Monday, December 8, 2008

Knowledge of Good & Evil

Do we use the Bible as the new Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Just as Adam & Eve ate of that tree and only gained a fractured relationship with Father and suffered self-inflicted shame are we not doing the same with our imperfect understanding of the Bible? We try to define Good and evil based upon incomplete understanding of the Bibles inspired writings. The results of which have separated us from each other and most probably made us misunderstand Gods nature and purpose.

From a friend:
Now what is the purpose of giving us such a book? Could it be that our purpose here on earth has never been to know Good & Evil, but rather to know LOVE. If you go to the Bible with the purpose of trying to know good and evil you will become a person with much fear, judgment, condemnation, and self righteousness. If you go to the Bible with the purpose of finding LOVE you will find Jesus.

What do you think?

Can we handle the fruit off of this tree any better then we did the tree in the garden?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eternal Yom Kippur

Lev 16:16 In this way he [high priest] will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites [entire nation], whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Lev 16:21-24 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. 24 He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people.

Lev 16:29-34 "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or an alien living among you- 30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. 31 It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. 32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community. 34 "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites."

What is interesting in this is that the High Priest is the only one who is responsible for doing the "work" to bring about atonement for the entire nation. In fact the people were mandated to do absolutely nothing to be "imputed" with forgiveness for sins. If in fact they did not rest they would be denied forgiveness until the next year.

Heb 10:1-22

Heb 10 tells us Jesus is our High priest. He is the one who did the one time "work" of making us clean, pure, sinless. We are to rest in His work, He is our sabbath. We gain that state by doing nothing but resting in Him. Our attempts to gain righteousness by our own efforts are fruitless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Prayer Problems

I have long been troubled about the way and why we pray. I think maybe I have possibly figured out what has made me feel "not right" about public prayer, formal prayer, written prayers, prayer meetings, etc.:

1. We think that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is not omnipresent.

Prayers are seemingly directed to a God who is out there or up there or somewhere other than where we are.
God may be in heaven but He claims residence within us. He is not separate from us.
From dena "We don't so much pray to One who is "up there, out there" but to one who is "within, close and inseparable".

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell Sheol, behold, you are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139:7-12)

Though they dig into hell Sheol, from there my hand shall take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down; and though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, from there I will search and take them; though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, from there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them." (Amos 9:2,3)

"‘Am I a God near at hand,’ says the Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ . . . ‘do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord?" (Jeremiah 23:23,24)

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3)

2. We think He is not omniscient (all knowing)

Sometimes I think we treat God like a forgetful old man, our prayers are attempts to get Him to remember our situation or bring our problems to the top of His to do list. If He is all knowing does He not already know of our situation?

Matt 6:8 Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matt 6:31-32 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

It feels to me like we treat prayer as a formulaic process by which we can get a desired result. We treat God like a cosmic pin ball machine in which if we exert the right forces on the right buttons, levers and springs then we can get the lights and sounds to activate as we desire.


3. We think He is not involved.

We think by being emphatic in our prayer delivery that will help our cause. We think by enlisting the help of others in our implorations that our petition will more likely get the desired result.
We implore God to become aware of our situation and intervene, change or otherwise make it all better for the object of our prayer. Just to be safe we usually add the disclaimer "if it be your will".
Do we believe that if we don't pray God will withhold His care or allow calamity to befall the objects of our prayers?

Matt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matt 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows

I think one of the best prayers we can emit is said in three words, "Thank You Jesus".

Maybe we should take the advice of Jesus:

Matt 6:5-8 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Yes I know He also says, You have not because you ask not. I just think we should consider spending more time talking with Him to build our relationship and not treating Him like a a cosmic genie.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God's Correction.

So how does God go about correcting one of his children?

In love. Correction by the Father, Son and Spirit will never leave you damaged, discouraged, diminished, belittled, confused, feeling less loved, feeling separated, feeling alienated, disconnected, fearful, ashamed or alone. If whatever action, person, teaching, doctrine, decision or feeling that you ascribe to His "correction" leaves you with any of the aforementioned states of mind you can be sure that that correction or discipline was not from God.

His correction will always leave you encouraged, uplifted, clear of mind, feeling loved, feeling His presence, feeling connected, unafraid, unashamed and not alone. His correction will always build you up, not tear you down. His correction will always bring light where there was shadow, peace where there was strife and clarity where they was confusion. His correction will always lead to restoration, always make you feel more loved, not less loved.

The correction and discipline that God administers in not like that of an angry or disappointed parent or teacher. His correction is like being bathed in love, helping us to see a better way to live and walk in partnership with Him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Velveteen People?

From the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Maybe we turn from humans to Persons when we begin to realize how much He loves us. I think it is interesting that the word anoint means to be rubbed on. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit, it is the annointing that transforms us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exploding Ducks?

Foie gras in English is "fat liver". It is the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage.

The technique of gavage dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the ancient Egyptians began keeping birds for food and deliberately fattened the birds through force-feeding.

Gavage-based foie gras production is controversial, due to the force feeding procedure, and the possible health consequences of an enlarged liver, and a number of countries and other jurisdictions have laws against force feeding or the sale of foie gras due to how it is traditionally produced.

One company that produces foie gras measures its production quality effort by measuring how many ducks prematurely explode during the force feeding process.

I think that is what religious obligation does. We are force fed man made traditions, rituals and rules until at some point we explode. Early on in the process we simply think we are being fed, never mind that it doesn't taste quite right. We try to ignore those that fall out of the feeding line thinking they just didn't have the faithfulness that we do. At some point we try to say "wait a minute, what about...", but many ask to late and end up as damaged as an exploded duck (spiritually speaking). Many become ritualistic lame ducks.

Jesus came to feed us His bread of life. He never tries to force His nourishment into us. We are free to grow with Him at the rate in which we will not only survive but we will thrive!

John 6:34-35

Friday, October 24, 2008

What to do with a Pharisee?

My postman (he was not our regular one) greeted me today with, “It is a beautiful day the Lord has given us”. I answered, “All the days He gives us are beautiful”. Having established our brotherhood in the Kingdom he next asked where I go to church. I replied that I don’t go to church but was beginning to be involved in simple church, and in fact we are praying about establishing a house church in our home.

With eyebrows raised He asked on whose authority we would do this. I said, “Well since Jesus in the head of the church and I serve Him I guess it is by His authority.” He didn’t buy that at all and launched into a lecture on hierarchical structure. He asked if we have a bishop, or pastor or elders, I said we have none of those at the moment and that elders probably would emerge once we actually began meeting. I tried to describe that each one would participate through the exercise of their spiritual gifts as the Holy Spirit led. He couldn’t understand how that could happen without a professional clergy guiding and directing.

By this time I am wondering why when two followers meet for the first time that the focus of our discussion isn’t of the joy of knowing Jesus. I was starting to begin to feel like he was going to ask to see my papers as he took me away to be questioned. I tried to lighten the discussion by offering that my definition of an elder is the person who prays with their eyes open just to keep a protecting watch on things. With that comment I had in his mind crossed over into heresy.

Now he thought it was best to teach me the importance of foundational doctrine. After we were sure we were not in any doctrinal error there might be some small chance of gathering without actually committing sin by doing so. I suggested that attempts at doctrinal accuracy were precisely why we have a divided body with thousands of groups in dis-fellowship with each other. He actually said that there were scriptures that encouraged these “factions”. I stood my ground on this one and said that I am sure it grieves the Lord that some of His children could not accept some of His other children.

I dared to suggest that our focus should be on Jesus and our calling would be to love one another. The evidence of our success would be the recognition of that love by those we came into contact with. He agreed that “loving one another” was something we could do but true love was doctrine properly understood, applied and enforced.

By this point I knew I was in the presence of a modern day Pharisee. I suggested that I may never preach or teach doctrinal subjects again but only how much God loves us and how He wants us to love others, and once we have mastered that we could move onto other things.

He then asked what we would do if someone didn’t believe in the orthodox teachings on the trinity, virgin birth, communion, etc. I told him that people are free to believe whatever they want; my calling was to point them to Jesus though love. If some ones expression of their doctrine was disruptive to a gathering several of those present would suggest they take a spiritual time out regarding the divisive topic.

I went on to suggest that having the Word (Jesus) in me was my foundation. To me that is the most tangible, the most concrete reality in my life. Everything else is temporary or shadow. He is Light, He is Love. He (the postman) knew the words, I know the Word (Jesus). The postman studyed the words written about the Word; I live in relationship with the Word. The postman knew about Jesus, I know Jesus.

Just for the fun of it I suggested he read The Shack. Actually I don’t think he will once he sees the book is on the Christian fiction shelf. We had talked for about 30 minutes and by now I was exhausted, Pharisees are so draining. It is so much easier sharing the love of Jesus with meth heads, hookers and serial killers.

I wished him well in his journey and asked him to read John 5:39-40 "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

I am sure that I will be on his “church” heretic list, but that’s ok.

When I was in Bible College we used to pray, “Lord please don’t send me to Africa”, now I pray, “Lord please don’t send me anymore Pharisee’s”.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What a Greeting!

Galatians 1:1-4

From : Paul To: All of Gods adopted children in the central highlands of Turkey (Galatia) in 50 A.D. (approximately). Galatians is a most remarkable letter. Not only is it among the earliest of Pauls writings but it is revolutionary in its mesage and candor.

The orignal is in blue, my amplified interpretation is in green.

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the of churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
Definitions:

Apostle - messenger
Agency - a recognized authoritative association
Jesus - God Rescues
Christ - Annointed One, Messiah, rubbed on by God
Churches - Gods adopted people
Grace - Divine love and protection freely bestowed
Peace - calmness, tranquility, without stress, without anxiety, without fear
Lord - bread keeper, loaf kneader, baker
Sin - anything that cause us to not recognize God's love in our lives
Evil age - i.e. religion, attempting to gain Gods favor by rule keeping
Will - plan, desire

Expanded to include definitions and explanation:
Definitions are shown in - [ ]
Explanations are shown in - { }
1 Paul, an apostle [messenger] (not sent from{by} men nor through the agency of man [a recognized authoritative association], but through {sent by} Jesus [God Rescues] {the} Christ {the anointed one, the Messiah, rubbed on by God} and God the Father, who raised Him {Jesus} from the dead),
2 and all the brethren {Silas and Timothy} who are with me, To the churches [Gods adopted children] of {in} Galatia {an area in the central highlands of what is now Turkey}:
3 Grace [Divine love and protection bestowed freely] to you and peace [calmness, tranquility, without stress, anxiety and fear] from God our Father and the Lord [bread keeper, loaf kneader, .i.e. baker] Jesus Christ,
4 who gave Himself for our sins [things that cause us to not recognize God’s love in our lives] so that He might rescue us from this present evil age [attempting to gain Gods favor by rule keeping], according to the will [desire, plan] of our God and Father,


Amplified meaning:

1 Paul, a messenger (not sent by a recognized association, but sent by Jesus (our Rescuer and who is God’s Anointed One) and God the Father, (who raised Jesus from the dead).
2 and Silas and Timothy who are with me. To each and every one of God’s adopted children in the central highlands of Turkey:
3 God our Father and our heavenly Baker who is Jesus (Gods appointed Rescuer) gives you the gift of Grace, which is divine love and protection, and peace, which is the freedom from all anxiety and fear.
4 who gave Himself to end the illusion of separation between God and people caused by those things that made us not recognize how much God loves us, so that He might rescue us from the useless attempt to gain God’s favor by doing some things and avoiding doing other things, according to the perfect plan of God our Father.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Truth about Truth

There is a line from the Matrix, Reloaded, where Morpheus, in response to the protest that “Not everyone believes what you believe” replies “The beauty of what I believe is that it does not require you to believe it in order for it to be true.”

This is true of His indwelling in all of us; whether you believe that His presence is in you or not it is still true. Now while it does not require you to believe it to be true, it does require you to believe it to live in the power of it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is the Bible the Word of God?

No, but before you break out the tar and feathers read this.

It is in fact heresy to equate any book, even the Bible, as equal to Jesus. The Bible is not the 4th member of the Trinity.

The Bible is a group of writings inspired by God and its purpose is to reveal Jesus to us. Each book (or letter) was written to a specific group of people for a specific purpose. It never claims to be the Word of God, it is without a doubt God inspired for the purpose I have already stated. It is best described as written words about the Word of God, Jesus. It reveals accurate and truthful information about Jesus. Jesus reveals Himself to us through His indwelling.

Until recent history the vast majority of people never read a single word of the Bible, and yet Jesus made His person and message known to billions down through the ages.

John 1:1-4

John 5:39-40

1 John 2:27

I think the reason that Jesus did not write a single word of the Bible is that He knew people would regard it as a "sacred" object and worship it instead of entering into relationship with Him.

Unfortunately many have done almost that anyway. They see the Bible as the "container" for God, as a manual and rule book. They constrain God to what they think they know of Him through study. It is like knowing every word of your favorite book but not ever having met the author and engaged in a conversation to verify what he meant by what he wrote. Instead of turning to Him for truth they "learn" a doctrine, filtered and constructed by men to serve their purposes, not Gods purpose. This is called Bibiolarity, it is a form of idolaltry that is no better then worshipping a rock.


Does that mean I discount the Bible? Not at all. I spend many hours a day studying it to learn more about Jesus. Even then, I am not dependent on written words to know Jesus. I know Him best through His presence within me. If for some reason the Bible were to disappear from earth my faith, my trust, my joy in Him would not be diminished one bit.

Are you dependent on words written about Him to know what is true about Him or is His indwelling Spirit real and tangible to you? If it is not it can be, all you have to do is seek Him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who is Landru?

In episode 22 of Star Trek the crew encounter a planet controlled by a deity (Landru) who in reality is just a computer projection.

Here is a link if you want to watch the episode.
http://video.aol.com/partner/cbs/star-trek-the-return-of-the-archons/4zHLcRcLU_rrepwwuJ8dONAXPDsrLVhP


The entire populace of the planet observe every law and ritual that Landru insists on because the result of disobedience is "absorption" (death). The life they live is without joy, without freedom and with out creativity. When you take creativity out of the "creation" all you have left is soulless, fear numbed robots. True free will is non-existent in a law / punishment paradigm.

This is precisely why Jesus came to free us from the Law of Moses and the bondage of religion. All too often we believe God to be nothing more than a backroom supercomputer deity who is ever ready to zap us for disobedience. The truth is that God (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit) is not even keeping score!

Gal 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery [the Law of Moses, relgiion].

Heb 10:12-21

As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:

This new plan I'm making with Israel isn't going to be written on paper, isn't going to be chiseled in stone; This time "I'm writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts. "He concludes, I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins. Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

So friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body.

Jesus fulfilled the law and moved us into relationship. The reality is that He loves us unconditionally and desires that we share His love with others. That is the new covenant!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Alienated in our minds

I believe that most of the harm people do to others and themselves is born out of a sense of alienation. The word itself is rooted in a broken bond of familial affection. To be alienated is to feel rejected, unloved, disapproved and without worth. Some people experience that in their relationships with family, friends and society. Broken people come from broken people.

Most people feel that sense of alienation from God even if only sub-consciousnessly. That false sense of alienation from Gods love and care is due to false teaching and some deliberate twisting of the very nature of God.

Paul tells us that we are only alienated in our minds, Col 1:21

It is impossible for us to be separate from Him, we cannot ever be alienated!

Col 3:11 Christ is all, and is in all.

I found a great article by Norman Grubb regarding Christ in us.
Here is the link: http://www.metrocast.net/~tdghty/Norman/thekey.htm

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sheep

What Jesus did not say!!


This is what He said:
'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
notice He did not say, "My sheep found me."
Other things He said about sheep
(hover mouse over reference to see verse)
Jeremiah 50:6

Isaiah 53:6
Luke 15:4-6
Matt 12:12
John 10:15-16

The Theology of Santa Claus

You better watch out,You better not cry,
Better not pout,I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town.
He's making a list,And checking it twice;
Gonna find outWho's naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping.He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good,So be good for goodness sake!
Oh, you better watch out!You better not cry.
Better not pout,I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town.

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see. Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
The Father up above is looking down in love, So be careful little eyes, what you see.
(and the other verses)
Be careful little ears what you hear
Be careful little mouth what you say...
Be careful little hands, what you touch...
Be careful little feet, where you go...

As a child I always hated those childrens songs, not so much because that I might get caught doing something wrong but just because they were kind of creepy. As an adult not only are they creepy they are completly theologically unsound.

Heb 10:12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.
14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
16 “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

God is not some sort of cosmic sin accountant. He is not recording sin debits and repentance credits. He is not even keeping score!

He conquered sin 2000 years ago, He undid Adam! (Rom 5) The only real power sin has over us now is in its illusion that causes us to believe that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is separate from us. Living in that illusion causes us to do amazingly stupid things to ourselves and others.

Any theology that suggests that since the Cross event that God is still "keeping His list and checking it twice" is doing nothing less then recrucifing Jesus over and over and over again.

Paul says it this way, "Where there is no law, there is no transgression". The law of Moses, the period of the old covenant, ended on the Cross. (Rom 4) Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [the Mosiac Law] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.

If we need to use a childrens song as the basis of our theology let it be this one.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Now that is sound theology.

Free Book

Great Book - He Loves Me - by Wayne Jacobsen - free download

http://www.lifestream.org/pdf/HeLovesMe.pdf

It is not about religion

The etymology of of the word religion can be defined as "a return to bondage". So then it follows that to be religious means to practice being a slave. If the goal of religion is to gain God's favor then I would suggest that the effort is futile. Why? Because we are all already in His favor!

It might come as a suprise to some that Jesus did not come to set up a new religion. Christianity was not meant to become Judiasm-lite. He did not come to replace one set of impossible rules to keep with another set of impossible rules to keep. Not only did he not intend to set up a new religion He announced the end of an old one.

This is most important, He did not come to start a religion, He came to establish a relationship. A relationship between Him, His Father, the Holy Spirit and every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. That was the plan from before creation. Eph 1

What is now called "Christianity" is a man made religion that became firmly establised about 300 years after the death of Christ. It's rituals, rules and practices are a vain attempt to get God to repent.

Prior to that time to be called a Christian meant that you were recognized by non-believers as a follower of Christ. Now, as it was then, to be called a Christian is not a compliment. Today polls suggest that anything related to Christianity is not to be trusted and not to be taken seriously. The practice of the religion of Christianity has become one of the largest obstacles to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Before I go any further let me assure you that nothing is more important to me then following Jesus and being obedient to Him. Nothing is more important then in spreading the good news of Jesus. And doing that has nothing whatsoever to do with religion! Earlier I said rituals, rules and practices are a vain attempt to get God to repent. I did not misuse the word repent. We typically misuse the word to mean to stop doing something. Most often that thing is related to "sex, drugs, and rock N roll". Repent really means to change ones mind.

Everything done in every religion, including Christianity when practiced as a religion, is done to get God to change what He thinks about man. Many think by practicing religious activities, meaning the things we do on a daily or weekly basis will get God to "change His mind" about us; to love us more, to not be angry, to forgive us, to bless us, to remember us. We do a myriad of things to keep on God's good side. They are all unnecessary!

How do you know if your "practicing religion"? If you think there is a single thing that you are obligated to do or not do to gain His favor or to avoid His anger you are practicing religion. His love is not variable depending upon our actions or words. He even loved us while we were His enemies! Rom 5:8 We can love Him because He first loved us.

We don't need to get God to change His mind, God does most assurdibly not need to repent. We don't need to go to someplace God is because we presume He isn't someplace we are. We don't need to numb our pain with drugs and alcohol because we think we have been rejected by every person and even God Himself. We don't need to become workaholics to avoid even the possibility of an intimate relationship with our family because we know that even they hurt us if we let them get to close. We don't need to become embroiled in one love affair after another, one marriage after another until we finally come to understand the truth about God and the truth about people.

What if what is true about God is that He is the one who knows everything about you, knows whats best about you and knows what is worst about you and yet He loves you unconditionally.

We adopt religion because we think the true thing about God is that he is absent from us. We adopt religion because we think by observing rules and adopting rituals we can gain His favor.

What if He is the one that will love and accept you exactly as you are. What if He is truly your heavenly Father who loves you more than anyone ever has or ever will! What if there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less?

The greatest lie ever told is that God, meaning Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit is separate from us, that there is a great divide between us. Religion is predicated on the belief that there are someplaces that God is and someplaces where He is not. He is in that temple, He is not in that bar. He is in that church building, He is not in my house. He is in that Faith Healer, He is not is that prostitute.

Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Lies distort reality. They cause you to believe things that are not true. They cause you to act and react inappropriately. They cause you to do the wrong thing for the wrong reason. They cause you to turn your back from the very one who loves you most. They cause you believe that what is real is fake and what is fake is real. They cause you to live in darkness, where you stumble along in life doing ever increasing amounts of damage to yourself and others.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Some think God was angry (and still is) and that the old testament stories are proof of His wrath and vengence yet to come.

The Jesus who indwells me (and you) is not mean nor vengeful. Jesus said if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. It also says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus is the most complete and illustrative revelation of the Father. While He did get verbally angry with some very self-righteous people on occasion I don't recall Him doing any smiting, flooding or tossing lightening bolts at people.

From the September issue of The Adopted Life:

So from the very beginning, the Church has struggled with the Old Testament and sought to understand it more fully in the light of who Jesus is. Here are some basic points that we should keep in mind as we read the Bible of Israel:

1. Jesus is the Word. God the Son, in the flesh as the man Jesus Christ, is the revelation of God. Therefore, all other descriptions and revelations of God - including the Bible itself - must be interpreted in the light of what Jesus reveals about God’s nature. Jesus reveals God to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We cannot ever allow any statement in scripture, including the Old Testament, to undermine or undo what Jesus shows us about God. If a scripture seems to tell us something that contradicts the nature of God as revealed in Jesus then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see the meaning of scripture that fits with who Jesus is and who he reveals the Father to be.

2. When we look back on human history, especially as it is reflected in Israel’s experience, we realize what profound blindness has enveloped our human nature in Adam’s fall. We have believed that God is a blood-thirsty ogre demanding his pound of flesh before he will grant forgiveness. But God did not need the sacrifices.

He was accommodating our blindness because he knew that we could not imagine ourselves as loved and welcomed in his presence unless we came bearing such gifts.Even when God was welcoming sacrifice because of our hardened hearts, it was not the sacrifices that made humanity acceptable but the Son of God who made us acceptable.

3. We know that Adam’s fall plunged humanity into blindness; we also know that the Holy Spirit has been patiently educating the human race about the truth of who God is. This has been a process that has been worked out over thousands of years and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, the light of the world and the healer of our blindness.

Therefore we should not be surprised if those who lived before Jesus sometimes expressed darkened and blinded perspectives on God. Just because their words are to be found in the inspired pages of the Old Testament doesn’t mean their words represent God as accurately as Jesus does.

When the Psalmist prays that the infants of Babylon will be smashed against rocks (Psalm 137:9), we know that the Holy Spirit did not dictate those words to the Psalmist. Those words are found in the inspired scripture, but the Holy Spirit did not whisper in the Psalmist’s ear “and now I want you to wish for the murder of babies.” How do we know the Holy Spirit did not dictate those words? Because we know Jesus, and that is not who Jesus reveals God to be!

In Psalm 137, as in some other places in the Old Testament, we are seeing the blindness and fallenness of humanity. These words are inspired in the sense that the Holy Spirit has preserved them as a faithful record of Israel’s pain and of her blind and fallen response to that pain.

Based on all of this, we have to conclude that every verse of the Old Testament must be filtered through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. We have to look at each passage and ask ourselves “Do these words express the fallen human perspective on God’s nature, or do they foreshadow and express the truth that would be later revealed in Jesus?” What does the process of answering this question look like? ~ Jonathan Stepp

Monday, September 29, 2008

Modern Trinitarian

I am the very model of modern Trinitarian.
By Bob Harkema 09/27/08
Sung to the tune of "I am the very model of a modern major general"

I am the very model of modern Trinitarian.
Not like the Calvinists or even those Arminians.
Before the cosmos was created, even before time
They made a plan that in the end would turn out very fine.
Father, Son and Holy Ghost picked us before the start
To be officially adopted and not so far apart.

Chorus:
Father, Son and Holy Ghost picked us before the start
To be officially adopted and not so far apart.

Then Jesus appeared here on earth as God Incarnate
Some said He was a holy god, others said a primate.
He skipped church a lot and taught the wise of all things scriptural
To their surprise this prodigy was not at all liturgical.
He hung out with hookers, thieves and other vermin
But the worst of all were the very smelly fishermen.

Chorus:
He hung out with hookers, thieves and other vermin
But the worst of all were the very smelly fishermen.

He came not to condemn this world but to seek and save
He did His work successfully He even left His grave.
He conquered both sin and death and freed us from religion
We live now in relationship and not by superstition.
He told us to trust in Him and learn to live by love
Our light comes from Him within and not from far above.

Chorus:
He told us to live in Him and learn to live by love
Our light comes from Him within and not from far above.

Augustine and the Greeks, they concocted a strange brew
It served to control the masses and caused confusion to.
Confess and repent constantly; that is the thing to do
If you don't you will be in an eternal barbeque.
God will flee from a tiny sin so you must always pray,
A great divide between us and God, that is what they say

Solo:
We say our God is in us always, He dwells within our heart
There is nothing we could ever do that would make Him part.
Chorus (Slowly and words drawn out):
We say our God is in us always, He dwells within our heart
There is nothing we could ever do that would make Him part.

From Ireanaeus and Athanasius to a guy named Baxter Kruger
Every day the truth of it becomes a little clearer.
The Nicene Creed sets our tone of things theological
In it we stand orthodox and not at all heretical.
Some say His holiness causes Him to stand alone above,
We say no matter what else He is, we know that God is love.

Chorus:
We say no matter what else He is, we know that God is love.
We say no matter what else He is, we know that God is love.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

React or Create?

We are a new creation.

We have been living in the slavery of reaction to religion, to tradition and to effort.

Christ died to make us a new creation, perfect, holy and free. To experience His love without fear. To live as He created us. We are now Adam before the fall.

The difference between reaction and creation is what you "c". Simply by "C'ing", by moving the c in reaction to the front of the word we go from the slavery of reaction to the freedom of creation!

Reacting becomes Creating.
Reaction becomes Creation.
Reactive becomes Creative.

Church Signs

Amen?


Could be a fun church


I might avoid this one.




















Done with http://www.says-it.com/

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Understanding the Bible

1. Is the passage literal, figurative or symbolic?
2. Is there a cultural context that I need to understand in order for the words to make sense to me?
3. Who was the intended audience for the passage? i.e. Jews, Gentiles, etc.?
4. Is there a hidden message or double (parallel) meaning?
5. Is there an "inside joke", meaning the speaker and receiver know something I don't.
6. Is the passage prophetic?
7. Does the passage refer to the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.
8. Does the passage refer to end times?
9. Does the passage refer to a prophecy already fulfilled?
10. Does my understanding of the passage harmonize with other passages?
11. Does my understanding of the passage harmonize with the attributes of God?
12. Is there disagreement among Biblical scholars with regard to the passage?
13. Does my understanding of the passage help me love God more or gain more insight into how much God loves me?
14. Does my understanding of the passage help me love others more?
15. Is there evidence on how the early church applied this passage?
16. Do the key words mean the same now as when it was written?
17. Am I certain about the meaning of key words or phrases in the passage, i.e. weak translation or confusing language.
18. Does my understanding of the passage fit into context for the book, for the author, for the Gospel?
19. Do I only find contextual harmony by picking and choosing from “supporting” scriptures – picking proof texts?
20. Is the passage a parable?
21. Am I willing to change my mind about what I thought it meant?
22. Is the passage old covenant (the Law) or new covenant (Grace).

Wholly or Holy?

I am the righteousness of God, I am perfectly Holy, I am pleasing to God, I am welcome in His sight. I am the one in whom He is proud of. I am the one He brags to others about. I am the one He is especially fond of. I am the one he chose to adopt. I am the one that sits by His side. I am all those things because of what Jesus did for Me. I am all those things because Jesus abides in me. And you are all those things also!

The deepest truth about God is the relationship between the 3 in 1. The core of Godness is in their relationship. Their eternal purpose was to include us in that relationship. Our adoption into their relationshiop was the plan from before time, it is still the plan today.

Be ye holy does not mean to be morally perfect or to be legally justified. It means to the wholly bound in relationship with Him because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We exist to be in relationship with our creator, just exactly as we are.

Decisions

The decision everyone has to make is not do I want to "recieve Jesus as my personal Savior" but do I understand that that He has already received me!

It is not do I believe in Jesus but rather do I understand that He believes in me!

The big choice of our life is not do I decide to love God, but rather do I understand how much He loves me and then choose to live with that great news!

To repent is to change my mind about the relationship God seeks to have with me.

The unbelievable news is that before the creation of the cosmos God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) made it His purpose and plan to have an intimate relationship with you (Eph 1). To that end He created everything! He created everything for the purpose of being your friend! To that end Jesus sacrificed His life.

Worship


I think more than anything, I am deeply grieved when I see people using worship as a way to try to manipulate people or control God.

We are routinely taught to believe that we can know the heart of God through worshipping Him. Nothing is more demoralizing then watching a group of people who have little or no intimate knowledge of the true heart of God, as they try their best to worship Him in via ritual.

For very many years I have been troubled when in corporate "worship" services. It didn't seem to matter whether in a small group of 10 or a large group of 10,000. It didn't seem to matter whether I was in a group of very consertative people singing old 200 year old hymns or a charismatic group seing just modern chorus's.

I am troubled by the whole concept of worship. Why do we do it? Is it what God wants us to do? Why does it seem so important in evangelical and liturical groups? What NT teaching prescribes what we do today?

To be perfectly honest I can think of nothing more boring than an eternity spent in "worship". In fact the half hour long song services I used to participate in were excruciating to me. Even getting past a "church building", pews, stained glass, the whole concept of a santuary and all the other religious finery I have issues regarding utilizing a worship team and leader whose job it seems is to manipulate your body and mind for some purpose. I have the distinct feeling of being manipulated and controlled. We are commanded to sing, to sing louder, to stand, to sit, to clap, to raise our arms, to close our eyes, to bow.

Many worship team leaders seem to enjoy making you stand for throughout most of their 30 - 60 minute performance. Only the elderly or infirm are excused and permitted to sit. Why is it called worship when we are corporately being contorted in various body postures and uttering silly rhymes?

Worship is individual and intimate, not corporate and controlled. So often it seems the worship "team" is performing. The attention is focused on them and what they are doing, not on knowing God. How many would want to be on the worship team if they were set up behind the congregation instead of in front of it? Why do we need to be directed in worship at all? Why isn't there just the freedom to share in whatever way we feel the Sprirt leads us. There is no freedom to worship when there is a leader up front directing when to stand and sit and sing. There is no freedom to worship when there is a published order of service. There is no freedom to worship when we are seated in such a manner as to separate us one from another and ensureing that eye contact is not even possible . There is no freedom to worship when we are forced to focus our attention to an elevated spot or person.

I worship all week, day and night. I would relish a time to meet and freely share my knowing of God and His love for me. Worship is simply my intimate relationship with my friend. A friend who would likely be embarrassed for those who think that by rhyming words and lifting hands once a week will somehow fulfill some religious requirement.

There is nothing wrong with getting together and singing songs but don't define that as the end all and be all to worship. So often it is nothing more than a dead religious ritual. At worst it is idolaltry , worshiping worship and at best it is a cheap subsitute for relationship, both with God and each other. I fear more often then not it is artificial. I have seen and heard the "fake it tell you make it" mentality many times.

Some people seem to be caught up in a "spiritual" trance, raised hands, standing when others are seated, seemingly disconnected from reality. With the ability to turn it on and off in an instant. If it is real, then bless them. If it is forced, fake or habit then they should cease the behaviour. I would ask them if they ever exhibit this behavior outside of a corporate "worship service", if not then I would question its authenticity and fear it is done more for getting attention then in yielding to the Spirit.

If the spiritual highlight of your week is the worship service or the time when you feel "closest" to God then there is something wrong with your relationship with God.

Most "churches" have a statement of faith or beliefs. Here is mine:

1. God loves everyone unconditionally.
2. We are to love others like God loves us.

Act and react to everything based on those beliefs.

Religous Hogwash

The Christian "religion" is based on the foundation that humans are born in "total depravity" and that by denying that nature over a lifetime one can become holy and acceptable to God. It proffers by uttering certain words, adopting particular postures, by behaving in prescribed manners that a degree of moral superiority can be gained. Those who outwardly attain this level of "holiness" are seen to be in Gods favor and those who do not are or will be objects of His wrath and judgement. Holiness is something gained via self improvement, effort and spiritual focus.

That is all a bunch of religious hogwash.

Christianity is Christ. Jesus created us, sustains us and it is His presence within that makes us whole. He is much more concerned about our wholiness then what most define as "holiness". In Him we are perfect. All we need to do is acknowledge His great love and rest in Him.

What we really are.

From Paul Walsh

I am already the following things, not that I will be, or might be, or could be if only he would try harder but AM:

Perfect Hebs 10:14

The righteousness of God in Christ 2 Cor 5:21

Holy Eph 1:4

A saint 1 Cor 1:2

A partaker in the divine nature 2 Pet 1:4

A new creation 2 Cor 5:17

Complete Col 2:10

Just as He is in this world 1 Jn 4:17

Beyond reproach Col 1:22

Blameless Eph 1:4

Seated with him in heavenly places Eph 2:6

Container of the fullness of God Col 2:9

His actions, not ours

I believe the very language (volcabulary) of the message of grace and peace with God was purposely distorted for the sake of selfish men striving for power within a religious construct. To openly declare that "I am the righteousness of God" would most certainly be looked down upon in most institutional churches. To disassociate performance from walking in God's favor is a foreign concept to religious ritual. Virtually every time I speak of God's unconditional love for us I get reminded that God never changes and we must never forget his wrath. The fact that Jesus wrote the peace treaty in his own blood between God and man is simply forgotten for the most part. God is Love, if wrath is part of His character then it is like a momma bear protecting her young. And we are all His young, His children!

This is what I know by revelation, by experience and by scripture: God loves me!

He loves me more than I can possibly comprehend. He is always with me. He does not turn His back when I fail to love Him completly or even when I fail to love Him at all. He loves me at my best and He loves me at my worst. He believes in me even when I don't believe in me. I could misinterpret, misrepresent and deny all the truths in His written word and He would love me. I could turn from Him, flee from Him and He would relentlessly persue me. His plan for my adoption into His family will not be thawrted.

Jesus was the first to call God His Father, and we are adopted into their embrace. When all is said and done and we move on into eternity He will introduce me to all His other children as His adopted son in whom He is very proud of and especially fond of! And He will do the same for you.

So it is not about religion. It is not about folowing some spritual formula to cause God to change His mind about you.
It is not about us "receiving" Jesus, it is about us understanding that He has already received us.
It is not about us asking Jesus into our heart, it is about realizing He has always been in us.
It is not about us believing in Jesus, it is about knowing that He believes in us.
It is not about us repenting then getting forgiveness, it is knowing that we are already forgiven and now we can change our mind about how much God loves us and accepts us. Knowing that allows us to trust Him.
It is not about us "loving Him with all our soul and might" it is about acknowledging in our heart that He loves us with all of His might

Once we acknowledge who we really are, how much we are loved, that we are the adopted sons and daughters of the creator of the Universe then we have the power to live in and by the faith of Jesus.

The Real Truth

Many, many years ago I did a terrible thing. I think I was about 8 years old at the time. A girl I "loved" asked me to pass a note to a boy she "loved". He was my friend but also an unknowing rival for her affections as I was much to shy to announce my great love for her. He had written her a note which asked, "Do you love me?" She replied, "I do love you!", in big letters spread across page. I added the word "not" after the word "do". I changed the note from "I do Love You" to "I do not Love you!". He became heartbroken, rejected and angry. He adopted actions and attitudes toward her that were based on a lie, based on the illusion that she did not love him. Their relationship was destroyed. Even though she loved Him, he believed the lie that she did not. It was very sad and tragic. It took almost a week before they both found others to love.

That is exactly the way satan has interfered with our relationship with the Trinity. He (They) have always loved us. They waited for eons to create us to be present on this earth so that we could have an intimate relationship with Them. In a sense the entire cosmos were created for the purpose of us having a relationship with our Triune God. But instead of an easy communion with Them we continually believe the lie that we are not loved beyond measure, that They are offended by our missing the mark, that They are not abiding in us, with us and for us.

Which brings us to the subject sin. What is it?


So what is sin?

What we typically call sin are things like sex,drugs,rocknroll, etc. but they are really the fruits of sin. Just like the evidences of love, joy,peace,kindness, etc are the fruits of the Spirit whos source is the Tree of Life (Jesus), so the of evidences of hate, evil, selfishness, etc. are the fruits of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (sin). Some refer to it as living in Christ conciousness or living in sin concioiusness. Since Jesus conquered both sin and spiritual death for us 2000 years ago we can live in Christ conciousness now.

So sin now results in the illusion that causes us to think the God does not love us, that He has separated Himself from us, that He loves us less because of some action we took. Once we believe that lie we begin acting and reacting inappropriately. We then adopt actions and attitudes in a vain attempt to fill a void that in reality doesn't even exist. We walk blindly into the darkness of delusion, convinced that we must be unloveable, unsaveable and unworthy. It becomes all to easy stay in the darkness, the rejection is just to painful to risk again.

It is only when we reject the lie, that we turn into the light of the truth that we are loved, loved beyond measure that we once again turn from sorrow to joy. Accepting the truth that God is always with us, that He always loves us, that He will never leave will transform us from death to life, from sorrow to joy, from tears to smiles.

God does not separate Himself from us because of sin, we separate our selves from him (or at least we think we do) because we think we are not worthy to be in His presence. Just as Adam and Eve did from God in the garden. We suffer from shame. Once we realize that He always, always loves us and we can live in His affection and seek Him, that is what repentance is, we changed our mind about how much God loves us.

Change you mind about God. He has always loved you. He has always been with you. He will always be with you! Don't believe the lie that you are rejected, unacceptable, unloved! You are worthy! Nothing can separate you from His love. And if you are worthy of His love then you are worthy of your families love, your childrens love, your spouses love, your neighbors love. And even your worst enemy is worthy of your love!

When we live in the light of that truth we are regenerated and transformed. It changes the way we relate to God and people. When we doubt that truth we live in shadow and darkness and stumble along in life running into things that damage ourselves and others.

Righteousness by Effort?

No one obeyed the entire Law of Moses, not even Jesus, He violated the letter (but not the spirit) of the law right in front of the men who thought it was their job to make sure no one did.

Not one person was ever made righteous by the law.

Jesus took the law and made it even more difficult to obey, He took the difficult and made it impossible. He added that even emotions and thinking would cause you to violate the God's laws.

Its like He was saying to His disciples, "now listen to this, hehehe, If you just look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery". Wait, wait, I got another one, If your angry with your brother it is just the same as murdering Him!

And to top it all off He said we have to be as perfect as God Himself if you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus made it absolutly impossble to attain being righteous (without blaim) by our own effort.

Why would he make it impossible for anyone to live righteously? Because His plan was to do away with the silly laws, to conquer sin and death, to indwell every one and make us as perfect as He is. We become righteous (blaimless) because He abides in us, all of us.

It has never been about what we do, what we say, it has always been about what He has already done for us by His life and death on earth as one of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not a religion

I always cringe with I hear the word religion and Christianity appear in the same sentence, as I think they are polar opposites. Religion is about bondage, Christianity is about freedom. Freedom because of Jesus, Freedom in Him. You cannot really be free until you know that He loves you unconditionally. As long as you think there is some thing you must do or not do in order to gain His favor or avoid His anger you are are in bondage to religion.

From James Folwers book, Christianity is not a Religion.

In his masterful presentation of diabolic activity, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has the senior devil, Screwtape, say to his nephew, Wormwood, "One of our greatest allies at present is the church itself," i.e. "Christian religion." In another vignette Screwtape explains that "it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar." Blaise Pascal likewise noted that "men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."

Grace

People could think, well if nothing I do affects how much God loves me, I will go out and sin.

It is true a very few who truly know of His unconditional love might, for a time, test that love. In the end His love will always win.

The immutable law of grace is that you do get the love and protection you don't deserve and you don't get the punishment and abandonment that you do deserve. He died for us while we were His enemies; you cannot get more love and grace then that.

The application of grace typically transforms the "sinner". The more I know that it (grace) is available, the less I am need of its application. And where there is gross failure, where there is a pound of sin, a ton of grace is given.
That is by the teaching of Paul. The application of Grace is grossly wasteful! The older brother in the parable of the prodigal son was fuming against grace, He was livid against Grace. But our Father just lathered it on his prodigal brother!

Smart sheep?

Can a confused, frightened, rejected person make a rational decision with eternal consequences? If someone who is in that state of mind, which is most of humanity until they know they are unconditionally loved by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, any more capable of making that kind of a decision than a child?

Traditional doctrine says everyone is born a sinner; but at least we have come up with a get out of hell free card for those under some mythical age of accountability.

I am reminded of the parable of the great shepherd; He sought out the lost sheep and rescued it. The sheep probably didn't even know it was lost. Sheep are not known for their brains and ability to properly reason and make sound decisions.

James Fowler book

Here is an online book, html, pdf that you might like.

It is called Christianity is not a Religion, by James Fowler
http://www.christinyou.net/pages/notrel.html

Not Qualified?

Not to be contentious, but Jesus nor any of His inner circle had "degrees". I think most of them were illiterate fisherman. Some think they had the special advantage of being in His physical presence for 3 1/2 years, but at the cross they all abandoned Him.

I do not think we are disadvantaged today because we lack His physical presence and have to rely on His spiritual indwelling. In many ways we are privileged to be even closer to Him then they were.

His indwelling may not qualify us to deliver 3 point sermons or manage a local church corporation but it does qualify us to share His message as authoritatively and effectively as the original disciples.

As I have said before Jesus Himself would never make it past the 99.9% of the pastoral search committees today

The Gospel is Jesus

I think the message of the Gospel was not, you’re not holy enough to be in Gods presence but if you work out this plan I have there is a small possibility you can stand before God and not be vaporized. If you don't work the plan, well, then there is not even that small possibility.

I think the Gospel is that God planned from before time to present a way that we could comprehend the one real truth about Him, He loves us and wants to have an intimate relationship with us and all we have to do is become aware of that truth and we will be transformed. It is not about what we do, it is about what He has already done for us and in us.

Religious Baggage

We often read the Bible with a whole load of religious baggage that tells us the good news is really some good news and some bad news. We have been taught (wrongly) to read the Bible from a perspective that Gods love comes with conditions and demands performance and that moral excellence is the goal, not intimate relationship.

You struggle in reading the Bible because His indwelling within you does not agree with how we have been taught to understand the words written about Him. We have been taught to understand the words and the definitions but not the meaning, not the intent and not the purpose. My wife and I quarrel sometimes over what we said, until we find we had agreement in what we meant.

We have been taught that our salvation, our abundant life is a legal matter in which we were condemned before we were even born and that by saying certain words, in a certain order and showing a proper attitude and ever striving to be "holy" we can approach Him, but even then in fear and trembling.

Most of us have been taught this, from Derek Flood blog Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor :

You have broken the law because it is impossible to keep it, and so you must have broken it. And because you cannot keep this impossible to keep law you will be charged with death because "the penalty for sin is death" and those are just the rules. God must have blood because the law requires it; there must be a penalty paid. The only payment that would have been enough is sacrificing someone who was the "perfect law-keeper", someone who could live a perfect life without sin. So God decided to kill his own Son on the cross to appease his legal need for blood. Now that Jesus has been sacrificed God is no longer mad at us for not doing what we can't do anyway, so we can now come and live with him forever - as long as we are grateful to him for his "mercy" to us.

Is it any wonder we struggle with that kind of baggage?

But the very same Jesus who walked physically on this earth for several years is the very same Jesus who was with God before time. And before time they (the Trinity) planned for our adoption into their relationship. At just the right time Jesus came as a human (while still fully God) so that we could comprehend the one who before then was incomprehensible. He further offered His life for our sin so that we could know of His great love for us. He did not die to appease His angry Father; He died so that we might see His great love for us.

The Good News is that once we become aware of the truth of that we are transformed forever. That is the knowledge you have in your heart. That is the reason we struggle with our mind, because our mind has been taught by religion for the purpose of binding us. One definition of religion is "a return to bondage".

Some say you cannot trust your heart; they will even quote scriptures to "prove" your heart is deceitful. My response to that is that when He made me a new creation, which included a new heart, His heart.

Gods Justice

Maybe Gods justice is more about making things right then in "getting even".
Maybe Gods justice isn't just a nice conclusion to the final episode of Perry Mason.
Maybes Gods justice is so much better then our human system that we cannot even imagine how He will make everything right.

Forgiven Forever

Repentance is changing our mind about how much God loves us. It is not getting God to change His mind about us because we exercise the currently popular approved spiritual formulas. Once a person understands that truth he has the ability to believe, trust, and live in the knowledge that we are all created and sustained by His indwelling presence.

Heb 10:12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.
14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
16 " THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says,
17" AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

It seems to me He pretty much dealt with the entire sin issue a long time ago. Under the new covenant (since the cross) He is not even keeping score. I know many think God is hardly more then a cosmic hall monitor, busily checking hall passes and recording sins in one column and acts of repentance in another for the purpose of one day comparing the numbers. That hardly fits with Jesus own words in which He said His purpose is not to condemn the world but to save the world. I just happen to believe He succeeded.

Trinitarian view of Romans 5

Here I most likely digress from traditional modern day evangelical teaching, and very possibly from the theology of The Shack. I reject much of both Arminianism and Calvinist theology as I think they both do disservice to the true nature of God. My thoughts here are partially based in Trinitarian theology and biased by the the belief that I believe Jesus successfully accomplished His mission. Many think His mission was simply to present an offer of life in Him (and all that goes with it). I believe He accomplished the undoing of Adam (and all that goes with that) via His actions.

We did not individually make a choice in Adam to condemn ourselves, only Adam did that. Our free will was violated in that all succeeding generations inherited both physical and spiritual death until the cross event. We did not need to accept or even have knowledge of Adam to receive his "curse".

Rom 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.


In my opinion there is no rational way to interpret Rom 5 other then because of His sacrifice everyone was justified and made righteous at the time of the Cross event. You cannot change the meaning of "all" and the inclusiveness of "the many” in mid-sentence without violating the Greek meanings. And to choose to do so denigrates the accomplishments of His sacrifice. Paul clearly states that the sacrifice of Jesus was more
successful at imputing righteousness than Adams sin was at imputing condemnation in Romans 5.

I believe that while we are all made righteous by His action and His grace the problem is that most people do not know it so they live their lives thinking they are separated and unloved. Their perception causes them to stumble around in darkness and pain causing even more darkness and pain to themselves and others.

So to me the question is how we spread the truth that God loves everyone unconditionally so that they do not need to live their lives thinking they are separated from God for sin that has been dealt with 2000 years ago.

Love is the First and only Command

Besides His indwelling, which is a very real presence to me, He promised to write His laws in our hearts and mind.
His greatest laws all start with the word love and by being obedient to those laws we fulfill the requirements of every other command. So in reality there is only one command, love.

It is pretty easy to know if you are making the wrong turn, no matter what your destination is, if what you measure is - are we getting closer to love or farther from it. That’s a map anyone can read.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, I am not talking about the Beatles song "All you need is love", but the truth that "God Is Love". (Though I think the Beatles were onto something even if they didn't know it.)

Organizational Masks

Why am I so against order, rules and the “law” in church?

Because the rules, expectations, customs all create pretension, they always have and they always will. How many times have we squabbled getting ready for "church", argued with your spouse on the way to "church", threatened the kids with eternal grounding if they misbehaved, then walked in the door and when asked, "how are you doing today?", your response was "Fine". And you were not fine. In fact you were miserable, your marriage was in trouble (again), your spiritual state at best was on autopilot, and your hemorrhoids were killing you!

How many times have we pasted a smile on, when what we really wanted to do was fall down and cry? "Church" should be messy, noisy triage centers where the walking wounded can carry the ones who are shell shocked.

Church should be the one place you can be yourself, without pretension, without masks and know without any doubt that your failings, fears and frustrations will be lessened by those who truly love you instead of judging and condemning you for failing again.

But we think every one else is fine, because they all look so happy, and say they are so fine. My unfine just doesn't fit in, so when asked, no matter how badly I might be burdened, I am fine.

I am not sure where I heard this, probably in this forum someplace. A very wise pastor used this invocation, "Lord please let something happen that isn't in the bulletin." That’s my kind of "church"!

I know I sound negative and bitter but honestly it is not at the people or any particular local expression, or even a denomination for that matter. It’s the system as a whole. In some ways I really do feel like Neo in the Matrix, it’s like I have seen the "system" and it ain't pretty. I really regret swallowing that red pill.

Over the last 40 years I have worked in a number of groups in different states, large and small, denominational and nondenominational. Some large, some small. Some liturgical, some wild and woolly. On the surface they were all (well mostly all) warm, open, inviting, loving places to be. But that was precisely the problem, most things were surface only, not deep, not real, pretensions were more important then genuineness. The "system" itself prevented people from being real, because being real, being ourselves is often pretty messy and that just doesn't fit into the bulletin on Sunday morning.

We say we live by Grace but we also often "insist" on compliance to the law in a thousand subtle ways. We separate secular and “Christian". We separate clergy and laity. We separate lost and found. We categorize who is in and who is out. We don't accept brothers and sisters as fit for service until they "join" or agree to some local terms of service agreement (written or unwritten) or attain a certain degree of educational accomplishment.

There is not a church in the country who would "hire" Jesus as a pastor based on His status as a homeless street preacher without even a high school diploma. And if by some miracle they did, can you imagine the outcry if known prostitutes, thieves and drug addicts were hanging out at His house! We bind ourselves to religion and are not even aware of it.
That’s my frustration, that is my "great sadness". To see the Bride of Christ wearing a gown of chains.

Others have inklings of what I am talking about. That is why you are fearful sometimes to suggest a change or to stop doing something or do something a new way. A kind and loving person will oppose you in order to preserve the "system". It is scary to question a long standing "accepted” teaching because we all assume "they" know better then we do. Yet the same Jesus indwells you as the most learned theologian.

Behavior or Identity

At its root sin is the illusion that causes us to think that God does not love us. Which then causes us to do things to feel that void. Our problem is not behavior, it is identity.
It is not what we do or don’t do, it is coming to the realization of who we belong to, who has planned for our adoption since before time. Our identity is to be found only in Him.

Illusions

In my opinion the following sentence is no small thought. Sins power comes from the illusion that makes us think that God is separated from us. Living in that untruth (separateness) causes us to do all sorts of stupid things. The Cross was the ultimate demonstration of His love for all of us. God does not separate Himself from us because of sin, we separate our selves from him (or at least we think we do) because we think we are not worthy to be in His presence. We suffer from shame. Once we realize that He always, always loves us and we can live in His affection and then seek Him, well that is what repentance is, we changed our mind about how much God loves us.

Church Corporations

I belong to Jesus. He is the head of His Church. Elders, pastors, etc are servants.

Many people have some sort of business arrangement with a “religious” corporation, but that is not the church, just a tax shelter. We believers form the body of Christ, that association is spiritual, not contractual.

It is indeed a blessing to gather with likeminded believers to share pain and to share joy. Once we start falling for the trap of man made hierarchy we can be sure there will be more pain and less joy.

Freedom

I know that lots of people enjoy the traditional church, the traditional worship service and all the traditional ministries. I am glad they can do that but it is not for me and for an every increasing number of people who cannot be fed inside a god box.

Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Paul was specifically talking about being in bondage to the predominant religion of the era.
Jesus came to set us free from religion, ritual and rules (the Law of Moses).

I give up that freedom when I am told when to stand, when to sit, what to sing, when it is proper to speak, what degree of education I must have to teach or preach His Good News. We give up that freedom when the primary focus in a group gathering is one or two people elevated on a stage, we give up that freedom when we are told that a certain time on a certain day is forever the proper time to worship, we give up that freedom when even meeting in a small group requires the approval of some hired holy man, we give up that freedom in a thousand ways until we don't even recognize we are in the chains of religion.

Nailed to the door

This is a good question, why not stay and try to change it (the church) from within? The problem is change is very, very hard for any institution, especially ones that think the way they are doing things is Gods will. A friend of mine wrote a book many years ago called: The seven last words of the church, WE NEVER TRIED IT THAT WAY BEFORE. He is now recognized as the "father" of the cell group movement, Ralph Neighbor.

More then once I have been symbolically tarred and feathered for selling the pews and arranging the folding chairs so at least we can see the body of Christ (each other). I am quite sure some wanted to physically tar me for that at least once.

Many of the "ministries" in the institutional church are inefficient at best (wasting people’s energy and effort) or simply exist because no one has the will to shoot the dead horse. So much time, energy and resources are spent doing "what we have always done, the way we have always done it" that no one even questions why, and the important work, the work that should be a priority (loving others inside and outside of the meeting house) barely gets lip service. If one does ask why or suggests something new they are often treated as a heretic.

We, individually and corporately, have only one purpose, one calling, one charge, and one command. Love One Another as He loves us.

I find I no longer have the patience to endure even a single hour of religious ritual. A few may find comfort in liturgical litany, but I suspect most believers and virtually all non-believers simply experience it as boring and lifeless. I can not and will not any longer act “religious”, when my Lord simply wants me to be real.

I will not conform to the demands of religious obligation for one minute but I gladly submit myself to be transformed by God’s love as expressed directly by His love and the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I refuse to waste another second running on the Sunday morning treadmill that has largely failed to close a relational gap between God and His people and between His people. I believe the era of sit up straight, stand up, sit down, bow your head, eyes forward, ears open, pass the plate, listen up, smile and go home is over. In my opinion
the fact that the evangelical church ever adopted this model as the focus of our corporate gatherings is a travesty.

He is More

When God made me a new creation that included a new heart.

The more I let Him be me, in me, the better it is.

This is what I know about Him, how ever much I think He loves, He loves more.
However much I think He is forgiving, He forgives more.
However much I think He seeks and finds His lost children, He finds more then I can imagine.
However much I think He cares about our daily lives, He cares more.

I don't believe that in this lifetime we can begin to comprehend the greatness of Him and His love.

Trinitarian Websites

If you have a few hours I found this link to be very thought provoking

http://theadoptedlife.org/?page_id=152

and this one

http://www.perichoresis.org/audio/2.html

Bible Translation problems

Is the OT and NT canon we know today inspired? Absolutely. Has the original in-errancy been sustained into every translation? No way Jose. (The KJV is particularly weak). The proof of that can be evidenced simply by the fact that there are several major branches of "Christianity" and tens of thousands of denominations who each claim their interpretation of their approved version is the correct one.

Does that mean I discount the written word? Not at all, I spend many hours a day reading it, studying it, enjoying it and have done so for decades. I know that God is love and loves me not because I read about it, but because I experience His love. I know that He indwells me not because it was written that He does but because I can sense His presence in me. The good that I do comes from Him, the love that I share comes from Him.

Without His presence we would all cease to exist according to Col 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

None of what I believe about the bible discounts in any way the work that Jesus did and is doing for us and in us.
So if we differ in the use of spiritual formulas or the order or chronology in which people come to the awareness of how much He loves everyone it should not cause bad feelings between us (or the formation of yet another denomination).

The Word of God is Jesus!

Jesus is the Word of God; the Bible is a collection of words about the Word. It is nothing short of idolatry, some call it bibliolatry, to elevate the written words about God to the level of Gods Word (Jesus). The bible is not the 4th member of the trinity. If every copy of the Bible disappeared tonight it should not have the slightest impact of the message of the Gospel, because Jesus is the Gospel, not the words written about him. Jesus Himself castigated the one who thought He could find eternal life in the scriptures. John 5:39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Spiritual Formulas

The reason I have problems with spiritual formulas is that it seems to make our loving Lord into a legalist, petty judge who cares more about His creation following the prescribed steps, in the proper order with the proper attitude then in throwing His arms around them and giving a welcome home party.

The loving father (God) in the story of the prodigal son does not give any mention of the "formula". The son was never outside of His love, was never excluded from His family, the son was forgiven even before He asked. In fact the older son who followed all the rules, and presumably exercised all the formulas could not even enjoy the party or the love of His father because he (the older son) was focused on the "correct" way to do things.

Christianity is not a religion

From www.christinyou.net

Book by James Fowler - Christianity is not a religion

Christianity has mistakenly been defined and described as a religion in which morality and belief-system in correspondence to the Book are regarded as the basis of the role-playing and problem-solving of the Christian life. Not true! Christianity is Christ!

He quotes Norman Olson:
"Satan uses religion and the idea of 'doing good' to make people blind to the fact that these have no saving value whatever, to say nothing of spirituality.
"Any system of religion is satanic in nature, no matter how beautiful the package might appear to be. Satan is the author of 'do good'."

"Religion is often portrayed by the devil as a mass solution to man's problem. If he can get everyone into some religion, he knows that he can keep people in some false hope, in some anesthetic, and prevent them from seeing their real need. Nothing that Satan has ever devised has been as successful as religion in blinding men's minds to the truth

The End of the Law

Far more then the "sacrificial" law of Moses has been abolished.

The entire letter to the Galatians was the obituary of the old covenant with its laws and rituals.

Eph 2:15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

II Cor 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,
8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.
11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

The Problem of Evil

The problem of the presence of evil, disaster, suffering and death in the world is a stumbling block for many who seek to know Him. We ask, "where are you, why do you let these things happen?" Some will give you the answer that while God doesn't cause them to happen; He just allows them to happen. Others will tell you that most of the
evil is due to mans "free will", i.e. we choose to do evil things to each other. Some have taught that God created this world, wound it up like a clock and someday in the future He will straighten the whole mess out. I don't think any of those answers surfice.

Like someone said on the news this week, the answer is above my pay grade.

But for me it is not a stumbling block. My personal suffering has not been His cause, but He has been there to comfort me, if I acknowledge His presence either directly or through those He has sent to love me. I know He is always in me, no matter what I do or don't do and no matter where I go or don't go. He is there always, asking me to be His expression of love to a hurting world. I fail often in my conduit role for Him to "fix" things, but less
often then I used to as I become more aware of His constant indwelling and love for all of His children. Every day I can learn more of how to be less me and more Him because of the reality of His love. I think that is what He asks us to do, be Him as us.

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