As I look towards the New Year this year I find myself struggling with something that is always nagging me in the back of my mind. I realize that it is again one of those "voices" from the past that I still have yet to shake. It is the voice that taunts me, ridicules me, and whispers that I am no longer building anything significant with my life.
In my old church, every act we did was significant. We were the elite of God's Army. We were the ones who heard his voice and we were the ones that were in the process of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth in this day - no in this hour.
Every act of kindness did not stand on its own. Instead, every act of kindness was a blow against the enemy's kingdom.
If you served anyone or anywhere in the church, you were supporting the advance of God's kingdom.
If you gave money, you were planting seed that would be returned 10 or lately 100 fold.
If you gave a gift to the pastors it was not simply a gift. No, you were laying your gift at the feet of the Apostles.
If you sang on the worship team or even just in your seat it was not just a simple act of adoration. Here, you were breaking through the heavens so that the Kingdom of God could come down.
If you prayed you were doing an important job, you were binding and loosing. You were causing something to take place in the heavenlies.
If you were a good parent or a good spouse you were discipling hundreds by your example.
If you were righteous at work - if you did a good job - you were in the process of taking over that secular job for the Kingdom of God.
If you made money in your secular job you were a part of the transferring of the wealth of the Gentles to the Kingdom.
If you kept your home and yard clean it was a witness to your neighbors and thus you were taking part in the great harvest of souls.
If you drove a nice car you were showing the prosperity of the Lord that was promised to the saints.
EVERYTHING WAS IMPORTANT!!!!
This has been the hardest mindset to shake. In a way, it was so hyped up that it felt like a drug. Coming off the drug has made me feel dull. Dry. Worthless. Of no value.
What does my life matter? Kindness is simply kindness. Giving is simply giving. Prayer is simply conversation and worship is an intimate experience. It is all so un-glorious to the side of me that used to get all her importance from what she did.
I seem to be painting in a pallet of gray as opposed to the brilliant colors that were used in the past.
Part of me, I'm sure the drug addict side of me, longs for the brilliant colors of just a few years ago. Those colors made me feel so important - so vital to the work of God.
And so today as I wrote this out I realize that I want to be somewhere else a year from today. Here is where I want to end up next year:
I want God to take this seemingly gray pallet of colors that I now have in my hand and, with me, paint a beautiful picture. I think if I don't give up - If I continue to be faithful with the brush and colors he has given me - that He will miraculously cause my picture to come to life in the most beautiful colors ever imagined. It will exude His brilliance and all who look upon this picture will understand that a miracle has been wrought. They will understand that the simple strokes of gray have been made into color only by His hand.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
How many of you have grown up in churches where the title of this post is often repeated over everything good that happens to the church or the people in it? We used to give testimonies of “What God had Done.” that week in our lives. Each year we ended the year on a time of giving thanks for all that God had done that year. We often shared our testimony with a non-Christian and filled it full of “what God had done” for us to the point that it made it look stupid to turn down such a God and his invitation to also participate in all the good he wanted to do for them. (I think we imagined that God did not do the same for them, just we who believed like us and especially those that attended our particular group.)
Something happened this month that has had me pondering this phrase. Husband reached the point in his business where the home office opened a new office for him here in our town. Their philosophy is that each financial representative needs to have their own office with their own administrative assistant so that the customers/investors will be personally taken care of. A small town approach to investing.
His office is beautiful. It looks like he has already achieved success. We have a prime location close to down town. If you didn’t know that the bulk of the funding came from the Company, you would assume that he is doing brilliantly at this new career of just 2 years.
But it has been the hardest thing he has ever endeavored. He sweated bullets to pass his Series 7 exams. He worked long hours going door to door and talking to new clients in the dead of winter. He has pushed himself to be a salesman while still trying to remain full of integrity. He has turned down profit for the good of the person sitting across the table. He has struggled with living with quotas and sales deadlines that never run his life before. And yes, he is right where the company feels he should be at this time. They are happy with him. Happy enough that they trust him to open an office downtown. But he has worked extremely hard. None of it has been easy.
See, we were taught that as we begin something there would be “favor” on us. We had tithed and given and were to reap 100 fold. We had been faithful and so God would be faithful to us. Everything good that happened in our lives was attributed to the goodness of God and his favor on our lives. The new office would have been “spun” something like this at our annual year end party:
We give praise to God for his favor on our lives this year. Husband's new office, the beauty of it, it’s prime location and everything. He is so good to us. We have sowed and are now reaping God’s blessing in our lives. Praise Him.
(makes you want to puke - right?)
But instead, this office and all that it stands for smacks of really hard work and really long hours by a man who is tired and often not very satisfied with his life. It has not felt like favor, it has felt like an emotional rollercoaster. It has not felt like reaping - especially since we don’t believe in that crap anymore.
The wild thing about it is that before I would have never had the guts to really say it. I would have only given the ‘spin’ and not the truth of how I really felt. And I think this speaks to the insidious nature of our conversation before we left. Everything was sugar coated. Everything was wrapped in a “God’s favor” colored wrapping paper that covered the truth of what was going on. Nothing was real. Nothing was hard and anyone who really told the truth was not “giving God the glory.”
So what do I believe about God in our year this year? I believe He is good. I believe when Marsh felt he could not go in the office another day that there was strength of a Father who loved him and did not keep him on a goal oriented treadmill - work does - God does not. I believe that the relationship that we have with Him (and each other) this year is stronger and more real. I believe that He has heard our prayers and empathized with our struggles. I believe the favor in our lives is the same favor that is enjoyed by all. It is not measured with success or wealth or circumstance that come to us but with an open invitation to have a relationship with Him. I have no more favor on my life than you do. I have no less than someone else. My relationship with Him is not determined by how giving I am. My relationship with others is. It is to them he asks me to give anyway.
Yes, “Come and Look at what God has Done.”
Then go and see my husband’s office and slap him on the back for all his hard work and perseverance.
And while you are there ask him what he knows of the Father's heart. To that he can speak.
(yes that is a real picture of his office!)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Dr. Barb Orlowski has her website up with all the research that she did on people who leave their churches under duress. Many of you took part in her survey.
It is an excellent resource of different books and articles that were published when she compiled her study. It is long but fascinating to browse through. I found some books that I would love to have on my shelf as well as more Internet sites to explore.
Check it out here at Church Exiters Ministering Restoration: Recovering Spiritual Harmony
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Grace, at Kingdom Grace today, posted a bit about Covering and what people say when you have a string of bad things that happen to you. It was great fun in the comments as we poked fun at the doctrine and I chimed in with my few cents.
But this is a serious matter people. I still am reeling from this doctrine. I think it has been the hardest one to extract myself from.
See the other day I decided to do a piece on the practice we had in my old ‘church’ of making covenants. In leaving our group we were to have “broken covenant’ with all the people there. So I was going to write about what covenants are and aren’t and how this doctrine was used to keep people from questioning and leaving our group. I wanted to remember all that was preached so I went onto our old church website (now under a new name) and found the latest sermon on Covenants.
Sure enough there had been one preached in June of this year. As I listened I grew more and more disheartened. Covenant breakers were the evil that the Church needed to purge. They were the reason the harvest of souls were blocked. Those who broke covenant had marriages that had failed, children doing drugs and rebellion, insanity promised and the onslaught of homosexuality and other sins that attached themselves to you.
I knew what was being preached was garbage but then my weekend unfurled. I battled with a daughter over a decision that was going to hurt her – a decision that would have been harder to make had she surrounded herself with Christian friends. Then on Monday, TWO TRUCKS in my business broke down. One had the axle (or something connected to the wheels) actually fall out of the truck. Then an irate customer who was threatening to sue my company for something she perceived we had done. By the end of the day I was exhausted.
But more than that….I was hearing the voices again. “All this has happened because you are a covenant breaker.” “If you were in the ‘church’ you would be protected.” “God knows what you have been writing and thinking and talking with people about. You have talked ill of the brothers and therefore all these things are being allowed to happen.”
I was so mad at myself. I was ashamed to admit that I still heard these things in my head. I was flabbergasted that this man’s voice could silence the truth that I knew to be true.
So….no big ending here. I am more sane today. Best Friend spoke truth to me, Husband reminded me of times that were even worse – while still in the system, an adopted daughter laughed with me at myself, Grace’s post made me laugh too and another friend made me question what is still in my heart that I don’t really believe about God that shows itself when things like this happen.
I guess I just write to let you know that the journey takes a couple of steps backwards every now and then. I think that I’m not the only one who struggles so don’t despair when you find yourself having to deal with it again.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
For your early Christmas shopping I want to alert you to the wonders in the catalogue of the NAR. (New Apostolic Reformation) Fresh from the latest Letter to his Intercessors, Chuck Pierce has these for your purchase at the bottom of the page.
The text beside the pictures ARE NOT MADE UP!!!
"The Joy of Covenant" Candle & Anointing Oil
With God forming a new covenant we have made this new anointing oil. Filled with the fragrance of roses and lilies, this oil can be used as you pray for restored covenant or form new covenant. Then we also have a beautiful candle for $12 that goes with this oil. Or you can purchase BOTH for $20.
My Note: I was thinking of what scent would represent those of us accused of 'breaking covenant." Any thoughts out there?
And for those of you who actually believe that covenant was nailed down at the cross, maybe the Joy of Covenant candle and roll on oil is not your cup of tea. But wait....we have more:
Harvest Anointing Oil and Candle (Set)
The Harvest Candle and Anointing Oil represent the mindset that God is developing at this time in His people. We must move into a mindset of multiplication and harvest. Anoint your home, business, church, and friends with this anointing. Trim your wick and get ready for a visitation and increase!
I giggled every time I read that we are to anoint your home, business, church and friends with the Harvest oil. I can just imagine the drive by anointings that will happen to friends. Way too funny.
Do you have any oils or candles that you would like to add to the list? Like the roll on Control Oil...You smell it and never question again. Or the Chair O Authority Candle....the scent hits you like a brick. Or the Shunning Oil....you can roll it on or just spit it at people.
Seriously though, "Trim your wick and get ready for a visitation and increase?" You have got to be kidding me. We have actually begun to sell God here folks. Or what is this about "God forming a new covenant." I thought the old one was the last one. What new covenant are they talking about.
PEOPLE!!......Please stop this. You may be able to make a case that you are hearing God, although the "word" in the letter seems to me to be the same rehash of worn out phrases and empty, vague promises. But this. This is witchcraft...pure and simple. With a scent that cannot be pleasing to the Father.
Friday, November 14, 2008
UPDATE: Please Read what Abmo has posted today on this topic. Go to this link: Fear
The fear of God has always been an uncomfortable place for me. I do get that God is so totally amazing and to be feared or reverenced. How can we not when we see the sky above us or the earth at our feet and understand the magnitude of our Creator?
But my background always painted God as a God to be feared for his judgement and wrath.
So it was with Joy that I read this verse in Psalms 130 this week. Joy and puzzlement. What do you think David meant when he said, "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."
btw: The word here for feared is not the word used for simply reverence. It goes beyond that word to mean to frighten, (make) afraid, see, terrible (act, -ness, thing)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
They are written,
They are spoken,
Which are yours, Oh God
How do we tell?
I only know this.
There is a place in you where I don’t need to have words.
There is a place in you where I don’t need to hear words.
There is a place in you where I don't need to speak words.
That place is deep.
That place is quiet.
That place is dark.
That place is safe and full of peace.
I can feel only you.
I may not know much
But in you I hide.
Protect me there.
They are written,
They are spoken.
I long for the day that I hear you.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I keep a "Google ear" to the ground for anything dealing with the New Apostolic Reformation. The other day I ran across the above video by Bruce Wilson. I don't know who he is but from his site I see he was trying to discredit Sarah Palin by her ties to the NAR. That is not my reason for posting it today. I refuse to believe that she was a subversive attack of the NAR to take over the White House. (Honestly, I'm convinced that they would ultimately use a wealthy man instead.) I do think that once she had been named they probably gleefully decided that God was for them.
But I want you to listen to this video. Here is - in a nutshell - what they teach and preach. Even if I disagree with the intent of the video (to discredit Palin) I think it is a brilliant piece to expose what is being taught in these churches. Yes, it useses a large portion of a man's sermon who then layed hands on Sarah and prayed for her, but I have heard these very words and prayers in my own Church Left Behind. Exactly. Word for Word. If it was what I was taught in my group of 70 people in central Pennsylvania, you can be sure it is being taught from the top down.
Mr. Wilson is not pulling out of context anything that I could see. They actually say these things.
I cried while I watched it. Especially when Cindy Jacobs stated that the world will look at the wealth of the Church and be convinced. Oh My God!
To those of the NAR or thinking of belonging:
Watch this video and then BY YOURSELF pick up the Bible and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and tell me if what you have seen in ANY WAY reflects what Jesus taught. Don't just look at individual verses that your leaders are giving you to back up their false claims. Read the whole book......in context.....as the book was meant to be read.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I was in another ‘church’ two weeks ago. It was a United Methodist Church in the center of our little town. I was attending a funeral of a friend’s husband. The pastors were all dressed in their robes and long collars with rope belts. The windows were beautiful stained glass and the organ was gigantic and melodically soothing. As the service started to close the younger pastor stood over the casket and prayed to usher this man’s soul into heaven.
Now normally I would have expected me to cringe at the formality and religious overtones of the service. But on that day, I liked it. It was safe. The scriptural readings and written prayers were solid and comforting as well as theologically deep and sound. None of it bothered me. In fact I found myself relaxing and enjoying the service.
But something significant happened when the pastor stood over the casket and prayed. I felt myself wanting to lean on his spiritual leadership. I found myself drawn to this man. He seemed strong spiritually. Almost as if you had a twisted ankle and you had to lean on someone for support, I suddenly felt like I could lean on this man.
This was the thing that made me stop myself and ask myself what was going on.
I did not know this man. I didn’t know if he was a good person or a selfish one. I knew NOTHING about him and so I stopped and wondered what was it that was in me that felt like I wanted/needed to lean on someone, unknown to me, for spiritual guidance and support.
In chewing on this in the subsequent days I marveled at this need that was evident in me. I did not even know this existed in me and why did it exist at all?
Here is my theory. I think I have often wanted someone to take the place of the Holy Spirit and/or my husband in this spiritual partnership of the journey through life.
The easy answer that we all know from Sunday School is that the Holy Spirit is supposed to be the one we trust and lean on. He is our comforter, guide, and teacher. We all know that.
But I also feel like God gave me my husband as a partner through this life. We lean on each other emotionally and physically but in this area of 'spiritually' I often found that it was easier to trust someone else. Someone who I thought had it more together spiritually.
Why did I look at my husband and want to replace him with a ‘pastor’? Let me tell you what my own heart revealed to me. I wanted to replace him because I KNOW HIM.
Marshall is a wonderful man but early on (like the first month of our marriage) I started to find out that he did not have it all together spiritually. He had strengths, yes, but he had weaknesses too. Yes, he loved people (and that is what initially drew me to him) but he was about as organized as a junk drawer.
For a while I tried to make him into the spiritual leader that I thought he needed to be. I even remember giving him a full page, hand written out, of how I expected him to lead me. He was to keep me accountable to all the spiritual disciplines, pray with me every day, teach me what he was learning in his daily devotions and so on and so on.
Guess what??? He sucked at my list!! So instead of resting in the Father and resting in the strengths of my husband that he DID have, I found it extremely important to find that place in a church structure and specifically in a leader. Now here was a pastor who encouraged me to do all this outward stuff that I thought would change me. Here were leaders who were strong where my husband was weak. I put weight, my spiritual weight, on these men and took it away from my husband. I took away the respect that I should have given him and gave it to another man.
I did not want to rest in him because I KNEW HIM!! These other men were unknown to me. I did not know their weaknesses. I did not live with them so it was easier to trust them. How whacked out was that thinking? In some ways, I almost felt like I had been cheating on Marshall in wanting to put my trust/weight in a pastor that I did not even know!!! Oh my God!
I just wonder if there are women out there who are like me. Do you find that your husband does not ‘measure up’ to your spiritual expectations? Do you miss having a ‘pastor’ carry this weight or journey with you? Would you rather journey spiritually with another man than with your husband?
I’ve had to do some serious repenting to my husband. While none of this was thought out in detail in my mind and I had no idea that this is what I had done, I had still done this my entire life. It even kept us at the ‘church’ we belonged to probably 10 years beyond what we would have stayed. I would not listen to his questioning of our leaders because I did not trust him. (A writer, Darin Hufford, said to me once that he hears so many stories where the husband was the one that had wanted to leave their churches but the wives had balked at it. The wives, thinking that their husbands were wrong, kept the family in bad situations much longer than necessary.)
Here is what is so crazy. I measured Marshall for so many years by a measuring stick that was skewed. On one stick was all the things that I thought made you a good Christian - things like being faithful to daily Bible reading, memorizing, journaling, church attendance and fulfilling all the expectations of the leader of whatever church we were in. On the other stick – (God’s stick, btw) - were things like faithfulness, kindness, loving the unlovely, willingness to help me and others, love for his kids, the ability to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep. If I were to have used the right stick he was head and shoulders above any one I knew. But in so many ways I took what other men were better at and measured him by them.
So there is my revelation for the week. I’m not too proud of this one. I'm breaking my sticks - all of them.
And today I am committed to walk the rest of my life together with my husband. I commit to (appropriately) “lean” on him in all the areas of my life. I want to make him my partner in ALL aspects of our relationship.
And as a note to all those who read my blog who are in full time ministry:
Monday, November 3, 2008
UPDATE: Traveller said this in the comments of this post:
"This reminded me of some words of Henri Nouwen:
"Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our life. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the happiest moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations.
In every success, there is the fear of jealousy.
Behind every smile, there is a tear.
In every friendship, distance.
And in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness. . . .
When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he will have to leave you again.
When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun-coloured ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same."
It seems to me this is the condition of our fallen existence for now. But our hope is for the redemption of creation in which this incompleteness will be gone forever as we live with God in his renewed creation. I look forward to his appearing and that day with great anticipation!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
In reading the words of those who are praying around the bull on Wall Street I read about all the "anointings" that are available. The "Corporate Joseph Aointing," The "Isaac Anointing," and the "Issachar Anointing."
Question for the day: Why are there no Anointings from the New Covenant/Testament? Why are they all Old Testament anointings?
How about a Pauline anointing where you life seems to be nothing but shipwrecks and floggings. Or the John Anointing for those of us who find ourselves on an island with nothing but the Holy Spirit. Or how about the Berean Anointing for those who want to see if something that someone says is really in the Bible?
I think the Charismatic church needs to come up with some anointings from the New Testament. Can you help them out by thinking of a few?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is for all you teachers and preachers out there. Please consider this if you ever speak to a group of 5 or more.
There is a flaw in the thinking of those of us who live in the New Covenant times. (That would be all of you reading this.) The flaw is that we still see God in an Old Covenant relationship with his people – his Church.
In the Old Covenant, (before Jesus came) God related to Israel, for the most part, as a whole – as one nation. They were given the law as a whole, they were told to fast and pray on the same days, they were told to feast and party on the same days and they were all given exactly the same prescription for how they were to conduct themselves. He was the God of Israel. We do see him deal with individual people but even most of the time in dealing with the individual it was for the nation.
Now we spring into the New Covenant times. Jesus comes and starts to deal with people – one on one. How many times in the New Testament do we see him speaking to a single person? He does speak to crowds but sometimes actually makes it confusing for the crowd and then explains it to the smaller groups or individuals. Then he dies and ascends and then we have the Holy Spirit that indwells each individual person.
So now we have the same God as the Old Testament but the playing field is drastically changed. One author likens this to a man who is single, now finding himself married - he is the same man in both instances but now the rules of conduct are vastly changed.
The problem that I see in public speaking, whether it is from a pulpit, a TV screen, a book or a teaching tape is this: The speaker assumes that the message they have to speak is for EVERYONE listening. They view the Church like God treated Israel in the Old Testament.
Here are some of the statements made that I have heard or read recently that show this mindset:
God wants to heal you today. (all of you?)
I relate to my child this way, and you must follow exactly what I do. (but what if they are totally different temperaments?)
God wants you all to be owners of your business instead of working for someone else. (But what if I am not geared to be a business owner – what if I hate to do all the things that that requires – or what if I want to spend time with my family instead?)
If you put out a fleece like Gideon did, you are showing a lack of faith. (Give Gideon a break, he was about to take a very small army against a huge one…wouldn’t you want to make sure you did not mistake what you thought was God for bad pizza the night before? – What about the fact that God understands my level of faith and is not irritated that I ask for confirmation?
You must make a covenant with God over your city. (Really? What if I can barely keep up with my toddlers and new baby right now? Do I have to do that too?)
It is never ok to borrow money. (Never?)
A stay-at-home dad is never right. (and you know this how? What if my family is more important than me working two jobs when my wife can work one and she loves it?)
(Please feel free to add to my list!)
Do you see how the old mindset creeps in? The old mindset says that God intends the same thing for everyone at the same time. How in the world can you stand up in front of 100 people and tell them, in detail, how they are supposed to live, work, treat their children, run their business, or eat? (please don’t misunderstand me – I am not talking of the central truths that say we must show the fruit of the spirit in dealing with people or the central truths of who God is – I’m talking about those who would say that we need to spank a child at every act of willfulness or those who say that you need to only eat the Daniel diet to be truly well or that God ALWAYS does things a certain way)
When you call a fast for your church do you make sure that you address the pregnant moms and the guy going through chemotherapy? When you plan your many meetings do you account for the man who is already working 50 hours a week? And how about the lady in the wheelchair that has had the “God wants to heal you today” spoken over her hundreds of times? Does God want all of us wealthy today? Do each one of us need to step out in radical faith this week? Is everyone called to be at the conference you have planned this week or they will miss God?
Please, I beg of you. When speaking to more people than you can actually know, individually, what is going on in their lives or when speaking to more people in a setting where they cannot ask questions on the spot of how your words impact their lives, please don’t make sweeping proclamations. Please don’t assume that God is saying the same things to all of them at the same time.
He is an individual God. His timing is always right. His words always pierce our heart.
Your words may just be making it much harder for your listeners to live and walk with this amazing, individual God that we have. You may be heaping bundles of bondage on them that they were never meant to carry. Please don’t do this to the people that God has allowed you to speak to.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The new pop song right now that is causing such an uproar is Katy Perry’s song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Erin mentioned it the other day and I did some of my own research. (I have a kid who is a brilliant song writer and musician so I felt an affinity for the parents of Katy - someday if she decides to do anything with her music, they could be interviewing me) Here is a girl who grew up in a Methodist home with two Methodist preachers as parents. Her first album (under Katy Hudson) was a “Christian” album. (Here is a link to the lyrics of the album.) But if you ever watched her videos I Kissed a Girl, or the one out on the charts now, you would have assumed that there was no Christianity in her upbringing. Or at least her parents really messed up in her upbringing. That is what I would have thought a year or so ago.
See, I believed that if you would teach your kids about Jesus, maybe even home school them, serve the church with them together and teach them to abstain from the world that they would grow up to be great Christians when they were older.
I know better now.
The thing that has struck me over the past year is the fact that each of my children need to have their own encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. The other thing that I now realize is that I can’t make this encounter happen. I can’t spoon feed the truth to my children and have it change their hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can do this.
I used to think that it was up to me whether they turned out Christian or Pagan. Now I realize it is up to them. Just by getting them to ‘believe’ the right things or mouth the right words or say the right prayers at a young age does not guarantee that they would ‘follow’ the right path. It is more than that.
Jesus did not stroll past Matthew and say - “Believe in me Matthew,” or, “Say this about me, Matthew.” He said, “Follow me, Matthew.” Believing did not make Matthew a disciple. Following did.
Whether our children are raised in a non-Christian environment or a Christian one is not the deciding factor. What our children DO with the information is. They have to look at Jesus and decide whether or not to follow him. And here’s the kicker! Katy Perry needs to decide this but so also does the good little girl who is still un-pierced, wearing modest clothing, un-drugged and is still singing in the church choir or praise team. Because the good little girl is not off scott free just by following all the expectations that her Christian upbringing is providing for her. She too needs to make a choice. She too needs her own run-in with Jesus. Because without an actual salvation experience, she will just become a Pharisee and never a disciple. We might like this better than the Katy Perry’s out there but frankly I think they just might do greater damage.
As I look at the vast differences in my own 7 kids, as I look at their differing personalities, as I discern their separate strengths and weaknesses, and as I see some of the paths that they have decided to take I realize one thing. I need to pray that somewhere on their own paths - whether the paths that look ‘Christian’ or decidedly ‘un-Christian’ - Jesus will some day step into the way and say, “Follow Me.” I pray when that day comes they will decide to step off their path and follow him into the wilderness of the life He wants them to have.
My job in all of this???? To live life with the Father, the life of discipleship, that will make them want what I have. I’m out to make them jealous of my relationship with Him and show them that it is possible for them too. If I do that…I have accomplished the discipleship of my children that I long to do.
And who knows…I might have a tattooed, pierced, little girl who absolutely is in love with her Heavenly Father. Now that would be really cool.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I feel like I have marbles in my mouth.
It used to be easy to speak "Christianese." But words mean a lot to me and I just can’t seem to spit out sentences using the words that I have always used.
Before, I would say simple sentences such as;
“Today at church I really enjoyed the worship.”
But when you don’t believe that church is that time on Sunday morning when believers come together for teaching, singing and tithing and worship is much bigger than a song you might sing, I find myself in trouble…. verbally that is.
Now I find I have to speak in complex, seemingly befuddling sentences such as,
Sometimes it is really hard as I trip over my words and decide how to say something that used to be so simple.
Best Friend just shakes her head.... And probably mumbles under her breath, "Bless her heart." (She is from the South after all.)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
After attending my first Charismatic service on Sunday since we left our CLB, I am left with so many questions.
The biggest one I walked away with was this: If I were ever somehow put in charge of leading a service, (which I’m sure I won’t be but go with me here for a minute) and the subject of having faith that God would heal you, came up....what would I say?
Yesterday, I heard the classic charismatic theme of God wants to you be healed, saved and delivered today.
I realized that I could never make that promise to a group of people.
So I would have to say something to the effect that: 1) God can heal. 2) I would love for you to be healed. 3) I am willing to ask that you be healed. 4) I know God will hear us.
But if that is all that I could say about healing, wouldn't that take someone’s faith away? We had always had taught to us that we needed to raise the faith level of the people in the room by convincing them that God WOULD heal. That way they would have faith to BE healed.
But even scripturally, I can’t make those promises. Jesus didn’t always heal everyone. Sometimes he just didn’t (did only what he saw the Father doing kind of thing). Other times he couldn’t heal because of the atmosphere of disbelief. Other times it seemed that he had a different time frame in mind - like in Lazarus and the man born blind.
So my question is this: What is faith and what are we to have faith in?
I can no longer preach a faith that God will always heal. Nor will I preach that it is always because of your lack of faith that you are not healed.
I truly believe that there is a faith in our God who can heal but I wonder if the faith is misplaced.
Maybe we have placed our faith in what God does... or can do...and not who he is.
See, if I have faith in a God of love then my faith rests in his love for me - no matter what my circumstances. My faith is wrapped up in His love, ergo in who he is, not what he can do.
It says that people lived in caves and were sawed in two ‘in faith.’ Their faith did not rescue them from our vantage point so it is safe to assume that what is preached as faith today misses the mark.
Faith has to be big enough to encompass both getting what you have asked for, believed in and been promised, and not getting what you have asked for, believed in and were promised.
Therefore, it is my conclusion tonight that faith has to be much bigger than what I heard on Sunday morning. In fact my faith has to be as big as the heart of the Father.
Faith has to be the determination to trust in this Father heart no matter what. Faith has to say to the Enemy of our souls that no matter what, I will have faith in, trust in and rest in the Love of God.
Therein lies my faith tonight.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I went to an institutional ‘church’ service this morning. I’ve felt like I wanted to go all week and kept silent – feeling like the desire would pass. Well it didn’t. Then I found out on Saturday night that a good friend might be there with her new baby (and husband too ;). So this morning I woke up with barely enough time to get there (it was in another town over an hour away) and told Marsh that I wanted to go. After he swallowed his amazement that I actually wanted to go to a service, he kindly got up and within about 20 minutes we were out the door. I asked my daughter, Britt if she wanted to go with us and since we had a chance of seeing our friend she piled into the back.
I had not been in a service since we had left our CLB (church left behind), so this was a big deal for me. I was not sure how I would react. Would I be able to stay? How would the music affect me? Would I cry or get mad? (Britt really did not want to go into the service but knew she could hang out in the coffee shop while we were there.)
As we arrived we met up with the people that I was hoping to see. In fact we got to see many of the people whom we have gotten to know over the years both here and at this church. It was so warm and loving. The hugs and touches were truly healing to me.
As the music began, I let it swirl around me. It felt like I was sitting in a hot tub. It was warm and healing in so many ways. Yes, there were some lyrics that I would have like changed. But really when they came up it was like a leaf fell into the water and with a swish of my hand I could dismiss it and usher it out of the tub. Healing and warm. I liked it.
But here is what this post is all about. See, when we arrived at the building we had been traveling for a bit over an hour and a half. So one of our first stops after all the hugging was to the ladies room. I was sitting in a stall when I heard a voice from the room. Someone was kind of moaning and talking about her asthma medication. As I exited the stall I saw a very large woman standing there holding a knee high nylon sock- minus her shoe. As Britt and I both looked at her she began telling us that her medication had not kicked in enough for her to bend over and put her socks on. She was a bit mentally unstable and not a very "put together" person. Someone to avoid.
As she talked, I (to my shame) paused a second to determine what I would do. But my daughter responded immediately. She got on her knees and began to put the nylon sock over the woman’s swollen foot while talking kindly to her.
Now you need to understand something about Britt. She hates germs. She would NEVER kneel on a public restroom’s floor. On top of that she has this thing about feet. She just doesn’t ever touch anyone’s feet. I can barely get her to massage mine and she loves me. I don’t think she has ever touched another persons’ foot in her life. But here she was on her knees in a public restroom helping a very “unlovely” person put on her nylons.
As I sat in the music service today and they said, “Let us worship God today together,” I heard the words, “As much as you have done for the least of these.”
I realized that I had seen worship this morning. Not in the music minister’s leading, or the band expertly playing or the lady beautifully dancing with the flags or in the upturned faces and hands of those around me but in the humility and love of my daughter in the bathroom. She wasn't in the "worship service" with me. But she had truly worshiped Jesus that day and I know he looked on her act of worship and smiled.
Next time, I don’t want to pause, I want to beat her to it.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Yesterday, I told you what my favorite post (that I had written) was.
I would love to know this: What is your favorite post that you have posted on your blog?
You can include why it is if you want. Be sure to post the link to it.
Here is Barry's at Honest Faith entitled 'Sacred Places'
Here is Erin's at Decompressing Faith entitled 'An Early Grave, A Better Land'
Mike at Still a Night Own on 'Beating a Dead Cow'
And Heather at A Deconstructed Christian on Things I Learned From Church (That Didn’t Prove True And What I Am Learning Lately)
Katherine Gunn from A Voice in The Desert picks her's entitled 'So...who do you follow?'
Cindy at Run With It posted her favorite. It is entitled, 'another day in paradise.'
Joe from Evangelist Changing chose: 'The Hit'
And Abmo from Windblown Hope chooses his; 'When I Am Weak - Part 3'
John from Cohesive Faith adds his: 'Problems are More Than Skin Deep'
Friday, October 10, 2008
And here is the last (and my very favorite post that I have ever written) of the series... Thanks for reading along.
Theologically Shopping For a New Boat Called Grace
So I have been shopping around for a new boat. My older children will have to shop for their own boat. My younger children will be in this new boat with Husband and myself until they are old enough for their own boat. (Yes, he is shopping with me fortunately.)
We have looked around at all the stores. Some have speed crafts, some have seemingly very simple crafts but the paddles are huge, some look too much like the last boat we left. Some have less “fixings” on them but seem just as heavy. Some purport that they are “new and improved and more relevant.” Some are telling us that they are working on a new model because they found out after years and years of getting everyone to buy their boat that it had major leaks in it and could not get the people to where they were going. Now they are going to build a new one that is going to get the required results. We are welcome to buy their book on the making of the new craft. It just seems that they are not going back far enough to the blueprints to really do a good job at this new one. I don’t know… A couple of stores are only building luxury liners. You can haul a ton of people on them.
But in every store there is a boat off in the corner. It is very dusty. It does not look like it will hold up at all. The salesmen do their best to try to keep us from even examining it. They all seem to say the same kind of things. Things like:
“That boat is way too simple. It will never get you anywhere, just look at it. It does not look safe to me. "
"Too flimsy. How will your kids be safe in that?"
"If you got in you would almost be IN the water."
"The water is way too close to the top."
"It is too small. Your kids may fall out or be tempted to swim in the water."
"It does not give you enough distance away from the water.”
Most of all they all stress that they have NEVER seen anyone use this boat. Others had come in and cut it up for parts for their other boats but no one had actually sailed in it. Well, that is not true. They had heard stories of someone trying it and being very successful at navigating the waters in it but those were just stories. No one there at the store thought it could be trusted or used.
But this boat draws us. Why? It is so simple. When we step into it, …it fits us - completely and thoroughly. It is light, even the boys can carry it. We can see that in its lightness it is strong. The material is nothing we have ever seen before. Well we had seen it when we tried to cut it apart and pad our old boat with it but to see it as the whole craft is amazing. It has a built in navigation system straight from the manufacturer. That was something that the old boats said they had but they also had other navigational systems that they seemed to rely on more frequently. This new boat has nothing else. That seems very scary.
Everything about this boat which has been christened “Grace” seems to be different yet strangely it feels right.
When we asked the salesman about this boat and what the cost of it was he said the strangest thing. He said that they had had a prophet looking guy come in from the home office and say cryptically that this boat was to be given to anyone who asked for it for free, but to warn the consumer that it would cost them their lives. The salesman was very confused as to what that meant and could not tell us anything more than that. I think he was a little miffed because if we took this boat for free he would not get a commission. Plus he did not want to be responsible if it cost us our lives.
He told us that the only payment was a measure of Faith…and that was the final question to ourselves - As we dug deep into our own pockets and searched for Faith would we find it?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.
We have bought the boat, or I think….really….it has bought us.
This is the scariest thing we have ever done.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Grace and What She Says
We needed to leave our old boat. It was too heavy. We couldn’t paddle it anymore. Our kids were being hurt by all the things that were poking them. They were jumping ship. It was leaking as much as we didn't want to admit it. And most of all, as I studied The Book, it wasn't what the Master Builder had in mind at all.
As I have studied more and more about the grace gospel of our Father, I am drawn to her like a bug to a light. She fascinates me. She calls out to me. She even feels dangerous. Can you get too close to Grace? Is She really safe?
Grace says that Jesus paid the whole thing.
Grace says it is not by my disciplines that I am saved.
Grace says that Father loves me, likes me and is even very, very fond of me.
Grace says that if it is by grace it is no longer by works – because if it were, it would no longer be grace.. (Rom 11:6)
Grace says if you look to any law to justify you (make you more OK with God) you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:4)
Grace says, in one of her most famous passages that it is by grace we have been saved through faith---and this not from ourselves, it is a gift of God---not of works (the stuff we do) because we would boast and brag about ourselves. (Eph 2:8-9)
Grace is an easy yoke.
She is loving - not judging, forgiving - not holding grudges, freeing - not restricting,
admitting your doubts - yet choosing faith.
She is risky - not safe.
She is relationship - not rules.
Mostly, Grace says, “I’m enough."
I think it was the central message of Paul to all his churches. They also had boats built to navigate through life. There boats were called “The Law.” But you know, their Law was not much different than what I had built my boat out of. Mostly my boat was Old Testament Law and all it’s rules brought over into the New Covenant (a fancy way of talking about the differences that Jesus came to make) and with a new coat of paint I called it Grace. But it wasn’t.
It was as heavy and cumbersome as The Law. I was just as boastful and proud of what I was doing to be OK with God. Pharisees still paddle their boats around today and I was one.
So I need a new craft. This craft will be made of Grace.
More on that tomorrow in, “Theologically Shopping For a New Boat Called Grace.”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I am republishing a series I did last November on the analogy of boats and my religious life that I was leaving behind. Hope you enjoy:
Grace and Why Would You Leave Your Boat
In my last post I described the boat we had built in our family to safely navigate the waters of our life in Jesus. Remember that it was very outfitted. We had everything we could think of in it to keep us safe. It was huge! Big! Sturdy! So why would we want to leave it?
Did I mention that it was heavy? It did not seem so heavy when we first started building it. In fact it was quite light. At the beginning there were not many expectations for our boats or others. We just needed to love God, love to worship him and love each other. We often tied our boats together and ate and had fun. Our kids played together and we loved to be together. We didn’t only meet together on a Sunday morning but played together as families a lot during the week.
But little by little over the years it seemed that something would happen. Either someone would wreck their boat or the leader would notice that something was missing from his boat and we would add things to keep us safe. And so, over time, it became very heavy. Just to take it out on a Sunday would make you tired. It was so much easier to just keep it tied to the dock.
We added the spiritual disciplines so that everyone would be safer. We thought there would be fewer wrecks if everyone was doing the five or then 6 or then 7 disciplines. Our kids would be safer. People would get to the goal in one piece. But as things were added it just got heavier and heavier. Some actually sank because of all the stuff that was added.
And did I tell you that this boat got uncomfortable? With all the additions it seems that you were always being stuck with something that you had not done yet or needed to add. All the stuff made it impossible to move around freely. We felt crammed. When we did get together with others on a Sunday morning I felt so proud of my boat that I wanted everything to be perfect. I started making my children play the part of being happy in this boat. They had to be at all the meetings, events and such. There were not times of fun as much as we had had before with the others in their boats. It seemed that after all the “shoulds” there was less time for just fun.
And where was grace? Well we knew of this material of grace. We liked the feel of it. Of course you could not build a boat out of it, (or so we thought) but you could cut it up and use it in places to try to pad all the things that seemed to poke at you when you were sitting or working in this boat. Grace was sometimes used in our boat but you could not use too much of it. A little poking and prodding was good for our kids, right?
I think the final straw for us though was the addition of seat belts of loyalty and not questioning. As they got tighter and tighter we started realizing that it went against what Jesus said about building boats in the first place. He came to set us free. His burden was light. There was only one Father, Teacher and Rabbi….Him. We began to listen to other stories about boats out there that were absolutely wonderful. Did they really exist? We needed something.
Tomorrow’s installment is Grace and What She Says.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Every now and again I get a comment that lets me know I am being an encouragement to someone who has just left or is leaving an abusive church situation. Let me tell you, that makes my day. I remember writing Grace, clinging to anything or anyone to tell me I wasn't alone and maybe was not as crazy as I felt. The other day I got a message from someone and then they posted my post on Leaving on their website and said this: "Here you have it.. I am not alone!"
It is the reason why I published my own blog (that,.....and the whole not being able to afford therapy thing ;) ) I know there are many readers who have joined me since then and in looking through my blogs the other day, I re-read the ones that spoke of my religious 'boat' being destroyed and a new 'boat' called Grace replacing it. I thought over the next few days I would re-run those posts because in all that I wrote, they remain some of my favorite ways that I processed my journey.
So from November 11, 2007:
Just a mere 9 months ago I was in a boat. This boat was taking me and my family down the river we call "Life in Christ."
It was a good boat, very strong. It had all the bells and whistles of rules and legalism. Of course we looked at those who were Catholic or Amish and told ourselves that our boat was not legalistic...but it was in its own way. It gave you exactly what you needed to do to belong to our group and be what we thought was a successful and vibrant Christian.
We had the bells and whistles of Bible Study, Prayer, Journaling, Outreach, Worship, Tithing, Giving, Rest, Prophecy, Headship, Covering, Submission, Women in Ministry, Small Groups, Discipleship, and so on. The seat belts were installed and tightened by being loyal and not questioning the ones who directed our little fleet of boats. If you were really loyal then your boat got to be in contact with the leaders' boats in a much more significant way. Our job was to look successful and encourage others to build a boat just like ours and journey with us.
Those who did not build boats like ours we looked upon with sadness. They obviously did not know what we knew about boat building. Theirs had major pieces of equipment missing. They allowed other boats to float along with them. We could not understand why they would not see how wonderful our boat building projects were and just come over and build boats exactly like ours.
Best of all our children were safe in this boat with us. They looked good. They knew all the features of this boat and could tell you exactly what you were to do with them. Our family’s boat was one of the best in the church. Many times we were applauded for having the kind of boat that the leaders said best exemplified and reflected them. I was always looking for the new additions that they would propose and hurriedly add them to our boat.
Six months ago we left the group of boats we had been traveling with. We started reading about grace. Grace in the gospels is everywhere. Most of what the disciples struggled with after Jesus left them with the Holy Spirit was how to go about living this grace filled life in a group of people who understood nothing but legalism.As we left our group and started studying this message of grace, we found we also wanted to leave the boat that we had built.
I will leave the “why” of that for tomorrow’s post.
Monday, October 6, 2008
This week as I browsed the web and read my email I ran into two sites that bothered me greatly. One was a video of a woman (Winnie Banov)who was ‘drunk’ in the spirit and preaching a message. I pushed past my initial discomfort at the manner in which her message was delivered and tried to understand the message itself. I couldn’t. It was all about Melchizedek and the supposed “bliss” (in the Spirit) that he was supposed to represent. Some how this ‘bliss’ was to put you more in touch with God’s spirit - in a drunk sort of way. This 'bliss' was supposedly supposed to please God if you participated in it.
The next was an email from Francis Frangipane. He talked about how we need to make a covenant with God for particular situations in our lives. He does detail how Jesus completed the covenant that was required for salvation but then goes on to explain how, because God is a covenantal God, we then need to make covenants with Him for our city or our family. He actually says:
Making a covenant with God takes us further into our goal of Christlikeness. It is the highest relationship we can enjoy with God and it is the most deeply surrendered. It is, in truth, that which brings Him the most pleasure. To those who covenant with God, He says, "Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (Ps 50:5). (emphasis mine)
I then read an article from Bob DeWaay about pietism and how it plays out in our lives as Christians today and in history. While I don’t agree with the whole article (I love that I can do this now), it finally occurred to me the problem that I am seeing in the Charismatic church. They believe that you need to add something to the work of Jesus. Pietism is the belief that you can add something of your own to make yourself more holy and more acceptable to God.
I’ve touched on this before, but it finally cemented into place for me. Both of these that I read/watched were telling you something “extra scriptural” that you needed to do/be for God to be happy with you.
Now it would be easy to sit back in my arm chair and say, “I will do nothing. Jesus did everything. Grace is all there is. It is done.” I am always tempted to swing to the complete other side. But that is also not the whole gospel.
Jesus says this, “(Mat 11:28-30 NIV) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
See, Jesus does not say, there is no yoke. He in fact offers a yoke of his own. His is light but it still exists. There is something that he wants us to carry. There is a yoke that is meant to imply ‘work.’ It may come in the form of praying for our families or our country. It may involve experiencing the Holy Spirit in a greater degree. But it is an easy yoke. It does not involve the angst of feeling like you are not doing enough compared to the next person. It does not involve comparison.
A yoke when used in the animal world is individual for each animal. A burden is carried usually only by one. Jesus has our yoke and our burden that we carry individualized for each of us. And when we carry it or put it on - it is easy and light.
In the future, when someone tells a whole group of people what God wants them to do so that He will be pleased with them…my radar will go up and my warning lights will flash. The chances that pietism is being preached is great and the chances that people are being compared and put into bondage is likely. And that yoke is not easy nor that burden light.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Each Sunday for a while I'm going to encourage you to visit this page and see the newest entries to the Rescue Parade. (13 so far today)
The things that people are writing are simply amazing, astounding and touching. When reading them you realize that your very soul is being nourished by their words.
It is an amazing thing to hear the Father's heart for you. To pen the words that you hear will change something deep in your heart.
I encourage you to add yours to the list. You can add them to Tracy's page here too. Even if you don't add one, subscribe to the comments so you can stay updated as other's are added.
Some have said that they are having a hard time because they are in the middle of their story with the Father. That is OK. It doesn't change how he feels about you right now.
I have a 8 year old little boy. I could write something about him right now - knowing that he is not now what he will be at 20 or 40. But that does not change my love for him right now.
Your Father is the same. If you entered eternity right now - this is what he would say over your loved, rescued life.....
Friday, October 3, 2008
As I listen in on the political front I have decided that something is deeply broken in me.
I don’t trust leadership right now - church or state. The hurts of the church have gone deeper than religion. They effect how I view the world and thusly how I view men and women in the world that want to be my political leaders. Ms. Palin might be a very wonderful woman....but I have seen very wonderful women do very horrible things to protect the things that are valuable to them. Mr. Obama might be a captivating speaker but I have sat under captivating speakers before who spoke what turned out to be outright lies.
I wasn’t always this way. I trusted the government to take care of my family when I was a child - my dad was in the military. This breeds a deep trust in your government. I trusted my church and their teachings growing up through my teens and 20’s. That was destroyed but I just thought I had bought into the wrong brand. So I trusted again. I trusted our ‘church’s’ leaders. I trusted their teachings, their vision and their professed love for me, my family and our ‘church’ body. That did not work out so well…
I have seen firsthand what the desire for power and prestige does to a person. Heck, it just occurred to me that I have been that person. It is not so very far away to the core of who I am.
You take a man (or woman) add power, throw in a bunch of money and prestige, shake, and I am left with the bitter drink of distrust.
So I think that is why I am having such a hard time. I believe no one. I trust no organization. I can’t even start to believe that what they say now really reflects what they will do later or what they even believe in their hearts. Sound bites do not reveal the heart and motives. I want to believe them as I hear them speak…but something in me warns me again that I cannot always trust what I see. Great orators have deceived men for ages.
Add that to the fact that I don’t believe that I can start to understand the world in such a way that I could make informed decisions on the basis of my present knowledge - as limited as that is. Our world is too complex. When you think you understand and grasp an issue - there is a corresponding result in another quadrant that you didn’t even see. I don’t have the time to become a political science major. And even if I were an expert in a field such as that or economics or government - who’s to say I would have been taught a true and balanced perspective?
I understand why someone would be a one issue voter - whether it be abortion or the environment or health. Please don’t make fun of these people. Maybe that is all they have confidence in their own intellect for.
I know who I’m voting for. It’s not that. It is just that I don’t trust them, or anyone, anymore. And I really don’t like that about myself.
This is going to be a long few weeks for me.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I love what I am seeing in scripture lately. I love it when it rocks my world with it's upside down way of seeing the Kingdom.
Internet Monk had a link the other day to Greg Boyd's website where, starting in October, they are beginning a series of weeks looking at some of the parables of Jesus and how he turns the thinking of the day upside down. It is entitled: The Great Reversal - The Upside Down Kingdom of God. I went onto the site and just browsed the passages he uses and then especially the cultural context that Jesus spoke into. I urge you to do the same.
Some of the ones that really stood out to me was how the world then viewed the poor, sick and destitute people. Like I wrote yesterday, both the rich and the poor believed that God did not love the poor and had no desire to be around them. Your riches were proof that God was on your side and blessing you.
One thing that Boyd points out is the importance of being asked to a banquet. See, in that day to be asked to a banquet showed your status in the city. Even where you sat at the table would show your importance. So when Jesus tells the story of a man throwing a banquet for his friends and his friends coming up with a lame excuse to not attend, it was a major slap in the face of the host. You never turned down an invitation. It was a major honor in that time to be asked to a banquet. Someone was spending a ton of money on the food. Therefore, it would mean the end of your relationship if you declined - especially for such a lame reason. So when Jesus then said that the host gave instructions to his servant to go to the highways and byways to compel the outcasts to come to his banquet...it was a HUGE deal. The most interesting thing is the word compel. See, these people had to be compelled to come because in that culture, even if they were invited, they were supposed to turn down the invitation(!!!) because they were not favored enough of God. You would never accept the invitation, because to do so was dishonoring your host.
Just the idea that Jesus loves us so much that he compels us to come to Him. Even when we have screwed up so much that we can't see why he would want us to come. Plus, Boyd pointed out that, in actuality, there was enough food prepared that there would have been enough for the original guests and those that were invited later. (He doesn't hate the rich either)
The other one that really struck me was the passage where the Pharisees came to him with the disciples of John and accused Jesus of eating and drinking with the sinners (not necessarily those who sinned but this bunch that were labeled outcasts because of their disease or poverty or lifestyle) Boyd says that the word for eating with the sinners implies that Jesus was actually hosting banquets and inviting the oppressed in.
I had never thought of Jesus hosting a banquet. I just always saw him as having no home therefore he always attended someone elses' house. But just the thought that Jesus hosted these people warmed my heart. No wonder the Pharisees got so bent out of shape. Jesus was not just ministering to these people, he was honoring them. And they (the Pharisees) were not getting invited to sit at the important seats.
I also loved the one where he was eating at a banquet at some Pharisee's house (the last one he was invited to by the way! ;P) Jesus told a story and began it with something like this. "Suppose you were a shepherd and had 100 sheep. You lost one....." He goes on from there. But the funny thing was that he said, "Suppose you were a shepherd." See, shepherds were one of those 'sinner' type people. They were the ones that God did not like. It would be like sitting down with a bunch of prophets, pastors and self proclaimed apostles today and starting a story like this; "Suppose you were a male prostitute..." You can hear the silence! "How dare he!!!"
I love the heart of Jesus today and want him to show me some more of his upside down kingdom as it relates to my own life.
A beer to Naked Pastor for use of his brilliant comic.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Good verse huh?
Before we left our CLB our leader preached a series of messages on "The Good News to the Poor." It drove my husband nuts because in the prosperity gospel that was being presented, the good news to the poor was that, because of the cross they did not have to be poor any longer. God had come through Jesus so that we no longer needed to be sick or poor. In my husband’s opinion (and now mine) the speaker was totally missing the point and even distorting the true gospel.
I have below a portion of the letter that he (Husband) wrote to our leader. See how it truly displays the heart of God towards us as opposed to the twisted words of the "other" gospel that God wants you rich.
Good news to the poor:
In the context of the day during the life and times of Jesus, if you had wealth, you were viewed of having the favor of God in your life. God was your friend, you were blessed, God was near you and like/approved of you.
If you were poor however, God was not near you, you were not favored of God. He obviously was not pleased with you and, plain, did not like you. You had no hope of God’s favor or His visitation. (In reality, it was a wide pendulum swing to the view of wealth and God’s favor, to the point of error.) The poor walked as second class citizens with the knowledge that God did not favor them, bless them and love them because of them and their sin. The rich were blessed, but they were cursed. There was little hope of anything else.
So here comes Jesus, and he preached “good news” to the poor. As a poor person, you would hear this, and your first reaction was almost disbelief. “You mean that God is coming to visit me?” “God noticed me?” “God is pleased and wants to be with me?” “I too can be favored and blessed by God?”
The answer Jesus brought to the people asking these questions was: “Yes!” The religious leaders would preach “No,” but Jesus was changing it!
To the Pharisees it was the religion and law of the day, but Jesus was preaching a different ‘good news: “God is coming near, the favor of the Lord is near, to you, to all who will believe.”
Just as Jesus healed the lame man whose sins he had forgiven to prove the same, he healed the multitudes to prove the same: God had come near them. “Believe and receive! The Kingdom of God has come, to you!”
It was a paradigm shift to the people of the day who were rejected because they were poor. God would not visit them and they were not blessed. Jesus came to break that theology/practice/understanding of the people. Its not about poverty/money, but God is available to the poor! He likes the poor and wants to dwell with them and be with them. They are being invited to participate in His Kingdom.
So he sent out his boys (disciples) to the villages and towns, the highways and hedges, announcing that the Kingdom of God has come (to them!), ie: good news!
We too can preach the same:
God has come. He has favor for you.
God has come to you. You can come to God. He will dwell with you and you can dwell with him.
This is the Good News to the Poor!!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I have been immersed in Kingdom Dominion theology over the past 20 years or so. I am now just starting to decide what I believe about it. In so many ways I keep surprising myself with Truth that is new to me. I feel like a 2 year old who has just discovered that they have a belly button and are simply amazed by this fact. Everyone else around them is underwhelmed at the discovery but the 2 year old is simply astounded by this great fact.
I am especially feeling that way as I am reading through RobbyMac’s new book, "Post-Charismatic?. " I kept interrupting the Steelers Game last night as I read with amazement to my husband how all of what we were taught as ‘new truth’ was being taught years and years ago. Boy, was I dumb to have not picked up a church history book all these years. - (To his credit Marshall had always said, “Honey, this stuff is really not new.” See, he likes history and actually learned something in Seminary.) (Seminary training was never really valued in our CLB - which by the way is a mark of a toxic group.)
But the other night I was wide awake for some reason so I decided to use my Parsons Quick Verse program and list all the times that the word “kingdom” is used in the New Testament (and one Old Test. verse) – just to see what really is there. (side note: Quick Verse is sooo easy. you just type in a word and it lists all the times it is used. Then you can check out what it means in the Greek or Hebrew)
Below is a brief overview of what I found. It is long so if you just want what I gathered out of the verses – just scroll through the highlighted parts. I’m sorry, but I don’t see ANYTHING that would clearly support the idea that the Church is to be active bringing in the Kingdom of God with the government of Apostles and Prophets? You can read through it and see what you think. What is there though, regarding what the Kingdom of God is, was really good.
This Old Testament verse was the most famous verse taught to back up the whole apostolic/governmental movement.
(Isa 9:6 , 7 NIV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
But wait a minute: Notice that it says the zeal of the Lord will accomplish this. Not Apostles, not gifts, not the Church.
Then in the New Testament the first mention of the Kingdom says it must start with repentance.
Jesus and John (Mat 3:2 NIV) and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Mat 4:17 NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
On to the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:3 NIV) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..and vs. 10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus made it clear that we would never make it on our own: (Mat 5:20 NIV) For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
So Jesus decided to show us how: (Mat 6:10 NIV) your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We are to seek it: (Mat 6:33 NIV) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
There are those who will be blocked: (Mat 7:20, 21 NIV) Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
When Jesus preached about the kingdom signs and wonders accompanied him; (Mat 9:35 NIV) Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
His disciples were to proclaim it: (Mat 10:7, 8 NIV) As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
The Kingdom is upside down from the way you would imagine: (Mat 11:11 NIV) I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
I’m honestly not sure what this one means but it was preached about A LOT:
(Mat 11:12 NIV) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
I think you have to read this through the upside down lens of Jesus’ life. Forceful men who look like servants maybe?
Then lots of parables - some easily understood - some harder:
1) Matt 13:24 like a man who sowed seed and an enemy sowed weeds. The master said to let both grow together until the end. Then the harvesters would sort them out
2) Mtt 13:33 It is like the mustard seed. A small thing produces a huge thing
3) Matt 13:33 It is like yeast -- a little bit changes the whole thing
vs. 44 like a treasure that a man finds, buries it again and sells all he has to buy it
4) vs. 45 like a pearl
5) vs. 47 like a net for a fisherman - gathers good and bad fish that need to be sorted
When Peter believed and proclaimed that Jesus was the Son God the keys of the kingdom were given him. (Whatever that means)
The disciples saw the kingdom come (Mat 16:28 NIV) I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
Upside down kingdom (Mat 18:1-3 NIV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Belongs to the children: (Mat 19:14 NIV) Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Hard for the rich (Mat 19:24 NIV) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
The Kingdom does not look fair: (Mat 20:1 NIV) "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. (didn’t pay everyone the same)
Values obedience: Won’t see who you were expecting: (Mat 21:31 NIV) "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
Jesus’ prophesy about the Kingdom: (Mat 24:14 NIV) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Need to be prepared: (Mat 25:1 NIV) "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
About those who get to enter the final kingdom: (Mat 25:34, 35, 36 NIV) "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
There will be wine!! (Mat 26:29 NIV) I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
It happens with little effort from us (Mark 4:26-29 NIV) He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
My favorite: (Luke 17:20, 21 NIV) Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
Jesus said his kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD (John 18:36 NIV) Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Even till the very end his disciples did not get it - just before he disappeared out of sight they were asking when he was going to bring it in: (John 18:36 NIV) Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Maybe they started to get it here: (Acts 8:12 NIV) But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
And the kingdom is (drum roll please....): (Rom 14:17 NIV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
hmmm????(1 Cor 4:20 NIV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
(1 Cor 15:50 NIV) I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Lots of passages like this one on those who will not inherit the Kingdom: (Eph 5:5 NIV) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
So that's what I learned. I just failed to find the whole "next generation of really amazing, gifted glow in the dark kind of people that are governed by truly amazing apostles with words directly from God who will usher in the coming of the Kingdom of God in the final days after a great harvest. Maybe I need to keep reading but it was certainly not here - that is for sure.