Key Postings On What Others Have Learned:

I learned that I have been rejecting my new identity in Christ and that I still identify myself as the old, sinful man.  I have a choice just as Cain had a choice, a choice that either leads to life or to death.  Sin may be crouching at the door ready to bounce on me but praise God that Jesus is standing at the door longing for me.  He requires my obedience and through this study I am gaining a better understanding of exactly what that is.

New York, New York

Key Postings On What Others Have Learned:

The Identity Matters Conference

1.  GODSHIP

 

What God taught me....

 

I am a lazy, perfectionist, people pleasing, controlling christian who builds walls to protect herself and punishes others through withdraw and silence and blames others and God for my unhappiness.   Before this study I wondered if my problem stemmed from laziness which I already knew to be a sin but the others I think I thought more of as weaknesses or personality traits that I inherited but now I see what I inherited is nothing more than sin. 

 

It's exciting to me to see Satan has a trend.  The first attempt at Godship was when Satan tried to set up his kingdom above Gods and  when he failed he sought out Adam and Eve and deceived them into doing the same  in the Garden and he continues do to the same with us.  I did not see myself as one trying to set up her own kingdom  but as I learn more about external living I see that is exactly what I have been trying to do.  I am trying to fix my fix and I am trying to be emotionally okay in order to feel better. Godship/external living is "the way that seems right to a man" and Satan does everything he can to deceive us into thinking that this way is right.  

 

I think I have a much better understanding of what is means to "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me."  To deny myself means to use my free will not to set up my own kingdom but to come under His authority to build His kingdom.  To take up my cross means to take up His will and that is what I am to follow.  I am at a loss however how this is accomplished especially when it comes to emotions as I feel ruled by them at times and these are what are keeping me stuck in the wilderness.  Victory and obedience come more when I feel good and I realize that because of my belief or unbelief, this is what makes me feel bad.  Pressing on.

2.  REJECTION

Posting #R1

 

Hello Dr Phinney,

 

This was a great study, one of which I believe requires more of my time and attention.  First I want to thank you for sharing your own struggle with fear.  I found it encouraging to learn about where you were and where you are now.  I am a very fearful person.  I also had to chuckle when you shared that Handbook to Happiness was the first book you read in it's entirety as it was for me as well.  Lastly, I started to read the In's and Outs of Rejection but stopped and no longer have it.  I liked how you were encouraged to read it - by paragraph, prayer and study of the scriptures, so I am thinking of doing the same.

 

When I first started the audio to this lesson I had to pause it in order to weep over a realization I had.  I've been telling myself that God is rejecting me.  As I thought more about it I realized that is a lie, God does not reject us we reject Him.  I then wept because of the other major lie I have been telling myself - I will never change.  I finished listening to the audio then went about my day angry and depressed.  The following morning I proceeded with the workbook and had to laugh when I read Genesis 4 about Cains anger and depression which was a result of his own disobedience.  I learned a great deal from this scripture.    Here Cain offered a sacrifice that for some reason was displeasing and offensive to the Lord whether it be an inappropriate offering, the attitude in which it was offered or both.  God in His great mercy brings the offense to his attention providing him with the opportunity to repent and receive His acceptance and blessing warning him about the sin that is ready to bounce on him, sin that will receive and accept him and finally master him if he does not master it.  The great news is that Christ is also standing at the door ready to forgive and accept our offerings/obedience.  

 

I learned that I have been rejecting my new identity in Christ and that I still identify myself as the old, sinful man.  I have a choice just as Cain had a choice, a choice that either leads to life or to death.  Sin may be crouching at the door ready to bounce on me but praise God that Jesus is standing at the door longing for me.  He requires my obedience and through this study I am gaining a better understanding of exactly what that is.

 

3.  EXTERNAL / INTERNAL

 

I have some new thoughts on lesson three that I wanted to share.  I feel like what I sent to you earlier is more noise.  These thoughts came humbly and simply in the quiet of the morning during my breakfast.

 

As I was getting ready to eat my breakfast this morning - oatmeal with berries and nuts,  I started to pray and thank the Lord for it.   It is my habit to ask the Lord's blessing on my food but I have stopped asking this realizing that if I have food that is a blessing.  I then contemplated what I would usually say afterwards,  "may it fill me and satisfy me" but I couldn't pray that either.  The oatmeal will fill me and satisfy but only for a short time.  I realize this is what external living is about and why so many of us have addictions and idols - we want to satisfy the pain or the desire immediately with something that leaves us empty soon after.  Just like Solomon declared - it's fleeting, a chasing after the wind.   It's temporary, and the more it's fed the hungrier it becomes.  It is the sin crouching at the door that we devour all the while it's devouring us.

 

4.  PROBLEMS

 

As the Lord continues to reveal truth to me it seems at the moment that I have much working against me and that I am quite a mess but I expected as much.  

 

Through this lesson I've discovered that I am an indecisive christian - my yes often means no.  I can see this is yet another form of self protection I have used since my youth.   I also realize I have been doing this while seeking employment the past several months.  I have said "yes I will interview with you, yes I want to work here, yes I am the right person for this position" all the while inside screaming "No" while praying to interview well (acceptance/approval) though not to be hired.  Crazy I know.  I do believe however that there is more going on here then indecisiveness.  If I had to guess I would say identity crisis.  I am having an identity crisis!!!

 

 As I ponder Romans 8:28, my identity crisis, and Christ using these things to move me toward the end of the self life toward a life of Jesus Christ, I have to ask myself if I'm putting up resistance or rejecting that life, again, to protect myself or is it because I just don't believe it; probably both. The crazy thing is that by resisting His life in me I am embracing a miserable life of suffering with the enemy.  Why would I allow that?  I've been totally brain washed!   Praise God for the cleansing of His blood along with the cleansing of His Word.

 

 

5.  MY FLESH

 

As I worked my way through this lesson I came across a question that I have long been dying to have answered, "How can you know what God's will is regarding decisions?" As I pondered and prayed long over the question along with the scripture given I was not satisfied at first that John 6:38 was going to answer it for me so I moved on.  Continuing through the study I felt that everything I was reading was attempting to answer this question for me.  "Christ came not to do His own will but the will of His Father." In other words He was not looking out for His own interests.  He denied Himself and took up the will of His Father.  He was willing to "loose" Himself in order to "gain" or give Life.    As I turned my focus toward "denying" self and what that looked like for me I found that I was being led down the path of my normal flesh tendency, legalism or "high law" by thinking that in order to "do" this I must give up all of my interests.  But something wonderful dawned on me as I read  Philippians 2:4.  The author recognizes or assumes that we all have personal interests, which is probably why he said "not ONLY to look out for our own interests but ALSO the interests of others."  I have personal interests, and like Christ I am at times called to deny those interests at the interest of gaining something far greater, Life for another and glory for my Father.  Before coming to this conclusion I was led back to the graph in lesson one regarding "High Law Low Grace."  Last night when I went to bed I stayed up until the early morning hours wrestling with "High Law Low Grace."  I could not understand how "high grace" could possibly co-exist with "high law."  I was reminded of Romans 15:1-3 where Paul instructs us to bear with the scruples (weakness of the mind, doubt, hesitation, infirmity) of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  I believe this is a good example of "High Law High Grace" bearing with one another's weaknesses (grace)  though not humoring sin (law) (Matthew Henry Commentary) though we may bear a sinful offense.  (Matthew 5:39)

 

At 9:00 am this morning I awoke to the sound of a text message from my sister who I live with, letting me know she was coming home from work for lunch and that she was thinking of quitting her job while also texting me that her husbands father had fallen, broken his hip and was being prepped for surgery.  I bolted out of bed and went into immediate prayer so fast that for the next 30 minutes I felt I would vomit.  Her message sent me into a small panic.  Soon as I started to pray I realized that my prayer was self-centered.  I was praying to protect myself.  My thoughts and prayers were to protect me from the consequence of her leaving her job and the possible friction that it, along with the stress of an injured loved one would bring into the home we share.  Wow!  I was amazed.  And then I realized something even better - this is the exact method I used when praying for my former husband.  I realize that when I'm trying to protect myself from someones disapproval I exercise either "High Grace Low Law" or "Low Grace Low Law" and when I disapprove of your behavior I exercise "High Law Low Grace."  With myself I exercise the same, "High High Law, Low Low Grace."  To top it all off I just ended a call with another sister who is going through an extremely difficult time and who has some very difficult and painful decisions to make. As I listened to her prayerfully and with intent I was really able to hear her and I was able to exercise "high grace and high law."  After the call when I entered the shower, continuing to pray for her I realized that by exercising "High Law High Grace" I, self was removed and Christ entered in.  Christ is "High Law High Grace."  I am amazed!  

 

6.  REPENTANCE

 

Today is a very significant day for me.  Seven years ago this day my mom died of a massive stroke.   Three years later this day my husband of 25 years suddenly ended our marriage.  And now today I find that I have come to a turning point both in the lesson and in my life - will I make the turn and choose life?  I think it no accident that I get to make that choice today.  

 

Through this amazing lesson I have learned that I am always painfully "considering my ways", confessing them before the Lord with much sorrow yet never turning.  Only recently have I stopped asking for His forgiveness because I realize it was bringing about no change in me so then how could I continue to ask?  I have not been able to turn because of what I believe - "I can't do it!" There are many other lies I believe however this is the biggest.

 

After spending most of my time yesterday in the study "considering" my ways while leaving "turning" for today I felt a strange sense of sadness wash over me on my way to bed.  It felt like I was getting ready to lose something that has long been my comfort and companion yet in truth has been my misery.  Today when I awoke I had the wonderful sense that I am going to be able to make the turn and in doing so the new beliefs were just going to fall into place.  So it is with great excitement that I tell you I am making the turn.  "For the faith to move ahead and let go of the past and to see me as You do, I turn to You."  (Music by Selah) 

 

7.  KNOWING WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST

 

Through this study I again realize how much I still identify with the old nature and how deadly it has been and continues to be for me.  I feel immersed in a battle for my very soul and it's ugly.  The more I allow it the worse it becomes.   The only conclusion I can come to is that I have practiced the lie too long and practice the truth far too little.  I tell myself sometimes that I'm tired of the fight but truthfully I think I have barely begun the fight.  You said that lazy people are the hardest to change and I fear you are right.  My laziness will be the death of me.  The word, whether it be the enemies or the Lords is where the victory or defeat lies.  Whose word will I wield?  The one that shaped me before Christ or the one that is Christ.  I am hopeful though.  After a severe beating by engaging the old nature before I finally turned back to Christ in me, I experienced that life and peace but for how long?  I am a warrior who is alone, isolated and weak.  On a lighter note, I discovered where intimacy with Christ is from pondering the action question "why what Christ says about me will affect my soul and body."  When I receive and allow Christ's mind, will and emotions to become my own we are united, living as one where I am open and completely surrendered to Him allowing His very life to flow in and through me.  How I desire that.  

 

8.  RIGHTEOUSNESS 

 

Thank you for Truth.  I am so very hungry for it.  You are absolutely right in that I have joined in Satans efforts of accusing God for what and who Satan is.  I recently became aware of this telling myself that in my believing Satans lies and not believing Truth that I was actually calling God a liar but to read it now in your own words I am absolutely horrified by it.  That I am blaming God for the works of Satan I can not do a moment longer.  I have fallen on my face and confessed my sins before Him and I have re-read and claimed the prayer at the end of lesson 9.  Dr Phinney, I can not live like I have been living one more day.  

 

I look at the continual death in my sisters lives and I am grieved by their choices.  I watch as they too cry out for deliverance from problems that are brought on by their choices. I spoke to one sister about the consequences of sin and she would have none of it.  I get it. We want our sin but also deliverance from the consequences sin brings so that we can keep on sinning and when no deliverance comes we conclude God is not good.  Oh the deception is great and I will not be apart of it any longer.

 

Dr Phinney what I desire more than anything is to grasp these truths, right here, right now and live them with all of my heart.  I have such a hunger for Truth and knowledge of the Holy One along with a great desire to give that Truth away to those who so desperately need it.  Thank you so much for your counsel.  I greatly value it an any additional Truth you might share with me.

 

Again this lesson confirms what I have been learning all along, that I continue to react after the flesh or old identity.  This lesson along with a recent experience has really brought home to me how imperative it is that I stop listening to and practicing the lie (my old belief) and start listening to and practicing The Truth - The Real Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but The Truth, so help me God. The Lord provided many opportunities for me to practice this week. I am so thankful that I was able to study "Incidents and Reacting."  The biggest and hardest incident, which I unfortunately reacted to, taught me a very valuable lesson.  I reacted  by running away.  I left a planned family visit prematurely in order to protect myself, which deeply offended the main person I was visiting who was also the one that created the frightening, almost criminal incident.  Though I have asked for her forgiveness while truthfully and lovingly explaining the reason for my abrupt departure she is now rejecting me.  Later after much prayer I realize that the moment the incident occurred I should have intervened but did not for fear of her disapproval.   Her approval of me was more important than His.  Something you said earlier now rings loudly true in my ears "why in the world would I care more about what the world says about me than about what Christ Jesus says?"  I am sure had I responded by immediately choosing truth I would have been rejected as well  but the incident would have ceased along with possible harm to third-party property.  So, if I am rejected whether I choose the Truth or whether I don't then I choose to be rejected for choosing the Truth.  To live any other way is death.

 

 

9.  EXTENDING FORGIVENESS

 

I think the conflict I am experiencing right now in my relationship with God is the same conflict that was in my marriage to Roger with the difference being  God does not sin.  After I wrote to you this morning  I started thinking about my ex-husband and my sin role in our relationship that contributed to his leaving.  The conflict that caused separation was my emotional baggage.  He spoke of it when he was laying blame and listing all the reasons he decided to end our marriage.  This is what I will take responsibility for in asking his forgiveness along with anything else the Lord reveals and this is what I need to take responsibility for in my relationship with God.   My suffering is the result of my choice to allow my feelings to rule me while I blame God for abandoning me and not loving me as He promised because He won't take away the suffering brought on by that choice.  Though my husband chose to abandon me because of our sin God will never abandon me nor stop loving me even when I choose sin.  This is a great revelation for me.

 

I find that it's getting harder and harder for me to write as the lessons progress though I'm not exactly sure why.   Maybe because of the shameful truth I am about to reveal. Something has ahold of me.  I'm trying to pretend that it doesn't but I can not.  It may very well be un-forgivenss but I don't know.     This lesson which I thought was going to be relatively easy was not.  As a matter of fact I hated it at first.  Not so much because of un-forgivenss that I am harboring and need to deal with but because the lesson continues to expose my self-protection which I feel entitled to.   Nobody as the right to abuse me!  But perhaps it is about forgiveness.  It pains me to say this but the biggest offender in my life right now is God.  Maybe what I'm trying to pretend doesn't exist is that I don't really feel this way about God - that He is not who He says He is.  As I read the closing prayer confessing my sins, acknowledging my wickedness, asking for forgiveness, knowing that I've been deceived by Satan and therefore have become spiritually blind and deaf, I long to be free and even though earnestly saying the prayer with great hope, I am not free and fear you will soon abandon me.    

 

10.  SEEKING FORGIVENESS

 

I wanted to follow up with new thoughts coming from my RIGHT mind.

 

I think what is really closest to me is Self Pity.  I'm tired of sleeping with Pity.  I have recently read Preston Gillhams books No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower and they are fabulous.  I am reading them a second time but more prayerfully.  I don't know if you've read them but I am the character in the book who lives in the pit.

 

Today in my quiet time I read an email from my dad and was really disheartened.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of death I see in my "Christian" family and myself -  physical, emotional and spiritual death.  There is a lot of disease in my family (emotional, physical, spiritual) and no one believes diet, what they eat, whether food or thought has anything to do with it.  I was discouraged until a girlfriend of mine called to share similar discouragements within the church.  Just like in Prestons book the enemy distracts the church,  with much about programs and growth deceiving us about the real issue - the heart.  My friend is a biblical counselor and hungry to get the Word to those dying in the church but she is finding it's not wanted.  We encouraged each other and after I got off the phone I realized that I have got to stop dancing with Self Pity.  It is a complete waste of time and renders me useless for the Kingdom and I have such a hunger to share the Word with those christians who are starving to death. I totally get what the problem is and yes, it's sin.  We want our sin just not the consequence of it.  Oh, Dr Phinney, I do not wish to live in the pit any longer.  I want to know more especially about the emerging church. I want a Christ Life life and I want to give His life and love away to anyone who is dying for it.  How can I learn more?  I can I be better equipped?  

 

 

11.  REST, ABIDE & WALK 

 

What is closest, biggest to me right now - how I feel.  It makes perfect sense to me that I feel what I believe.  "As he thinks in his heart, so he his."  (Proverbs 23:7)  I feel powerless to change this but know that faith is the key that unlocks the door to my prison.  I recognize that I live through my senses - what I see, how I feel, rather than by faith and  without faith it is not only impossible to please God but it is impossible to enter His rest.  The Word of God must be mixed with faith.  I have been mixing in my feelings or rather my faulty beliefs.  The victory that overcomes the world is faith.  (I John 5:4)  The life which I am now to be living in the flesh is by faith.  (Gals 2:20)  Faith is the key that opens the door to resting, abiding and walking.   But my feelings are connected to a belief system even though a faulty one.  So how does that change?  My greatest fear and belief is that it won't.  Is it as simple as making up your mind that regardless of how you feel you are going to choose to believe the Word?  But if feelings are connected to beliefs then don't the beliefs need to change?  Making up my faulty mind can't be the answer.  My mind has to be transformed.  Please tell me that is not my job but Christs because then I have hope.

 

12.  LOVE LIFE

 

It is with great hesitation that I write this last essay, which has nothing to do with love or does it? Of all the lessons I do not desire to be honest with it's this one.  I have put off writing it in an effort to re-review the lesson hoping something else would come but nothing has.  I was so upset at first about what I was going to write to you that I was tempted to not write at all, but buy myself an airplane ticket and make myself an appointment to see you instead.  But, alas, this is where I am and perhaps it's not as bad as I think but good because it points me in the right direction.

 

I feel like I got derailed when I visited a friend in San Francisco this last week.  Whether this derailing is good or not remains to be seen but I can tell you this, it has left me confused, frustrated and mad as hell.  We were discussing me going to see my ex-husband Roger and his wife Leslie to seek forgiveness for my role in our failed marriage, which I recognized through this study.  My friend thinks my doing so is a big mistake, so much so that she has begged me not to do it.  She believes I'm operating from a place of legalism, which I am prone to - "doing to be."  During our visit she asked what I desire and I told her "to know God".  She believes I have an agenda of "doing what I'm supposed to", "being a good girl", in order to know God.    She then asked if I can hear His voice and I said "no."  I experience strong conviction and feel strongly moved at times toward things I believe He is moving me toward but I cannot discern His voice, which I am forever in prayer over.  She then said "how can I do the commands of a God I cannot hear?"  "You are a baby doing college work" she said. My argument is that I am to be obedient.  She agrees but obedient through transformation not transformation through good works. (legalism)  This confuses me. She admitted there may be a time when I will go to Roger and Leslie but I have not been transformed yet and therefore I would be doing it out of legalism in that I'm trying to "be good" in order to know God.  Again, confusing to me. "I know God or truth intellectually not personally" I guess and so I'm told.  I think that is why I am so drawn to books like the ones Preston Gillham wrote in No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are portrayed so personally and intimately. Love just oozes forth.  While reading these books I feel that love and find myself longing for this kind of relationship with God  and wonder if the interaction the character experiences really exists and if it does why am I missing it?  "Legalism" my friend claims.  During our continued conversation I was asked what the first thing a baby learns.  I did not know.  She said "to hear or discern the voice of her mommy and daddy."  She suggested I start from  Genesis and read only to hear what Daddy's voice sounds like.  "Don't ask questions, don't try to understand or know, don't think but be a voice seeker."  "Really?!" I thought.  "Go back to the beginning?"  "Become an infant?" How disappointing that this is where I find myself at the conclusion of this study.  This leaves me exactly where I feel like I started with the fear of "I will never change" and my evidence is that I don't hear the voice of the Lord and because I don't  I must be doing something wrong.   After this visit with my friend I feel lost and extremely disappointed. But she's probably right.

 

I do not wish to be done with your amazing counsel Dr Phinney and I look forward, as always, to your reply.