Tag Archives: Dan Stone

The Swing


We are more than a body that lives for a while and then dies. We are created souls with a spirit that lives forever. To understand the purpose of our life and how to live it, we must understand how our body, soul, and spirit work together…or against each other. Without this, we experience the same dilemma as Paul:


“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-25, condensed)


Like Paul we can be in two places at the same time: desiring to walk by faith but actually walking by sight. This ‘wretched’ place stems from the dilemma of thinking we can get closer to God by continually striving to be better. It’s like our spiritual goal is the old Avis Car Rental motto: “We try harder.”


Hebrews 4:9-13 tells us there is a solution our dilemma: Rest in God. His Word divides soul, spirit and body, revealing our thoughts and intentions. Nothing is hidden; all is laid bare before God. Those who stray from Him “will never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:11) but “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” (Hebrews 4:11)


Dan Stone’s illustration of ‘The Swing’ helps explain both our dilemma and our solution. If you still have it, take out the illustration of The Line. It’s a horizontal line reaching left to right across the page. Above the line is our eternal life where the believer’s  spirit is united now and forever with God’s Spirit. Below the line in our temporary life on earth, our soul is seated in our body on a swing suspended from the line separating the unseen from the seen. Like Paul, we intend to follow God but our thoughts, feelings, and actions are contrary to this. Our swing constantly moves left to right, from ‘bad’ to ‘good.’


If we don’t understand God’s rest, we try to control the swing by our own power. We try to ‘nail’ the swing to the God’s ‘good’ side by trying harder.  But like Paul, we end up doing what we don’t want, and not doing what we do! We try to live the ‘good’ Christian life in our below the line experiences, but the life flowing-power of God only comes from above the line where our spirit is united with His.  Our spirit, guided by God, speaks to our soul. But our noisy soul also listens to our body which tells it what it sees and feels on the ever-moving swing. We’ll either be frustrated by living by sight (below the line) or empowered by living by faith where we are already one with Christ (above the line). When the starting point our dilemmas is seen from our point of reference, the swing will always present a problem for us to solve, trying to be good when we think and act opposed to it. Choosing to look at life from our union with God, the problems of the swing become a matter for Him to resolve as He works in us. We simply respond to Him – by faith, believing we already are who He says we are, thinking and behaving that way.


Our soul says, “This is how I FEEL.” Like Elijah, our fearful soul experiences the earthquake, wind, and fire around us.  We need to listen to our spirit who communicates God’s still small voice who says, “This is who I AM in you.”


Live in His presence, where your spirit meets His Spirit and speaks peace to your soul and your body. Listen for His still small voice and find His rest and peace.



The gates of life


Dan Stone uses the analogy of passing through various ‘gates’ as we walk the path of a Christian life. First, is the gate of salvation. We don’t even make it that far until we admit that we have a sin problem that we can’t solve. We try to pass through by our own strength, our good deeds, our ‘religious’ behavior, our generosity, or by being a ‘good’ person. But none of this works. We only pass through the gate of salvation by surrendering all that we are and trusting in Jesus.


As we continue our journey through life, we begin to explore the meaning of life. Beyond the forgiveness of our sins (which we might forget is such a very huge deal!), we try to live a ‘good’ Christian life still in our power. We read the bible, we pray, we attend church and give money for good causes. We exhaust ourselves trying to ‘be good.’ And then we come across a second gate where we really experience “God with us.” We pass through this gate, realizing that Jesus really does want to help us through the battles of life. It’s a weight off our shoulders to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. So we continue our journey of trying to live the Christian life…with God.


Now there is a third gate that remains undiscovered by many. It only appears when we realize that we can’t live the Christian life. We pass through this gate when we acknowledge that Jesus doesn’t merely help us live our life, Jesus IS our life. “Christ is in you and HE will live the life.” Instead of viewing life from our perspective, we are able to experience life and its purpose through the viewpoint of Jesus living in us. As we pass through this third gate we realize what the inscription means:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)


Many of us understand why we have to pass through the first gate. We realize there is no other way to escape our sin problem, no forgiveness of sin at all, without the saving grace of Jesus. And as we devote ourselves to knowing our Heavenly Father we eagerly pass through the second gate, inviting God to help us on our journey. But we hesitate at the third gate, if in fact we think about it at all. Because this part of the journey requires total surrender into God’s hands of all we hold dear: our belongings, our career, our family, in fact our very identity. It requires dying to self, letting self be “crucified with Christ”. We think maybe we could just try harder to live the Christian life in our own power. But it’s both futile and exhausting to attempt it.


We don’t walk the Christian life. Jesus-in-us IS the life. Living with Him is not enough. The abundant life is only found by letting HIM live our life – in us. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)


“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6



The line


One of the ‘Aha!’ moments in my life was when I first understood ‘The Line’ illustration outlined in Dan Stone’s book, The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out.”


Draw a horizontal line across the middle of a full sheet of paper, from left to right. Above the line, write the word “ETERNAL.” Below the line write the word “TEMPORAL.” Focus on this image for a moment. You’ve just started to draw a picture of 1 Corinthians 4:18…

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”


There are two realms or realities in life: what we see and what we can’t see. This truth is basic to living the abundant life that Jesus promises. With our eyes we see the things which don’t last. But it takes eyes of faith to ‘see’ eternal things. the Spirit of Christ living in us reveals these so we can fix our eyes on them. Both realities are of God but we are to focus on the eternal realm.


Stone writes, “The distinction between the two realms is vital to us for three reasons:
1. God designed His kingdom to work ‘by faith.’
2. It helps us to understand our true identity ‘in Christ.’
3. God designed us so that we can find our greatest fulfillment only in the unseen eternal realm.


Pascal said we were created with a God-shaped vacuum that only He could fill. This is our true identity and how God sees us NOW as followers of Jesus: Spirit-filled, Whole, and Complete, redeemed already by the finished work of His Son on the cross. This is our Changeless, Timeless, Ultimate Reality. The eternal is the Unseen realm where the great “I AM” lives in us. Write these highlighted words above the line. Because our spirit is already aligned with the Holy Spirit, you could say “I am already there in the eternal realm, with the great “I AM” who lives in me. This is my true identity.”


But below the line is where we live for the moment. It is Time-Based and always Changing. We see the Appearances of things, not as they really are. We see ourselves not as complete but In Process. We perceive truth as physical Matter. We strive after Needs. Write these highlighted words below the line.


The ‘trap’ we face is that we are always trying to become better Christians instead of focusing on who we already are – in Christ. When our spirit is truly surrendered to the Spirit of God, we are fully redeemed and whole. This is hard for us to grasp because we look at ourselves as in process. We’ll never find abundant life by focusing our eyes on the temporary realm. And we can never perceive the eternal realm unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. (2 Corinthians 2:10-14)


Even though we know we are saved by grace, we often live like we can be made whole and sanctified by our works. Paul says it is ‘foolish’ to attempt this.

The “rest” of the gospel is in resting from trying to become who you already are in Christ and what He has already accomplished in you. It’s found in believing you are who Jesus says you are. 


I hope you’ll hold on to your illustration and reflect on what it says about who you already are in Christ and who He is in you. Fix your eyes on what is unseen. Live by faith.



Do you want to be a “better person”?

Have you ever found yourself asking God to make you a better person, to help you to gradually become more and more like him? It seems an honorable thought at first blush, and yes, our life as a believer is a journey of ever-growing and maturing in Christ. But God has already provided more.

When Christ rescued us, when he paid the price for our sins on the cross, he redeemed us fully. He didn’t give us a temporary ‘salvation permit’ that we would have to someday convert to a full license to join his kingdom. He gave us his all so we would see ourselves wholly (and holy) redeemed. There is nothing we can do, no effort or achievement we can accomplish that would make us more precious in his sight than we already are. In his eyes we are already presented without blemish. We are perfectly his. Yes, he sees us in our imperfect state, but he doesn’t regard us as such. If so, Christ’s work on the cross would have been incomplete. But it isn’t; we were wholly transformed into a new creation in his eyes. Paul tells us that whoever is in Christ IS now a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! Our job is to accept that reality and to act as if it is true (because it is). Our job is not to continually strive to become better Christians but to be the children he declares us to already be.

Dan Stone used an illustration in his book, The Rest of the Gospel, that is helpful. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line from left to right across the middle of the page. Under the line write words that describes how you see yourself, your physical being and your often tumultuous soul: failure, never good enough, always sinning…etc. Now above the line, write words that describe how God sees you and your spirit which is already united with his spirit: His precious child, redeemed, fully his, holy. etc. You see, if you have asked Jesus to live in your heart, he gives you his holy spirit to guide and comfort you and to tell you the truth about who you are in his sight. When you ask the spirit to fill your life and lead you, Jesus sees his spirit at work when he looks at you. Believe it and act on what you believe. You are indeed precious in his sight.

Yes, there is also a transformational process of becoming more and more like him and yes, we won’t fully achieve that until we get to heaven. But learn to see by faith who you are “above the line”. as Paul says, reckon it to be true. Continually lean into him and experience him drawing close to you.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8