Thursday, November 3, 2016

Connecting with God

As a Christian counselor in the San Francisco Bay area, I have the pleasure of working with people who survived childhood trauma.  In counseling sessions, we work on inner healing to help heal the part of the soul that was wounded or in more severe cases fractured into multiple identities in consciousness. During these sessions, Jesus Christ is the one who brings healing to the wounded soul. My job as a counselor and spiritual director is to work with these souls and identities connect with Jesus.

From these sessions, I have observed a growing trend where souls are not able to connect with the indwelling Jesus. Why I find this startling is because a lot of these souls are people I worked with at one point or another in evangelistic outreach ministries. This observation was curious to me that these souls could do prophetic ministry and yet not hear God for themselves. How is that these people could hear from God for others, but not connect with God at all on a very subtle level? In charismatic circles, that I frequent, I went through training like most of these people. I could connect with God before I entered into this training, so dialing in on hearing God was not an issue. As I lead outreaches, I started sifting out team members, because I came across the fake it until you make it ministers. A trend with the fake it until you make is that they're very big on sharing with you these over the top spiritual experiences with visions and the angelic, which you could discern were over glorified spiritual fishing stories. Not that I deny these happen, I am skeptical of the authenticity because of the source and the degree of exaggeration.

This realization started leading me full circle back to the counseling sessions. What was going on? Was the charismatic church abandoning the subtle connecting with God for interior spiritual development and seeking experiences instead? I also noticed that a few people I had worked with in Night Strike ministry, where we had witnessed first-hand supernatural healing on the streets with homeless, had backslided spiritually once they were away from the ministry. This was because there was nothing to feed their experience seeking nature. Seeking experiences is a bad foundation for your spirituality. Build your foundation on rock and not sand!

I was seeing another trend where those seeking supernatural experiences were incapable of fighting simple battles in their soul. And seeking out deliverance ministers for battles they should have fought and won easily. It wasn't just the charismatics, I worked with people who were stout disciples of staunch baptists where miracles died with the apostles. These souls had their bible verses ingrained, but were a literal walking punching bag to the enemy. I was dealing with two sides of the fence, the charismatic side that was afraid to admit they couldn't connect with God, and the doctrinal side that believed connecting with the unseen real God was very New Age.

I have witnessed first hand during a session teaching to connect with God where the training got derailed. In the session, we were to still our mind and listen for God. This class was  a simple exercise where a lot of new Christians got to learn how to enter into mental prayer with God. In the middle of the stillness, one of the women leaders starts having orgasms of ecstasy. This false ecstasy completely shut down the equipping session, and I felt bad for the new people trying to learn mental prayer. Their first experience of connecting with God was now misrepresented with a false and grotesque experience of ecstasy by the leader of the training session. --I bolted from the session and never returned. Those newbies in that session who may have truly connected to His peace probably believed that wasn't a real experience.

In counseling, I find myself undoing a lot of the false experiential doctrines now. In these sessions, I have also taken on the role of spiritual direction. One of the common problems I encounter in working with souls to connect with God is that they immediately slip into their spiritually conditioned teachings, where connecting with God is a profound experience with the Holy Spirit, seeing angels, or having a profound spiritual vision. These consistent experiences are not connecting with God. Rather they are a trained environmental response to what an experience should be like. I am not discounting the supernatural, it does happen, and it happens under the grace of God. What I am honing in on is the repitious experinces that people seek and invoke in these experience seeking settings.

It is from these experiences that people by pass the most important experience of all, the soul connecting with the indwelling Jesus. The soul must connect with Jesus for sanctification and the transforming union. The soul must connect with Jesus in spiritual warfare and to tear down strongholds. Connecting with Jesus is very sublime, and not an experience of ecstasy at all. It is very subtle, and these are not urges of the Holy Spirit I am talking about. This is simply connecting. Stilling the mind, and either meditating on scripture, or simply feeling the peace from the presence of the God who lives in you. This is where you develop you certainty with your soul that God will deliver you through tribulation. It is through these connections with Jesus that you find peace in the storm. It is practicing the presence of the unseen real God. Sometimes God is very quite and doesn't say anything to me. It's kind of like when a husband and a wife sit on a park bench at the beach. They may not say a word to each other, but still the event is relationally deep. The two are spending quite time with each other and just relishing in their moment together. That's a lot what connecting with God is like.

What I have observed through counseling is that the church is all over the map on this. And seems like there are a lot fewer who can connect with God than those who can. We have been chasing the experience and ignoring the bridegroom. In counseling, I work with people who have wounded souls and people with mutliple identities (dissociative identity disorder- D.I.D.). Those with D.I.D. who we took the time to develop an interior prayer life with started having deeper sessions in healing - because they knew how to connect with God. This took a lot of work and time in sessions. It wasn't something that happened miraculously. We just took baby steps and met Jesus exactly where the soul was at in these sessions. Above all, there was no expectations on how far along the soul should be in these sessions. It was all under the control of the indwelling Jesus. Bring Jesus' presence into the session also brings His healing.

When I work with people to learn to connect with God, I have them start with psalm 46:10. Meditate on that scripture. Still your mind and just relax. It is quiet, and you are on the road to learning to connect with Jesus. Be sure to tune into what you experience. God connects to each and every one of us in unique ways. Jesus is very gentle and peaceful. It takes time to build a relationship. Just make the time to connect with Him. Over time you will learn to constantly feel His presence, even though you may be having a bad day.  As you build the relationship you will learn to hear his voice and how he talks to you.

The question is, are you capable being in the presence of the unseen real God? Do you know how to get to Him?