Trees and Floods: Bible notes

I’ve notice the scriptures speak not only of building up the Lord’s House, but doing so with living vessels.  I’ve seen/study some ideas of living fence or living hedge, which are very interesting.  How much more beautiful to imagine that God could make up a whole “house” of living material?!

Also I’ve watched some teachings on desert plants and general deep-roots vs erosion. The concept of a deep roots holding the ground while a flood comes through is amazing.

In the Bible their a famous passage (Rev 12:15) where we read the parable of a dragon who is intent on persecuting a woman, even chases her into a desert/wilderness area, and then spews out a flood from its mouth. The earth comes to her help and “swallows” the flood.

Could it be that the Lord seeks living trees to build up his house and save this beloved woman? It’s beautiful idea to entertain. But will we allow the Lord to moves into a place which requires the Lord to provide or else we parish? Yet if God has already promised to provide should we fear any plans upon which God smiles?
Can we trust that God places where we are needed? Without deep roots wadis easily become washouts. Do we want to be those who can laugh at the times to come and fear not erosion? Or are we already afraid of the danger of coming storms?

 

“Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.  “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.

Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy.  It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
 The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

The poor and needy search for water,
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
    and the parched ground into springs.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
    and my blessing on your offspring.
 They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
    like willows by flowing streams.
 This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,”
    another will be called by the name of Jacob,
yet another will write on the hand, “The Lord’s,”
    and adopt the name of Israel.
 I will put in the desert
    the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
    the fir and the cypress together,
 so that people may see and know,
    may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The beams of our house are cedars;
    our rafters are firs.

Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord; and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus  it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
 the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

 A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
 No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
    the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary;
    and I will glorify where my feet rest.
The descendants of those who oppressed you
    shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
    shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
    the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
    with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
    a joy from age to age.

 

Hag 1:7-9; Neh 8:15; Is 4:5-6; Is 43:18-21; Is 41:17-18; Is 44:3-5; Is 41:19-20; Is 55:12-13; Song of Solomon 1:17; Zech 6:15; Is 35:1-10; Is 60:13-15;

 

Contrast to the trees which are not brought into the building for the Lord’s House:

Look, the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts,
    will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the tallest trees will be cut down,
    and the lofty will be brought low.
 He will hack down the thickets of the forest with an ax,
    and Lebanon with its majestic trees will fall.

 I will make justice the line,
    and righteousness the plummet;
hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
    and waters will overwhelm the shelter.
 Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
    and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through
    you will be beaten down by it.

Open your doors, O Lebanon,
    so that fire may devour your cedars!
Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,
    for the glorious trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
    for the thick forest has been felled!
 Listen, the wail of the shepherds,
    for their glory is despoiled!
Listen, the roar of the lions,
    for the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed!

Until a spirit from on high is poured out on us,
    and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
 The effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
 The forest will disappear completely,
    and the city will be utterly laid low.
 Happy will you be who sow beside every stream,
    who let the ox and the donkey range freely.

 

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Is 10:33-34; Is 28:17-18; Zech 11:1-3; Is 32:15-20; Ps 127:1-2;

 

For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—  the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.  If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

1 Cor 3:9-15; 2 Cor 5:1;

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

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.

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.

Music Without the Worship

It never fails to astonish me how true it is, that words come to an end at some point. Yet once in a while, when that point has come, there’s still something in the artistry of a song (a soulful song) that can still portray that further thought, emotion, or searching. It’s beautiful. It’s impactful. It’s a wonderful recovery of beauty.

But we don’t always treat songs and words in this way. Often -too often- we make them into nonsense & nothingness. Too often we need only to fill the silence. Too often we make them to lie for us.
But a good song, or a good old acoustic guitar can’t lie.

When I was a teenager I love-love-loved music. I loved acoustic guitars. I love that imperfect squeak the make when the guitarist slides their hands down the fret board quickly. I loved the way the guitar seemed to tell on the person who was playing it. It was as if the guitar could say to me “this guy is only trying to impress girls” or “this guy doesn’t notice you standing there, but we have a song to wade through.” It was beautiful.

I always claimed that I’d fall in love with the guitar way before any ol guy, and it’s because music portray something utterly different than mere words alone. There is still honesty in music. There is still artistry in music. …Maybe not all music, but the fact that it’s still there in our age is a wondrous thing indeed.

However…the other day (such notorious words, aren’t they?) on my  social media, I came across an article about why people don’t sing in church nowadays. Lipsync yes, sing no.
I knew I shouldn’t read the article. I knew I wouldn’t like it. I told myself not to click on it. I passed it three times, but ultimately… I gave in, I clicked, and I fumed.

Wouldn’t you know it? Not one of those reason listed on there was “They don’t believe you”. That wasn’t even a conceptual idea to those who commented in the article. Every one of the suggestions was more petty than the previous. It was astonishingly pale and pathetic and shallow beyond comprehension.

Let me make this clear:
Music is still alive. Sing is still belted out. When it comes from the soul, it is un-retainable. It will come out, wherever, however, whenever, as it pleases. Even when we don’t know the words, were into it. We feel it! We believe it. We are there.

Music hasn’t stopped reaching people.
There is yet to be every song written.
We haven’t even begun to get bored with sounds that come from ones core being.
Oh and…we ain’t done singing along yet. Believe me, if we don’t know the words, it won’t stop us. We can always hum.

So maybe…just maybe, it isn’t about the sound or style or loudness or harmonies. Because I’ve been to more than a few concerts, and none of which the crowd was silent or passively listening. No. Because when we hear our song, then we are compelled to belt it out. There’s no retaining the most honest feeling that one could feel.

Could it be that this is our problem? Honesty. Bare-soul music. Artistry with a reality behind it. Could be that the church system is so pop-culture that it’s turned itself solely to pop music and become the fluff that has cottoned the mouth and throats of its now listeners? Could be no one wants to waste more words on unrealities that we already suffer throughout the week? Could it be that we just don’t believe you any more?

Chant as long as you like, you worship music propagandist, but you’re just wasting breath. Turn up the speakers, get animated, fake happiness and a spirit of worship. I read it all from here. I can smell it from here. And believe me, I have checked my watch twenty times in last two lines, waiting for this nightmare lullaby to end. When this time is over, I’m going to get in my car, turn on my song, a belt out our lyrics.

If the “church” has no songs left to sing, then yeah…there’s always Dropkick Murphy. As profane as they are, I believe them. I feel it too. I’ve been there, and somehow they wrote my song.
There’s always my own attempts of made up on the spot as I do gardening or dishes songs.
There’s always the good ol’ classic Project 86 or Jackie Wilson.

I am not at a lack for songs to sing. I am not at a lack of music that makes me dance. I’m not at a lack of finding a soulful honest piece of artistry, even in our modern age.

Music is still being made. There are songs yet to be sung. There are masses still cramming towards that stage to sing-a-long with the band, and to sing their song. We are still excited to hear our song being played one more time. Our soul still listens for that song that we are compelled to sing along with. If you don’t know it, then there’s always silence. For it will come. It will be heard. It will break upon us.

Inspiration is far from finished. Let us try again.

Revival: A Spiritual Distraction

There is a misconception about the church nowadays. Luckily modern theologians are as perceptive as any of the great theologians of the past, and they have a figured out a way to explain this. Well, maybe more like many ways to explain this. However…the phrase “it’s not working, try again, and be louder” comes to mind.
But can I just say…the emperor has no clothes on.

Here’s an astonishing prolific circular reasoning of many or most modern theology:
Old Testament – Jewish have the promised covenant of redemption give to Abraham and his promised descents.
Jews fail in keeping covenant
God gets mad and takes away “blessings”
God creates New Covenant, New Testament, new people, and new Jesus rules (last one is unsaid but totally there)
New Testament – Christians now have everything the Jews wanted, and anything else they want God will probably give them
New Testament = New Covenant = Never, ever, ever can break this covenant because it’s grace, so God will put up with our shit until Jesus comes back flaming hot mad at the world for not realizing how great we are. …I mean…how great God is.

Problems?

The reality is Christian came from Hebraic roots (Judaism, but older than the Talmud).  But Not long after Jesus left for heaven, certain “forefathers” made Christian more Greek than Jewish, more modern-culture relevant than ancient-continuing-story relevant. And ultimately…
We’ve taken the Jewish promises, then acted exactly like them. Including the reasons why “church forefathers” say that the Jews lost out on the “old covenant”, but Christendom acts like we’re totally different and nothing like the Jews of the Bible.

Wrong.

The modern church is exactly like what Jesus dealt with in his day. It’s exactly like what Moses dealt with in his day. It’s exactly like what Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah dealt with in their day.
And if we’re exactly the same…then why do we think they lost out, but God will always “keep his deal” with us?

Because for everyone who believes the “church forefathers” over the the forefathers of our faith (Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Jesus, the prophets, the saints of the Bible. Hebrews chapter of 11, ect.), then they became what they despised. Because that’s all they focused on.

“The church” wanted to say it’s the new Israel, so God let them. God let them walk the same path, fall into the same holes, tell themselves the same pious lies, take on the same blindness, and ultimately the have the same hope of repentance, redemption, and restoration…However we’re all too busy with our “God stuff” to need God.

Why do I bring this up? Because it’s terrible to watch these Christians praying for revival, preaching of a coming persecution,  waiting for a someday when the Messiah will come (the only difference being we add an “again” to our story), and thinking this is utterly different than the stories of the Bible. The good stories, the bad stories, the repetitive cycles stories. We are still there, but we speak like we’re SO different. We’re not.

As a matter of fact, that thing that calls itself church is exactly like when God talks about Jerusalem and then describes her as if she was Babylon. But we still think that’s a story about them…over there. Those guys.
In the Bible, Israel had these times where it still called itself Israel but it didn’t know about  honoring God, the covenant, the law, and the scriptures where lost somewhere. They were living their lives, doing their practices, and thinking this is how its always been done. They thought they were practicing the same things as their forefathers, but the truth was most of Israel was acting like the modern cultures them.  They didn’t understand who God created them to be. They didn’t understand the importance of their specific story.

We are there. We are a lost people who are still practicing things that have nothing to do with our forefathers faith. We don’t know who we are …or why we are.

But Daniel, a truly righteous man, identified himself with the sins of his people, and he stood in the gap and prayed “we have sinned against you”.  Yet under this “new covenant” we don’t give a crap. Your sin, your problem.

But it bothers me.

I pray that God would forgive us for partaking in the sins of our forefathers. and then… I don’t. I attempt to not repeat the same mindset and the same practices. I find so much of my theology in Hebrews 11.

 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.

There is no old and new in the Bible. Neither testament, covenant, God, promise, law …it’s all eternal, a continuing story. We are part of their faith, if we open up our hearts to receive this. These saints & forefathers who lives their lives in their day, did their part, and they wait on us to receive this legacy and to carry it on, in our day, through our lives, and to do our part.
Otherwise… well…it’s in the Bible what happens when we ignore God and his call.

Revival, persecution, denominational dogmatic doctrine will not be our saving graces. It will not be the sign of the times. It will not promote the kingdom of God. These are distractions.
Living our lives. Joining the faith and living like it’s important to complete the journey that the forefathers of faith began – That’s what’s important. That’s what we should be striving for, praying for, looking to obtain.

Look up! Set your eyes to the hills.
Remember who your forefathers truly are. Find your story. Live it.

 

Form vs Function

If we were people who we really interested in living like Jesus, what would that look like?

“Blessed is he who takes no offense on account of me.”

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.

Luke 7:33-35

Our piety does not surrender us to the humbleness of allowing ourselves to look like “a glutton and a drunkard”  instead we tend to be people who find our Godliness in fasting and prayer. But it’s amazing who Jesus often identifies himself with.

Many of us like a religion which permits us to be individuals who can learn, perceive, and enjoy God in a way of “personal experience”.  We like to conquer our ideals of God, moral, and doctrine without taking into account those around us. We find the nicest Jesus jeans in our preferred style, and we slip them on. We look good, and we feel confident. What could be better?

Form vs Function.

Jesus seems to have this crazy idea that the Laws of God are about helping people come into fullness. We perceive the Laws of God as borders. Instead of growing into fullness, we grow into the Laws of God. …or in modern day Christianity we grow into the acceptable practices of our local congregation or denomination.

In fitness, there’s a debate about form vs function. Many people workout to achieve a specific form and to look a certain way….but other than looks, it holds no purpose, and often holds no commitment.
Other people have hobbies or jobs that are physically demanding, and therefore they workout to stay at the top of their game: function.
Idealistically, it’s better to take up a new hobby which is going to keep you moving and preforming and working towards a specific function. …But realistically, most of us just want the looks aspect.

Jesus seems to believe the Laws of God are for function…not a form.
Jesus seems to believe that there is freedom in living according to the heart of God.

…Yet…we look for our “spiritual growth” in things that appear pious. We look for spiritual fervor in outward dedications and declarations. We believe that the “straight and narrow” is a toll road. We do not think of setting our sight on the things of God to be a widening view. But why?

Who told us what spirituality and maturity look like? Have we based these examples on the examples of Christ? Do we base our character on the words of Christ? Or do we find it more permissible to follow the example of the religious people next to us? Afterall…who can be like Christ…right?

Maybe the truth is, you simply can’t master the things of God by way of “OR”. Maybe we weren’t meant to complete our spiritual based on our own individual experience of God. Maybe God created us to be woven together; those who fast & pray along with those who drink and eat well.

Maybe God created the quiet to interweave with the chatty and those who laugh nervously at silent moments. Maybe God created those with clean hands to embrace those who struggle with addictions. Maybe… maybe we learn from one another, and the stories that each of us have to tell. Maybe we find God when we listen to the stories of the brethren and allow our hearts to beat a little faster, a little more achingly, a little harder when we hear these stories.

Maybe we were meant to meet with God face to face, instead of just having one representative tell us how it’s all suppose to be. But maybe we didn’t understand this God is different. But maybe there’s time…