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3. All Our Ghosts are Real

All our ghosts are real.


“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

Ghosts are previous events in our lives – things that haunt us.

· Mistakes

· Regrets

All our ghosts are real.


“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

Ghosts are previous events in our lives – things that haunt us.

· Mistakes

· Regrets

· Traumatic events

· Those who failed you, including you

Ghosts: those events in our lives that haunt us and impact the way we think and feel about ourselves so they distort our identity and limit our abilities.

All the feelings we have that make us who we are—

· the joys that encourage us

· the challenges that call us

· the excitements that stir us

· the sense of our gifts that motivate us

· the response to our opportunities that engage us

as well as

· the fears that drive us

· the tensions that stress us

· the insecurity that freezes us

· the lust that shames us

· the voices that define us

· the anger that blinds us

· the memories that mislead us

So it is that All our ghosts are real.

Time out questions:

What are some ghosts that haunt you in your heart?

How do they impact you?

What feelings do they create in you? Any fears? Any anger?

What do you do about these feelings?

Drown in them?

Struggle to swim through them?

Confess them?

Pray your way through them?

Deny them with the hope they will go away? Do they go away? How long do they stay away?

Do you have anyone you can talk about with them? If you don’t, why don’t you?

Do you feel you will be rejected if you talk about them?

How can you find someone to help you gain freedom from these feelings?

I recently heard a son speak eloquently at his father’s memorial service and tell of one time when his father, as a boy, took one whole afternoon rearranging the tools in the barn in an effort to please his father, but there wasn’t one word of praise. This son’s father was one of the most successful people you could ever know, yet he never gained any approval from his own father despite all of his success. He had not done what his father wanted him to do, so everything he did was a waste in his father’s eyes.

I once spoke at a conference where I met a truck driver named John (not his real name, but a real event) who told me all he heard growing up was, “Johnny, can’t you do anything right?” I spoke that week on what it means to have our identity from Christ and at the end of the time, John came to me. He was a big strong man who was the epitome of what you imaging a truck driver might be. He came to me to tell me that he had gained freedom from his painful memories. Than he took my hands into his and squeezed with all his might. I thought my hands would break from the strength of his gratitude—the pain was severe, but the joy and release were great. His grip on my hands reflected the power the ghosts in his life once had over him.

Many men think this way.

“I can never please my father,” and they live their lives trying to please their fathers or they live their lives rebelling, seeking to hurt their fathers, but all they do is hurt themselves. Or they have echoes of condemning statements in their hearts that define and drive them, even torment them until they become prophetic words in their souls.

And there is a very important life principle we need to understand.

Heart Talk Determines Life Walk.

Time out questions:

What does this principle mean to you?

What does your heart say to you?

How does what your heart says to you relate to what God’s word says to you?

Heart-Talk, Self-Talk

We have all heard about self talk and how constructive or destructive it can be.

It’s true that self talk is a powerful reality in all of us. How do heart talk and self talk relate to one another?

They are pretty much the same thing. The world around us recognizes the problem we have with sin and the flesh; they just do not have a biblical solution for it. It makes great sense to change our self-talk so we are no longer destroying our confidence with painful and futile thoughts, and we can do this totally apart from Christ. Unbelievers can redirect their lives so they become more productive and effective human beings, just not more godly and Christ-like. That they cannot do. Some of them may end up being nicer than some of us are because we never confront our heart talk and gain deliverance from the destructive messages of our souls. They bring their self-talk under the discipline of new thoughts that work according to the flesh. We do not change our heart talk that way.

We can only change our heart talk through God’s word and the practice of the spiritual disciplines in the Spirit’s power. That’s where real change comes. We change to become those who love God and neighbor, but we can not deny the reality of the virtuous unbeliever who looks really good to the society around him. Yet that virtuous unbeliever can never enter into a relationship with God apart from the humbling acceptance of God’s grace.

If Satan can become an angel of light, the flesh can become a reflection of that light. It’s just not the true light, but a counterfeit light that can work well in time but never in eternity.

The way we think of ourselves in our hearts determines the way we express ourselves through our lives.

Consider Proverbs 23:7: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (KJV).

Heart and Soul

While the King James Version reads heart in this passage, and this is how Proverbs 23:7 is best known to us, the word is actually “soul.” Soul means breath, and when we speak of our soul, we are speaking of the fact that God breathed the breath of life in Adam and also in us. One way we gain dignity as human beings is through the fact that God breathed in us and made us alive.

The Bible tells us that there are two things God breathed. One is the soul that He breathed into Adam when He gave him life and the other is the Scriptures. II Tim. 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are God-breathed, that is, inspired. Both humans and the Bible are eternal, the only two eternal realities we have in our world. Everything else will pass away, but we and the Scriptures are eternal because God has breathed life into us in a special and unique way. But sin distorts our souls and makes us something other than what God designed us to be. He created us to belong to Him heart and soul and to find all that we need in Him, not in ourselves. Heart talk is actually soul talk, thoughts that arise from the very deepest parts of our being.

If a man thinks selfish, he is selfish, no matter how generous he talks.

If a man thinks fear, he is afraid, no matter how intimidating he may be.

If a man thinks lust, he is lustful, no matter how purely he may talk.

If a man thinks personal ambition, he is personally ambitions, no matter how humble he may talk.

And it goes on.

No matter what a man says with his mouth, what he says in his heart determines what he is in life.

Heart Talk Determines Life Walk!

Our heart talk determines who we are and how we act. Now how can we change our heart talk? The change comes slowly, imperceptibly, unconsciously through the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:1-2). The mind in the New Testament is equal to the heart in the Old Testament. The heart is the Hebrew way of talking about the whole person, and the mind is the Greek way. So when Romans 12:1-2 speaks of the renewing of the mind, this is the New Testament way of talking about renewing the heart.

Time out question: And how do we renew the mind?

By responding to God’s mercies and radically giving ourselves to God and His will.

We do this by filling our hearts and minds with the truths of God’s grace so these truths become our heart talk and God’s grace determines our life walk.

The Mercies of God

The mercies of God are the great motivators of the Christian life. For far too long our ghosts have driven us through guilt or shame or fear or pride or bitterness or many other destructive longings. But God has covered all that through His mercies in Christ. This is what Paul talks about in Romans. He starts with the reality of our sin and then shows us how God can be just and the justifier of those who have sinned and calls for us to respond to God by trusting Him. Then he tells us what our justification means—a new identity as those who have been identified with Christ on the cross. We can no longer live as we used to live—motivated by guilt—because we’re not who we used to be. We’re not guilty any more. Even though we struggle with sin, there is no condemnation for us and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. But how can we be sure we can trust God to keep His word? How can faith be enough when we’re so guilty? Because the faith way has always been God’s way. Paul showed us this when he demonstrated that Abraham was justified by faith. And he also shows us this through God’s faithfulness to faithless Israel and His plan to keep His word even to those who have dishonored His covenants with them.

So now we know God has been merciful to us. He justified us, identified us with Christ, delivered us from the exclusive control of sin in our lives, freed us from condemnation, guaranteed us His love, and He proves all of this through His faithfulness to Israel. We can take God at His word so we can trust God. His mercies are new every morning—great is His faithfulness.

The ghosts are false voices in our hearts that distort our souls and take our true identity from us. Live in light of the mercies of God and you will live in the light of God’s very life. Finally, you will begin to become you.

Time out questions:

What steps are you taking to fill your mind with the reality of God’s mercies?

How do you confront the ghostly voices from your past with God’s truth?

This confrontation is a great battle. Remember that Martin Luther threw an ink well at the devil when he was once fighting a battle with his heart talk.

Now we have a new understanding of reality and this is how we build a true identity.

For so many of us reality is a matter of control and not of trust. This is where we get in trouble. For all of us at times reality is something to be excited about, to move toward

because of what it promises.

And sometimes reality keeps its word, but many times reality

· deceives

· misleads

· lies

· and disappointments.

For many this has been their experience of reality, so reality is something they seek to control because it is something they

· fear

· hide from

· run from

· are ashamed of

· deny

· pretend it isn’t true

· hope against

· are stressed about

· are uncertain about

Reality is a very bad memory they can’t escape from. But none of this is true when Titus 1:1-2 is true in our lives. None of this is true when we are sent slaves—when we are slaves of God sent by Jesus Christ.

Then we realize that while all our ghosts are real,

None Of Our Ghosts Are True!

We live in a new reality—God and Jesus are our new reality.

POINT: Now reality means

· Dignity

· deliverance

· freedom

· love

· peace

· joy

· hope.

Now we realize Reality cannot be controlled because God is Reality. That’s what godliness is all about—taking God for real and living that way.

That’s what the faith of those chosen of God is all about. We are chosen of God.

We are not weak men who must prove ourselves strong—we are chosen of God.

We are not frightened men who must intimidate others into fearing us—we are chosen of God.

We are not lustful men who must over power women to prove our manhood—we are chosen of God.

We are not driven men who must run over others to show we are #1—we are chosen of God.

Chosen of God is what defines our identity.

Now we begin to think of ourselves as men who were created by God,

· who were given the breath of God as our life,

· who were given the image of God as our dignity.

Now we think breath, image, chosen when we think of ourselves.

Time out questions:

What does it mean to you that you are the chosen of God? Spend 15 minutes thinking about this.

Why were you chosen? Only because God chose to choose you.

What could be more humbling than to be chosen of God?

Now our heart talk determines a new life walk—as men of dignity and self-respect and humility and dependence and freedom and value. Now we have nothing to prove and every confidence in God’s good hand upon our lives. This is the truth that results in godliness—in taking God seriously and living in the reality of His presence, His purpose, His power.

But we can only gain this through trust because we can only enter into true reality if we trust God to take us there. All our ghosts are real, but none of our ghosts are true because God and His grace is the Ultimate Reality we have all longed for and only occasionally realize.

Time out question: Why is our realization of this so rare?

Because we do not live according to the faith of the chosen. We live according to the control of the unbelieving. I know I speak often of control, perhaps too often, but control is the core issue of Reality. Who’s in control determines the reality of our lives. When we’re in control we live in the false reality of our ghosts—they determine our identity and become the drivers of our lives.

“I can’t please my father, but I’ll spend the rest of my life angrily striving to do so.”

“I can’t do anything right and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to prove my parents were wrong and proving over and over again that they were right.”

This is the reality we know—the reality of the rejected, not the reality of the chosen.

We do not enter into the trust that our New Reality demands and so we live in the futility of the old reality.

Time out question: What changes does this call for in your life.

Answer: This means I’m alive for a purpose.

No matter what anyone may say abut me or has said about me or what doubts I have in my mind, I am alive for a purpose. I start with where I am today and assume that what I am doing now is God’s purpose for me unless it is illegal, unethical, or immoral, and I pursue that purpose for all I am worth and with all that I have no matter how I feel unless and until God tells me otherwise in whatever way He communicates this. And I pursue what I have to do today whether I succeed or fail. I strive to succeed and I seek not to fail, but I must remember that the most important thing we do in life is grow!

Now I know what it means to be sent by the humiliated, crucified, and glorified One. It means a total re-evaluation of how I measure others because I know I’m not as superior as I thought I was when I follow the Humiliated One into His humility. It means a total transformation of what I value in life—death to sin is more important than life in sin to me now as I follow the Crucified One into His death. It means a total exaltation of the New Reality as I follow the Glorified One into His glory and give glory to Him—and no longer seek glory for myself.


Fill your heart with the realities of God’s grace and respond to them by faith in light of the truth that leads to godliness.

This is what your life is all about.

Change your heart talk so you can change your life walk.


Heart Talk Determines Life Walk!

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