The Deeper Christian Life

Is it possible to know Jesus Christ in a deeper way and abide in God’s presence on a daily basis?

Experiencing and knowing Jesus Christ with a fervent heart and daily passion is often elusive to the Christian.

Deeper Christianity is dedicated to helping the Christian know Jesus Christ in the deepest way possible.

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Do You Want to Hear About My Really Bad Day?

A couple of days ago, my wife and I had dinner with some very dear friends of ours. The husband said to me, “Terry, when I think about your life and all you’ve been through, I see such a pattern of people betraying you and hurting you. But yet, you seem to love and give to so many people. I’m not sure why this is so.”

I’ve thought about my friend’s comments for the last few days. His statements are certainly true. I do care deeply for my brothers and sisters. And, I do give a lot (by all means, praise the Lord, not me).

But yes, if anyone was to examine the overall pattern of Terry Stanley’s last 30 years as a Christian, you would see very close relationships, love, giving and sacrifice – and plenty of betrayal, hurt, false accusations, broken relationships and emotional turmoil.

The word “compassion” is truly an amazing word. It appears 98 times in the Bible, 17 times in the New Testament. The word compassion comes from 2 different root words: “Passion” meaning “to suffer”. The word “com”, meaning “with”. Compassion means to “suffer with”.

Jesus certainly had compassion. He suffered with people. He loved them, He fed them, He healed them, He taught them, He set them free, yet they all betrayed Him and murdered Him.

I am certainly not comparing myself to the Lord. He has love and compassion that I could never have in myself. And, I have never suffered the betrayal He has. But think about it. The more Christ loved, the more He was hurt. The more He laid His life down for others, the more they betrayed Him.

1Pe 2:21 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”

Why have I been betrayed so much in my life by those whom I’ve loved the most? Because I have been called for this purpose. It is what is supposed to happen on earth when God is who He is. Anytime you are Godly, you will suffer. God is rejected by men, He is hated, persecuted and betrayed. Anytime God comes through you, expect to suffer in some manner. But why does it have to be this way? You ask a superb question.

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Why Didn’t God Heal?

Many Christians become disheartened and disappointed in their faith for various reasons. One of these reasons may be when God doesn’t heal, and the Christian believed that He would heal. I have certainly been a personal witness to genuine healings before. I’ve seen the Lord heal a variety of sicknesses and diseases in the church. But I’ve also observed a certain recurring situation that is potentially damaging.

It goes something like this: A certain brother, sister, or child becomes sick. Because there is much care and concern for this particular need in the body, the church responds with fervent prayers asking God to intervene and heal.  Some begin to “believe God” for healing for this certain individual. If the sickness gets worse or intensifies, there is a response of more intense believing for healing. Sometimes the sick person recovers. Sometimes they do not. If the sickness remains or gets worse, then the faith of those who were “believing God for healing” becomes tested or even weakened.  Why did God not heal when we had faith that He would heal? Why did God not heal when we were believing Him that He would?

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The Fallacy of Faith

If you were driving your car and you were about to have a wreck, your natural inclination would be to tighten up and grip the steering wheel. If you were riding in a boat and you all of a sudden hit a big wave, you would tightly clench the seat cushion so you wouldn’t fall out of the boat. If you were riding a roller coaster and you suddenly experienced a steep drop, you would hang on tightly to the bar because your instincts would tell you it is the safe thing to do.

Life’s situations are not much different.  When your situation in life gets tough, when you are afraid or anxious, when you don’t know what to do, and when you feel pain or stress – your tendency is to tense and tighten up. Your first impulse is to make something happen, try to change your situation, or try to compel those around you to change. To walk with God through your trial however, you must learn to do an opposite action.

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Heart Intimacy is Foreign

Negative emotions and pain are not the only reasons people avoid their hearts. Many times, the head is all that is available to live out of because the dynamic of intimacy is a foreign concept. The word intimacy may only have connotations of physical intimacy; however, there is an intimacy of heart that all people long for and desperately need. Heart intimacy is experienced when sharing occurs during a vulnerable exchange. The result is a deep connection. Our greatest need for intimacy is with Jesus Christ. However, women deeply long for heart intimacy with their husbands. Husbands also crave heart intimacy with their wives. In addition, both men and women desire and need heart intimacy with people of their same gender. Being an active participant within a tightly knit community of other believers where transparency, vulnerability, and intimate heart connections are practiced frequently is an extremely critical and vital factor in the health and well-being of all Christians. The results of continual heart intimacy with both a spouse and with others of the same gender dramatically increase the individual’s well-being and contribute to the spiritual growth process both within the family unit and corporately. For an extensive look at church life dynamics, read my first book “The Way Church Was Meant To Be.”

Those who have never had a capacity for heart intimacy created within them can find it extremely difficult to even relate to the idea. They long for it, but it eludes them. This can be the result of lacking a healthy connection with a mother as a young child. It can be the result of a distant father who was emotionally mechanical and shut down within his own heart. Those who had no father at all or who were abandoned in some manner often have little capacity for intimacy and vulnerability in their hearts. There is also the very pervasive occurrence of broken trust and betrayal. This occurs when a person’s heart was open and trusting of a certain person at one time in his life only to discover that the vulnerable trust was broken. Tremendous pain is the result. When trust doesn’t pay off, inner vows are erected that say “I will never” do that again. Many times these inner vows are hidden from sight and are buried deep with the soul. The list is endless of the possibilities of why someone’s heart may be wounded and shut down, leaving only the mind to live from. The capacity for heart intimacy requires a large degree of emotional soundness and emotional health. A person who is a candidate for heart intimacy must know that he himself is desirable and lovable. He must be willing to risk rejection. And, he must have a desire to share the life of another because the other person is viewed as desirable as well.

Without going into too much detail, some form of forgiveness and the releasing of inner vows to never trust again often brings healing of unhealthy heart postures and dynamics in many people. It can, however, be difficult to see exactly where to apply the forgiveness and what the specific inner vows actually are. Christian counseling settings can be helpful, but this method is not preferable because it is an artificial replacement of a functioning group of believers. God’s way of healing and restoration is within the context of deep relationships in the church.

The Lord Jesus Christ is restoring all of us, and we are all in the process of being healed. Again, we are already completely healed within our spirits, and as we walk after the Spirit we are able to live in freedom. However, the unresolved pain buried deep within our hearts and souls can often quench the Spirit in our daily walk with the Lord. This results in a certain degree of “shallowness” even while walking after the Spirit (Mt 13:8). When we are according to the Spirit, God fills the rooms in the house of our heart that have been unlocked and opened to Him. But the rooms within our hearts that remain nailed shut are unavailable for Him to enter and fill. In other words, as we walk after the Spirit, the Spirit will lead us into certain activities, either to think this or that, to feel this or that, or to do this or that. But often we will either refuse to venture into specific places within ourselves, or we will not hear His voice in some regard because it will take us into a place that is hardened, dark, painfully locked away, and has become a forgotten undiscovered territory. Rarely are we ever conscious of this.

As we live more and more of the moments of our day according to the Spirit and in vulnerable community with others, the Lord will address these hardened and painful areas of deception within us. Jesus will gently knock on doors that have been nailed shut or that have never been opened. As we come to the light and are healed and restored in these places, we experience “more room” as we walk after the Spirit than we did prior to the healing. This results in more room in our hearts and more capacity for experience.

Referring again to our water well analogy, when healing takes place, some of the sand in our well has been removed, and more water is able to fill the capacity of the well. We become deepened as we are healed. This results in a more intense and more intimate experience of the Lord within our hearts and souls, the place of experience.

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I Can’t Get My Brain To Stop!

Luk 5:16 “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

Most Christians would probably agree that setting aside time to be with God and to do nothing else is an important event. Time alone with God allows us to connect with Jesus, our source of life and love. It’s a time to re-focus and allow all of the busyness and distractions of life to fade away.

This is a critical activity, as it breaks the cycle of flesh patterns that we tend to walk in during our daily life. As I’ve discussed the activity of having time alone with God with other Christians, I frequently hear a common complaint. “When I try to focus on the Lord, I just can’t get my brain to stop.”

The thoughts you have in your mind and the feelings you experience in your emotions all come from the much deeper place of the heart. A busy mind comes from a busy heart. Trying to stop your mind from being busy without dealing with your heart is a losing battle. It would be like trying to repair a leaking faucet by putting tape around the leak. No matter how much tape you use and no matter how hard you try to stop the water, it’s going to keep coming out. There is a deeper problem.

How do we remedy a busy mind, which is actually a busy heart? Let me explain it like this: When my children were younger, my wife and I used to take them to a pizza restaurant that had an arcade game room. One of the games my kids loved to play was what they called the “pop-up game”. The pop-up game had a large, soft mallet the player would hold in his hands. On the game board in front of them, a little wooden character would “pop up” out of a hidden compartment. The player was supposed to quickly hit the character with the mallet as soon as it popped up. The problem was, as soon as you hit the character, another one would pop up from a different place on the board. The faster you would hit them, the faster they would come out. You simply could not win.

The busy heart and mind are much the same way. Often, the more you try to quiet a busy heart, the more distracted it becomes. The more you try to focus on God, the more you think about anything but God, You can’t win. So what is the solution?

The solution is: Don’t play the game.

While my kids were feverishly trying to beat the impossible pop-up game, I peacefully sat on the bench behind them while I just observed all the chaos.  If you wrestle with the flesh according to the rules of the flesh you will lose every time. The secret is to go to a different place. You must go to a different place, while you simply observe the insanity of the flesh.

Instead of “trying” to get your mind to stop its busyness, simply realize that you are loved. And then enjoy it. Realize that you have been cleansed by the blood of the cross, and then enjoy the fact that you are clean and loved before God. Realize that you already have God’s heart of kindness pouring out toward you, and then enjoy it. Realize that everything has already been finished, there is nothing more that you have to do. It is your faith that makes you right with God and nothing else (Heb. 11:6, Gal. 2:16, 2 Ti. 1:9, Eph. 2:9, Rom. 4:2). When you begin to enjoy the truths of God, you enter into the letting go action in the heart that is synonymous with faith.

If you give yourself to realizing what is already true and what has already been accomplished for you by Christ, and then you learn to relax and enjoy these things – you will suddenly find yourself swimming in the river of life. Stop trying to still your mind. Stop making time with God a project. Stop focusing on how you should be better, how you need to change, and how you need to improve.  Instead, realize the truth of what has already been done for you and bask in it, as though you were sun bathing. Only then will you observe change in your life. You must get off the hamster wheel of “trying” in order to accomplish the desired goals of your hamster wheel. Relaxing and enjoying what has been accomplished is the secret. It is faith.

While you are enjoying what God has done for you and the flesh distracts you with its parade of shallow thoughts, simply realize that is what the flesh is supposed to do. Do not be surprised. Do not be frustrated. Simply return to the truth of what has been accomplished for you and enjoy it. Your fellowship with Jesus will soon become sweet.

-Terry Stanley

Topic taken from the book “From the Head to the Heart”Order a copy here or get a free pdf version at home church

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The Great and Terrible Day

You hear the sound of slowly beating drums. The sound echoes like the thunder of guns in the distance. You are standing in a very large crowd of people. You are packed together shoulder to shoulder with more people than you could ever count. You are surrounded on all sides by a vast ocean of people as far as your eye can see (1). You and the entire crowd inch forward step by step toward a very large platform ahead.   The sky is grey while the wind blows with the smell of acrid smoke.

Up ahead you see large torches of fire on both sides of the platform and you hear what sounds like human screams (2). Why are you here? What does all of this mean? You move forward.

News is trickling through the crowd. You overhear someone say, “People are being thrown into the fire!” Someone else shouts,”Everything we did in our past life is being scrutinized” (3). An older lady shakes her head and says, “There is no escape.” Small pockets of people are clustering together to try to figure a way out of this. Several are gathered around a spiritual leader to ask him questions. “I think it’s too late now”, he explains.

People are crying and sobbing everywhere. Some are kneeling down and desperately praying. Many people are silent, with a hopeless look of empty despair.  The entire atmosphere is nothing less than surmounting terror (4). Again, you move forward toward the enormous platform just ahead.

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