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The Center of the Ride

• Greg Boyd

A central aspect of living as a Christian is lining up our life with the revealed Word of God. The battlefield of our living is actually waged in our soul, our mind. God wants us to understand exactly who we are in His eyes, so that our understanding will lead to right living according to the revealed Word of God.

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People in this world are often living in a world of conflict, of what we want to do in the core of our being and what we actually end up doing. It is a conflict of intentions and behavior. God wants us to realize that our core being is filled with the Holy Spirit, and we can find peace by living at this core instead of on the periphery where circumstances reign. This peace will help us in living out Christ-like behavior.

This world is a spiritual battlefield, and there are four distinct dimensions to this battlefield—Spirit, Soul, Body, and World. God speaks to our spirits, which in turn speak to our souls, which leads to our body, and then we act to the world. Satan goes the reverse route—he speaks to the world, then the body, then the soul, and eventually affects our spirit. If we listen to what the world says about us, then Satan is defining our spirit. If we listen to what God tells us, then God is defining our spirit. This is how God and Satan can affect our intentions and actions. When we turn our lives over to God, our Spirit—our core —is restored under the lordship of Christ. Even if our core is restored, it can be difficult to live a life in this world.

Life is like a merry-go-round. Our world spins and turns, sometimes at a playful pace and other times at a quick, violent pace. If you’ve ever ridden on a merry-go-round, then you know that the center of the merry-go-round doesn’t spin as fast as the edge of the merry-go-round. Life can be viewed from two distinct vantage points, similar to the merry-go-round. In one, we feel like we’re flying at a million miles an hour, and the other we feel like we’re at peace.

Part of living a disciplined life in Christ is finding the peaceful center where God dwells and informs our spirit of who we are. This discipline is primarily a mental discipline. Romans 12 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and to not be conformed to the pattern of this world. The problem is not one of simplifying our lives or being less busy (although we should do that as well), but is a problem of letting our circumstances dictate the peace of our spirit. When our lives get out of control, and we feel that we’re flying a million miles an hour at the edge of the merry-go-round, we are letting our spirit be manipulated by the world.

To stop this, we must realize what God is telling us, regardless of the circumstances of this world. The stress, pressure, and demands of life constantly want to throw us to the edge of our limits, but God wants us to know that we are not defined by our world. If the kids are acting up, God wants you to know that you’re not just a parent but a child of God. If your job isn’t going well, God wants you to know that you’re worth far more than your employer will ever know. If your marriage is spinning out of control, God wants you to know that you are loved by Him more than any relationship, whether it is failing or not. You are more than a worker, parent, and spouse. You are a child of God, fully loved, blameless, and destined for Heaven even while God works good into all things in this world.

The question then becomes, will you live in the center of the merry-go-round where you experience these things as true or not? It is all nice and good to speak of God’s love, but when we encounter the spin of this world, do we believe in God’s love and remain at peace? The world won’t stop spinning. Until Jesus comes back, we work, parent, and love our spouse. And the way to experience these things as true is through the mind. This is done by reminding ourselves, when the world spins faster, that we are united in spirit with the Holy Spirit. We have God’s own presence at the center of our lives, and we have God’s peace, love, joy, and power right now! These things do not come once you get your act together, or the world slows down a little, but it happens the moment you give lordship of your life to Christ.

Since you have this peace, joy, love, and power as your spirit right now, remind yourself when the world spins of this truth. Banish the thought that if your world would only change that you would find peace. Instead, know the truth and remember that you are loved beyond measure, valued beyond all the riches, and that God will never abandon you no matter how fast your world is spinning. This is God’s peace in the midst of the storm.

(The song used at the end of the sermon was written by Jon Paddon and is on the music CD from our Animate series.)

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Topics: Disciplines, Identity in Christ, Joy, Peace, Presence of God, Transformation

Sermon Series: Undivided

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide

Focus Scripture:

  • Hebrews 4:12

    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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8 thoughts on “The Center of the Ride

  1. Rick Nelson says:

    I missed the service. I found the video met the need for clarity.

    This whole series “undivided” has been thoughtful exploration into thoughts and experiences, and how I move toward my Lord Jesus.

  2. Lindy Combs says:

    I am leveled by this series. It is so revealing, such a peeling back of all veneer that I bought into over the last 50 years, so painful to come to myself to realize most of me has been … well…not real…fake. I am sick at heart. Greg said he asks the Lord every morning to show him what is real in his heart and what to deal with. I have found very little that is real, only clutter that someone else handed me, from churches, abandonment, childhood abuse: sexual/emotional, family negativity, abusive husbands (yes plural) and a stack of lines to color inside of to fit all the doing, doing, doing into. I caught a glimpse of the hurricane and then God caused all the storm to just vanish and it all fell to the ground out of the whirl in a heap. I don’t know where to start to clean it up…or throw it out…or just deal with cleaning house and organizing records. MY LIFE IS A MESS! A BURN-OUT. Terri said writing the book ruined her life…READING it ruined mine…exactly what it needed though. I think I am off the treadmill. Now I guess I gotta just wait on the Lord for direction in what to do next. This HURTS!

  3. Rick Nelson says:

    Hi Lindy,

    I understand the hurt. What compassion you do get, I add mine.

    I reflected yesterday upon the “Ask Greg” answer. It offered something that led to another idea. For me it led to how I do change, I do have a fluid opportunity in life to go with the changes, consider them, try for one, leave many.

    I do agree with Greg that our character, over time builds upon itself. That I do have certain rigid traits. But, I still have the free will to consider it all. I’m glad this type of blog is available to type out thoughts, and consider others ideas.

    I note that it’s not as populated, like I had thought it would be. I’m an old-timer (in my opinion) with this type of interface. I recall joining news forum discussions back in 1997. That led to one or two more forums over this past decade. I don’t think twice about writing what I think. Perhaps that’s unusual for believers at Woodland Hills? Perhaps, my four years here isn’t enought time to be exposed to blog potential? I realise that blogging isn’t very old for Woodland Hills, nor is this web site.

    I’m grateful for fellow cyber travellers on thoughtful journey of our Christ. I’m grateful for the face to face journey at Woodland Hills.

  4. Lindy Combs says:

    Thank you, Rick. I too thought there would be a larger “crowd” doing this.

    The last sermon of the series was a capping of all the rest, like pulling them all together. I got a feeling that Greg hoped for that result. I ordered the booklet after the first sermon, and am disecting everything daily. I am so very thankful for Greg Boyd. He sees what few are able to teach; he is so fearless in his sermon deliveries and books! And that vision he got of the river and raft?? O man!!!!

    I am truly seeing beyond the hurt and into the eye of the hurricane. I am visiting it daily. Trying to live there. I had a vision of it before Greg even mentioned it. After the first sermon in the booklet, in the “OFFERING” section, the instruction was to write how I view my present life. It was a hurricane with Jesus in the middle, but the hurricane went pooph and all my stuff and objectives fell to the ground, including me. It was scary. Then Jesus invited me to the center.

    At the end of the last sermon, there was that picture of the hurricane on the screen. I was amazed! I recognize that I have lived 60 of my 65 years in denial about personally placing value on my inner personhood. After much childhood abuse, (sexual and abandonment) I had no boundaries or awareness that I mattered to anyone. In later life, I was in a religious cult that taught evil only about the human heart, Jer. 17:9, “desperately wicked…who can know it…”

    I am experiencing a quietness that I have never known, paying attention to the issues of my own life. I realize why I felt like a fake most of the time. I am eager to again do the meditation Terri taught about the table and cloth bag to empty it out at the table with Jesus there. He is doing a bit at a time. The first time I did that there was nothing at all. The second time I was healed of three major events that occurred all in one year at my tender age of 11 – 12. I cried profusely from the release of imbedded pain. It took about FIVE MINUTES. I am so thirsty and hungry for all that this series delivered. It is so revelatory.

    Hope you are saturated with newness from all of it. It is so powerful!

  5. Lindy Combs says:

    Sorry for being redundant…I could have read my first post so that would not happen. Oh well, grace is such a blessing. 😉

  6. Vivian says:

    If we are now the temple, is this centre where our spirit meets with God, similar to the Holy of Holies? Just a thought.

  7. Megan says:

    To fellow posters,
    I appreciate all of your postings here to reflect, share and learn. I left Woodland Hills in the summer when I relocated to Wisconsin. Leaving WHC was the scariest thing I have ever done because I am in love with this church and the way God uses the people he brings into it’s community, physically and via The Bridge. I appreciate the church leader’s willingness to surrender to God and his leading. It is amazing what God can do through us when we stay open to his will and trust him blindly.

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