Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Post-Charismatic Evangelism

UPDATE: Here are those writing and linking to the questions raised in this blog:
Sarah @ Coffee Randoms: Thoughts on Evangelism
Jeff McQ @ Losing my Religion: Re-thinking Evangelism (and lots of other stuff) and Over-marketing the Watered-Down Version and How I Got Saved...
Ruth from Grains of Truth: Knocking on Heaven's Door
Co_Heir @ On the Journey: Evangelism
Also see Internet Monk's post on John Macarthur on TBN - watch the video and let me know what you think.
Andrew @ Hackman's Musings writes this: Evangelism

I think one of the hardest subjects for me to approach since having so much of what I formerly believed stripped away, is the subject of Evangelism.

I was raised a hard-core Fundamentalist. In every sermon (Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night) you would have the "plan of salvation" shared in case someone unknowingly wandered from off the street, came into your church and died that night and went to hell because someone did not share the "plan of salvation" with them. I even vaguely remember someone being fired over the fact that they did not share the "plan of salvation" often enough in their sermons. This salvation message was one of the fact of Hell, the plan for avoiding Hell, and the subsequent "sinners prayer" that would keep you out of Hell. Anything else in Christianity was just not really talked about.

Enter my years early in marriage - saved from Fundamentalism - and we understood salvation to be a way to a better, joyful, peaceful life. We would ask people if they wanted what we had. It was a bit of salvation from hell mixed in with a wonderful, meaningful life for the here and now.

Then finally in my Charismatic years I finally thought I had hit upon the greatest plan of salvation EVER!! Here in Charismatic land you could have all the "perks, bells and whistles." You could have your sins forgiven, be healed, prosper, do signs and wonders, be a leader and live a joyful, exciting purpose-filled life - all while signed up to be a part of the end time army that would ACTUALLY usher in the return of Jesus!!! We pitched the Christian life like those salesmen on late night TV. Your life would be amazing if you signed on the bottom line to become Jesus' disciple.

Darin Hufford puts it so well in his post, Gratefully Disillusioned, where he says

"I believe that Christianity has been marketed to the carnal nature of unbelievers. We successfully got people who would not have otherwise become a Christian to sign on the dotted line and join our religion. We did it by presenting "relationship with God" in a way that would appeal to power-hungry money mongers who want to escape the cold reality of life. We told people that God would financially prosper them. We told them that they would never get sick and if they did, God would make it go away. We've promised them that if anyone hurt them, their God would stick up for them and get revenge on their behalf. We convinced them that God would also give them godlike powers and they could dazzle their friends and family with magic tricks. We promised them that God would make sure they held a position of leadership in life where everyone would respect them and pay them honor. I've even seen different ministries claim that Christians have better sex than non-Christians. The list goes on and on. One by one, people signed up for Christianity. People who would not have otherwise given it a second look, found themselves strangely tempted with a religion that promised to fulfill their every carnal desire. The offer was just too good to be true."

(Read this excellent article as he goes on to say that we may not even have true Christians if this is what they signed up for.)

So here is my dilemma. If I am against using the "Hell card"as my "hook" in sharing my faith and I refuse to bend to the "hook" of the Jesus of the late night infomercials full of promises that never live up to their expectations, what am I left with? What exactly is my faith? How do I explain it to people? What is Evangelism? What did Jesus do with the disciples? What was this Kingdom of God that they shared about? What is the gospel - the "good news" to you and how would you share it with an unbeliever?

Another set of questions that interest me are these: Why did you become a Christian? What is your story? Did you sign up for the perks and if so, how is that going for you? Were you truly "drawn to God" in some way where the "perks" that I am talking about really did not matter?

If you have any thoughts about Evangelism (past or present)- please leave them in the comment section - or better yet - post your thoughts and link to it here. I'll update this post with links at the top if anyone wants to be added to the conversation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little

You can put this phrase on my tombstone! I laughed till I cried. Must be the combination of taking care of my 87 year old parents and working on taxes today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Year: Of Brokenness and Healing - Alex Blanton

A man named Alex Blanton left a comment on my post the other day about a Hope Deferred: Heart Flat Lined. He gave me a link to something he had written at the beginning of this new year. I wanted to highlight his post today in its entirety as it answers my post with wisdom and insight of what is going on in so many of our lives. Enjoy!

A New Year: Of Brokenness and Healing

Here we are again at the brink of a new year. In the past, I have usually taken the opportunity of breaking away for a little planning, a little casting of vision, and a bit of praying about all the shining new opportunities that the Lord would have in store for the coming year. This is all just fine and swell.

This past year however, I feel like Father has been slowly and methodically taking every plan, dream, vision, etc. and put them through the shredder. (It's funny - I actually remember praying and singing that they were His.) Now I stand looking into this new year, and you know what? I am pretty desperate for something completely new.

No - not just a new vision, plan, dream, whatever - I desperately need Him to pop me open and pour bucket after bucket full of Himself into my utter emptiness. It has not been fun to watch Him unravel and deconstruct all my false notions and paradigms I have had about following and living for Him, and I am not sure He is done yet, but I realize that if I do not have He Himself fill me to overflowing with all of who He is, then I am utterly without hope.

But is this not true of all of us? Why must He use our suffering to expose our illusions, fallacies, and delusions - to reveal our true emptiness and brokenness? But why do we run from it?

Funny thing is that I have watched many that the Lord has had us in contact with in these last few years, and it seems like they are all going through similar transitions. The Father has taken them through disruptions and other unpleasantness to find their former expectations unfulfilled and oddly hollow. It's not like God takes pleasure in thwarting our pursuits and expectations, but strangely, it is as if He is not content in letting us chase after these things any longer, no matter how worthy or meaningful they appeared to us before.

Does anything compare to receiving and experiencing the depths of God Himself? Could it be that "we have all like sheep gone astray, each of us to chase after our own vain fantasies?"

We have been told for so long, with the best of intentions I think (and not without scriptural precedent), that we should all be seeking and listening for God's will for our lives - looking for "God's purpose for our lives." He is the King. Yes! Pursuing our own purposes and expectations for our lives has never worked out, we think to ourselves, so knowing and following His plan would be so much better!

So, we wait for some divine message. We parse the heavens and the earth. We look at our lives and our circumstances for signs that help us unravel this code for why God has us where we are, going through what we are going through. Surely, we think, this is all happening for some greater purpose, that we are supposed to be a part of something greater than ourselves. If somehow, we think, we can figure out what that thing is, then all the pieces of our lives will fall into place. (Or at least the ones that make it bearable.)

Okay - so, now something happens and we are convinced this may be an overture of divine grace upon our lives - God's immanent hand moving to reveal to us at last His intentions for our mundane existence. So, we jump into it, full of gusto, and get on with the business of fulfilling God's purposes and expectations for our lives. No pressure there! But we jump in nonetheless. This is God's plan, right? What could possibly go wrong.

Then things go wrong.

Either through someone else, something else, or even (most of the time) through just ourselves, things manage to get screwed up. Royally. Not a little hurt and confused, we crawl back to Jesus for grace, licking our wounds. OK - this was our fault probably. So, we get back out there and go to work at The Plan again. Fulfilling God's purposes and expectations should be doable - we've got the Holy Spirit working with us and all that, right?

Well, somewhere along the way things get mixed up, screwed up, misdirected, misguided, misunderstood, again and again and again. Not enough time, not enough energy, not enough passion, discernment, motivation, money, commitment - the list of our failures and shortcomings goes on and on. The problem with living at trying to fulfill God's purposes and expectations for our lives is that when we cannot live up to them, we have to answer to God Himself. Each time things go wrong, we come back more disappointed and disillusioned. What is going on God? Was this not Your plan here that you wanted me to fulfill? It is Your purposes for my life I am trying to work out here! It is Your Kingdom that I am trying to extend! Some get frustrated and angry believing that God is distant and uninterested at best, fickle and unjust at worst. Some beat themselves up with guilt for their inadequacies, believing that God is not pleased with them, always standing just out of reach. Either way, we are rather let down that we are still left standing with a bunch of broken puzzle pieces. Everyone seems to have an opinion or a suggestion about how they are supposed to go together, but somehow we just don't really care anymore.

Does this sound familiar?

from beginning to end. What have we really been pursuing in our hopes of fulfilling God's mission and purpose for our lives? Did it ever occur to us that God may, in fact, be the one frustrating our efforts? Like, on Do you see something wrong with this picture though? This story has really been all about my purpose?

The problem with this whole scenario of discovering God's greater purposes for the universe, is that corrupt tendency in us to then chase after that thing rather then after God Himself. Why do we keep doing this? Why do things always get twisted into being about how we can fulfill our supposed needs and desires if we somehow get things right? We scour the scriptures. We take furious notes. We serve diligently. We give faithfully. We pray passionately. But we are still doing it for ourselves.

Here is the paradigm shift for me, folks: From life being about me finding and fulfilling God's purposes for my life, to life being about God finding me and God fulfilling my life in Him.

I believe this is where we get things all turned around and mixed up, and He is allowing us to get just as frustrated and disillusioned as we need to in order to figure it out. He knows that our deepest needs - the need for security and significance in life - can only be fulfilled in Him. But in our brokenness, we seek to use even God and His "purposes" as a means to find and fulfill this within ourselves. It's still all about us. Even in pursuing all those things that are good and wonderful about God and His' plan for the universe, we will still miss the mark if our goal is not deeper knowledge of Him.

Knowing God is not a cognitive exercise, a means by which we will have the tools to succeed in living life for Him. If that is our paradigm, then He will let us trip and fall as many times as it takes for us to see that we are missing it. This is a supreme act of intimacy, of laying ourselves bare before one in whom we can trust, and discovering the other has done the same. What God desires of us, is that we would choose to be vulnerable and bare - open and honest before Him. Open and honest with our shame and blemishes, to bare even the darkest corners of our hearts. To stand naked before Him and be revealed in even in our most bitter suffering.

Why? Because this is our true selves. The one that we try to cover and hide. The one that we try to marginalize through our own efforts. The one that we think that we can heal and patch up through fulfilling even the fantasies that we have about serving and following God. But God is not interested in our fantasies - the illusions we hold about ourselves, or of what we will do for Him.

You see, our brokenness warps even our love and our desire for Him. What He is interested in is us seeing ourselves as we truly are, in all of our brokenness, and choosing to not hide from Him any longer, but to stand naked before Him. In that moment, we discover that He has seen our true selves all along, but it is we who were fooled. It is this self-deception that keeps us from being healed and experiencing the depths of His surpassing love.

Until we are honest with who we really are, however, we are not open to receive the Love that transforms and heals our brokenness. In that moment, we discover that He has already returned the trust and vulnerability of love, and always has. Why would He risk so much on Adam and Eve? Why would He lay down His' own life, become a man to suffer for the sake of humanity? Could God really be so open and bare before us? Nakedness faces nakedness, and all is revealed. This is knowing and being known by God.

Each of us has an inherent need for security and significance, but we think these things are found to actually doing something. What we fail to realize is this: It is love that makes us safe and secure. It is love that makes us significant and important. Think about it: When we are truly loved by someone we experience all the security and significance that we need to simply be who we are. No more, no less. But if we feel we must put on pretenses, fulfill expectations, or otherwise be more than who we really are then the relationship is lacking real depth, isn't it? If we do not feel truly safe and significant to God, then His love has not been perfected in us. Perfect love casts out all fear. When we experience and live daily in the confidence of this love however, it transforms how we view ourselves, and how we respond to others, to life, to His' promptings on our hearts.

It also opens us up to receive the healing that comes by knowing Him in our deepest and most vulnerable places. 1 John says "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This honest bearing of our brokenness and inability to carry out His purposes is exactly this kind of confession. When we finally see who we really are, and we stop running to other vain ambitions (even those we pursue in His name), then He is able to show the deepest work of His' love and healing in our lives. He begins to make us whole.

Why does He do this? So we can get back out there and finally "get it right?" Finally fulfill His purpose, His mission, His grand plan for the cosmos? What you think this "grand plan" really is will affect the answer I think. I think the reason we fall short as disciples and as the Body of Christ is not that we fail to grasp the mission and purposes of God, but that we fail to grasp worship in it's true and proper context. God's plan was to have a people that would enjoy the same relationship with Him that He enjoys within Himself.

Why do we think the love of God is a prelude to something else, something greater? We have heard it said that sin is it's own punishment. This may be true, but the flip side of this is that love is it's own reward. God Himself will be our reward for knowing and following Him. There is nothing beyond this. God's purpose is Himself. His' plan for the cosmos and for all humanity is Himself. He is the I AM. The one who is self-fulfilled and fulfilling of all things in Himself. That we would know and be known by Him, in the same manner of which I have been writing, is the sole purpose of knowing and doing anything at all.

This is exactly what we see revealed in the closing sections of scripture - at the end of time we finally see what God has intended all along for us humans. That we, both together and individually, would know and be known by Him. As a bride with her husband, so shall we be revealed together with Christ at the end of the age. Once broken, now finally made whole. Once shameful and blemished, now spotless and glorious, together with Him. This brokenness each of us hides, layer upon layer, means that there is a healing that He alone brings, washing us over and over and over again with His love. Experiencing and returning His love is the means and the purpose of all things.

You see, all this suffering is only a prelude to glory, but it has already been revealed and opened up to us. God has bared Himself completely in Jesus Christ. He has already made Himself vulnerable, risking it all, and waits to see how we will respond to His overtures of love.

So, looking at this new year I can see the process that He has been working in me. Answering my deepest prayers, He has been slowly stripping away the dirty old rags I have used to cover myself up with, letting Him reveal more and more of my brokenness. I don't think He is by any means done, but I see that healing is coming. And I see that risking everything on love is the only sure gamble a person can make.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hope Deferred - A Heart Flat Lined

When I began this blog in June of 2007, I began to write primarily for one purpose - that was to help anyone else out there who has left behind a group similar to mine. The stories of others were a lifeline to me as I exited and began my life apart from my former church. Their stories still help me as I find keys to understand where I was and what I was dealing with. So in that vein, here is something I realized about myself this week - this one much to my shame and chagrin.

(I talked the other day of feeling like every color that I once experienced seems to be all shades of gray now. This is related to that.)

I noticed when my daughter asked me to go to a movie a week ago that I had no desire to go. In fact, as I looked at myself, I saw that actually I had no desire to do anything. Nothing seemed to "spark" my interest at all. I have found no interest in reading (a favored pastime of former years), no interest in a movie, food, friends, traveling or anything. It is like my emotions and zest for life had flat lined. Even a potential trip to see my sister in Mexico - something that I knew I would love and enjoy - seemed to be insurmountable to actually just sit down and book the tickets.

I pondered this over the next few days. Then something hit me. I was reading another 'prophecy' from a former prophetic type person that I had followed in years past. They had released a prophecy for 2009. In it, they talked about the inevitable "transfer of wealth" that the Christians could expect in the year 2009. I remembered this being prophesied over our body for the past 12 years at least. Marsh and I had received several "words" personally.

Now, if asked, we would have said that the wealth that was supposedly to be dumped in our laps was to be used on missions type projects. It would be used for the "Kingdom of God." But the other day it occurred to me that my heart had been twisted up in this promise of future wealth - and to my dismay, I realized that I was hoping for the wealth primarily for.... ME.

See, if I had wealth enough to build a home for orphans in Belize, I could imagine that I would oversee the project flying first class instead of coach and staying at a nice resort while I was there. If I could afford to build the body a new worship center, I would certainly be wealthy enough to afford that new Mercedes that always caught my eye. If I gave a million away to charity in a year, staying at a 5 star resort in the Bahamas for our family vacation was not out of reach, right?

So to my embarrassment, I had to admit that each year as I looked forward to the 'new thing' that God was going to do, I had my dreams and hopes for a financially prosperous lifestyle hanging on that expectation. It was always like standing on tip toe, constantly waiting for the next huge surprise to come your way. You can put up with a lot of crap now if you think that you will be a millionaire next year. Hope is a wonderful thing. Excitement is fun to feel.

But now that I realize that all those prophecies were wrong, that all those promises of wealth were empty and that the scriptures used to support them are bogus for us today, I am left with the realization that this year will probably look a lot like last year and the year before it. We will work hard, pay our bills, hope for less breakdowns in our stuff and maybe experience some success in our savings accounts.

Folks that looks bleak compared to maybe becoming a millionaire this next year complete with the BMW and Bahama vacation. And without that....with that hope (rightly) taken emotions have flat lined. What do I have to look forward to today, this week, this month or this year? What can compare to the former dreams and hopes? What will give me a new excitement and hope like that one did?

I have repented of my selfish, greedy heart. Father had already forgiven me. He wasn't surprised by the revelation. He saw it all along.

I ask Him today to return sanity to my life. Spending time with my daughter while we enjoy a movie together is supposed to be a good thing. It is supposed to give me something to look forward to. Normal people enjoy this. I need to enjoy it too.

No, it is not as exciting as becoming the next millionaire but this, at least, is based in reality and I am determined to live there now instead of the fantasy land of yesteryear.

It is said that, "hope deferred makes the heart sick." I think even false hopes can do this. I need the Healer of hearts to come and return mine to normal again. I'm ready for my emotions to have the normal highs and lows and to be able to look foward to something again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Closets and Keeping a Record of Wrongs or Not Forgiving

Given the comments on the last post of Closets and Leaving, I see that many people have experienced and felt the same. They too have dealt with leaving for sometimes a seemingly small thing only to realize that the things over the years that had not been dealt with and had been pushed into a "closet" in their spirits were the real reasons for eventually leaving a group or church.

In the comments, Mary touched on a topic related to this that I want to address. She said that if she spoke to anyone about all the things that she had in her 'closet' they would accuse her of keeping account of wrongs. I know about 10 years ago we went to the Leadership of our church with a written paper of the things that were bottled up in us that we felt were weakness and things to be addressed in our body and in the leaderships lives. Husband had gotten to a point where he was ready to break so he decided to go to them with the things he had not dealt with and talk it out with the head leaders. (understand we were also in a leadership position and had been told that we could bring up these kinds of things)

Basically things got aired out but then stuffed back into the closet. We were told that we were harboring unforgiveness, keeping a list of wrongs and that we needed to have our hearts right with the leadership. There were some, "I'm sorry you have been hurt," kind of things said to us but basically that was about it. To continue to push it any further would have made us look bitter, unforgiving, mean and petty. One pastor (brought in for mediation) gave us a book on being highly sensitive to try to understand why we would have such a problem with what was going on. (unbeknown to us at the time, the rest of the team was also having the same questions and later left because of them) So we stepped down from being an elder. Looking back now, it was all the same reasons that we eventually left for. We just had a fuller closet to deal with at the end.

In these kinds of groups you eventually learn that anything brought to the leadership only ends up in you being blamed for being too sensitive or not being loyal, for being petty or for being divisive. So you decide to try and live with it. In reality you are essentially asked to keep this closet. Not in so many words but everything is to be laid down and not brought up. You are supposed to "get over it," "get on to more important things," "quit thinking of yourself more highly than you ought," and "just chill out." So you just kept pushing stuff into the closet so as to keep peace.

You are asked to trust the leadership. They have the bigger picture. They know more than you do about each situation. There is always a reason for their actions. This is their church. They are the ones God has placed as the head. They are the Apostle and Prophet (pick your title). They have other men they are accountable to.

You can see why you would have such a 'closet' for the unfinished things you are seeing.

But my question is this: Is this truly keeping a record of wrongs? Is this closet full of not forgiving? Is it sin on your part?

Let me say first of all that it certainly can be. If you refuse to go to a person and let them know there is a problem, all the while adding things to the list.....that is keeping a record of wrongs. Or if you approach someone and tell them there is a problem and they tell you that they are sorry and deal with what is wrong - either change their behavior or try to explain how your offense is unwarranted and then you still don't forgive....that is not forgiving. But if you have learned that it is just not worth bringing up or if brought up will result in pain for you, you will eventually either have to leave or start a building project of your own to add onto the closet that you already have full.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Closets and Leaving

I have often wondered how it came to be that we could belong to something for 20 years and then one day in May determine that we were no longer going to be connected anymore. I know it has puzzled many of our friends and frankly has puzzled me even a bit.

I know to them it may seem that we left over the use of titles and the hierarchy that had been introduced into our group. True, titles were the thing that brought us to the point of leaving but we were left trying to explain to people why it was such a big deal. Why would this one thing cause us to leave our friends of 20 years? Why would we choose to walk away now? What is actually happening in a situation like ours to make someone decide to break at this particular point? It seemed so petty and unimportant. What's the deal with that.

I read another story the other day about a man who was involved in a similar church as ours. His account goes back from the late 1970's to the 80's. It is long, but to me it was riveting in the similarities that I see on our journeys. It was in his words that I found my explanation. (I have combed through the many pages that he wrote and cannot find the exact place where he says it but he said something that stopped me in my tracks and made everything in my head finally make sense to me.)

He said that upon his conversion and subsequent immersion into this group that he had his first serious question about what the group believed within just a few days. Instead of standing up and saying - "I don't understand this and probably don't agree with it," he just formed a closet - put the question/problem away into the closet and shut the door so as not to have to deal with it. Over the years in the group, whenever anyone was hurt by a leader, when any leader acted un-Christ-like or when something particularly goofy went on he just put it into the closet with the first situation. See, he had quickly learned that if you disagree with the leaders, if you questioned their actions or character, if you disagreed with their theology, you would be labeled as subservisive or unsubmitted or rebellious or unteachable. Your standing would go down and your loyalty would be questioned. You may get removed from a team or seperated out from your friends. Everyone "said" questions were welcomed but if you did not instantly revere the answer given, if you continued with your challenge, you would find out what was really true about questioning.

So the closet gets more and more full. You would shut these things away and by this very act you could go on as a true and loyal member. You looked, from the outside, like you were totally on board. You could pledge your allegiance along with the best of them. You could stand right along side the leaders and observe the worst of actions. You even participated at times. You were silent when you should speak up. You looked away when you should have brought something to the whole congregations' attention.

But then something happens. You finally reach the ONE question that HAS to be answered. You see an action that HAS to be challenged. You suffer an indignity that HAS to be addressed. Yes, you have only ONE issue on the table at this point. Here is what happens that made so much sense to me. Once you decide not to shove this issue into the closet, the door to this closet in you mind suddenly disappears. Out tumbles all the things that you chose not to look at or think about. Now you have to face everything. Now it is no longer about this one issue but suddenly the weight of all the issues, questions and hurts come tumbling together.

You may never bring up all the other issues. You may leave only addressing the latest one but the weight of them all is your final impetus to leave.

So why is this such an important revelation to me? I think the main reason is that it gives me a way to explain to someone how/why we left. Yes, it looks like we left over titles but if you would like I can unpack the rest of the closet and give you all the reasons. It also helps to offset the voices that say, "I can't believe you left over such an insignificant reason," or the voices that accuse me of being petty, little or bitter. In all it just helps me to process my life there.

It also is a warning to me not to build closets in other parts of my life dealing with my husband, children or friends. Closets are for clothes - not life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Covering and Authority - New Site

I'm just finding lots of new sites to link to this week. Here is another one I just found.

It is called Covering and Authority and is the best site I have found yet that discusses the harmful practice/theology of being under 'Covering' or Authority.

For those of you who are not familiar, covering is a doctrine taught that says you have to be under a spiritual covering (of a church or leader) to be kept out of harm of the devil and bad things happening in your life. It espouses that all Christians need to be under authority to have anything good happen in their life or ministry.

I have written about the effects of it in my life throughout this blog. You can read some of them
here, here, here, and here if you are interested in the personal side to this doctrine.

Anyway, check the site out and link it where it is appropriate.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Someone To Read

I think I know my readership enough to know that you all will appreciate this guy's writings. His name is Steve Hill. (no another Steve Hill - not the one from Florida) He writes about leadership, apostles, tithing, humility and such. Go to his page and click around.

Start with his Prophetic Word for 2009. He nails it I think.

For another sample try this from his article, Apostles, Authority and the Kingdom of God:

“And he gave some to be apostles...”

When Jesus is the King of His Kingdom, we need a New Testament understanding of “apostle”. The picture of spiritual CEO at the top of the religious food chain is simply wrong. We know the word means “sent one” but may not realize that Paul’s use of the term is in the Greco/Roman business context regarding slaves. There was a fixed hierarchy among slaves from business directors down to those who did manual chores. The most expendable slave and thus, least honored, was the “sent one”. Why? Travel was often dangerous so those sent on errands near or far were those whose loss would be missed the least. They were the most expendable with the least status. Putting “apostle” on your business card then would be like putting “dishwasher” on your card now. \1

or on knowing your place as the leader from his article Better For You:

Jesus, the best, wisest, most anointed leader who ever walked on the face of the earth was leaving the men he had discipled for three years. Earlier He had called them "friends" and destroyed the possibility of any hierarchical system truly representing His kingdom but now he takes it all one step further! He is leaving the scene!
It is better that they know His indwelling presence by the Holy Spirit than for them to have His physical presence! It is better that His friends walk as He walked by inward revelation of the Father and His voice than by outward command! Jesus was so confident of the ability of the Holy Spirit to lead into all truth, to reveal His person and to reveal His Father that He was willing to leave. He was willing to trust His friends to the Holy Spirit! And we think we are needed? (emphasis mine!)

or in Discernment you can read about his take on John 3:15-17. Here he In I John 3:15- 17, here he talks about three agendas that capture our hearts and blind us.

Regarding giving so that your wealth will increase he says this in his article Most of what is taught about money is wrong,

Proverbs 22:16 is a very interesting verse, "He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches and he who gives to the rich will surely come to poverty." Why do we give to the rich? We hope for something in return! That is the same spirit as stealing from the poor! Jesus condemned our propensity to do things in hope of return and commanded us to serve those who cannot pay us back and to place treasure in heaven (Luke 14:12- 14).

Good stuff from someone who is doing the stuff - not just talking about it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reignited Heart for Worship

It is funny. Just when you think that nothing will ever change, when you are sure you are just adrift on a sea of nothingness, just when you are positive that something in you is truly dead, you are surprised yet again by what the Father is doing in you.

A few days ago Heather at Deconstructed Christian posted a song that had been forwarded to her. It is entitled, “From the Inside Out” by Hillsong United. I have been captivated, wrecked, reawakened, and drawn in to the heart of God this week as I have listened to it over and over again.

My old group was renowned for it’s worship bands. Unbelievably, even though the group we belonged to never reached the 250 mark in attendance, the worship musicians we had in our body rivaled those that you hear on the Hillsong albums. I loved the hours and hours we spent singing and pouring our hearts out to God.

When we left, this was the hardest thing to do without. In all the “messed up-ness” of the whole thing, worship seemed to go mostly untainted. I think it was truly the heart of the musicians that kept it so pure. Whatever reason, it was stellar.

After leaving though, I wanted to throw it out with all the other craziness. I could barely listen to a worship song. I doubted that God even wanted us to do that when we gathered. I was done, finished with the whole thing.

During the one time that we visited a service in another city, I was on edge and had a hard time enjoying the worship service at all. No, I figured, I was done with the whole venue and frankly, I wasn’t missing it that much anymore. If you had caught me on a bad day I would have even ranted on about how worthless the whole thing was.

But then this song happened.

Something dead in me sprang to life. I have cried tears of joy, longing and refreshment. I lifted my hands. I felt God again in song.

I’m as surprised as anyone. I was not looking for it. I’m not even sure what to do with it. I wonder if it is something that will pass. I hope it won’t. I want my kids to experience it. I would love to find it again in a group of believers.

I find it is not entirely like it was before. I still have questions. What does the Father want in our time together? What does worship do for Him? What would he rather us say - or not say? Can we sing things that are only partially true still in our lives - with the hopes that they will become completely who we are? Does He enjoy our time corporately together? Is it OK with him that the musicians (worship leaders) lives’ are messed up in one way or another - sometimes alarmingly? Is it OK with Him that mine is? Is it terrible that we are caught up in the moment in worship and say the most wonderful things and then turn around and stumble and fall and hurt His heart the next?

All those questions and more tumble around in my head. But for the moment I find myself pushing them away to the back, closing my eyes, raising my hands and singing...

A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Chorus 2x
Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out