Carried or Borne Along to Maturity

Therefore, leaving behind the elementary teachings about the Messiah, let us continue to be carried along to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead actions, faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
-Hebrews 6:1-2 (ISV)

Did you know that we are carried or borne along to maturity?  That is what Hebrews 6 is really saying.  God is the one who carries us to maturity, who bears us along to it.  Like a boat on the ocean, carried along by the waves and the winds.  God carries or bears us along to maturity.

This also reminds me of bearing fruit.  There is no straining to grow, on the fruit's part.  

I was listening to Greek Scholar, Dave Black; on The Pastors Perspective program (Feb. 24th).  He and Don Stewart talked about the translation of Hebrews 6:1, where it says, "pressing on" in the NASB.   A better, more accurate translation, according to Dave Black, is, "carried along".  This is what Dave said on his blog about this, back in 2005:
In the ISV we made it a point to attempt to translate the Greek tenses as accurately as possible, even when we had to part company with the majority of English versions. An example is Hebrews 6:1, where the traditional "let us press on to maturity" is rendered "let us continue to be carried along to maturity" to reflect both the lexical idea behind the verb phero ("carry," "bear") and the author's use of the passive voice and present tense. So it is always a delight for me to find pastor-teachers who dig deep enough into the text to check the Greek before preaching. Here's a good example from a sermon on Hebrews 6 by Phil Newton of South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis.
In some commentaries, the commentator translated the text from the Greek.  In William Barclay's Hebrew commentary, for example, this is how he translates Hebrews 6:1:
So, the, let us leave elementary about Christ behind us and let us be borne onwards to full maturity...
My second favorite translation of Hebrews 6:1, that I could find, is the NIV, which says:
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity...
I like 'taken forward'.  If the ISV nails it, then the NIV gets it.

The New Testament in Modern English, by Helen Barrett Montgomery (1924) says:
So let us get beyond the teaching of the elementary doctrines of Christ and let us be borne along toward what is mature. 
I am disappointed that the ESV says, "go on to maturity"; and the CEB says, "press on  to maturity".  I perused many translations and the majority say, "go on".  I know it means we go on by the power of God, but you could get the impression that it  means that you pull yourself forward, from the majority of translations.

Christianity is not a self-improvement program.  God's power supplies the locomotion or birthing.  In Philippians 2:12-13 it says:
And so, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I am absent, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him. (ISV)

God is the producer of your maturity.  Holiness comes from God, just as the power of salvation and the power to heal.  The gospel is Christ plus nothing.  We get to participate, we get to opt in.  How far we go into it is up to us.  There is permission to go deep, but we are not forced to.

Look at the sail on a sailboat.  It can do nothing to make the wind gusts happen.  It only catches the wind and derives power from it to power the boat forward.  Good sailors have to do all sorts of things with ropes, sails, masts, and the rudder.  But, they cannot make the wind blow the air or cause the waves and water currents to move.

God carries us to maturity.  Will you get in and let yourself be carried?  Will you, like a good sailor, put your proverbial sails up into the wind of God?  The sail does not groan to attract or make wind happen just as the fruit on the vine does not groan to make growth happen from the vine.

Starting Late, Fully Blessed

“The kingdom from (of) heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing to pay the workers one denarius (the usual day's wage) a day, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock (the third hour), he saw others standing in the marketplace without work. He told them, ‘You go into the vineyard, too, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So off they went. He went out again about noon (the sixth hour) and about three o’clock (the ninth hour) and did the same thing.

About five o’clock (the eleventh hour) he went out and found some others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why are you standing here all day long without work?’ They told him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He told them, ‘You go into the vineyard as well.’
-Matthew 20:1-7 (ISV)

I have been to college four times.  I always noticed a few students who looked old enough to be grandparents.  These older people were walking parables of the idea that it is never too late to be a learner or to pursue something.

I recently looked at C. S. Lewis' Shadowlands, that told the story of his marriage, that he partook of later in life.  He was definitely in the "confirmed bachelor" season when he married.  The content bachelor answered the call to marriage.  He had a flexible heart that was childlike and said yes to a wholly new experience.  The great teacher was also a learner of something new to him.

In God's economy, people get jobs in the eleventh hour, late in the day.  These 'late bloomers' get full benefits and the same pay as the 'early birds'.  It does not seem fair, because it is grace.  It is sovereign grace.  That means the good king does what he wants and it is about him, not us.

Be encouraged that it is never too late.  I believe that God's answer in Christ is always 'yes', unless he clearly says 'no'; and God's 'no' sometimes means 'not yet'.  Many people have it backwards and live like God's answer is always 'no' and sometimes 'not yet', and rarely 'yes'.

The 'work ethic' was invented by God.  God has work for everyone of every age.  If you don't have work, God will give you work.  Standing in the marketplace means being ready and available.  You may not be engaged, but you are ready to be.  You have to get up out of bed in the morning, eat breakfast, get dressed, and go out.

If you consider all of the calling stories in the Bible, most people were already doing something when they were called.  A few people, like Mary and Joseph were called in a dream, trance, or angelic visit.  Only one person was guided by a talking animal.

With rockets, they don't turn on the guidance system until the rocket leaves the pad.  You also must leave your pad.  When you go out, you will find others who are also looking for work and waiting for the call.  You will no longer be isolated and depressed.  You will make new friends.  You will be a blessing to others and find God's grace for today.

You will find community as you wait together.  You will bless each other and be thankful.  Inspiration will spring up among you.  You will end up worshiping together.

There is no shame in starting late.  God's timetable is sovereign.  He can  raise you up early or late.  The pay is the same for both.  Late bloomers and early birds are both loved exactly the same by God.  We do not compare ourselves to others.  Early or late is not better.  They are just different.

You may feel like a failure, but you are not one.  You are a loved one.  You are God's loved child.  The goal is love, to be loved and to love.  That simple, that is all.  Love waits and love trusts its beloved.

California Here I Come

California, here I come right back where I started from.
Where Bowers of flowers bloom in the sun. 
Each morning at dawning, birdies sing an' everything. 
A sunkist miss said, "Don't be late" that's why I can hardly wait. 
Open up that Golden Gate, California here I come.

I am from California and I just vacationed in California.  I took my family to the Yosemite area to see my friend on his birthday.  He is someone I have known for half of my life and he was twice as old as me when we were first friends.  He is a dear friend, but also a father to me.  I don't think that 'discipler' is a real word, so I sometimes refer him as my mentor.

More than a discipler, he is a disciple of Jesus himself and we shared life together.  It's appropriate to call people by what they do and are, such as spiritual father or mother; but the most appropriate word is brother.  We birth and we father, but we are all brothers and sisters.  My older friend who discipled me would not want to be called the discipler or even the mentor, but brother and friend.  

I grew up into adulthood in a church where we were are a first name basis.  There was honor and respect and definately a hierarchy, but we referred to the top person, the senior leader by his first name.  Leaders we did not know as well were referred to by their first and last names.  A mega-church pastor who was the leader of a movement, same thing; and one of the most gifted prophetic persons, the same thing.  

In the New Testament, all have names (like Bob, Joe, Sue, Carla) and all are  brothers and sisters, in the church.  Gift designations, position, or status are descriptive.  We used to say, "elders eld", and "pastors pastor".  It is descriptive.  

Some thoughts about my trip though:

It always takes longer than you think it will.  

Google maps said 4 1/2 hours, so I thought 5 hours with a couple quick stops, but it took 6 to 7 hours.  I knew that we could meander and come home slow, but we ended up taking over 12 hours to come home, because of side trip detours.

Life usually takes longer.  Patience and endurance and persistence are called for.  If you don't have PEP, you will not make it; and these three run on faith.

We all struggle with this.  There is a saying that hurry is of the devil and God is patient and on-time.

Most people have vast untapped potential.

When driving through California, I see vast spaces that are undeveloped.  California can have it's best years ahead.  There is so much space to grow and an abundance of untapped natural resources that are not being used.  California's main problem is the people.  As the saying goes, we are our worst enemy.  If we would get out of our own way, we could thrive.

Life is communal.

When you travel, you have people you sit beside on the plane, if you fly, and you have cars next to you, if you drive.  When you go swimming at the pool, you will have other holiday makers there with you.  You might share breakfast at a buffet and crowded tables with others.  Or, you might be staying with new friends, in their home, and depend of their hospitality.

Our lives are vertical and horizontal.  We walk before God in love and are called to walk with and among each other in love.  When you step out of your house, you get to encounter others and you have the opportunity to do this a lot on vacation.  Life happens when we meet each other.  That is the primary way that people know Christ is through you.  

This is where your Christianity functions.  We have it backwards if we think we go to church because we are Christians.  Christians are people who have the spirit of Christ within them and shine it everywhere they go.  These are the people with Christ within them and Christ is salty and shiny everywhere they go in the world.

When we go out, there will be a reaction.  Your light should cause a reaction.  Your salt should taste good and add flavor to the lives around you.

Rickshaw: Power Source

But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.
-John 1:12-13 (The Voice)

A rickshaw is a mode of human powered transport.  A person pulls you, while you sit in a two wheeled carriage.  Rickshaw is short for jinrikjsha.  It is a Japanese word that means human power source.  The rickshaw likely originated in Japan, possibly invented by a missionary, to transport his disabled wife in Yokohama in the 19th century.

The picture of the rickshaw is a picture of what drives you or what is your power source.  What drives you?  What is your power source?  We are all driven by something and we are all empowered by something.

In John, chapter one, we are told that Jesus is the light who came into the world that he created.  The world, for the most part, did not recognize him.  They refused to listen to him.  They rejected him.  They did not welcome him.

But some did get it.  They welcomed him.  They believed in him.  They received him.  They trusted in him.  They accepted him.  For these, he gave power or authorization, the right and privilege to be children of God.

That is, adoption back into God's family.  That is, birthright.  We are now children of God, who are entitled to full inheritance in Christ.

This all does not come from human effort, or human power.  Being reborn, born again, or born from above is a spiritual thing that comes from God, through Christ.

When we are reborn into God's family and adopted in Christ, our power source, what drives us in life, is transformed.  Our lives are redeemed.  Who we are in our deepest parts is activated.  We find a purpose in life, a calling, a giftedness.  We have passion, given by God, for a purpose.

What are you driven by?  What is your power source?  Is your power from inside or outside?  Do you make it happen in your life or are you lifted by God and being taken for the ride of your life?  What is your purpose, what is your drive?

After Jesus rose from the dead, but before he ascended to heaven; he told his followers:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth. (Acts 1:8)

It happened, and this is what Peter said to the people who were the first to be witnessed to, by Jesus followers:
For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people—even those considered outsiders and outcasts—the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.    (Acts 2:39)
This is God's power.  The same power that is miraculous is the power to be His witnesses.  Do you have God's power, driving you in your life?  What is your power source and what drives you?

God is a covenant God.  Christians are under the new covenant.  Everything is paid for with Christ.  He is the door for our lives.  We procure our birthright in Christ.  There is hardship, suffering, waiting, searching, and baffled-to-know-better seasons; but it is all in Christ.  We are dependent on God in Christ.  That is the Christian, the in-Christ, life.

New birth is a miracle and we can only do things that are meaningful in Christ and by being or staying connected to him (John 15:5).  The Christian life is Christ plus nothing.  We don't do good to get with God or be righteous, but we do good things because Christ is in us and we are his.

If you are empowered by God's power, in your human spirit, and live out your life, driven by the gift God put in you, that brings Him pleasure; there may be people who won't like it and don't share your passion for purpose and who may even mock you, try to discourage you, or even persecute you.

A terrible conflict was happening in the Galatian  church that prompted Paul's letter.  In a nut-shell, a group of people, who didn't agree with Paul, that salvation is a free gift that is completely paid for by Jesus; were perverting Paul's message of grace alone.  This really got Paul angry.

Paul wrote that, figuratively, legalism is like Hagar and Ishmael; and grace is like Sarah and Isaac. Isaac was the miracle child, the promised child, conceived by the elderly mamma and papa, with God's help.  Hagar birthed Ishmael, through a bad idea from that same mamma and papa.  Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians about this:
 Listen to this:  it’s recorded in the Scripture that Abraham was the father of two sons. One son was born to a slave woman, Hagar, and the other son was born to a free woman, Abraham’s wife, Sarah.  The slave woman’s son was born through only natural means, but the free woman’s son was born through a promise from God.  I’m using an allegory. Here’s the picture: these two women stand for two covenants. The first represents the covenant God made on Mount Sinai—this is Hagar, who gives birth to children of slavery.  Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and she stands for the Jerusalem we know now. She has lived in slavery along with her children. But there is a Jerusalem we know above. She is free, and she is our mother.  Isaiah wrote,

Be glad, you who feel sterile and never gave birth!
Raise a joyful shout, childless woman, who never went into labor!
For the barren woman produces many children,
more than the one who has a husband.
So you see now, brothers and sisters, you are children of the promise like Isaac. The slave’s son, born through only what flesh could conceive, resented and persecuted the one born into the freedom of the Spirit. The slave’s son picked at Isaac, just as you are being picked at now.  So what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave and her son, for the slave’s son will never have a share of the inheritance coming to the son of the free woman.” So, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but sons and daughters of the free.  -Gal. 4:21-31 (Isa. 54:1, Gen 21:10) The Voice
What empowers you?  What gives power to your life and drives you?  Is your life like Ishamael's, a human, born out of and living  by and through human, purely human passion and drive?  God calls that slavery to sin.

Or is your life a promise fulfilled that only God could fulfill?  No hamburger helper needed or allowed.  Is your life a life of freedom and grace?  Is it a life that is a poem or a tapestry, made by God?

God needs our participation and cooperation, but not our power to deliver, save, or make-it-happen.  Did you know that God is offended when we, "take it from here", and make it on our own?  He wants to provide.  He wants to be depended on.  He wants to take care of us in every dimension or arena of our lives.  That is why God's name is Father.

Who is your source?  Who empowers you?  What is the gift of God within you, that drives you to give back to the King?

Sing to Each Other

When you meet together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All these things must be done to build up the church. 

Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts.

The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
-1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 (CEB)

I thought about this song by The Carpenters:
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
That song admonishes everyone to sing.  I thought of titling this post, "shut up and sing".  What if we sang more in church or when we gathered, whether in twos and threes; or with hundreds?  I do not have in mind longer song services, worship sets, or times; but the "each other" mentioned in these two verses, that are describing gatherings.

What is the purpose of the church gathering or the gathering, assembling, or congregating of the people in Christ?  The purpose is mutual edification.  Most people get that we are edified or supposed to get edified when we gather with one another.

Mutual means it goes both ways.  The edification flows back and forth, all around and throughout the group, small group or big group.  The phrase "each other" or "each one", means there is a back and forth and everyone plays.  The first churches were places where everyone could speak and sing.

Why singing?  There is a place for listening, there is a place for reading, and there is a place for talking or sharing in life.  But what is the place of singing?  Similar to laughter, singing is very good for our bodies and souls.

  • Reduces stress and improves mood.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Improves breathing.
  • Reduces perceived pain.
  • Promotes learning in children.
  • Promotes communal bonding.
The observation that the secular world loves music and song also gives us a clue.  We also learn in scripture that Satan was heaven's worship leader.  He might know something about the power of song.  Where there is the negative, on the flip-side there is the positive.

What if the church followed Ephesians 5:19 and had multiple people or all of us singing to each other?

If the gathering is larger, and there is a band or designated leaders; how can we keep it from feeling like a concert?  The stage, mics, lights, video, and fog machines tend to do that.  We become spectators.  For me, I need to get in the front three rows in order to engage, but we all can not do that, if there are more than 30 people there.

I got the idea from Brian Doerksen of, "level ground", where the worship leader(s) and the congregants are all on the same level.  Unless you are standing near the leader, you may not be able to see him or her, but you can see all the people around you.

The stage and the theater seating remind us all of going to a place to be entertained, to consume passively and anonymously.  When we turn out the lights, except on the performers leaders, then mutual edification is done for.

Mark Harland said this:
"...the church has stopped singing.  While the congregation is left in the dark under dim lights, stage lights place the focus on the gifted worship leader – or worship artist  – who has in-ear monitors and who sings songs in a key that best fits him or her...  The worship leader can't hear the congregation or see the congregation and "they don't even know that the congregation is not even singing,"
Dave Murrow wrote this:
As I visit churches around the country, I’ve frequently observed that the majority of attendees do not sing. They stand motionless, looking at the words on the jumbo screen. It’s particularly noticeable in so called seeker-friendly congregations. I’d guess that only a quarter of the men sing.
Dave Murrow also wrote this:
It happened again yesterday. I attended one of those hip, contemporary churches — and almost no one sang. Worshipers stood obediently as the band rocked out, the smoke machine belched and lights flashed. Lyrics were projected on the screen, but almost no one sang them. A few women were trying, but I saw only one male (other than the worship leader) making the attempt. 
We feel pleasure from the music and singing, if we can get into it. We might go vertical and feel close to God and God does receive that worship and there is a blessing in it. But there is no horizontal, which is what I see in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Corinthians.

I have connected with God through worshiping in the gathering.  But, one day, it dawned on me that it was strange that there was no horizontal connection.  Where are the "each one's" and "each other's"?  Where is the mutual edification?

Perhaps singing, worship, and praise is an area where God is not done reforming the church.  We need revival, renewal, restoration, and reformation.  

Sing To The Lord A New Song

Sing to the Lord a new song!
-Psalm 33:3, 96:1, 98:1, & 149:1; Isaiah 42:10

When God works in your life it is always fresh and new.  God is about redeeming us.  He does new merciful work in our lives every day.  New mercies, new deliverance, and new redeeming works call for new songs.

Even though we have and sing older songs that are good, we should have new songs to celebrate the new, and there will be fewer and fewer old songs on our lips, because there will be more and more new ones.  We don't throw the old ones away, but God constantly gives us new songs to celebrate the new things He does.  

God is always inspiring new songs.  At one time, each song was new, and celebrated God's work for the people of that time.  If you look up a favorite old hymn, you might find that the same poet or song writer, of whom you love their song; wrote hundreds of other songs.  Each of those unknown songs were new and fresh, new songs, at one time, and graced the people who sang them.

When we sing a new song, our spirit's leap within us, because of the fresh message of worship to God that the song puts in our hearts.  Since ancient times, there have always been new songs, because music and words contain endless combinations of expressions of worship and praise to God.  God created us with the endless creativity or our creator.

When you select a greeting card or write a greeting or note, prose, or poem in that card, to your loved one; do you write the same exact words every time, or do you say something new?  It takes some effort to say something, to write something fresh, but some people make the effort, and the receiver of the card is pleased.

The new song we sing is about what God is doing in our lives now.  It is about what God just did for you.  What new thing is God doing in your life?  That is your new song.  If you have no new song, you might not have anything to report on God working in your life.  You might want to look again and re-engage with God and find out what He is doing in your life and get your new song.

God is always working.  God is always redeeming.  That is what God does.  The Father is at work, on the move.  What is He doing in your life?  That is your song.

The new song is a celebration of God's redeeming work in your life.  What's the new song, now, for you?  What is the, "wow", the, "oh my", or the, "I stand in awe"?  Experiencing God will give you those reactions.  

God does new things all the time.  What new thing has God been doing in your life?  There is your new song.  The old songs are fine, but God gives new songs.  God is the living God who is active doing new things.  Do you see the new thing He is doing in your life?  See it and celebrate it with a new song.

Sky Links, 2-10-14

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.
-Isaiah 43:8

Are you curious about the history of communion?  Read The Snack We Call Supper, by David Servant.

Judeo-Christian Hope Is Rooted in God (Optimism isn't)  The Prodigal Kiwi(s) posted this quote from Henri Nouwen on, "Living With Hope":
“…Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom...."

Meet Donald Miller  This is a talk he gave two years ago.  Here is the link. I like what he's saying:

This past week, Donald wrote about how he personally does not connect with God through singing in church.
I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.
I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.
I used to feel guilty about this but to be honest, I experience an intimacy with God I consider strong and healthy.
It’s just that I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him. So, like most men, a traditional church service can be somewhat long and difficult to get through.
Remember the movie where the man said, "you can't handle the truth"?  Maybe that is true, sometimes; or maybe that means some things are better left unsaid, like if you are conversing with someone who has massively bad breath.  It is usually better to back away for fresh air than to tell them.

Many or most people seemed to like the post.  Some people were confused or dismayed.  A few were put off or indignant, including one who wrote on his blog that it is "spiritual suicide" to not attend "services".

Miller wrote a follow-up piece that was much longer than the first one, explaining himself; that was full of grace, humility, and wisdom.

Chaplain Mike at the internet monk website, had a thoughtful piece about Miller's two posts about not attending services.  This is Mike's take, from a Lutheran's perspective:
Evangelicalism is designed to work best at attracting people, not engaging them in a lifelong journey of spiritual formation, vocation, contemplation and community. It is, by and large, about breadth rather than depth and activity rather than reflection. In the more scholastic parts of the tradition, it is about learning and proper doctrine. In the more charismatic parts, the emphasis falls on experiencing God through the Spirit...
...It’s not Miller we should be criticizing. He’s expressing post-evangelical thinking well. He’s been on a journey, and one day he looked up and found that the church as he knew it wasn’t there at his side.
Chaplain Mike and others, see evangelicalism, in it's various forms as 'a mile wide and an inch deep', in many places.  It's not that way everywhere though.  Mike calls it (what people like Miller are doing), leaving evangelicalism.

Young Adults Leave Church Because...  Some people think that a large group of "church leavers" are the Millenials (teens to low 30's).  That's what Addie Zierman thinks:
The statistics are in. The millennials are leaving the church, and nobody seems quite sure what to do about it.
Her post is about cliche's that turn off her generation.
Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.
One cliche' that she mentions is:
“God will never give you more than you can handle”
Her take on this cliche' is:
We millennials may be a bit narcissistic, but we also know the weight of too much. We understand that we need help. Connections. Friendship. Sometimes therapy.
We know that life so often feels like entirely too much to handle. And we want to know that this is okay with you and with God.
Another cliche' that she wrote about is:
“God is in control . . . has a plan . . . works in mysterious ways”
Chances are we believe this is true. But it’s the last thing we want to hear when something goes horribly wrong in our life. We are drawn to the Jesus who sits down with the down-and-out woman at the well. Who touches the leper, the sick, the hurting. Who cries when Lazarus is found dead… even though he is in control and has a plan to bring Lazarus back to life.

You’ve heard us say that we like Jesus but not the church, and it’s not because we’re trying to be difficult. It’s because the Jesus we read about enters into the pain of humanity where so often the church people seem to want to float above it.
This reminds me of Job and his friends, "Job's comforters". I looked it up:
A person who unwittingly or maliciously depresses or discourages someone while attempting to be consoling.
Sometimes Life is Overwhelming  Mike Bell wrote a post, What About Job's Kids?  He raises the questions about when our lives are turned upside down.
Sometimes life is tougher than we can manage. When I see others in that place I need to learn to sit and listen, and not be so quick with the clichés. I also have to be willing to take off my own mask and admit to others when I am having a miserable day, or week, or month, or year. For some “life is tough, and then you die.” I find it really hard to call that “good.”
Have you read Psalm 102 lately?
"A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord." (NLT)

Life Is About Love and Being.  Children need to know they are loved, so they can rest in that love and become.  A child's foundation is to rest in your love.  Hat tip to Wayne Jacobsen who quoted Dr. Gordon Neufeld, on this topic of rest:
"All growth emanates from a place of rest.  "We now know that our 'work' as humans is the work of closeness, of contact, of attachment.  That's our work.  So, the default setting is for us to try to make relationships work- to try to hold on to mommy and daddy, to try to preserve the connection with peers, and so on.  For that to be released, for a child to be released to move on, to become their own person, for that to be there; someone has to take responsibility.  Children must never work for our love.  They must rest in it."
Dr. Gordon Neufeld on Why Children Need Rest & How To Provide It:

“If you do not change your direction, you will end up where you are headed.”  Rick Joyner wrote an insightful piece called Restoring The Republic, about the state of the USA:
First we need to understand that where our government is headed may not be where the people are headed or want their government headed. There is a growing disconnect between the will of the people and the Federal Government.
Prophetic Messages In The Super Bowl  Gene Redlin found or wrote down Johnny Enlow's  insights about the Super Bowl:
1) SEE Hawks dominate.
2)Isaiah 43:8
3) Russell Wilson- Why not You?
4) Richard Sherman gets a Limp
5) Seattle- Promise City for the 4400's
6) The 12th Man: Apostolic Encouragement
The Super Bowl was full of prophetic messages and I will comment on the highlights of what I saw. The Denver Broncos 43-8 thrashing at the hand of the Seattle Seahawks was extremely unexpected and there are important messages for us to absorb.

1) SEE Hawks dominate In my prophetic word for the year of 2014, The Year of the Catapult, I shared about this being a year with a focus on how to see. This year is Ayin Dalet in the Hebrew calendar and the Ayin is all about learning to see...
Read the rest, here.

The Apostolic Prophetic Elders (Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, and friends) released their communal word for 2014, which you can read here.

You Will Celebrate

Yes, you will go out with celebration, and you will be brought back in peace.
Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you; all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
-Isaiah 55:12

When you come out from that place you have been in, you will be celebrated.  It will be like a party.  It will be like a welcoming home.  Have you seen the videos of the soldiers being greeted when they return from over seas?  They are being celebrated and congratulated.

God not only wants us all to end well, at the end of our lives; but also to transition well, as we come out from and go into new seasons.  Some people have been suffering in a hard place for so long, that they can not imagine how they will get to the other side of the river, so to speak.  They can not fathom what a new place, a new placement, a new assignment, a new life in this life would be like.  They have been giving up hope.  Their hearts are sick.

Consider Sarah & Abraham or Elisabeth & Zachariah, who never had children; but got the good news that they would conceive, at an older age.  Consider Moses, who was put out in left field for decades.  I think it is fair to imagine that these five people disqualified themselves and gave up the hope of their dreams.  You can run out of hope, but God does not forget you and the plan He has for you.

To the most discouraged person who feels stuck, who has made a home in the transitional living space; God says, "you will come out of there in a party".  Coming out will be a celebration, a time of joy.

When we come out of the hard place, the dry or dark time, or the forever-waiting-room time; we will be at peace.  We have tried to be at peace now, to make peace with our circumstances, and it has been hard and difficult.  There has been a dying and we have sought to find resurrection life in the life-giver in our hard places.  Some people have been between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes.  Others have felt like they were treading water, while others have struggled just to keep standing.

Some have dreamed of running away to a different life and some people want to just close their eyes.  Some people do many things to distract themselves from the pain of a hard life and they scheme as to how to eject themselves into a new life.  Some of us worry and some of us connive.  Under pressure, some people deny their faith and betray people.

But, God brings us out of our hard places, out of our exile, in peace.  "Yes, you will go out with celebration, and you will be brought back in peace."  Peace means wholeness, a complete peace; a peace inside out.  When you come out, you will be in harmony, with a great sense of well-being.  That is the peace that passes all understanding.  It is the feeling, with joy, of answered prayer.  God will bring us out in fulfillment.

The encouraging word of the Lord here is that you will come out of that place, and when you come out, it will be a party.  When you come out, you will come out whole and fulfilled.  It is like the difference between  being hungry and being full.  You will come out satisfied.

What does it mean when is says that the mountains and the hills will burst into song and the trees will clap their hands?  The picture is one of celebration from unexpected places.  The picture painted with words is one of everything coming into alignment with God.  When God's favor is upon you, everything flows.  You are smiling and just about everyone smiles back.  It is favor.  You are God's and God's blessing is upon you.

There is a song that goes something like this:  "When you're in love, the whole world sings a melody".  If God has ever moved in your life, to take you out and put you in; if God has ever done something special for you; or if God has ever set you free;  then you know what it is even a little bit like to feel like the mountains and hills are singing or the trees are clapping.

The joy coming is a laughter in which your face will hurt from grinning so much and your belly will be sore from laughing.  This will be healing for you.  You will laugh so hard that your sides will ache and your heart will be filled, overflowing, with Joy.  God will break the chains that have bound you and set you free.  Your mourning will be turned into dancing, as God lifts your sorrows.  Yes, you will come out with celebration and then go in with peace.

God is My Fearsome Protection

The LORD is a warrior; Yahweh is his name!

The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
-Exodus 15:3, Deut. 1:30, 31:8; Psalm 18:34, Psalm 27:1 (NLT)

God is a warrior.  God makes war on our behalf.  God makes us into warriors.  God is our weapon and our protector.  God is the edge of the sword.  God is awesome.  God invokes fear and terror.  Awe and awesome are words that should be reserved for God alone.

For further study, these seem to be two good (scholarly) books on this topic.  I have friends that have read these:

God Is a Warrior 
by Tremper Longman III & Daniel G. Reid

God at War
by Gregory A. Boyd

Listen to these talks (I have):

The Way of the Warrior
by Graham Cooke

And if you prefer reading Graham Cooke:
Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior 
Coming into Alignment
by Graham Cooke (The Way of the Warrior series)

Sky Links, 2-2-14

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
Mommy Wars?

I read this post by Matt Walsh that garnered three million views and over twelve thousand comments on his blog.  In his follow-up, Matt wrote:
"To stay-at-home moms:
Once, several months ago, I wrote this post about you. It was a simple expression of gratitude for stay-at-home moms, particularly my wife."
I'm going to take Matt at his word, that he was not trying to pit people against each other.  It is funny how some people interpret it that way.

Who Are You Doing It For?

Have you ever done something that was complimented, then you were tempted to do it again; and if you did it again, you might have felt weird that you did it to get attention, or you were baffled that lighting did not strike twice?

Regi Campbell wrote about The Laws of Applause:
Everyone likes positive feedback. Everyone. Some take it in stride, some feel so bad
about themselves they can’t receive even the smallest compliment, and some soak up applause like the desert does rainfall. When Andy Stanley talked about this at a recent Catalyst Conference, he said, “there’s a ‘Lady Gaga’ in all of us.” He went on to share the “laws of applause”…
  1. What’s applauded as exceptional the first time will be expected next time
  1. Those most applauded for feel most entitled to
  1. Applause is intoxicating and “applause-intoxicated” people don’t make good decisions
  1. Applause is addictive. We start looking for it…we’ll even manufacture it
Once you get a little applause, there’s an appetite for more. I know because I’ve sought it forever....

God's Pleasure In Your Gift

Jeff Mc Q wrote about this same thing in a post called,  Feeling the Smile of God:
...there are truths in Chariots of Fire that are timeless. Like what Eric Liddel says in this clip (yes, I actually found a CLIP):

Within this clip is my favorite line in the whole film, a line I still remember even though I haven’t seen the film since I was in my early teens. Eric Liddell is explaining why he’s putting off a missions trip to China to run in the Olympics:

“I believe God made me for a purpose…but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Liddell goes on to say something even more , “To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt.” What an insightful statement....

Do you speak Christianese? I found a website called Dictionary of Christianese, where they research the origins of salng we use in Christianity.  One example is EGR (not the valve on your car).       EGR: Extra Grace Required.  Actually, EGR is 'Pastorese', something pastors or ministry leaders say about people.  The EGR entry reads:
A person in church whose ongoing spiritual and emotional needs frustrate the efforts of others to interact with that person or minister to that person.
Credit for coining the term is sometimes attributed to Carl F. George, but the originator of the term seems to be Dale Galloway.
• 1991 George Prepare Your Church for the Future, p. 105:
Some of these hurting members are bottomless wells who can siphon off all the love, interest, and energy an entire group can offer. If a church offers no technique or system for dealing with these people, whom Dale Galloway has called extra-grace-required (EGR) people, they will kill the group. Some won’t be satisfied, and they require more care than the leader can provide.
Many other authors have used this term, including Rick Warren, in his Purpose Centered Life (2002, p. 149). ECR stands for extra care required and VDP stands for very difficult person. I had a preacher friend who used the term EBH: emotional black hole, or black hole, for short. There is also VDP: very draining person.

Frozen Chosen

Did you see the movie Frozen?  I think that the reason I liked it so much, is that it had redemptive themes.  Colin Garbarino, a history professor at Houston Baptist University, wrote about Frozen's value as an allegory: Exploring Dante's Inferno in Disney's Frozen.

Facebook The Mercenary

Derek Muller does a great job in this video of explaining why Facebook is failing, while YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are serving users better.  Facebook is over-using the user.  In Facebook's eyes, we are all advertisers, to be monetized.