s amazing that he could lightly excuse his father’s action in this area and call him “a good man.” His father may have had many positive qualities, but as a father he had been a tragic failure. 

Under the surface, Alberto had erroneously judged that he was the person at fault. This way of esteeming himself carried over into his relationship with God and was making it impossible for him to enjoy His presence, sense His joy or otherwise experience the abundant life.

As we talked, Alberto shared how he rarely felt he could do enough for God, and that He seldom felt that He was pleased with him. Unwittingly Alberto had somehow transferred the nature of his relationship with his biological father onto his relationship with God, the perfect father. Studies show that most of us relate to God the Father much in the same way we related to our biological fathers.

(The above post was taken from a thesis I wrote on Mid-Life Crisis in 1993 as part of the requirements for receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling).


After praying through the Listening to God Guidelines, ask God each one of the following questions and write down the impressions that He brings to your mind and heart.

1.    God, what relationship is there between my past or present relationship with my biological father and how I relate to You, as God the Father? (It will be helpful to write out your answer in your own words).

2.    To grow in personal wholeness there are at least three aspects of your relationship with your biological father to explore:

a.     Have I fully forgiven / come to peace with my dad for things he did that he should not have done? Write these areas down on a piece of paper. If you haven't already done so, ask God if He would have you forgive your father today? If the answer is affirmative, please pray and fully forgive him.

b.    Have I forgiven and come to peace for the things he should have done but didn’t do? If not, ask God if He would have you forgive your father in these areas today? If the answer is affirmative, please pray and fully forgive him. (It may be helpful to list these areas).

c.     Have I made a list of the long-term consequences or effects that his actions or neglect have had in my life as an adult?
                                               i.     If you haven’t done this, this would be a good time to do so. Ask God to help you make a list of these long-term effects.

                                              ii.     After making your list, ask God if he would have you forgive these long term effects? Forgive the one’s you are able to forgive right now.

3.    If there are some actions or effects you aren’t ready to forgive as of yet, return to your list each week until you are able to come to a place of full forgiveness.

4.    In relation to things that have come up as you’ve gone though this exercise ask Jesus the following question: Lord, are there any lies that I came to believe about myself, God the Father, or any other area of life?

a.     List any lies He reveals to you.

b.    Ask Him, what truth do you have to communicate with me about the lies I believed. (Write these down as well).

c.     Don’t forget to renounce any lies that are revealed and receive the truth that Jesus brings to you.