We’re Not Past the God of the Bible

My man & I believe our lives are often a parable. There’s a saying we’ve heard many times: “the man is the message”. It strikes us being completely true. The bare naked truth. We can’t explain many things in our lives. Some of which we endure, some of which break upon us, some of which we seems to be an evident display before the people around us. God speaking in subtle ways. But why?

“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again and be forgiven.”
 Mark 4:11-12

We’re not past the God of the Bible. We haven’t outlived the God who speaks, moves, and acts boldly. Jesus didn’t come to appease a wrathful God. Jesus came to represent a loving God, but a Love which we’re not familiar with. An enduring love.

But I’m not sure how much modern Christianity teaches us to pay attention to God (and God’s heart) except in our time of need. It’s like God is a given. There’s no need to stir ourselves to deeply consider God’s heart. Or so it seems that this is the message which we are given.

Yet God longs to be acknowledged. That is a constant theme throughout the Bible. When we forget to acknowledge God we don’t even acknowledge one another, at least not as that which God has created us to be. Instead we use a doctrinal filter to look at one another and decide if any given person is correct or correct enough (ect). All too quickly we don’t even see another person. We see a problem, a solution, a teacher, a heretic, but we neither see nor hear God’s heart about the person in front of us. A problem which started when we stared using God as pintrest board.

I know people often don’t see us or believe us to be much of anything. Yet I believe that God causes for us to live as parable to many.  A different parable to many different people, but I think God is speaking.
I suppose we so often missing seeing God because we often believe that we are God’s representatives and we don’t look for God among “the least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:31-46). We believe we are bringing Jesus. Sometimes we do, but not quite the way which mission trips would have us to believe.

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!  To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.  And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure;  being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.

 – 1 Corinthians 4:9-14

Sometimes we are a parable.
He who has ears let him hear.

Advertisements

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.

 

Loving the Unlovely: Christian Conflicts With Israel

There ought to be things that still break our hearts. IF we consider ourselves to be in some relationship or acquaintanceship with God, then there definitely out to be things that still break our hearts in very tender ways.

I struggle to find the words of what I saw.

There are a people within Christianity who claim to love the Jews people, but they believe that something just like the last Holocaust is possible or even likely to happen again. These said people wish to do their part to protect God’s Chosen People. They believe a redeemed Israel will come out of the calamity, albeit a drastically reduced number.
Some times these people speak so factually it scares me to here their casualness.

But it got worse. …

I once heard a vehement Jew…maybe rabbi, I don’t remember right now…say something along the lines of, “Christians just want to use Jews to bring back their Christ! They don’t care about us!“. As if one religious culture could use or manipulate or sacrifice another. I hate how right he may have been. I could only imagine what he’s seen and heard. I know what I’ve seen and heard makes me sick to think about it, even as I search for the words.

These select group of Christians (fore mentioned) had a portion of them give a message/sermon which I heard about after the fact, although I was at the same camp…I skipped this particular “teacher”.  He spoke from Ezekiel 39:9-16, and he spoke words of mockery.

One of the other seminar attendee’s gladly recount the summary for me. The theory went something like this: after the Jews survive (barely) another world war, then they’ll see Christ and be humbled, then they’ll have to be on cleanup duty for seven months from all the Armageddon that just occurred, and they’ll become even more humbled. Then after that, maybe they’ll be truly reconciled with God.
My heart broke.

These are the Christians who claim to love Israel and love the Jew? What love is this, that delights in their being kept out of their own Holy City and having to do humiliating unclean work of peasants? While what..? The “Christians” get to hang out with the Messiah, partying because they’re so much more fit to be in the Holy City?
No. I do not hear the heart of God in this. No. I will not be with that crowd.

If that was the only way such scriptures could be read, then let me just say, I would set aside “party time” or “ruling and reigning with Christ” and I would go help the Jews with the disgusting, unclean work of picking up corpses and bones left rotting months after the most horrific battle of history.

These things should not be taken so light-heartedly.
Did this teacher even stop for two minutes to consider God’s heart on these things? Or how Christ works over and over again? How is that Christians can take verses like, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” or “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses“, but they are only for Christians?
How is it that there is still this idea that one must clean themselves up before God will accept them? How does one clean themselves up with God’s help?

In case you should become curious what is in Ezekiel 39:9-16 and what does it say… may I just offer another point of view? It’s not about Israel going through more disgrace and humbling. By this point in the eschatological story (end of times story), the remaining People of God have already beheld and meet their God in fullness. They are already a priestly people. Now God has put a new love in their hearts where they can’t stand the idea that something -even something defiling- would stand in the way of anyone coming up the Mount of God and meeting with the true God. Therefore, they’re so fervent, that they willing go out, work as hard as they can, for as long as they can, and they will clear the Traveler’s Valley, so anyone…absolutely anyone can come and meet with God.
They are not doing this to earn merit, but out of Love…the Love of God, which we only gain when we experience a personal encounter with God.

I don’t understand the words “I love you” or “love” itself when people hook with circumstantial requirements. Although maybe we all do. Maybe we’re a people who forgotten how to love other just because …just because there is some unmistakable beauty in the depths of another person’s soul, which our soul notices even before we see it or understand it ourselves.
Even if we fail at this… can we just, please, not put God’s name on it?

Can we just have enough respect for a being that would qualify as God to not try to make him into a tyrant or monster at every other turn? Can we just admit we want points for our deeds? Can we just stop putting other people down even though we find disappointment all around us? Can we have a little respect? Can we hope in beauty? Can we stop being mean to those who brought us here?

If we’re going to were the title Christian, could we just believe in the way Christ Jesus lived, and they things he taught? Could we just look at the scriptures without trying to find our own treasures, and just search for God’s heart instead?

Could we stop saying “I love you” just to make it easier to use people? Please… Please stop feeding your hate.

Can we wash one another’s feet just because Jesus called us to servanthood? Can we just act like the thing by which we identify ourselves as?

Something changes when you know God’s heart beyond the best doctrinal choices. When God doesn’t fit into our given options, we have a chance at expanding our world, our minds, and our hearts.

When Jesus had his infamous “angry moment” in the Temple, flipping tables and driving out the money changers… you need to understand the unspoken things that happened there. The context, if you will.  In those days, people sold potential sacrifices just outside the inner temple area, in an area known as the court of Gentiles. It was all the closer Gentiles were allowed to get towards the Holy God of Israel. Whether out of spite, commerce greed, or necessity of the day this area (the court of the Gentiles) had become so packed that barely anyone could walk around in it -because of the buying, selling, and trading taking place- let alone have a quiet moment to worship a still distant God.
So Jesus comes in see all this taking place and quotes the scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer” …and the rest of the sentence is “for all nations”.

Hebraically, this is how you quote scriptures, in part. Because ever elementary age child learned the scriptures by heart. …or nearly. It’s iron sharping iron to quote part and have those around you quote the rest to you and still understand the greater picture of what’s being said. Kind of like we do with movie quotes nowadays.

So in this famous “angry moment” of Jesus at the Temple, we see God’s heart is broken in that Israel (and their religious system) isn’t taking seriously being the People of God and priestly to all nations. So I can only imagine if there comes a time when the Messiah shows up, and restores the fullness of all things, then these people too will see the truth about even this detail in the covenant.

When God shows up everything changes.

It would be absolutely impractical to have a half love for the Jew now, merely waiting for Jesus to come and rub their faces in it, and to think that will be enough to be a catalyst for their “full salvation”. It’s absurd!
If we want to make a difference in the darkest times, we must know God’s heart. We must know God’s heart beyond doctrinal correctness. We must not despise one we call our brother. We must see the beauty of what God is doing beyond our own selves and our reward.

Love is nothing if it is not lavish and strong to those who are weak and far off. And if our love is nothing, than so are we.

Fools On Display

“Sometimes I think God has put us apostles at the very end of the line, like prisoners soon to be killed, put on display at the end of a victor’s parade, to be stared at by men and angels alike.”
– St Paul

Strangely, I get the impression this isn’t one of the first five things anyone thinks of when they think of the Christian Life or walking by faith. …and I wonder what it’s like to be that person who walks along without this weight. I wonder what it’s like to think of Christianity in terms of things done in or pertaining to a “church” building.
I imagine it’s terrible and boring.

1st Corinthians chapter 4 is very powerful in a humbling way. It’s like reading a story of how my ancestors got to America and got established into our modest life. It’s a reminder that we aren’t just trusting God for our day to day life, but we’re part of something greater. It’s a reminder that it isn’t just about what’s happening now, but our “now” is part of greater chorus which has been sung out in faith. We join those who have believed before us. We join those who believe now, and we join those who struggle to believe but keeping living for one more day, searching for truth…if there be any left in this world.

This is a challenge. This is a weight.

Later on, in 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses the phrase “eternal weight of glory”. A small phrase that has baffled many. What could it mean?
I think it means, when we get connected into the roots of our faith, and into the forefathers of faith, and we start wanting to be a part of their faith, knowing their God, and living that faith…then we’ve connected to something that eternal. Something that’s glorious. And there’s a weight to it all. “the eternal weight of glory”

When we think of the long lineage of history that has processed our stories and brought message of a living God down throughout history, we look small. Yet…in our “now” state of being, we feel so worthless, so insignificant, and sometimes so forgotten by God.  We feel like God puts us on display in the worst way. We feel foolish. We like stoning up our hearts, instead of opening them up. We feel like we have no faith at all. We feel insane. …but we keep going.

There is no alternative.  There is no following the system into a happily-ever-after. There is no daydreaming and one day  it’ll come true. …not without an attempt. Not without skidding through some failure, bristling through some doubt, drowning in stares of people who “admire” your “cute faith” but they sure don’t want to be you or live their own faith in the same “admirable” way.

Yet not everyone can.
Someone has to be at the base. Someone has to discover that old path that now seems overgrown and hidden. If it ever was here, then it’s still here. But my God, it isn’t easy to find, and to keep, and follow. …Yet if that’s all we had to do, it’d be easier than this. Yet we know, behind us will come those who are looking for this same path, and we need to put signs out for them. We need to clear some of the brush. But we need to make sure, it is the right path at the same time.

To say it’s hard is an inadequate understatement.

We are on display, and this display makes us seem like fools. We know. Yet we must. It’s not just for our sake anymore. When we enter into an ancient and eternal faith, then we become part of legacy. One that must be preserved. One that must be given to the next generation. And I just don’t have the faith to believe that our “church” systems are going to be the ones to pass on a living faith with a Living God, where even the words of God are still alive to us today.

To be eternal means there is no “Old Testament” God vs “New Testament” happy-go-lucky Jesus. Just one triune God working throughout all of history. Including now.

There is an eternal weight of glory, and it’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. We preserve, because if we quit, we will never know what the saints of ol’ saw. We’ll never know why the cloud of witness is cheering us on. We preserve because there’s other children coming after us, and if we were kicked out of the church for seeking deeper truth in our perilous times, then what will happen to them?

This is why we are part of a faith that is on display before men and angels. Because God has a plan. …and that’s something that I want to be part of.  So here’s to one more try…

Dispelling Man Myths

Once upon time, I was told you can’t change modern Christiantiy if you’re not part of it. You can’t change church if you don’t attend the buildings. Luckily, I’m a skeptical person. I didn’t believe that then and I don’t believe it now. I very much live on the fringe, the outside, or the you’re-going-to-hell lane. I don’t mind, the air is good out here, and I can have all the truth I can forage for. It’s awesome!
Yet once in while I peek in to see how hints are things going. And of course, it’s always the same. No progress. No clue. No identity. Yet my most recent glance in this modern Christian culture still has me all twisted up inside. My spirit mourns like a death of loved one. My mind reels to imagine healing for this ridiculous offense.
Men. My dear men, are so lied to.

#1.  A man is a man. Period.

Dear men, you don’t need a woman or partner or a fling or a bed-warmer to be a man. A man is a man, and this has nothing to do with anyone else. No one can become a man by traits, looks, sexual identity, tendencies, strength, surgery, ect. Life is in the blood. XY makes you a man, and that will always be in your blood. And if it’s in your blood it’s in your spirit. Learning how to be you as another ambitious task, but this is a task everyone faces.

However if your identity is dependent on your interaction with others, there will come a time when that will bring you into question. There will come a time when you have to live with yourself, by yourself, and still be acceptable to yourself. I always find these are ugly, trying times, and they’re worth the refining which they are.

I read some big mouth Christian authors who want to say a man is suppose to  get married and have children, anyone else is abnormal. In case you don’t know, these authors are liars (If they weren’t previously, they are now.). There are good men who are single, happy, and Godly. There are good men who are divorced, childless, and still Godly. There are a hundred other combinations I’d rather not go through. These aren’t abnormal, outside the will of God, incomplete, nor are they “gifted” with singleness. They’re just good people who are living their lives, letting their stories unfold, and dealing with changes of life as they come. …and that’s freakin awesome!  The world needs good men.

#2. (Similar to one). Being a father, husband, leader, dictator, shepherd, teacher, ect. does not make you more of a man than before, it only makes you more responsible for the lives and outcome of others.  So it maybe wise to “man up” but other than that… The Bible tells us not to rush into becoming a teacher or a leader, because they will be judged twice as harshly as their “students”. (Did your church tell you that?)

Honestly, this is normal problem that does not require woman or children to be under you. As a matter of fact, in Christianity it is abnormal to be a leader according to top down strategies. Jesus was a big promoters of “the least of these” the “servant of all” and general servanthood. Take notes from Jesus, because this stuff is not only manly, it’s severely attractive.

You know those old myths about a gentleman holding a door for lady? Standing when a lady enters a room? Or offering your coat when a lady is cold? These were simple old school practices of treating a lady better than a servant, or making yourself to be the servant to elevate a woman’s good reputation. I.E. being a servant of all.

Luckily, nowadays we don’t really stand for anyone entering a room like dukes, lords, ladies, ect… It’s just not necessary, so it wouldn’t mean anything to repeat it for women. Actually, it’d probably be weird. Yet, there still the concept of doormen or greeters, and poorer people not having enough clothing, so there still meaning within these two old school practices.

Yet what we face is practices without meaning quickly become existent, therein that what they once stood for also becomes obsolete. Then we say things like, “chivalry is dead” “gentlemen don’t exist” “that’s old fashion”, and therefore further driving the point that to practices such things now would only be peculiar not debonair.

The way we interact shows our character, but it does not install character within us. You do not become more manly by takin on a higher role.

In reading the opinions of Christian authors, I cannot understand why being a man depends so vastly on woman being in your life and generally under your thumb. That’s not manly. That’s aggressive, abrasive, and avoidance of the real issues. If one cannot live with themselves, why should others be subjected to living under them?

A man is a man with or without a woman in his life. His choices make him into the person he choices to be. Manly, boyish, aggressive, subtle, playful, ect.

As people we work together to become a better version of ourselves. Yet at the end of the day, each of us must choose for ourselves who we have become up to this point and who we will become next. Choice. Decision. Intentions. These guides our paths.

#3. It is not your job to be the “bread winner” “bring home the bacon” or be “the provider” of your family, whether that be one person (yourself) or twenty. It is your job to use your resources (including talents and time) in the most effective means of stewardship and hospitality. I know, I’m stepping on toes here, but this is too off centered for me to leave alone. Here’s the problem with that…

Being a steward means knowing what you have is entrusted to you, but it will also be required of you to give an account for what you have done with it. We don’t hold too tightly and we don’t take the responsibility too lightly either. A good steward is gracious.

Hospitality means knowing your life, your circumstances, your choices do not effect only you, and therefore you intentionally engage others, usually through kindness and collaboration.  Somehow, there’s a modern belief that thinks hospitality means paying for someone’s meal, and I suppose it’s a start. But it’s hardly the whole definition, it’s hardly a skim of the meaning.

What I’m trying to say is money isn’t the point, and it never was. It disgust me how much the modern church system is into and obsessed with money. It’s so very Babylon. So un-Christ-like. So far removed from the things of God. …And then Christian authors are going to stand up and say this is what God requires of you!? Liars.

Many of us haven’t figured out what we would be willing to trade for money. What path to take. How to keep our souls and keep afloat at the same time. Many of us don’t want to be our parents. Many of see a problem with how greatness and wealth are currently obtained. Many of us have this pull, like there something more important than how you make money, how much, and for how long. There’s a reason why this has occurred in our generation. There’s something about it we can’t deny. It must be answered. I hope we can. I hope we do.

It maybe odd for me to write to men or about men and use the pronoun “we” but as far as I can read, half or more of being a man simply requires the knowledge of how to be a reasonable human, thus the “we”.  It’s amazing that when we hit some root issues, like being willing to be servant of all, like being willing to see ourselves as stewards, like realizing God has made us to be a certain somebody now, then it changes what we are capable of. Some things correct themselves when root issues are dealt with, but certainly all things have a better chance of making adequate progress.

Part of our problem is that we tend to add to the problem. Jesus argued with those who knew the word of God and were entrusted with it, because they “laid heavy burdens on the people” and did nothing to lift those burdens. But Jesus spoke of God providing a way that is straight (and narrow) and a burden that is light. Jesus regularly spoke on heart issues, root issues, original intent of God issues. Knowing this, I do not think I can be persuaded that many of the modern Christian authors are helping the people.

Treating the symptom is a sure-fire way to die from medication, that has created new symptoms and diseases. It’s a ridiculous cycle that needs to be broken. One cannot break it by repeating the same words as the last author. One must start with the heart and root issues. Because that’s what Jesus did.

To be a man is not something too glamorous for the commoner. It is obtainable. However, if I were you, I wouldn’t buy a book about it, unless that book is the Bible and you have a few good friends to discuss with. It’s crazy how far off-centered things have gotten.  It’s really not as bad as all that. Yet it’s bad enough for me to be a reminder.

God made man. Not the system, not the clothes, not the money… Just God and dirt. And you know what? It turned out okay. Let’s not get too glammed up. The original is beautiful.

I met Jesus

I met Jesus.

I was sitting in room of Christians who had traveled far and wide to hear a few speakers at small gathering. I had my note paper and Bible out. It was more likely that I’d use them for a distraction, then to be using for notes. I’d been here before. I questioned why I was here again. The class began, the introduction provoked notes, the class went on and nothing was said.  At the end I sighed, but I wasn’t surprised. We had time between the session and lunch, but it was all the same room so I stayed, thinking my thoughts. I talked to one of the people who was there, well… I listened really, and she did most of the talking. I heard her story, but I didn’t have much to say. She didn’t seem to need someone to explain life or even theology to her, although she had questions about both. Her story begged to be heard, to be considered, to be acknowledge. As I listened, considered, and thought upon the summation of her story, I heard Jesus, begging to be acknowledge. I heard Jesus disappointed in being misunderstood and pre-judged. I heard Jesus concerned for his children and what will become of them in this age. I heard that sweet familiar voice, and I didn’t know how to respond. I just listened.

That night as we said goodbye a dear friend confide in my husband and I of how weak, tired, and lonely he was. How he struggled to feel like he could make it through the day. How a child’s smile was something that could bring light into his life because it was so dim all around him, and it might be all had to encourage him that week. There was that voice again, it was Jesus, and he wept. Jesus was lonely and tired. Jesus was in the middle of a room of Christian folks, and he was barely making it. He didn’t know he was valued. Even in that room he couldn’t feel the love his heart longed for. Jesus wept right in front of us. Jesus was tired and lonely. Jesus need someone to carry his cross for him, and I cried because I wasn’t close enough to be he one to carry this cross with Jesus. I saw someone else get chosen. Someone who was confused and didn’t understand the task given to him. “Everybody loves him” he told me in cheerful yet disappointed to be overlooked kind of way. Then I understood….

The body of Christ is broken.

In the Gospel books of the Bible, where they recount to story of Jesus lifetime on Earth, one of the things that is mention about Jesus’ death is that none of his bones were broken, just as the Passover lamb is eaten whole and not broken. Of course, it’s also known Jesus was badly beaten before he was executed, so his physical body was torn up, but it wouldn’t have been what we considered broken. At least it’s something to reconsider.

However, Chrisitanity considers the believers to be the body of Christ, particular as they meet together. In this, I can definitely say the body of Christ is broken. We don’t really talk to each other, or maybe we don’t really listen to each other. We don’t expect to meet together and hear God’s heart from someone else’s story… but why not?

One of the famous parables that Jesus taught is called the parable about the sheep and goats (found in Matthew chapter 25:31-46), and in this story Jesus says this phrase, “as you’ve done it unto the least of these my brethren, so you’ve done it unto me.”  We take this to mean the way we treat the lesser or unnoticed people, is ultimately counted as the way we truly treat or care about Jesus. As simple of concept as this is, we often do not consider it.

Faithful Christians who long to grow into maturity look for more mature teachers, someone who can impart to them wiser counsel, deeper understanding, fuller perception. Seek to become better. We watch well-known, well-attested speakers, preachers, authors and we grab at any hint of “insight” they might bestow upon us. We pray for miracles. Some pray for revival. Others pray for revelation. We sit together, searching together, and we rarely bother to ask our lowly comrades about their own life stories. We leap at the chance to teach, to be called on, to be noticed! And we leave our lowly companions behind. We aren’t very Christian at all.  We don’t know the first thing about maturity. We don’t understand Jesus.

Jesus teaches that if we want to be the greatest Saint ever, we must become the servant to the lowliest Christian. This ultimately two things. Number one: authority, spirituality, and leadership are not what we’ve previously imagined them to be. Number two: we need each other… We need to acknowledge each other. We need to see Jesus in the lesser, the despised, the castoff, the forgotten. We need to turn our seats around and face one another. If we really want to grow in maturity, then we won’t be “distracted” by one other, instead we will find Jesus I the sufferings, sorrows, and even smiles of one another.

There’s a simple reason Jesus identifies himself with “the least of these my brethren”.  God’s wisdom isn’t the same as the rulers of this age. Jesus doesn’t lead his apostles and prophets and disciples to platforms, at least not for very long. Instead we walk in deserts, back alleys, secret passageways. Jesus leads us to sit in the middle of nowhere with the hungry when we have no banquet to give them. We sit half-dead in prison cells, in chains, in stocks and we sing to our God. We sit in small crowded rooms and share a meal, a story, a song, a hope, a million prayers. Jesus leads his disciples to pray throughout the night, when we’re tired, sleep-deprived, hopeful and yet losing faith, when we’re on a battered ship and all the hearts around us are drained and hopeless. Jesus leads us to the houses of mourning, to the tombs of “if you were here this would not have happened”, to religious leaders who say to us “what gives you the right to say these things?”

Jesus leads to places where are habits are questioned, our dedication is questioned, our choices are questioned, our diet it questioned, and relationship with God is questioned. Jesus lead all of his disciples through these places when he was here on Earth, and he still leads us through these places now …because this is where Jesus is. This is where he’s always been. Jesus has always been with despised, the lowly, the castoff, the forgotten.

The Bible make the commentation that Jesus “came to his own, and they knew him not” or they rejected him, but sort of… Many of the religious who we’re suppose to stand for the best representives of the community in their time did not acknowledge or accept Jesus, but yet many of lowly, pushed aside, nobodies they recognized something in Jesus that only comes from God. The God of the Bible has long identified himself with the small, lowly, and humble. God made his name known through a people who have been historically small in numbers. The God of the Bible has long had a heart for the forgotten people. At times God has even idenitified himself as being forgotten, neglected, unloved, uncherished, embarrassed, unacknowledged.  Though it seems God wouldn’t understand these lowly feelings, this is actually something God has known all too well.

God seeks for someone to hear his story, someone to listen to his heart, someone to acknowledge this brokenness around him. God seeks for someone to work with him. Our great and mighty God, allows himself to feel our pain, but are we willing to know his pain, his heart? Can our prayers exceed beyond our present circumstances into prayers for the “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”? Can we see Jesus when we see devastions around us?  Can we be a people who stand in the gap and listen for God’s heart, not just so that we can say we’re closer to God, but because he longs to be heard?

Are we wiling to be the saints in our generation?  The sacrifice we make is the wisdom we’ve acquired. We must trade what we’ve learned about how to grow in spirituality, and we must listen until we hear a Jesus who is lonely, a Jesus who is worried about his children, a Jesus who thinks he’s overlooked because everyone loves that guy over there better.

Wouldn’t it be cool just to tell that Jesus you love him? Wouldn’t it be life-changing to spend sometime with that Jesus? Wouldn’t it be just like God to sit with these troubled-hearted people, even if we have nothing to offer but our own listening ear and loving heart?

I saw Jesus and he wept, and I loved him all the more for it.

My prayers are with the these saints who continue to press on and make sense of this battle the fight. May God let them see and feel that Jesus is right there with them suffering what they suffer and yet loving them enough to help them overcome these times as well. May the believers around them make themselves known, so that Jesus can be seen and felt in vibrantly realistic ways in these lives, at this time. May Christ body be healed and no longer broken, discontinued, and losing the blood-life that we’re meant to pump into one another. God save us, we are your people.

Do This In Remembrance of Me: DIY Godliness

Things Jesus didn’t say: “Blessed are the perfectionist and over-achievers, for they are the only ones who don’t embarrass me daily.”

My aunt remind me of the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness
How cool is that?  A substitute in case we fall a little short. We can just work are butts off into looking like reasonable responsible people and that will be enough for God to shrug and say “good enough my clean-machine servant.” at the end of our lifetime. So cool…. yet so falsely lame.
What is awesome about doing less than your best with something you want to dedicate your life too? If cleanliness is next to Godliness, it’s pretty much nothing at all, if the Godliness has any appeal whatsoever. But actually “cleanliness” is part of Godliness according to the book of Leviticus.

The unfortunate aspect to a personal God is that this God shows interest in details. And the only thing which is truly unfortunate about that is we assume the people who pay attention to details are anal, obsessive, OCD, pessimistic perfectionist who are here to make it hell for the rest of us. But to certain aspect details out to be the awe-inspiration of beauty.

I’ve worked for the bosses who can’t make themselves so lowly as to give a compliment before you die but they have extra work for you to do -since you actual do your work-, and I’ve worked for the bosses who are willing to give an ounce of respect for a job well done. I could travel for miles on an ounce of respect. I’ll work hard, be on time, stay late (if needed), and get jobs done that aren’t actually my responsibility but someone has to do it. It doesn’t take too much for me to be someone who pays attention to the details in the workplace.
However at home, my husband and I compete to see who can wait longer on doing the dishes. I frequently lose. We’re not clean freaks when it affects just us.

But maybe that’s the good point of “cleanliness is next to Godliness”
Maybe, cleanliness is sometimes our consideration of others, and messiness is our simple need to function.

I’ve heard the little Evangelical slogan of joy means:
J – Jesus first
O – Others second
Y – Yourself last
…and I just want to be the person to say, Jesus didn’t say that.
Actually Jesus did say the first & greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself.
People are tied. There’s no greater and lesser. One does not give what one cannot receive. We are paradox people. We are creatures in need of balance. To over emphasize the need cleanliness, as if it were a substitute for Godliness, is damaging. To disregard it completely is to miss the poetic nature of a parable and to suffer such losses that otherwise would not be known.

God understand messiness. Jesus understand messiness.
In beginning God created and gave order which in return created purpose. We think that according the Hebrew poetry, God actual allowed himself to come into his Creation at the beginning of time, and before sin entered the world. Then somewhere around 2000 years ago, we believe Jesus enter into the world as it was becoming increasingly messy, and something happened with Jesus that didn’t necessarily happen with others who lived at his time and tried to promote a sort of substitute.
During that time there were a lot of different sect who were trying to work towards a sort of cleanliness that would bring the Promised One of Israel. Well known groups were the Pharisees, Zealots, Sadducee, and Essenes. They all had different plans on how to clean up Israel, and they all believed that if they did succeed in this then their Messiah would come. Essential their cleanliness would be next to Godliness. It didn’t work out too well for them.

But there was also another group that wasn’t really on anyone’s radar at that time. Later that small group would become known to the world as “Christians” but at the time they were just Jews who had taken an interest in Jesus.  Jesus had a way of making the prophet’s words come alive again. He seemed to plunge into the heart of a saying and not just combat the external uses of a saying. This same man who was known for healing the sick, raising dead children, causing the blind to see and the deaf to hear, restoring withered & crippled body limbs, he was also known as a drunk, a lush, and a friend of the unbearable types of people in society.
Jesus was a little messy according to those who had a plan for cleanliness.

Yet thousand years later, and out of all these people and their crazy plans & lifestyles, the only two that are still known to be around and well are the Pharisees and the Christians. The Christians believe the Promised One of Israel has come and that they are included in that promise, and the Pharisees who are still waiting for the their Promised One to come.

Let me just be the one to say, Pharisees were not necessarily bad people, however any of us who try to accomplish things of Godliness without actual core heart-changing Godliness, we are damaging people in our world & culture.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is a recipe for disaster (and dry skin).

There are not enough chemicals in the world to create perfection. Only God creates perfection, and he does it by entering into our chaos, our messiness, dark night and then he’s just there with us. God and us commune together, that’s where perfection is. Our balance in life isn’t something we create than show God, so that he’ll be impressed. It’s something we obtain as we allow ourselves see the paradoxes we are, and the fullness which God brings forth out of those paradoxes.

(spoiler alert)  At the end of the movie Schindler’s List,
there’s this scene where Schindler has to flee because the war is over and he’s been associated with the Nazis party, which means if caught he might be killed or tried. The Jews which he saved are all around him, and he looks around at all these people and looks at his car that he’s about to get into and drive away and his gold pin on his jacket and he says, “Why did I keep these? That could have been one more person I could have saved!”  The man had put himself in poverty saving the Jews that he did, but in the end he still saw more he could have done. His heart was all in. There was no “good enough”.
It’s a heart breaking scene, and one I hope I never forget.

If we think doing something great or even small good things we eventually add up to “good enough”, then we’re wrong. The only “good enough” we ever find is in fullness and completion.
In Hebrews 12:2  there’s this piece of scripture that talks about Jesus being the author and perfecter of our faith, and some translations say finisher of our faith. It’s this idea that’s it not over until it’s all fulfilled.

We are paradox people, but a personal God who creates and redeems, does not need us to assist him with a substitute Godliness or backup plans. What God offers is more than sufficient. Let’s not settle for second best.