Winning the Lottery

I’ve never ever lost the Lottery, basically because I don’t play…but often when I am fueling up the vehicles I will wait in line and see grizzled old and young people lining up to buy a lottery ticket, especially on a weekend when the jack pot has grown large due to no previous winner.

So I recently read a Facebook post from a very respected minister, from a wonderful ministry and in it he said that the idea that a human “has the right to lead me” can be painful to an orphan spirit…I suppose this is true…but as a Dad I don’t think I have ever had a conversation where I talked to my kids about my rights…that seems a little unhealthy no matter who you are.

As I thought about this conversation a phrase sort of drifted into my head that I want to explore a minute…”Lottery leadership”

What is that?

Well its the idea that if you follow my ministry, get behind my vision, submit to my authority, that at some point in the future there will be a big lottery win, and I will of course reward you for being part of the enterprise, and of course those who are not will not get the big reward when it shows up.

This idea came to me because I was part of a group that never really had any resources for the servant ministry part of it, so we all kind of assumed that when the big payday came we would be able to cash in all that sacrifice.

It was never exactly outright in spoken language, but as with all doctrine there are parts of it that are “caught” and not “taught”…the idea was always implied, there was sort of unspoken understanding that one day ministry would pay off for all of us…some of us even had dreams about winning the lottery and we actually had discussions on how we would “invest” the millions that God wanted so desperately to give us but could never get the machines to work properly (sic).

I am not trying to speak condescendingly or in judgment here, just an observation of how we get committed to sacrifice in long directions…none of us would have ever said we were in it for the “millions”, but it was kind of understood, how else do you spend nearly 20 years serving with almost no return on investment?

Oh yeah we’re servants, that’s what we do…but what I notice sort of in retrospect is that the MAJORITY of our service in the modern model is serving someone elses vision, someone elses agenda, someone elses idea of what church is supposed to look like and if you don’t then you are not “faithful in another mans” so God will not entrust you with your own., heaven forbid if God wants you serving somewhere else or some other way, in order for that to happen you will need to “abandon” the vision of the team/leaders/pastors/church…and of course God does not like people who abandon others.

Isn’t that what we say?

Isn’t that what we think?

So hang in there payday is coming, if I want my own I need to take care of someone elses…But we might need to look at the context of what Jesus meant in this passage, it might mean the exact opposite of the way we’ve taught it, Jesus says this parable is about money, something the Pharisees loved.

If we truly want to apply this verse in context to our models it might be a little painful…if the context is “what did you do with the money” (which is what Jesus says), then that means if you are in leadership of a church you have absolutely no right to obscure or hide where the money goes, you do not get to cover it up and if there is no money it should be clear that you are not a good investor and should not be followed…isn’t that the context? Money?

So where’s the money? Show me you can turn a profit if you want the true riches of people…if we really mean this then Warren Buffet should be our example, the Mega-rich should be the only leaders we follow…Peter and John would not have qualified because they did not have any silver or gold…

Context people…its a bummer but its kind of important because each verse you use has two edges…much like the teaching on “covering” if I am submitted then by definition you cover me and I am guaranteed a prosperous and healthy demon-free existence and if I don’t have it then its your fault since you are my covering…

I have done this, I have used this kind of language to frame the conversation about discipleship and “releasing people into their dreams” and what that meant on the ground was getting them to support the vision I had, since after all I was one of the guys at the top, obviously God intended for me to be in charge since we all know that ALL authority is from God (something NOT taught in the Bible the way we teach it, if its true that ALL authority is from God then we were wrong to oppose the Nazis, since they were in authority by a legal vote).

This is also a great way to get people to support your vision…the idea that there is a “pay-off” coming and those who have faith can see it and hold to the vision until payday, if you buy into the leadership lottery then someday God will pull your number out of the bin and you will win BIG!

85% of churches in America are less than 200 people, 60% are under 100…this means that the huge majority of church pastors are functioning with limited resources, very limited…so that translates into needing a whole lot of servant sacrifice from the members of the flock and there are several ways to do this.

One method is the “Submit to God by submitting to me” model, although most would never come right out and make it so plain, it is often implied and promoted through the language of “Gods will for you” and “Church is Gods idea” kind of teaching.

Current popular language is that Western Christians suffer from an “orphan” spirit and what they need most is to be plugged into family, and lucky you, I get to be your dad…and if you don’t agree its because you are wounded and an orphan…once you are healed you will agree and see and be a part of my vision for you.

I wonder how that model would have worked on Paul or Barnabas or Peter…what about the Ethiopian Eunuch  it seems God kind of missed the boat on a few of these disciples by leaving them without spiritual dads…bad God, no lottery for you!

I know the Bible says God places the solitary in families, but maybe He’s the one who does it and doesn’t need us barking so much about “orphans”…and frankly this language seems a little contrived since there are REAL orphans in the world today in need of REAL families, to call someone who isn’t blindly following some leader an orphan seems disingenuous to real fatherless children.

(And before you go all “Yep he’s an orphan” I have read the Jack Frost books, listened to his teachings, been Sozo’d and broken generational curses, prayed for the Spirit of adoption and been through all of it several times I do not have the slightest sense of being an orphan I am deeply connected to my Heavenly Father in ways that might even make you jealous)

The new packaging that is gaining huge traction uses the word “dream” to identify how you are supposed to sign on the dotted line…we are all to work together to release the dream each person has and the best way to do that is to submit to a leader who has a dream of you being submitted to him/her, that way you will not be an orphan.

What if my dream is to not have anyone else controlling my dream? How are you going to do that for me?

This of course is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I am not advocating that ALL pastors are doing this, heck most of them can’t afford the new teaching materials so we’ve got a ways to go.

But this other idea, the idea of the “big pay off”…it has quite a trendy following…and when you mix it with the language of orphans and dreams what happens next is how we explain people not living their dreams and getting burned by sacrifice…they just weren’t willing to be part of a family and wait for the harvest.

I just read about a church in New York that is worth over 2 billion dollars…they received land way back in the day and have leveraged that into real estate holdings worth a considerable sum of money…this church is the lottery players dream church, just think of how many of your dreams 2 billion dollars could buy, and its a Church,how great is that?

I find it interesting that Jesus did not seem to give a rats ass about the dreams of the Pharisees…whats more is I find him saying things like “Let no one call you Rabbi, or father, or teacher”…

Matthew 23 is one of the roughest and starkest sermons Jesus ever preached and frankly it gets very little airplay on today’s teaching network, I wonder why?

The idea that someone has the “right” to lead others feels a little dangerous to me, where do the leaders rights begin and the followers rights end? Can you lose the right? Can you earn the right? All of this seems very Greek/Platonic mindset and leadership techniques and if I am not mistaken the Pharisees Jesus seemed to slam were functioning fully within their “rights”, yet Jesus said don’t do what they do.

When the planet went into rebellion and darkness God’s solution was not more authority, His solution was to send Jesus as a direct reflection of the Father who came to serve and not be served and he was so dedicated to restoring the relationship he did not let a painful cross stop Him until everyone could be reconciled, and somehow we’ve managed to turn His drive for relationship into a system of rules and religion.

God never once asserted His “right” to rule the planet, even though it was His, He made it and the fullness thereof…instead He came to serve and there is a lot of times when Jesus told people “Don’t say anything about this healing” or He would leave right when God was moving in signs and wonders, he would just shut down the meeting and go out to be alone…he never seemed to cash in his lottery tickets, even when they would have paid big time.

This idea of the “big pay-off” seems like it has a lot of power to distract from His desire to have a relationship with each of us…in my world the pay-off, the lottery IS the relationship with Him.

So I’ve already won, I don’t need to play anymore.

What that means in practical ways is I am no longer motivated by some big payday to serve others, what motivates me is love for Him…and honestly there is a lot of other places to serve than the big lottery machine of leadership that seems to dominate the landscape right now…much like the tithe I get to choose where my service goes.

In conclusion I will note that the way God exalted Jesus was in giving Him a name…and that name is not some magic power he holds over the nations…the reason I kneel is because of how much he loves me…I have never said anything like “Luke I am your Father”…but I have been called Dad, and it is a term of affection, it is a name of honor, and I think that is the way Jesus has been exalted, not as some sovereign, but as the one who reconciles us to the Father.

His name is not a sword to beat the nations into submission, His name is a doorway of hope to the broken…when has He ever used His name on you to get you to submit?

The lottery for Jesus was in getting a name that means so much to so many people, of becoming the path of shalom to the Fathers house…

When I’m six (not just 64)

I can remember it like it was yesterday, I ran back into the house to the kitchen because it was a church night and also my birthday, I had recieved a Bible from Grandma and Grandpa Pixley (even though I could not read yet!) and I wanted to take it to church with me…as I turned to go back out the front door to the car with everyone waiting on me I was confronted by Jesus standing over the kitchen door…

Later in life I would be confused about the accuracy of what I saw because I would hear that  He was seated on the “right hand” of God, but from my perspective He was standing at the “left hand” (what I failed to appreciate is that by being on the Fathers right hand that naturally meant he would be on the left hand of anyone facing Him, which I was)…I could clearly see the Fathers feet and legs, but not His face, however Jesus face was clear to me…

The confusion over how we interpret the scriptures has been a humorous metaphor since then…I assumed that if he was at the “right hand of God” it would be my right hand…but the Bible was always written from His perspective and not ours.

As I saw this vision, apparition, whatever you want to call it, He posed a very simple and straight-forward question to me in the form of a statement…”I want to be your Boss”…

To my six year old mind there was no higher authority…my Dad was the highest authority I could appreciate, and all I knew was there was someone he answered to called his boss…

There was no discussion of pay, or reward, it was not a business transaction…it was purely about Lordship…no promises from either of us, no mention of heaven or hell, a simple yes or no to the issue of who would be the final authority in my life…

I did not immediately answer…I thought about it for a second…I knew in my heart that this was not a quick and easy question it would go with me the rest of my life…and it has.

Recently Courtney and I were driving back from a conference and I started sharing some of the silly ways I had related to God growing up…like when I was in Jr. High School and keep telling the Lord every night that if He would just appear, if I could just see him once it would be enough, I would believe forever…and his response was always a tongue-in-cheek “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe”…I would argue with Him, “Yes Lord, I know it’s better to believe in you without seeing you, but this would really help my faith, if I could just once see you”…

It wasn’t until many years later that I thought about the funny exchange taking place …here I was arguing with God for proof of His existence, and He with a perfect demeanor (probably laughing under his breath) was giving me proof by speaking into my heart, I was essentially having a conversation with Him expecting a different kind of proof and failing to appreciate the fact that the argument itself proved He was there…and had a sense of humor.

I’ve recently read some blogs about how we are doing our kids a disservice by forcing them into early choices of huge magnitude, I mean you wouldn’t let a 9 year old choose their spouse, so why let them make such huge eternal decisions at that age?

All I can say is I never looked back.

My Mom wrote in my baby-book that I had made a decision to follow Jesus all on my own with no one around, and had simply told her about it.

No sinners prayer, no head bowed and hand raised (although for many years I confused sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as conviction of the Holy Spirit, a confusion my church model reinforced and encouraged every week) I came into a Kingdom and became a citizen of a Heavenly city, one I have been seeking ever since.

Here’s my point in all of this…my entire life has been one gigantic pursuit of God, and I cannot see any signs that it will diminish, I am not going through a crisis of faith, I am not “wounded” and so bitter that I cannot find my way, give me freakin break…I’ve come to far through to much to let human nature get in the way of my hunt for more of Him.

Divorce, death of loved ones, rejection by friends and lovers, I have been exiled, hounded, accused of witchcraft and worse, been robbed by believers, lied to and about, used, abused and taken advantage of in just about any form you can know and still I love Him and I love the church because she is His joy…

I am not a novice in this stuff. I am not ignorant. And my primary claim to fame is I have been chasing Him my whole life unabated, unhindered and unhinged. I have nothing to prove, not that anyone else would believe it anyway.

I have discovered in the chase that skeptics rarely find Him, and the more skeptical you are of other peoples experiences  the less likely you will be to ever have those kinds of experiences, so whatever you doubt about me, really just reveals what you are after in the first place…I have been accused of being to heavenly minded by the best and the worst of them so one more opinion won’t ruin the recipe.

The chase is (and always will be) about faith…not only is it impossible to please Him without faith, its impossible to pursue Him without it.

I don’t care what others think, and I am not interested in building up a following, a ministry, a message, or any of the other popular cultural entrapment’s that waste our life and love.

But because I have been chasing Him like the White Stag in Narnia, I also know when the trail is cold and when there’s poison in the pot…and I am not to shy to share that.

Ad because He loves the church, I love her to, I have not given up on the church, but that does not mean I approve of how we are dressing her, some things are beneath the dignity of royalty and should be brought out and tossed, that does not mean she is not valuable, on the contrary it is because she is so beautiful that we should desire to see her clothed properly and not uncovered by the traditions and trappings of men and ego.

I have hung out with people who have raised the dead and raised millions and I am not impressed by anything but an active pursuit of Jesus. I really do not give a rip whether you are an apostle or an apostrophe  the issue as far as I can tell is how much do you love Jesus, and that my friend will show up in how much you pursue Him…a hungry man won’t choose a remote over a meal…you cannot hide real hunger no matter how big or small you are it shows up in your choices.

So I am on a mission, a mission to pursue Jesus with everything I have..it’s really that simple.

At this point in my journey I have discovered that many of the models of church and culture I have accepted are not grounded in Him the way I thought they were (or I did not think about prior to now) and it has been shocking and abrasive to find reactions and responses that do not align with this hunger inside of me to find Him.

But the hunger always wins, it always has and always will because from that June 4th day until now the drive to find Him came from Him and is fed from a river deep inside that both satisfies and drives me further up and further in.

And I have found Him, from the laying on of hands to Led Zeppelin He has invaded my world with His shadows and His light, and the more I find Him, the more I need to find Him.

And that’s really all you need to know about me…beyond that everything else is just window dressing, I will always pursue Him from Ancient Sacred writings to modern poetry, from sunsets and Mesopotamian cuneiform to quantum physics and theological mechanics, from preachers both near and far in both time and culture, to teachers small and unheralded I will find Him, on prayer walks, in fastings, in Word, in deed, in company, in exile, in communion and in creation I will search for Him, worship Him, devote myself to Him again, and again, and again as I always have.

I above everything else in my life am in love with Jesus, Yeshua, YHWH, the Bridegroom the Way, you may not agree with me, may even be offended by me, but I don’t work for you…not since I was six.

A Monster, a Dinosaur, or Jesus

My Granddaughter Michaela recently asked her little brother Asher if he wanted a monster, a dinosaur or Jesus in his heart…typical child-speak with a perspective that sums up life.

I’ve thought about it and after some lengthy discussions recently with hostages of empire I have come to decide this is really a perspective on the church as a whole…what are we letting drive us, a monster, a dinosaur or Jesus?

Bombs

Most of the comments concerning the Boston Bombings I have seen by believers are blaming President Obama, saying he is sympathetic to terrorist…but didn’t Jesus say we were to love our enemies? I don’t quite get the vitriol and antagonism that would blame a political office but take no responsibility as the church…

Wait…that’s not true…I do understand…its empire talking.

This is where we have monsters and old fossils in our hearts…the monster of wanting power thinking that if we get in power we can stop the abortions, and the bombings… and the reason God will judge our nation is because no one would let the church get the power… add to that the dinosaur of hierarchy and control…but I don’t find Jesus telling us to “get in power” nor do I find him telling us we should be in control of anyone, I find him saying things much different.

When I look at this kind of thinking I am fairly convinced we are not dealing with a rational paradigm, rather what we are dealing with is a subset of reactions to a model that reinforces the notion of power in the church…which is a fancy way of saying stinkin thinkin…

This is not simply a dinosaur, it is a monster…mainly because it seeks to control and devour anything not like itself and the crazy part about it is its not even true, on a good day you can at best only control yourself, the notion that others can be controlled should be tossed with our Tyrannosaurus early warning systems.

Powerless

I have recently been listening to Kenneth Hagin a lot…I find it encourages me, builds my faith and connects with something fresh in my heart…on one of the messages he said something that completely startled me, he was talking about why the disciples did not have the power to cast out the unclean spirit when he was up on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John…he said that he had been shown that it was due to personal ambition and strife.

He went on to say that this very thing, “Who is the greatest?” was what shut down the Voice of Healing movement in the late fifties, and even went so far as to say that it had cost some of those involved their lives.

Here’s a thought to consider…think about it please:

What if every revival stopped because someone decided we needed someone to be in control, it needed to be organised, someone needed to be in charge…and as soon as we went there, the Holy Spirit was forced to lift?

Would you be more comfortable with an uncontrolled revival or an organised meeting where someone was in charge? Judging from the way we do things the answer is clear.

If you read the passages in question its obvious that prior to the event the disciples HAD at one time been able to cast out the unclean spirits (As Bro Hagin says Matthew 10 comes before Matthew 17), Jesus had already commissioned them to do this, and there is no record of Him ever rescinding this power, it is actually implied by his statements to them that He fully expected them to be able to handle this, and the fact that they did not demonstrated a lack of faith and a perversion on their part that displeased him.

So what was the cause of the perversion, the unbelief? Well Brother Hagin says it was the infighting for position…the strife over who would be greatest.

Jesus direct response to this was to place a child in their midst and explain that the kingdom structure was based on receiving Him in the persons he sends even as a little child…in other words you should receive and treat others EXACTLY as you would receive and treat Jesus Himself, and by doing that you were receiving the Father who sent Him. This is a direct example of how he wanted things structured…this was his answer to “Who do you want at the top and who is next in line”…

The reason I go here is because all the passages point to this issue and it happened right after he took the three up the mountain…the balance of the power structure was what they were trying to sort out, and he basically threw out all their  models.

Who is in charge?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone unpack that…what would that look like?

Suppose He meant exactly what He said, no metaphor, no hidden saying…I receive a child or anyone else in His name as though I have just accepted or taken Jesus…the Greek is in the middle voice which means that the action is happening to me, in other words the “receiving” is done to you, you do not do it…

So lets look at it…God sends someone to me, I accept them just as if they were themselves Jesus, this sounds very much like Mother Teresa and it was how Jesus said greatness in His Kingdom would be determined.

This is the solution Jesus gave to the power struggle of who would be in charge.

So who does that leave in charge? Maybe no one.

Really?

Yes really.

Think about it…if I were to honestly treat someone God sent me as though they themselves were Jesus I would immediately posture myself beneath them and try to serve them, I wold not try to tell them what to do, I would value what they said more than what I said, I would shut up and listen, I would follow them around and see where I could help them…

He said do this even if it is a child…this seems like he is pushing for something here, something extreme in thinking…who on earth would leave a child in charge?

Again maybe no one.

So who does that leave in charge?

If we say no one then like the disciples we are demonstrating that we have no faith, and need a system of control in place, something that he suggests is a perversion., what if by having no one in charge we are actually letting Him remain in charge, much like Israel when she wanted a “king like the nations around her”…what if by not placing men in charge we leave him in charge?

In another passage Jesus will tell us that his kingdom is not of this world, else his disciples would fight, and also when preparing to go to the cross he had told the disciples NOT to lord over one another like the Gentiles did…

I am beginning to suspect that much like the idea that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews this idea and this paradigm was radical new territory that the disciples had no language for, Jesus was presenting a model of life that the disciples had no frame of reference for, Jesus was in fact suggesting that he did not need anyone in charge.

Face to face

If you follow the Early church, the Apostles did not seem overtly power minded…the whole issue of Ananias and Sapphira was completely left up the the two believers, no one had coerced them to give, Peter makes this amazing statement “Was it not in your own power?” And I have heard fear based sermons talk about lying to pastors, but Peter says they lied to God and not men…in other words they did not receive Peter as if he were Jesus, and herein lies the problem with out power models, we elevate Peter and by so doing we think there is a barrier between the people God sends us and God Himself…the whole point of this tragic story is that position does not exist, we are all face to face with God in every person He sends us.

What if Brother Hagin is onto something that Jesus laid down an alternate path for, what if by placing men in positions of power “over” each other we have short circuited the real power we have over the enemy, because this power was NEVER meant to be over people…?

What if the disciples lack of power over the demonic was directly connected to the competition and drive to be greatest? What if the perversion Jesus despised was the perversion of power by placing themselves over one another? What if by putting ourselves over others we have actually stopped the power of the church from functioning the way Jesus designed it to?

When Jesus says “this kind” does not come out except by prayer and fasting, it is obvious the prayer and fasting does not change God, nor does it affect the devil, prayer and fasting mostly affects us…and maybe the “kind” Jesus is referring to is not exactly about demons…(many manuscripts do not have this additional passage, so all of this is pure speculation of course).

When I look at the level of the demonic that loads a pressure cooker with explosives and ball bearings in order to kill and destroy I wonder where we will get the power to deal with this…especially when you look at the statistics for Boston, it has seen a remarkable growth in churches since 2005…so its kind of obvious more churches are not the answer.

My discussions online about this left me quite discouraged, the power of empire, the depth of assumed paradigms was stunning to me…

If I were not on a faith kick right now I would want to throw in the towel…

Fortunately I am following Jesus…and I think He probably has a solution or two I haven’t thought about.

One thing I am discovering that is blowing my mind, in the Hebrew scripture, God is much more humble than in the Greek versions…and maybe this is what we need most, we need to stop seeing Him as sovereign and see him the way Jesus said he was, humble and a servant…

In example here is the famous “Benediction of Moses (Aaronic Blessing)” that we always closed service with in the Methodist church…in actual translation of the Hebrew…

Yahweh will kneel before you presenting gifts, and He will guard you with a hedge of protection, Yahweh will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will provide you with love, sustenance and friendship  Yahweh will lift up the wholeness of his being and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete”

The idea that God himself would kneel before me presenting gifts was almost abrasive to me…but this is what the actual Hebrew says…and I am finding the humble man who says God sent him and “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” to be the kind of answer that shuts the mouths of monsters, removes the dust of dinosaurs and breaks the bondage of bombers and it’s probably the answer we need most.

Information vs. Justice

Image

At the height of a construction phase I was building I actually had 14 different custom homes being built at once…it was hectic but I thrive on too much to do, so I kind of enjoyed it.

On one particular day there were 3 house foundations being poured at once, I was required to be on site for each foundation, the rule was “boots on the ground” when it is poured and roofed, everything else can be fixed, but those two were critical to insure the house was sound.

I can recall the days before when my cementero was out with his crew erecting the wooden frames in the shape of the house to come, this stage is referred to as “forming up” the house because you stake out the shape and then set up forms to pour the foundation into…

A few years ago the Lord gave me a vision of the church…in it I saw forms upon forms all over being expanded and staked out, lots and lots of houses in the set-up stage but almost no actual foundations being poured…then he took me to my house and showed me it, there it was this huge footing form and a small porch at the front that actually had cement in it…

An entire neighborhood of houses in “formation” stage…

I asked Him what it meant…he said “You think getting INFORMATION is what gives you a foundation, but its actually doing that gives you footing

(I need to add here that this was not a rebuke, the Lord was actually quite pleased with my porch and footings, he said this with a smile to show me how to build my life more, he was genuinely excited that I had a solid porch where He could stand)

It was a play on words which is typical of how the Lord actually speaks…we as the church are information hungry, which means we are constantly expanding what we know mentally, but we have very very little substance to build on because we generally don’t do much.

(The porch was my life in prayer, it was much smaller than I thought it would be and almost the only part of the house with cement in it, the other areas of footings that had cement were “worship” and connected to the porch)

This statement from Him pretty much redefined my approach to the Word of God and it wasn’t long before I saw in scripture that Jesus referred to “doing” as his meat, we often think the scriptures themselves contain the “meat” and we all have our pet teachings that we like to call “deep”, but Jesus makes it clear that meat is for those who are doing, not the ones sitting around hearing or reading…I am pretty well convinced that the meat of the kingdom cannot be received by sitting on a pew somewhere, much to the disappointment of our clergy class of leaders, you cannot “teach” maturity, it must be demonstrated and then acted upon. The book of Hebrews will tell us it is those who by reason of USE who have trained their senses, not those who have read about it and made a mental agreement.

 

The Lord left me with this thought “I would rather you were “In Formation“, implying the ranks of an army with each soldier in his/her place.

So once again there is an outbreak of revival happening in Wales, South Africa, I’m sure someplace in America is next…probably England as well…my friend Paul Leder ask should we all go (in a round about way)?

I need to ask what are we going to get next? Is it a touch, an impartation, an anointing, or secrets of heaven?

If its more information then it is probably another “pause” in progress…you cannot pour cement while the forms are being modified, they need to be secure and ready for the actual mortar/sand/rock/water mix before you order the trucks…cement is a funny thing…once you add water to it, you only have a small window to shape it, once it flashes off and drys it stays in the shape it is in unless you get a jack-hammer and break it up.

What if your lens of life is wrong? What if a lot of the models and shapes you admire are not at all Kingdom? Is it something God wants you to do?

When the disciples wanted a hierarchy model of guys at the top for the Kingdom, Jesus flatly said “NO” don’t do that…and yet our lens of church keeps on building this model…we have tons of books on being a leader and we actually use “information” from the world about how to be a successful leader, but Jesus called us to “follow”…and primarily follow Him.

I find almost no verses telling me how to be a leader, but a ton on being a servant, this kinda flies in the face of the popular notion we are ALL leaders…what if none of us are?

At one point Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world, or else his servants would fight…in other words power and the structure of his Kingdom are NOTHING like the Greek/Roman/Sanhedrin model we see and emulate.

I’ve actually heard several sermons praising the Roman Centurions faith because he was “under authority”, but this is not what Jesus marveled about, Jesus was not at all impressed with this mans submission, he was impressed with a faith that stepped OUT of his model of life and pursued Jesus, we actually teach the opposite in many churches saying that in order to have faith you need to submit to a leader, what kind of form are we pouring when we focus on submission to men rather than raw faith in God?

What if the church is powerless to change our culture because we’ve bottle-necked all the power to those who are “over” others…?

So we can run off to a new revival, get more “information”, but somehow it does not put us IN formation…

Paul would pray that Christ Himself be formed in us…

What would happen if we laid down the titles and name tags and simply served our brothers and sisters, both in the church, but especially in the world?

Doing instead of gathering information…

I notice that Gods throne is based on the foundation of Justice…what if justice is something we should be doing more of? What would that look like on Monday morning?

How do you build justice into your very substance?

What if Justice being done would actually change our culture, heal ur land, release people from bondage…

If the cross is where God judged sin, the devil and sickness (as the early church Father believed) then enforcing the cross would be an act of demonstrating justice.

Praying for the sick would be demanding justice on a judged illness…giving money to the widow and the poor would demonstrate faith in Gods justice on poverty…repenting for the sins of our fathers (church and other-wise) would be declaring justice to those we had wronged…and these might be the things that released something better than simple information…

Justice looks like something…

I say this as I prepare to go to a conference…go figure.

Oy Vey!

The parable of the LICK

There once was a cow.

A very lovely cow that lived on a very green hill. Lots of grass to eat, plenty to share.

The farmer that owned the cow loved it and because he loved it he put up a small fence around a plot of vines that he did not want the cow to eat…he told the cow, “There’s plenty of green grass to eat, share and thrive, but this vine over here, don’t eat this, the cows in the wild eat it but under my protection I do not want you to eat this, its deceptive and will create problems you do not know you have”

So the cow was content and grew and had calves of her own and they grew from her milk that was pure.

One day (around 313 AD) the cow decided she needed more nutrition than the grass provided and she easily stepped over the small fence and tried the leaves from the vine…they were delicious, intoxicating and immediately she grew bigger, stronger and more powerful than she knew was possible.

Soon after eating the leaves the cow went to nurse the calves, they depended on her milk and trusted her to keep it pure…but this time when they came to nurse the pure milk was no longer pure, in fact the more milk the calves sucked, the sicker they got, until it was clear that the calves had become lactose intolerant…

Now there was no other option for the calves to grow strong except they also eat the vine leaves that the farmer had said to avoid…the problem was the mother cow was now addicted to the leaves and would only share them in very small portions that she controlled and meted out based on her own will…and since she was larger and more powerful and the fence was there she guarded the vine and her calves longed for the addictive leaves but were powerless to grow since she controlled the whole mess.

The calves that grew the strongest eventually started herds of their own, that they controlled and meted out small portions of the toxic leaves to, until there were many, many small weakly herds all eating the same poisonous vine, all lactose intolerant all wanting more nutrition and all only honoring those who honor the vine, and they all said the same thing that the farmer was the king and they were a kingdom and because no one ate the grass anymore it shriveled up and became scarce since the cow poop that should have provided nutrients back into the soil no longer did, only the vine thrived.

The vine thrived until it covered the whole farm, except for rare and rebellious spots of green grass…often the only place to get good grass was in the wild and on occasion a cow would wander off and the herd it left would say things like, “They were not part of us because they did not remain with us” and eventually the cows that left were forgotten along with the taste for pure milk.

And the herd that was meant to feed a starving world with grand milk and cheese became sick and emaciated, lactose intolerant and the world continued the cry out for its food becoming just as lactose intolerant and sick as the herd.

It was a Lactose Intolerant Cow Kingdom or LICK for short.

And that’s why people say “if you can’t lick them join them”, because at this point there is no alternate story line.

The end.

Until the cows repent and stop doing what the farmer said not to do.

Spin Experimental Mix

Spin

(You have to click the sound-cloud link to hear it)

This is an experimental mix from one of my last worship songs (from a congregational setting)…the song was originally more of a Celtic tune/Dave Matthews feel to it…, and I trimmed some bits off of it…I am working on a Country and Western version as well and a dubstep…

Obviously my bass triplet skills are quite rusty as well as my mixing skills, I can’t do everything so I will opt to others as I go forward…but it was fun.

The electric guitar took over as usual, my days playing metal evangelistic music haunt me every-time I pick up an electric guitar ..this was using a new pre-amp and I got quite into it and decided not to edit any of it…it is what I am.

So there…artifacts and all…worship should make us want to dance…take joy out for a spin…when we did this song it always carried a certain momentum and fun spirit with it…thats as it should be.

Small ear-buds will smear it a bit, gotta learn how to mix for in ear instead of high end headphones…

I’ve been playing guitar since I was twelve and even in high school dabbled in recording…but I sort of had to set most of it aside to raise my kids…I led worship for years and love to worship, just sit down with my guitar and compose…over the last few years I have developed a fairly exotic recording set-up since I have taught myself how to build vintage audio gear…so now I have the tools but the motive has shifted…

There’s this kind of melancholy fog that settles over me at times because my life has taken detours that I never planned on…some of the things I love and feel so comfortable in have been corrupted by a culture that turns everything into a celebrity money machine I cannot stand.

I have faith as an anchor, without my relationship with the Lord I would have lost my mind I’m sure, I love prayer, but going through a painful divorce after years of ministry, then some of the disappointments I’ve had in church life, remaining single for almost 20 years now and being quite the hopeless romantic…the artist element seems to gravitate to tragedy but my relationship with the Lord has always demanded I leave the manic depression in hell where it comes from…still…there is that empty sound and the call of the sea and the fragile nature of life’s hopes…I intentionally push my writing to joy and gladness…it is a fail-safe that keeps my artistic side holy.

Music is a different place for me…its a world I create and recreate all the time, many of my best worship songs have never been heard by anyone but the Father…there are laments that I give Him at times that are some of the most intense moments of connection in my life, no human has ever connected with me there…it seems twisted to see this as a way to make money…so I have never had the energy to really pursue it that way…

I suppose I will get around to making some of it public, since others like it and it ministers so well in a worship context…but I still haven’t decided if I will ever offer any of it for sale…probably just give it away…that way I don’t have to make it perfect.

Scaffolding

I have built some pretty incredible buildings in my past, probably one of my favorites was Lost Canyons Dining Hall, its the largest open span log building in the Southwest.

Whenever you build great buildings (and even not so great ones) you generally have a season where you erect scaffolding around the structure to help in the process, but the scaffolding is ALWAYS temporary…it is made of metal tubes and planks and serves a specific purpose to get the building out of the ground and is essential on buildings that are to occupy several stories.

One of the most important aspects of scaffolding is that it needs to feel secure, it must be stable, immovable and firm, if it is not accidents happen, that’s why when you set it up you take your time and test it for longevity  you stand on it, carry loads across it, you make sure it will handle the weight of all the trades, you make sure it is level, balanced and locked into place, its purpose demands this.

History

I’ve been thinking a bit about some of this lately, the idea that most of what we have been doing in our church culture is possibly scaffolding for something greater to come.  Dyfed Wyn Roberts has an interesting post about church history that is worthy of a read and it reminds me of the famous Winston Churchill quote where he says “History will be kind to me because I intend to write it”…there is a certain “uncertainty” about history because it has been buried and the facts are open to interpretation by those who were not actually there…and I do find it amusing that like Dyfed suggest we have been much kinder to Constantine and Eusibius than perhaps the Architect would have preferred.

In any construction process the Architect has the final say, not the construction managers and workers in the field, I have been on projects where the designer showed up and said “tear it down and do it over, this time read the blue-prints”…and I have been the manager who has said those words to very skilled technicians who failed to read the cover sheets or definitions.

Our approach to history does not change Gods design regardless of text proofs and mechanical interpretations.

If God is the Architect, then it really does not matter if a load bearing beam thinks it is a piece of plumbing or crown molding, it will get tucked into the construction process exactly as the original design requires, and it may make all sorts of claims to being crown molding or cabinetry, the truth is seen from the long view and not the short.

As long as the scaffolding is in place, the final product is not habitable…no one lives in a building where blocks can fall off the planks far overhead…the Certificate of Occupancy only happens when the Architect is satisfied and all the construction codes have been met, and that requires the scaffolding be gone, packed away and the landscape is finished.

Until

When I read about the church, and the government of God as relates to the church I am struck at the oft forgotten word “until” that the Apostles connected to the framework…the entire five-fold ministry exists “until” we ALL come to the unity of the faith unto a mature man…and when I stroll over to the book of Revelation and look at the “final elevations” where the Architect describes the finished project as a City, I notice a glaring absence of a Temple and the church is no where to be seen…there are no evangelists, no teachers  no pastors, no prophets and if there are Apostles they are passed on the way into the city as foundations and walls, but not as assignments in the city.

Another analogy along this line of thinking that I cannot escape is that often in the construction process there are certain tools and techniques that are predominant for a season, but once things move along they are left behind and forgotten buried under the progress…I once had to tear up an asphalt driveway and beautiful landscape to install a gas pipe that was required to heat the building but somehow got left out in the excavating stage (it happened prior to my arrival on the project and oddly enough had been signed off on the blue-prints… a false-hood that carried HUGE financial penalties in the long term).

Culture

Paul Leader recently posited a question about a “culture of honor” in the context of our current phase in the body of Christ, a question that requires us to stand back, step away from the project and look at what we are actually building. A plumber might see an elaborate spa being built, a flooring guy might look at the same building and see a huge dance floor, it could be office space, or student housing, a library or a fancy home that is being built and each construction trade will only see it in terms of their own construction history, it will “be like unto” something from the past as far as we all know, and there-in lies the problem.

What if its a ship? A vessel might have all the same trades at work that a domicile would have and the tradesmen would do the exact kind of work on a space craft as they would a house, only the Architect might know the actual designation of the project.

This is the problem with our catch phrase building process, each new phrase carries an air of authority and deems those beneath it to be in rebellion, broken or wounded, or perhaps simply “not mature”, but what we fail to see is this is a view from the scaffolding and not a finished product.

Five-fold, culture of honor, revival, emerging, house, missional, even wilderness are all examples of building techniques but none of them describe the finished item, they are popular today, much like deliverance, shepherding, word of faith, purpose driven and “I found it” were years ago.

Blueprints

Here in the States, all buildings are required to have an approved set of plans on sight during all phases of construction  that way ANY inspector can come along and get questions answered as to the scope and design of the work.

Obviously we all think the Bible is the blueprint, but there’s a bit of misunderstanding that might need cleaning up here…if the Architect so deems, he might at any phase of the project redraft/redesign/or re-interpret what is on the paper and all trades have to submit to his instruction regardless of what is on the blue-prints…so really the blue prints are only for our benefit, the actual design goes much deeper and carries more authority than the paper we are working off of.

I once built a clock tower as part of a building, and my framers, drywall and carpenters all had serious confusion over how to frame the second floor…when I finally sat down with the Architect I discovered we had ALL been reading the plans wrong since there was NO SECOND floor…the building was completely open all the way up, something the plans had difficulty in communicating, we had assumed a floor existed because our paradigm required it, but once it was built it made perfect sense why it was not there.

Have you ever questioned HOW the Bible came to you in the form it is in? Consider that Jesus did not have a copy of the version you are used to… neither did the disciples that He told to “continue in my word”…does it occur to you that the words of Jesus spoken in the “abide” passage will not be recorded for almost 50 years? How do you “abide” in His words when they have not been written down?

Abraham, the father of the faith did not have anything written down…its possible that the “rock” you were hewn from was illiterate…and yet here is the Father of many nations participating in the Grand Architects building process and blessing nations.

At one point in church history the Book of Enoch was included in the canon, yet no longer…even though it is apparent the Apostles (and possibly Jesus) quote from it…who made this decision and does it make a difference? Just asking…perhaps your view of the bible is well thought out and you have considered all these issues…or not…

How you read the Bible and speak it as well might be the product of something in your history and not exactly the way the Architect wrote it…that is a real possibility for all of us to consider, but we are reticent to do so because we think it requires abandoning our post…but never once in 30 year of construction did I ever punish a tradesman for asking legitimate questions about the blueprints, they are often very confusing, how much more-so a set of writings that conveys so much as the Bible does?

New Creation Realities

So much of what passes as “good design” in church culture is really just hanging off of scaffolding and completely misses the opportunity to release people into what Paul will declare is a “New Man”…and frankly a lot of our models rely upon titles and prefix’s such as “Senior” and “Sovereign” that connect us to a God who is rather backwards in design, much of what I see is simply Old Covenant on steroids, or “Israel 2.0”, rather than “Christ in you the hope of Glory”.

The Kingdom is not an Empire, so why build it like one?

If the Bible is really true  then there is something to be said about the inadequacy of our ability to read the blueprints, if Christ dwells inside of every person who is born again if we truly are the temple itself then why are we so…human?

Paul will challenge one group of saints and say “I had to talk to you as mere men”…what the heck does he mean by that? Apparently Paul thought that just being human was a step down from the reality of what God was doing in the ekklessia.

A verse my daughters and I often banter about is the one where Paul says we will judge the angels…but much like the early church we cannot seem to get past suing one another in worldly courts.

Think about it…if the Bible is true, you will at some point in the future sit as a judge over angelic creatures, what will be the basis of your decisions at that point? Our perspective is often reduced to page 5 paragraph 7, subsection 12 rather than on something happening in the universe with other creatures who need our capacity to decide things (and while you are thinking about it ask yourself the question: How is what I am doing in this phase of construction (church) contributing anything to my capacity to decide eternal consequences for angelic beings? How will I manage my term as a bench judge in heaven?).

I think this begins to wander into the point I am trying to make, we get so caught up with our “trades” that we forget we are not the ones in charge and we really don’t even know what it is we are building anyway.

CHRIST in you the hope of glory…

Christ in YOU the hope of glory…

Christ IN you the hope of glory…

Christ in you the HOPE of glory…

Christ in you the hope of GLORY

CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY…

Think about it…stand back and look away from the scaffolding…

That Grandma down the street, that child in the nursery, that redeemed drug addict…ALL of them…

Christ in you the hope of glory…

We are not the scaffolding…the scaffolding is only temporary…

Try to remember that.