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

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.

 

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.

Miracle: Beyond Belief

At the end of the days where we’re asking questions about whether or not God can do miracles, I think the truth is we’re not asking if God can do miracles but will He. …and not just somewhere at sometime, but for us at this time. Which ultimately sounds more like we’re asking whether God truly cares and what kind of God are we serving and how much does God care about the situations we find ourselves in? These questions are deeper and more personal than just wondering if God can and/or will do miracles still… today.

There are two stories that strike me. One is found in Mark chapter 1 starting at verse 40, and the second story is found in John chapter 11 (the whole chapter).

The first story is short be always hits me straight through the heart. An unnamed man with a severe skin disease approaches Jesus and says, “If you want, you can make me clean.”  It wasn’t unusually for Jesus to meet people who wanted to be healed, but this man’s phrase always stabs my heart. What had he learned about God that let him know that the Messiah has power to heal, but also maybe he doesn’t want to be bothered with our infirmaries. Of course he could help… but does he really want to? Are we a bother to God?

The second story is about a family that Jesus is considered to be good friends with. Two sisters who live within their brother’s house. They depend on their brother. But the brother gets sick and the sickness causes his death. They’d sent a message to Jesus as soon as he was plagued with such an illness and let Jesus know the circumstances, but Jesus seemingly waits for the death and gives no other response. It’s devastating story. I read it and feel a huge lump in my throat, it’s hard to swallow, tears are on the edges of my eyes. Devastating. Jesus could heal him …but does he want to?  How personal is God? Is there a cutoff point? Does God really care this time?

Who hasn’t a noticed a time where God seems distant or silent or both? It doesn’t matter if you already believe in God fully, if you have a questions about God, if you’re struggle to understand God, or if you don’t want to believe …there’s no good seating when we’re waiting on God to respond. Waiting gives us time, lots of time. We can hope, believe, preserve, but at the end of the day it’s waiting. The most out-of-control feeling of all: waiting. Being out of control makes us question what we’ve always considered to be reality.

What does God want? What does God care about? And where does that leave us?

In the first story with the unnamed man who wants to be healed from his severe skin disease, the disease that makes him untouchable, unapproachable, unworthy, unclean to this man Jesus touches him and says, “I want to” and heals him right there. Jesus shows incredible compassion and directly answers him, and even disregards his disease while he still has it, while he’s still waiting, and touches the untouchable man -healing him completely. It’s beautiful!

The second story is more complicated. Jesus does show up, but after the brother dies and is buried. The things Jesus says makes one wonder what he’s even thinking. Does he have compassion? Why is he speaking in riddles while they’re mourning the lost of their brother? Why did he wait? Jesus knew them so well, they fully believed in him, his words, and his ministry. They believed he could do miracles and that he would in their case, yet they received death… The death of their beloved brother. Yet there is miracle that’s done here too.
After four days of being dead Jesus ask the sisters faith to go beyond what they’ve already seen and heard and what they were sure that Jesus could do. They had to believe not in what Jesus could do or has done before, but what God’s intentions are and what the character of God intends at any given circumstance. Then… Before they could decide what to make out of all of this, Jesus miraculously raises their brother from the dead. It was beyond all they had known or thought to hope for. It was better than the best miracle they’d expected at this point.

Maybe some of us will find ourselves in a place where we don’t have the faith for a miracle afterall, but can we wait on God long enough with honest hearts that are willing to see what God will do? Can we believe in God’s character enough to wait, to be out-of-control and to still believe in this nonsensical situation that God’s character is strong enough to redeem this time?
Would that be a miracle?

Men vs Women …or Not

One of the things I think I take for granted in my life is, I have good men in my life. From time to time as I write, I natural mention my husband. I love him. …like that silly head-spinning, butterfly inside still love him. I laugh at myself sometimes. If I were in a movie, surely something tragic would happen next, because most people don’t believe in these content happily-ever-after-s, there has to be a catch.
But this is life, and with life is confession. I confess that I don’t always consider how much I really love my husband and how blessed I am to have obtained him (and boy was it work to get him!). But when I do consider it, I am amazed at our story together.

Yet my husband is only one good man in my life. I have brothers who I adore, cousins who are caring & fun, friends who are a joy and considerate, and I probably shouldn’t list everybody here. The point is it continue to extend and ripple out from my inner most circle on outwards.

Not that every single person  (or man) I know, love, and appreciate … I am certainly not that generous. However, I’d be foolish not to consider and enjoy the fact that in my life there are many good men.

I remember this one time, when I was 19 or 20ish, my mom said to me “Why do you hate men!?”  I was astonished. I had no idea where this came from. I wonder what my mom meant by that. Yet in this astonishing moment, I looked up at my mom and said with perfect confidence, “Just because I don’t flirtatiously pursue them, doesn’t mean I don’t like them.” My mom was silent. I think this hit the mark of wherever it came from.  I then proceed to tell my mom that while I knew a few jerks who were adding grief to my life, there were plenty of guys I truly appreciated, and to which I listed a few to put her at ease.
To this day I can’t figure where that conversation came from.  Was because I was happily single? Was it because the jerks who were causing problems from me, I stood up to? Was it because I’d spent too much time with a man-hating relative, which concerned my mom that I too might become that? I’ll never know.

What I do know is that some women don’t have the security and support I have. Some women might not have good history and memories of close male relatives. Some women may not have many or any male friends who they could truly trust. I think all of ladies know what it is to be hurt and used. If there is a woman who doesn’t know this (at any age she may be), I pray she never will. It’s terrible that it should be all to frequent.

In general, as people, we hurt each other. But there’s something so fierce about it coming from the opposite sex. It cause some previously unknown age-old hatred to rise up with perfect indignation, and demand the severest actions. Maybe something says “I knew I couldn’t trust him” or maybe something says, “I knew he didn’t really care about me” or maybe it’s something innocent enough to say, “Why is this happening? Why me? Its not suppose to be this way.
We all understand pain and being hurt. We understand wanting to shelter ourselves from this happening again. But maybe we all also understand a strange deep desire to connect and to believe that we have a right to be treated equally in love and the search for love.

Sometimes I think in attempts to make it an “equal playing field” our culture lows the standards so pathetically far, that it isn’t even connecting or relating any more.  Tell me, what is a relationship when there is no actual relating happening in the midst of it?  A -ship? A voyage? An adventure? To where and for what? Why not stick with friend-ship if there’s no further relating in the relationship?

What if
What if lowering the standards isn’t a way to connect or relate? What if we could understand the hurting isn’t of just masking it over? What if there is a reason it hurts? …a reason deeper than one person hurting another person. What if there’s something to this “age-old hatred” that needs to be tamed and healed before we just simple move on to the next one? What if it really is not suppose to be this way? What could we have been missing all this time?

In the Bible, in Genesis chapter 3, there’s this story that changes history. Most people see the story as “sin enters the world”, but then, to be honest, most people can’t actually describe what is “sin” without being super legalistic and unrealistic (we can talk about this some other time, if you’re curious about it). Yet some how, the most relate-able emotion, story, feeling, scenario in this chapter is rather overlooked. So let’s talk about it a little bit…

There is this horrific moment that plays in my imagination more than just any other part of chapter 3, as I read this unexpected turn of events from perfect beautiful world & relationship, to some unknown treacherous depths.
Adam and Eve lived together and they worked together in a perfect world. Then sadly by deception and wrong choices, they sinned together and therefore allowed brokeness to enter into this perfect world they’d been enjoying. After the realized their wrong-doings they made coverings for themselves together and hide together. Although sin and shame had entered the world, they still had each other. They were still together even in these times. Yet something happened when it came time to face God together, suddenly for the first time ever Eve hears Adam say disdainfully, “That woman that you gave me, she…
Suddenly unity is broken between man and woman. Suddenly Eve is out on her own, exposed and alone. It’s the first time in history when one human would publicly betray another human being. It’s the beginning of the horrific endless blame-game, and the beginning of endless wounds that would repeat generation after generation. “That woman that you gave me, she…” An echoing age-old disdain entered the world through those spoken words and that severing of unity.

It’s painful to simply consider it.

These kinds of woundings and utter isolating loneliness only could happen in a sin-broken world. This kind of pain was not how God intended for the world or relationships to be. It could even be argued that this heartache between Adam and Eve did not occur until God himself had felt the heartache of Adam & Eve hiding themselves from God. Could it be their human relationships were only able to be broken because their relationship and unity with God was first broken?
I have heard it suggested that we as humans feel heartache and betrayal so universally because God himself has also felt heartache and betrayal, and being created in the imagine & likeness of God makes us susceptible to that which God also experiences. Could it be?
I have long prayed for many of the man I know. Not that in some way men need it more or desire it more, but I once heard an old lady who had many younger woman consult her about when will they find “the right man” or a good husband or whatever the case. This lady put her arms around all these younger women and just started praying, praying for Godly husbands. Praying for men of character. Praying for the younger woman who felt exasperated over the whole subject and all their personal experiences.  Instead of coming together and saying, “I know! All men are…” “The good ones are hard to find” or any other the other ridiculous statements I’ve heard in my short life time.  The older lady, she just prayed.

It struck me as being so logical.

Before I meet my husband, I had prayed for him. Before I knew him, God knew him, and so I prayed. Today, I pray for many great men I know. Not that they should need to become husbands, or those who are be better ones, but I pray because in today’s world we certainly need man of character and caliber.
Again, I feel blessed to know so many great men around me. I am thankful. However I also consider those who don’t. My heart and prayers are with those women and young girls. I wish the world was kinder, but even if it is not on mass, I am glad to know a few good men who are.

Sins of the Forefathers: un-sever?

I read an interesting story this morning. A story about a few kings in distress who seek a prophet of God so that they may know what will happen to them. The fact that they sought the LORD, I would think to be a good thing, but the prophet “welcomed” them with quite a different attitude. I thought this strange at first, because it seems like God always welcome those who truly seek him. …but maybe that’s the problem?
In the book of 2 Kings chapter 3 the king of Israel (the northern kingdom at this time in the story), the king of Judea (the southern kingdom which had Jerusalem and therein follow God…{more often}), and the King of Edom (neighbors and sometimes enemies of the people of Israel, but apparently not enemies at this time in the story) all allianced together to war against the king of Moab. The get stuck out in the wilderness area, running low on rations and water, and they start to question their master plan. The king of Judea ask, out loud, if there is any prophet whom can speak to God on their behalf, and someone answers that there is one close by. Elisha the prophet, who is quite a man of God indeed, was the very prophet to whom they came.

Elisha coldly greet the king of Israel, of whom it says he lived better than his father & mother’s example (for they were they most wicked rulers of the northern kingdom) but he did not consecrate himself to the LORD God but continued in the sins of the man who first split Israel into two kingdoms. And apparently this is why Elisha the prophet of the LORD God spoke to him so disdainfully.

Now God in his mercy allows everything to turn out well for this kings who sought his words, and you’re welcome to read the story, but what catches me is Elisha lack of cordiality towards a king who has done at least some better than his wicked parents. It’s curious to me. Yet knowing Elisha is to know that he could perceive the wickedness in a man’s heart, so I don’t discredit his reaction. I merely wonder what is to have the authors of this book give the king of Israel some little bit of credit, but yet the prophet of God gave him none.

In my opinion, one of the factors we’re looking at here is the over-simplicity of what it is to do good, perhaps. To turn away from wickedness that is blatantly sinful is certainly an idealistic beginning, however if that happens to be all the further one goes, then honestly, it’s only a “down grade” of wickedness at best, and not a turning to do what is good.

In a similar situation, I strangely think of how Christianity itself is reported to have started within Jews, but now is proudly considered its own religion which only occasionally has anything to modern Judaism or Jews. …It’s almost like when Israel and Judea became two separate nations.
I think we could argue whether this was destined to happen or whether the two kingdoms should have reunited at some point as one… but arguing the past doesn’t deny the similarity of modern history’s pattern.

So could be that one of the reasons this king of Israel received such a cold greeting from Elisha, the prophet of God, might just be because this king was still endorsing those things which were meant to keep Israel and Judea from reuniting in the future? …and therefore he himself was keeping the northern kingdom from truly/fully becoming the people of God, but first & foremost the people of Israel?
Do we also suffer from this in modern times?

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. “In those days people will no longer say,

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin;
whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,
declares the Lord.
 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Jeremiah 31:27-34

Certainly God has a plan. However, sometimes we get caught up in our own ideas, our own plans, our own righteousness. We know how the system works, and how to work the system when necessary. The man who original separated Israel and Judea, separated them not only as two geographical nations (1Kings chapter 12), but he separated them in their religious believes, historical accounts, and even ways of seeking truth. That man was so afraid that he might lose his own power (the northern kingdom as its own separate kingdom), that he purposefully lead the future generations to believe a lie. That lie then lead the people to continuously sin, and for some reason those lies were never debunked.

Guess what..?
We’ve been lied to as well.
Now, as I look into the history a little bit, it’s hard for me to say if the lie we’ve received was on purpose or merely degradation over time. Maybe both.

There are too many church fathers who willing sacrificed Biblical truth & principles to replace them with “modern wisdom” and modern philosophies. They held up the name of Christianity above the Covenant given to the Jews, and shoved their Jews brothers out, telling them they’d have no inheritance together and calling them enemies.  This isn’t how Christianity was suppose to be.

Sadly this story isn’t in the past. We have downgrade our prejudices to correspond with modern society, but much of Christianity still believes that the Jews are part of one kingdom with their idea of God and Christianity is in another kingdom with it’s own idea(s) of God. It’s like we don’t know that we come from the same history. It’s like we don’t know that it was the same God who’s brought us this far. It’s like we think it’s a pure coincidence we exist so closely together.
This is the sins of our forefathers.

Even though the king of Israel (in the story of 2Kings chapter 3) didn’t commit the same sins of his direct biological parents, he did essential continue in the same sin of his forefathers, in a matter of speaking. Although this king must have realized some of these things were wrong, he did not go down to the root of the matters. …but we must!
With all my heart & mind I do not believe that the church will be able to continue as it is for more than 2 more generation. I believe that we have to do more than ask the pastors and Christian authors for advice of how to be “deeper”. We ourselves must look at what has brought us here, and we must sift through our history, our beliefs about God, our beliefs about how we got here and why we are here, and go all the way down to the roots or else we will not survive.

We need to know truth exist in even purer forms than we’ve been taught thus far. However that kind of truth comes from the Holy Spirit to those who are willing to prove themselves faithful & meek in many, if not all, things. We need to go further into what’s truly God’s heart on what type of people we are to be in our own generation, than even our forefathers, who have stories of glorious revivals, have done. And I say that we need something more and purer because all that they have done has only brought us here. Maybe it’s instinct or maybe it’s obvious, but there’s a piece of the puzzle that’s still missing in our holistic gospel, and I have this hint that it back before we split ways with the Jews.

We need to be willing to find out that we’re the center of the universe, so that we can find truth. Truth will cost us something precious, and will give us something even more precious than before. We need to go beyond the revival saints, and find the core issue that has to be dealt with today. If that means giving up our northern kingdom for the glory of God, then give me God’s glory. For that I pray.

Are you willing to make this journey?
Please let us walk together dear friends. It could be beautiful, indeed.

Who left the what?

The best thing about my married life is that I can & do talk with my husband for hours. And I mean hours! We recently traveled hour a 8-9hr trip and I think we talked the nearly the whole time. Worst part about this sometimes we forget that other people don’t actually think/believe like we do. …and I can’t tell you how many downfalls that brings. We are that couple that when people meet us, they love us at first, but then get sick of us seemingly just as quickly. We’re kind of a novelty item. 

This probably shows up the worst for things we believe in the most. 

We are Christians, and we don’t go to church buildings for Sunday, Saturday, or any other midweek services. So… Mostly that makes us outside “the church” …apparently. We’re ok with that! There’s a lot of work to do out here! Yet we find that lots of people begrudgingly even considers part of the Christian faith because of this one thing. Apparently we are being a bad example. Good Christians “go to church”, but my husband & I have no idea what that means. So we asked some people!

We asked some good Christian people what “church” is… And they told us: the people! 

We thought this was great news! We love meeting with people and talking about life and God and where we are in modern history, ect. But apparently that’s not church, either. We simple misunderstood and/or asked the wrong question. If one is to “go to church” one must ask a Christian “What is a proper expression of local church gathering within the confines of modern understanding of the forebears of ‘church’ history and interrupted through modern day theologians and promising statics?” 

Unfortunately my husband & I were too simple to understand what we we’re suppose to ask in order to receive the correctly mapped out answer. However we weren’t too stupid to know to check the answers. After asking “what is church” we sake those same people to describe their church (you can try it, this is fun!) and those same good Christians began to tell us about programs, events, low-level hype, and maybe conceptual rules of engagement. …but never about one living person, let alone the living system of people which supposedly all engaged in these events & programs.

  It happened every time and without a thought. These good Christians were trained to a cue that we didn’t even mean to trigger, and they had no idea of the unrelated-ness that was spewing out their mouth because they were trained. 

Years later…

My husband recently wrote a great article about how we “left the church indefinitely”. I think it went down really well. People started asking questions, questions lead to more questions, more questions lead to accusations, accusations lead to… Oh well actually we’re still dealing with it and not sure what will come next. It turns out we sent forth a different kind of cue this time. It turns out we do not define church as many others might define church, and this is has to be corrected …apparently.  

So the issue of “what is church” now hides under the identity of “what is local church look/act like”.  Yet I find this to be like those kids movies were the bad guy (or good guy) disguises himself with a hat & a pair of glasses, and somehow no one recognizes him. Or how about the idea of “healthy fast food”?

The disguise is weak. 

We are still justifying programs, events, and concepts and saying that proximity to other people counts as fellowship of the believers, which is basically close enough to the original idea of “church”. Seriously? 

If healthy fast food is all the more you want to do, then I cannot convince you of the joys of gardening. But I assure you, I know something you don’t know. 🙂  I’ve worked food service, I’ve worked “church ministries”. I’ve “worked” multiple gardens, I’ve lived & tasted life outside the buildings, programs, and glib concepts of self-declared “church”. The proof is in the taste.

Changing the wording does not change the issue, I assure you. The issue is the concept and practice do not match… and apparently everyone is ok with that! This isn’t about hypocrisy, it’s about sleeping on the job. It’s about sleeping while Jesus weeps because the hour grows nigh, and we didn’t even notice something different about this time. 

Ask me about God. Ask me about the Bible. Ask me about sports. Ask me about my husband. But don’t ask me to call that systematic machine “church”.  I love the church, she’s my mother, and that is not her…