BEGINNING AT THE BEGINNING! When we (Jack and Nancy) started to earnestly seek a genuine, experiential faith-relationship with God, the Lord gave us two excellent mentors. (Read about them in the history section.) At the onset of our journey, these men frequently reminded us of a simple axiom: God created us to be human BEINGS, not human DOINGS!!! These truths gave rise to a haunting question that Nancy continually asked for two years. Every time we met with our mentor-friends, she would ask … Ok! But how do we DO BEING ?
Now, please know this! Acknowledging THE TRUTH OF this axiom was never a problem. Accommodating it WAS THE PROBLEM ! Nancy's question continued to haunt both us and several of our fellow-travelers for far too long. NOW! More than a decade down the path of spiritual intimacy, we know that her question is the overarching question that everyone asks. The "how to's" are the big unknowns. BUT – a word of encouragement. The Lord deals differently with each of us and indeed, we've had no special "Word from the Lord" as to how He will or will not work in anybody's life. What we can say is this: we have witnessed four essentials that have been present in the lives of every believer that we know who has developed a deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ. These are …
1. Uncompromising Desire
2. A Resolute Heart or re-focus of priorities
3. Willingness to Learn, Unlearn, and Change
4. Desire to find Fellow-travelers who share the same passion for
Realizing that intimacy with God is a matter of the heart, this essential is priority number 1. The scriptures are replete in the connection of two words: seek and heart. These words appear together throughout the Old Testament. As early as Deuteronomy 4:29, we find this promise: " But if from there you SEEK the Lord, your God, you will find him if you look for him with your whole HEART and with your soul."
As the verse implies, only a hungry heart can bring forth a desire sufficient to withstand the contemporary pressures that all of us face daily. Our culture constantly seeks to cause us to compromise our priorities. Our experience dramatically bears this out; yet our effort must be "seeking with our (your) whole heart" as dictated by the Word.. A number of dear friends have had significant, life-changing encounters. Nonetheless, that is not true of everyone whom we have seen start the intimacy journey.
Indeed! Many good folks fall by the wayside and there are seemingly good reasons why they have turned back. Certainly the consuming busyness syndrome mentioned in the passion article is one. Another is the issue of control – an issue that is huge for most of us. Many things can bring our pursuit to an end. BUT …. whatever the particular deterrent, our conclusion is that the root problem is, ALMOST without exception, pride. The ever present, consuming nature of Self and its many different sins of pride repeatedly win out unless our desire comes from a heart that is sharply focused.
A Resolute Heart & Focus
Specifically, it is the resolve to know Jesus Christ at a deeper, experiential level that will give us the desire. He must become our focus. Anything less than this will too easily allow us to become derailed. When our basic spiritual orientation becomes confused, a subtle works orientation quietly creeps in without our being aware that it is happening. Many have told us that until they reached a very low ebb, they were unable to maintain genuine integrity in their pursuits. Several have shared their "bottom of the barrel" stories that preceded their coming to the point where they experienced the joy of a more consistent intimacy.
Our testimony is similar to that of many who have told us their stories … pride is our downfall. Confessing any aspect of pride, particularly spiritual pride, is difficult hurdle for any of us to overcome. Certainly, that is our testimony. Focusing on Jesus is the only way to do this. When the "trying harder" syndrome captures our thinking or when the works motivation begins to take over, we once again find ourselves focusing on sin. This mindset can produce but one thing: an ever increasing sense of failure. It is only the yearning heart – the thirst for a greater reality – that overwhelming desire to know Jesus more intimately that will be sanctified. Obviously, all that we address herein is a mystery far beyond our ability to understand. Yet, somehow, by a wonderful work of Grace, when our hearts are atuned — when we sense the needed resolute focus — we begin to seek Jesus and ONLY JESUS and His Presence.
Willingness to Learn, Unlearn, and Change
For us, the willingness to learn and re-learn has made the difference in our own pilgrimage. We hasten to say that it was "un-learning" things that we once thought were absolute truth that has been the most crucial aspect of our renewed thinking. Finally, we are coming to understand Romans 12:1-2. But it has been only as we have studied AND UNDERSTOOD Romans 12:3, that we truly understood this passage. (Read this verse for yourself, and you will appreciate what we're saying.) Convinced that we had grasped the "how to's" of living the Christian life, for years we continued the struggle of trying, trying, trying …. and then trying harder. But …. the Lord has been faithful and the much needed encouragement of others has made the difference in our understanding. It bears emphasizing!
Our discovery that all we needed to know to grow spiritually was right there in the Word was the illuminating factor! We had simply missed it. With 22 years of indoctrination, some of which was certainly given by God, we still had not understood the true essence of biblical faith. We had more than enough knowledge, but our focus on that knowledge actually deterred our progress. Our head knowledge was so riddled with untruth that it was next to impossible for the Lord to teach us anything new. We can't say strongly enough that this is a very real problem for most of us. It is uncomfortable to accept the fact that we have held fast to teachings that are clearly insufficient and in many cases, simply wrong. Unknowingly filled with spiritual pride, with an abundance of superfluous head knowledge, which I (Jack) tried to deny – we struggled unnecessarily in the early part of our pilgrimage. It was only the willingness of a few fellow-travelers who were there to bear with us and encourage us to continue our pilgrimage that the Lord used to help us turn the corner.
For many years, we used the biblical phrase, "those of like precious faith". If others shared the same basic doctrines and faith practices that we did, they fit the bill! Today, we have quite a different understanding.
"Fellow-travelers" are believers who have embraced the paradigm shift. That shift is what leads us to a lifestyle which, above all else, seeks a genuine experiential love relationship with Jesus. To fellow-travelers, Jesus is more than Savior and Lord. He is becoming the very focus of their lives: He is becoming their most intimate Friend. Indeed, the long-held doctrines of sound theology still form the basis of our thinking, and our daily lives are sustained by the Word of God. But our heart knowledge of what it means to experience the Lord and His Presence is far different from the head knowledge that motivated the early days of our Christian lives and ministry.
Our view of what it means to live – daily seeking a growing intimate faith-relationship with Jesus is now an ever widening and wonderfully pragmatic experience. Our faith-practice has been dramatically altered. For this, we owe so much, to those we call fellow-travelers. When a hungering heart possesses an uncompromising desire and a willingness to learn …. a wonderful road lies ahead. The only helpful ingredient that is lacking is the encouragement and support of other believers.
We have concluded that without the help of fellow-travelers – believers who clearly are on a similar spiritual journey – the possibility of experiencing the life-change we so honestly want is very low. Given the fact that we are usually swimming against the tide of the contemporary Christian culture, we need constant encouragement. This is why we have added this item as the last essential of the basic requirements for anyone starting to pursue a life of spiritual intimacy. WE NEED EACH OTHER!!!
The purpose of Crossroads is to encourage anyone who has a desire to seek a deeper life in Jesus Christ. Our ministry objective is taken from Ephesians 1:17.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, The glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW HIM BETTER. (NIV)
These words of the apostle Paul describe our mission. If you have read this article and sense that the Lord is encouraging you to seek a deeper spiritual life, please know that we would be overjoyed to share in that encouragement . Read the other articles on this web site – especially the one entitled A Major HINDRANCE to Intimacy (click this link) and drop us a note.