Is That You?

The sudden slapping sound of metal on metal made by the tumblers in the door lock broke the empty silence and her eyes opened.

Covered by blankets and the heavy darkness her breathing goes shallow to listen more intently. Her mind sorts through scenarios, and then if only to satisfy her anxious internal voice and quiet her fears she calls out in a voice just loud enough to be heard…

Is that you?

Practically every married couples lived out this scenario or some version of it and at times our relationship with the Heavenly Father is also this way. We’ve been together a long time,during which His Holy Spirit has been a counselor and guide. We’ve walked together,He’s carried me, I’ve walked away, He’s been faithful. You’d think we’d be more discerning of His “moving” by now but somehow at times we still find ourselves feeling like the woman under the blanket. Seeking confirmation of what we think we know, anxious and fearful of the unknown, and that can be dangerous because many times we only see what we want to. Our spiritual eyes can easily become accustomed to an environment of darkness!

I know that there are definitely times when I find myself asking…

Is that You?

I find biblical context for my confusion In Luke’s Gospel chapter 7:19-23.

What John was experiencing was definitely not what he or any of the other apostles had expected to occur. At this point John was perhaps facing death, so I can understand how difficult it must’ve been for him to trust who he thought Jesus was.

I don’t make very many life or death choices but given what was at stake here I can totally understand how he might’ve wondered if he’d been mistaken somehow.

He needed to ask Christ in as direct a way as possible exactly who He was. He chose to send two of his friends to ask Jesus because he was imprisoned. Can you imagine that? Telling your friends and most likely people who you’ve taught about Jesus to go and ask Jesus this most basic question! As awkward as that prospect must’ve seemed to him, I believe his biggest challenge was to first face his own fears.

Fear of being wrong, of not seeing things as they really were and of exposing his own humanity to his friends. He had to first understand that thinking you know something is the greatest obstacle to learning anything!

That’s certainly a mindset I can relate to.

Recently I’ve had occasion to reevaluate some of my own beliefs. Take abortion for example…I just don’t think that denying that choice to a woman is very much of an expression of love which is what Christian people are called to do and be in this world. I understand that it’s about the unborn child but it’s still the woman’s real estate that it has to be conveyed through…

Our Father hates all sin, as should we, but He gave Adam a choice because
without it…

It’s not love…it’s just the law!

and while God’s word certainly carries that authority He’s too much of a loving Father to treat us like programmable robots, no, He gave Adam a choice!

What I’m saying is “Who are we to insert our authority over the lives and choices of another when God Himself who is love, chose to do otherwise”

Do I hate abortion? YES! but standing outside an abortion clinic harassing people who’re already going through perhaps one of the most difficult times of their life doesn’t seem all that loving to me…

We’re not called to be anyone’s judge or to be argumentative like an attorney…we’re just supposed to be witnesses of the difference His love has made in our lives! To be ever-ready to give an answer when asked about the source of our hope!
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I see the people outside the clinic with the huge and unspeakably gruesome pictures of aborted babies on display. I look into their accusing self righteous faces as I walk by and then stop for a moment and ask…

Is that You?

I know it’s me…

Listening to the lyrics of a song recently I was struck by their accurate reflection of my own life!

I want to know what became of the changes, we waited for love to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?

Jackson Browne “The Pretender”

I’ll admit that sometimes I feel that way. I’m certainly not as committed to living my life for the Lord as some are! And I do feel somewhat frustrated and discouraged over the status of my own spiritual life! It’s been quite a challenge to me that’s with me to this day! At some point, who knows when…I’d like to find my own state of grace where I can truly accept the full measure of forgiveness that Jesus was crucified to secure for me!

Take this guy for example…

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I met him one day while I was taking a break from driving. He told me drives this bus up and down the west coast doing his ministry which he claimed was based on Seventh Day Adventist teachings…
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He told me that Christ had established his true church in 1866 which had me wondering what the second chapter of Acts was all about!

My issues with this particular variety of religion are numerous but in a nutshell, well…it’s a religion! A man made set of rules that when followed entitle you to go to heaven. Based on the belief that Christians are still under the law instead of the “new and better covenant” spoke of in Hebrews 8:6.

Is that You?

If what your looking for is a perfect representation of God the Father in Christians or the institutions they establish you’ll never find it! If you think otherwise I believe that’s an indication of how you see yourself, Perfect!

I know I’ve found it to be true in my own circumstances…

Can you see the problem?

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We’re all created in Gods image but our sin shattered it into shards and fragments that show a perverse reflection. There are times when man does reflect enough of Him,or is able to die to his self to such an extent that what we see seems like perfection…

We call that “art”

In the ninth verse, thirty eighth chapter of Marks gospel,John brings to Jesus’ attention certain other practitioners they’d observed who were engaged in a deliverance ministry of sorts. The idea being to get His approval to “forbade” them from it. My sense is that based on His reply Jesus wisely observes that “if our policy is to shut down everyone who doesn’t have it all together who’ll be left?” And tells John to basically leave them alone!

None of us have got it all right…

No need to ask, “Is that you”!

We are the woman,

we’re also the bride.

We are the pretenders,

prevented by pride.

From seeing the truth,

Through our fractured eyes.

We fear what could save us,

And instead cling to lies!

In His Presence!

In the past few weeks just prior to Pentecost Sunday and in the partial week since it seems as though I’ve been thinking, talking, writing, reading blogs, articles and “tweets” about, watching video’s, and listening to other people talk…

all about the same thing!

It’s just like Bill says in this video, between bites of lunch…It’s a move of the Spirit, a fresh presence of Jesus one can only describe as an “encounter”. Jesus is showing up in miraculous ways and reaching out to His Church, to the people who are truly seeking Him and who are dependent upon His Holy Spirit to empower them for His mission works which are to begin within the church first and move out from there. Some are being healed, others delivered from crippling emotional wounds, still others from stagnant and prideful religiosity, The mission is the same, it’s a great co-mission between Gods Holy Spirit, Jesus and through us to deliver the captives! The miracle is that none of the weapons formed against Gods children can prosper in His Holy presence which is being poured out, He causes the lame to walk and the blind to see!  The manifestation is His Glorious light and His presence that we carry with us into this dark, and dead world!

It’s said that fear is the beginning of wisdom, in that verse to fear means to be in awe of who God is. We’re taught that no sin can come into the presence of a Holy God and I believe that’s true but why? After all, Satan is the father of lies but didn’t Satan come before God to talk to Him about Job? Could it be that our misunderstanding of this is whats keeping us from experiencing a life changing fullness of His presence? When we finally come to a place where we know what we are and seek to repent be forgiven, are we still afraid to come into His presence because of our attention wrongly being placed on the sin’s of our past and those we’re yet to commit, on OUR profound unworthiness instead of His agape love? What if the reason no sin can be in Gods presence is simply because of how much it breaks His heart?  Some don’t believe God has feelings and that the descriptions of such in His word are allegorical and simply for the benefit of our understanding but I don’t agree! All of us love our children, can you imagine having them paraded before you in any condition other than being in perfect health and how that would affect you?

I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ!

I think some people’s perception of God and the idea of being in His presence are scary thoughts because they imagine the experience being something similar to that of Dorthy in The Wizard Of Oz!

Surely at some point in your life you’ve encountered a stray dog who’s been severely mistreated by people. Even though it may be starving and you’re holding out food to give to it, it will approach you with fear and almost against it’s own will,with  it’s head down ready to run at the first sign of your displeasure. Sadly,  because of their life experiences that’s how many people feel about love and so consequently they also feel that way about approaching God who actually IS love!

I want a visitation, a personal encounter with Jesus! Like the Israelites I want to pass over the Jordan into the presence of His blessing and rest. Joshua Made two piles of stones that day to mark the significance of what had happened, the first one on the bank from smooth river rocks that were taken out of the Jordan and another in the middle of the river where the ark stood as the entire nation walked past. I believe the stones he used to make the second pile were gathered from the land and were in a much rougher sharper condition than the smooth ones he first used, their roughness symbolizing our present sinful condition. The smoothness of first stones was the result of the influence of the water, placing them in the river represents the Holy Spirit’s work on our hearts of stone and just as it was with the Israelites who did cross over into Canaan it took an act of faith to make the waters part and repentance or the circumcision of their hearts to enter in! Through my experiencing the presence of Jesus and His wondrous love,  I too must leave my own sin or “Egypt” behind before I can cross over into and all He has waiting on the other side for me!

FREE!

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

If you’re anything like me you love that word, but it’s meaning can be rather confusing. The first rule of economics tells us that there is no free lunch, that it’s either already been paid for or the bill is yet to come. Knowing this, we’re more likely to be skeptical of things that are free, and even less trusting of the phrase “At no cost to you” I guess it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I said ring, perhaps I meant hook…

The difference between the two is subtle, “free” denotes  something we aren’t beholding to anyone for, that we might indulge ourselves in without impropriety, without feeling encumbered by any sort of obligation. That being thankful for is merely good manners on our part, not a requirement.

Whereas, “at no cost to you” suggests something else that most people aren’t as comfortable with. Just knowing that there was a cost to someone at some point registers with most people as something that’s “owed”. Even if it’s merely some due consideration such as being thankful, it’s seen as being a liability or as undesirable.

As I was thinking about what these words mean I wondered if there was a worthwhile comparison involving these two definitions and some of the ways in which the gospel is presented to people.  Peoples misconceptions concerning Gods free gift of salvation can be a stumbling block,  as an ambassador of Christ I feel it’s useful to understand them. I’ve always believed that if the gospel was presented to people from the perspective of grace they’d have no reason not to accept Christ!  Unfortunately, most of what I’ve heard seems to come across kind of like this,

“You’re a hopeless sinner on your way to hell! Accept Christ’s free gift of salvation, and then spend the rest of your life trying to be good enough to keep it”.

Yes! You are a hopeless sinner and Yes! salvation is a free gift, but once you accept it you’re NOT on the “Holiness” hook,

holiness isn’t the way to Jesus, instead it’s Jesus who is our way to holiness!

Yes, God wants us to be Holy, but it doesn’t count for anything if we’re just doing it to save ourselves! I think He wants us to be holy out of our love for Him, not to be coerced or guilted into it or be told that our salvation depends on it. That doesn’t sound like grace, which is the UN-merited favor of God, that sounds more like a doctrine of works or the “at no cost to you” type of free.

2 Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

The point I’m going for is that man has great difficulty accepting that salvation is a free gift, or in understanding what love really is. Perhaps because all he’s  known or experienced is the “strings attached” type,  it could be that the obligated version of “free” may be all he understands.  I feel like that’s pretty common in this world, but this is the greatest example of real love!  Even though man may be much more familiar with the worlds lesser examples of love or more comfortable with seeing himself as being “worthy” of salvation, that’s not the real gospel message. Many Christian’s also prefer variations of that perspective because they feel it somehow puts them above other people in Gods eye’s which is of course “dead wrong”, many non-Christian people want nothing to do with “it” or them for much the same reason!

My favorite saying related to this topic is,

We’re not saved BY works, But instead FOR works!

Love is always a choice! Serving the Lord is my greatest joy! Living a God honoring life is something I attempt to do out of my own freewill because of my love for God and other people, in response to a love that was first shown to me! It’s not out of any sense of obligation, my salvation is a done deal! Therefore there’s nothing to “earn” or no ongoing dues that I must pay, I believe that I was blood bought, not blood “pawned”! The only thing I owe is to tell others what Christ has done for me and that is absolutely no problem!  Some of what is preached by “Christians” is intended to stir up guilt and condemnation in people which tends to have the  effect of turning them into unhappy, self righteous, “religious” people!

I’m so not into that…and I can understand why the world isn’t either!

Why? Because it’s a game you’ll never win, forever comparing yourself to others caught in some sort of tail chasing spiral that either falsely puffs you up or brings you down…fun huh?

I’ve heard this preached many times,

“We could double the attendance here in a month, all we’ve got to do is tell people they can do whatever they want and still go to heaven”

Why not say that? It’s a bit of a challenge as I see it!

Go ahead and put that on the sign in front of your church and when the people show up we’ll tell them about the love of Jesus and how He chose to die for all of our sin’s. We’ll show them a little piece of that love in the Christian fellowship we’ll extend to them. We’ll be patient and supportive while the Holy Spirit works in their heart and their walls of resistance are broken down by the great love of Jesus!  And when that time comes and their ready to accept what Christ did on the cross as being for them and recognize it as being the only way to wipe away their sins we’ll pray with them that Jesus would come into their heart and be Lord of their lives! Then, If they’ve truly had a born again experience I think you’d be safe to tell them,

” Go ahead and do whatever you want! Do whatever your new best friend the Holy Spirit will abide!”

Why? Because they’ve been set FREE!

From my perspective either you believe that greater is He that is in me, or that greater is he who’s in the world…That there’s power in the blood of Christ to save us and keep us, and to forgive us, no matter what we’ve done or what we will do, or you don’t! I believe that coming to know Christ is a life changing experience, and even though there are times that we’re all going to fall short of the mark I’d put my faith the power of the Holy Spirit over that of the world anytime!

1 Corinthians 7:22

For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

I know that some of what I’ve written here could be easily misinterpreted. So just for the record let me state that in no way am I advocating using grace as a license for immorality or sin, neither am I saying that I don’t thoughtfully consider or that I take for granted the great price that Christ paid on the cross for my salvation.  Doctrines of works and of grace can both be taken to flawed extremes.  Personally, I feel as though I want to do my best in this life, to always choose love. But I know that I fail at it and that if it weren’t for the Gods grace I wouldn’t have any hope at all! I believe that because God is all knowing and loves us so much He made it very simple and totally free for us to be saved!

Thank You Father God!

Cliche’

As  I was considering prospective titles for this post it occurred to me that all of the idea’s I had were little more than just tired cliche’s.  Then, upon further reflection I realized how many of my other titles were also cliche’s!

(note to self: Try to be more creative/interesting)

What makes this post different is that this time I’m intentionally writing about cliche’s so therefore I’ve concluded that the only logical title is well, cliche…

Since I’m being predictable,  I might as well start out with a proper definition of said title.

cli·ché

–noun1.a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

Ouch, that hurts! Especially that first word “trite” which seems to me to indicate something unimportant. Isn’t it enough to be boorish, must I be insignificant as well? ~sigh~

For all of you newcomers, this is the part of the blog where I turn off of the main highway and steer you back along the small meandering pathway that eventually leads to the “profound” point I’m trying to make. And as is the case in both roads and reasoning, the more untraveled either of them are the more likely it is that you’ll find a few pot-hole’s in them. So try to insulate yourself from any hard or unyielding surfaces or belief systems you might be injured by and read on!

Why do so many  anointed men of God seem to do a wipe out at some point in their life?

How many can you think of ? Of course most of us have either read or heard the story of King David, and of course there’s Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker as well! Here’s a few more that you may not be familiar with that I found interesting, people like  Alexander Dowie or maybe Finis Jennings Dake.  All of these men were used mightily by God and had incredible ministries only to fall prey to temptation and various publicly observed sins. It’s happened so much that it’s a cliche’, man seeks God, God finds man, Gods Spirit empowers man, he get’s a big head,  takes advantage and starts believing in his own abilities granting himself certain “indulgences”. It was pride that got Adam, apparently not much has changed in that pride still comes before the fall!

Solomon had this to say…

Ecclesiastes 8:14

There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

If you’re trying to figure out who’s good and who’s not based on the circumstances of this world you may find them in it probably won’t make good sense! Perhaps That is the real vanity!

The great apostle Paul had a lot to say about mans weaknesses, and God’s strength,

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

I’ve been told by people that they don’t believe in using doctor’s or medicines because they feel it makes a mockery of the atonement of Jesus. That it basically amounts to idolatry because it’s putting those things in place of the healing that Jesus’ victory over sin, sickness and death obtained for us. I agree that when Christian people are sick they should first do as the bible instructs us to do, be anointed and prayed over by their church elders but if you don’t begin to get some relief pretty quickly I think you ought to see a doctor. Even though both drugs and doctors have been known to be BAD, I believe that God can work through them if He chooses to, and I don’t think you can toss out the whole of medical science because you feel as though God is limited to healing us in any certain way. It seems spiritually prideful to me, like the guy who sat on top of his house during the flood waiting for God to rescue him…he turned away three different people trying to help him escape and of course he eventually drowned! Before God he asked, “where were you, I was waiting?” and God said. “I sent a guy in hip waders, then a boat, and even a helicopter! Why didn’t you get in?’

God can’t work through evil? Doesn’t seem like He has much choice in this world!

1 Corinthians 1:27

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I’ve heard this next one a lot, that all other versions of the bible besides the King James are basically heretical. Look into it, the research is compelling, lots of critical verses are severely butchered or omitted entirely. I personally prefer a KJV, because I believe it is the most accurate translation, but does that mean that the Holy Spirit can’t move in a persons heart when they read the NIV or the Living Bible? I don’t think so!

As stated in the definition a cliche is an expression that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse. If we’re not careful our spiritual lives can also become just a cliche!  We pray at certain times or in certain ways which are mostly just routine’s that lack the vitality that having a real relationship with Christ should have. Inevitably, this superficial level of faith spreads to every aspect of what our Christian life is supposed to be about until even the most sacred becomes ritual and then a cliche’. That sounds horrible, and for sure it is, but even when we’re at our worst, we serve a God that can clean the dirt, sticks and rocks out of the clay he wish’s to use and then form it into a vessel suitable to be filled with His Spirit. It’s never redundant or routine for God to love His children. Nothing God does is just a cliche’,  He causes the sun to rise every morning in a special way, He created each of us totally unique! I don’t know about you but I’m bored with the cliche’, I’m tired of  the spiritual circle I seem to be running in and I want more! I don’t just want to merely run in a “bigger circle” unless it’s big enough for me to be able to continually step out and walk in places I’ve never been and do things I’ve never done! None of that will ever happen as long as our faith is a cliche’ or until we drop the self righteous legalism and understand what it means to love!