Looking at the past from the lens of the future…

I recently almost “finished” a piece of gear that I have been building for my recording studio for the last 3 years…I say almost because of user error I decided NOT to trust the build documents and I wired it up backwards…a little poof of smoke and I began a painstaking journey to track down a very obsolete transistor among nearly 200 very small, tightly connected parts…oy vey!

When you are trouble-shooting electronic devices you always start at the output of the device and work your way back…its a tried and true method to trace out where the problem is…and you should always trust the build documents…lesson learned…read, believe, and pay attention!

With this lesson in mind I want to suggest some adjustments for how we approach the God of the Old Testament with reference to our future and in particular judgment since that specific element has tremendous capacity to color our perspective of Him.

When believers talk of the future the dialogue almost always carries a hefty amount of ambient noise coming from our understanding of how, who and why God judges…almost everyone is reminded of Noah and flood, and perhaps Sodom and Gomorrah and those history lessons inject a certain amount of uncertainty into our confidence of a loving devoted Father character so we like to distinguish the “new” Father from the “old” angry God…

Never mind verses like Psalms 7:11 where it says God is angry everyday at the wicked…if we are honest, we must find ourselves asking can He be trusted to NOT wipe us out like an ant colony under the magnifying glass of an 8 year old?

Let me offer how I am navigating this…and please bear with me because I have to take a different path for just a moment, and that path relates entirely with how I connect to God in the first place.

To give you a point of reference I am currently reading “From text to Tradition” (Schiffman)/”Back to Sources” (Holtz)/”Healing unplugged” (Johnson&Clark)/”The Book of Enoch” (Noah)/”St. Patricks Confessions” (St. Patrick)…if you can see the dualistic extremes here, consider yourself perceptive…

For those who do not notice the significance of the titles let me bring it into focus…I am currently (and normally do this) cycling through books that are both incredibly academic rooted in known history by scholarly experts and also reading material that quite frankly comes from a very mystical point of reference.

One side of my input is rooted in academia and is quite objective, the other is rooted in “perceptions/visions/charismata/” and is incredibly subjective…this is how I function, I am both a mystic and pragmatic, I believe in prophetic acts like pouring out wine on the land to heal it, AND practical acts like pouring a glass of wine for my friends and neighbors…its not confession vs. community its confession with community…wine on and wine in…

The problem with the piece of gear I was building was I hooked up the electricity wrong…where it was looking for a positive wave, it got a negative one, and where there should have been a negative signal it was positive…a puff of smoke was the result (to quote Revelation “Let the reader understand”)

So follow me for just a minute and lets see if we can reverse the polarity of our God image from the past…what if God destroyed the ancient world NOT mainly because of mankind and his sinfulness (remember lamb slain from FOUNDATION)…what if God was actually intervening because of a different dynamic at work…a dynamic you cannot see through the lens of academia but you CAN see through a mystical view?

I would encourage you to look up the primary verses concerning God judging both the ancient world and the future one and see if there is not a mystical element included in the passage somewhere…an element of fallen angels, powers, whatever, even in Revelation we have very mystical demonic influence that God personally deals with…

We always tend to view the past purely from a historical perspective and fail to see it mystically, and vice versa, we like to imagine a mystical future but fail to see it pragmatically…like believing in some mystical rapture but failing to believe the nations are actually physically healed and the last enemy is actually defeated, that science discovers how to cure cancer and death etc…

I am becoming convinced that God destroyed the ancient world to eliminate an “unnatural” influence of fallen angels/powers/etc…and that consistent with His models of justice He sent TWO witnesses into Sodom to gauge the degree of demonic influence and NOT simply human sin (which He has always had a cure for) and when the Bible says “Noah was perfect in his generations” it might possibly be referring to his DNA and not his behavior… because the same Bible that says Noah was perfect also says none are. (The Hebrew word for “generations” allows this perspective).

Because of this adjustment to my “things past” perspective I am adjusting my “things to come” lens…and this slight adjustment allows me to see a consistency that makes God quite predictable and fairly safe, although like Aslan it does not make Him tame…

The unintended consequence for changing the mystical/pragmatic lens for the past requires that I also change it for the future…if I must adjust the amount of “mystical” I inject into history, then I need to be consistent and inject the same amount of “pragmatic” into the future…its the way things work in the natural world any adjustment on one side of the equation must be taken into account on the other side…

Let me simply ask this, what if God is more than willing to take responsibility for things He allowed, but expects us to take responsibility for things we have done…it was Him who cast the devil down to the earth, and it was Jesus who came and defeated that same fallen creature and ALL of the effects, and now that we have been given authority over that metric, we are now expected to use our authority and complete the original mission which was to expand the garden across the entire planet driving out the serpent in the process…

What if the future is incredibly pragmatic since the past is quite mystical? What if we will conquer death as the last enemy and THAT’S what inspires the return of Jesus to receive a Kingdom he can hand up to His Father?

Frankly our current eschatology (which I believe borders on the doctrine of demons since it gives them all the power) has the church cowering and hiding waiting for a rescue rather than a Bride handing her Groom a wedding present of a planet restored to hope and love…

And that’s where I will end this future speculation…in the mystical union of pragmatic love…God will never give you someone He does not expect you to love…if we want to see the future we probably should walk into the darkest demonic place we know with love and see if we can drive out serpent influence that has been dealt with from Heavens perspective.

Somewhere I read that He taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come on earth AS IT IS in heaven”…this is what He wants us to pray towards a kingdom here that looks like it does there…

So how do we do that both pragmatically and mystically?

Well I am not about to abandon a three year project because of a little puff of smoke and a bunch of distortion…it’s my baby, I made it with painstaking love and attention…it can be recovered I just need to start at the output and trace the problem backwards until its fixed, yes some parts might need to be tossed, removed, replaced, but on the whole it still has tremendous value.

Lets start with the output…Heaven looks like love…and just trace it back to the parts that have been burned…rectify them with His victory and push on until the planet is “re-pristinated”

Salt

A lot of people I know love McDonalds french fries…personally I can’t stand them, as well as almost all fast foods….I wish it was because I am a health nut and concerned about what I eat, but that influence in my choices has yet to rise above a whimper…no…its mostly because of the salt, I can’t stand the amount of salt they use.

I don’t eat salt. Don’t cook with it, never use it except to gargle sore throats and melt ice on the driveway.

So when I read that Jesus tells me to be the salt in the earth a part of me says “Really? Why not pepper or oregano, cinnamon would have been cool…”

But this directive is especially important to someone like me…see I have a prophetic bent and that tends to make me odd, sort of naturally out of sync with the crowd and prone to see whats wrong rather than what is missing…at least that is how it has normally functioned…I’m not defending it, just observing it.

And that is the crux of how my gift has been twisted by my nature, environment, the fall, whatever…instead of seeing what is missing and calling it into existence, I have mostly seen what is wrong and complained…(often quite loudly).

I need to be salt, I need to act like salt, I need to flavor my world like salt does…this requires not stopping or even reacting to the negative side that fills up my immediate vision, I need to intentionally push past it into a bigger perspective.

Salt in the ancient world was the equivalent of modern day “sell-by-dates” and refrigeration ..it was how you kept good food from going bad…if you did not completely “salt” a slab of meat then in very short order it went from something edible to something deadly.

Most of the contexts I have heard of this verse make the issue of salt about evangelism and impacting the world as a witness…I will not discount that meaning, it has merit, but for me the framing needs to go deeper…it needs to go into my core and how I react.

I have a hair trigger for being critical, I don’t mean to be, frankly I do not enjoy a set of eyes that walk into a situation and immediately see whats wrong, I am trying to train myself to see differently, but life habits and natural bents are hard to change, but I also realize that part of my particular gift package has merit.

I have walked onto construction sites as a superintendent and saved contractors thousands of dollars because I could see what was wrong the minute I landed…I have been in auditoriums where the sound guy was pulling his hair out over feedback and I gently pointed out a guitar lying on its side off stage feeding vibration back into the monitor…so there is benefit for my “edginess”.

When it comes to the church, worship, models, community, the future etc, ad infinitum…my natural tendency is to see whats wrong, to isolate the problem, treat it like cancer and start lopping off limbs without thinking…its that hair-trigger response that makes me regret so much of my history…

So salt for me needs to be an extremely focused and disciplined perspective that needs to start the minute my brain smells the coffee in the morning…I need to remember that often I am in a huge landscape of heaven with very near-sighted eyes, yes I see clearly, but its not the things up close that I should focus on…the landscape is breath-taking and I should be enjoying it rather than complaining about the dog poop on the lawn.

Yes the dog poop needs addressing, but it is completely incapable of destroying the majesty of what God is doing unless I give it that power…and frankly the Holy Spirit probably has a pooper scooper and its not a big deal to Him, besides as the ULTIMATE OPTIMIST, He has made it clear that everything is useful to Him, even things like poop…worst case scenario would be that even un-removed poop will become fertilizer and nutrients to the landscape He is gardening…

Recently on a prayer walk I had a picture the Holy Spirit go out over the water and He began to beat His wings rapidly drawing water up into the air until a man was formed…the Father and Son laughed and said “He’s always doing that, He loves to hoover, and we can’t keep Him out of the water!”…

If you are a skeptic…(and often I am even for my own experiences) this mental picture/revelation might seem…frivolous and pointless with little bearing on the day to day life of a believer…

But for someone like me it is an important “salt” adjustment…it is a perspective I need to keep fresh, that the Holy Spirit (the One left here with us) is continually hoovering, creating out of the chaos, He is un-intimidated by the darkness and void and dog poop.

So regardless of how much I see wrong, regardless of the noise I hear, regardless of the smells that I think spoil the landscape, I need to be the one with a perspective that preserves the good, that saves the valuable, that redeems the sacrifice of life given for a bit longer and keeps it from going completely bad…

I need to spoil the spoiling…I need to be salt…and the larger perspective is I am to be salt in the EARTH…that pretty much includes everything…(gun control, global warming, same-sex marriage  empire, substance abuse, sex-trade, apathy, gender issues, etc…)

Oy Vey.

Government…the church kind

I’ve been on a bit of a journey and rather than open up to much about the internal journey (which has been incredibly painful, yet incredibly productive) I will expose some of my thinking mechanisms in a slop-fest sort of collage.

I’ve spent a huge part of my life studying and immersed in church government, architecture (the relational kind), and models…my passion has been the church for the greatest part of my thinking life…

From Watchman Nee, to Peter Wagner, from  Abbott Loop and Vineyard to FourSquare and AG I have read Viola, Barnes and Barnhouse, Moody, Finney and the Heavenly Man.

House church, organic, pagan-less, Apostolic, shepherding, purpose-driven, seeker-friendly to drive-through and web-based…

I cut my teeth on Bob Mumford, Derek Prince and Ern Baxter, New Wine, Old Wine, house church, and on and on…have sat under Apsotles, Prophets, Bishops, Deacons, Presbytery, Pastors, Shepherds, Councils and Messianic…

I’ve read and listened to just about every venue and expert on church models, wine-skins and government until I’m frankly tired of it all.

Some has been great, some has bordered on cultish…recently started reading Alan Hirsch, and find him very educated but basically its the same thing I’ve heard repackaged about a thousand times, although it fits a little better in our culture and seems to have a better mission than a lot of other things.

So yeah…I’m kinda a church government student.

But lately…some of my journey has me exploring windows of perspective I have never considered…and I have been revisiting some of the foundational scriptures with a newer perspective and having “what the heck?” moments…

Rather than take you on the journey and how I got there on some of my newer approaches I’ll just unload them here for you to think about.

1. All Apostolic Ministry has as its core design “Establishing Justice as a  Covenant Ambassador”

  •  That means our model of “church planting” is not be the primary function of Apostles (I have scripture)
  • “Establishing Justice” may look miraculous, may manifest as healing’s etc, but is ultimately about transforming cultures/nations/people groups…
  • Apostles came from the Jewish Culture not the Greek (Paul was actually an Apostle of the Sanhedrin first) so our definition should follow that model. 
  • (I think healing is a great example of establishing justice, the cross is the legal answer of heaven to the question of disease, whenever we pray for someone and they get healed justice has been administrated into the physical dimension ..THIS is what I mean by establishing justice, this and more)
  • I think we miss the fact that Jesus in using the word “apostle” (Luke 6:13) is using a Greek word that is used almost 700 times in the Septuagint from the Jewish “Shaliach” which was typically a legal Representative of the covenant…(even today the “Shaliach Tzibur” is a someone who is sent as a legal ambassador)…it simply means “I send this one” in Greek… 


2. All Five-Fold Ministry is temporary and transient:

  • The verse that gives us five-fold has a big ol’ “Until” we tend to ignore
  • The New Testament model we have been given is transient and follows the contours of the culture
  • The church as an entity is actually temporary itself, it ultimately becomes a Bride, there is no temple in the New Jerusalem.
  • According to Eph.4:14 the purpose is to raise up adults who can think and speak for themselves, once they are adults, by definition they are on their own…

    3. Our current Western Model is not working:

    • Big Homer Simpson “D’Oh” right here…
    • At best, the very best of our best churches will only ever reach 39% of the city they are in…
    • (The REAL number of the population that is actually transformed by our church model is frankly an indictment, so the question needs to be asked what is the real purpose of the church/Revelation 1-3 seems to place the purpose in a different context than our current church culture does) 
    • 10% of the people in the average church do 90% of the work and get burned out/bitter/used up
    • 90% of our congregations are not being equipped in their own specific calling/vision/assignment they just do what the <1% tell them to do.
    •  James 1:27 is not being done on the average, and whats worse is not even a priority, if this is Gods idea of religion how many other things have we missed?
    • Our missions efforts mostly replicate whatever model we are in, this alone testifies we’ve missed the assignment.

    4. Our “New Wine-skin” models are not working either:
    • Stats for this group are worse than for traditional churches
    • Not sure we’re even supposed to be making new wine, Jesus in Luke prefers the Old.
    • House-church, organic, whatever you want to call it seems to eventually mimic the model it came out from.
    • Protestants on the average are more legalistic than the Roman Catholic Church we protested from, if you doubt that try asking questions of those in leadership and see where that gets you.

    5. The primary ministry assignment of the church should be the healing and releasing of the land and people through the teaching of repentance.
    • The New Testament example of the “message” focused on repentance because Jesus had been raised from the dead, not the second coming.
    • Jesus was resurrected in a PHYSICAL body, this fact is critical to the gospel message and is not primarily about salvation from sin, it is about restoring the planet.
    • The resurrection of Jesus was a greater act of creation than the Genesis vignette, that should mean something to the land.
    • Our tendency to ignore land and history smacks of ignorance and arrogance, scripture is full of references to both.
    • Greek dualism has corrupted our concept of sacred/secular until we are no longer effective in our communities
    • Authority is directly related to taking responsibility and everyone is “local” somewhere.
    • The sheep ALL belong to Jesus, even the lead ones, therefore any model that does not release but demands “disciple-ship-submission” is suspect…(Jesus actually released many without discipling them, the Gaderean demoniac is a prime example), we disciple nations by releasing people, not the other way around.
    • People on the whole are slaves to an empire that Jesus defeated, our challenge is to release them from every kind of bondage and not control them.
    • Land is important to God…it should be to us.
    These are just a few of the adjustments I have seen in scripture (and really have quite a bit of back-up for) as I have been re-adjusting my models and paradigms.

    I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water, but as I have re-read church history and reconnected some of the Jewish mindset I am really troubled by some of the power models that seem to be the norm in our churches. 

    I recently read an article about inner healing where the author basically said that unless you were submitted to a Senior Pastor you should never try to get someone delivered from demons because you would have no authority…what a crock of bull manure…but this kind of thinking is VERY common especially in charismatic/Pentecostal hierarchy type churches…never mind the fact that there is not one verse in the New Testament that puts a “Pastor” in charge of a church, let alone the idea of a “Senior Pastor”…Constantine brought some very demonic thinking and control models into the church that has served hell quite well.

    But try to bring that up in our current model and see what kind of reaction you get…and lets not even go on to mention “money” the tithe and supporting your local ministry/storehouse…really? 

    So whats the bottom line?

    Well its obvious we are in for some serious transitions in our culture, empire is over and those at the top are not happy about it, just watch what is happening on the world economic stage… but God could care less about sustaining something He never sanctioned in the first place…the church has always been the possession of Jesus, and He is kind enough to let us play with it from time to time, but He is also serious when He says He wants it back…

    I’m ready for a change…there is definitely a shift happening…the Teutonic plates are moving…this is obviously a bit of a ramble I will congeal it soon enough…until then…follow the White Horse, He’s the guy that wins.

    Addendum: Let me be clear that I am not making hard and fast rules here, these are simply observations and notes I am taking on this experiment, nothing here is conclusive…I reserve the right to completely re-write all of my models since I’m doing it now…that alone should tell me that I need to hold to these concepts loosely and try to find a place of wonder and reverence between the borders of what is and what is to be…I’m not suggesting any of this as definitive answers since frankly we haven’t even begun to ask the right questions yet…these are formulated notes and not answers…that much should be obvious by the “snarky” tone that is typical of someone who drinks to much coffee late at night.