Friday, May 30, 2008

Spiritual Warfare

I just went to Darin Hufford's website and he's posted a blog on spiritual warfare that is incredible. The truth that he brings out is mind boggling and will absolutely set people free from a religious mindset about spiritual warfare that is based on fear and manipulation.

I didn't want to do back to back Darin posts but I really believe everyone needs to read this one. As you can tell, I'm really excited about it and I think you will be too after you read it.

Darin Hufford on The God Journey

Wayne Jacobsen just posted the latest God Journey podcast, Can We Make God Too Nice? This is an interview with Darin Hufford that was taped a couple of weeks ago. Here's Wayne's description of the podcast.

Darin Hufford, the author of The God's Honest Truth, joins Wayne and Brad in a discussion about the character of God and whether or not we can ever comprehend just how good he is. In his book, Darin takes the statement "God is love" and holds it against God's description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. In doing so, it becomes painfully clear that the God religion teaches us about is exactly the opposite of the God Paul wanted us to know. You'll enjoy Darin's heart and humor. You can find out more about Darin and his book at the Free Believers Network website.

To listen to the podcast, go to this link. I think you'll enjoy hearing the truth about this God who loves us more than we'll ever know.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our Sins Are No Longer Covered

Joel recently posted an excellent blog entitled Big Difference 6 - Sin Atoned vs. Sin Taken Away followed by another excellent blog entitled Underneath the blood? Both blogs discuss the differences in how Father dealt with sins under the Old Covenant and how he deals with them today under the New Covenant. Joel makes some really good points which I think are helpful in understanding the difference. While reading his comments, I had some additional thoughts which I want to post here.

Hebrews 9:13 says, "The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean."

In the Old Covenant, God put the sins of the people under the blood of sacrificed goats and bulls. This was necessary so that, when the person entered God's presence, he would not be judged with his sins. Although sins were covered, they were never removed. The blood of the sacrificed animals only made the person outwardly clean. As a result, the sin offering had to be made over and over again and, each time it was made, he was reminded of his sin. He was never freed from the guilt and condemnation regarding that sin.

Imagine having an argument with your husband or wife and, in the heat of the argument, you say things that you didn't really mean. As soon as you calm down, you realize how foolish you've been and you immediately apologize. Your spouse tells you that you are forgiven but, every month on the anniversary of the argument, what you said is brought up again and again. Month after month, you're reminded of your sin. The guilt is never removed because you were never really forgiven. It was only put on the back burner, or covered over, until the following month. The constant reminder of your sins results in confusion, guilt and discouragement. In this environment, true intimacy is never possible.

This is a picture of the Old Covenant. It's also, a picture of the believer who today who is really under the New Covenant but lives his life like an Old Covenant believer because he doesn't understand grace. The truth is that because of Christ's death and resurrection, our sins are no longer just covered over. They were put on Christ and nailed to the cross with him, never to be remembered again. God has dealt with our sins once and for all and he doesn't bring them up again.

Hebrews 10:12 says that after Jesus "had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God." He sat down. In other words, the work was finished. No more sacrifices were needed "because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:14)

I can hear everybody who doesn't understand this grace walk saying, "What! Me perfect! You've got to be kidding!" It may be too good to be true but it is true. That's what makes this gift from God so amazing! We can stand before him with all of our shortcomings and imperfections and he still declares us perfect.

Now, you may be wondering how this could be. So . . . let me tell you. The problem is with our definition of the word "perfect." When we think of something as perfect, we think of it as being without flaws, defects or shortcomings. However, that is not what Father means when he says we are perfect. His definition of perfection is to be complete.

I think this is a good place to stop for now and I'll continue with some additional thoughts in another post.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pact Testing procedures

I'm sure anyone involved in the field of education will enjoy this. I've been helping with testing for several weeks so this really spoke to me. Also, I think it's a great analogy about how the system can become so important that the people who are supposedly being served are sacrificed to protect it.

Severe Weather Testing Protocols

1. Should a severe weather situation occur during testing, please remain calm. To display any kind of anxiety would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

2. Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

3. Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.

4. Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.

5. Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.

6. Should gale force winds ensue, please have everyone stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts, being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly.

7. If any student gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing and of course make sure they leave their answer sheets and test booklets behind. You will have to account for those.

8. Should a funnel cloud pick you, the test administrator, up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should never leave your hands.

9. When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests unless of course they have been through standardized test training.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Who Am I - Casting Crowns

Kent Burgess posted this video on The God Journey forum. I've seen it before so some of you may have seen it also. However, I think it's a really neat video and well worth seeing again so I decided to post it here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Amazing Grace

In an attempt to get back some credibility after Joel's corrupting influence, I decided to post this video.

Seriously, I really love bagpipes and I think they add so much to this song. This is the ending scene from the movie Amazing Grace and I think it's just awesome. If anyone hasn't seen this movie about William Wilberforce's struggle to ban slavery throughout the British Empire, I highly recommend it.

It's a very inspiring movie. I think it's a great analogy regarding our slavery to the law and how Christ suffered and died so that we could be free. That really is amazing grace.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Experiencing the Unexpected

I've been planning to post this for a few days but life got a little busy. I want to share with all of you the unusual way Father has chosen to act in my life. I didn't think I'd be posting a third blog about Twisted Sister but here it is. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the background of the story, Joel and I recently had a running conversation about a video he posted about a year ago. It was of a group called Twisted Sister singing "We're Not Gonna Take It." For those who are unfamiliar with them, Twisted Sister is a heavy metal group who perform in typical heavy metal fashion.

While Joel and I were having a great time joking with one another about this video, Father was working in me through it. Who would have thought it possible that his life could be shown in this prim and proper grandmother through a heavy metal group?

Through the years, I've acquired many different masks in my attempt to be perfect. I've always been the nice person who does nice things. I've never been the type of person to rock the boat. It has always been much easier to just go along than to allow myself the freedom to be me. That all changed about ten years ago when I began this exciting but sometimes very uncomfortable journey outside of the box of religion.

All of a sudden, I found myself doing things that I knew would ruffle some feathers. For example, I stopped doing a lot of religious activities because they kept me from fully experiencing the life of Christ in me. Also, I started connecting with people who I knew were not accepted by mainstream Christianity. Life has definitely changed as I'm learning to live as a free believer in Christ.

As these changes have taken place, I have sensed that others are disappointed in me because I'm no longer trying to fulfill their expectations. As one time, I would have been devastated to the point of inaction or even have turned back to avoid any conflict. However, as I've sensed their disappointment, I have also sensed Father's pleasure as I'm more and more becoming the woman he created me to be.

Like God, we all have many different facets to who we are. While some may be stronger than others, we can't put ourselves in a box and say this is the way we always are and that we never change. As we live this adventure we call life, we need to be free to do the unexpected. We need to allow ourselves to dream and then be willing to do those things that are in our heart but that may seem totally out of character. In other words, we need to allow the various facets of our personalities to be expressed freely. While in a lot of ways, my personality is rather prim and proper, I'm beginning to see the other facets coming out as Father is removing the many masks that I've been wearing.

Now, back to Twisted Sister. In my last post, I explained why I was so fascinated by this video. That explanation put it back into a normal realm for me but then I did something that was totally out of character for me. I actually posted it on my blog for all the world to see and, by doing that, in some ways linking myself to this group.

The strange thing is that I haven't once been concerned about what people would think about me as I would have been in the past. I posted the video Sunday morning and noticed that, all that day, there was a freedom in my speech and actions that I knew hadn't been there before. It seemed like the life of Christ in me was now able to flow out more freely. The result was a greater expression of love, joy and peace.

Who would have thought that one rather unusual group could have affected me so much? It just proves to me that God is the God of the unexpected and that I can't put him in a box. Also, I'm his daughter and I can't put myself in a box either. I don't expect to turn into a lover of heavy metal or a follower of Twisted Sister. I still prefer to listen to Sandi Patty and Willie Nelson. However, a revelation of Christ's life is often found in the most unexpected places and in order for me to experience the fullness of his life, I have to be willing to expect the unexpected.

So, Joel, thanks for posting that video. You did good, Little Brother. And, yes, that song still goes through my head at times and I've even re-watched both videos.

To read the related posts, go to the following links:

It's a Sin

Super Mario Bros. - We're Not Gonna Take It!

Thanks (?), Little Brother

I Really Haven't Lost It

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Really Haven't Lost It

For all of my friends who read my blog, I really haven't lost it. If you read my previous post, I know you're wondering about me and, if you've stayed around long enough to read this one, I'll explain the reason for my sudden out of character interest in Twisted Sister's song "We're Not Gonna Take It."

The words of that song really speak to me as long as I ignore the strange hair-dos and bad make-up. If you've been around here long, you know that my heart's desire is to learn how to live out in the wild with Jesus outside of the influence of religion. For too many years, religion had held me in bondage. It's told me that I could never be good enough to please God so I had to do an endless string of works hoping that in the end I had done enough to please Him but I was never sure I had done enough.

Religion told me what I could and couldn't do. It gave me rules about reading my Bible, prayer, worship and "church" attendance. It told me how much to give and where to give. The list of rules goes on and on. I tried my best to keep them all but I always was left feeling like I couldn't measure up. I read books and listened to tapes hoping to find the secret to how to live a good Christian life. While I usually felt better for a while, eventually the good feeling would leave and I knew that I still hadn't found the answer. It was a cycle that left me discouraged and defeated because I just knew that I should be doing better.

In the middle of all this, Father began to teach me about his grace. He showed me that Jesus had already done everything that needed to be done. All I need to do is allow Jesus to live his life in me and through me. No more striving and struggling to win Father's approval because I already have it. He loves me unconditionally. He showed me that I didn't do anything to win his love and there is nothing I can do to lose his love.

I no longer have to do. I'm now free to just be, to be his daughter and allow him to love me freely. That revelation has changed my life. The regular members of this grace community have played a major part in helping me to understand this awesome gift of grace as have Steve McVey and Darin Hufford.

Darin Hufford has an awesome sermon called "Into the Wild." I know I talk about Darin a lot but, in the year that I've known him, his teachings have revolutionized my life. In this particular sermon, he talks about a pet hamster he had as a child named Brownie. One day, Brownie escaped and was missing for several weeks. Darin's father told the family that if they found Brownie they would have to put him down because he would be wild. Darin was shocked and didn't believe it. When they finally found him, the family rushed to where he was. Instead of being the gentle family pet, Brownie stood up and snarled at them and they had to put him down. Brownie had tasted freedom and wasn't going to let anyone put him back in captivity. He was determined to fight to maintain his freedom

At the end of this story, Darin tells us that if anyone tries to put us under bondage to religion again, that he wants us to become the meanest, nastiest hamster anyone has ever seen. I think about that story often. Twisted Sister in their own strange way are singing the words that my heart is singing. I've tasted freedom. I've lived out in the wild and I refuse to go back into bondage.

The chorus to their song says:

We're not gonna take it!
No! We ain't gonna take it!
We're not gonna take it any more!

I'm going to be bold here and post the original uncut version that Joel posted on his blog. So here's Twisted Sister encouraging us to never allow anything to keep us in bondage.

Were Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister

Thanks (?), Little Brother

My little brother, Joel, is on a campaign to totally corrupt this 61 year old grandmother and his plot seems to be working. Today, he came out publicly and shared his plan with us.

Here's the background to this sad tale. Last Sunday morning while my husband and I were making our weekly pilgrimage to the "church" building, a familiar sounding song came on the radio. I remembered it from a video Joel had posted about a year ago. It's "We're Not Gonna Take It" by a lovely (?) looking group called Twisted Sister. Well, I was just enjoying the song and singing along in my head when Hubby decided to change the station. I told him to put it back on. He did but gave me a strange look. I'm sure he was thinking I had lost it. Remember, this is the woman who likes Willie Nelson and Sandi Patty. I've also been known to occasionally listen to opera.

I shared this strange out of character incident with Joel in the comment section of his It's a Sin post. I later told him that this song had been going through my head all day and occasionally I would actually sing the chorus out loud. That's when he revealed his nefarious plot to corrupt me. His plan is revealed in a post he made today. To make matters worse, he posted a new video of this song performed by the seemingly innocent members of the Nintendo game, Luigi and Mario. To read about Joel's shocking revelation and to watch the innocent (?) Nintendo characters, follow this link. To view the original uncut version by Twisted Sister that started all this, follow this link. (If you dare.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Free to Love

I work in a public high school and, while our kids for the most part aren't terrible, a large number of them do have behavioral problems. Since I'm not a certified teacher, I don't normally have my own classes. This semester, however, I was assigned two non- teaching classes that are mine.

My first class is large but very well behave. My second class is small and . . . well . . . not so very well behave. At times, some of the students can be very difficult and very trying. As a result, I enjoy my first class but don't enjoy my second class as much. At times, I can get very annoyed with them.

Lately, I've been focusing a lot on learning about Father's love. I'm learning that his love for me is not determined by my behavior. He doesn't love me when I'm good and then withhold his love when I'm bad. His love for me never changes. It's a constant that I can always count on.

Because of the differences in my classes' behavior, I was tending to treat them differently. Our educational system is part of the world system and, for the sake of order and safety, rules must be enforced. Whenever necessary, I have to deal with discipline problems but what I'm learning is that true love is not affected by poor behavior. Father is showing me this truth in a small, very practical way.

If there is anything teenagers love more than getting in trouble, it's food . . . especially free food. A couple of weeks ago, I bought some lollipops and gave them to my first class but hesitated about giving them to my second class. This week, I bought some chocolate candy and gave a piece to each of my students in my first class but decided I wasn't going to give any to my other class. After all, I didn't want to reward their poor behavior. Father, however, wouldn't let me get away with that. He gently showed me that love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) He is love and he doesn't reward those who behave well and withhold his love from those who don't behave as well.

Following his example, I decided to give to each class equally. Instead of rewarding good behavior, I chose to give because I love and that change in attitude has made a major difference in me. Will this affect how those students behave? I don't know but probably not so I'm giving freely with no expectations. I'm not trying to manipulate their behavior through a reward system. I'm just learning how to love with no strings attached.

I'm my Father's daughter and he loves me unconditionally. Therefore, his love is compelling me to also love others unconditionally. I don't have to withhold love because he doesn't withhold his love from me. I'm free to love with no expectations. This is an exciting way to live because giving up expectations frees us from the bondage of disappointment.

This is still a new way for me to live and I'm really just in the kindergarten stage of this lesson. However, I do know that Father has begun a work in me that he intends to complete. As I grow in understanding that he freely gives his love, I'm now free to to go and do the same.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Willie Nelson - Always On My Mind

This song has been going through my mind lately so I thought I'd post it here for all of you to enjoy. Willie Nelson's version is my favorite.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Leaving a Place of Safety and Risking Failure

"The church is always worried we might make a mistake. Mistakes are the guaranteed consequence of wild abandon. Mistakes are signs of growth. That is why the Old and New Testaments are full of people who made mistakes. The church should be one place in our culture where mistakes are not only expected but welcomed." (Dangerous Wonder by Michael Yaconelli, page 53)

The fear of making a mistake is perhaps one of the greatest fears that we experience. It causes us to refuse to step out of the boat when Jesus is calling us to walk on the water with him. It causes us to hold back and not do the things we desire to do. The fear of failure is crippling. It stifles creativity and causes us to settle for the same old same old rather than freeing us to step out into the adventure of exploration and discovery.

Everything around us feeds this fear and we're trained early to respond to it. Our first experience with it is when our parents fearfully warn us against certain activities because "you might hurt yourself." While a certain amount of caution is good, this sets us up for developing the fear of failure. If the process continues, we become bound to the safety of the earth when we could be experiencing the adventure of soaring with the eagles.

I've always been rather timid about doing new things. I'd much rather stay where it's safe. It's only been in the last few years that I've been willing to at times leave my place of safety and risk failure in order to experience the adventure that Daddy is calling me to participate in. It's usually with some fear and trepidation as well as a lot of thought that I become willing to step out into the new thing that he has prepared for me.

The root cause of the fear of failure is an unwillingness to give up control. We wonder, "Can this God really be trusted?" We're not really sure so we prefer to stay where it's safe rather than risk making a mistake since we're not sure God will take care of us when the going gets rough. Instead, we need to learn to welcome mistakes because they indicate we're growing. They indicate that we're in the process of learning and discovery. We all desire success but there can be no success without failure.

I wonder if we should even label anything as a failure. Failure and mistakes are a normal part of the journey to success. All men and women who we consider great have experienced failure. What made the difference is that they didn't give up when they failed. Instead, they learned from their mistakes and continued until they fulfilled the dream that was in their heart.

Peter was fearful and as a result denied Jesus three times yet he later went on to be a powerful witness and thousands received salvation because of his fearless preaching. Paul's preaching stirred up so much trouble that he had to be lowered in a basket through the city wall in order to escape a plot to assassinate him yet he later travelled throughout the known world boldly preaching the gospel of grace. Thomas Edison repeatedly met with failure in his attempt to invent the light bulb. He is credited with saying "I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work." Each of these men continued past their failures and saw great success.

We need to learn to accept our humanness and not beat ourselves up because of failures. We will make mistakes. That's a given. Instead of giving up in defeat or wallowing in guilt and condemnation, if we'll continue to move forward trusting the Holy Spirit in us, we'll see Father move in our lives and circumstances in great and wonderful ways. Father is calling us to lives filled with adventure and discovery but the goal will only be reached if we're willing to give up all illusions of control and embrace failure as a necessary part of the journey.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Which Sports Car Are You?

Gary posted this quiz on his blog. This looked like a lot of fun so I decided to give it a try.

I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

As far as chores are concerned, I really prefer that someone else do them. That way I can spend my value time blogging and reading blogs.