A friend has said this recently, after returning to the church I left: "I know he made some mistakes, but I have to go there. The teaching is so good." This makes me cry. It is a wedge pushing that friend and I apart. I don't want to hear what he is preaching and she doesn't want to hear that he is dangerous. It is a huge ugly elephant in the room with us that overshadows any other attempts at conversation.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
But The Teaching Is So Good...
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
An Example Of The Arrogance That Fosters Religious Abuse...
Today, when I checked my email, there was a comment to my last blog. There was something about it that bothered me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it... so I posted it and tried to respond to it in the comments. But...
"I have to say that I belong to one of those religions who hears the Protestants say that we aren't Christians. It absolutely infuriated me that any religious group feels they have the monopoly on Christianity. I'm trying to get over the anger because I know that isn't Christlike. But we do believe in Jesus Christ, and we look to Him as our source of salvation. Our views about certain points of doctrine might be different, but our feelings about Him remain.I have been reading many blogs lately by people who say they have given up on organized religion. What I hear from them is that when they go to church, they feel nothing. I know what they are missing. I have the answer. I can explain it in great detail, but I know most people won't except my explanation. So the best I can do is say to them as Jesus said to those who questioned about where he had come from, "Come and see.""
"Hmm... I don't know what your answer is, but if it is belonging to another organized religion, umm... not what I'm even talking about. I am not unfamiliar with the LDS. Whether they are Christian or not is not even the issue in this... Frankly, if I am tired of the legalistic rules-based religion I have seen, the LDS is just as bad as the rest. It is not about what the individual people believe, it is about the attempt by religion - in general - to control the way people think - and what they do... and the abuse that flows from there."
"I know what they are missing. I have the answer."
Saturday, May 17, 2008
So what, exactly, is it that God wants from us...?
I think we have all wondered this, if we haven't exactly voiced it out loud. It seems that no matter which denominational background you come from, you get a set list of things in answer to this question. What is it that God wants from me?
"And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?" Genesis 3:8-9 (Amplified)
"And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do, Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him?" Genesis 18:17-18 (Amplified)Hmm... God called Abraham His friend... He had a relationship with him. He actually came down and talked to him.
"And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Mesos returned to the camp, but his minister Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the [temporary prayer] tent." Exodus 33:11 (Amplified)
"Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18 (Amplified)
"Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us." Matthew 1:23 (Amplified)
"God's Message: "Heaven's my throne.earth is my footstool.What sort of house could you build for me?What holiday spot reserve for me?I made all this! I own all this!"God's decree."But there is something I'm looking for:a person simple and plain,reverently responsive to what I say.Your acts of worshipare acts of sin:Your sacrificial slaughter of the oxis no different from murdering the neighbor;Your offerings of worship,no different from dumping pig's blood on the altar;Your presentation of memorial gifts,no different from honoring a no-god idol.You choose self-serving worship,you delight in self-centered worship - disgusting!Well, I choose to expose your nonsenseand let you realize your worst fears,Because when I invited you, you brushed me off.You did the very things I exposed as evil,you chose what I hate."But listen to what God has to sayto you who reverently respond to his Word:"Your own families hate youand turn you out because of me.They taunt you, 'Let us see God's glory!If God's so great, why aren't you happy?'But they're the oneswho are going to end up shamed." Isaiah 66 (Message)
"For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!" Romans 8:15 (Amplified)
"And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, (Father)! Father!" Galatians 4:6 (Amplified)
"Now that we know what we have - Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God - let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all - all but the sin. So lets' walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." Hebrews 4:14-16 (Message)
"God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun" Romans 8:29-30 (Message)
"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you." Revelation 3:20 (Message)
"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention.Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.Knowing the correct password - saying 'Master, Master,' for instance - isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience - doing what my Father wills. I can see it now - at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I'm going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'" Matthew 7:13-23 (Message)
Monday, May 12, 2008
Grace & Freedom & Worth & Such...
As I keep thinking about this [worth] . . . hmm . . . our worth is not determined by our physical condition - looks - the outward. Our worth is not determined by our emotional condition - fears - dreams - scars - pains. Our worth is not determined by our experiences or accomplishments - what has been done to us - what we have done. None of these things have anything to do with our worth.The worth of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it . . .So what was the price paid for us? In light of that, what are we worth?Our worth to other people will vary. Some will consider us worth more than money can value (like the worth of a true friend). Others will consider us worthless . . . maybe because they are not able to see past the surface . . . maybe because they are focussed inward.But to God, our worth is determined by what He is willing to give for us . . .Consider - God knew how we would be, what we would do - to each other - to ourselves - to Him - before He ever breathed the first Word of creation. And yet, He still chose to create us - knowing we would reject Him - kill Him . . .Our worth to Him . . . hmm . . .Worth versus worthy . . . we are not - of ourselves - worthy of His Grace - His Mercy - His Love - His Life . . . but Love is not given - Mercy is not given - Grace is not given - Life is not given - based on worthiness . . . real love is not earned - it is a gift . . . we are not worthy - He has made us worthy - we are worth His life to Him . . . without that life, we are not worthy to be in His presence . . . paradoxes . . .So when we look at each other through the eyes of God, we see great value. Hmm . . . when we look at ourselves through God's eyes . . .He sees us the way He meant us to be . . . the way we really are . . . He sees us finished - complete - perfected in His Love.Just some thoughts
Reading Mark 14 today and right off the bat - perceptions of worth..."3-5 Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While He was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. "That's criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year's wages and handed out to the poor." They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.6-9 But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could - she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly."10-11 Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the cabal of high priests, determined to betray him. They couldn't believe their ears, and promised to pay him well. He started looking for just the right moment to hand him over." - Mark 14:3-11 (The Message)Hmm . . . the woman expressed her perception of Jesus worth . . .Judas Iscariot expressed his perception of Jesus worth . . .They were both with him every day in ministry . . knew him very well . . .One saw inestimable worth . . .the other . . .Perceptions . . . hmm . . .
Now I'm reading romans 10 . . ."The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy - every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story - no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?The word that saves us is right here,as near as the tongue in your mouth,as close as the heart in your chest.It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God - "Jesus is my Master" - embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"" Romans 10:4-10 (The Message)Hmm . . . if we fall into the trap of thinking we have to keep the Mosaic Law - the Old Covenant - in order to be righteous, we cut ourselves off from the righteousness given as a gift through Christ. Tragically, this cuts us off from all righteousness because no matter how meticulous we are, we can NEVER fulfill the Law by our own efforts . . ."For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written,The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith." Romans 1:17 (Amplified)"I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior :faith expressed in love." Galatians 5:2-6 (The Message)Hmm . . . powerful words, no?Freedom - Law fulfilled by Christ - us in Christ - Law fulfilled in us . . . free . . .
Another note . . . another passage . . . more understanding on freedom . . ."So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? "Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!" Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice, They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they're just another way of showing off, making yourselvs look important." Colossians 2:20-23 (The Message)Rules . . . Law of Religion versus Law of Love . . . love your neighbor as yourself . . . this will, sometimes, cause you to not partake of something or do something that you have perfect liberty to do in order to not cause someone else to stumble because they do not yet see . . .Peace . . . calm . . . stable . . . unshakable . . . love . . . fearless . . . patient . . . perceptive . . . wisdom . . . God in us . . . free . . .Hmm . . .
So . . . we need to quit trying to please God with our efforts or even think that we can . . . we do not have the ability to please Him - it is not in us . . . anything we do for Him is Him in us . . . quit trying to be the 'good Christian' and just surrender . . . quit trying so hard and just surrender. So simple . . . not works . . . grace - the Blood . . ."And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love wit which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:1-9 (NKJV)We had nothing to do with earning our salvation and we have nothing to do with keeping it . . .HE drew us - HE convicted us - HE chose us - HE saved us . . . not us . . . at all . . . we just surrender . . ."So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." John 19:30 (NKJV)He didn't say, "To be continued...""And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last."" Revelation 1:17 (NKJV)He is everything . . ."Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before HIm endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)He even is in charge of our faith . . ."For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NKJV)Wow . . ."But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Hebrews 8:6 (NKJV)Hmm . . ."So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives, you've et sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!" Romans 6:15-18 (The Message)FREEDOM!!"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)Hold on to your liberty! FREEDOM!!! FREEDOM!!! FREEDOM!!!Law and works are the opposite of grace and mercy.LAW GRACEFollow the rules It is a free giftSee your sin and shame God accepts you as you areConsciousness of sin Awareness of righteousnessDo or die! Embrace Jesus and live!"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Romans 7:14-16 (NKJV)We are not capable of making ourselves good enough to please God - ever - by any means . . .His greatest pleasure is when we allow Him to do the work . . . enter into His rest . . .We must quit trying to subdue our own sins . . . we are not able . . . give them to Jesus and let HIM do it!"He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19 (NKJV)"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for [His] good pleasure." Philippians 2:13 (NKJV)"For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)"Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:34-36 (NKJV)We CANNOT solve our own problems . . . we CANNOT clean ourselves up . . . if we could, why would we need Jesus?" So he answered and said to me, "This [is] the word if the LORD to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," Says the LORD of hosts" Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)Hmm . . . quit trying and surrender . . . let the Spirit of God do what He wants . . .I haven't fully got this yet, but I am seeing the light dawning . . . do you see it?Not striving and straining and stressing to do it right . . . no . . .Saying, "God, I sinned - forgive me - cleanse me - subdue my iniquities in Jesus name - I plead the Blood over them - thank You."So simple . . . do you see?Excitement . . . His yoke is easy and His burden is light indeed . . . WE don't have to do the work!!!! Just surrender . . .
"THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [ the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2 (Amplified)
"Then he said, "How can I picture God's kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It's like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it."" Luke 13:18-10 (The Message)
"And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." John 8:32 (Amplified)
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Some Thoughts & A Poem
I was going to do a post on my thoughts on freedom and what we are worth, but I just can't quite get enough steam up . . . maybe it isn't done cooking yet. ;-)
I have been feeling a little uncertain lately - concerned whether I was drifting too far from religious things - getting off course. (I know, it seems to be a theme with me through this whole growth thing.) Anyway, I was driving and thinking about it and thinking about *the people in my former church* and how they seem, to me, to be stuck in a religious box. Then an answer to this unspoken question came:Not everyone wants or can even handles life outside the religious box. The box gives them a feeling of security and stability and even purpose and they cannot handle life outside of that. Some will come to the place where they can handle it, some won't. Even among those who reach the place where they can handle it, some will not WANT to. It's a whole different ball game outside the religious box... kind of like the difference between being on a sailing ship and steering the course, relying on the wind and currents, but safe in the structure of the ship - securely anchored to the surface of the earth, versus floating on the wind itself, up in the air, riding the currents and letting Him steer...Hmm... whether you are on the ship or in the air, the Wind-Breath-Life-Spirit of God are guiding - directing. But on the ship, you have to deal with the under-currents, cross- currents, just-plain-currents of the water - the earth - that pull and push and can cause you to drift or lose your bearing. In the air, these currents can't affect you - cannot even reach you... so, strangely enough, when you are in the air, floating on the Wind alone, it can SEEM like you're drifting without purpose or direction when you are not. And when you stay in the safety of the ship, trusting it to get you to your destination, you can get completely off course and not even know it... Hmm... the ship can sail "off the edge of the world" with you on it and you helpless... if you are in the air, the "edge of the world" is irrelevant...
I walk through the corridors of TimeMy time - All timeImages come at meFlare up - linger - fadeI am no longer moved by themHistory - mine - allPast - Present - FutureThe sameI am unmoved - keep walkingThe images - events - cannot reach meI am beyond themBeyond TimeThe images continue to flare - recedeFlare - recedeThey will continue to do this intricate danceUntil Time stops - comes to an endFreedom.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Sometimes, Life Just Hurts...
Hmm... I had planned to blog on several topics - submission, shepherding, women in leadership, fake love, sterile churches... but I can't seem to get up any steam tonight (or the last several nights, for that matter) to use the Bible to prove this idea or that. Don't get me wrong. I believe that we should know and use the Bible to guide our beliefs - probably. ;-) I've even left a few passages in blog comments here and there the last couple of days. But... tonight I am not in a mood for it. What do I feel like doing? Crying. Yelling. Talking to someone who won't judge or misunderstand. Asking if anyone really cares. Hmm... What about? Well...
Sunday, May 4, 2008
The Woman's Place & Other Thoughts...
What is the Biblical view of a woman's place? This is something that has been percolating in me for several weeks. There are all sorts of doctrinal things on this subject. Many of them claim that women are innately - created - inferior to men. This is where tonight's thoughts begin...
"11 Let the woman learn with silence with all subjection.12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, not usurp authority over a man, but to be in silence.13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.15 But withstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety.
"11-15 Don't let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first - our pioneer in sin! - with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this."
"It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him. We must not use the Bible as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts can be taken as weapons." C. S. Lewis