Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THOUGHT: Judgement & A Trip to Hell

Making choices? Making judgements? What to do?

Have you ever wanted to judge God? Do you not think that there are things that he could have or should have done differently? Honestly?

What about a small child who is abducted, abused and killed? Why allow that child to be born at all? Or why not use your God power and stop that injustice from happening?

Is God to blame?

If you can judge God, then what about the world? Imagine being asked to pick your five favourite people in the world. Ok? do it. Pick your five favourite people in the world. Got them?

Now then...choose two of them. Got two? Those two get to go to heaven, they get to live in God's new heavens and new earth, but only two?

Now choose three to spend eternity in hell.

What if they were your children?

Now understand, all you are being asked to do is something that you believe God does. He knows every person ever conceived, and He knows them so much deeper and clearer than you will ever know even your own children. He loves each one according to His knowledge of the being of that son or daughter. The feeling is that God will/should condemn most to an eternity of torment, away from His presence and apart from His love. Is that not true?

I've never thought of it like that. We just assume that somehow God could do that. Talking about hell is rarely ever a personal discussion. When I think about people going to hell I really only ever think about people that I don't really care about.

So which of your closest friends will be the ones you choose to go to hell? You must choose, you cannot simply avoid it. You must choose, who will it be? Which of your favourites will you send?

Would you ever think of trying to save one by offering yourself? That is what God did. He loves all of His children perfectly. There is no one that God wants to send to hell. There is no one that God does not love.

There are many that I have a hard time with. Holy Spirit continue to work in me. Continue to change my heart, please.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Outward living in an inward world. No formulas, no tracts just living what you have learned. Learn from those who have gone and risked. Where will you Outflow?

Feb 01: George Smith
Feb 08: Mike Linnen
Feb 15: Graham Clinton
Feb 22: Derek Burnett with super special surprise guests: Basha Raks (you are the only ones who know!)

Throughout the series extravaganza you will also be learning key techniques to avoid when sharing your faith. We will be following Micah and Michael as they seek to tell all about "The Good Word." You don't want to miss these guys!


Monday, January 26, 2009

THOUGHT: Judgement 101 How to Judge Others

I don't like smelly people. Well at least I don't like their stinky smell. It makes me uncomfortable. There are many things that I don't like. Please don't make the mistake of doing those things in front of me...I might think, say or do something unkind.

Can you relate? Do you like to offer your wisdom and analysis to or about others? Do you like judging others?

What ability do you have for judging? Have you proven yourself very capable throughout your life so far? Have you judged the actions and even the motivations of others as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. Have you have judged the colour of skin and body language and body odor? Have you judged history and relationships? Perhaps you have even judged the value of a person's life by the quality of your concept of beauty. Maybe you are quite well-practiced in the activity.

Who doesn't jump to conclusions about others from the way they impact us.

Did the bells go off for you there? There it is again--our self-centered view of the world around us.

By what criteria do we base our judgements?

Nothing that seems to make much sense right now. I confess that when I made the judgements I felt quite justified.

Of course we do. Judging requires that we think ourselves superior over the one we judge.

I think most of my judgements have been superficial, based on appearance and actions, things easily interpreted by whatever state of mind or prejudice that supported the need to exalt myself, or to feel safe, or to belong.

I don't really want to live like that, do you? I want to live in freedom. Freedom from the bondage of judging others and thereby pursuing misery.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
Matthew 7:1-3


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THOUGHT: Religion & Distance From God

How are we supposed to connect with God? Has anyone ever really done it properly? If it is olden does that make it golden? What if the person describing it is famous?

For too long, people have assumed that religion is how we connect with God, whereas relationship is how we connect with people. The original lesson of the Bible is that our connection with God should be a lot more like our relationships with other persons--intimate, unscripted, authentic.
Rituals and routines, institutions and organizations, may be used by people as meaningful expressions of genuine faith, but they are not confused with the substance of that faith. The Old Testament prophets repeatedly called Israel "back to the garden"--back to "walking with God" relationally, passionately, actively. God wasn't against symbolic gestures and rituals; he wanted these gestures to be infused with real meaning supported by lives of mercy, justice, passion, and love. God is like a lover who doesn't just want to receive flowers, but flowers that are accompanied by an attitude of true love and service.
Bruxy Cavey
"The End Of Religion"
pg. 196

It seems that God is real flexible about how we come to Him. He is not concerned if we follow a plan or a style that an institution has practised hundreds of years ago or if we make it up as we go along today. What He is concerned with is the depth at which we connect. Does it impact our living? No? then it doesn't matter how much you paid, what fancy garb you wore, or what ancient charm you have read. It doesn't matter if you had a guitar soloing, hand waving, clapping while kneeling and dancing experience if your regular living remains selfish. The gift that we offer up to God is only valuable if it comes from an honest heart that pleads with God "change the world...and start with me."

Religion, whether old, new or some dynamic blend of the centuries, is not the way to connect with God. The reality is less dramatic but for more inspiring. God wants to be called on to interact with us, to hangout with us, throughout the day. All day. Every day. By our choice. In our own words, or in someone else's words as long as they are an honest expression of that which we truly want to be.

Don't get good at religion and its intricacies, but get honest before God and ask the Holy Spirit to indwell you as you share yourself generously with those around you. Hopefully your church is a great place to do that.


Friday, January 16, 2009

THOUGHT: A Conflict With Jesus?

So guess what? I have been reading something. Yep, it's true. You know what else? It made me think. Dangerous stuff.

We all know that Jesus did not have kind words for religious leaders of His day. Well, I guess that makes me think a little already because the key to that statement is "religious leaders" and not "of His day." I guess I am a religious leader of sorts. What would Jesus' words be to me about how I roll, religiously speaking?

Check out these two quotes:

"If we acknowledge that the Pharisees were the respectable, pious people of the time, then we have to admit that Jesus had little patience with respectable, pious people.

--William C. Placher

The Pharisees were good, faithful, religious people of their day. And it is good, faithful, religious people of every era who find themselves in conflict with Jesus.
--Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Where do you fit in? Reserved, comfortable, aware, able to quickly "evaluate"/judge others, knows a verse or two and how it applies to someone else's life, at least talks about doing RIGHT things but still has a lack of living RIGHT things from the heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don't want to be a white-washed tomb, how 'bout you? (Matthew 23:27)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

THOUGHT: Submission So That I Can Follow

Just like love, submission is not something that you can do, especially not on your own. Apart from the life of Jesus inside of you, you can't submit to anyone in your life, including God.

So does that mean we should wait and before every decision check our bracelet and say...WWJD?

Jesus' life was never meant to be an example to copy. Being His follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus,' it means for your independence to be killed. Jesus came to give us life, real life, His life. The Holy Spirit will come and live His life inside of you, so that you can begin to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and touch with His hands, and think like He does. Be He will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on His side.

Daily dying. Get rid of your independence. Get comfortable being dependent on the one who has your bet future in mind. To follow means you want to be lead, why not be led from the inside instead of from a distance. Depend on your leader and be a good follower.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

THOUGHT: Love & Submission

I love nature. I love walking in a forest. I love seeing the mountains. And don't even get me started me on water: rivers, streams, waterfalls, lakes the ocean ahhhhhhhh! it all blows me away. I love it. It makes me feel more alive, more human, more the way I am supposed to be.

And can you imagine what it would be like if the earth was not at war, striving so hard just to survive?

Our earth is like a child who has grown up without parents, having no one to guide and direct her. Some have attempted to help her but most have simply tried to use her. Humans, who have been given the task to lovingly steer the world, instead plunder her with no consideration, other than their immediate needs. And they give little thought for their own children who will inherit their lack of love. So they use her and abuse her with little consideration and then when she shudders or blows her breath, they are offended and raise their fist at God.

This blue-green ball in black space, filled with beauty even now, battered and abused and lovely. This blue-green ball in black space belongs to Jesus and he loves it...deeply.

So then, why doesn't He just fix it?

Because He gave it to you.

Can't He take it back?

Of course. But then the story would end before it is consummated.

Have you noticed that even when you call Jesus, Lord and King, He has never really acted in that capacity over you? He has never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything, even when what you were about to do was destructive or hurtful to yourself or others.

Sometimes I would have preferred that He did take control at times. It would have saved me and people I care about a lot of pain.

To force His will on us, is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy. That is the beauty in the relationship of the Trinity. All three members are indeed submitted to one another and have always been so and will always be. The Father is as much submitted to Jesus as Jesus is to the Father or to the Holy Spirit. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, the Trinity are submitted to us in the same way.

What? How can that be? Why would the Almighty God of the Universe want to be submitted to me?

Because the Trinity wants us to join into the circle of relationship. Jesus doesn't want slaves to His will. The Holy Spirit wants brothers and sisters who will share life together.

So that is how God wants us to love each other. That would be husbands to wives, parents to any relationship. When Jesus IS your life, submission is the most natural expression of His character and nature, and it will be the most natural expression of your new nature within relationships.

--with respect and thanks to Wm. Paul Young & "The Shack"

So chew on that for awhile. How will that change your living? Are you going to grow more into a lifestyle or will you continue to choose a death-style?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

THOUGHT: Time: Past, Present, Future & Freedom

Ever want to take a risk?
What stops you? Quite often we are stopped by the fear of looking like a loser. We are afraid that we will be made fun of. We are afraid of what someone else might think if we fail. We imagine all sorts of negative possibilities.

We imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes us like God. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster.


Do you think humans were designed to live in the present or the past or the future?

The present, right?

Well, where do you spend most of the time in your mind, in your imagination, in the present, or in the future?

Well, I think we spend very little time in the present. Many people spend a big chunk in the past, but the rest of the time most spend trying to figure out the future.

When we spend time with God we spend it in the present. He dwells in our present, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, only go for a visit and not an extended stay. And for sure God does not dwell in the future when we visualize or imagine. Our imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures Jesus alongside us.

Why is that?

It is our desperate attempt to get some control over something we can't. It is impossible for us to take power over the future because it is not even real, nor will it ever be real. We try and play God, imagining the evil that we fear becoming reality, and then we try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what we fear.

So why do we have so much fear in our lives?

Because we don't believe. We don't know that Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father love us. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in God's love. That does not mean rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in our hearts, we neither believe that God is good nor know deep in our hearts that God loves us. We sing about it; we talk about it, but we don't know it.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what it means to really believe that God loves you.

--with thanks to Wm Paul Young and "The Shack"


Monday, January 12, 2009

Full Disclosure: Soulhouse January 11th

Last Week: txt 2 Is The Bible Reliable?
What a great night! Worship, prayer and engagement. We engaged with our God and it was awesome to see. We spent some time learning about why the bible really is reliable for us and our lives. For some more deeper thoughts, facts and figures about this kind of stuff check out the podcast from QU Apologetics The Bible.
We also put the teachings of our faith into practice by praying for, commissioning and sending out Kris Doner and JD Sherman as both leave for South Africa this week. It was awesome to see more than 100 people on the platform praying and agreeing in prayer for our friends. God may you richly bless those who participated in that beautiful event.
This Week: txt 3 How To Study The Bible
Next Week: Elevation--Outflow


THOUGHT: Expectations

Do you realize how many times we believe that someone should do something or respond in a certain way? I certainly realize it when they don't do what I believe they should. It can be something as simple as a courtesy wave from the car that I just let in. If I don't get "the wave" then there is a sense of violation; my expectations were not met, and I don't like it frankly.
When we allow expectations to grow up in something like a friendship, well then we have problems. Those expectations, spoken or unspoken, have allowed law to enter into what used to be a dynamic interplay. I now expect you to perform in a way that meets my expectations and I have allowed rules and requirements (death) to take precedence over living relationship. It is no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, or the responsibility of a good friend.
Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt, shame and judgment, and they provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis for identity and value. You all know well what it is like to not live up to someone's expectations.
God has no 'expectations' of us. The idea behind expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome and is trying to control behaviour to get the desired result. Humans try to control behaviour largely through expectations. God knows you and everything about you. Why would He have an expectation other than what He already knows? That would be foolish. And beyond that, because He has no expectations, YOU NEVER DISAPPOINT GOD.

--with thanks to Wm Paul Young and "The Shack"


Thursday, January 8, 2009

THOUGHT: Rights? Who Says?

We have made laws. We have a charter. We teach and are taught that we have rights but who decided if we do and who can enforce those rights to make sure I get mine without taking someone else's away?
Don't kids have the right to be protected? No. A child is protected because they are loved, not because she has a right to be protected.
But don't we have any rights at all?
No. Not in reality. Bust as long as you think you do, you will surely get ticked off when someone cuts you off, even if it is God.
Jesus didn't hold on to any rights; he willingly became a servant and lives out of his relationship to the Father. He gave up everything, so that by his dependent life he opened a door that would allow you to live free enough to give up your rights.
So, that's a hard pill to swallow. But that is freedom as well.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

THOUGHT: Good & Evil?

If evil is such a big problem, then why do we have stuff like poisonous plants and other stuff like that? Have you ever wondered something like that? I know I have. What's the point of bad stuff?
The question reveals something ugly. The question about poison presumes that poison is bad. Bad is not just what I don't like. There can be much that I just don't understand or fully see the value of. We know that many incredible discoveries are made from things that have been cast aside or seen as not valuable or even bad. Humans have a great capacity for declaring something good or evil, without truly knowing.
This is going to go all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.
When something happens to you, how do you determine whether it is good or evil? Well, how do you make that distinction?
Is your answer something like something good is when I like it, when it makes me feel good or gives me a sense of security? The opposite then is evil if causes me pain or costs me something I want.
Pretty subjective then. You know, based on me. So then, it is certainly possible for different people to answer that question differently.
How confident are you in your ability to discern what indeed is good for you, or what is evil?
We tend to sound "justifiably" angry when somebody is threatening my 'good,' what I deserve. But do we have any logical ground for deciding what is actually good or evil, except how something or someone affects me.
It all seems quite self-serving and self-centered. How is your track record? Have you found that some things you initially thought were good turned out to be horribly destructive? How about some things that you thought were evil that have turned you and changed you into a vastly better person?
So it is you who determines good and evil. You become the judge. To make matters more confusing your opinions will change on what is good and evil. Worse that that, there are billions of people in this world all doing the same things: determining good and evil based on themselves. So when your good and evil clashes with your neighbour's, fights and arguments ensue and even wars break out.
If there is no reality of good and evil that is definite, concrete, unchanging, absolute, then you have lost any basis for judging. It is just language, and one might as well exchange the word good for the word evil.
We spend most of our time and energy trying to acquire what we have determined to be good, whether it is financial security or health or retirement or whatever. We spend a huge amount of energy and worry fearing what I've determined to be evil.
It allows you to play God in your independence.
with thanks & respect to
"The Shack" and Wm. Paul Young
ppg 133-136
Are you enough on your own?
I'm not.
Think about it, I know I have been.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ANNOUNCEMENT: Epiphany is today!

This is a significant Christian Holy Day (holiday), or at least it used to be. Do you think that it still be celebrated?
from wikipedia

(Greek for "to manifest" or "to show"), is a Christian feast day which celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Epiphany falls on January 6 or, if celebrated on a Sunday, on the first Sunday after New Year's Day.[1] Western Christians commemorate the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the child Jesus on this day, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles.
It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians.

Theophany, from the Greek, theophaneia (meaning "appearance/showing of God"),[1] refers to the appearance of a deity to a human, or to a divine disclosure. [2]

This term has been used to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. The term has acquired a specific usage for Christians with respect to the Bible. In this sense, theophany refers to the visible appearances of God in the Old Testament.

It is on your calendars, or many of them, but maybe you never knew what it meant.


Monday, January 5, 2009

THOUGHT: Authority, Power And Other Distortions

So who's in charge?
That is a phrase that gets an awful lot of use in this society. We don't like messing with a middle-man. Take me to the top. Get me to the top of the chain of command; that is success, right?
Or is it horrid with a sidedish of being uncomfortably binding? I am not really a fan of chains at all.
How does God, the ultimate authority deal with the stuff? What He is like is very important to us and it is even more critical if it is different than the way we perceive God to be. So much of the way we see God is perception and not reality. We then base our thoughts on our perceptions and not on the truth. We try to make God look like something that we already know, that we are familiar with. But God is not familiar He is completely other, completely different. For one thing God exists in a trinity. Well how does the trinity work together? That would be a good place to look when trying to model community, don't you think?
There is no concept of final authority in God, only unity. There is a relationship without any overlay of power. Jesus does not need power over the Holy Spirit because they are both looking out for the best. Hierarchy is a human problem.
We are broken and mixed up. We are so broken and so mixed up that we can rarely even see the level of our problem. We have great difficulty even imagining a relationship, whether at work or at home, without someone being in charge. It is in every human institution: politics, business and even marriage is infected by this kind of thinking.
Such a waste.
This has got to be one of the key reasons that experiencing true relationships is so hard for us. We have to always sort out the power structure and assign roles to those around us knowingly or unknowingly; we do not see all people as equal. Once you have created a hierarchy well then, you need to implement rules to protect and administer it. After there are rules there must be enforcement of those rules and then you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promoting it.
Is it possible to experience relationship apart from power? Can you experience the wonder, the awesome-osity of relationships when hierarchy is such a dominant way of thinking? We do it even when we do not consciously know that we are doing it. It is just the way that we think.
Where does it come from, you may ask? well check this out: Everytime we choose independence over realtionship we make it stronger and then we become a danger to each other. We no longer seek the good of the other but first and foremost the good for me. Others become objects to be manipulated or managed for our own happiness. Authority, as we usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want. And how many times have you seen this happen? It happens everywhere: families, churches, school, government, clubs, sports teams...anywhere you put people together.
In our world the value of the individual is constantly weighed agaisnt the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social, or religious--any system actually. First one person, and then a few, and finally even many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship. The 'will to power and independence' has become so ubiquitous that it is now considered normal.
As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in the image of God, unencumbered by structure and free to simply 'be' in relationship with God and with one another. If we truly learn to regard each other's concerns as significant as our own, there would be no need for hierachy.
But we have it. Now together let us try and take steps to grow in a manner so that we will diminish the impact of the reign of selfishness and inequality in our relationships.
No. I did not say it would be easy.

ideas and thoughts that have been thought
with thanks and respect to the book "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young.