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Running to God

Video here, and/or read on:

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8

Simon Peter reflects what I suspect is in all of us—the kind of shame that says, “Lord, go away, and please don’t come back until I figure out some way to clean myself up.”

Running to God, rather than hiding from God, is counter-intuitive and has been ever since Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit.

Yet this counter-intuitive choice is what God longs for and what the church and all humanity desperately need. Running to God with all our inadequacies, sins and imperfections frees us from trying to do what we cannot do, and it frees God to do what only He can do.

Only God can clean us up. Only God can give us a pure heart and a willing spirit. Only God can untangle the mess we find ourselves in.

Do you want to know the difference between success and failure in the Christian life? It boils down to one thing: which direction we run.

Dwight

PS. If you’ve ever tried to change a bad habit, you know how difficult that can be. Starting March 23, 2019, I’ll be sharing with those of you who are Inner Wealth subscribers how sustainable change takes place and how God can give us the power in the real world to make these changes.

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The line in your heart

As I share in the video I just posted, we all have a line in our hearts. On one side of the line, we’ve said yes to Jesus. On the other side, we haven’t yet said yes.

We Christians like to camp out on the yes side of the line. But growth takes place when we go to the line, find the next no, and figure out why it’s there. Why are we saying no to Jesus? Inside that reason is a lie. So we take that lie to Jesus, allow Him to bring His truth to us, and then the lie disappears. The reason no longer makes sense, and we’re able to turn that no into a yes.

This is the essense of spiritual and personal growth, and it’s a beautiful alternative to try hard religion.

Dwight

PS. For those of you who are Inner Wealth Subscribers, starting Saturday, March 23, 2019, we’re going to be discussing how sustainable change takes place, and we’ll go into more detail on changing those no’s to yeses.

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Sump pump story

Video here and/or read on:

One day, back at our previous home, our sump pump went out.

I’m no handyman—not by a long shot. But I made an honest attempt to troubleshoot the problem. When I realized I couldn’t fix it myself, I asked God if He would fix it. But I felt like He was saying, “No, I want you to go out and buy a new sump pump.”

Hmm. At that time I was scrambling to pay my bills—just barely hanging on, and any added expense was not welcome—not welcome at all.

“All right,” I prayed, “but could You get me a sump pump under $100?”

I drove down to the big box hardware store to find a new pump. They were mostly all around $149, but tucked away on the shelf I found one for $99.99.

I got up to the counter and it rang up as $119.99. Yes, $119.99 was the correct price, but they mislabeled it on the shelf so they graciously gave it to me at $99.99.

I bought it, came home, installed it, walked upstairs and checked the mail.

There I found a check—out of the blue—not expecting it at all—for $111.

Isn’t God good?

Dwight

PS. Tomorrow morning I’ll be starting a new video series for you if you’re an Inner Wealth subscriber. God has provided for each of us an amazing identity. Once we truly understand who we really are, everything changes. But here’s the problem: We can understand it in our heads, but not get it deep down, in our hearts, where it counts. How do we fix that? That’s the topic I’ll be tackling tomorrow.

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Oxygen mask principle

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18-19 NIV

Three-minute video here and/or read on:

Those of you who fly frequently can probably recite this from memory: “If we should experience a sudden loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will appear…please secure your own mask before assisting any children who might be with you.”

At our house we call this the “oxygen mask principle.” You have to be able to breathe before you can help someone else breathe.

If we are going to bring Christ’s healing and freedom to our world, we must experience it ourselves. Christ must do a deeper work in us before we can bring a deeper message to our world. Or, as some put it: You must be before you can do.

This is a very different message than “try harder.” Instead, this is the message that says we stop going into denial about our own woundedness, that we too have been damaged, that every layer of our soul needs a Savior. It is not just the part of us that sinned that needs Christ; it is also the part of us that was sinned against that needs Him.

Dwight

PS. One of the biggest parts of our recovery is recovering our own God-given identity. For those of you who are Inner Wealth subscribers, I will be starting a video series on how to do that this Saturday, 3/16/2016.

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Opportune times

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Luke 4:13 NIV

Exactly what is an “opportune time”?

You can watch my 3-minute video here and/or read on:

Well, first of all, forget about the devil fighting fair. It isn’t going to happen. He doesn’t shake hands like a gentleman and wait until you’re ready. He looks for the weakest moment, the time when you’re defenses are down.

My strongest temptations come in the middle of the night when I’m trying to get back to sleep. I’m tired, and the last thing I feel like doing is fight a spiritual battle. But that’s when the battle comes—when I’m weak.

Did Jesus have weak moments?

Let’s look at this occasion. Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights. Now he was ravenously hungry — His body was tearing apart internal organs to find the nutrients to survive. Food was not a luxury for Him in this moment—it was a necessity.

Along comes the devil. “So, you’re hungry, huh?”

(Does the devil care whether Jesus is hungry? Of course not.)

“Try my solution. Turn these stones into bread.”

What’s the temptation? To get Jesus to act independently of the will of God. To separate Him from His Father. To get Him to doubt the loving-kindness of the Father. To get Him to doubt His own identity as the Son of God.

Jesus got hungry, tired, angry just as we do.

If Jesus, in His humanity, had weak moments like we do, then the devil ran into something he did not expect: God’s strength is made perfect in weakness; God doesn’t need our strength to win the battle.

Dwight

PS. For those of you who are subscribed to Inner Wealth, you probably already know how identity lies can create a minefield of “opportune times.” How do we get free from those inner voices that haunt us with messages God never intended for us to receive? This coming Saturday I’m starting a new video series to address how to repair our understanding of who we are.

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Where should our decisions come from?

Sometime back a prominent Christian leader said (and I’m paraphrasing), “We must learn to act from what we know instead of what we feel. When Christians act from what they feel, they get into trouble.”

What do you think?

On the surface, it sounds like good advice. If my feelings are telling me to rob a bank, then I’d better go with what I know: Don’t rob the bank.

But are these really our only choices? As followers of Jesus Christ, don’t we have a third alternative? Can’t we take our tangled up feelings to Jesus, get at why we feel the way we do, and receive from Jesus the transformation that lines our emotions up with His truth?

Anyway, that’s the point of this three minute video I just posted. Enjoy!

Dwight

PS. For you Inner Wealth subscribers, a lot of people talk about our identity in Christ. Discovering who you really are can completely change your life for the better. But, to be honest, for most people it doesn’t. I’ll explain why it doesn’t, and the adjustment that needs to be made so you can experience that total transformation.

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We are all in recovery

We are all in recovery…

This is something we all have in common. We each have our drug of choice—and we each have a reason to escape, something to hide from, our own reasons to pretend we’re okay, inner pain to medicate. Part of our coping strategy might be to pretend that we’re okay while others are not, that they’re needy and we are not.

But nobody travels through this broken world unscathed. We all have hurts, and we all do the perfectly natural thing that everybody does when we hurt: we medicate.

This is a central reality of human existence. And this is why the gospel is good news. Jesus offers far more than forgiveness of sins. He heals our hurts. He loosens the grip of our drug of choice because when He is here doing what He wants to do in our lives, we just don’t need that D.O.C. any more.

This transformation, this inner wealth, is available to anyone. It’s just a matter of learning how it works…

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Unlocking the door

Years ago my friend Steve Freitag shared this illustration with me: Here we are on one side of the door. Jesus is on the other side. And all we need to do is open the door.

What’s preventing us from opening that door?

All these deadbolt locks. The only thing that stands between us and our next life-changing encounter with Jesus is our set of deadbolt locks.

Jesus is not going to knock down the door. We gotta open it. And, to open it, we gotta unlock those locks.

What are those locks? Well, hey, they’re a little different for each person and each encounter with Jesus, but here are a couple big ones:

1. I can’t be honest with God. He’s already disgusted with me. There’s no way I’m going to tell Him what’s really going on. I’m better off hiding. I never would have said this, but secretly, deep down, I believed this for many years. Like Peter said, “Go away from me, Lord; I’m a sinful man.”

2. I can’t be honest with myself. Whatever is going on inside me, whatever I’ve done, whatever has been done to me is too [scary, dirty, shameful, fill-in-the-blank], and I just can’t go there. And, hey, I get that. Sometimes it’s not safe to dig up the nasty stuff in our lives without the right kind of help. But, at the same time, it’s squarely in the middle of our mess that Jesus shows up and everything changes.

Anyway, my prayer is that you find those locks, open them, and let Jesus in.

More on this at DwightClough.com

Dwight

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My search for meaning as a Christian

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
—Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning

In theory, your search for meaning ends when you find Jesus. Meaning is part of the gospel. Come to Jesus and you find meaning.

It didn’t work that way for me.

Back when I came to Jesus, I didn’t even know I was looking for meaning. After all, I was only ten. My search for meaning—that magical something that makes life worth living—started later.

It started here: As I was growing up, my mother told me I was smart.

Smart is good. Stupid is bad. If I could be smart, I would be okay. Combine that with faith, and I thought the path to meaning was to become a smart Christian—a Christian who knew all the answers.

That’s why I went around asking questions. Who are the sons of God in Genesis 6? What’s wrong with hyper-dispensationalism?

Answer: People didn’t know, and people didn’t care.

As I matured, my questions matured: What is the purpose of the church? How do you know if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit?

Answer: Dwight, go away and leave me alone.

Hmm.

Somewhere in there, I got married. When the “happily ever after” part started to wear thin, I realized I had a wife to fix. For me to be okay, my wife needed to be okay. And she wasn’t. So I had to fix her. But even though I was a smart Christian, a churchy Christian, a color-inside-the-lines Christian, I didn’t have the ability to fix my wife.

I had to employ outside help.

That was interesting. But not in the way I expected. The outside help opened my eyes to a new reality. My biggest problem was not lying in the bed next to me. My biggest problem was closer. My biggest problem was myself.

Ouch! (Did this ever happen to you?)

So I looked for a way to fix myself.

And, though I wanted to find it in the church, I didn’t. I wanted to find it in my faith. But I didn’t. So I looked elsewhere.

I saw a picture of Arthur Janov, looked into his eyes, and thought, “Wow, he’s alive. Whatever he has, I want it.” Maybe you remember him. He was the author of The Primal Scream.

Anyway, I tried primal therapy. That was a trip. I almost got excommunicated from my church for doing that. Again and again, I was called up before the tribunal and asked to recant.

I didn’t. Recant.

Sorry.

Throughout this journey, the majority of people around me were busy living their own lives and not paying much attention to mine. But those who did pay attention were, I think, bewildered.

“Dwight, if you would just follow the rules, you would be fine.” I did follow the rules. I was what you would call a super compliant child. I followed the rules so much that I lost my own identity.

“Dwight, when I came to Jesus, I found meaning in life. You’ve already found Jesus. Quit bellyaching.”

Okay.

“Dwight, what you need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues.” (Here I must break my customary silence on this topic.) Guess where I started speaking in tongues? In the middle of a primal therapy session! Life is rich.

“Dwight, when the music starts, just lose yourself in worship. It’s not about you anyway.” Yeah, sorry. Maybe I have a defective worship gene, but these song services mostly don’t activate it for me. Again, sorry. Besides, I don’t want anybody, except maybe God, hearing me sing. Long story behind that.

“Dwight, you’re on mission. You have a world to change.” Yep. I have a love/hate relationship with faith-based activism. Yes, we need it. Yes, we need to engage. I get that. I do that. But how many activists do you know that you actually like—I mean like to be around?

Some feel it’s wrong for people to find meaning or happiness. A visiting pastor spoke of his youth director who didn’t find his work fulfilling. The pastor’s response: “I didn’t give you this job so you could suck fulfillment out of it.”

Love, I guess, gives no thought to its own happiness. Or maybe that’s duty. I’m not really sure.

Speaking of love, “Dwight, you’ll find meaning in the friendships you’ll form in the church.” Yeah. Great people in the church. You may be one of them. But I’ve discovered that people who are good at making friends will make friends at church or anyplace else. Those who aren’t are out of luck. But I digress. And, please, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for my friends. But that’s not where I found meaning.

Anyway, did primal therapy fix me? Yes and no. A little. I’m glad I did it. Not sure I’d recommend it. My therapist died suddenly, unexpectedly, and I was left to sort out that loss alone with God.

Speaking of God, since I was a super compliant child, I tried hard to be a super compliant child of God. “Anything you want me to do, God, you just name it, I’ll do it.” That didn’t work so well. Maybe you can read between the lines and figure out why.

I was headed for heaven. I said the prayer. My sins were forgiven. But I didn’t really know what I would do once I got there. I knew God loved me. I mean He had to. That was part of His job description. But did He like me? Nah. I was never good enough. Never. Forgiven, and then tolerated. So, when I got to heaven, I hoped I might be invisible to God just the way He is invisible to me now. That way, I would stay out of His way. If I could find some little house on the outskirts of heaven and go for a walk every day—that would be good enough for me.

I don’t know when exactly God started meeting with me. Certainly when I got into TPM—we used to call it Theophostic—but I think God was knocking on the door all along and only slowly did I grow the ears to hear it.

He told me all kinds of things—things I don’t have the power to share with you—only because you need to hear them from God Himself. He told me that He likes me, that He likes hanging out with me.

Wow. I just wandered around for two years trying to take that in. God likes me. He wants me around. Wow.

All these hurting places inside—just like the storm on the sea of Galilee—they were crashing against my soul, tearing me up, but Jesus just said, “It’s okay.” Then the water was still, and the wind was gone.

See what I mean? I can’t tell those things to you. Only God can tell those things to you.

I live on the edge. I’m not sensible by anyone’s definition. Someone said I’m one of the biggest risk takers they’ve ever known. I can’t explain my life to anybody, because it just won’t make any sense.

But it makes sense to God. We talk about it. He coaches me. He encourages me. When I get beat up, He patches me up and sends me back into the game.

I search here for words. Peace. I’m okay inside. I love my life. I’m deeply grateful.

How did I find meaning as a Christian? I guess Meaning found me. Meaning knocked on the door. I walked over, hesitant and afraid at first, and opened the door.

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