Separated Life

At a recent Youth Retreat many youth responded for prayer. The first person I went to pray for was one of the young men. I immediately sensed a strong impression that he was called to a “Separated Life”. I sensed that he was called to such high and holy things that God wanted him to avoid all contamination that could spoil his future destiny.

I prayed with him and encouraged him to receive my exhortation as from the Lord that he was to protect his heart and mind from grimy things of this world that would spoil the high destiny on his life.

As I stepped to pray for the next young man in line I had exactly the same impression. He too was to protect his life from contamination and from things that would take from him the glory and wonder of what God had for him.

At that point I realised that this was not only a message for individual lives, but a calling across a generation of young men and women, called by God to live a separated life and distance themselves from the tacky and dishonouring things of this world in the life they would otherwise be drawn into.

Nazarite Vow

Living a ‘separated life’ was so much a part of God’s chosen people in history that Moses made provision for a vow to be taken by a person to live for a time under special restraint, set aside to seek God and worship Him. This was the Nazarite vow.

The Nazarite vow meant that no alcohol was to be consumed and the hair was not to be cut for the duration of the vow. After the time set aside for special devotion was completed the person could cut their hair and drink wine and eat grapes again.

Samson and John

Two famous Nazarites in the Bible are Samson and John the Baptist. Both were set apart for God before they were born. They lived their whole life under the Nazarite vow. Their whole lives were separated for God’s purposes.

When Samson’s parents were visited by an angel and told they would have a son the mother was warned not even to eat grapes, let alone drink wine while she was carrying the baby. Not only was the boy to be separated from wine and grapes, he was even to be protected from them while in his mother’s womb.

John the Baptist’s birth was also announced before he was conceived and he was dedicated for God’s calling from that very moment.

Crumpled Lives

Several years ago I hosted a series of Impartation meetings in which a ministry team prayed for those who waiting on the Lord. The ministry team members sought to hear from God and share a personal word of encouragement or Biblical truth that would be beneficial to those on the prayer line.

One church I visited I had never ministered in before, so all of those who responded were unknown to me. As I stood before a young woman who would have been in her high school years I had a fleeting impression of a beautiful flower meant to bloom for the Prince. The image had a fairy tale quality of a Prince riding his horse through the forest and coming across the beautiful blossom and choosing it for himself.

However in that fleeting moment I also sensed that there was a bear nearby in the forest who was simply stomping around and messing things up. My heart went out to the young lady that the Lord wanted to protect that which was beautiful and precious in her life from the ignorant and selfish bear that would simply crush and mangle her.

I prayed earnestly for her protection.

Many at Risk

What troubled me that night was that as I went on to pray for the mixed crowd of men and women, I found that each time I came to pray for one of the young ladies I had the same sense of their danger. I spoke with my wife about it later, sensing that there was a high level of moral danger for today’s youth. They were in danger of being trampled on and having all that is precious in them crumpled.

The Prince was not going to find their beauty and be delighted with them once they had been trodden under foot by the careless bear.

I became concerned for those Christian youth who consume the world’s messages about who they are and what they are to expect in life. They are being lied to so they can be trampled on and miss out on the blessedness which God has for them.

Separation

There are many reasons to live a ‘separated life’ and one of them is to be protected. Dads and mums don’t have the same sense for protecting their children and youth today as we saw in past generations. Family break-up contributes to that, but so too does the intimidation pushed at parents who want to hold to healthy standards and who believe they have a responsibility to protect and guide their children into adulthood.

There is a calling on today’s youth. God intends to do amazing things in the earth in the coming decades and young Christians today will be at the vanguard of that awesome work. However, those who have become entangled, broken, polluted, distracted and mired by the world will not be in the place of mighty men and women of God when the time comes for them.

Call To Separation

It has never been easier to be entangled and damaged. The internet, mobile phones, social networks, ubiquitous media messages, self-serving people in every place you turn, and the lax social norms of today combine with the evil in man’s hearts to make it tough for those who don’t take care.

Unless you are choosing to live a separated life you will almost certainly be damaged by compromise and much more.

So hear the Word of the Lord to your heart. Come out from among them and be separate. Don’t do it because you think you’re special. Do it because Jesus IS special. God’s call on your life and the destiny He has for you in His kingdom are far more precious than all the trinkets and shallow amusements that will tempt you this way and that.

I don’t promise you any special joy and spiritual experience. It’s not about you and what you get from doing this or that. It’s all about Him. It’s about God being God in your life. It’s about you humbling yourself and submitting to God.

Your part in the years ahead may be hard and unrewarding in human terms. This is no calling to a party or a glory ride. I call you to set yourself apart for the Master’s use as something dedicated to Him. It’s an act of worship. It’s your reasonable service.

And it’s the best thing you can possibly do with your life.

Who Are You?

This is not a silly question. It is probably one of the most important questions you can answer. And it impacts most areas of your life. So, I am here to make you think about, “Who are you?”

Since this is a huge subject I will probably come at it several times and from different angles, prompting you to think about something you have already decided is not important.

Why do I do this to myself? Here I am trying to make you ponder something that you have ignored most of your life, even though it has impacted most decisions you’ve ever made. I must be a masochist or something!

Oh well, here I go anyway.

Pick a Label

What words best describe who you are? Before I prompt you any further, take a moment to list three words that describe who you are…….

Now, I’m waiting…..

Don’t keep reading until you’ve picked three labels that describe who you are. Make a mental note, or scribble them down somewhere, because we will probably refer back to them later.

Now, think of the last person you spoke with. It might have been a family member or work associate, or someone who just spoke with you on the phone. Identify who you are going to label. Write their name down, and then list three labels which describe who they are.

A Thousand Brands

Just as there are thousands of brands around the world, for clothing, food, entertainment, etc, there are thousands of labels that could be put on people and that could be attached to you. So I expect that you, my reader, could have come up with labels I have never thought of.

Allow me, then, to give a few examples, even if they are far from what you came up with. Then make a comment at the end of this post, to let me know what you came up with when you started labelling. I’d love to know what you are coming up with.

Possible Labels

You may have labelled yourself based on your gender: man, woman, boy or girl. You may have labelled yourself based on relationships: wife, son, grandad, auntie, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on age: kid, adult, teen, octogenarian, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on activity: uni student, musician, salesman, housewife, consultant, etc, or career: bookkeeper, teacher, businessman, engineer, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on spiritual status: Christian, atheist, new-ager, agnostic, etc. Or you may have labelled yourself by your personal features: hulk, doll, giant, fatso, red-head, muscle-man, Caucasian, etc.

But we’ve only just scratched the surface. You could be a home-owner or renter, an invalid, pensioner, graduate, champion, Liverpool or Dallas Cowboys supporter, soprano, hero, actor, superstar, and so the list goes on.

The Labels that Count

Of all the labels people come up with some are completely unimportant while other impact their whole life. But because people do not know who they are they can spend their whole life distracted by a label that has no significance at all.

In the much loved Peanuts comics by Charles Shulz, popular from the 1960’s, there were several characters who were preoccupied with their meaningless characteristics. Charlie Brown felt like a loser while five year old Frieda was absorbed by her “naturally curly hair”. Meanwhile Charlie’s dog, Snoopy, became absorbed with imaginations about himself as a hero.

None of the labels that distracted these characters deserved to have a lasting place in their lives. And Shulz was pointing out to his audience that being concerned about irrelevant things is a waste of our time and energies.

Do You Know What is What?

If you do not know what the important labels are and you do not know what labels best describe you then you do not truly know who you are and how you fit in the world. You run the serious risk of missing your destiny, ruining things that belong to you and filling your life with irrelevant things.

In the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis we are introduced to Shasta, a boy serving as a slave. The boy and his master did not know that the lad was a prince and an heir to the throne in another land. The boy could have spent his life as a slave, but that is not how Lewis allowed it to play out.

In the 2008 cartoon movie, Kung Fu Panda, we find a misfit panda who has a vastly different destiny to that imagined for him by his ‘father’. The fat panda could easily have missed his life calling.

In these and a myriad other examples we know of people who wore labels that wrongly described them, or which limited them from their true potential.

Revelation of Destiny

The Bible contains several examples of people who were given a new, divinely endorsed label, which transformed their life.

Gideon was called a “mighty man of valour”, while he was hiding from the enemy.

Peter, James and John were called to be “fishers of men”, while they had only caught fish up to that time.

Moses was called to be a deliverer of Israel, while he was in extended exile from Egypt, doing no more than mind sheep.

Elisha, Jehu and several prophets were called, unexpectedly, from their natural life, to a divine purpose.

What About You?

If God were to speak with you right now, which of the labels you used to describe yourself would He say was the most important? Would He likely have a new and better label for you?

And what about the other person you thought of? What divine label would God have for them? Would He be impressed with the labels you have chosen to describe them?

If God turned up and gave you three completely new labels, wonderful and full of blessing, what would you want them to be? Which labels would you love to have removed from your life?

Who Are You?

Now, I’ve started you thinking, even if only for a moment or two. So, let me ask you again, “Who are you?”

Write a list of five words that describe the Real You.

Write another five words that describe who you are in God’s sight.

Write another five words to describe who you are politically.

Then try another five words that describe who you are in relationship with others.

Then, email those lists to me, so I can see who in the world is reading this to –  chris@chrisfieldblog.com

Oh, and you can put your thoughts as a comment on this post as well.

The Empty Natural Man

Where do you trace yourself back to? Your answer makes a Huge difference in defining who you are and what you are worth. It also defines the potential of your life. So, don’t just take this lightly. Where do You trace yourself back to?

Two Original Sources

People’s beliefs about where they come from fall into two main ideas. Some believe they came as a product of natural processes, such as evolution is believed to be. These people I shall call ‘naturalists’ – not because they study nature, but because they believe they are a product of ‘natural’ processes.

The rest most commonly believe they came from a creator. These people believe they come from Divine Will, rather than natural processes. The Bible reveals God as a creator and man as God’s principal and most cherished special creation.

For the purposes of this discussion I will label those who trace themselves back to nature as Natural Man and those who trace them selves back to divine creation as Divine Man. In both cases the word ‘man’ is meant to incorporate humanity, of both male and female varieties.

Who You Are

The Natural Man, originating from natural sources, is an equal to all other natural phenomena. Natural Man, by definition, has the same value as every other natural thing. A rock came about by natural processes, and so (as they believe) did the natural man. A pig came about by natural processes, and so (as they believe) did natural man. A lion came about by natural processes, and so (as they believe) did natural man. The same could be said for trees, bees and fleas, if you please.

The Divine Man, on the other hand, tracing himself back to God and accepting that he is a special creation at the hand of God, is not on an equal footing to other natural phenomena. Divine Man is in a class above all other natural entities. This superiority is not by virtue of strength or power over all those other things. Divine Man is weaker than many other created beings. Divine Man is vulnerable to many natural forces which frequently take his life. Floods, fire and lightning claim many human lives, and so too do snakes, spiders and wild animals.

Divine Man’s elevated position is not measured in natural terms, but on the basis of the divine will that created him. Divinity gives mankind the privileged position of having been made “in the image of God”, as explained in Genesis 1:26.

Your Worth

If you are a product of nature, with nothing more to commend you than your ability to survive in the natural world, then your value approximates that of a wild animal, a tree or a rock. You have no more right to breath than the donkey braying in the paddock or the dog chasing his tail. You have no more intrinsic value than the mosquito you squatted, the ant you squashed or the orange you squeezed. There is no reason we should seek to preserve your existence above any other creature. Nor should we lament your passing any more than we lament the death of a tree.

If you are, on the other hand, a divine creation, then your value is as high as that creator deems you to be. You have rights and authority over all other creatures, to the degree that your creator assigns it to you. You have worth on the earth from the day of your birth.

Your worth is radically different to others, depending on whether your origins are natural or divine. You will rise in the eyes of the creator divine or go thud in the mud of your natural line.

Your Potential

Where you can go is also dramatically altered if you are natural or divine. Your potential to amount to anything at all is governed by where you came from. If you are a product of natural processes then you have nowhere to go, but back to the dust from which you came. Your highest thoughts, greatest riches, most awesome achievement and your most powerful contribution will all amount to a hill or beans, a pile of rocks and a dead tree stump. They are intrinsically meaningless, except for the transient sense of momentary meaning you can derive during the process of going nowhere.

Those who recognise their divine origins and walk in relationship with their divine creator, have the potential to rise to the heights of God’s divinity. They can go as far as God empowers them to go. They can impact all of humanity and experience divinity. They can exist beyond this natural moment and enjoy new existence opened up by their divine creator. They can overcome natural processes, including death itself, because they are connected to divinity which is outside the finiteness of the natural world.

Natural Man is Empty

Why in the world would anyone want to be a natural man? Why would someone wish to be nothing? Why would anyone celebrate their futility, when they were created for divine destiny?

Natural man comes up empty on every count. There is no prize, no reward and no hope in being a product of natural process. And there is no need to ever restrict oneself into such a poverty-stricken place. God has revealed to us in the Bible that He does exist and is our creator. God has revealed that He is all powerful and that He created mankind to be in intimate relationship with Him. God promises to empower us to live beyond the limitations of natural life, both while alive and beyond the grave.

There is no reason to remain empty.

The Challenge

I challenge you to step aside from the lie of your meaninglessness. You are a created being. You have dignity and destiny which transcends anything ever conceivable within natural limits. You have offer of relationship which is beyond all that human experience can ever conceive. You have the open offer to become an intimate of the very divine entity who is all powerful, all loving, eternal, transcendent above all else and who created you specifically to welcome you into His family for eternity.

Don’t come up empty. Come to the Living Lord God Almighty, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Creator and the God of the Bible. Come and enter into the glories of divinity, for which you were created.

Little One 1

Welcome into my family, precious one. You are a gift from God. God, Himself, chose to trust you into our family and my care. I am so thrilled to have you as part of my life. You are a precious jewel that I have the privilege of keeping, loving and preparing for the throne-room of God.

I love you and I rejoice in the delight of having you in my care. Please make yourself completely at home in my love. Be ready at any time to call on me to help and to bless you.

I commit myself today to be everything God asks me to be in your life. I realise I don’t have the strength, wisdom or character to be the perfect parent such a wonderful child as you deserves. So I humbly ask God to help me. I ask Him to rescue me from my limitations and my selfishness, and all those things that will get in the way of nurturing you to the fullness of God’s plan for you.

I also realise that you will have some hard lessons to learn, as God deals with your weaknesses and directs your strengths. Some times we will have to work through problems created by my failings and your own. Only God can help us through those times. So I commit myself to you today, to be ready and willing to seek and find God’s grace, so that we can successfully triumph over ever obstacle. We will learn every lesson, cross every hurdle, avoid every pitfall and be delivered from every evil. That will happen despite our own failings, because we will find God as our deliverer and saviour, even when we are the ones who have created the problem.

So, I’m looking forward with joy to the amazing journey ahead for us all. It is much more than a journey of friendship and family. It is much more than the navigation of human and social challenges. It is an eternal journey, starting here on earth and continuing forever, in God’s presence. We will not only experience wonderful things, but, together, and as a family, we will all impact others in ways that change them for eternity too. We will be blessed and we will be a blessing. We will be an example and we will be trophies of God’s grace. We will be pipes through which God will pour some of His finest blessings into others.

So, it’s a delight to bring you into that amazing process. It’s a delight to welcome you into the team. We all have so much to explore and discover in the years ahead. And there will be so many wonderful moments, so many smiles, and hugs and celebrations. There will be many tears as well, but those will be part of making us wiser, stronger and deeper than we could have been. So we are not afraid of the tears, but confident that each tear drop will become a splash of joy as God works His wonderful purpose in our lives.

You have just stepped into eternal destiny. You will work as part of our family destiny, and in the process God will allow you to own it and to expand on it in your own unique way. I just can’t wait to see what God is going to do through you as we all build you toward your life calling.

Welcome. Welcome into the wonderful world of God’s grace.

You’re Not Dead Yet

There is still hope for you yet. In fact there is going to be hope for you until the day you die. You may have given up already and others may have written you off, but “you ain’t dead yet!” and so there’s still plenty of hope for you and your situation.

Death was once defined as “the cessation of all radical change”. When I tried to track down that definition I couldn’t find it, but it catches the idea that as long as someone is alive they are able to make significant change to who and what they are.

A sinner can choose to put their faith in Christ even as they slip from life. Until death has made its final blow people are open to change, even quite radical change.

So, if you’re still breathing there is hope for you and the mess you are in.

Sadly we make the assumption we are locked into things and we endure our circumstances as if they are unchangeable. We see ourselves as unchangeable too.

But, as I’ve said already, “You’re not dead yet”!

History is littered with testimony of people who made significant, revolutionary and unexpected change. The power of God changes people. The grace of God changes people. A wake-up shake-up can cause people to take action they have kept avoiding. New insights have empowered people to make changes they previously thought impossible.

So, cheer up. You ain’t dead yet! Today is jam packed with miracle potential. You can change the rest of your life, the future of your descendents and even eternal destinies by what you choose to do today.

Aren’t you glad you’re alive?