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Friday, October 28, 2011

Being Holy

I think the word "holy" has acquired some implications that are adding to its confusion. Although holiness involves an avoidance of sin it is not about avoiding sin.

In my studio I have a particular computer reserved only for editing audio and video. I never play games on it, never browse the web on it. The only software installed on it is the operating system and the various programs I have that assist me in capturing and editing audio and video. It is a fully capable computer well able to do anything a modern computer can do. I could easily use that computer for other things but in order to keep it functioning well for its purposes I do not use it for anything that could harm its ability to perform its dedicated purpose.

We too are are likewise set aside to be a manifestation of the redemptive love of God in the contexts of our relationships and responsibilities. We are to be in the world fully engaged with it but with a constant difference: we are the body of Christ that brings His presence into each and every context. It is wise for us to avoid entangling ourselves in attitudes or choices that compromise that manifestation. But that is merely an observable absence, our focus is proactively being the love of God.

Some would like it to be about sin management. I don't really know why but to be honest I cannot help wonder if it is because they are so distracted by temptations that they think this will help them stop doing things they know are inappropriate. And no doubt to a certain extent it works, but only by choking off the love. Love on its mission passes by the temptations often unaware of them because its busy with other things.

Some would like to make it all about what we believe and where we stand on the issues. I do not really know this either but can't help but wonder if such people are unwittingly trying to gain heavenly daddy's approval by adopting a system of thinking they imagine impresses God. Now to be sure, we cannot function in the world by faith without coming to certain points of view. It helps us get organized and be oriented. But love on its mission is more concerned with touching others redemptively than on the details that made it easier to decide what to do and how to best do it.

Holiness is about our abiding in Christ and reflecting His love. Whatever behaviors fall by the way side are largely unnoticed except when mentioned in passing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Regulating Sin, do I use the bible or look to Jesus?

The scriptures speak most eloquently to the new creation, the old you is irrelevant. The presence of Christ, the gifts of ministry to the body, and the breath of God speak to and nurture the regenerated life. It is not focused upon sin management but upon the generous grace of God which through the abiding Christ fully transforms our hearts and minds. He who walks in the spirit can afford to completely forget about sin. The scriptures point to Christ, without Christ the words would be useless. With Christ the words launch us toward the inexpressible hope of complete restoration and glory. To me the scriptures are an amazing artifact of holy men moved by the Holy Spirit, but I will glory most in the presence of Christ and in the love that compelled Him to secure our redemption. The glorious word pales in comparison.

More than programs, more than bible studies, more than theological systems and academic analysis of the bible, we need Christians who live in the presence of Christ and whose living reflects the authenticity of a soul fully engaged in the love of God who then involve themselves in the lives of others genuinely caring for their needs and concerns without a response agenda. Certainly people do require a certain level of clarity and understanding of what is the truth, but more than that, they need the revelation that God loves them, likes them, and counts it great joy to know them intimately. Part of how we do that is by being people who love them, who genuinely like them and who consider it a privilege to be part of their lives.

I enjoy theology but too often its nuances become the focus and distract us from simply knowing Christ and the resurrection power. The scripture is not our destiny it is a living tool that increases our faith in Christ. Even an accurate theology makes a lousy god. A faulty understanding that nonetheless brings us to trust in Christ will not fail because ultimately it is Christ who once fully present will make all the difference in time. Besides no human has the capacity to genuinely understand truth to its depth. We all will be somewhat mistaken in how we understand, but the One who lives within us is mistaken about nothing and He can complete His work in us without regard to our personal limits.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


It might be hard to get here frequently, my home was recently devastated by a flood. We are busy cleaning out the debris and figuring out what comes next. Water was 2.5 feet from the roof so the damage is considerable.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Faith is in Christ NOT in doctrines

Theopneustos [god-breathed] is a metaphor and therefore lacks any specificity. It is picturesque speech. What does it literally mean? No one knows though plenty claim they do.

I think the best we can say is that God is a spirit and as such he does not breath air. So this word is not referring to the breath of god. God does not have a breath except as we might speak anthropomorphically. So perhaps it is an anthropomorphic statement and if so then it is an analogy. Either way -- be it an analogy or a metaphor -- both linguistic functions are indirect linguistic constructs that do not make direct reference to a specific meaning. Both constructs function by leaving the clarity to the imagination of the hearer. That is how analogies and metaphors work.

Now speaking anthropomorphically, scripture is not the only thing god-breathed. The universe was "spoken" into existence, God said and it was so. The very nature of mankind is also god-breathed. Genesis 2:7 "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

So according to scripture there are three things that we can regard as God breathed, scripture, the universe, and human beings.

Do you want to know god-breathed truth? Then you had better accept the authority of biology, physics and the study of all things scientific. You should consider the various theories proposed to explain human behavior, be a student of sociology, psychology, philosophy , anthropology, political theory and economics. Then also include the phenomenon of scripture itself.

All three god-breathed items are self revealing and cannot be paid attention to without supplying one's own powers of observation, biases, conclusions and capacities. In other words, in spite of the supply of scientific data, human beings, and scripture you can never have any understanding of any of them without resorting to having your own personal opinion.

God can reveal these things to our perception but once revealed we can only perceive them and we alone make sense of them according to our capacity for making sense. Truth revealed is NOT synonymous with truth understood. That is the error and arrogance of fundamentalism. As useful and as authoritative and as credible as these god-breathed things are, there is still no room for a fundamentalist certainty about any of it.

We walk by faith. Not faith in a teaching or a fundamental assertion, but faith in the person of God whether understood or misunderstood we place our faith in HIM. We place our faith in the cross, not in the doctrine of the atonement, but in the event itself. It is what it is understood or misunderstood. I do not place my faith in the event of the cross as I understand it I simply place my faith in the event itself and let God worry about its "proper" understanding.

Christianity is not and never was a Gnostic reality of academic asserted truths. Christianity has always been the authenticity of the person of Jesus himself and the events of his life as they happened historically. And this is without regard to how one does or does not accurately make sense of it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grace understood

Leah Hayes, a casual friend, asked this question on a facebook page: "You have sinned and sinned big. You are caught in it no two ways about it. You directly disobeyed God about something you were certain He said not to do. There is no going back to undo what you have done. Now what?"

She was not actually troubled about anything, she just was curious what others might say in response. So here is my take on it.

Grace means accepting 100% of the ownership of your choices and actions. It also means accepting the fact that before God there is simply nothing you can do about it. It is what it is. The task before you now is to discover how even this is one of the things that the grace of God can cause to work together for good. Grace causes everything to turn out exactly as if it had been plan A all along even though it was not.

Grace so fully restores that it is impossible to ever know if the things that have come to pass were planned all along or if they were merely the redemptive dynamics making up all the difference. If grace did not work this way there would be no hope for any of us. Being godly means being gracious to each other.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Should Christians feel angry?

We live in a crazy culture when it comes to emotions. We refuse to take 100% responsibility for how we feel. We prefer to blame others or circumstances for how we feel. We choose to encourage and sustain a direct connection between how we feel and how we act. 

As a result we try to regulate behavior by regulating emotions. That is an impossible and unnatural quest. There is no such thing as an emotion that is wrong. And regulating emotions so as to not feel them is unhealthy and irresponsible. The only healthy regulation of emotions is to budget their intensity so as to resolve them wisely at the most opportune moments. Once you feel something there is no healthy or responsible way to deal with those feelings if you attempt to avoid or bypasses the necessary steps of feeling them completely, embracing them to own them as your own, and abiding in them until they finish their purpose in you.

There is never a situation in which it is wrong to feel what you feel. EVER! If you are angry, then you are not honest or healthy unless you feel angry. 

We like to think that circumstances or the behavior of other people make us angry, but that is psychologically invalid, irresponsible and an avoidance of the real cause.

All emotions are a form of non-verbal reflection of our private belief system concerning values and significance as provoked internally by our perspective and focus precipitated in accordance with our own personal biological predispositions. As a result, everything we feel is generated 100% by things going on inside us and are therefor a reflection of ourselves -- never of anything outside ourselves. 

For example, whenever we are angry, we feel that way because there are "things" we have come to consider over time as having a value and significance and for the moment we perceive those things as being treated unjustly or being violated.

If the "things" we value as significant truly deserve the value and significance we associate with them, then anger is appropriate to our perspective. Of course it also follows that you cannot be angry if you value nothing and it is also true that when you are angry there is something you value that you perceive as under threat of injury or injustice. So when you feel anger and don't know why that is a clue that there is something you value that you think is under threat somewhere in the back of your mind.

So what is the cure for anger? There is no cure, be angry. And as you embrace that feeling take the time to ask yourself several questions: Is this "thing" truly that valuable and significant or am I being unreasonably self-centered and inequitable? Am I tired or in some other state of health so that I am more predisposed to being angry and irritable? Is what I value really under threat or is that just the way I choose to understand the situation dishonestly?

When you are done asking those questions then own your feelings as yours, the result of your processing and hold no one else responsible for them at all. After all, no one else chose for you what you should value or deem significant. No one else requires of you to make sense of the situation the way you do. No one else forces you to focus specifically on just the narrowed set of facts that create your perspective, there are lots of other things you might focus upon - it really is your choice. And of course, if you decide that your perspective is fair and balanced and your assessment of injustice and injury is reasonable then celebrate your anger. How good it is to be alive and well able to have a healthy and excellent response to the world as you perceive it. Being angry is good, own it. Choose it, consider it your privilege. But own it as 100% yours.

If you ask yourself the questions above and decide that your values and sense of significance are not fair or equitable it is amazing how that can instantly alter how you feel. If you discover that your focus is too narrow and lacks honesty or that your perspective reflects a chosen bias or a preferred bias, that too can alter how you feel significantly.

But what should you do about it. You cannot hold others responsible for how you feel, that is manipulation. Rather, hold them responsible for their behavior and choices. It is a lot easier to get someone to take responsibility for what they did when you can be very angry and yet not hold them responsible for your anger. Your sense of control and balance might even win them over and place confidence in both you and your demand that they take responsibility for their actions.

Bottom line -- we feel what we feel because it is a biological sensation generated entirely by the processes going on inside ourselves and are merely occasioned by the things that grab our focus. And since no one else is responsible for what goes on inside you and since you have the power to allow different things to go on inside you, there are many times when it is wise and prudent to keep your feelings to yourself and those who love you. Regulate them by delaying them if possible to embrace them at a better time.

When you learn to do this it is amazing how much easier it is to detach how you feel from how you react. You are even more free to be angry and to feel good about feeling angry. It is an opportunity to reconsider your values, reconsider the possible imbalance of your focus and an opportunity to validate the high value of the things properly deemed as valuable and significant. Being angry when appropriate is a privilege. Seeing it that way is a choice. You can learn as Paul did how to be content in every circumstance. It is even possible to be both angry and completely at peace for being angry. There is a way to do it and to do it without stuffing anything or pretending to be anything other than who you are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The nature of scripture

I accept the idea that those who wrote scripture were moved by the Holy Spirit. I think the phrase "God-breathed" says a lot. The human authors were deeply touched by the authenticity of their encounter with God and I believe they encountered the living "breathing" God in a manner where He actually manifested more of Himself than was typical which was part of why it "inspired" them to share with the rest of us. However, what they wrote and what they understood was nothing more than the sense THEY made of the encounter.

The bible is therefore a book that allows us to examine for ourselves just how certain people responded to an unusual and highly authentic encounter with YHWH.

But this idea that the text is not only authentically true but also somehow inerrant or credible in every assertion, is just wishful thinking by people who are intimidated by the task of taking responsibility for their own perspective and therefore are hoping God will help them bypass the process of making sense of things. The popular view of scripture stunts our genuine growth toward God and makes us use the authors of scripture as our filter or mediator instead of taking up the opportunity to encounter God for ourselves first hand.

And today Christ lives in the believer. Talk about God-breathed! WOW!