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ABOUT Dying to live the Abundant Life.
Have you ever wished you could die? Of course, you didn’t really want to kill yourself. You just didn’t want to be here anymore! When life gets painful, who has not wished they could just go somewhere and leave it all behind? In one of his Psalms, David expressed it like this: “O, that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”
Even the great apostle Paul, when imprisoned in Rome, said it would be better to die so he could be with the Lord. And when listing the many trials he had to endure through his life, Paul said he had “despaired of life.”
This “death wish” is a natural human response to seemingly endless trials. As a counselor for 25 years, I have met many persons who felt this way, even some who were suicidal. But as I counseled suicidal people, I learned this:
There is a right way and a wrong way to die!
When people say they want to die, they mean that they want to escape their painful circumstances. They are disappointed that life is not turning out as they had expected. And the greater their expectation, the greater their disappointment. Many have turned away in anger toward God! Who of us has not felt this way?
And it is not just the BIG things in life that cause us to feel this way. Daily we deal with these disappointments. We are angry because the paper was late this morning; the toilet stopped up again; the car needed to go in the shop for the third time this month. And we say, “I would rather die than live like this.” Wait a minute, you say! What’s wrong with wanting these things? My friend, that is the wrong question! The question is not whether it is wrong to want these things. The real question is: what will you do when you don’t get them? What will you do with your disappointment? And your anger?
The irony is that these hard times are meant to show you that there is something you need to die to, or said differently, to let go of. As children of God, we must learn there is a right way to “die” (let go) and a wrong way to “die” (let go).
This is the point of this webiste.
The real death blow is to give up, or die to, stop insisting on your own way, that is, your expectations of how things should be. This is what it means to die to self. Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat…dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears MUCH fruit. Jesus meant that you cannot be alive to this abundant life He offers unless you are willing to die to your own. When you give up your right to be in charge of your own life, that is, be your own god, you allow God to be God. And the life that He will give you is marked by contentment and peace instead of anger and depression.
Jesus suffered and died and then rose up to be seated at the right hand of His father where He lives a glorious eternal life. He extends that life to us right now – in time. It is called Abundant Life. Jesus invited you to have it, but you have to die to experience it. He calls you to deny yourself, to pick up your cross and follow Him. Picking up your cross means you are taking your place with Jesus, to die to your own will.
Jesus said “I can do nothing on my own…” Why should it be any different for you and me?
Dietrich Bonheoffer says “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” There can be no full receiving of this “new” life while we are unwilling to let go of the “old.”
Are you hungry for more of God? Are you eager to have the abundant life that Jesus offered? Are you dying to live the abundant life?
Jesus said: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Through pertinent articles written by Dr. Greg Burts and some of his favorite authors and teachers, you may read more about this “dying to live abundant life” truth. And this is why Greg has written his book Are You Dying to Live the Abundant Life?.
May God bless your journey to Abundant Living!
Dr. Greg Burts is the Founder and Director of the Center for Biblical Counseling.
Greg says, the Lord called me to the ministry of biblical counseling after my own journey away from God because of confusion and ignorance about my identity in Christ. Upon discovering these truths, he became passionate to advance personal spiritual growth in the church through the ministry of biblical counseling. Although Dr. Burts holds a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from California Coast University, his therapeutic approach is singularly biblical.
You can learn more about Dr. Greg Burts’ ministry of Biblical counseling and training through his website at www.centerforbiblicalcounseling.org.
Dr. Burts is author of two books:
While both of these books present and explain the truths contained on this website, the latter was written specifically to accompany the Dying to Live seminar, taught by him in various locations several times a year.
Dr. Burts’ wife Altha, Founder and Executive Director of Well of Life Ministries, has written a book of her own journey of transformation and healing, called Come Up Higher. She has also written a strategic Bible study called Treasures of Truth, which can be viewed online at www.well-of-life.org, where you can also hear Altha’s testimony and learn more about her ministry.
Jesus came to save us from sin. In other words, He came to save us from self-centredness. Put the word “self-centredness” instead of the word `sin’ in the New Testament and you’ll see what meaning comes up in many passages. “Sin shall not be master over you” becomes “Self-centredness will not be master over you” (Rom. 6:14). That’s God’s desire for His people. And yet if we examine our lives, we’ll find that even in our most sacred desires, there is self-centredness. To ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit can be a self-centred desire, if we want this power in order to be a great preacher, or a great healer etc., That’s as self-centred a desire as wanting to be great in this world. Do you see how sin enters even into the most holy place? That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, first of all, not even that we might be filled with the Spirit, but that God’s name might be hallowed.
Only a truly spiritual man can pray this prayer in sincerity. Anyone can repeat this prayer, of course. Even a parrot can do that. But to really mean it, from the depths of our hearts, will require a total devotion to God, where He is first in our lives, where we are centred in Him, and where we are not seeking His blessing as much as Himself. If He gives us His gifts, well and good; and if He does not give us any gifts that’s all right with us too, because we long for God Himself, and not His gifts.
Why did God teach the Israelites to love Him with all their hearts and to love their neighbour as themselves? Only to deliver them from their self-centredness.
There is an acrostic on the word joy that says, “Put J – Jesus first, O – others next, and Y – yourself last. Then you can have joy.” God is perpetually full of joy. There is no sorrow or anxiety in heaven, because everything is centred in God. The angels are always rejoicing, because they are centred in God.
The reason we lack joy, peace, and so many other spiritual virtues is because we haven’t found our proper centre. We tend to use God for our own ends. Our prayers reveal how self-centred we are.
“Delight yourself in the Lord” the Bible says, “and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psa. 37:4). To delight ourselves in the Lord is to put God at the centre of our lives. And so it is only a God-centred person who can have all the desires of his heart. “No good thing, will God withhold from those who walk uprightly (that is, from those who are walking with their head on top – who have God controlling their lives)” (Psalm 84:11).
“The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much” – and the righteous man is the God-centred man (James 5:16). On the contrary, the fervent prayer of the self-centred man, even if he prays all night is going to avail nothing. It is the type of life we live that gives value to the prayer we pray. That’s why the first three longings of our life should be : “Father, Your Name should be hallowed. Your kingdom should come. Your will should be done.”
We may have many other requests such as, “Heal me of my backache, help me to find a better house to live in, help my son to get a job,” etc. These are all good requests. But if you can say, “Father, even if you don’t grant these requests, my primary desire is that Your Name will be glorified” – then you’re a spiritual man.
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