Sunday, January 13, 2013

The year to start things- and to end things

I want to recap the last two posts because they are a part of a journey that both starts and ends here. In the first post (click here) I consider the effects of eating from the Tree of Life versus the Tree of Knowledge. After many hours pondering the path I chose to know God, I realized that I chose knowledge. In choosing knowledge, here is what my conversations with God were like.

"Dear God,
Please forgive me again for the sin(s) i have committed. Please teach me how to overcome this desire so I can be worthy of your love. Amen."

This was all from a place of knowing that Christ died for my sins, but not understanding what that actually meant for me. I was missing a key ingredient and that was life. It would be easy to mistake life as being alive, but that can be so different than the life that Christ wants for us, that is, His life. When we choose His life our conversations with him become a bit different.

"Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your grace over my life that allows me to do the things I cannot do on my own. Your love for me surpasses all understanding and there is nothing in this world or the next that could ever separate that from me. Amen."

We have a choice to create our own life and destiny, or we can partake in the divine life and destiny that has been laid out for us since before time, hidden deep within the Father himself.

The second post (click here) I take a leap into the dark side to propose that sin does not exist. I cleverly defined sin under the context of the old law and don't really go into any detail about a new law. The reason I did this was I wanted to provoke you to really understand what law we are now under. Jeremiah puts it beautifully here: ""The time is coming" declares the Lord, "When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV84)

The law is not something that can be listed on a piece of paper, for that paper was burned at the death of Christ. Instead, the law has been written on our minds and our hearts, that way we may know our God. And under this new law, he will remember our sins no more. So do I believe you can sin? Yes. I believe you can violate your own heart. But since God will remember them no longer, we would be doing ourselves a favor if we forgot them too.

Like my example about division, I propose that this year, 2013, we throw away everything we have known and learned about Church, Jesus and community. Toss it in the trash and let it die. As you let what these ideals have become, in your own mind, die, I urge you to relearn what these truly are. No longer from the perspective that I AM a sinner, but from the perspective of I WAS a sinner. There are two sides of the cross, one - before resurrection and two - after resurrection. Side one views God's judgement as yet to come or incomplete and side two views God's judgement as complete, where we have been completely justified and our sins are remembered no more. Once you decide to view Christ, yourself and your community (Church) on the second side, the latter side, the proper side of the cross, you choose to partake in resurrection life. Any and all ideals you allow to die and be resurrected, you will be able to experience in a completely brand new way.

This is the year that I choose to end everything that needs to end, let die everything that must die and begin to live as one who has been completely resurrected and restored. No more will I dabble in the ideals of poverty and disparity, but will choose abundance and prosperity that go far beyond my earthly circumstance. No more will I teeter on the fence of faith because there is no grey area and there is no fence to ride, just that which is either dead or alive. No deed or piece of gold will hold me down, for my treasures lie in Christ and Christ is sitting on the other side of death. So let us not carry death any longer, let us hold on to resurrection life, for that is what Christ has bought for me.

Food for thought:
You have a lover waiting at your door. Are you going to wait until your bruises and scars have healed or will you open the door to say you are ready?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

To sin or not to sin, that is the question.

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.

I want to propose something similar to what was proposed to me in my first analytical math class. I was shockingly informed that there was really no such thing as division. My whole life I learned that 4 divided by 2 is 2 and now you are telling me that there is no such thing as division?! (Please do not panic – division was a sly trick mathematicians invented to represent multiplying by the reciprocal) I had to leave behind my knowledge and assumptions of division and devise a new way to represent what division does to an element.

On the same note, I want to propose something to you that may be shocking. But again, do not panic! Proposition: There is no such thing as sin.

I want to enter a disclaimer here. As I have mentioned to many people who are close to me, I have no problem being wrong, it just doesn’t happen very often (please hear my sarcasm). I invite any and all opinions because at the end of the day it isn’t about what you or I think. It’s all about Him. I am also not going to present any of these things with strong theological arguments or great fragments of scripture to prove my point. I am going to take a perspective that defies time and space, personal reference and experience or knowledge and discernment. I find that too many times my own interests limit the greatness of God. So let’s just agree to let those go, even for just a moment.

Back to my proposition. Let’s take a look at creation from the perspective of eternity. Take a deep breath (inhale) and when you exhale, forget everything you know about time (exhale). Do you really think that God would sacrifice his entire creation over one silly piece of fruit? [See my last post here] He can see the entire timeline of time – both what can happen and what actually happens. I don’t take God as a fool, so I think in the divine fellowship (that is the Trinity), they knew what the world would look like with and without freewill. I believe they chose to grant freewill even though they knew some would not choose them. But you see, this had to be the better choice otherwise we would not live in a world with the freedom to choose.

So in the perspective of eternity, knowing all along that redemption would be necessary because of the ‘fall’- how much power does sin have? And does it really come in to play? I suppose I should clarify my meaning of sin. I mean sin to be the willful disobedience of God’s law. I want you to read that again. The willful disobedience of God’s law. Did you catch it? That’s right- law. If God’s law was fulfilled by Christ, and we are in Christ, then we have fulfilled God’s law. If this is true then can the law be disobeyed? In other words, can that which has been obeyed, be disobeyed? Logically, no. So if the law that has been fulfilled, cannot be disobeyed, then sin cannot exist based on its definition. Do you believe me yet?

Now, I hope we all know that the law referred here is the law of Moses. So knowing that the law has been fulfilled (by Christ), was there another law established that we are to abide by? I hear many reference Matt 22:34-40, to love the lord with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. But if you read this whole passage you notice that Jesus is summing up the law of Moses to be these two things. So is that the new law we live by? I don't necessarily think so.

So what is the New Testament law? What moral code is outlined that we must live by? How did Paul instruct the Corinthians when they were out of line? Even better, how did he instruct the Galations when they adopted the Jewish law? If I remember correctly he suggested that they simply castrate themselves if it was going to interfere with the gospel that Paul left them with. What does Paul remind the churches about when they start 'misbehaving'? He reminds them of who they are- no longer born under the law but redeemed to have full rights as sons of God. So what law does Paul ever say has been disobeyed? Does he even mention one?

If there isn't a law presented in the New Testament- on a quick side note, I think the only thing remotely close would be a total rejection of the spirit- then can we truly sin? I don't think we can. For if there was something that we still needed to repay, Christ would not have paid the ultimate price. You cannot repay a debt that has already been paid. The question then remains, is there anything we can do that would imitate the repercussions of sin? Does scripture not say that God's mercy triumphs over judgement? Does it not also say that there is nothing on this earth or in heaven that can separate us from the love of God?

Can you imagine a world full of people who no longer lived under the fear of sin? Can you imagine all the things we would actually do that could bring the glory of God? I must superimpose that although I do not believe we can sin, I believe we can still grieve the Holy Spirit when we do or partake in anything that can be found outside of Christ. Again, see my last post here for good vs. evil. What would your relationships look like if you let go of your fears of sinning, of falling short, or simply failing? Is God's grace sufficient in your weaknesses? Unequivocally, yes. You are such an amazing co-heir of the kingdom of God. You are seated in high places with Christ. Isn't that amazing?!

I hope this did not offend anyone personally, I only hope it offended the religious spirit that still gets shoved down our throats. It doesn't bother me if someone disagrees with me - my only hang up would be if we are truly enjoying the freedom that Christ so clearly paid for. I hope, across the board, that answer is yes!

Until then, the next time you feel as if you have sinned, look quickly up to the face of the Father and declare who you are. For you are in his Son, and in his Son there is no sin. Amen!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life vs. Knowledge

What do you think this world would look like if Eve had brought Adam fruit from the Tree of Life instead of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why do we value knowledge so much when that was the forbidden fruit in the garden? It begs the question, does it even matter to God what is right or wrong?

These are questions I mostly ask myself- but would love if others started asking these as well. It puts a new twist on what we view as right or good because I think all the father sees is that which brings life. All others are just death. Not all good things bring life as Paul mentions, everything is permissible but not all is profitable. So what really are the dividing lines? It certainly shouldn't be what we view as right or wrong because that is completely subjective- therefore not a valid argument. Should it be what God views as right or wrong? Yes and no. All that God sees is what is in his son- anything else is as far removed from him as the east is from the west. There is no gray area, no middle ground and no fence to ride. Just that what is and is not of Christ.

'I don't drink because I am a Christian.' 'I don't watch Harry Potter because I am a Christian.' 'I don't do [insert here] because I am a Christian.' Countless things we will take a stand against for the sake of being a Christian when in reality those things are just a result of our understanding of good and evil. No one would argue that you should do anything that will harm yourself- so don't read me wrong here. But what is it that God wants us to take a stand for? Is it to protect the law? Or is it to embrace life? On a daily basis what would you say you do most- weigh the pros and cons of a decision or simply choose Christ?

I know these are rather rhetorical- but start thinking! Paul urges us to continually renew our minds so that we can know the will of God and attest that it is good. When we step away from the boundaries of the law that is the only time we can truly see Christ in all his glory and attest that God's will is perfect and good. And lets not get on the bandwagon of what God's personal will is for our lives ok- for your own sake just please read John 6:40- he has one ultimate, governing will- that we would believe in his son and have eternal life. God's will for my life is not separate from the will for humanity. I am a part of this magical and mysterious secret made known to creation through Christ. Isn't it amazing?!

So- if I continue to eat of the Tree of Knowledge where will it lead me? I will become and expert on what is ethical, right, moral, good, pure and noble. But if I eat of the Tree of Life what shall become of me? I shall see resurrection, redemption, justice, salvation, love, hope, peace and don't forget, eternity. This is no contest. I choose to eat of life and I could care less on what you or I think is good or evil. There is no such thing when you are in Christ.

Until next time, enjoy the sweet and savory flavor of life being birthed in you each moment- Christ died to bring life! Not more knowledge, so get with it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The unimaginable Father

To give you context to this post, I just watched Father of Lights, by the same director as Finger of God and Furious Love, with some of my friends last night. I didn't really want to watch it because in my head I was thinking- 'I've heard just about as much Christian-ese as I can handle.' But boy am I glad I stayed.

I want to quote something from Darin Hufford in his book "The Misunderstood God"

'The great counterfeit of kindness if manipulation.
When the antithesis of kindness, manipulation, is present, true kindness becomes voided out. In order for kindness to be authentic, it must have no ulterior motive behind it. The moment a hidden motive supports a kind act, the act itself ceases to be kind and suddenly becomes manipulation.
This is why most people's response to a kind act is 'What do you want from me?' We have grown accustomed to the lie. It is beyond our comprehension why anyone would do something nice without wanting something in return.'

This has been the story of my life (among so many other things it turns out) since I was just a child. I was sold a package that contained manipulation that looked like sincerity, love and security but it was just that- manipulation. I won't go into details of how this was demonstrated to me but I will say that because one of my primary love languages is gifts- you can imagine what getting gifts with motives will do to you over the years. It has painted a picture of love that I have never been able to relate to. This is no wonder then I cannot relate to the father because after all, he gives us things so we will love him, worship him and give him all the glory. (Right?!) Sounds kinda selfish if you ask me. But this is how I view him- a father who gives and takes as he pleases to manipulate me into doing what he wants. Think about your view for a minute and tell me there isn't any form of manipulation you feel in your relationship with the father.

This was my view until about a week ago and it was just overwhelmingly confirmed last night. In the midst of struggling with what I consider heavy sin, I received the one revelation that has finally broken me. Broken me to the point of no return. I will never be where I once was because it lived in the land of death and desolation. Tho I may have had plenty of correct views of the father, I didn't have THE correct view. As I was cowering in a corner screaming and holding up my fists ready to take the beating, all I got was love. No whispers of condemnation or disappointment. Just this: try to do anything that will divert my love from you and I will show you that it never will.

What do you do with that? That's the best part- nothing. You are required to do absolutely nothing with that revelation- and that is why it has me so broken. I can say, like Paul, that I am a wretched human being but God has placed me on the other side of the cross so my words are void. My father saw my life, past-present-future, he saw everything I would ever do and he still chose me to belong to him because there would never be anything I could ever do to change his view of me, because he saw me from eternity, in His son.

I am ruined my friends. I have run in what I thought was the opposite direction only to find out I was running straight to him. Where can I go? Where can I hide? The good and bad news is you cannot hide anywhere- and even if you have reason to hide- he'll never let you slip out of his reach. Because that's what father's do.

How does this change things? Knowing the truth about Him changes everything. It changes my thinking. It changes my words. It changes my actions. It changes my views. It changes my life. This is finally the answer I have been searching for this whole time- why do I believe in what I believe in? Because there will never be a love as real as this one.

Dang it- that is so satisfying to my soul. If you haven't had this revelation I say 'watch out!' because he's coming- and his love spreads like wildfire.

Monday, July 2, 2012

When it all comes tumbling down

I am having a slight out-of-body experience. I see my current situation and then I see myself two months ago and this is what I would tell myself... You are not defined by your circumstance- you're new nature cannot be touched by the old creation. Yet I find myself in a predicament- how do I know that is true?

You see, I am a lover of things that are true. That is why since I was very little, that is the one thing that was always tested. It was tested in many ways- sometimes through others asking questions (which is the most direct), sometimes through actions of my own and sometimes through the actions of others. The line I drew in the sand always seemed to get run over as if it were never there. The truth that seemed so evident was suddenly drowned by uncertainty and doubt.

This may be ok for some people to experience- they might consider it a joy to have this type of journey... But for me- battling the truth on a daily basis has been the hardest thing I have ever done- and it seems to be the end of me. It also may seem very insignificant to onlookers who do not know the whole story- because after all the truth is not relative... And sadly, that is the only thing I truly believe.

So what do you do when you have been building something your whole life and with all the materials you have access to, you have never been able to repair that crack in the wall- and then your worst fear happens- the whole thing comes crashing down. You know there has always been a crack but were just hoping that the tape, caulking, plaster and cement would keep it sealed.

This is my dilemma and this is my struggle. My foundation seems to be incorrect- my view of truth seems to be skewed. I have to go all the way back to the beginning and start over because there is no way I can rebuild on ashes and coal. The problem is I have run out of tools and materials. Strong wills have turned to rubber, discipline has turned to dust, prayer has turned to wishful thinking and love has turned to oil- its all over the place but just too messy.

Translation- to all those who seem to know me and to all those who think they do- so much has been shattered in my views of God and his relationship with me that I do not even know where to start reconciling my mind to agree to the things I have before. This may seem odd, and slightly unbelievable- but the day will come my friends, when your foundation needs to be rebuilt and you will be faced with a choice that will look like torture on one side and death on the other. The question is which will you choose? It seems that anything would be better than death (ok we aren't talking literal here but death as Jesus speaks as being without life- without him- so don't call the authorities, I'm not suicidal!) but after you have been tortured for so long you are willing to take anything just so it would stop.

So here is to all those who have given up- I hear you and I see you. I hope my fight can represent something someday and I can be one that can start fighting for others- but first I must make a choice- and lets hope the wishful thinking of others will persuade me to take the torture, no matter how difficult.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mine versus Yours

Why is it that we find ourselves comparing experiences with one another? For example, you had shoulder surgery and I had brain surgery. You've failed twice and I've failed seven. You find it hard to listen and I find it hard to talk... Do you catch my drift?

I don't want to compare my story versus yours. I don't want to rank personal testimonies 1-10, 10 being outrageously radical to 1 being raised a Christian- boring. Not only do I think it may be a rather waste of time comparing our scars and bruises, more importantly we need to understand that we all have the same story, the same upbringing and the same future. (see 2 Tim 2)

I suppose a quick disclaimer should be mentioned here. Like many of you, I have struggled with countless things (which can be named if you really want to know- there is no shame there) but I think the difference lies in our associations with those things. I want to make it clear that I do not, nor ever will associate myself with my flesh, and I don't think you should either. Arrogant, I know... But Jesus called it righteousness.

Onward. My motivation for this today is one of my favorite passages from Philippians chapter 3 versus 3-16. I love the way Paul speaks right to the heart of men, skipping past the layers we've built to protect ourselves and showing us Christ over and over again.

Do you want to sit and compare stories with Paul on your life's missions? He will gladly do that, and does. Oh, you are a Hebrew? Well I was circumcised on the eighth day of the Tribe of Benjamin- a Hebrew of Hebrews concerning the law. Oh you are passionate? I was a Pharisee- You pursue righteousness? I persecuted the Church upon righteousness found in the law- Does this sound like our minds sometimes when we hear each other speak?

I know if that were me writing this letter, I would have listed those things in spite. Not exactly sure of that's where Paul came from. But here's the kicker... Paul counts that all loss. All this gain- gain in social standing, gain in finances, gain in self-righteousness and confidence- is all but a loss in order to gain Christ and be found in Him. He places no confidence in himself- but all confidence in the power of the resurrection of Christ. Wow. Where is your confidence? Where is mine?

Keep reading this passage and you will find that Paul struggles just as we do, by saying he has by no means come into completion. But he gives us a charge to press on, leaving all that is behind us- forgetting what has passed and reach for that which is in front of us- the high calling of being in Christ Jesus. Let us live in the mindset of having already attained these things, and may we all do it together.

So the next time you want to compare your experiences and why you think this way while I think that way, can we come to an agreement on something? There is only one way we should be thinking and that is of the Kingdom of God- which has been made known through his son. That is our experience. That is our story. That is our life and that is our future. So please, do me a solid and quit banking on the emotions of hurt to elevate your experience of God. He is so much more than a shoulder to cry on or another notch on your bedpost.

Too harsh? Maybe. But I need to hear this just as much as the next guy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Promises of Life

I first off challenge you to read John chapter 6. But not as you have read it before. Read it with the idea of promise, and see if anything stands out to you.

It is truly amazing how we can read the words that Jesus spoke and feel the power that it still has. I am no longer in favor of just reading the bible to read it. I want the power of Jesus to be revealed in every line!

So on that note, John chapter 6 is great. It's all about promises. I am starting to realize that in believing, there is a deep rooted foundation of promise. With believing, comes promise. Without promise, there is no power of belief. I don't mean to mention promises of good fortune and better circumstances. I don't believe Jesus ever promised anything close to that. His promises are much more meaningful.

When Jesus walks on water in verse 19 the reaction of the disciples was fear. Jesus' promise was this, do not be afraid for in me there is no fear. Verses 26-27 he promises food that will endure, which he will give. And then, most dominantly he promises us eternal life. But eternal life is knowing the Father and the one he sent, as said in chapter 17.

So let's quickly recap, (and I am assuming you read this because there's too much detail to lay it all out), the promises outlined in chapter 6 are rooted in one thing. They are rooted in him. That is interesting isn't it? That he can promise freedom from fear, food that fills the soul and eternal life that are all contained in him. So what he is really saying is this: I promise myself to you. I promise that I am trustworthy and will fulfill your hunger and thirst.

So prophesy and miracles will fill our hunger right? Or teachings and gatherings? Blessings and inheritances? I would beg to infer that maybe these things are an outcome of the belief in his true promise, the promise of eternal life in him. Maybe I should stop looking at these things as a fulfillment of a desire to experience him and rather as an inevitable response to the very essence of who he is.

So the challenge for myself is this: to set aside the 'glory' of gifts and blessings and turn my face to the person of Jesus because he promises himself to me if I believe. So I will believe in the promise of him, because in him all blessings/promises/gifts/inheritances come. That's the glory I want, Jesus.

Will you join me?