Benders.

 When I was little, I would never cuss around my mom or any adults, I just thought it would bring me something I wasn’t looking forward to — a spanking!! Everyday when I got to school I would turn on the cussing just to impress those around me, truth be told, I was hoping no adults would hear me, just in case they told my mom. As time went on, I began (without knowing it) creating a duplicitous lifestyle where I would hide certain aspects of my personality just to feel accepted. Just to be loved (sound familiar?). And you know what, it worked!! Now, I am learning to undo this kind of double life. It is not fair to me or to other people. You see, to the Jews of the first century and the Hebrews before that, there was no division between the spiritual and the physical world, it was all held together by the same power. There were never terms like sacred and secular or christian and non-christian. there was just living everyday life and doing that was itself a spiritual act. We almost live our lives as if we are under some kind of curse thinking we have to behave in a certain manner to receive praise and some golden trophy (some know this as a crown), you see that belief in and of itself creates the curse life, a life where we have come to believe we need to do and say certain things with certain cliches’ to actually be acceptable to God and to others around us. Phrases like ‘Amen’, ‘Sinners Prayer’ (again, man-made), and ‘Let Go and Let God’ (which aren’t bad in and of themselves) must not be so overused that they lose their meaning (unfortunately, we are already at that point). And if we live our lives as if we are still under some kind of ethereal curse, what does that do for Pauls words in Galatians 3:13 where He says Christ became the curse so we wouldn’t have to. We have created a Christianity that was never meant to exist. A Christianity that even seems duplicitous to a world who doesn’t want to believe because of the two-way life we have learned to live. We must began dismantling church practices that have been man-made (and that, unfortunately, is alot of Christianity (which at this point is nothing more than man-made religion)) . Some may read what I am saying and think that I might say that all of Christianity is wrong and irrelevant, and this is not what I am saying at all, I am dealing with the modern-day pharasaic order of the church — the practices and language that have now become so irrevelant and stale that even believers are walking away from the church (noticed I lowercased the ‘C’, most of these believers aren’t walking away from the the movement of the Church, but the local expression of church (if it stays the way it is) will end up dying if we do not do something drastic. It is okay to not use words like “sanctification” and “redemption”, it is okay to live out a life of sanctification and redemption, there is a stark contrast I am making here, one is words based on a lifestyle that can’t perfectly match up and another is a lifestyle based on attempts made only in grace and the knowledge that God always makes the first move toward us becoming more like Christ (which initially might mean “anointed”, but when delved into deeper, Christ really means, “who we were meant to be”-the ultimate human–yes, He was also divine). We must be people who are change agents for the Church (people), we can no longer find ourselves folding hands in churches, we must find ourselves outside church walls and touching people, folding our hands is no longer an option. Instead of praying for prayers to be answered, be the prayer that needs answering. We no longer need to follow a history of faith, we longer have the luxury of following a history of faith, rather we must become followers and history makers within our faith…this is the calling, this the path….the gauntlet has been set…make your move and be the curse breakers and culture benders we were meant to be…live it up!!!

Post Office.

I like receiving packages. I love going to the slit in the old wooden door to see if any letters have my name on it, but, I get really excited when someone sends me something big, it really excites me. There is such a process though, if you don’t package it correctly or place enough stamps then the package won’t make it to its destination.

Apostle means “sent one”, during Christ’s final goodbye, He sends his friends out to go and be scripture. to be the gospel by using their lives as loudspeakers (not words; make disciples is an action-oriented phrase) for the world around them….oh, and go change the world globally. Christ believe they had what it took. So, like a good rabbi, He sends them as sent ones. We are sent. What does that mean? We go to them, and also, there is no them. We all have the image of God, we go the children who don’t know their father, I think this is a much better way to say it…we let them know they have a lover who has been chasing them. It means as a church we stop creating programs to remain an insular community which keeps us from being an out-turned community movement. We stop moving if we allow ourselves to get caught up in church politics and running a good show with large numbers. It means we do not necessarily bring people to a building, since we are the church, we bring church to the fatherless. Being a sent one is one who will take the time to come alongside people rather than to them, they will invest the local culture and lifestyle to better befriend people and to respect the background. Being a sent one means, we go! We don’t pray about where we should go, because we are told to go everywhere, but..we GO!! And we change the world, one person, one country at a time…remember, life is a day that doesn’t last for long….get crackin!!!

Kyrios.

I had one this morning. I stepped outside and after literally a couple seconds, I almost tasted the Spirit of God (Pneuma). I didn’t want to leave. It was truly was some of the ancients called a “God-moment” (kyrios-moment). God is everywhere, right? That also means He is always there. If this is true, then, every moment we live and breath are holy. Holy is much more than being set apart, in fact, at the root of this word is the idea of uniqueness. Completely different. Distinguishable from everything and everyone else. These are the moments we are made for. Those moments that aren’t mundane, where Christianity or church services seem monotonous and boring, but they are encounters built upon discovery. Then God says this:……….when you rediscover me, you will rediscover me, and then you will redsicover me and then when you think you found me out, you will rediscover me.

STEW.

i don’t like stew…
 our theology tells us that god treats us like stew that he is out to get us and that we should dread when we are put in situations we not prefer to be in. i think our theology has failed us, to believe in a god who is out to get us was what people had believed in the surrounding old testament cultural perspective. to say things like “i don’t want to be a pastor, but you know how God has a sense of humor” or “i don’t really want to go there, but I have to take this job because God wants to teach me something”, we set out to defy the very character of God in our language without even knowing it. When God says things like “i want to give you the desires of your heart” and ” i am looking for people who worship in spirit and truth” or in the Message it says, god is looking for people who are 100% themselves. God doesn’t put us into crappy circumstances just to teach us something, that would be more like the idea of saying God is like the kid with a magnifying glass who is waiting to burn us when the sun shines, but, He is not. He wants the best for us. Sometimes it is our very choices or views of God that set us on a certain path, it’s sometimes the opinions of others and our own insecurities that shove us into situations we attempt to overspiritualize and make it into some spiritual training camp. So, what do we do with those moments where it seems too hard or frustrating or just plain hard and confusing? we rest in the knowledge that God is near. We need not seek answers or make sense of it all. We just rest and realize like any journey that leads you to a beautiful view, it is usually rough getting there. Job said something interesting in the middle of his life falling apart like sand through his hands…he basically said something like this: “i know my life is in shambles and what is going on doesn’t make any sense to me, but, even if the sky falls tonight — God, I choose you!” You see, He wasn’t sitting around blaming God like so many accuse Job of doing, sure, He questioned Him (so, what does that say about the need to questions God?)…He was determined to fight through only because He knew God was present. You see when Job said ‘ Blessed Be Your Name’…what he was saying in essence, after all the translation from Hebrew to English and modernized…I favor who you are God even above all my losses, you are my greatest gain. Even when the rain is falling, you are my home. Even when my life is unbalanced you are my center. I choose you God above all this mess. So, this is the invitation–to trust God, to fall in love with Him so much that you can’t live without Him, to run to Him when it falls down, knowing He is there to catch you when you fall!!!
 

Exclusive.

Jesus broke a lot of rules. He was a modern-day hippie, he broke the rules in the name of love. What I mean to say, is that Jesus wasnt concerned with labeling people (white, black, gay, sinner…), He wasn’t exclusive. Someone recently said that Westernized Christianity has to die (it was from an evangelical pastor from Michigan); He was responding to this idea that says: once you jump through this hoop and say this one prayer and get dunked in a couple gallons of water and give so much money to this charity you will then be promised Heaven. This is what the speaker was responding to. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus say that scripture is the moral code (its’ not an end-all to be all). When he encountered the woman caught in the literal act of adultery He didn’t see her as a sinner, He saw her as God’s prized creation. He never reacted to what was wrong with people, but saw the good and went from there. We aren’t meant to meet people where they are and then try and fix them (aka, bring them to christ), we are to ‘make disciples’ (live our lives in such a way that love always rules the final decision)…you see Jesus wasn’t always driven by what was socially acceptable (‘right or wrong’), although the Pharisees were. The majority of Jesus’ commentary on life wasn’t what was wrong with life, but what He came to offer. It really frustrates me when Christ-followers use special language, even in our own relationship with God. We create an exclusive gospel and truth built on magic. If we say “in the name of jesus” well then God has to answer. If we say”Amen” after prayers, well then it has to be done. We talk about grace as if it was a long lost lover who is still lost according to the way we react. Jesus always chose love over rules and morals….He hung out with prostitutes behind closed doors…He had dinner with tax-collectors (think about how paying taxes made you feel, yep, they felt that about them but times 10). He broke rules in the name of restoration. He redeemed people through love not structure. He held people and didn’t push them away. He didn’t use exclusive language like “sanctified” or “salvific” or “redemption”, in fact most of his stories were filled with common everyday language that everyone in the audience could have related to. He was an outsider (God in human flesh) speaking to outsiders while trying to correct the insiders (the religious leaders; the church of the day). I believe Jesus would still be challenging the church today, that love is the answer…He speaks of love and the Kingdom of God more than any other subject and the Kingdom of God was always about restoring relationships, that is what we should be about –not focusing on what’s wrong with people (and people are not their sin), but building upon the image of God we each have (yes every person) instilled within. We change the world one person at a time, we transform lives through love not special voodoo type language Christianity was never meant to be built upon words, but of power, love, grace, relationship, passion…we no longer have the luxury to follow a Christianity based upon tradition (the Pharisees did this), we must follow Christ not Christianity! We must now believe in the unseen and not follow some local theologian who has Doctor as part of his degree title. We must follow the Spirit of God which was known as the Wild Goose to some Celtic monks, we must surrender to the moving of the spirit not the moving of structural tradition. We must love the lost, not chide them, not fix them (which is just another word for saving them)..remember, we are not responsible for saving them..Christ said that it was His responsible, in fact, He even said He came to die (“save”) everyone through his death and resurrection. So, maybe we are focusing on the bad news when there is no bad news. Maybe its called good news for a reason. At the end of the day, when you lay your head upon your soft feather-down pillow, remember God loves you and He loves every person in His creation. He is a Father (first and foremost) isn’t He?