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;

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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

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.

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.

 

Asleep Not Dead: Revival Alternatives

Do you that numb tingling feeling when you’re arm or leg “falls asleep”?  Technically it means you’ve reduce the blood circulation to next to nothing of that limb and it’s just starting flow properly again, and it kind of hurts, but it definitely feels weird and there’s also a particular coldness which is present the that limb.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot and how it seem so noticeable in the body of Christ, that when there’s a lack of blood flow when end up with some severe problems. Cranky, agitated ministries and ministers, numbness, pain, heaviness, lack of functionality. …these are all symptoms that are too common, and yet denied or “hidden” …as if you could hide such an awkwardness.

There’s a big difference between walking normally, and walking with a foot that’s “asleep”. There’s a strain and labor, where the blood isn’t flowing correctly. There’s an agitation when these necessary limbs don’t work just as they should. We depend on these limbs to function correctly at any given time, that to have a lack of blood flow, feels like being handicapped.

I often hear these phrase that Christians are “praying for revival”. But then when these people have described “revival” to me, it just sounds like what I assume to be normal Christian life. Could this be a lack of blood flow?  I don’t get the excitement of the body working like it’s suppose to work. What am I missing here? When did living up the standard that God has set before actually become an accomplishment, instead of just being the standard?

I feel like those claiming Christianity are so often keep with busy-work, and it has nothing to do with Christ Jesus or his words, and it has nothing to do with God or what he approves of, it’s only to do with pulpit fluffy and Christian author defecation of nonsensical busy work.  Something, of course, that would be highly denied even if it was true.
As a matter of fact, there are many times throughout the Bible when great men of God have emerged in times where the society and religious establishments said everything was going fine. It’s a few rough spots. Soon we’ll all be in a place of glory. …But this wasn’t the same message that was coming from God’s messengers.

Many of the prophets record times where the pulpit staff were acting in an untrustworthy manner.

Isaiah records it as “elders and dignitaries are the head,
    and prophets who teach lies are the tail;

The problem with this, besides the obviousness of a prophet who tells lies, is that the elders and “dignitaries” (according to this version) were never meant to be the “head”.  Yet this out of place order was so common that it wasn’t recognized as being out of place. Religiously we let ourselves and our spiritual communities get so cozyed up that we actually cut off blood circulation without knowing it. Then when we go to preform that function or more that limb there’s a deadness and a jerk, that happens instead of a normal swift movement. Our agility is reduced to heavy lifting of what should be functioning limbs, pulsing pins and needles, and slowness.

When my body moves like that, I know there’s a problem. So how can it be that something which claims to be the body of Christ assumes that it’s normal to have this laborious jerking motions?

To criticize something that calls itself church and acts otherly, is a humorous past time at best. But to realize there is a problem, and we each need to be responsible for our own part in said problem, that… that is resolution.

Please know, this isn’t normal. Revival, as well as wishing, hoping, and praying for revival …isn’t normal. Christ never instructed us to pray for revival. Stretching our limbs, working a healthy amount, rearranging our positions, taking in the proper nutrients, these are all healthy normal things that keep the blood flowing well. We do not need a quick fix, health-pill, because if we are the body of Christ, we are alive. We are well. We are functioning.

Stretch. Grow. Learn.

Why I Stopped Reading Most of the Bible

In my life I like to reconsider where I am and what got me here. I am here because I left another time and another place, rather literally. I’ve known what it is to move around a little bit, live in a new house, new address, new town, and smile your way through it. Several years ago, I moved home to the land of my brothers. It was time to change my scenery again. Honestly I came “home” in broken up and confused internal state of being. I certainly didn’t hid it perfect well, my disappointments and failures were known, and those around me noticed it well enough to label me as non-Christian, or fallen, or such things. I didn’t really mind at the time. I wasn’t happy with the whole program anyways. I’d come from the disillusions of an exhausted Christianity that was found wanting still. I’d learn all there was to learn. I’d done ministry. I’d failed ministries. I been known; I’d been ignored. I’d been played by the synthetic church-systematized machine and left out in dumps to find my way home… whatever and wherever that was.

God and I were at difficult place. We still acknowledge each other (so the speak), but I wasn’t really sure about the true character of God …and church systems & programs made me less & less sure. I made the inglorious move of vacating the buildings. I caught some hell for it (and still do). But I couldn’t scour through the synthetic to find enough air of truth. It was suffocating and I was totally willing to take hell over artificial perfection, which was indigestible to my soul.

I was really upset about how Christian represented God, and I couldn’t come to grips of who God was. I severed our relationship down to understanding God as Creator. I severed prayers to midnight debates. I severed the scriptures down to minimalist the Gospels only. I was definitely waiting on God to prove something. I didn’t know what but something.

Slowly I went from God only being the Creator to understanding that any creator is an artistic and even personal being. Personal remind me that the Holy Spirit is consider to be our counselor and friend, and I wasn’t going to deny that… we had some good times together in our past. Then Jesus… this was difficult. I mean, if someone wants to be Christian, as opposed to being Jewish or something else, Jesus is a necessity, but all these people who were this title of Christian (as comes from the naming Jesus Christ) really just weren’t what seemed to express Jesus. As a matter of fact, most of these people couldn’t quote Jesus some much as 5 quotes from Jesus. I heard about what St. Paul said, but Jesus was a foreign to his own religion.
Nonetheless… if Jesus matters so much, he’d have to prove it. I absorbed myself solely in the Gospel books which held the accounts of Jesus’ life, teaching, and story. No one else got a say one what this “Christianity” thing was about. It was me and Jesus going toe to toe, eye to eye. If Jesus couldn’t provide a legitimate Christianity then I was done here.

It wasn’t an over night process. Really it felt like it took forever. I had always liked Jesus before, but this Christianity stuff is so synthetic, that I serious couldn’t tell opinion from truth from ignorance. So there we were 8 months in the Gospels, over & over & over again. It took a few months to read it without Christianity-evangelical-super-filter interfering with what the words & stories were actually trying to convey. …a few painful months.

Somewhere along the line, it started to come through. I remembered that familiar silhouette of the Good Shepherd I’d heard about as a little kid. The one who likes kids, who care about the little guy, who has time for those who don’t even get recognized as important, the Good Shepherd who goes out and finds that one little straggly sheep. I remembered him. I still liked him. We began a new sort of relationship.

I realized Christianity is a religious culture didn’t have a lot of Jesus to offer, just to be really honest. To spend so much time solely in the Gospel books and just continuous read about Jesus over and over and over again. I notice a lot of things that I really loved about Jesus. Things that were lost to the systematic machine that calls itself “church”. I realized by following the rules and regulations of man-made traditions I nearly lost an age-old friendship, and the devastation of all of this has never faded to this day.

After months in just the Gospel books of the Bible, I knew I’d eventually have to step out and test the rest of the waters. I knew if Jesus could be real in the Gospels, then he’d have to be everywhere. They God that Jesus teaches of would have to be everywhere. I’d barely back to a reasonable relationship with Jesus and I knew I’d have to keep putting this thing to the test. I tip toed to the Wisdom books for a brief wandering, and then a plunged straight into the Prophet books, and then the History books. I avoided the most of the New Testament scriptures for a year or better because of the irrational abuses which we derived from them. I fell in love with the Old Testament and I made it my new home.

People had lied to me. They told me the Old Testament was scary, and that God was mean & cranky in the Old Testament. But I did find that. Spending 8 months in the Gospel books only made the Old Testament books all the sweeter. It brought beautiful tears that healed many relationship issues I’d been having with God, and it continued to unburden me from the man-made church traditions. I found God, and he was beautiful.

After a year and half or two years, I finally read not just the New Testament again, but Paul. Poor sweet St Paul had been so misrepresented by the church that I didn’t want to read him ever again, but I had too. It took Peter giving his recommendation to Paul before I even considered it (2 Peter 3:14-18).

These saints in the Bible were like old friends to me. I’ve grown up with the stories and scriptures from the smallest age, but I lost most of that when I realized how synthetic the church system is. If I’d not been willing to know truth and dig, I would have lost it all. I wouldn’t have realized how abused the Bible is in the hands of well meaning moralist people.

Unfortunately I can’t ever just leave things be. I had to know truth. I was willing to take the cost and condemnation. Precious friendships don’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. Truth doesn’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. There is a compelling need for more than man-made traditions and good-on-paper doctrine. To sacrifice Jesus to the modern Christianity is way too much to pay for a little hope and sparse community. Give me Jesus and keep your religion to yourself.

I need truth.

Afflicted on All Sides: Church and Isis

“We want more than the wars of our fathers” are some lyrics from Switchfoot’s song We Were Meant to Live. They stick in my head as news media proclaims ludicrous clips. It seems like there’s a lot of stories on the news about how people are “trying to join Isis”. Unfortunately it seems like many who are claiming to make this attempt are Millennials. Every time I ask myself why? In America, thankfully, we don’t know too much about growing up with a war being a norm of life. Personally I hate the thought that any child grows up in land were war is normal, and certainly God didn’t make us to be a hateful killing people. But it does happen, and this is hard to understand.

I think we need purpose.

Jesus clearly says that the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” and this is not what God is about. Instead Jesus make the statement, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Life being the very opposite of the one who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But it goes on from there.

Knowing that not everything goes perfectly in life, Jesus continues to explain, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.  The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep

Too often I find myself asking why those who call themselves Christians or even church leaders, don’t act according to how the Bible describes God’s people or act similar to God’s own heart. Too often Jesus is right, the hired-hand runs away and leaves other Christians to face all kinds of attacks alone. Some are utter devastating and fatal to our faith, and this just isn’t the reflection of Jesus… or at least it shouldn’t be. Yet for some of us, this is what we’ve come to know as Christianity.

There are horrific articles, blogs, books, seminars, and other public gossip about how the Millennial generation is lost to the church, and how the church mildly mourns this loss. But I mourn these articles, blogs, books, seminars, and general public gossip which seem to make it ok and a cultural fact instead of grave news that brings us utter sorrow. The more I hear of it, the  more accepting people of it, as if it’s merely how it is at this time, and there’s nothing to be done to change it or even to slow the loss of life.
These are hired-hands which flee in the time of our need. This is not how Jesus works. Yet too often this has become the representation of Christianity to our modern world. So much so that the news frequently reports that Millennial-aged people -who the church doesn’t care about anymore- flee this land of freedom to go unto Isis who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

That thing that is claiming to be “the church” but does not act according to the ways of Jesus, and does not reflect the heart of God is liar!

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … and I lay down my life for the sheep.” This is how Jesus conducts changing the world.

Jesus also makes the statement that, “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

I say there is a reason that modern day mainstream church can’t get Millennials in or to stay in their system. I say they know of voice of the Shepherd and what they’re hearing from modern churches isn’t it, and they scatter. and the hired-hands let them scatter because it’s not their sheep, they don’t care. Because you can’t actually pay someone to care.

But I do care, because those sheep are part of my flock. It’s not okay to say that the Millennials have left “church” and oh-well we’ll get em next time. It’s not okay to watch a generation be discarded and think that changing music or sermon topics is “the golden key” to making a difference. Sing what you want, preach what you want, that still ain’t the voice of the Good Shepherd calling out, and I for one am not coming to it. I don’t think anyone else is either.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Shame on any of us so-called Christians, who allow a generation to scattered then watch them get snagged into a death-trap. Shame on any of us who tisk at some young life that would “attempt to join Isis” but never pray for a generation that’s been left out on a hillside to die because we thought they weren’t perfect enough. Such things are obviously not the work of the Good Shepherd. Such attitudes are never heard from the voice of God. As a matter of fact, this is indeed the one thing that God said “never entered my mind“; Sacrificing one’s children for the sake of prosperity is never something a Godly church would do.

I want more than the wars of our fathers. I want life, and I want it to the full. It is not okay that Millennials refuse “church” who are suppose to have the words of life, but flee to Isis, a culture of death. I fear for the elders and leaders of the modern mainstream church. How will they answer God when they’ve allowed or even endorsed such things? That is NOT the church.

We live here & now on purpose. We Millennials are not a mistake. We are not a kink in time or in church fluidity. We will not find our purposes fulfilled in politics or surfaces scratching. We will not be distracted when the Good Shepherd calls to us, and we will follow his voice. We do not follow the voices of strangers, and we will run from them if needed.
I will pray the for leaders who knows the worth of the flock is in each of the individuals, and in them being together.  I will continue to pray for the confused scatter flock of this generation, but I will not for sake them to the wolves.

This is my generation.
This my Jesus.
but that thing isn’t church.