Sunday, April 27, 2008

More About Worship

(I wrote the following blog in my notebook several days ago and started posting it this morning with the intention of finishing it tonight. I just finished looking at Darin Hufford's website and noticed he's also posted another blog about worship entitled "What is Worship?" I haven't read it yet because I don't want anything he says to influence what I write. However, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend anything Darin writes so, if you'd like to read his blog, here's the link to it.)

In one of my previous posts, I referred to comments that were made regarding thoughts I had shared about worship. One of the comments was that instead of writing about what worship was to me, I should write about what worship is. I thought about that statement and decided to do just that. First, I would like to say that I don't pretend to have all of the answers but, as I'm growing in grace, Father has been showing me some things that has changed my understanding about worship.

The Bible does talk about worship and it's first mentioned in Genesis 22. At God's command, Abraham is taking his son, Isaac, to the top of Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice. As he and Isaac prepare to leave for the last leg of the journey, Abraham tells his servant, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5)

In the modern church, worship has been re-defined to mean singing slow songs to God telling him how much you love him. These songs are usually accompanied by instruments. I don't believe, however, that Abraham meant that he and Isaac would ascend the mountain where a band would be waiting to play while Abraham and Isaac joined the worship team in singing slow songs telling God how much they love him.

The next time worship is mentioned is in Genesis 24 when Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac. After praying, the servant met Rebekah. When he learned that she was a relative of Abraham's, the scriptures said that he "bowed down and worshipped the Lord saying." (Genesis 24:26) No mention is made of music or singing.

Several years ago, I did a word study of the word "worship." Using my Strong's Concordance, I looked up every word that was translated as "worship" in both the New and the Old Testaments. What I discovered surprised me and changed my understanding of worship. Of all the words translated as "worship," none in either the Old or the New Testaments had anything to do with singing or music.

The best definition I've found for worship is given in a little book called "Custom and Command" by Stan Firth. The author says, "To my surprise, I found that biblical references to worship taking place were, usually, quite unconnected with what you might call "religious meetings" or "services"! IT BECAME CLEAR TO ME THAT WORSHIP WAS ALMOST ALWAYS A SPONTANEOUS EXPRESSION OF APPRECIATION TO THE LORD, FROM AMIDST WHATEVER SITUATIONS BELIEVERS FOUND THEMSELVES IN, RATHER THAN SOMETHING WHICH HAPPENED AT FIXED TIMES OR PLACES."

I believe that is really the heart of worship. True worship springs out of relationship. It flows from a heart that is filled with thanksgiving and love. Because, it's an overflow, it will be spontaneous in nature. True worship can't be planned and it can't be boxed into a specific time frame on a specific day nor can it be taught.

True worship is personal in nature and will be defined by the relationship. Jesus said that Father is looking for those who will "worship Him in spirit and truth." (John 4:23) As we come to know Father better, worship will flow out of our love for him. Instead of being an occasional experience that we have to be "led into," worship will be a lifestyle that flows out of love and thanksgiving.

Recently, I experienced spontaneous worship that began when I received several emails from a friend describing the great things that Father is doing in her life. Worship continued to flow as Father set me free from some religious baggage that I'd been carrying around for a while. No songs were sung. No music was played. Worship just flowed and, when I went Sunday and the music cranked up, I had already been worshipping so that was just a continuation of what had begun the day before. Worship continued for several days after that in the normalcy of my every day life.

Father is wanting us to be free from an institutional mindset regarding worship. He wants us free from dependence on the institution to provide us with the right atmosphere for worship. We don't need a "worship band" or a "worship leader" nor do we need sentimental songs that make us cry. What we need is a growing understanding of Father's love and grace. As this understanding grows, worship will be natural and spontaneous and will flow from hearts that are pure and uncontaminated by religion and tradition.

Duma - Who Says You Can't Go Home

I recently posted a blog entitled "No longer tame" in which I shared about a movie called "Duma" which describes a cheetah's journey back into the wild. I found a video with some excerpts which I think you'll enjoy. The song"Who Says You Can't Go Home" perfectly describes the obstacles we'll experience as we learn to live in the wild.

I hope you'll be encouraged to continue the journey no matter what obstacles you have to face. May we all experience the joy of running in the freedom Christ has given us.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Grace Story

Last night, I was digging around in Joel's archived blogs and found my grace story posted there. Joel had previously asked others to submit their stories about how they had come to know the grace of God. Since, I didn't have my own blog at that time and had just recently met all of you bloggers, I decided to submit my story. I'd forgotten all about it but, when I found it, I decided to re-post it here since it is my story so I suppose it should be on my blog.

I hope reading this will help you to know me better. I've posted it the way I sent it to Joel even though I know that Father's grace has changed me since then. I could add to the story but I decided not to change it since that's the reason for this blog . . . to share the new things that Father has been teaching me and how that new understanding is presently changing my life. So, in essence, there really is no end to my story and all I can really share is different parts of it.

I hope my story is an encouragement to others who may be struggling to make some sense out of this life in Christ. Please understand that it's never too late and that Father doesn't give up on us. His desire is that we receive his love and he'll give us whatever time it takes. So, here is my story.

As a child, I was raised Roman Catholic even though we didn’t go to mass nor did we follow the Catholic traditions. When I was in high school, a friend invited me to her Baptist youth group. Looking for a place to belong, I became active in the church and in the youth group. One day, the pastor’s wife asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus. Wanting to please her, I prayed the sinner’s prayer with her.

Even though I continued being deeply involved in their activities, I really didn’t understand what salvation was all about. Consequently, when I went off to college and I didn’t have the support of a local group of believers, I drifted away. While in college, I met my husband and married.

Although he had been raised as a believer, neither one of us was a follower of Christ. Several years later, we moved to my husband’s hometown in South Carolina. His parents were very active in a local fellowship and, seeing this, I began to yearn for a relationship with Jesus like I had once had. I became involved with a local group of believers but my husband did not attend the meetings with me. I continued to attend and took my two children with me. Since, I didn’t understand grace, I raised them deeply in religion. After a number of years, my husband began attending with us.

In time, I began seeking a deeper walk with the Lord and, in 1997, while in a bookstore, I was very strongly impressed to buy Charles Stanley’s book “The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life.” That’s when my adventure into this life of grace began. That book led me to other books about grace. I eagerly read them but, for some reason, it didn’t connect. Then, in 1998, Father led me to an Assembly of God church. It was there through the pastor’s teachings that I began to question a lot of what I’d been taught. This pastor is the one Father worked through to teach me how to think outside of the religious box.

Unfortunately, he was very insecure and very controlling and later became very abusive. I finally had to leave the group and wandered several months feeling like a little lost sheep. I finally ended up back with the previous group of believers but this time it was different. Although I tried fitting back in, I couldn’t because I could no longer accept a lot of what I had previously believed.

Father later used a women’s conference I attended to get me to continue searching. I started searching the internet and discovered that there were others who were also questioning what they had been taught. I made some online connections with believers who encouraged my search.

Several months ago, one of my friends sent me an article by Steve McVey. I enjoyed it so much that I did a google search and found his website. I bought some of his books and began to devour his teachings. It was what I had been searching for all of these years. Following a link on Steve’s website, I found Grace Roots and other blogs and websites that taught the truth about grace.

As a result, I have grown more in these last few months than I have in all of the 30+ years that I’ve been a believer. It’s finally making sense and I’m now learning how to live the grace walk on a more consistent basis. I find it amazing that what made no sense to me 10 years ago when Father first started teaching me about grace is now making perfect sense. I’m so thankful that he didn’t give up on me but took me on a different path that ultimately has led to where I am today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Getting hammered because of grace

In the comment section of his blog, "Do we need another Luther?", Bino said, "I want to encourage all of you to stand firm in the freedom in Christ and resist the burden of slavery. Above all, I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart for revealing His wonderful truth to us!"

Encouragement is a gift that is sorely needed in the church. Several years ago, I read about an experiment that was done. The participants were divided into two groups and both groups were made to stand barefooted in tubs filled with water and ice. They were timed to see how long they would remain in the icy water before giving up. The first group lasted a very short amount of time but the second group was able to stay in much longer. The difference was that the second group had people on the sidelines encouraging them and telling them that they could do it while the first group didn't. I think this is a clear picture of the difference encouragement makes in our ability to go the limit in a difficult situation.

Yesterday, I posted a comment to a blog someone had written about worship. What I wrote was essentially what I posted in my "Worshipping out in the wild" post but it was shorter and had less detail. (By the way, this is a grace blog but it doesn't belong to anyone in our particular grace community of bloggers.) Anyway, someone else posted another comment today and basically hammered me. This particular individual wrote a lengthy comment and completely misquoted me. I was surprised at this reaction because what I said was mild compared to what others had said. I wrote a short response explaining what I had actually said and got hammered again. So, I wrote an even shorter response and told her I wasn't going to respond to her comments again.

I've got to admit this is all new for me. I'm the one that everybody likes. I'm the one who gets nods of approval and amens when I speak. A number of months ago, I read an article by Paul Anderson Walsh in which he said more people reject the message of grace than accept it. I was shocked so I immediately emailed my friend, Darin Hufford, to ask him if that was true in his experience. He wrote back and completely confirmed everything. He shared about how angry some people have gotten when he has spoken. I also remember Joel commenting in one of his posts that when he spoke about grace, he could look out and see the angry faces.

My experience and the comments of these dear brothers who are further along in understanding grace than I am makes it clear that the grace message of life and freedom is not necessarily a popular message. It may cause others to get defensive and angry. While not looking for the negative, we have to understand that it will happen. People will get angry and spew angry words at us. They may reject us because we've tried to tell them about a Father who loves them more than they will ever know. We have to expect it and not let it catch us off guard.

I think the important thing is that we continue to give love even if all we receive in return is anger and rejection. It's a difficult battle we will face as we learn how to live more deeply in Father's love and share it with others. That's why I so appreciate Bino's words of encouragement. There may be times when the pressure to give up gets strong and we feel ourselves weakening but when we do, let's remember Bino's words and allow them to encourage us. The days ahead may be filled with difficulty at times so let's be a people who encourage one another as we have opportunity.

The truth about prayer

Steve McVey posted the following video on prayer which is part of his 101 Lies Told in Church Every Sunday series. I found it to be a very good teaching to help me understand prayer.

Prayer has become nothing more than a way of manipulating God to give us what we want. All sorts of teachings have developed to teach us how to pray to get results. We quote scripture to God to remind him of his promises. We use the name of Jesus like a talisman or good luck charm. We believe that he's holding out on us and has to be forced to give up the goods. What an awful picture religion has painted of God.

Jesus said that it's Father's pleasure to give us the kingdom. He's not holding out on us. To be quite honest, I'm not really sure why some prayers that seem to line up with scripture are not answered in the way that scripture says they would be but there is no question in my mind that he loves us and is not holding out on us.

Father's greatest desire is to have a relationship with us and prayer is one of the ways that takes place. Steve points out in the video that God is always the initiator and, when we have a dsire to pray, it's because he's put that desire in us so that we can join him in what he's doing.

I want to take my focus off of getting, getting, getting and instead learn to enjoy and experience relationship with my Daddy at a deeper. So, I join the disciples in asking, "Lord, teach us how to pray."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Worshipping out in the wild

Bino recently posted a blog on worship questioning whether it's a personal experience or a corporate experience. I think that's a good question and in this blog post I will try to share from my perspective.

I believe worship is a personal thing between Father and his child. I don't relate to all of my children or my grandchildren in the same way because they're all unique individuals. I have a relationship with each one that is unique. In the same way, worship will also be unique for each person. Everyone comes to God with their differing personalities and will relate to him in a way that is unique to their personalities and experiences.

For example, I'm really not into music very much although, at times, I do enjoy the singing part of the meeting. However, as a normal rule, that's not how I worship. Even at home, I don't tend to listen to music. The funny thing is most people think I'm free in the spirit because I dance. The group I spend time with on Sunday mornings call themselves Presbyterians so they’re a quiet group. I'm the ONLY one who dances and I mostly do it because it keeps me focused since I can easily get distracted. For me, it’s not necessarily a form of worship.

When I was in the group that I shared about in my previous post, the pastor was big on singing and dancing as a form of worship. We were made to sing and dance to exhaustion and we were reprimanded if we didn't "worship" to his expectations. As a result, I was programmed to believe that worship was extravagant singing and dancing. Since Father has released me out into the wild, I'm learning how to worship in a way that's natural for me.

For some people, group singing is worship but for others, it's not. I believe we express the life of Christ through the uniqueness of who we are and it will be in a way that is natural for each individual. Also, it will vary at different times. For example, today, I may worship with a particular song. Tomorrow, it may be as I experience the beauty of nature. The next day, it may be as I experience Father’s love flowing to me through my husband.

Corporate worship will also be different for each person. I experience corporate worship when I get together with others and we talk about Jesus. After a conversation like that, I leave lifted up because I've experienced Father's life through interacting with other believers. Sitting in a room with a bunch of people and singing may at times be an enjoyable experience but, in my opinion, it's not necessarily worship.

I believe the institution has done the church a disservice by making worship a one size fits all experience. Each day brings opportunities to worship that are fresh and new. I believe Father is wanting us to learn how to worship in the reality of who we are rather than in the staleness of religious obligation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can this God be trusted?

I finally finished reading Pagan Christianity and I highly recommend it. I was amazed to learn how much of what is done in institutional Christianity today has no scriptural basis. Much of it evolved after the death of the original apostles and was not part of the life of the early church. Although these practices are now considered a normal part of church life, their addition has only resulted in the life of God being smothered in his church.

Since these practices are obviously not scriptural, it seems strange to me that the early "church fathers" would have added them especially when it became apparent that the purity of the church was being compromised. It really is impossible to determine their motivations. However, whenever we add to or alter the teachings of Jesus, the root cause is probably a lack of trust.

Although we would never say it out loud, subconsciously we question whether we can trust this wild, unpredictable God. We're not really sure that he can be trusted to take care of us or of the church. It was perhaps this faulty reasoning that led the "church fathers" to try to protect and improve the church by adding practices that looked and sounded good. In the end, however, these additions resulted in a static church that is no longer turning the world upside down. Instead, we've become a church that has settled in and grown comfortable. For more on this subject, I would suggest reading "Follow me!", an article that I've listed on the sidebar of this blog.

Since I'm a person who likes to be comfortable, I can relate to the struggles the "church fathers" must have had in trusting God. In the past, I've preferred the safety of the institutional church with all of its rules. After all, I knew the pastor and the elders were there to protect and take care of me. If I needed prayer, one of these super Christians was there to pray for me.

Twelve years ago, I started praying some dangerous prayers. Every day, I prayed Philippians 3:7-14 making it a personal prayer. Verses 10-11 read, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." I prayed that every day, sometimes more than once, not realizing how life changing it would be.

Well, Father heard me and took me at my word. He moved me away from the comfort of the institutional group I was a part of and moved me to another group. In time, this second group became cult like with a strong controlling pastor. In that unsafe environment, I found that the only safety I had was in Jesus. I didn't know what I was in for when I followed him there but, when the heat was turned up, I chose to trust him and stay there with him. It was the hardest decision I ever made because everything in me wanted to take off and run. It was only because of the resurrection life in me that I didn't. After three years, I was able to leave but life has never been the same since.

Following Jesus can at times seem like jumping off of a cliff into the unknown. However, as we come to know him through experience, we realize that he can be trusted. He wants to lead us into a new life in him but this can only happen when we give up our safety nets and instead cling to him. It's only then that we come to really know that he's been there all along even when we couldn't see him or sense his presence. When we jumped, we didn't jump alone. He was there all along with his arms around us and, instead of falling, he took us to a higher place where we could experience true life in him.

Crucified with Christ

I think this is a powerful video because it shows men "worshipping" in a style that is not normally done by men. I hope you'll be encouraged and lifted up by the men of Hawaii as they share about this new life we live as followers of Christ.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Worship - Darin Hufford

Darin Hufford has done a wonderful teaching that in my opinion hits the mark. I think the following excerpt really makes clear the fact that the church has gotten off track on the subject of worship and what worship really is. If you're interested, you can read the entire blog on his website.

"Worship in the Old Testament times was very different than it is in today's world. . . Because sin had not been atoned for and God could not live inside their hearts, they would worship Him together from afar, by sacrificing animals and going through lots of prescribed rituals. When they praised God, He could actually come down and "inhabit the praises of His people", but that's about as close as He could get. Worship at that time had nothing to do with the people's love for God; it was a commandment He gave when He took them as His people.

In the New Testament times, sin has been atoned for and God can now live in our hearts. God hasn't changed from the Old to New Testament, however THINGS have. New Testament worship is actually a "consummation" of a marriage relationship between the individual and God. In other words, it is not a corporate event, and for Heaven sakes we don't need a leader! Could you imagine if I were to allow a man to enter my wife's and my bedroom with a megaphone, stand over our marriage bed and give us directions? It sounds pretty silly doesn't it? This however, is a picture of what "worship leaders" do today, in churches all over America. Worship for the New Testament believer is personal and private. That is why New Testament references to worship say things like, "sing and make music in your hearts." Old Testament worship was exterior and New Testament worship is interior. Jesus underscored this principal over and over in His ministry."

Friday, April 11, 2008

The God of creation

It's spring and the days are starting to get warmer. The cold is gone. (Yes, Joel, all of that 40-60 degree cold Carolina weather is finally gone.) The days are sunny and bright although we're getting a little rain and thunder this afternoon. I'm enjoying the rain because it's necessary to water the flowers and trees which are now in full bloom.

Charlie and I love to feed and watch the backyard birds so this is a special time of the year as all of nature seems to come to life. One thing I love about this time of year is hearing the birds singing as they praise God, their creator, in birdlike fashion. I love waking up in the morning to their songs.

Father is a God of variety and I find the beauty of his creation breathtaking. I think the following video will stir up praise as we enjoy the beauty and wonder of his creation.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

Learning to be real



This one really hit home with me. As a people pleaser who was involved with the word of faith movement, I've learned really well how to hide my true feelings. Although I'm a pretty upbeat person who naturally smiles a lot, I can still put on the mask at times. Steve uses the word hypocrisy to describe this tendency. That's a strong word but it really does describe my attempts to cover up what I really feel.

As I'm growing in grace, I'm learning that it's okay to be me and to be honest about what I'm feeling. I don't express my feelings to manipulate others to do what I want but it's important that relationships be built on honesty. I've got a long way to go in learning how to open up but, when I look back, I see that Father has brought me along way.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Giving up regrets

I'm almost finished reading Pagan Christianity and I'm amazed at how much of what is done in the institutional church is rooted in pagan traditions. While reading, my emotions have gone from anger over what the church has now become to sadness over what the church could have been. The description the authors give of the New Testament church is electrifying.

"The New Testament church had no fixed order of worship. The early Christians gathered in open-participatory meetings where all believers shared their experience of Christ, exercised their gifts, and sought to edify one another. No one was a spectator. All were given the privilege and the responsibility to participate. The purpose of these church meetings were twofold. It was the mutual edification of the body. The early church meetings were not religious "services." They were informal gatherings that were permeated with an atmosphere of freedom, spontaneity, and joy. The meetings belonged to Jesus Christ and to the church; they did not serve as a platform for any particular ministry or gifted person."

When I read that I got excited and began to envision how wonderful it would be to be part of a gathering like that. As I continued to dream, I remembered that I had been involved in a group like that at one time. A number of years ago, after I left the abusive group that I had been part of for 3 years, several of us began gathering in a home. Even though we had all suffered in an abusive situation, we didn't gather licking our wounds. We ate together, took the Lord's supper together without a pastor and a few of us came ready to share what Father had given us while we were apart. There was no program and nothing was planned. There was total freedom.

Looking back on it now, I remember it fondly. However, at that point in my life, I was frustrated because of the lack of structure. I wanted structure. I wanted a set lesson . . . maybe with me as one of the teachers. I wanted the meeting planned so that it would move along smoothly. As my frustration increased, I finally stopped going. So, did a lot of other people so the group finally disbanded.

I've often wondered what would have happened if I had stayed and encouraged others to stay. Maybe, in time, it would have grown and someone might have gotten the idea to start another church. Or maybe, just maybe, we would have continued on as a group of New Testament believers who gathered in freedom. Perhaps our meetings today would truly picture what the scriptures describe as the life of the church.

Well, those are things that I'll never know since the past is gone and I can't change it. Apparently, I wasn't ready at that time but now I've grown to a place where that type of gathering seems very appealing. It wasn't perfect but looking back it had a lot of life in comparison to the static routine church services I've since experienced. At times, I wonder if I'll ever experience anything like that again. At this point, it doesn't seem likely but Father has a way of changing things in a most unexpected way.

Kent Burgess, a dear brother in the Lord, has helped me to learn the difference between living with expectations and living in expectancy. Giving up my expectations that Father has to work in my life the way I want him to has been very difficult but I'm now learning to live in expectancy knowing that he is working and whatever he does will turn out for my good.

I don't know if I'll ever be involved in another group like that but I do know that Jesus is building his church and, in the end, it will be a church without spot or wrinkle or blemish.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The word or the Word

Nicole recently posted a blog in which she asked if the Word is referring to a holy book we call the Bible or is it referring to God himself. She made some very good points in explaining that the Word is really God himself. Scriptures like John 1:1 clearly say that the Word was God so why all of the confusion?

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

This scripture has been used to emphasize reading our Bibles as well as scripture memorization. We're told we have to read and memorize scripture in order to get it into our hearts. That way it will be there when we need it. There are even groups that have developed programs to aid in scripture memorization.

I've never been particularly good at scripture memorization. I would try but it required more discipline than I could work up in the natural so I would always give up after a while. Over time, however, I noticed that I just seemed to know scripture. Often, when I needed it, the right scripture would just come to mind. I now understand that the reason that's true is because The Word himself is living in me in the person of the Holy Spirit and he has promised to bring to our remembrance everything Jesus has spoken. (John 14:26)

Psalm 119 was written for Old Testament believers who didn't have Jesus living in them. They had to depend on externals to help them live holy lives. Unfortunately, reading the Bible and memorizing it will never produce holiness on a consistent basis. They always fell short no matter how faithfully they studied the scriptures.

Today, we live under a better covenant. We don't have to hide the Word in our hearts because he's already there. Romans 10:8 says the Word is near us; it's in our mouth and in our hearts. He's already there! As we learn to live out of that reality, we'll experience more and more freedom from sin. Now, we don't read the Bible to keep from sinning. Instead, we read it to help our minds connect with the Word that's already in us and He keeps us from sinning.

Some people enjoy scripture memorization and that's good. For those who enjoy it, it can be an act of worship as long as they understand that the Bible is not the Word but it merely contains the words of Jesus. I absolutely hated doing it so, for me, it was a chore that I did out of obligation. It never helped me to grow as a believer. It just added another weight to my shoulders. Now, I can just relax when I read my Bible and enjoy it because Father has come with his grace and mercy and removed that weight from off of my shoulders.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spirit - Born Free

These are scenes from the movie "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." Spirit is born in the wild but is captured by cruel cavalry men who keep him bound. He escapes with a Lakota Indian who has also been kept in captivity and together they begin their journey back to freedom. The Lakota takes him to his home but Spirit never stops trying to get back to his home in the wild.

Just as this stallion's name was Spirit, our spirit is also calling us back to the wild. The Lakota's journey home also reminds me of Joel's blog post King of the Wild Frontier. I believe the music Born Free by Matt Munro beautifully describes our journey back to the wild.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wild children of a wild God

In one of my previous posts, I said that I had asked Father what it means to be wild in my everyday life. As I thought about this, I realized that I had a picture in my mind of what I thought wild meant. The picture I had was of something that is frenzied, chaotic and out of control.

As I thought about Duma's journey back to the wild, I realized my picture didn't fit what I was seeing take place in his life. Dictionary.com defines wild as "living in a state of nature, not tamed or domesticated." That is what I believe we'll experience as we learn how to live in the wild. It'll be a return to living in our natural state as followers of Christ . . . the way God intended for us to live.

One of the first signs that Duma was returning to his wild state was that he began eating wild food. He wanted meat from an animal that had just been killed. When Xan tried to stop him, Duma snarled at him and Xan drew back. Duma was not going to allow anyone, not even someone he loved, to stop him. Tame food would never satisfy him again. No longer would he be satisfied eating Purina Cat Chow and table food. Only wild food will satisfy a wild cheetah.

When we start our journey back to the wild, we realize that the tame food of religious sermons no longer satisfies. We want the fresh meat of the word that comes directly to us from the Holy Spirit. We want the fresh meat that the Spirit speaks directly into our hearts.

I enjoy watching nature programs on television and I've noticed that wild animals like cheetahs and lions do not live lives of frenzied activity. Instead, their lives are characterized by intentional behavior that is instinctive. Most of their days seem to be spent lying down and enjoying the warmth of the sun. They also spend time grooming their fur. If they're proud parents, part of their day is spent caring for their young. Wildness, as we think of it, is seen only as they pursue their prey, kill it and then eat it. Yet, even this behavior is natural for a cheetah.

To live in the wild means to live in what is our natural state and to do those things that are natural for us. It doesn't mean frenzied, chaotic activity. For Duma, it meant that he would no longer live like a house cat but he would now do the things that are natural for cheetahs to do.

The same is true for us. As we journey back to the wild, we'll give up the artificial world of religion. We'll no longer live lives of programmed behavior being controlled by man's agenda. Instead, we'll be free to follow Jesus wherever he might lead each day. We'll be free to be who we are and to do those things which Father has created us to do.

Others may not understand and it may appear to them as though we're rebellious or heretical. However, this freedom is only an indication that we're living lives that are natural to followers of Christ. Religion may try to put us back in a cage but once we've tasted life in the wild, we'll never be able to go back to the constraints of religion again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Darin Hufford's new website

Darin Hufford has a new website, The Free Believers Network. It really looks good so, if you want to check it out, I posted a link to it under Great websites.

An inspiring story of faith

This is an inspiring story. I believe this woman was able to share Jesus with the man because she knew her God not because she had been trained in witnessing techniques.