Postcards from death (Part 2)

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In the cross-hairs

There are a few moments in my life that are carved deeply into my psyche and will not be removed, one of those was a conversation with my little brother in the last few months of his life as he fought valiantly the cancer that raced through his body.

“How do I know I’m saved since the same faith I am using for my healing is the faith that is supposed to save me? What if I don’t get healed, the faith for salvation could not even get me well, how will it save me from hell?”

There was genuine fear in Johns voice as he asked me this…it was a holy moment…a glib answer or some religious platitude to a dying man is not simply wrong it is an insult to our core humanity…and more than this he was my little brother I loved him and could not allow fear to choke out his joy regardless of the outcome.

Spoiled

Jesus would talk about a “strong man”…and he paints a picture of a mighty warrior guarding his stuff, but he goes on to say that when a stronger man enters the house and binds (forbids) the first strong man, then he spoils all his goods…Colossians will pick up the theme but use a different word for “spoiled“…instead of “taking for oneself/spoiling” it says that Jesus “spoiled/stripped off a garment” principalities and powers…the difference is subtle but very powerful…

In the first instance the strong man is bound up and the stronger guy just takes all the stuff for his own…he robs him and keeps the booty…in the second use it describes someone putting something “off”…a simple metaphor would be the evil baron ties the beautiful girl to the train tracks but the hero “spoils” the plan by knocking the train “off” the tracks…he divests the bad barons plans, he spoils them…

So what is it that gets spoiled? I think it is fear.

One of my favorite verses is found in Hebrews it says: “Since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part in the same; that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrew 2:14-15)

There’s a lot going on in this verse but one of the key phrases that gets over-looked is the part about being slaves because of fear.

Jesus spoils the strong mans house by taking his stuff, then he spoils the power behind all of it by knocking the power off of his own body on the cross…he takes them up, then strips them down.

Fear

Fear seems very real.

John Scotts fear at death was very real to him and something I could not ignore, and frankly honest people will admit to fear.

Every relationship that has gone sour has done so on the rails of fear.

Fear is a train-wreck headed to your heart and the powerful engine chugs towards your world with the coal of sin and failure feeding its momentum, blowing smoke stacks of doubt and confusion it has the power to fill your horizon with a rumble and black cloud and your emotions tremble at the sight…

Darkness

I’m scared of swimming in the sea
Dark shapes moving under me
Every fear I swallow makes me small
Inconsequential things occur
Alarms are triggered
Memories stir
It’s not the way it has to be

I’m afraid of what I do not know
I hate being undermined
I’m afraid I can be devil man
And I’m scared to be divine
Don’t mess with me my fuse is short
Beneath this skin these fragments caught

When I allow it to be
There’s no control over me
I have my fears
But they do not have me

-Peter Gabriel/Darkness

Mr. Gabriel captures the power of fear in the little things it spoils, our relationships, our friendships, our plans our hopes…fear is the great spoiler…and it is my opinion that fear is the major weapon the strong man of hell uses to keep us locked up in his house until the stronger man shows up and “forbids” or binds him…

We don’t like being undermined, we don’t want people making fun of us, we are on guard of the slightest rejection and poised to fend it off at the pass, we will reject them before they reject us, but what’s the issue, what are they going to do to us in the first place? What is it we really fear in others?

Fear is the very first emotion Adam confesses to God, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid”…

I heard you.

I heard…Your voice…I WAS afraid.

The Voice in the garden

While most of us avoid the level of transparency my brother showed, it does not negate the fact that we hear God coming and it frightens us.

I know people talk about fear of the unknown, but I don’t really think that is what we fear…we fear being known

In a thousand different ways we show we are afraid…when the lover gets to close to seeing the real us, we push them away and say “I have no feelings for you”…what we mean is You are getting to close to seeing me and I am not ready to be seen I am naked, this makes me afraid go away“...or we begin to find fault with them before they find it in us, we nit-pick them to death or focus on some small trivial annoyance and say “I could never be with someone who______fill-in-the-blank”

Why not? Are you so perfect? Hell no.

Or try this one on…We have doubts about our ability to lead so we need to remain in control, we need to make sure no one asks the wrong questions, which shows up as if you cannot submit to me and this system then you are a rebel who is an orphan with a wound so it’s probably better for all of us if you simply go away” (I knew it all along) and we reject them with a label, be it Jezebel, Orphan spirit, or independent…after all there are the verses about staying submitted under a covering (? where pray tell) and since I am responsible for you don’t question me…and we find help in scripture with verses that say “They are not of us for the went out from us”…

Really? Do you actually think God who is love is going to put the eternal destiny of one of His kids in your sin stained hands? Give me a break. Even the devil can find a verse for his purposes.

See if you can relate…“If people knew how little I read my bible, or how little I actually prayed, or saw that my prayers were almost always about me and not the nations or the President, if people saw how little I really cared or loved others…they would have no choice but to ignore me completely…because I do not matter.”

And so we continue to maintain the systems that make us feel like we matter a little…be it:

  • submission to an abusive church/or system
  • a mean husband/wife
  • a lover/friend that uses us
  • A substance/fantasy that feeds our pleasure centers or identity
  • Maybe just boredom or the fear its slightly pointless
  • Patriotism/Our rights/Imagined persecution

We squeeze out a little of “I matter here” and do our best to keep the image alive in our families, our clubs and our work, our churches, we trade our insecurity for lots of sacrifice, lots of posturing, lots and lots of lingo.

We covers up how much we really like sex, how much we truly enjoy drink, or how much we like to just veg out and do nothing at all, we’re afraid to admit to others that we like chocolate and orgasms and all the pleasures that God created so we ignore the person we never admit is real…but the real us is actually quite numb with hunger for pleasures that God created…and here’s the stunner:

God knows how much you like that stuff. He already knows. You’re not fooling Him, so you might as well stop hiding…that fig leaf is rather transparent to the God who designed your taste buds, your hormones and knows your thoughts from afar.

Again, any system that does not allow for transparency and questions is running on the fumes of fear somewhere.

Any relationship that does not let you be completely yourself, but instead requires you to maintain codes, conduct and control any relationship that has a trading floor of requirements is suspect.

Covenant, as I discussed in my last post is the goal of God, and covenant is a place where the real you gets to know the real me in intimacy, or “Into me, you see” as Danny Silk will describe.

Covenant in its simplest description is a place that keeps intimacy safe by allowing each party to be completely vulnerable and real…really known.

The goal of covenant is achieved with the exchange of the real me with the real you…life flows where we are known for real.

That’s why Abraham slept through his part of the covenant, God was making a point long before the cross, the real you is asleep and God knows it, that is why the covenant is between them, we just watch unable to do anything at all.

But who is the real you, the real me?

The Princess fears the King

Recently Courtney and I had a conversation where she confessed her fear of being deceived and not really knowing the truth, and God is so Glorious it was to heavy for her…so I asked her:

“Do you think any of us really knows the truth that God knows?”

We are all deceived and He must enter our deception to have any kind of relationship with us.

You may disagree with this statement but it is still true, there is not one person who has ever lived that had a perfect and un-tainted view of what is really real except for Jesus, we all have our reality that we believe is real and with that there are blind-spots that by definition we cannot see…but God see’s everything, even what we can’t, and He knows that to have a relationship with us He must accommodate our perception be it real or not.

Fearless

Never once in the bible does anything suggest that Jesus was ever afraid.

Not on the cross and certainly not in his ministry season…he never flinched or showed fear…

My brother was not some new convert, he had been a youth pastor for years, a preachers kid like me, raised in an orthodox Methodist tradition, he had struggled with sin and won, and believed in the gifts of the Spirit, a tongue-talking faith and hope…he had seen God heal him of Crones Disease and determined he would fight in faith for the sake of his daughter and wife, but John was also very real…he knew he would eventually have to tell me the truth anyway since I loved him enough to get to the heart of the matter.

Questions

“So what are you afraid of John?” it was a surgical question I reluctantly had to ask…

“I’m afraid I don’t have enough faith” he said…”Well you don’t, if you did we would not be having this conversation, but whats that got to do with anything?”…

My response caught both of us off guard…him because it was blunt, me because I had no idea what to say and it was one of those moments when you just toss it up into the Holy Spirit and hope you don’t mess it up…it was prophecy without knowing what you are going to say next…

And in the next few moments I watched as Jesus gently dismantled the time bomb of fear inside his heart…cut the wrong wire and we all get blown up…the numbers on the display counting down the seconds before detonation…

“Your faith has absolutely nothing to do with your salvation, its His faith that saves you, do you think He doubts for one instance that He can save you?

“You’re not afraid of your faith, your afraid of your unbelief, and that is perfectly legitimate and ok, remember the guy who said…” …he cut me short “I believe help mine unbelief”…”yep”…

I went on to explain that any faith he had was already a gift in the first place, the whole thing is a gift, there is not one part of it that we do that starts with us…so really all he needed to do was be thankful for the gift, express a little gratitude and his perspective would adjust…

Anytime we are afraid we have just poured our faith into the wrong thing, that’s why Jesus was never ever afraid, He always placed his faith in the right person…the Father and His love.

All fear in relationships, all fear in church, all fear in society can be traced to faith in something dark and destructive, it is our natural faith giving power to something sinister and as we feed the dark our hearts become weak and tired.

Fear is not a lack of faith, it is the opposite, fear in its rawest definition is simply faith in the the wrong outcome.

Johns faith for his healing was simply a path on his journey, it was not the end of it all, even though from earths perspective it ended all when he died, the Biblical view is that death is simply a sleep we wake up from into reality…we are all dreaming now, not then.

Jesus gently unplugged Johns faith in failure, in loss, and hopelessness, and plugged it into trusting a Father who loved him and had already worked it out.

Danger is real, disease is real, death is real, but fear is not, fear is simply a kingdom of dust we run from until the Father shows us what it is made of.

A the crossroads/In the crosshairs

The cross is where the Fathers nature and the Sons behavior intersect in perfect harmony, it is the place we now aim our fear, and when you look through the scope and see the target of God smiling, your fear gets unplugged and your faith ignited.

The Son gathers up all the horizontal relationships, spoiling the treasury of darkness, then the Father pours out the vertical relationship of heavens Pleasure and this symphony intersects in the “cross” its pure poetry of action captured by the Eternal Spirit.

Fear cannot survive in the Presence of the Father, because perfect love casts out ALL fear…

You cannot have faith in someone you fear. 

(Fearing God is a completely different metric than we have been taught and another post some time)

It is impossible to have faith in a God you believe will punish you…impossible.

Faith, real faith requires an absolute trust, an abandoning of oneself to the object of faith and if you think for one minute that God is going to punish you then your faith begins to have fractures in it that will eventually become fissures, that turn into chasms…the only thing punished in the cross is hell and death itself.

Postcards from a scenic tour through death

A few weeks later I had another completely different conversation with John, this time he was full of excitement, although I could hear he was physically tired, he had to call me to tell me what he had shared in his Adult Sunday School class that week.

He had been reading Psalm 23 and the Lord showed him he only went through the valley of the shadow if death, he didn’t actually stop there…

He laughed and told me he was going to check out the ruins of death maybe take a picture for me or send me a postcard, finally he was going to experience something BEFORE I did…but it was a guided tour through death by Jesus, it was simply a moment on the journey, and it was clear he was no longer afraid…

This image, of Jesus personally taking us through the ruined out shell of death and showing us His victory, this is THE biblical perspective, death has no more sting, it is a dusty old ghost town made vacant by a stronger man, we get to stop and gaze for a minute until the guide says “Ok nothing to see here, lets get on to the Fathers place shall we?”

Some of us will get the full tour like my brother, others will simply sleep through the covenant like Abraham…but all of us will wake up in the covenant of love where we are fully known…and we will eventually know even as we are already known.

Here is one of the major foundations of Gods purpose in the cross and the whole point here:

God was making a covenant where the real you gets to be with the real God, that would require spoiling the power of fear and that means God is never ever going to punish you. This is His covenant promise to you.

All things are yours…All things are lawful…so how can you possibly be punished?

Good news isn’t it?

Echos of Calvary

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Manna (What is it?)

I passed by a church today and just barely caught the name it was called “Echos of Calvary”…I thought it a really strange name for a church.

Oh I understand the sentiment behind the name, but logic makes the sentiment seem out of place.

What was Calvary? Was it some romantic place where the Son bore our sins and made us clean? 

That seems to be the common emotion and connection and I would never take lightly any sense of gratitude or humility this posture affords us…but lately as I delve deeper in to Soteriology (the study of salvation) I am becoming convinced that we have been viewing Calvary from Adams eyes and not Heavens…and Adams eyes are dirty and out of focus.

Guantanamo 

If I were to name a coffee shop or a musicians club “Recordings of Executions from Alcatraz” it would raise eyebrows and images of something Gothic and dark, but that is essentially what Calvary is, it was a place for criminal executions, a public hanging spot, a reminder of the power of Rome over rebels.

It was highly political, it would be the equivalent of turning Guantanamo into an execution site with international broadcasts of firing squads to warn all enemies of the United States that we do not play around…that is what Calvary was.

Calvary was the apex of mans power in military and religion coming together to make a point, “We have the power” respect it or die.

So why do we see it differently than it is?

Well in part it is the lenses of Adam, we feel intimately connected to a God who would bear our sins and it makes us tender and emotional to think about…he’s carrying my sin, bearing my punishment, it is highly personal because no one knows your sin better than you…well no one except Jesus, because frankly he became your sin…he didn’t just wear it, he was it.

He became pornography, and gluttony, and back-biting, and adultery and embezzlement and greed and murder and hatred and racism and…well all of it.

And we see all these things deserve some kind of retribution and it makes us afraid.

But like I said the lenses of Adam are foggy and twisted, they see God as reluctant and punitive, even in the cross we have this idea that the Father is punishing the Son for our misdeeds, the cross makes us love Jesus but keeps us at a safe distance from the Father, and who knows what the Holy Spirit is doing there, He just seems to be standing around watching the whole thing with His wings in his pockets…or at best covering the Sun with darkness.

But let me give you perhaps a different view for just a minute…entertain me here…

I deserve this

What if every blow on the back of Jesus (for our healing) was the nature of Adam saying, “No you can’t rescue me”…”I deserve to be punished, I deserve to be sick, its my own fault”...and Jesus won’t relent, he just keeps on coming?

What if every plucked beard hair and blow to his face and groin was mankind saying “Get away you frighten me I cannot be around you, get back you scare me” or for the mature among us, “This is my own fault, I did it, yes I know its wrong but its to late the damage is done, you best just get over me I’m finished”…and yet God the Father in Jesus is saying “I won’t leave you, do your worst you will see I cannot be driven away by your madness”…?

We sing that he could have called 10,000 Angels, but to deliver him from what? Certainly not the Father, would the Father have sent angels if he was currently punishing sin? It seems a little schizophrenic of God to even suggest it.

It was us he needed deliverance from…it was your fear of God, my fear of retribution, our fear in the garden of religion where we have been hiding…but what are we hiding from with all our worship songs, and tithes and offerings and servitude?

Have you ever wondered why Adam hid? There was nothing in his experience that suggested the Father would punish him, no the issue came from inside, much like my last blog where I suggest the remedy for sin must be an inside job, the issue of fear is ALWAYS an inside job.

Adam was waiting for the shoe to drop, the stuff to hit the fan, the hammer to fall, he had slapped God across the face and knew it, sin was not some casual trip up, it was a spit in the eye, a slap in the face a betrayal…it was…well everything that happened on the way to Calvary when you think about it.

Betrayal

Calvary was the fall of man personified.

It was Adams rebellion focused on a target that refused to move out of the way.

Jesus set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem…

And with every blow by a Roman Centurions whip, or jab in the ribs with the handle of a sword, or knee to the gut mankind was screaming, “You scare me, get the hell away from me, I am unworthy and your Glory is dangerous and this thing is to far gone, GIVE UP GOD, PLEASE STOP PURSUING ME!…and then a long line of curse words calling him the vilest names we can come up with…

That is what a broken covenant looks like…it is “I not only do NOT choose you, I demand you stop pursuing me you freak”…

I have seen up close the pain of adultery, been the victim and frankly its not the infidelity that gets you the deepest its the loss of your best friend…Psalm 41 will prophesy how Jesus felt by saying “My own safe friend, I trusted and ate with (the word Shalom is used here to describe them)…it is he that has lifted up his heel against me”…

Nothing cuts your soul quite like the betrayal of intimate friends…and nothing compares to when a best friend treats you as dead and worthless…nothing…I can tell you from experience which hurts worse, catching someone in bed can be explained, but a best friend betraying you…there is no answer to that pain.

And yet…he keeps coming…unrelenting…step after step…beaten and broken, abandoned and betrayed…and still God pushes on to cut the covenant with you.

He is demonstrating that breaking covenant will not happen on His watch…and He never sleeps…you can break it all you want, but He holds the pieces and has a thousand ways to put it back together better than it was.

Heaven see’s

Heaven watched in utter disbelief as God attempts to make a way for us to come back to Him, and we do our best to stop him at every step of the way.

We align the best and brightest warriors, the purest and noblest preachers all standing in opposition to God as he makes his way towards us…step by bloody step up Calvary to make a covenant with us that cannot be broken…and our excuses our weaknesses everyone of them hired guns spit at God and say this is not going to work…and yet He comes…showing that God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit ALL remained vulnerable even after Adam…they refuse to pick up a weapon and defend their reputation from your fear, my doubt, our unbelief…Love just stands there and says “I’m not going anywhere do your worst”.

Assurance

I was in a restaurant recently that was filled up with strangers and as I waited for my order I heard God say to me: “There are lots of believers in this room but only one person with assurance, can you spot her?”

God knows I love a mystery, but also that I need clues hence the clue it would be a “her”…I gazed around the room…and everyone looked the same, detached, non-committed, passive and doing what I was doing…simply waiting around…and that was when I spotted her…she was a blur…running around without a care in the world, exploring a room full of strangers without the slightest sense of fear or concern, jumping off of steps and swinging from handrails…a little four year old girl…with what we all were missing…assurance.

When you begin to see the cross from heavens perspective…it will give you assurance and make you feel safe with the Father…you will be able to run around and explore life once more without fear…it won’t matter if your food is getting cold or where your parents are because you will feel safe and be able to play until you get hungry and even then you won’t worry because you know your needs have already been handled by love.

Calvary is best seen through heavens lens and not our skewed Adamic nature…

How will you know which view you are in?

Assurance.

When you become convinced that nothing could stop God from getting to you, no amount of cussing, no amount of hitting at him, no amount of turning your back and denying he is there…nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus…

Then you will feel assured…and safe…and it will be ok to be vulnerable…you can open up to people and play and have joy and laugh…

Assurance is how you will know.

If there is any echo of Calvary in heaven it is the echo of joy and laughter when Jesus declared “It is finished”…the covenant had been cut and our best efforts at failure have failed…the shouts of joy as Heaven peered into that moment and saw…

Nothing…

Nothing…

Nothing…

Could stop Gods love…

Fractals of God

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Overdrive

Lately…my brain hurts a little…its my own fault… I’ve overloaded the input channels until its starting to distort…in audio we call this “improper gain staging”…which basically means you’ve turned up the volume way to early in the signal chain.

I’ve been continuing my study of Hebrew culture following the likes of Mordacai Kraft and Jeff Benner…also been testing the waters of Christus Victor again through Athanasius and C. Baxter Kruger as well as revisiting “Open Theism” a subject I stumbled upon many years ago all the while pushing headward into health and nutrition with “why we get Fat”…so yeah overload is happening…

But there has been a subtle interior change that has come from what I can only describe as “the fractals of grace”…

Let me take a minute and explain what this is in my world…

Fractals

A fractal (brace yourself it involves math) is a geometric formula that describes what would commonly be called disorder or chaos with an infinitely complex and repeating pattern…in layman’s terms a fractal is a pattern that repeat’s itself as the whole…an example would be a piece of cauliflower…when you look at it the first impression is that it is just a glob of vegetable with no pattern, but if you look closely you can see that each branch is in fact a smaller version of the whole tree…this same idea can be found in actual trees, or in our blood vessels or in about a million other things in nature…there is a distinct and repeating pattern that replicates itself into a bigger pattern, that replicates itself into a bigger pattern and so forth and so on…the picture at the top of this post is a fractal made famous by the mathematician who discovered them MANDELBROT…take a minute and see the patterns…and yes this is also part of the overload…I had to stop the wheels long enough to research fractals…

I discovered that my prayer walks are actually fractals…small repeating patterns that help define the chaos…fractals help me see that besides moving my heart from doubt to belief, prayer itself has the unintended consequence of creating a pattern of life…a pattern of connecting to God intentionally.

Prayer

So prayer becomes something beyond just pleading and waiting…each time I consciously go to pray I am intentionally connecting with a God who is infinitely bigger than me, kinder, more loving, powerful, etc…and on the surface its just a walk in the land talking to someone other than me, yet intimately close to me…the Hebrews believed that God spells His name YHWH because it requires you to breathe  out in order to say it, that is the point…He is closer than your breath and already inside you.

So my prayer walk becomes a pattern of breathing out the name of YHWH…but that in itself is a pattern of living in Him already…which is in fact part of a much larger pattern of His actions in the world, I would not know of Him except He had already invaded this planet…and me as well.

I love my prayer walks…it is probably the most fun I have in life at this point (sex being off the agenda due to being single…just being honest here, the connection of life to the “God-mirror” of a woman is something I miss but seem to have no choice in at the moment, which might be His design for a season)…the connection I find to God in these walks is always educational, very mystical and deeply personal…its odd that I go to discover God but He always makes sure I discover me as well…it was in a prayer walk that God lifted me up and showed me the repeating pattern of life, He showed me the fractal of my prayer walk from inside it…what a profound and unusual experience to stand above yourself in heaven and watch yourself pray yourself into heaven!

(A quick thought about this…we are already seated in heaven, so a good portion of my prayers is spent adjusting me to the reality that already exists…this might be different than your experience, but it is what it is and God does not seem to mind my dull unimaginative approach, He in fact actively participates, which is a revelation of His character…He wants to be with us so much He will enter our unreality as is the case for everyone on the planet…on some level we are all living in a reality of our own understanding and it is not THE reality He lives in, yet He joins us here…mine just happens to be a little unusual, but then I think that about yours.)

Christ in me personal

Recently I have been driven to the truth of “Christ in you the hope of Glory”…this truth is not describing some aesthetic sort of heavenly reward in glory someday…it is a mystery that was hidden but is now being revealed…

I believe that this truth will become the dominant truth of liberation in the next few years…it will be grounded in orthodox ideas like the blood covenant, and simply blood itself..

Here is the heart of this post, it is a simple idea that I cannot avoid…an idea that has been showing up in the broader fractal of my prayer life, but you have to kind of step back to see it…and hopefully it will encourage you as much as it has me.

The New Agers, and Buddhist, and Kabbalist and just about every branch of humanity has discovered some of life’s truth through the back door…(I am not suggesting they have found THE truth, just pictures of it)God is everywhere…but more to the point if He is everywhere then He is in me...but here’s the Divine perspective…

God who is perfect love and not ego-centric, not a control freak or power hungry, the humble God who decided before all of creation to become a part of the thing He created by becoming a man Himself…God was in Christ, who is now in you.

An Inside Job

This is a real thing…the “God fractal” lives in us…Paul would describe his conversion experience as “When it pleased God to reveal his Son IN ME” (Gal. 1:16)… Paul’s conversion was not about asking Jesus into his heart, instead it was a moment when God showed Paul that Jesus the Son was already inside him…now I don’t know for sure if Paul is talking about the Damascus road event or something else, but it was definitely a moment when Paul was transformed…and this moment was not in a building somewhere with 3 fast songs and 3 slow songs, an offering, a lecture and a prayer line…

Paul’s encounter was not in a church it was while he was on a journey (let the reader understand), it was an encounter with  HUGE God from inside a small heart…something we all should be able to relate to regardless of the culture or lack of we come from…think about it:

The disease of sin is like a fungus in an orange…it may look ok on the outside but the problem of the fall was not about appearances (something almost all accountability models avoid…as long as we “appear” ok things are fine which is an illusion at best), no the sin problem was organic and it meant that the solution has to go inside of us, this is something a building and an evangelism program could never do…it required God putting on skin and coming to where we were to save us inside the orange bowl…here amongst the fungus.

Sin was organic…so moving a check mark in a ledger from one column to the other in heaven is a ridiculous notion of what God would need to do…no the solution had to be organic as well…God had to get down here in the fungus and save us.

The Divine position to the human condition was to come down, humble and like a servant into the condition itself and from there demonstrate the joyful assurance that sin is not a big deal to a God who can bend heaven into the shape of a cross…and then beat the hell out of hell itself with it, all the while hanging there on the wood between the worlds.

This thought makes me laugh and cry all at once…

But here’s the crazy part (as if killing sin was not enough) God knew before the whole thing started and went lopsided that once He got down here it would be to much joy for Him to ever leave…so His plan all along was to create a created thing He could live in…and now forever there is a human in heaven and heaven in humans…FOR-FREAKIN-EVER!

Leaving church to get saved

This is also why I have chosen in this post to describe God as “not a control-freak” humble/etc…it is very critical to us that we see the all powerful God as someone who chose NOT to use power as a solution…someone who ABANDONED position and title and all the little things we secretly lust after and use our religion to cover up as we devour them under the covers (or covering to be truthful about it)…church for a whole lot of people is not about the solution to humanities organic sin issue, it is a power fix revolving around new structures,new titles and new forms of control…something God emptied himself of in order to save us…

You can dress it up in any uniform you like, you can call it a culture of this or a model of that all you want, but when the guys at the top are more equal than the ones at the bottom, (who need to prove themselves), you have a hierarchy and a thing that cannot change fungus because it IS fungus…sorry to be so blunt, but its time we call it what it is…the issue of power and who is in control is what got us into the mess in the first place, lets not pretend church fixes that because it does not.

God did not create church to save us…church cannot do that…if church could save us the first covenant would have been enough…church can no more save you than a building can reverse a fungus…and get this into your heart…church does not change you, only Christ in you can do that…if you need change…more church is NOT the answer.

The Christ inside of us does not care about our titles, our positions, or our status…he has come to upgrade our identity AWAY from such nonsense…and that is where most of us miss him…we are looking for a powerful earth shaking God and like the disciples we want him to sit us on his right and on his left, but he shows up as a humble laughing servant and says “follow me out of this rats nest” and then places a child in our midst and says…”This…this is it…” do you get it?

The real you, the one He has created is IN Christ…and it does not need a title, a position or control…but you have to go in to get out of that stuff…Jesus would challenge Peters notions of models by asking a simple question…”What do you think Peter, of whom do the kings of the earth (those addicted to position) collect tribute? Their own children or strangers?…the point he made in a not so subtle way was position requires a tribute a tax, it requires a system of collecting honor and bestowing it…it describes most of our church government systems…but Jesus would say:

“Then the children are free”…free from what? Free from the system of tribute and trading in position and title…free children don’t pay taxes…

When you get tired of sin and the lust for recognition…you will see the Jesus inside calling you to be free…selah. You don’t need that stuff and grace is simply the ability to receive what God freely gives you..(which is a whole other fractal!)

The real church lets you freely ask questions because she is from above and is free…

You…yes YOU reading this post…You ARE the church…and just in case you need a litmus test, anything that taxes you is not the real church.

Math (The numbers do not lie)

Recently…I have become aware of Jesus living inside me…he does not seem to notice even slightly when I sin (like when I get snarky about our church models)…He is not some scolding sort of Head Master trying to teach me the ABC’s of Church or fix me…no instead He is a very happy, laughing and joyful Son…He has no doubts, is full of faith and optimism…He is constantly laughing…and enjoys everything from traffic jams to raspberry jam…did you notice I said he is not trying to fix me? That’s because we are not fixable and its the good part of us (still infected with the disease) that blinds us to this idea…God won’t fix the disease He will kill it…that is why it says “you are dead” a ton of times in the New Testament…

So one of my new “fractal” habits is I have an alarm on my phone…it goes off just like the one at 8 am that tells me to pray in tongues everywhere…except this one is meant to ask me questions and get my perspective back on track…it ask me “Would Jesus have this emotion? Would Jesus have this doubt? Would Jesus see this as a problem or a possibility? The answer is usually “No, He is alive with joy…” which is meant to DISPLACE the depressing part of us that is more zombie than real.

Everyday…a small repeating pattern to remind me that He is inside me and quite different than my default pattern…eventually this pattern will make a branch…and a tree…and a life…that looks like Him.

It’s in the math, that means it has to…its the “God in me Fractal”…a pattern that will repeat that God is in me…that repeats I am in Him, that repeats God is in me…that repeats me in Him, etc…ad infinitum…

The solution to the problem of sin and the fall of man was elegantly simple…God would come and live inside us.

Brilliant!

Incense Medley

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Song

So this is a music post…a simple recording, took about 30 minutes…primarily testing my preamp design on both guitar and vocal…

The music is stuff I wrote (with the exception of the hymns)…one of my first really personal worship songs, was a favorite in Williams and actually made it on the Foursquare worship CD…”Only in Your Presence

Only in Your Presence is my joy restored

Only in Your Presence, am I home Oh Lord

Only in Your Presence, is my life made whole

It’s only in the Presence of Jesus, the lover of my soul

   And You can have my soul Oh God, You can be my King

   I know I sometimes drift so far, but You’re the finder of lost things

   And You can have my life Oh God, each and every part

   And if you don’t mind broken things, You can have my heart.

This song was one I wrote when I decided to pen without using “Christianese”…you know how we get, using language only believers understand, I wanted something raw and from the heart…and this was the result…people seemed to relate to it a lot, still a favorite of mine…most people have no idea where the music came from…it was a doodle I wrote for my dad after he died…I wanted something to honor him so it was a rather difficult chord progression when I first wrote it, it stretched my ability by now however I can play it in my sleep and often do.

The second tune is called “Here“…again a song abut His Presence, I mess up the chorus a bit but only those people who have sang it before will catch the disorder, I wont mention any names Bob.

Its more of a waltz…Dave Nenne helped me realize I write a lot of stuff in a waltz mode…I suppose its my love of dancing…Dave was such a help in worship, keeping time and my odd mis-rhythmic starts aligned to something more real…I learned later that even in my own songs my timing is a direct result of my current mood…often I would start songs completely out of whack and turn to Dave and say “How do we play this? He would smile and remind me of how to play my own songs…I miss worshiping with him and the team there, it was always great fun, and I did my best to make it lively fun and free…often goofing more than most people could handle…and there were others on team whole took me to a whole new place…but alas it is a different season.

Here in your Presence Joy everlasting

Here in your Presence my soul is at rest

Here in our Presence I don’t care what you’re asking

The answer I give will be yes

You only will give me the best

So come dwell with your people

Come dance with Your children

Our hearts have been aching for You

We’ve heard You are mighty

We’ve seen You are able

There’s nothing that You cannot do…

We put all of our trust into You…

Here….

This was what I call a “trap” song…it was written intentionally to get people to say “yes’ to whatever the Lord asks them…they often don’t know what they are singing until its to late, but I wanted songs that got people saying yes to Him…it helps.

It was also a phase where I was tired of naming my songs so I used simple one word titles…

I finish it out with the music of some new stuff from the wilderness suite, a tune called Bet Din…which mean the bench of three…its part of the courts of heaven…no words available yet…

As usual it is unedited, fairly raw, added a little verb to give it some depth, but other than that it is what I sang and played in one quick take, that’s why the lyrics got fumbled a bit…but worship music to me was always a live unedited event…fairly challenging unless your team had been together for years…which we had…Dave was amazing at being able to read where I was going, remarkable musician…

When the good guys die (we all win)

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I’m going to make a statement here and then give you a moment to take it in:

Once you have experienced the new birth, God is not even slightly concerned or focused on your sin, there is a very high probability He cannot even see it…any of it.

He is righteousness focused…even the ministry of the Holy Spirit according to John is to convince us of righteousness, not sin, conviction of sin is reserved for unbelievers.

This might be a bit of a challenge to get a hold on but I have become convinced after over 4 decades as a spirit filled believer that the biggest problem that we face is not our old sinful nature, it is not the devil and his minions, it is not evil inside us at all by our average definitions…it is dead works.

Oddly enough when the book of Hebrews lays out the foundations of our faith in the 6th chapter it does not list repentance from sin, which in most evangelical traditions should be the starting place…

No mention of sin at all…oh yes there are other verses that talk about “laying it aside”…”Him being faithful and just to forgive us”, you know them, you’ve read them and depended on them for comfort most of your Christian life…but very little focus on sin at all.

Can anyone show me a verse in Paul’s Epistles where he focuses on asking for forgiveness of sins, or even a sermon where he uses that language? No you can’t why is that?

Even the chaotic Romans 6-8 passages are not really about us so much as Paul’s journey of discovery, and I believe he only shares it as an example and not a template…he finally ends up realizing that there really wasn’t a battle at all, it was just his perspective of one that gave it power, once he changed his perspective his out look changed as well as his behavior.

No, what Hebrews lays as a foundation is “repentance from dead works”…and I have heard very few sermons that applied this focus, most all of our repentance talk is about behavior, not sources.

You know what I mean…people become brutally transparent and share how they overcame pornography, or smoking, or unforgiveness or….fill in the blank.

You’ve probably heard the “feed the white dog, not the black dog” Buddhist nonsense masquerading as good discipline, but the problem is if there is no black dog, then there is no white dog…the New testament does not use this dichotomous language, it simply says “put on the new”…just put it on…like a coat.

Very rarely do you encounter someone who shares how they repented from living out of a dead source of life…which is what Hebrews is calling us to…”dead works” is any effort or behavior that has as its source something dead…

And this is where the white hat good guys trip us up…see we think God has only crucified our bad self in Christ, like a partial lobotomy, He somehow managed to only kill the part of us that was bent on evil and left the “good” part of us intact…

Not so.

“In Christ All died”

Being crucified with Christ is not about getting a second chance to try harder, that is the way of the law and Hebrews will also make clear that the law makes NOTHING perfect…in other words even if you could keep the law (you can’t it is designed to defeat you) you would still not be perfect…

What took me almost 4 decades to learn was that my good self was crucified with Christ as well as my bad self…so any effort to be good, to do good, to remain good were all things that came from a source of life that God Himself has declared dead.

Zombie Christians…I believe the worlds fascination with Zombie movies is because in the spiritual realm they are aware of this metric, millions of believers have animated a part of their life that God has declared dead, and we did it because we thought God wanted our dead self to do something good for Him.

He does not.

The death Adam imparted to you infects all of your life, even the good part of you, its all dead.

When you discover that your good side is just as dead as your evil side, it will be much easier to get on with the process of life in Christ…

Why the intensity of this model? Why is God so intent on my efforts being put to death?

Well its because He loves you so much He wants to put you into a place where His favor, His blessings, His love, His intentions, His thoughts for you could never be compromised, and the only place that was possible was “In Christ”…

So now when you read all those “In Christ” verses you should realize its talking geography as well as elevation…”In Christ” is your current GPS location…its the one place where you can never miss out on His love.

So put down the white hat…you don’t need it anymore…besides that guy is just as dead as the guy in the black hat…

Knowing that…how does it feel to be alive?

I’m going to leave you with this faith challenge…it really is as simple as putting it on…believing that it is true…once you do that…the battle is over.

There is no bad guy…but by default there is also no good guy…which frankly is a relief.

Fat like Heaven

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Inner Tubes

So after I turned 50 I got one of those inner tubes around my waist that most men get, my friends all had one and basically told me it was life, learn to live with it.

I would have except it was contrary to all of my desires and experiences…see I have always been “thin”…and I had tried for years to add some weight to “bulk up” and it was a fruitless battle…until 50 and then that stubborn increase in girth around my mid way point showed up.

It made me angry…so I determined that rather than accept it I would take it on head first and change…within three months I had lost almost 30 pounds and dropped back to a pant size I felt appropriate for me, a thin person.

My approach was rather primitive…I fasted…and moved into a fasted lifestyle…but that would not be enough…I found out I loved and craved all sorts of unhealthy foods and consumed copious amounts that given a different metabolism would have made me blimp size…I also understood the grace of who I was and and struggle that others face when trying to shape body mass, it is much harder than it appears.

(Just a quick word about my health then, I was addicted to Prilosec a photon pump inhibitor because of continual severe heartburn if I missed a day I was in serious pain by 10 am, but since changing I have not had heartburn in over a year and take nothing)

So between changing my eating habits, becoming more active and maintaining a fasted lifestyle approach I have managed to stay “thin” and also increased my health, on an average day my prayer walk will be around 4 miles and that is not burdensome at all, its a high point of my day to walk and pray.

Why?

In trying to understand what goes on I picked up Gary Taubes book “Why we get fat” and I cannot recommend it high enough, it is a major paradigm shifting book on what is happening to our bodies…but reading the book had some unintended consequences…

I began to examine many other belief systems and life patterns that we naturally default to, systems of thinking we are not really aware we have…from empire building church models, to relationship fear/control/identities, to even now, some of the “conservative” political postures that are the norm in Western Evangelical Churches…

As you dig into the roots of these thought systems you end up going back to “roots” in general, Constantine, and the canonization of scripture, what is the Atonement really about, punitive or ransom, the authority of scripture and who gets to say what is ok and not, and how do we come to believe in the models we hold when it is fairly obvious that some of these are human constructs and many times NOT biblical (which should raise a whole set of questions in itself, what happens when those who claim to interpret scripture do not adhere to it?)

Who decided that the Book of Enoch and the Wisdom of Solomon were not inspired, when Jesus and the Apostles quote from both books and the early church deemed them scripture?

How did we get here?

For instance if I were to share with you that I have become a “Chief Prophet” and deserved to be paid most believers would laugh at me and ask where in scripture I get that idea…my response would be absolutely no different from that of a Senior Pastors response…”A workman is worthy of his hire, don’t muzzle the Ox, bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, etc…” and yet most people would have no problem allowing a Senior Pastor to get paid but would balk at my request, even though the phrase “Senior Pastor” has LESS scriptural references than a “Chief Prophet” does…

There is absolutely no verses where the phrase “Senior Pastor” is ever used, not once…let alone a pastor receiving a salary…but most people never question this because it is a system we have adopted without requiring reasons for its existence…

I am not for eliminating pastors salaries, many do a wonderful service and deserve compensation, but many do not, primarily because it is the nature of systems to maintain the status quo without question.

Questions

But raising questions is healthy…why should I assume that because most men my age get an inner tube around the waist I should simply accept it as my truth and live with it? And that’s the subtle power of a system, you own it without even choosing it.

The default posture would have been to do so and accept my lifestyle as “just what it is”…but in this case the normal default lifestyle was not simply wrong, it was unhealthy.

Isaiah 10 says “the yoke shall be broken because of the anointing”, but the word actually used there means “fatness” or “greasy” to smear with oil…

The idea is that we are supposed to be fat with the anointing from Heaven…which I think is much better than physically obese…

Disclaimer

Let me take a minute here and encourage everyone (women in particular) who struggle with shaping their bodies, who struggle with body fat…I have become convinced that body fat regulation is not simply an issue of what you eat, it is a product of the fall…there are actually people who can eat healthy, starve themselves and still everything they eat goes into body fat rather than into energy displacement, the end result is they have no energy, grow physically large and are starving their muscle cells for food…they are always hungry and the enemy loves to exploit this fallen state by shaming them with a negative body image and telling them they have no self control…nothing could be further from the truth, the truth is their bodies are in rebellion to Gods design, not their hearts or their minds…

In these cases…just as in our contemporary christian culture, we have allowed systems to be erected that control us without our consent…we assume the problems are with us, our intentions, or perhaps with the rebels like “Chief Prophets” because the system defaults to blaming the wrong source, but we always have the right to question why something exists, asking questions is not wrong.

Faster please

As I write this I am completing a fast, and frankly I have not really been very hungry at all…I realize this is more a product of who I have become rather than some super duper discipline on my part…fasting has become natural to me, I know what to expect and so does my body, so in response my body does not make huge demands for food…I am NOT some super spiritual mystic who does not need food.

Instead I have replaced one kind of fat for another…and there-in lies the secret…to really change your systems requires displacement, not simply elimination of the old…without a new system in place the lure of returning to the old will over power even the best of intentions, without a system in place to displace the old system you will go back to what was comfortable and give up hope of change in the process…

This is where verses like “In hope AGAINST hope Abraham believed” because it describe the process of changing systems…and no real change can happen in the old systems… that’s why God said “Get out to a land I will show you”…if you want to see how powerful Abraham’s faith was consider how deep the change was that he endured.

I have displaced my cravings for Pringles as well as fatty foods washed down with a Coke Cola with cravings for fresh vegetables, spinach and milk…I honestly would choose a salad over McDonalds without a second thought because I have been in the process of displacement now for about 3 years. I loathe fast food now, but at one time several years ago it was just a part of my normal routine, no questions asked.

And I have been slowly replacing the system of empire with prayer walks in nature, opening portals in the Court rooms of Heaven, encountering heavenly beings in my dreams and crafted prayer combined with worship to redefine my identity rather than the systems of control and ministry labels that is the default structure of the church.

The Word has become a person, a living scroll from an ancient Mystic that is inside me and requires I become a living sacrifice for it to be opened…natural fat has begun to be replaced with the fat of being a temple where Yeshua and his Father dwells, abiding has become a process and a journey and I have been kicked out of the orphanage in the process…

No pain no gain

It is not at all painless, anymore than changing any system of life it is traumatic and requires revoking license to remain in the Matrix…there have been days when all I could do was weep at the lossyness of life, missing friends and connections and well…McDonalds Empire…

But the fat of heaven is preferred even if it is not popular…

I know friends have been warned of me…”dangerous”, “divisive” “strange beliefs and doctrines”…and usually the accusation that I am challenging godly authority…

Balderdash.

When any system you are in refuses to allow questions, without labeling you, then that system is by definition an empire and not heavens design.

Jesus allowed all kinds of questions…

But the system refused to be questioned and ultimately it became the “crux” of the matter…who gets to own the right to question…

Fat and Free

Jesus died so we could be free.

Free to break out of systems that have enslaved us and our bodies, our thoughts and our lives…

Jesus died so you could ask questions…

I am fat with questions now…

And I feel good.

Oddly enough I still have a ways to go…my BMI index is still below “fitness” and only “acceptable”…even though I have dropped two pant sizes and lost the inner tube…

But perhaps the most powerful change i have encountered in  this is the fact that change is possible…I can be fat like heaven…I don’t have to remain the same…

This my friends should give everyone hope, if I can change, I know anyone can, but let me warn you now, it is not simply a matter of “will-power”…change is not simply about intention…it requires displacing a system that as been in place and you are already comfortable with…which means you will need to become uncomfortable…

This is where the Holy Spirit loves to participate, and it is frankly His primary assignment to lead us into all truth, the truth that Jesus owns and purchased for you, but it WILL be uncomfortable at first…

But if you are never “uncomfortable” what on earth do you need a “Comforter” for?

Unanswerable

One final thought here needs to be added…what about those who cannot change, what about those deeply committed to the system?

Well, obviously people who recommend change will be seen as a threat to them, but I am not trying to threaten. After many years as part of certain models and lifestyles I began to question things…why did all the resources only go back to a few at the top, even when benefit was ALWAYS promised to every participant? That is the definition of empire, it describes our current ungodly banking system, our current political system and most of our churches (but not all).

When those in power cannot avoid the questions they always point out their intentions…but intentions are not capable of providing the kind of change that brings equality and freedom to everyone, those rich bankers will always say they did not intend to exploit widows and retirement funds, it just happened.

But if we are going to judge by intentions then everyone gets the same consideration…my intention for asking for change is not ungodly or selfish in the slightest, I want to see communities really changed and people set free, something the current system is failing at.

Truthfully though…intentions cannot be the measurement…if this was the standard then we have no reason to blame Fannie May or Freddie Mac or Washington for the mess our economy is in…the intentions absolve it.

So when you hear rumors of people being a heretic or being divisive or undermining godly authority take it with a grain of salt, this is the same thing all change instigators get labelled with because ANY change is a threat to the existing system, regardless of how holy its origin, there has never been a change that the system in place approved of and endorsed, think about it, if our church model is to change, someone is going to get a label in the process, so what?

These people are not wounded, bitter, or dangerous anymore than everyone else, and frankly we all are to some degree we just don’t admit it because the system does not allow it…and to be honest…people who demand change are a product of the system they are calling for change in, so blame that.

As for me, I did not volunteer for this.

I just followed Jesus into the Wilderness from one of my prayer walks…

If questions are allowed ask this: “Can the church I know change its name to ‘House of Prayer’ and remain honest?” Jesus said His Fathers house would be called that…this is just one of the questions we should be asking…because these are the things close to His heart, these are the things He as passionate about…

As usual, your mileage may vary.

Stranded Starfish

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“Stranded starfish have no place to hide
Still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There’s no point in direction we cannot
Even choose a side.”-Here Comes the Flood/Peter Gabriel

Lighthouse

“Find the Lighthouse” I was pretty sure I heard Him say…prayer drive to the coast, of course there would be a Lighthouse, it’s the coast…but alas Google search would only give me “Gospel Lighthouse” and I loathed the idea so I determined that was not what He meant…so I searched to no avail…finally decided to stop looking and just go find a spot to have some coffee…little town of Trinadad…and as I turned to go to the ocean, there it was a lighthouse…

Took the steps down to the beach and expected to meet someone or something…nothing…just a beach…but hey when is a beach just a beach to me?

Odd bit of info about me, I have always loved the ocean…long before I ever saw it, I was in love with it…I sat and watched in rapture Jacques Cousteu’s underwater adventures after reading his book on sharks, I loved him and what he did and wanted to be an oceanographer…but I was stuck in Oklahoma…cattle, cowboys and Indian reservations…I hated the midwest, probably because there was no ocean.

Whatever possessed the God of heaven to wire the son of a preacher and grandson of a Cherokee in Oklahoma to love the ocean as I do is one of the mysteries of life, but I do.I can just sit like an old friend and recharge my entire life…just listening to the waves.

Starfish

I first saw the starfish dried out the night before, but next day is when I really discovered what this would be about…I found many starfish stranded on the sand, most of them rather small…but one or two full sized and all left high and dry by the tide…

The tune…”Here comes the flood” ran through my mind…stranded starfish have no place to hide…I can still hear Peter Gabriel sing it, lovely tune, so mournful.

But what did God want? What was special about this moment?

As I sat drinking my coffee on a large boulder that had been half submerged in tide water the night before it began to slowly dawn on me…

Ebb and Flow…

Tides

I have spent almost 30 years learning how to flow with the Spirit, how to run meetings, how to prophesy, how to carry the Presence in worship, make no mistake about it, I have learned a few things about bringing the glory…and especially in “flowing”…at this moment I can unleash a flow of prophetic song and bring the sound of heaven, my biggest challenge was often turning it off so as not to”go over” my allotted time (image that)…my point being I know how to flow.

If you have been in ministry or a “ministering servant” for more than a few years you know how to flow…its part of the job description now…

But what no one teaches, and what is almost never done is to “ebb”…

What is ebb?

Well if flow is when you are plugged in serving, pouring out, ministering, giving, keeping your post, maintaining your line, keeping watch, serving…it is by definition when God (and your own effort) is being displaced through you to others…and its an intoxicating substance this flow stuff.

So flow is when you are in your place giving 100% thinking of others and serving without wincing…flowing out of your core to take care of those around you…

Ebb is the opposite…you are giving nothing…you are doing nothing…you are nothing…no title, no office, no anointing, no calling (and no calls), no demands no ministry, no nada.

Ebb.

Its when it is all taken from you.

The tide is out, and if you are not careful you will be washed up somewhere with no place to hide.

But wait you say (see how well I anticipate your question) “What about the gifts and callings of God are without repentance?”…good question…so your definition or His? Putting something on hold is not exactly taking it back…re-tooling a life for a number of years is not taking back a calling…it might be fulfilling it.

Why are we so reticent to stop doing ministry?

No place to hide

“Oh how are you, whats the Lord doing in your life right now?”

“Nothing”.

“Oh surely He’s doing something, where does He have you serving?”

“Nowhere”

“Really?”

“Hmmm!”

See what I mean, no place to hide.

No one expects you to do nothing, unless of course you are somehow being punished..either because you have done something so horrendous, or God is just pissed at you and put you in time out.

Todays christian culture has no place for a pastor or leader who says I am stopping for a few years…we don’t know how to deal with that, so we don’t.

Statistics show that in an average month 1500 pastors leave the ministry, some because of moral failure, others because of disillusionment and depression. A study I recently read state that 57% of Pastors would leave the ministry now if they had something better to do…

The machine is broken, because this is the machine almost all ministry comes from…

Whats the problem?

No ebb.

Heaven forbid anyone in ministry let alone pastors take a year and do nothing.

Let the tide go out.

Let it take from you the water of ministry and serving and identity and the flow of life as you know it, see what happens…

If you are a crab and the tide leaves you stranded you end up as lunch…caveat emptor…this strikes to close to my own mouth so I will move on…

No one teaches us that God might one day just pull the tide out, and its not like nature doesn’t warn us, all of life has cycles of ebb and flow even the majestic redwood forest, its just on a much longer cycle of fire and burn and regrowth.

This isn’t “pruning” either…I guess in a rough way it is, but is seems much more severe, you are stranded with no connection with the world you swam in and the tide is gone and you have no place to hide…

But whats wrong with that?

Christian Muse-Ick

I have a confession to make…I generally hate christian radio…I cannot stand when people want to simply sell a CD so they take another persons worship song and do a new version of it, I wanna shout into the radio ‘Write your own worship song”…I know its very judgmental, but its one of my pet peeves, like it or not…

But that’s not the main reason I don’t like christian music…there’s always something missing from it and it wasn’t until now that I think I recognized it…I find the majority of christian music, roughly 99% of it lacks “ebb”…its all flow…even if the song is about a rough patch of life, its all sugar coated and gonna be fine…you now what I’m talking about the songs lack substance…give me Coldplay, or Snow Patrol or even U2…but this swirly rainbow, waterfalls and pony music?…blecchh.

Dave Matthews song “Gravedigger, or Bartender” have the element of ebb in them, there is a certain pathos that cannot be heard when all you sing is “Let the river flow”…(apologies to Darrel Evans)

And even when we have pastors and leaders and singers who encounter “ebb” it always gets turned back into “flow” and ministry and now I have a message because God took my mess and made it flow again, isn’t He good all the time?

My Bible does not read like that.

I have David whining and Job crying, and Jeremiah downright depressed and Sarah scheming and Jacob lying, and well…lots of time when it was not “flow”…

400 years in slavery probably was not described as living in the flow of Gods purpose, but it was…it was the back-flow…when things flow away from you and God seems silent.

And just a little side note, it was in the “ebb” part of Israels history where ministry refused to stop that they developed the traditions of men that Jesus challenged…the mishnah was a direct result of ministry refusing to do nothing when there was no temple and no way to do anything anyway…think about it…the traditions that Jesus had the biggest problem with were born in a season when the Temple had been destroyed, so honestly ministry was supposed to be in”ebb” but it refused until at the time of Christ there are actually two separate high priest, something the mishnah provided that the Torah did not.

I can almost promise that if you are in ministry for more than 5 continuous years it is almost impossible for you to hear the idea that God might want you to do nothing for a year.

Why is that?

Well for some its their job, and that alone should raise a red flag, but most often it is simply because between the demands of life and the demands of identity we just cannot afford to get quiet and hear that maybe God has other plans, once something becomes your job there are expectations and schedules and salaries and…well you get the drift, there is no room for spontaneous and terminated ministry in our culture because its always a bad thing.

Jesus Ebbs

Have you ever noticed how much Jesus ebbed? Just did nothing we can read about?

Oh we assume he was praying, but often it says he drew alone by himself…and I can see instances where there were plenty of opportunity for ministry and he just did nothing…or at best healed one guy and walked away.

Ebb.

30 years of Ebb.

Paul 13 years of Ebb.

But us…not so much.

If there is a flow there must be an ebb…its part of life…

But no one is talking about it.

So right now..I am.

I’m ebbing.

Will there be another flow?

Well I assume so…but I can promise it wont look like the last one…each tide rises with its own current, its own purpose and carries new nutrients and adventures on its flow…

I’m hopeful…but also

Ebb…its where I am now…

And I’m ok with it.

I think God wants us human before he wants us anointed…and there’s something about living your life in and for ministry that strips away your humanity…ebb gives it back by stripping away all the tides of serving and identity and position…

Stranded starfish have no pace to hide.

The Rock

I did find lots of other starfish though…stuck to the bottom of the boulders…in the shade…in precarious positions…if the rock were to roll even slightly the starfish would be crushed…

If the rock moved slightly the starfish would be worse than stranded…

I think the best place to be when the tide goes out is stuck to the bottom of the Rock…you have to go low to get there…and it defies gravity a bit…its in the shade away from the sea gulls and burning sun…

Its a quiet place…mossy and in the shadows…low key…

Selah.

 

post script:

A couple of thoughts drift into my mind, first of all the question “Would God really have you just do nothing?” Define “nothing”…I played with starfish and collected pebbles and on my way home laid down in a mess of clover underneath a majestic redwood forest and just took it in…maybe God needed someone to appreciate His stuff he made for us today, so I don’t think nothing is what I did…

Second…I did bring a somewhat bemused and alive starfish back to Red Bluff…I rescued it so to speak…although its time is probably limited…call it nostalgia, call it presumption…the reality is there is no rescue…if you don’t survive until the new tide, well…I don’t know what to say…