Women Facing Stones

There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
“Why don’t you water the flocks so they can get back to grazing?” Jacob asked. “They’ll be hungry if you stop so early in the day!”
“We don’t roll away the stone and begin the watering until all the flocks and shepherds are here,” they replied.
As this conversation was going on, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
 
Gen 29:2-3; Gen 29:7-10; Mark 16:1-4
Three flocks, three women. One well in the open county, one tomb in a lonely place. A large stone.  “Who will roll the stone away?”
How can we go on with our lives if the large stone remains as a cover for that which we seek to get to? Whom will we have to wait for? How long will we have to wait?
Yet there is one who has the promise to bless all nations within his body, who is able to roll the stone away. Who will not wait for the “correct” setting or correct time. Now is the time for the one who carries the promise of the Messiah within himself.
My husband and I have been going through studies, material, scriptures, and thoughts all searching through this idea of women in ministry. God vs women. The curse, the restoration of all things, the Messiah and Eve (and Adam). Who wins?
As people who are interested in this debate, we are those who are coming forth in the open country side. We ask ourselves, what will it take to find our identity in an eternal God who is not gender bias?  The scriptures themselves have been taken by bad shepherds who merchandise in the souls & flesh of men, and they have laid a large & heavy stone over top. Sealing us outside the source of what we so desperately seek to come unto.
Our journey has been hard.
Yet, we’ve been surprised by the picture set before us, as we come closer and closer. Something very strange. Something very different than we expected.
It’s not there.
The very large stone, that had always kept us waiting in line, and had made us waste precious hours of the day. It gone. It’s been removed. Now there’s a new man standing, waiting. Familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Loving and broken hearted. Excited, relieved, tired and renewed. Who is it that stands before us?
 “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.  And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Rev 5:2-5
For better or worse, the Lord opens to us that which no one else can open. Our delight is that this opening, revealing gives us a sending. The times ahead maybe perilous, but the compare to the glory that is about to be revealed, it’s a small thing to endure.
There is something beyond us. Bigger than us. Yet we all get stuck on small biers. Thistle and thorns have kept us from coming sooner. Bad fruit that we were given to eat. It didn’t seem right at the time, and it surely wasn’t. It didn’t take us where it promised; it didn’t lead us to where we wanted to go. But there is the promise of redemption still.
In our journey to seek God’s face, to see how God feels about women, and what the whole of the Bible says, we have found ourselves aligned with stories of those who have fallen. Fallen for sin, or fallen for Love. Every turn has redemption in it.
We find it impossible to read all the way to the New Testament and find grudge-holding to be God’s ideal. Neither does the blame-game seem relevant anymore.  Instead,  when to comes to the issues of women, we have found God there in every turn, with love in his eyes. Heartbreak and love. Love always wins with God. God’s love swallows the heart break that was once there, until there is only love. It’s like Jesus…
It’s like Jesus and the women who was “caught in the act of adultery”. The whole issue seems to be summed up here:
“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“No.”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
Throughout the Bible there is reconciliation and redemption. Eve, Adam, and God. Paul, Junis, scriptures. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
There are no long held grudge match against women in scriptures. So where are those modern scholar’s who are without sin? Will they continue to hold their stones and point at women’s “short comings” while denying their own ancient faults? It’s impossible to be justified before Christ while holding onto that stone, holding onto that power, and holding onto the blood thirst.
As it turns out, even if no one else will place aside the stone (whether large or small) God has already set a redeemer to his Beloved, and the daughters of God no longer wait on anyone else.
The well is open, the tomb is empty, redemption has begun. It is up to each of us now, to decide whether we’ll drop or stones as well, or wether we harbor contempt for a woman who was set up and deceived. And where is that man who fell into sin with her? Has he alone been redeemed, forgiven, set free?
We must reconsider that facts, from God’s point of view. Least we let the letter of the law ensue within us blood thirst for one of God’s precious ones. Careful now…

God & Church are Not Synonymous: Pt 1

I think it’s taken me near 10 years to realize, that despite the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, most people assume church and God are synonymous. They are not.  They never have been.

It took going back through the memories of being inside the church system to realize I believed it once. It was never spoken out right, but it has always been implied.

When I started weaning away from the church system my brothers had really critical things to say to me over the smallest detail. Stupid things that have stuck with me like thorns under the skin since that time. But I think I get it now. I think they saw the way I acted at or towards church was synonymous in their mind to how I was acting or respecting (or lack of {in their mind}) towards God. Not even that  it was connected, but it was a directly linked together in a full embodiment. If I didn’t mark the sign-in sheet correctly I was mocking God, not the sign-in sheets.

I never realized that this side of Protestant Reformation that there was still such a direct correlation in the minds of the masses of church goers. I mean I know that’s how masses of pastor think. I know the people are trained to associate the two. However, I just didn’t realize how much that is the reality within the church system.

There has long been this thought that if someone leaves their local church building and gathering times, that they’ve walked out on God. For many this does happen, because there is no separation between them.

I can’t emphasize enough that God and church are not synonymous.

Sometimes it takes looking at history to realize, that something that holds a scared title isn’t always what it seems. For me, the most simplistic words that really spelled this out for me was when Jesus said: “If you were Abraham’s children then you would act like it.” (John 8:39)

God judges someone by their heart, what’s on the inside, the true character which we develop within ourselves, our true motives and intentions. God sees that clearly. If that’s how God judges us, is it any different for an institution or an assembly of people?

God knows that our true intentions and our heart cause for us to do all things that flow out of us. All of our actions. The way we perceive people comes from our heart and our inner being. I believe this is also true for any system, corporation, community, assembly.

Now in a matter of speaking, a system has no heart, no inner being. Therefore those who align themselves with any given system become the heart therein. Yet so often we trade our minds & hearts for a go-with-the-flow mob mentality. We create a system to unify and drive us to our intend goal, but often it’s not long before we sacrifice our own goals, our own drive for the sake (health and sustaining) of the system.

I see this is still the reality of something called church. I too was part of  that once.

This is the strange thing about “church”:
It starts by saying that you can have a personal relationship with God. But then the whole time is spent telling you how to interpret God, how to serve God, how to do these things through more solidly aligning yourself with the local “church” and its “ministries”.  This happens so much so, that for those who actually do learn to grow and interpret on their own, they do not become the prize pupils, but instead are consider the ones who need to be corrected, or even broken in.
My husband and I have heard multiple stories like this. We’ve both been in these situations. We know it happens everywhere. It is not an isolated event.

We also know this isn’t God. This isn’t how God works. This isn’t the relationship that God had in mind.

A healthy body works together. Period. A body with auto-immune disease attacks itself. This is not consider healthy or normal. This is considered to be something that is in need of cure and of treatments, as there is often no known cures for many auto-immune diseases. Maybe especially spiritual ones which go unidentified. 

This thing calling itself church attacks itself. Am I to believe that is the resemblance of the body of Christ?

500 years ago (and more) there was something that was calling itself The Church. It was taught that this was the one way to know God, to honor God, to get to heaven, to be safe in this life, to be a responsible admirable citizen of your country. The Church was the guardians to Truth, or so it was taught.

But there arose men and women who disagreed with this thing called The Church. They disagreed that this system was not doing what it said it was meant to do. They disagreed that this system was honestly, openly, freely leading people Truth and to God.
To them the cruelties of the opposing a well-established system were unleashed. There was no mercy for such trouble makers. We are not too far removed from this history.

As a matter of fact, we maybe standing in the middle of an era where history repeats itself. We maybe at a crux of guarding and regarding the sacred words and descriptions back unto their true intentions. System or no system, when a people want to know God and want to know truth, there is an unquenchable thirst for the authentic thing.

Yet we have seen in history that the artificial thing will defend it’s stolen/assumed throne. The price for truth is high. Very, very high. Yet for something so priceless, we’d be fools to settle for anything less than the whole truth.

We can no longer bow our necks and bear this a little further in history. We cannot continue to plow for a master who is not our God. We must consider who and what we are truly serving. What do we truly fear? Whom do we truly want to serve? Are we interested in God? Or are we interested in our own rewards and security?

God and church are not synonymous. They never have been.

But woe to you … For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
– Matthew 23:13

A Spirit Crying Out

I have this sense, that what we see around us isn’t the world going crazy, in so much as it’s every person with a spirit crying out for a very similar thing. A Messiah.

It’s clear enough to see that most people perceive something wrong with the world or culture that we live in. Many people believe that by the hand of force they can make a difference. Others believe with the correct ruler or god or president, that this world will become more of what they imagine Utopia would be like. Some still believe if we follow the correct system, that will eventually work everything out in the end.

Whether we imagine we’re seeking justice, love, equality, truth, authentic, holistic, prosperity, or perfect …we’re looking for a way to make that happen. Usually with a leader of some sort to get us there. Someone who can see the problems and have a quick decisive way to bring order. Maybe even something that lifts up our own values.

The simplicity of this, doesn’t really sound like a world gone crazy to me. As matter of fact, the Bible might even explain this as birth pangs. A longing for something new to be birth, and to bring things into correction or fullness or redemption.

We call it “the restoration of all things”.
I see it everywhere.
Black Lives Matter, anti-Trump, pro-Trump, Isis, Jihadist, ect.

I find it really isn’t so different than these that took place while Jesus was on the Earth. Different names, yes. Different faces, I suppose. But the pushing, the waiting, the anxiousness and urgency -very much the same.

Sometimes (maybe often) we feel like God doesn’t work fast enough. Maybe that God doesn’t understand what it’ll like to have this trapped feeling of want something greater but not being able to affect change. Maybe God doesn’t understand time and history, because maybe he gets to live outside of time. Maybe God doesn’t care as much as we’d previously assumed, because nothing is worse than feeling stuck and watching glory & hope fade all around you.

Then again…

Maybe God does understand this. Maybe the only reason we even feel this way is because God felt it first. Maybe the push and the urgency within us isn’t just about a sinking ship, but it’s our spirits feeling a deep wind of change. A kingdom that has come and is coming into fullness. A world that’s beyond even the concept of Utopia or “heaven” and is more real the the turmoil we wake up and face everyday.

Maybe our spirits are intuiting birth, newness, life, …and yet it feels like its just beyond us. But how could it be beyond us, if our spirits already feel it? Already thirst for it? And already pushing to come forth into this life?

I get this sense of we are creating our own hell, because we don’t understand how to make heaven. We are actively involved the destruction of something beautiful, because we want it to unfold in our timing. Our curiosity needs fed, and it won’t wait in line. If there’s something great to be found from the hand of God, let us have it now! …Or so we often feel this way. Many people feel similar. Many are willing to takeover and show God how it’s done.

But Jesus faced the same thing in his day. This isn’t new.

The words he spoke aren’t irrelevant or old or un-relatable. They may even be the sharpest light into our own times.

The more the media kindles the fire and promotes fear, the more absurd things become. The more extreme “good people” start to think. The more we create our own hell within the distractions that pull us way from what are spirits are saying. “This isn’t truth. This isn’t right. There has to be something better.” And that would be the most correct thing that could be said.

There something better. There is a culture that brings us into fullness. There is a Promised One who brings justice, who rewards the hard-worker, who empowers the forgotten & oppressed people, who sets the world in way that allows fullness, purpose, order, fulfillment can easily flow.

There is that Promised One, a Messiah who brings the restoration of all things. One who doesn’t have a particular bent of a particular cause, but has in mind the way to bring all things into the beauty of what they were created to be from the beginning.

We are not too far gone. We not even as far as we imagine. God isn’t unaware or inactive. Instead, I purpose that there is a fighting, a pressure, a contending because there is something new, beautiful, and fulfilling taking place, even at this time. Our spirits feel it. How we respond is up to us. But there’s only one Messiah who can bring us into the restoration of all things. There’s only one “peace on Earth” that is truly peace for all mankind. There’s only one Promised One who truly knows and understands justice. We must be careful, not to pick an idol.

The world, our spirits, and heaven itself awaits those who will hear the call and respond to a gracious, humble Messiah. Not that we may have riches and wealth for ourselves, but that we may be servants who bring the restoration of all things. Who bring children to the maturity of becoming heirs of the Father. Who brings servants up into being wise & faithful stewards. Who can see hurt and know it’s birth pangs of something beautiful coming forth, and who can midwife that birth in its proper time. Therein bringing mother, child, and even the father into joy and fullness.

We are the people of God, through Christ Jesus, and we believe the Holy Spirit testifies to Yeshua HaMashiach bring us into the restoration of all things.
(Yeshua HaMashiach is the Hebrew name of Christ Jesus. The one and the same.)

To the Unknown God: Perfect

We worship a God who is good. We quake before a God who is Sovereign. We know almost nothing of God because we allow this to be our prime definers of God. We are as children, barely understanding the world we live in, let alone the great world at large.

We are uninterested in God being anything but good or love. Somehow we think we can predict, control, or even manipulate what that means, and therefore how God must respond. It is not so. Yet we proclaim it.

Because God is good he would not allow his people to suffer such things.” One lady told her theory on pre-trib rapture. I may have accidentally laughed in her face and called her idealism a coupon-Jesus redeemable at anytime before tribulation. I laughed because I thought it be so childish, and she was much too old to not know or have seen some history we God did not save his people out from some kind of tribulation. Yet there she was middle class America living a “good” life. Serving a “good” God.

Early in my life I struggled to see God as good. God let’s a lot of things slide. Things that create destruction on others lives. And in my life. Such things don’t always make sense when we’re seeking a good that is God, as a defining characteristic.

Yet there’s something else that we don’t consider, which is tightly linked into this concept of God being good. Beyond good, God is perfect.  We, as people, hate perfect. It’s told to us as unobtainable.  We disdain a God who is unapproachable, but still requires of us. How very brutish! Yet if that’s how we view perfect, than we know not what perfect is.

Perfect, as defined by who & what God is, is: beautiful, lovely, fulfilling, victorious, honest, holistic, eternal, raw & pure.  These are not utterly unfamiliar traits, so why should we be scared of such things? We seek these things in our relationships, in our food that we consume, in our movies and music. It is not so foreign to us at all.

Instead, we more often than not, believe a tainted view of what “perfect” is and we despises God for it…when such things have little to nothing to do with God. That concept that “perfect” is what Hollywood portrays. A concept and commitment that tortures the souls of people who are “not good enough” and who have to always keep working to obtain an elusive goal.

This is not the perfection which God himself defines. We should not even believe that such idealisms have anything to do with perfect, for they are so vague and sketchy and demanding, that there is no hint of perfection within the requirement itself. This Hollywood-ish idealism, is nothing but slavery. God’s definition of perfection is fullness, which brings freedom. Restoration which unveils purpose and fulfillment, which gives joy and victory, and brings forth freedom and beauty.

How is it, then, that we choose “good” over perfect? We want a nice God, who is defined by our fickle sense of “love” instead of seeking how God defines Love, good, perfect, and therein securing ourselves to God’s definition of these terms. What makes it easier to accept God on our terms?

The second overused & abused term (imo) is that God is Sovereign. It’s kind of like saying God is god. Like God has the trait which we require in a god. Seemingly it’s non-statement. Although people who use, believe that they are making a big and defining statement, truth is they’re just being redundant. I find it to be unhelpful, and again vague. I find this definition of God to be a scapegoat style terminology. So basically we don’t take time to get to know God or understand his heart, his wisdom, or his character, therefore we come up with some scapegoat words and pin everything we don’t understand under that.  Somehow people buy this as theology. It’s laughable. It is not theology, it is a distraction.

Here’s something to look for:
God works in patterns. Jesus tells parables. This doesn’t happen because Jesus assume people are stupid (although I’ve heard preachers say as much, because too many believe this themselves)  more likely stories are used so that the pattern is available for those who turn aside to see, at anytime throughout history.  God is smart. Certainly God knew the tricks of devil, and distortion that the enemy uses. But as long as the story remains, the patterns can be found and read and understood.

God doesn’t treat people like the dirt Adam was made from. This is bad theology. God knows the price it is to even sacrifice even one of his holy people to the corruption in the world around us. It isn’t something he takes lightly or accidentally allows. But we ache and bellow at a God who is consider to be “good” when these things do happen. Where is that God now?

So much hurt comes from not knowing and seeking a God who is beyond good, beyond love, beyond Sovereign. A God who is perfect, a God who is holistic, a God who is relational. Then to meet that God at these times …to say it is painful, is woefully understanding it. Often it is devastating. Often people utter lose their faith in God here. We can’t hear the voice of God, because that good, loving, sovereign God is …vacant. Something worse, something overpowering is happening.  God -the God of heaven and Earth- is at work, and we don’t recognize him. We don’t know that voice, that hand, those moves. This God is foreign to us, and we think the enemy is attacking and God isn’t around. Desperation sets in deep.

Upon pausing to consider this, I think of the parable of 10 virgins that Jesus tells. Five wise and five foolish. The wise are consider the such for having taken extra oil…just in case a Good God doesn’t come to get us before the night. The five foolish are sure that the will be taken in before their oil runs out, for a Good God is plenty while it is daylight and even while it is dusk. Yet it is insufficient when it is midnight.

They need more oil. They haven’t developed a relationship with a God who can be perfect, holistic, relational, silent.  They head back to those who sell oil obtain more of the same, but this time it’s insufficient. It’s too late.  It’s too far removed from the God who has come to bring us into rejoicing, into fullness, into raw, pure beauty. They’re shut out. They miss out. As matter of fact, this God must even confess: I never knew you, because they never came to know him. How sad.

The easy way is devastating.

Hothouse Christianity while not have roots deep enough to weather the storms. It will not have branches hardy enough to endure the cold. It is not a wonder so many desire to believe in God who pull us up and take us back into the warm greenhouse before winter comes. It is absurd to call it maturity or fullness. For many who have gone on before us in the faith have made huge sacrifices to sanctify the purity of faith that would come to us. To settle with this “good” God and “good” Christianity is insulting to those who have preserved for us the good perfect and pleasing will of God throughout all the ages.

We need them. If we do not have the deep roots we will not be overcomers. And if we seek escape then certainly we are not conquerors. To be involved with a God merely for the sake of spiritual insurance is insulting to all of heaven. If we do not enter into the fullness which we have been granted access to, then certainly we are willing foolish. How can God claim to know us when we will not allow ourselves to know anything beyond the “good” “loving” “sovereign” scapegoat god?

In modern words: go big or go home.

Becoming Less

One thing that I really love that I was taught from growing up in the church system that I did, was servanthood. To be honest, I think it was in-part an accident that I learned it. I remember one year at teen camp where I thought, well either we’re going to be serious about this and put into practice now, in this safe place, or we’re all liars.
That year that teen camp was said to have been a powerful one for most of the small group of attenders.

My big strategy for putting things into practice? Simple. I held the doors for everyone whenever we went to group functions. This simple act actually bother some people (as I did it everyday for the next 4 days).  A few asked me why I was holding the door for others. A few would take the door and hold it, but after two more people they let go and walked in themselves. Many said thank you.

It was such a small thing. A tiny way to practice servanthood that week, and to make it into reality instead of just theory. It wasn’t contagious. There wasn’t an outbreak of door holding or acts of servanthood. It was just me…practicing. Practicing for something bigger.

That week, I remember a bunch of us teens getting caught up in the worship time. We felt really bonded to one another.  And yet servanthood? Well…

There’s something strange about the idea of religion making you a good person, and you spend most of your concentration of religious thoughts upon your self. Things like getting to heaven, getting raptured out of the time of great tribulation (or wrath), developing spiritual fruit or gifts, seeking God’s will for my life, attending church/reading bible/praying regularly.

I suppose they’re all good things. Yet they seem so internally self-focused. Does it change history to make these things our focus? Or maybe God and religious things aren’t really about affecting history anymore..?

In my own life, as I’m turning away more & more for the traditions of church system Christianity and becoming more on the fringe and dependent upon God’s mercy alone, I’m becoming more interested in being less of the central part of God’s stories or Jesus’ parables.

I’m becoming less interested in being the younger son or the older son (from Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32) and more interested in being the servant who brings the robe that the Father calls for.  I’m becoming less interested in whether I’ll make to heaven, and more interested in whether or not the next generation will be able to perceive truth by the time the great 70’s Jesus Movement children pass away.

I’m becoming more interested in God’s story, God’s wisdom, God’s heart, and a little less interested in God fitting into my life, me trying find nuggets of applicable verses, and whether my heart and mouth are perfectly clean.

The more I find myself wrapped up in this greatness of what God might be up to, the more I think I’m probably becoming less Christian (according the religious systems). I’m failing. And it feels wonderful. I’m so free!

I’ve stopped caring so much about what will send me to hell (and there’s a good chance I’ll go) and I’ve started caring what is God doing. What is this mega plan that we find ourselves in if we look up and look around and notice the God fingerprints & patterns. There’s something beautiful happening in our ugly times around us. It’s unfathomable! It’s so tiny, it’s so easily missed, but if you’re looking for it, it’s so obvious that you could never just miss it.

There’s a turning aside to see.

Just like Moses in the desert. Out of God’s plan. Out of his own strength. …and yet, exactly at the place where God intended to meet with him. Just like Moses felt unfit for the role which God was sending him to preform, I’ve got nothing. I’m not qualified.
But slightly different than Moses’ story at the burning bush, I find I have this compelling willingness.

My willingness doesn’t compel me to be front & center or to seek big numbers of followers, but this willingness that’s still growing in me… it wants attempt to be the servant of all.

Yet the reality is I hate being a servant! I took care of my elder grandmother for one week, and I really how much I suck as a person. She needs some help. I can do that. Yet when everyday she asked me all-day-long if the dog has been fed or has the dog been outside recently, I thought I would lose my mind! My grandmother is so much like my dad, that I thought I’d bite my tongue off.

I’m not a good person. I am not the servant of all. I don’t even have the willingness to be the servant of all when presented with such situations. …and yet…
My theological perspective of God, Israel, the church, the nations, and creation continues to morph to something that I don’t hear others talking about. And all I want to do, is follow Jesus’ example of “bringing many sons to glory”. I don’t feel compelled to always be considering if I am a good example. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think I am nothing more than a catalyst.
I’m happy that way. I understand who I am with this perspective. Servanthood makes sense to me.

I may not be able to master all forms of servanthood, for certainly I am no Mother Teresa, but something is changing. What’s important is changing. What I am observant of is changing. How I think is changing. My importance is changing. and it’s good. It might be miniscule, but it’s good.

Matthew 20:20-23

There’s something I love about “the Sons of Thunder”. In the Bible, around Matthew 20:20-23  these two men/disciples come before Jesus asking for one of the highest honors they could possibly fathom.
Now most of modern day Christianity would consider them selfish jerks for doing that, but what I love about it…they were totally sold on whatever Jesus was doing. They were in for the long haul -whatever that would look like- and they wanted to be two of the biggest supporters Jesus would ever have. Okay so maybe it sounds a little selfish. But it also sounds completely dedicated.

So Jesus asks these two brothers, do you really think you follow me down this path?
And they both wholeheartedly agree that this is exactly what they mean to do.
I imagine at this point Jesus might have let off a little chuckle. He could see their dedication, and he could understand how innocent they were to the things that were coming. Jesus was able to look into their hearts, past these words and outward brashness, and see that they really did mean to follow him committedly to the end.

While they might have had some trip-ups along they way these brothers became renown for their lives as disciples. As a matter of fact, out of the twelve apostles James was the first one to be martyred and John was the was one. I’ve often wondered if that’s just what Jesus meant when he answered them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with

Although they may have not reached the highest honors in the way they conceptualized, I imagined they reached higher honors than they hadn’t previously imagined in their younger years.

I suppose this is one of the things that God does for us. Although our ideas of glory maybe over-simplified, God often sees and understands our hearts, and as long as our hearts remain willing, God helps leads in a way that does bring a true honor or a true glory. Better than we’d previously dreamed.

 

Incomplete

When my life is over I’m going to leave some things undone. It’s not because of my amazingly over-ambitious and lack-of-totally-follow-through that my personality tends towards. It’s because I’m part of a great legacy that includes that next generation of seekers.

The Saints. The ones spoken of in Hebrew chapter of 11 of the Bible, is one of the most challenging things for me to read, but then to top it off, they add these phrases:

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, …
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,  since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

For a long time it killed me this idea of that they did not receive that which they were promised.  I mean…that just doesn’t sound like how a good God works, right? Isn’t too much of modern Christianity about receiving some benefit or promise of some kind right? Heaven, ruling & reigning with Jesus, health & power, get of hell free card, direct line with God’s answering prayers service, or something…right?
So how would it possible for the great forefather of Faith to not receive and yet we should still believe God that he will give to us what’s promised? How does that even work?

Well, maybe our biggest problem is seeing ourselves so very independently.

There was an old preacher man how use to remind people, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” but then he added “But it takes a ‘we’ who wrestle.”

In our faith, we are connected to much more than ourselves. Having faith is more than having something to believe in and then cliches, catch-words, and/or doctrinal stances to back it up. Being a part of a Faith is to live in an ancient city that is eternally young and to find our citizenship to be part of many millions and billions of people who live according to a God-honoring culture. A people who pass on what they’ve had, so that those who come next will do better, be stronger, receive the lessons and build on them, and at the same time continue with the original plan.

Being a part of Faith is like living in a coral reef. the complexity and beauty comes from the compiling of lives into one place, one time, one great benefit… a healthy ecosystem.

Our own personal imperfection or lack, only goes to give others a chance to hook-in and connect, like a puzzle piece, and begin to build in the areas where we can’t reach. And it’s beautiful. We shouldn’t be afraid of a deficiency  we have as an individual when we are willing to be one part of the whole. But that’s the trick part right? Since we individually have these deficiencies, then we are shy or embarrassed to connect with what might seem to us more perfect specimens. Or maybe we’re reserved about connecting with those who expose a particular flaw or weakness.

Or maybe we’ve had the crazy idea put into our head of how we (individually) are to become perfect, and therein did not see it as a “we” being the same “we” who wrestle. We don’t tend to see our faith as continuum of a Faith that has been going on and coming into the crux for some time now. Instead we find ourselves to be a modern rendition of something that once was, but has long since been made into moral stories.

We do not understand the value of what we’ve inherited.

But it’s not too late for us, by any means. We can begin to learn -even now- of what great treasures we have come into when we find our imperfect selves connecting to one another and to these old stories with new life still flowing out of them.

Moreover, we don’t have to worry about being a thousand percent correct in all thing just so that we can participate without injuring the beautiful name and legacy. We need to understand how our worth comes from connectivity. This something worth exploring. It’s worth learning together.