We’re Not Past the God of the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 – 1 Corinthians 4:9-14

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


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

To the Unknown God: Perfect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The easy way is devastating.

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

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

In modern words: go big or go home.


Sitting With The Silent God

There I was well adjust to my thirties…far from high school, and yet…feeling exactly like I was in middle school again. In the middle of the camp dining room, a room full of adults, just moments ago talking to friends, but the dinner bell rang (so to speak) and everyone literally turned away from where I was sitting to sit with someone else.  It was just my husband and I sitting in the middle of the room…alone.

We both felt the sudden turn. What happened? We looked at one another. That was odd. We were just talking with people, and now that it was lunch time, everyone wanted someone else to talk to? No one else came to sit with us. It was too coincidental. Was God portraying something with our lives?

It was fine. My husband was still there. We had each other. I was fine with that. …And then… my husband decided he need to take a walk. I didn’t know it then, but he told me later that the pressure and the obviousness of the situation was too much for him. He felt it too.

So there I was. A living monument in the middle of the lunch room, and no one saw me. No one ate with me. I tried to calmly tell myself not to shove my tiny meal down and runoff like an awkward middle-schooler. I could do this. I could deal with sitting alone in the middle of the room where two minutes ago we had friends to talk to and now… suddenly…nothing. I could stand tall, or rather, sit like a normal person. No problem.

Quietly I was talking to God. It was too coincidental to miss. “What happening here, God? No one’s sitting with us? What is this?
And then to hear in my spirit, “I know. How do you think I feel?
It was heart-breaking. I continued to calmly eat my food and sit there ever-so politely, while fighting tears from these impactful words of God. Then came the unforgettable words: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.

My heart broke. The Silent God, of course!

I finished part of my tiny meal, and threw the rest out. It was too much to ingest. I looked around the room more than once, and I didn’t catch any eye, not once. I was there in the middle of it all, and no one saw me. But to think…that I might have merely been a symbol of a God whom they didn’t want to endure, that…that was crushing.

Some months ago, I had posted about how I was currently learning about the Silent God (a side of God we don’t tend to like or believe in), and it was impacting then…but this! Hearing this: “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.”  was devastating… devastatingly beautiful. In that moment of hearing those words, I couldn’t believe that other people would miss this. I couldn’t believe that I was privy to hear the words and heart from the Silent God.
It was beautiful. It was honest. It was straight from a broken heart.
It was one of those moments that best friends share together.

I remember when I was kid, I always wanted my friends to be the kind of people who could sit with me, even if I was having a silent day or silent meal. Because best friends share stories, conversations, and share their hearts & lives even if words aren’t being spoken between them. Even in silence, the best of friends are still connected.

Yet we live in culture that promotes silence as being awkward. Silence in the ruin-er of moods. Silence is the killer of connection. Silence…silence isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Not always.

I haven’t recovered.
I haven’t gotten over a God who would say to me, “At least you sit with me when I’m silent.
I haven’t stopped tearing up every time I think of it.

How close do you have to be to share a broken heart with someone? To feel their pain as they express it. To cry when they cry. To sit with them in that time and not try to change it, but just to share in it?
How quiet do we have to still ourselves before God shares his broken heart with us?

One of my favorite Bible verses say, “He who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much. And he who is dishonest with little, will be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
God is seeking those who are faithful with little. The problem is, we have heard so much from a culture that says God wants to give us much …and that entices us.

The problem is we live in culture were dating is the same thing as having sex together. We live in culture where you can watch movies instantly and any part of the movie only takes two clicks to get to it or maybe just a spoken word (long gone are VHS and cassettes!). We live in culture where my husband’s coworkers ask him where he got his lunch, and they’re surprised when he frequently says we made it at home. We live in culture where we play little computer games during our dead time, but then we pay real money for unreal power-ups & instant-builds (and so on) in said game.

We live in culture that wants a form of greatness, but we want it now, and we’re willing to sacrifice some of our greatness in order to gain some instant-ness. We want to skip ahead to our favorite parts.

The problem is we apply this mentality to our spiritual lives, because it’s our everyday mindset. We don’t have time for menial task. The reality is relationships (including spirituality) are built on things that might otherwise be considered menial. Have we forgotten that in our modern world?

We need to practice being faithful with little in our everyday lives. Everyday we have choices to make. Just for today will we pick something that guides to healthier or more holistic living? Maybe tomorrow we fail. Maybe yesterday didn’t work out. But today? Today we could choose to be faithful with little. Today we could build a menial piece in our relationships. Today we could be a little more honest with ourselves.  Today could be great, or it could be nothing of consequence. And that’s okay. It’s only a little thing.

When greatness does come we will not know it, unless we are faithful in the little things.

It maybe a long, long wait, but… don’t be afraid of a Silent God.
Unimaginably beautiful awaits those who persevere faithfully.


Are You Afraid of the Silent God?

Maybe the coolest thing about going headlong into the traditions of Christianity, based on the Biblical definitions of Christianity, is finding a God that’s actually daring enough that it’s scary.

It’s great to find a relateable God, and the warmth of the closeness of the Holy Spirit. It’s encouraging to have Jesus as the Good Shepherd. But sometimes… God’s silent. …and it’s weird.

It’s challenging to spend years (or even months) building a relationship with God, and then all of a sudden, just when you feel like you’ve taken a big step of faith, God is silent.

Questions come and go. Advice from well-meaning people comes flowing in like a raging flood, and yet your heart says no to all of it. Suddenly these friends become your enemies because you don’t take their counsel. Suddenly you realize your in the midst of the wilderness, where all the great saints of the past, have traveled, stayed, sought, ran, and generally spent some harsh days & nights therein. You’re in God’s country…. and God is silent. It’s heart-wrenching.

Just like the book of Job, when we go through hard times, people have too much advice and too little listen. Just like the book of Job when we petition a silent God, nothing but the voice of God himself will satisfy.

Here’s the problem: When God is silent, you can’t just skip to the happy ending. When God is silent, my life sits in silence. I am not involved in a type of spirituality that comes with a fast forward button. I endure every last moment which I live. I have skipped none of them. I remember them; I feel them. I am not nothing.

Silence happens. …and it’s weird. But it’s not ugly.

Silence is painful. It can be agitating. We live in culture that everyone rolls their eyes at the phrase “silent treatment”. This is not a relaxing spa day, but a use of manipulation. Silence is known to us as bad in our culture. But it certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Even a long silence doesn’t have to be a bad thing, cause by negative reactions.

Certainly if we’ve spent days and months, and maybe even years into building a relationship with God, then suddenly we discover a time of silence, hopefully we’ve built a solid foundation in our relationship with God.  Because it will be tested.
There has to be a faithful God with a plan for more than our lives, but for all things. Otherwise… it’s all vanity, and the silence will break you.

Silence is like being lite on fire…
You want it to stop as soon as possible.
It’s uncomfortable to say the least. It doesn’t feel right. It’s scary. It feels like death. But we are surviving. We are growing stronger. We are losing things that we never need to be growing on our souls in the first place. We are transforming, on a good day. On a bad day, we want to quit, to leave, to give up, and to tell God that he’s not listening. Ironic, right? Tell God he’s not listening? But this is the reality of the unrecorded moments.

There is an agony to be wrestled, and not merely vanquished. Silence is the arena for such  an agony. If we skip it to get to the happy ending, to sing our happy songs, to say only good things about a faithful God, then we lose possibilities of being effectual in our generation, as all the saint of ol’ were in their generations.

We’ve never had to deal with anything quite so profound as silence. It is a discipline. It’s an endurance. It’s worth it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Silence has a lot to say.
There are lessons to be learned that are not easy. Lessons that are not in cute $20 book at the Christian book stores. Lessons that come from living a life, and trying it out for yourself …once in a while.

It’s interesting that as my husband & I considered our faith, and considered that saints of old, we thought: why not?
I am a big believer in learning from other people’s mistakes and life-lessons, but when it came to the saints, I found that what I learned is I need to do this too.

I found that believing in God had little do with what Christianity (as a modern day system) promotes, and actually had a lot more to do with things that are record in the Bible. Things that people say aren’t possible anymore. Things that were so 5,000 years ago. I found those things to be the most lively and livable things about Christianity, or any connection with God. Because God honors his people for what they do, what they live, and what that shapes them into.

We are not a people who are solely about doing or solely about being. We are a people who believe you must have faith and you must do works. A lack of one only shows both as dead.
It’s not a demand, it the fluency of life.

The crazy thing that happened then, was that we found ourselves in the middle of the stories that all the saints have lived through. And guess what? There’s is no fast forward. There’s a lot of time and life that happens between one sentence and the next. Between one paragraph and the next. If our lives were recorded as movies, there would be a lot that wouldn’t make the cut, because it’s just day in & day out life.
But when you’re living it, yourself, it makes a difference. Everyday is a choice. Everyday could be pivotal. Everyday may be an endurance. And you feel every last one of them. They are important to you, and therefore they are important. period.

This isn’t a story in a book. This is real life. Silence is not only heard, it’s felt, and we do not make light of that. We do not brush it aside for a glorious “someday” we live through it because there are lessons to be learned here. There is life to be lived, and felt, and challenged here.

When God is silent, I can’t break that. I can’t move. I refuse to exit that silence. I won’t pray my way out. If God is silent, then I sit with God in silence.

If I believe in God, then I must also know the Silent God. I must know if this is real, what’s it mean, and how do I endure. Because my life isn’t just about me, but so many people have come across this Silent God, and have been told to “pray it away”, to ignore everything that’s happening for a someday that’s worth paying attention too.
But these don’t sound like the word of Jesus. They only sound like well-meaning friends, who are actually giving bad advice.

I need to know the Silent God. I want to approach him. I want to be able to sit with a Silent God. I want to know what happens with a Silent God. And I want to know him without fear. The Christian life isn’t actually about comfort and happily ever afters, those are only tiny pieces and a great big story. A story I want to fully live.

Can it be done?


Do This In Remembrance of Me: DIY Godliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do People Matter in Modern Christianity?

There are echoing words of one mother who said to my husband and I “No one has answered him these questions before.”  We had the privilege of meeting this family, just a few months ago. The parents had long been raising their kids in the church setting. The oldest boys were about college age, so after nearly two decades in the church system setting, there were unanswered questions. The oldest son(s) had their questions about life and God and how are some of things to even be reconciled or what does it mean.  It was a normal day in the life of my husband and I, expect for those haunting words that came later. Those words have place within us a beautiful unforgettable wound, which we often consider.

In the Bible, when Jesus shows up in the public eye and starts his ministry of preaching and teaching there are these shocking words that say: “They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority.
Seriously? They were astonished at Jesus, because he spoke with authority? These people had many teachers of the law, religious leaders, priest, and scribes among them and out of all those people, you mean to tell me that the new amazing things was that Jesus spoke with authority?

Of course this phrase “spoke with authority” meant that Jesus seemed like he really knew the heart of it all. I wasn’t just repeating some other teachers which he had learn from, although it is historically accounted that Jesus quoted other teachers, writers, prophets, and the like. But even when he did, apparently there was still something amazing about it coming from Jesus.
In one sense, I love that! Who, as Christian, doesn’t love the idea that Jesus words were profound and heart-touching?
Yet in another sense, I hate that so much too. Where were all the teachers of the Torah? What were all the Pharisee, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes doing at that time? How in a time where they were hoping and expecting the Messiah to come did all of these teachings only boil down to man-made traditions that didn’t have authority? Since when do the people of God not have relevance, intelligence, insight, and more? What’s going on here?

One reason I hate this phrase: “They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority” is because it’s so easy to relate to today. We have so much access to information, we have thousands of Christian authors, millions of pastors, billions of believers, and yet we hemorrhaging in the Body of Christ.
“Your wound is incurable,
    your injury beyond healing.
 There is no one to plead your cause,
    no remedy for your sore,
    no healing for you.”

What’s happening with us? Why as Christians do we live in a time were children can spend two decades in the church system and have no one answer their questions? Why do we live in an age were the older generations have damned the younger generations, and don’t care if they walk away from “the church” which is supposedly the only life source, and in exchange the feelings are nearly mutual and bitterness has taken root? Why are people obsessed with ideas of revival and rapture, but have little to no instinct in caring for creation? Why are statistics the stories we speak about as if we do not know people themselves?
How long can this all last without becoming total decay and death?

Statistics don’t matter, because they are numbers added together. I write stories from my own life, because Life matters. People matter. Daily grind matters, because it’s a step …and because it’s part of our real lives.
We are the stories of which history is compiled from. St Paul argues: “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God.

When we get into something like Christianity and Christian living, or if you develop an interest in God, you need to understand that the spiritual does not obscure the tangible. Theoretically it illuminates what is real about the tangible, and therefore makes it more authentic than before.
If I say I care about God and God is important to me, but then I justify treating my husband like dirt because I was having a bad day… then I’m probably just a regular jerk, and my supposed belief in God has no effect on helping me see what is real.
However, if I treat my husband like dirt and then I realize there’s undealt with issue between us and merely gets to hide itself in “bad day” excuse, then I’ve let God illuminate my darker places and so me a deeper reality. …and I’ll probably need to apologize to my husband and see if he’s willing to talk things out. (This happens, thankfully not today…yet. Marriage is great!)

The point is if we’re so very interested in and focused on God (like many Christians may claim) then we ought to be seeing the people that are in front of us, and not merely numbers or trends. We need to be hearing and remembering stories about people and allow ourselves to be touched by their lives and comments, and not just statistics, scores, and popular sayings.
If we want to be people who wear the title of being a Christian, which has unfortunately become an ugly thing in recent decades, then we need to individually be responsible for being someone who God would be proud of. And I surely don’t mean that we should be more Christianized, but instead we have to do the footwork, we have to know what does God himself approve of? What does God detest? What is God’s heart truly like?

We have the possibility and potential to know these truths. We also have the possibility and current privilege to be ignorant and noncommittal. We have choice. “Not knowing isn’t an excuse for those who are willing to learn
The point is, we can’t just merely continue in traditions just because they are traditions. We can’t just perpetuate a system just because its still running (so far). There needs to be reality behind all this good-on-paper traditions. Then when there is reality, when there is truth, when we do see tangible people through spiritual clarity, then we’ve have opportunity to be a part of something that is God-created and God-approved. and that’s cool! That’s where the roots of Christianity come from.

When we live amoungst a people who have a wound beyond curing and injury beyond healing, I imagine it’s well-past time to reconsider what we’re doing and why we do it. When people can spend two decades or more in a church system and just learn the same thing over and over & over again, but not answer questions of a younger generation, then there’s a problem. A big problem. We need to check our pulse, and we need to heal that which isn’t dead.

“Woe to the shepherds who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; ”

“For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day”
They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid.

Ezekiel chapter 34