There is a phenomenon that exists around the scriptures.
It is the placement of the scriptures “in between” us and God and it results in a one dimensional understanding of a holistic God.
This bothers me.
It reduces God/Jesus to a way of life rather than a person that we relate to and a Who that relates to us while we walk the journey of life. He lives only on the pages of our bibles, but not in our daily expression. He is rules and principles and nothing else. We don’t ask Him to be the source of our life, (despite the many things that the bible is silent about and we need help with), but we try to make the bible and its precepts be the end-all of our faith. For many, many years people had active, living, breathing relationships with Holy God that didn’t reside in their bibles because they didn’t own any. Printing presses didn’t exist and no one had personal bibles. It is as we have had a/our bibles in our hands that we have reduced its pages to either a textbook or a sacred icon. Both of which rob the beauty, majesty and the relational dynamic of the faith-walk that God has designed for us. We turn it (our relationship with God) into the Kay Arthur (although she has great stuff) concept of “precept on precept”. A formulaic approach to living that takes the life and mystery out of our relationship with Jesus. Just follow the plan and it all works. Live by the standards that someone tells us that are the right ones and everything will work out. I don’t think that is what the bible was intended for, but that seems to be what we have done to the Love Letters of the God of the universe.
Jesus promises to send the Comforter to teach more than what he taught. To reveal more. We have limited God to just the printed words and that is where we are – living in a post-printing-press, post-Reformation understanding. Peter, in the book of Acts choses another disciple from a Psalm that had nothing to do with that. How does that work? Did Pete alone have special insight into that Psalm? How do we filter that into our theology of the scripture. All scripture is God-breathed and “useful”, “profitable” for divine instruction, but it doesn’t say that it is the fullness of God nor does it say that God is only that (just a set of thoughts, concepts, principles and precepts). These are all “good” things but truly only a “one dimensional” view of who God is what He is capable of. We have successfully put Gpod in a box and the box is the size of our King James bible.
For me I see that the equation has become….
Me —— scripture—–God
A scenario in which the Word of God has become the stumbling block/sacred icon in between us and the GOD of the Word.
Word became flesh and dwelt among us because Word on page was insufficient? Needed more “filling-out”? Needed “flesh” wrapped onto the words?
Does that mean that the word of God is not sufficient ? No. I only want to give it the sufficiency that it seems to give itself. We have made the “sufficiency” be a limitation rather than a entrance point to the relationship. God is now defined exclusively by the individual words. Romans seems very that clear mankind can know God from the created world around them and that knowledge has nothing to do with the written word. I go back to my Peter example – How did he get that instruction to cast lots to choose Mathias from that Psalm? Is there more to the bible than just the words? I would say yes. Many godly, faithful men have for thousands of years “found” differing truths concerning the “Word of God”. Vastly differing. Each person holds it in their hands and says “this is what it says”. Are all wrong? No. What gets us skewed (IMO) is that we take our understanding and apply it to all things and people.
The Psalm that Peter used to choose Mathias may have a totally different understanding for someone today just like it probably had nothing to do with Mathias when it was written.
We also have to remember that the bible is NOT a proof text for our chosen set of beliefs, it is a description of what God wants us to know about Him and how we relate to one another IN CHRIST.
I love all this dialogue – it sharpens us and makes us think through what Jesus has called us to be and do. If we get lost in the meaning and the words of the “WORD” as the main thing, then we get to a place where Jesus confronted the religious leaders of the day and said to them “you search the scriptures and they testify about me”. I hope that ALL of us would see Jesus in the words and our relationship with Him would grow more and more intimate. Not just a set of facts and some data points for discussion.
Many godly men and women over the years have struggled and groped for understanding of what God has said, revealed and intended with His Word. We should have a very high view of the of God’s word and its importance in the experience of our daily life. My quest is to know God in deeper ways through a complete relational experience and experience the Kingdom of God as I walk in grace, hope and joy.
But, I do however think that many of us have inadvertently inserted the Bible in between ourselves and the Father and in so doing have limited the full expression of God (as promised in the Comforter) to just what is written on the pages. John tells us that there was so much more that could have been written in the gospels that the word could not have contained all the books.
I am cautiously suggesting that we allow God to speak in the “now”. Not in a weird/crazy foolish way, but in a way that doesn’t have God being silent since the writing of Revelation. If that is true – if God has been silent since then- then the only need for the Comforter has only been behavioral training.
My Gospel Definition-
God the Creator, created mankind to be in an intimate, complete, interactive relationship with Him for forever. Man screwed it up by choosing not to live like God asked them to live. God called that choice sin and because of that sin, the perfect relationship with Him was forfeited. From then on, mankind was banished from God’s presence to live and die without a relationship with the Creator. However, God, who has always known that mankind would be unable to choose Him on their own promised mankind a Savior and then provided the plan for mankind to be able to restore that relationship with Him.
That plan was Jesus.
The Jesus offer, at its core, is that Jesus suffered and died to pay for our sin, rose from the dead to intercede for us to God the Father, and lives in us to shape us into people that can relate intimately with the Creator. As we live with Jesus as our choice to live like God wants us to live, we can enjoy God and bring Him glory forever and ever. It is only as we place our trust in the Jesus offer, will we eventually see the final restoration of God’s kingdom. That Kingdom will have a new heaven and a new earth in which we will enjoy intimacy with the Trinity and each other forever.
I believe that the expressions of our hearts – or the “longings” of our inner person are the heartbeat of every soul. Deep in the basement of our souls, where the creepy dark things reside and where hope lies chained to the floor is where God wants to meet us and set us free. Keeping looking and living in the “longing” mode and He will find you.
It is the unanswered-ness of the searching for God that finally allows the soul to cease its struggle and surrender most fully to the “Presence”.
The willful child that cannot sit still or the ever-pleasure-seeking prodigal all have the same inner need – control.
Ultimate control is never wrested from us during good times, it is only as the soul comes up against the “Unmovable” that it will surrender all its will to the Other.
It is the growth during those moments that will ultimately shape us into Jesus-shaped Kingdom children.
How can we know this God of the Universe? We talk about it all the time and then we read a book to know about it. This “book”, is the scriptures. Yes they are God’s words. Yes – they are sacred. Yes I have built my life upon their principles. But if that is all their is then I have a God who is one dimensional.
I see a major flaw in our understanding of the scriptures. It is the placement of the scriptures “in between” us and God and the resulting one dimensional understanding of a holistic God that bothers me.
We have reduced Him to a way of life rather than a person that we relate to and Who relates to us while we walk the journey of life.
He lives in our bible, but not in our daily expression.
He is rules and principles and nothing else.
We don’t ask Him to be the source of our life, (despite the many things that the bible is silent about), but we try to make the bible and its precepts be the end all of our faith.
For many, many years before everyone had a bible, people had active, living, breathing relationships with Holy God that didn’t reside in their bibles. Nor could they read them if they had one. Printing presses didn’t exist and most people did not have personal bibles.
It is as we have had a bible in our hands that we have reduced its pages to either textbooks, or sacred icons. Both of which rob the beauty, majesty and faith of a relational understanding of God’s design for us.
It is the concept of precept on precept that takes the life and mystery out of our relationship with Jesus.
Just follow the plan and it all works.
I don’t think that is what the bible was intended for, but that seems to be what we have done to the Love Letters of the God of the universe.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
Apostle Paul - The Message 2 Cor. 4:7-12
A friend texted me this past Saturday about the impending rapture and made a few joking comments. He and I had a good laugh and then we went on our way. The context of that conversation was based on prophecy by a man on a Christian radio station that the Jesus was coming back to earth on Saturday May 21, 2001 and that the earth was going to be destroyed. My friend does not follow Jesus, so as you can imagine this thought of the earth being destroyed caused him some very serious contemplation on the meaning of life. I, however thought that the prophecy was a joke so I overlooked his spiritual turmoil. What I actually said to him was “Hey man, I am really busy today, can we get together later?”
At about 5:30pm that same day (the rapture was supposed to happen at 6pm EST) I was overwhelmed by a single thought.
“What if it’s true?”
What if the earth was going to be destroyed in 30 minutes? What if Jesus was coming back? What would I want to be doing when he arrived? What about my friend who was asking questions and I told him i was too busy?
I wanted to hug my wife one more time.
I wanted to call and have a meaningful talk with my kids one more time.
I wanted to run to all my neighbors houses and share Jesus with all of them.
I wanted to get my shit in order.
I wanted to be ready.
The people who believed Mr. Camping was right, sold everything and gave up everything they had and spent the last six months telling everyone that they could about Jesus coming back. What a commitment.
In that moment i realized that my life was not lived with that same sense of commitment to Jesus that he asks us to live.
Jesus says to us in Matt 24:42-44 that we are to live with two principles in our heads.
1. Keep watch
2. Be ready
I am neither of those things. I am neither watchful or nor ready.
So as I wait for the day when Jesus will return, I am committing to being ready and watching as faithfully, passionately and selflessly as I can. So in the words of St. Patrick I commit to live this way…..
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Jesus I believe – Help my unbelief.
What is legit?
A friend of mine posted on his blog that his girlfriend was “legit”.
What does that mean? Is she a legal citizen? Does she have some qualifying characteristic that makes her legit? Does she know she is legit?
Why does that matter?
Is “legit-ness” a test of some sort that one passes and then enters into the proper category of qualifying legitimacy? Does one then have a badge? Papers?
This sense of “legit” makes me wonder though. Does God have a legit list?
On that list are the legit people, places, activities, events, attitudes, etc…
What about the other stuff, the “non-legit” stuff? If you are on the legit list and then you do something that is on the non-legit list are you then automatically off the legit list? Can you get back on the legit list by doing something so amazing that it cancels out the thing that you did that was on the “non-legit” list?
Is God in heaven watching us with a score card?
2 – legit. 1 non-legit. Move 1 square closer to the end of the list.
So how do you know your score? Does God publish your list somewhere? How do you know what’s on the legit list and the non-legit list?
So you might say to me – “why, it’s the Bible silly” . That’s the legit list.
But the Bible says things like …we must hate our mother and father if we are wanting to be “legit” in our love of Jesus. But, it also says that if we hate someone, it is the same as murder. So how much hate makes it murder and how much hate makes it I am loving Jesus. Which hate is the legit hate and which one is not?
But even more importantly, which list is correct? The non-legit list or legit list? We will go crazy trying to figure that one out. I think that is the entire problem. We have made life about trying to figure out what list is legit and what list is not. And then all of our energy is spent trying to stay on the right list. But then the bible throws us a curve ball in Romans 14 and says that for some people the legit list contains certain meat or holidays and for some people those same items are on the non-legit list. Aaaaaaagh.
I think that is why Grace comes in. Grace overcomes lists. It makes things not about lists, but about a person. A list isn’t gracious, a list is cold and dark and fearful and lonely. It brings shame, condemnation, and despair. The list whispers to us you can’t, you lose, you suck. Grace shouts to us “I already did, you don’t have to”. I took the list and took its power away. It no longer can condemn you. Grace says to us – I love you in spite of the list. Grace says to us my only agenda is you.
You are legit
What do we hope for when we pray?
Is it the actual answer? That new job, or a new house? Holiday plans to work out? The kids to come home for the holidays? If I carefully listen to the things that I am pray for (am thankful God supplying), I hear many of those things in my language.
But is that really what I long for? Really?
I felt like the last two years had boiled away some of those insignificant things/desires for me, but now I realize that I had not rid myself of all. I still want what i want and I pray for what I want – although the desire is hidden in more godly sounding language.
Brenda and I are praying for the next 5 days for an answer from the Creator/Dad about a question that we both know the answer to already. Why?
Confidence? Knowledge? Hope? Peace? Fear?
Are we praying more for the comfort that it provides or the actual answer? Or is it the connection to the creator?
Am I like the small child who can only stray so far from a father’s hand at the mall without be overcome by fear?
i think that it is all of these and more. I am sitting in a coffee shop and my internet connection is intermittent and sporadic. I know the moments when it goes out because my ability to do anything on the net stops. No surfing – no checking blogs – no email- no connection to friends – Facebook is out –
I see prayer the same way. My connection to heavenly “Net”.
When I am disconnected, I can do nothing.
Connected – everything is possible.
Although my mind understands that principle, I continue to stay intermittently disconnected. I only “surf” occasionally with God. I only connect when it seems convenient or I am in great need. What is weird is that I will connect to the earthly net 15 times a day (or more). It never satisfies – but I return to that source to satiate my “thirst over and over.
So – why do I pray? As I head to the net for another “swig”, I long to be connected to the “net” that never disappoints or lets me down.