He looked up and saw humans. They were familiar and unfamiliar all at once. They were bigger than Him. This He was not used to. He had seen everything that can be seen, but this perspective was new to Him. Read more…
“You Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do…Subtle innuendos follow…it must be something inside”
Adam Ant, Goody Two Shoes, 1982
Should we do this? Should we not do that? What should be our motivation? That’s a stinkin’ lot of “should”.
I am thinking of three motives for behavior.
1. Someone else thinks I should: I do it out of respect, or obligation
2. I think I should: I respond out of my own sense of what “ought” to be
3. It is true about me: What is true in my heart is naturally transmitted through my actions
When I signed up for this Christianity thing, I did not sign up for any reason other than this: What was true about me was not working, I needed something else to be true about me. Because I was the thing I needed help with, I needed Someone Else to help.
Nothing personal, but, I didn’t sign up to help you, or anyone else. I signed up because I needed help. It’s been really helpful. Many of the things that were once true about me…have actually been changed. Being myself is not nearly as harmful to me and others as it once was.
Amazingly, the more “helped” I get, the more it seems to help others. The more I get changed on the inside, the more the things that come out of me seem to actually help people.
I suppose that to act right because I should, is better than acting in destructive ways…but if I spend the rest of my life relying on what I “should” do as my motive, my heart will grow more and more sick. I won’t tell you, becaue I “should” not be so sick. And I won’t be honest with myself because I “should” have changed by now. But I will keep doing what I should on the outside, while I die on the inside.
Apparently I still need help. Perhaps that is the point. I needed help to be someone different, and now I need help to be that new person in this moment. “Helped” is way better than “should”. You should try it.
This is it. The center of the target. The Main Point. Possibly the most opposed truth in all the cosmos. God is WITH US. Now. Here. Where you are. Where you are going to be later. Where ever you go…there He is.
Isaiah the prophet said that Jesus would be named “Immanuel” which is to say God with us. God with us, God about to be with us, and God ALWAYS BEING with us. I hope this doesn’t scare you. Depending on who has told you about God, and what they have told you, you might not want God to be WITH YOU. Trust me. It’s a good thing.
The Bible says that in the life of Jesus we see an exact representation of God. You want to have lunch with Him? Invite Him to your wedding? (He can help your caterer!). You want to talk to Him when things aren’t going well? (He can help your therapist…)
I fear our picture is that, since He is God-being-with-us, we better straighten up. He’s watching. Well, He is watching, but He likes you more than you think. Look at how He acted with normal humans in the Gospels. People who screwed up. People who suffered loss. People who were hurt and afraid. He came near them to bind up their broken hearts and heal their wounds. If you had a friend who did that stuff, you would want Him around all the time.
God is with us. Not only with us He is also for us. There is a reason we call it Good News.
I think it will affect our actions to know He is with us. Not just that we would not misbehave…
I think we would listen after we spoke as though He might respond…
I think we would expect Him to do things when we ask…
I think we would introduce people to Him, and not to a religious idea…
I think we would worry less…
I think we would be courageous…
I think we might even like ourselves more…hey…the God of the Universe is hanging out with you…maybe you’re the cool one now.
I think we would rest more…
Look Carefully…there He is.
I have described the Kingdom as the presence and the power of God. The Kingdom is a concept defining God’s work, not the work of humans. So what about humans? Don’t we have some role in this relationship with God thing? Absolutely we do! So to help us further consider this parable: The Kingdom of God is like an oven.
The oven is an environment of intense heat. Anything placed within the oven is changed by the heat. Cookie dough exerts no effort of its own to change itself; it must simply enter the oven. The heat will do what it does. Heat causes ice to become water, water to become steam, and batter to become brownies.
The atmosphere of the Kingdom, just like an oven, has a transforming power all of its own. As I have said previously, that power is life, love, peace, joy and rightness. If you dive in, then these forces will begin to change you. Try to live from your own resources, and these powers will have no effect on you. The Kingdom of God has the power to effect anything that enters its atmosphere. Our role? Enter in. Change our source. Surrender self-reliance and surrender to the immediate present rule of God. He will bake you. Change will come; but it will be His power, not your effort, that changes you.
BTW: Like the pics you see? You should see my amazing daughters work: Jillianhamp.com
I have been noticing lately a strange paradox in the pursuit of influence. I think embedded in this paradox is an important message.
When men and women begin to seek positions of influence, the desire is often sparked by a genuine desire to do good, or repair social ills. A real sense that from a position of influence I can make a difference. It is the process of gaining these positions that has caught my attention.
It seems that in many cases the process of gaining influence can alter or even distort the original message or messages that led the person to seek influence in the first place.
Our political system is a great example. A young politician gains popularity because of a message or a stance. The sphere of influence is increased because of popularity. Some will say, “with greater position comes more influence…more opportunity to do good…” The pursuit begins. Our young leader begins to shift his goal…subtly at first, but as the race heats up, the focus on “winning the race”. or “defeating the bad guy” replaces the original message. In some cases this can be a distraction, in other cases it can lead to compromise, or even corruption. To gain greater popular support, more people must be pleased. People pleasing is risky.
The process of gaining influence has undermined the reason for which influence was initially sought.
Consider the process Jesus pursued. He did not run for office. He did not build an organization. He rigidly avoided people-pleasing. What did He do? He went about doing good to all men. He proclaimed and demonstrated to indiviuals and small crowds that God had come back to the earth and made Himself available again. He opened a door for those who would voluntarily follow. Then He said “it is finished”.
It seems we have so much to do. We must influence the masses. We must gain positions of influence. We must increase our visibility, and our positional authority.
Today you loved someone unlovable.
This week you served someone who could do nothing for you
You begin to give time and resources to someone who has less than you, and told no one about it.
You begin to surrender your thoughts and motives in every moment to the present work of God in that moment
You began to give God honoring worshipful time when nobody could see
You allowed God to show you things about yourself you don’t want to see
You began to re-present God to those least likely to understand what you were doing…
You loved those who hate you
You honored those who have not earned it
If one of us did that, people would be influenced by that
If that one kept doing that, people might ask that one to be aleader
If they continued to influence others, soon people would begin to suggest that they run for office, or go into “professional ministry”
But what if we all did that? Just a thought.
Okay, the height of the irritating things about God is how we see or don’t see His role and concern in the hard things of our lives. One of you asked about Job. I had to dig out this entry which has been hanging out in my saved drafts for awhile. It is long, but I fear one of the worst things we can do is to try handling these difficult things with easy answers. I tried to dig a bit, I hope it helps…
God seems more comfortable with our suffering than we do. I wish this were not so, it makes it hard for us to be comfortable with Him. At the least it seems He may not care. At the worst, we fear He takes a certain amount of sadistic joy in our pain. Now be certain, neither of these stances is consistent with the overall revelation of God, but face it, when you are in pain, and He seems OK with it, theological reason provides NO relief. It is human pain that causes many people to view God askew, and even judge Him. In some cases, it can cause people to turn away from Him. Sadly, this may even intensify their pain. Not because He punishes, but because pain increases proportionally to your distance from the Healer.
So what is it He sees when we suffer? Fair warning, no answer to this question will ease human pain.
I think that two very important shifts may help us think a little more like God about human pain, in all of its forms.
First we must see suffering through the lens of eternity, not time.
Second, we must view suffering and even death from the perspective of both realms and not just the material world.
Our good friend, Dr. Caroline Leaf, tells us that we have the brain cell capacity for 3 million years of memory. So consider how you might view your current circumstances after, oh, say, 2.9 million years of living in paradise. Living in Paradise with access to full understanding. Our seventy to ninety years here, are like the snap of a finger. Such a sliver of all that we are made for. An important sliver, but a sliver nonetheless.
While we are here, balanced precariously on top of this sliver, our eyes are blinded, our minds are shrouded and our hearts are darkened. At best we see a smudged reflection of all-that-is. Yet, because it is all we see, we operate as if we have the complete picture. Have you ever been angry with someone because of what you saw or heard, and carried that anger until you had the whole story? When you discover all the pieces of the story that you did not know, things make much more sense.
The emotion may not go away immediately, but, give it a few days. A few years. A few centuries. Once we see fully we will have a lot of time to re-orient.
Now for the big shift.
We must at least begin to see now, in the present, that God sees our pain and suffering differently.
I do not believe He is using our pain to teach us. But we can learn. I do not believe God is pleased in any way with our pain, but He is pleased with us.
The worst things that we as humans suffer are, death, suffering and injustices. all three of these things are contrary…in direct oppostion to…the Nature of God. Remember, God is the Spirit of Life, the Source and the Giver of all aliveness. He is the Comforter and the Righteous Judge. These things that we suffer, death, suffering and injustice are the polar opposite of His Nature on earth and in our lives.
Here is the question we all face…as does He. Can His nature be eradicated in any given situation by the onslaught of such opposition?
In the face of hate and evil, can Love remain?
In the great Injustices of life, is there a scale that can ultimately balance it all?
When A Life ends on earth is the Spirit of Life defeated?
These are not just questions for God to answer. These are questions for us to answer. If we allow these great opponents of The Eternal One to consume our minds in the moments (or years) of our experience, then we answer one way. When in the middle of the storm, we can reserve a corner of our soul for ongoing connection to the Ultimate Outcome, we answer another way.
Job, the Bible character whose name is synonymous with Suffered Inustice, Loss, and Anguish faced the crisis of answering these questions in the immediacy of his circumstances. He began to allow his circumstances and his experience of them, to blot out the three million year, Universe-sized, Invisible realm. Is his window of time on earth capable of overwhelming the Truth of the Goodness of God? For a time it seemed it may…at least in his experience. No circumstance can change the truth about the True One. Circumstances can, however, change our understanding, our perception, our belief in the Truth about the True One. God graciously reminded Job that the picture was much larger that the one he could see.
When in human experience, an overwhelming circumstance proves incapable of overwhelming us, a great and Cosmic shift happens. One kingdom, the kingdom of the deceiver, loses ground. Not just in the moment but from that moment on. The Kingdom of God gains not just ground but a new beach head.
In the book of Hebrews Chapter 11 we read a really irritating teaching. In summary, the writer says that those who believed and died the death of Martyrs receive a greater resurrection. You mean God rewards us for being willing to suffer? So, maybe He really does like our pain? Be careful…the war is against you and I believing the Truth about God, in the midst of our earthly experience.
The word here, translated “resurrection” carries many meanings. One of the meanings is “revelation”; a word describing the crossing over of God’s perception into our realm of experience.
While we see death as an end, God sees death as a transition. A “crossing-over”. So, I have to wonder, what door opens when the crossing over occurs? And is the crossing over a one-way transaction? Do we only lose our residents to that other realm, or does something come back into our realm when the door opens.
It is not uncommon to read of martyred missionaries, who appear to have made no headway in the culture where they labored. Years after their death, the Life of God breaks out in culture transforming ways.
When Steven (who seemed quite happy to make the crossing-over) was stoned to death, the Life of God, got ahold of a nearby murderer, and turned him into a life giving Apostle named Paul.
Or my favorite story. At the moment of Jesus’ death, we read that the veil in the Temple, the Physical barrier between the two realms, tore in two, opening up access again to the Spirit of Life. But what if we keep reading? (Matthew 28)We will find that when this “crossing-over” happened, the bodies of the Saints which were in tombs in Jerusalem, came back to life (or did Life come back to them?) and walked around the city. This is what the eyes of men could see at the moment of the Greatest Injustice, and the Death of the Life-Giver. Dead bodies got up and walked.
What if God can see what we cannot in our moments of Suffering, Injustice and Death? What if He can see how the linkage between two realms opens up? What if He can see that we, as we cross over to heavenly realms, and keep our eyes focused on what little we can see of Him in those moments, open the door for the Forces of Heaven to be unleashed on the earth? He is not happy that we suffer. He is, however, overjoyed when Life overcomes death, and Justice overcomes Injustice. God, give us eyes to see.
So, is God unfair? If we believe what He says about HImself, He is Ultimate Justice. But what about this quote from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 19?
“He (Jesus) replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away .
Seriously, fair or unfair? Once again, viewed from an earthly perspective this sounds not only unfair, it sounds like an evil dictator.
This one can only make sense again if we understand what God wants to give us. What God wants to give us is eternal in nature…made of spiritual substance. We read in First Corinthians (Chapter 2) that Spiritual things are spiritually appraised, understood, received.
Let me say it this way. As you receive revelation, you are more able to receive revelation. If you are trying to think and figure stuff out (receive spiritual things through natural channels), you may lose the revelation you have been receiving.
The more revelation you receive the more you are able to receive. If you have a lot you will get more. Your capacity increases. Conversely, the more you try to tap into spiritual realities through logic, reason and deduction (human processs), the more you will lose. If you have none, you can lose what you already have.
Is God greedy? No, Jesus is trying to explain to us the nature of spiritual reality, so we can tap into it. Or not.
Do you have some irritating teachings we should look at?
Sometimes Jesus is so confusing. In fact, sometimes He makes God sound…well…unfair. A few of these really aggravating teacings come to mind. In Matthew Chapter 20, Jesus tells us this frustrating story. But it is only frustrating until we see what Jesus is trying to tell us.
A guy owns a vineyard, and hires some men to work for a day and earn a days wage. Later in the day he hires a few more men to work the remainder of the day. He pays them the exact same wage. If that isn’t frustrating, what about the last group he hires? With one hour to go in the work day, he hires a final group. He pays them a full days wage. What is He thinking. This isn’t fair!!
What a deal!!! Especially if you are the guys who only worked an hour and got paid a full days wage. How can this possibly be fair? Don’t look through man’s eyes. It will drive you nuts. Until you realize that this is the only possible way for God to “pay” His laborers, you might begin to resent other people.
Just what exactly is the “wage” that God pays us at the end of the day? He gives us Himself!
Is it possible to have a part of eternity? A little bit of God? It is impossible for God to give you a fraction of Himself. Even a teeny weeny piece of Him is still…HIM…Unlimited Life!
You can either resent that someone else got a hold of eternity, or rejoice that you did. The first seems like a waste of time.
Tomorrow I will show you another irritating teaching.
Time: An english word we usually use to describe the movement of hands (or digits) on a clock. There is another way we use this word. The alarm goes off, the nurse comes in, or the contractions begin to come in closer proximity and we say “It’s Time!”
The Greek word for this is Kairos. You may have seen my writing, or read on our church website that we host an event called Kairos. I have received enough inquiries, I thought I would say a few words about our Kairos freedom weekend.
The First thing I would say is this. Our definition of Freedom is based on two verses in the Bible. In John Chapter 8, Jesus tells the crowd, “you can know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” In 2nd Corinthians 3, Paul tells the Corinthian church, “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.”
Rather than define freedom as the absence of bad behavior, or the expulsion of demonic forces, we believe the Bible tells us that freedom is the not the absence of something, it is the presence of Someone. Certainly some things get in the way, but removing them does not equal freedom. Freedom is when you engage the presence of God and become the person you are created and redeemed to be.
Our weekend is structured with this in mind. We spend the first part of our time reminding us all that pursuing God for the restoration of our identity is our goal.
The rest of the weekend is a series of instructions on how we interact with God. Confession, listening for His voice, bringing Him the entanglements of our soul, in honest communication, these interactions are intermingled with a variety of interactive ministry exercises. The intent is that we move beyond a mental engagement only, and really love the Lord our God with our mind, heart, soul and strength.
The most important part of our time together is worship. Having provided instruction in a variety of entanglements, and providing opportunities to surrender these entanglements to God, we engage in worship. Sometimes it is musical. We are convinced that God inhabits the praises of His people. We bring ourselves to Him, and then ask that He come inhabit our worship. Our desire is that in this personal encounter God will work deeply in peoples souls.
Now…I just read what I wrote. It was a little like a biochemical discussion of romantic love. It can be described this way, but if you hear only the mechanics of our time, you will miss what is really going on.
Men and women, from all ages, and a variety of religious backgrounds come and drop their guard. They let God win the tug of war. They walk out with a variety of responses. Most say they will never be the same. Isn’t that what you always thought would happen when people encounter God? It’s Time!!
If you have been to Kairos please leave a comment so others can hear from you as well.