Saturday, February 21, 2009

A mysterious awakening

I wasn’t planning to write a third blog on "Dances With Wolves" but, as I was reading, I found a portion that I just had to quote here. It said,

“They spent less than three full days in the temporary camp, and three days is a short time in which to undergo extensive change.

But that’s what happened.

Lieutenant Dunbar’s course in life shifted.

There was no single, bombastic event to account for the shift. He had no mystic visions. God did not make an appearance. He was not dubbed a Comanche warrior.

There was no moment of proof, no obvious relic of evidence a person could point to and say it was here or there, at this time or that.

It was as if some beautiful, mysterious virus of awakening that had been long in incubation finally came to the forefront of his life.”

I believe this is a beautiful description of how many of us made the transition in this journey. Instead of it being a onetime conscious decision, it was really a series of steps until one day we realized we were no longer the person we had once been.

As the author described it, it was an awakening. Truth that we had known all along suddenly became real and, after a lengthy incubation, this truth was released and we gave birth to an understanding of our new identity.

To read my previous posts on "Dances With Wolves," follow this link and this link.

Exposing the lies

I just started reading “Judgment in St. Peter’s” by Aaron Nathan Rotsstein.

The story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a Jesuit priest. The major part of the story is set in Rome and centers around the actions of high ranking members of the Jesuit order.

I’m enjoying the book but I find myself growing angry at the religious system whose main motivation is the acquiring of wealth and power. Although the characters in the book are Roman Catholic, Protestants have also developed their own religious traditions. Theirs tend to be more subtle so, in my opinion, they are actually more dangerous since they are more difficult to notice.

The hierarchical system of religion is clearly portrayed in this book and, as I read it, I got angrier and angrier. I’m amazed at how gullible we’ve been to accept the lie that some believers are worthy of greater power and prestige than others. Humility has been re-defined to mean total, unquestioning obedience even to your own hurt. Yet, the scriptures are clear in saying that no believer is to lord it over another.

In one scene, the priest is asking advice from his superior. Although the situation is a personal matter that should only require a personal decision, as a priest, he’s not free to make his own decision. His superior gives his decision and he doesn’t agree. However, when he attempts to voice his opinion, he’s quickly silenced and forced to acquiesce. It amazed me that even though he obviously knew what he wanted to do, he couldn’t make the decision on his own but instead, had to ask his superior. Since it was purely a personal matter, in a non-religious environment, he would have been free to do what he thought best.

Religion has robbed us of the freedom to make decisions on many matters that are purely personal. For example, what to do with our money. We’re told the first 10 % goes to the system and some of the rest to various projects promoted by the group. We’ve been robbed of the freedom to decide where to give and how much.

Fear and distrust are controlling factors in the religious system. Members are afraid they might anger God so it seems safer to put a man in between us and God. The system promotes this fear to its advantage by encouraging its members to believe they’re dumb sheep who are easily led astray and need a human shepherd to lead them.

Reading this book has stirred up a lot of anger and passion in me. I’m tired of seeing people beaten down by a system that puts itself above the people. People essentially become pawns to be used to promote the system. While I understand some groups may not be as extreme as others, this is still true to some extent throughout the religious system.

We’re all equal before God so we need to rise above the man made hierarchical clergy/laity distinction. At the new birth, we were given a new heart which contains the life of God. In our heart has been placed all wisdom and understanding and we need to trust ourselves to make good decisions. Of course, there may be times when we misunderstand and make the wrong decision but we need to then trust that God loves us and will use it for our good.

Since it replaces a relationship with God with obedience to a man, I believe the clergy/laity distinction is a tradition that has held the church back perhaps more than any other tradition. As this tradition is exposed for the dangerous lie that it is, I believe we’ll see more and more believers experiencing more of God’s love and grace.

Darin Hufford has written a powerful blog that clearly exposes many deceptions that have held the church in bondage. To read about the freedom we have in Christ, follow this link. To read more about our new heart, you might want to check out Jim Robbins' excellent book, "Recover Your Good Heart."

As we become free, we won’t just stop there. We’ll have a growing desire to see others set free too and we’ll look for opportunities to rescue those who have been left wounded and dying by religion. I believe the following video provides a picture of our calling to rescue the wounded and dying.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Dances With Wolves

I recently finished reading Dances With Wolves. Actually, it only took me three days to read the entire book since it was so fascinating. I had originally planned to donate my copy to the school library but I’ve decided to hold on to it since, in my opinion, it’s definitely a journey book that's worth re-reading.

As the story progresses, the change in the main character was amazing. He began as a white lieutenant in the American cavalry and was eventually transformed into a Comanche warrior who lived and thought like a Comanche. The old man was gone and a totally different person emerged.

His transformation didn’t happen overnight, however. It was a gradual process that occurred over a period of time as he spent more and more time with the Comanche observing their lifestyle and coming to know and understand their heart. As he began to spend most of his time with the tribe, he began to dress like them. However, for a while, he still continued to wear his military pants and boots and return to the fort. The transformation was taking place but he was still trying to live in both worlds. Although, he was more and more being drawn into the new life, at this point, he wasn’t ready to totally give up the old life.

During this time, the tribe treated him with patience and compassion. A growing trust and affection developed between him and them. They loved and encouraged him but they wisely allowed him the freedom to change at his own pace while accepting him just as he was.

This grace journey we’re on will eventually result in total transformation, however, it will be a gradual process. The more time we spend with God among other free believers, the more we'll be changed. As with the lieutenant, it will be a process of small steps that lead to a full transformation and it’ll be a product of that relationship rather than a decision that we make to change.

This transition time is the most difficult because we’re changing but we’re also continuing to hold on to the familiar things of the past. As we continue to move forward, the ties to the past are broken and we begin to move forward with greater freedom. It’s almost as though we’re being held back by rubber bands. As we move forward, progress is difficult at first because of the strength of the rubber bands pulling us back. For a while, it may be impossible to walk so we have to get down on all fours and crawl in order to overcome the strength of the rubber bands. As we strain forward, however, the rubber bands are stretched and the weaker ones start popping and it gets a little easier to move forward. As we continue moving forward and straining against the pull of the rubber bands, more will break until eventually we can stand and walk forward easily into greater understandings of God’s grace.

During this process, other grace oriented believers who have grown in wisdom will allow us the freedom to change at our own pace. They’ll be available to love and encourage us but they won’t try to force us forward beyond where we’re ready to go. They’ll love and accept us unconditionally while we straddle the fence between both worlds.

In Christ we’re new creations but transformation is a process. As we continue on this journey, transformation will take place and we will more and more be set free to be who we really are as a free believer living in God’s grace moment by moment.

To read my earlier post regarding this book, follow this link.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dances With Wolves

I just started reading "Dances With Wolves". I've never read it before or seen the movie. I've had the book for a while but just now wanted to start it. So far, I'm enjoying it immensely.

There's a quote on the back cover that I found fascinating. It said: "Unless he gave up the past, he could never have a future."

That's been my story for about 11 years. When I started this journey, God told me to forget the former things and not dwell on the past because he was doing a new thing in my life. (Isaiah 43:18-19) It's been very disconcerting and scary at times but that's exactly what I've had to do . . . put aside the past in order to enter into the future that God had planned for me to experience.

My baby granddaughter has just started walking and I'm amazed at watching her. She had the crawling thing down pat and it really does seem like a safer way to travel but, when it was time for her to walk, she stood up and started walking. She's wobbly on her feet at times and falls down some but she just gets up and keeps on moving. She hasn't reverted back to crawling. That to me is a picture of this new life in the spirit. I may be a bit wobbly as I walk but I can't go back to the old safer ways.

I haven't gotten very far into the book but I'll be interested in seeing how this truth plays out in the main character's life. I entered this journey unwillingly and unknowingly but now that I've begun to see glimpses of the new thing that God is doing, I never want to go back to those old ways. This is a picture of this new life in the spirit. I may be a bit wobbly as I walk but I can't go back to the old safer ways.