Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Othodoxy of Sheep

Orthodoxy comes from the Greek word orthodoxos and means "to have the right opinion". Sheep orthodoxy is simple; stay together, don't wander off, do what we do.

Often times our Christian brothers and sisters are kind of like a flock of sheep on a large green pasture, they see themselves as safe in the pasture and anyone not huddled in their tightly packed flock could be in potential danger. In fact anyone who wanders a bit from the flock causes some deep in the flock to start baa'ing about them getting too far away, close to being "outside", close to danger. They think it is their job to guide the flock, when in fact, that responsibility belongs to the Shepherd.

They also don't see that the pasture is so large there are other flocks that they don't even see who are sharing the same pasture, under the watchful eye of the same Shepherd.

When they huddle in fear, afraid to move, to explore their freedom in the immense pasture, they start eating grass that is fouled in their own waste.

It is when they come to understand that the Shepherd is always with them, no matter where they go, they can enjoy the fellowship of other flocks and maybe even share some grass with the goats.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Clerics Stunned, All printed Bibles Vanish!

Pastors, ministers and priests worldwide have reported what seems to be the simultaneious global dissappearance of every single Bible. When first noticed by Papel staffers they assumed it was just some sort of Prostestant prank, but it soon became apparent that the disappearance was global in nature. It appears that Voltaire was right, he predicted, "Another century and there will not be a Bible on earth!"

Suspicion quickly fell upon the ACLU who have longed sought to ban the Bible from schools and other public venues. ACLU president Susan Herman said, "Since that books dissaperance our donations have dropped off sharply, this is getting serious."

Donald Waite is pastor of Bible For Today, an Independent Baptist Church in Collingswood, New Jersey, a leading spokesman for the authority of the King James Version of the Bible. Waite is the author of numerous books explaining that the King James Version has been, and continues to be, the only accurate English translation of the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and preserved original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Words of God for the English-speaking people. Waite remarked, "Whateth I don'teth understandeth is whyeth Eugene Peterson's "The Message" is also missingeth?"

Critics of the popular novel "The Shack" (over 7 million copies in print) by Paul Young have quickly mounted a massive public awareness campaign to ensure that parishoners will not substitute the novel for "Gods Word". Michael Youssef, a leading critic of "The Shack" says, "The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God's words."

Popular on-line Bible resources like Biblegateway.com and net.bible.org are no longer available. Many religious and theological based online discussion forums have reported that useage is down over 50%. Forum members count heavily on cutting and pasting from online Bibles in a method of debate called "proof texting". Bible publishers had hoped to quickly reverse "cut and paste" from forums in order to reprint most versions but even these fragmented "proof texts" have been deleted. While member participation is significantly down, forum administrators report it has allowed remaining participants to have discussions without so much argument.

Many Christians believed the Bible to be the Word of God. Its disappearance has led to a crisis of faith for them. "We have had the proverbial rug pulled out from under us", said members of the Open Bible Church in Portland, Oregon. "If we don't have the Word of God how are we supposed to know what to do?" one anonymous "believer" remarked. While they seem to give some credence to experience based revelation, they feel that it would lead to confusion and division within the global "body" of the Church. One opinionated member stated, "Who knows what people would come up with if people could just believe whatever they thought God told them!"

Researching through internet blogs this reporter found a somewhat alternative view. There are some who saw the Bible as written, inspired, words about God but espouse that people can know and get guidance from the Spirit of Jesus who they claim "indwells" them. These independent followers say that the Bible did not say that "in the beginning was the word and the word became Book." They see Gods Word as a Person, Jesus.

Messers Gulley and James Mulholland said in their book,If Grace is True, said "I used to believe the Bible was the ultimate source of authority. In so doing, I elevated the Scripture to a status equal with God. It eventually occurred to me that my ultimate allegiance belonged, not to the Bible, but to the One of whom it testified. When I lifted up the Bible as my ultimate authority, I made my leather-bound, gold-engraved Bible into a paper calf."

Darrin Hufford,from a web site called "Freebelievers.com" said this, "I believe that just as the Israelites prostituted themselves after the golden Ephod, modern day Christians do the exact same with the Bible. We have prostituted ourselves after the Bible and there is no doubt in my mind that it has become a thorn and a snare to almost every Christian in America. In fact I think many Christians have actually traded God for the Bible. Many others have even come to the point where they think God IS the Bible!"

Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) was a French philosopher, Law professor, sociologist and theologian said this, "We are not to make the Torah into God Himself, nor the Bible into a "paper pope." The Bible is only the result of the Word of God. We can experience the return of the Word of God in the here and now, the perpetual return of the actual, living, indisputable Word of God [Jesus], we should never think of the Bible as any sort of talisman or oracle constantly at our disposal that we need only open and read to be in relation to the Word of God [Jesus] and God Himself.

Bible publishers, televangelists and many fundamentalist groups are reportedly seeking "stimulus" support as a result of lost revenues.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pollywogs and People

An excerpt from "Mr. God this is Anna" by Flynn
... 'Mister God made everything, didn't he?'

There was no point in saying anything that I didn't really know. I said 'Yes'.

'Even the dirt and the stars and the animals and the people and the trees and everything, and the pollywogs?' The pollywogs were those little creatures that we had seen under the microscope.

I said, 'Yes, he made everything.'

She nodded her agreement. 'Does Mister God love us truly?'

'Sure thing', I said. 'Mister God loves everything.'

'Oh', she said. 'Well then, why does he let things get hurt and dead?' Her voice sounded as if she
felt she had betrayed a sacred trust, but the question had been thought and it had to be spoken.

'I don't know', I replied. 'There's a great many things about Mister God that we don't know about.'

'Well then,' she continued, 'if we don't know many things about Mister God, how do we know he loves us?'

I could see this was going to be one of those times, but thank goodness she didn't an answer to her question for she hurried on: 'Them pollywogs, I could love them till I bust, but they wouldn't know, would they? I'm million times bigger than they are and Mister God is millions times bigger than me, so how do I know what Mister God does?'

She was silent for a little while. Later I thought that at this moment she was taking her last look at babyhood. Then she went on:

'Fynn, Mister God doesn't love us.' She hesitated. 'He doesn't really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy, but Bossy don't love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don't love me. I love you, Fynn, and you love me, don't you?'

I tightened my arm about her.

'You love me because we are people. I love Mister God truly, but he don't love me.'

It sounded like a death-knell. 'Damn and blast', I thought. 'Why does this have to happen to people" Now she's lost everything.' But I was wrong. She had got both feet planted firmly on the next stepping-stone.

'No', she went on, 'no, he don't love me, not like you do, it's different, it's millions of times bigger.'

I must have made some movement or noise for she levered herself upright and sat on her haunches and giggled. Then she launched herself at me and undid my little pang of hurt, cut out the useless spark of jealousy with the delicate sureness of a surgeon.

'Fynn, you can love better than any of the people that ever was, and so can I, can't I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, people can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it's different. Mister God aint like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.'

It seemed to me to reduce itself to the fact that we were like God because of some similarities but God was not like us because of our difference. Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable.

'You see, Fynn, Mister God is different from us because he can finish things and we can't. I can't finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so it's not the same kind of love, is it? Even Mister Jether's love is not the same as Mister God's because he only came here to make us remember.'

'There's another way Mister God is different.' We obviously hadn't finished yet. 'Mister God can know things and people from the inside too. We only know them from the outside, don't we? So you see, Fynn, people can't talk about Mister God from the outside; you can only talk about Mister God from the inside of him.'

Without getting into all the theology and resultant proof texting I think God (Father, Son & Spirit) sees all of humanity as His children. He created us, sustains us, knows the best and worst about us and yet loves us "a million times bigger" then we earthly parents love our children and grandchildren.

For some reason we cling to the work Adam did to cause us to think we are repulsive to Him and ignore the work that Jesus accomplished to demonstrate how much the Father loves us. We don the filthy diapers of religion, systems, programs, piety and self-righteousness to hide our nakedness because we think we are too unlovable and unacceptable to live in the affection of the Father, Son and Spirit. We are so wrong.

He created us to love us, not to demonstrate His superior morality, purity and power. In a thousand ways He reaches out to us showing us His tender affections and mostly we flee from His ministrations.

We fall for the same deception that befell our originating parents. It was not so much their disobedience or unbelief, but the wrong belief of underestimating His love for them (us). We, our theology, our "churches", and in our minds, simply cannot comprehend such an amazing love so we reject it or minimize it or add terms and conditions. We turn His pure and unconditional love for us into rules, rituals and religion.

Often we hear that God never changes, but proponents of a God who is angry and bent on punishment pick a time somewhere in the OT when it appears that God was smiting and spreading pestilence, that they say is the God who never changes. I say the God who never changes is the one spoken of in Eph 1.

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Like Anna I believe He planned from before creation to love us and finish us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The one thing Jesus wanted us to really know

John 16:27-31
27No, the Father himself loves you
I came from the Father and entered the world;
31"You believe at last!", Jesus said.

This passage reflects the epiphany the disciples had just before the crucifixion. For the first time they believed that not only that Jesus came from the Father, but that both the Father and Son loved them (and everyone else). Perhaps for the first time in the history of man a small group of people actually understood what is true of the Father, Son and Spirit.

Jesus's remark 'you believe at last!", seems to be said with a great sense of relief, He knew they finally got it! Until that instant in time no one understood what Jesus thought was most important to know about His Father, that He loves us and that He is for us.

He also knew that they would almost as immediately not "get it" and that the Holy Spirit would help them (and us) to know what was so important to Jesus. We are still "not getting it" today. Religious systems, organizations, programs and processes all get in the way of knowing the simple truth about our Father. The imperative message that Jesus thought was so important for us to know and live daily in the knowledge of is that His Father loves us all.

Steve McVey - What If

This is from Steve McVey's blog, Personal Reflections From My Own Grace Walk


Please check out his blog and web page. He has written a wonderful series of books on the Grace.

What if we've got it all wrong about God in the modern church world? What if He is nothing like we've imagined Him to be? What if the most basic understandings we have about His nature, His personality and His approach to us completely misses the point?

What if God the Father didn't didn't send Jesus the Son to come alone to earth so that the Father could vent His anger over sin against the Son instead of us, but instead so that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit could together come to deal a death blow against sin in order to free us from its grip before it caused us to waste away into eternal nothingness?

What if the work of Jesus on the cross wasn't to change God's mind about you, but to change your mind about God?

What if God isn't nearly as concerned about what you're doing or not doing as He is about how you see and understand Him?

What if God is smiling as He looks at you right now and you could never do anything to wipe that smile off His face?

What if the coming of Jesus wasn't God's reaction to Adam's sin, but was carrying out a plan that had been made long before Adam was even created?

What if the primary characteristic of who God is has nothing to do with being a judge, but has everything to do with being a gentle, loving, Father?

What if you could never cause God to become angry or even disappoint Him?

What if you didn't need more faith, but only need to depend on Jesus to express His faith on your behalf?

What if you were the child God always wanted?

What if fulfilling God's plan for your life didn't depend on you at all?

What if God loved Muslims and atheists and homosexuals as much as He loves you?

What if you were a part of the inner circle of love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

What if?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Does God want me to grow a beard?

Is our standing before God really dependent on what many people think is important?

Some questions for God

Does God want me to grow a beard?

Do I need to wear a hat?
Can I eat a dirty rat?

Do I need to grow a long beard?
Do You have a need to be feared?

Do I have to be a prude
Or can I sun bathe in the nude?

Can I cut my long hair
Or will that block my prayer?

Can I curl my nice tresses
What about very short dresses?

Does it matter what I wear
Or if when mad I start to swear?

Do I have to bend and bow,
Can I kill a holy cow?

May I eat a tasty fig
And how about a big fat pig?

On the Sabbath I need my rest,
Will that mean that I'm not blessed?

Does it matter if I chew or spit?
Does that matter, even a whit?

Can I drink a couple of beers?
Will that bring You to tears?

Which church is right, which church is wrong?
Do I sign my name and then belong?

Does what I do or what I say,
Change Your mind and make You sway?

Will You love me if I cheat,
Does it matter what I eat?

Is love just for Adam and Eve or
Is there no room for John and Steve?

Is Your love unconditional or
Are there rules and terms additional?

If You made rules that we can't obey,
Then why is it that we must pay?

Did Jesus come to find lost fools,
Or just to make some harder rules?

Is their really only one "rule"
To love others like You do?

I think You knew that we would fail,
That we are weak and very frail.

If Jesus died for me while I sinned
Why do others in hell do end?

Do You love everyone or only some,
Are the rest of us just merely scum?

Did You plan from before the start
To make us Yours and never part?

It is all about what I decide
Or about the One who died?

Religion tells us to search and work
Then we will earn the really big perk.

Or is it more about knowing whats true
That loving us is what You do?

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Good News about the Good News

Most of us have been taught that all humans are born sinners, that our hearts are evil and deceitful, that unless we pray the "sinners prayer", are baptized, expend great effort at not "sinning" (which everyone will fail at), and seek forgiveness and repent continually we will be sent to "hell". We are told God loves us but then must live like He is just looking for a chance to zap us.

These three authors present that teaching for our examination and then show us how very wrong it is.

Derek Flood - Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor

Satisfaction-Doctrine. You may not be familiar with the terms "Penal Substitution" or "Satisfaction-Doctrine", but you surely know the basic theology behind it. It is a theology that can sound shockingly legalistic and cruel (and it is):

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.

That does not sound much like Good News does it? Read the "rest of the story" at his website. Derek goes on to point out that this is not what the early church believed. Check out the link.

Bert Gary

What these teachers want you to believe is that God's default setting is hell, and it's up to you to change God's mind about you. To them, salvation doesn't change you. It changes God! You are being saved by your own effort from a God who doesn't like you and has evil plans for you for all eternity. This "gospel" is founded on fear and death, and the author of it is supposedly God? This is depraved!

Not much good news yet, keep reading. Bert's blog has several articles that give fresh light to some fundamental traditional beliefs.

John Lynch - Room of Grace

There is someone watching and your value is on how much you do right and how little you do wrong. And he is constantly writing down the wrong that you have done for future reference to bring up again to you. And if you are naughty, no soup for you, only coal. And he is going to find you out. And this omniscient, controlling, legalist is coming to town. You better watch out, You better fear this guy, you better stop your crying and sniveling. You better not pout, you better put on a good face. You better act like your somebody different then who you happen to be, no matter how you feel you better put on a good show. So doggone it just be better then who you are for goodness sake. Don't be a whiner, fix your self, try harder. You better do more, don't have so many problems, watch over you shoulder, keep up appearances, get better in a hurry and if you can't act then act like you are, because you are constantly on trial. If you want good things to happen in your life you better figure out how to keep this guy pleased.

Its like we hear God going, " oh no, no, no, no. He is going to pray the prayer, don't let him pray the prayer. I don't like him, no, no, no. Oh nooo, he prayed the prayer. Shoot, doggone it, all right your in. Because of Christ, I love you now, but I don't like you. And when you get to heaven they will be no padding in the arm rests on your chair, I'm telling you that right now. Stay out of my way, you bug me. Had to pray your little prayer didn't you?

John really captures the essence of Good News in the rest of this profound message. Be sure to hear the whole message at the link provided, you will never forget it.

The truth is that the Good News of Jesus Christ is that we are all loved unconditionally, that it is not what we do but what He (Jesus) has already done for us. It is not that we accept Him, it is that He has already accepted us. it is not that we believe in Him, but that He believes in us. It is not that we become "good" in order to earn His love, it is that we can become "good" when we understand how much He loves and accepts us just as we are. It is not that we ease our shame by seeking forgiveness, it is understanding that we have already been forgiven and that shame was never even a part of it. It is not that as if by magic when we say the Jesus incantation prayer we become children of God, it is that we were adopted into His family (the Trinity) even before creation!

We do not need to believe in order to gain His favor, but we do need to understand that we are loved by Him in order to live in the power of that love. When we truly begin to understand that He loves us we move from erroneously thinking we are rejected by Him to close relationship with Him. It is then that we can see and live the abundant life He has given each of us.