Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Much Do You Know About Grace?

My friend, Jim Robbins, posted a short quiz to find out what people know about grace. He asks some great questions and I thought I knew a lot about grace but a couple of the questions actually threw me off.

I took the quiz and it was a lot of fun to take but I also learned a lot. I'm going to post a link to his quiz as well as the answers and I hope those of you who read my blog will take it to see what you know. The answers may surprise you.

So, here's a link to his quiz and, after you've taken it, you can see the correct answers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Journey for the Hungry

Recently, I was listening to The God Journey podcast entitled, "A Journey for the Hungry." The conversation was fascinating as Wayne shared his experiences during trip to Brazil and Brad shared his experiences during his trip to Nashville. During the conversation, Brad asked Wayne if he thought Jesus spoke in parables to hide truth or to reveal truth. Wayne answered and said that Jesus spoke in parables to reveal truth to those who were hungry and seeking to understand but he spoke in parables to conceal truth from those who weren't ready to hear it.

That conversation really started me thinking about Jesus' style of teaching and preaching. When speaking to the masses, he said what he had to say but didn't give a lot of extra explanation. If they asked, he gave them more but he didn't spend a lot of time discussing and debating. At times, he even said some outrageous things seemingly to offend those who didn't have ears to hear. They either got it or they didn't but he didn't try to convince them. He gave them freedom to not believe and he even let them walk away unconvinced without defending what he had said.

Paul, on the other hand, often entered into a debate with those who challenged him and he was aggressive in trying to convince them of his viewpoint. The modern church seems in my opinion to be overly enamored with the apostle Paul so I believe they've tended to adopt his style of teaching instead of Jesus' style.

I've come to believe that Jesus' style is more in line with the nature of God. I'm not trying to demean the apostle Paul but he was a man, imperfect as we all are, and was prone at times to be led by his flesh. In my opinion, he was a great man and we can learn much from him but he wasn't perfect and neither were all of his actions.

Sometimes in our enthusiasm to see others enter into the fullness of this life of grace, we become aggressive in trying to convince them instead of allowing them to receive this truth as they are able to. Some capitulate and agree even though their hearts are not fully convinced. The result is "believers" who don't really believe and, when the storms of life come, their faith isn't strong enough to hold them steady.

I'm fully convinced that Jesus' method of sharing as people are ready to receive is the most effective and the most compassionate. When we feel like we have to aggressively debate the gospel, I believe we show a lack of trust in God's love and in his ability to work in the heart of the person we're speaking to. The truth is he loves them more than we could ever love them and he shows it by giving them the freedom to reject him if they choose. It's a love that frees people from guilt and manipulation. It's a love that's real because it gives us the freedom to decide.

The story of the rich young ruler is a good case in point. When asked how to receive eternal life, Jesus told him that he needed to sell everything and give to the poor. Because he was still attached to his wealth, the rich young ruler walked away sad. Jesus didn't run after him and try to change his mind nor did he try to explain further. Instead, he just watched him walk away. Then, he gave more explanation to those who stayed.

Church tradition says that the rich young ruler was Barnabas who, later as a disciple of Jesus, became along with Paul an apostle to the gentiles. I don't know if this is true but this story does prove that truth has to be revealed in its own time.

Trying to force a newborn baby to eat solid food before he's ready is not only ridiculous but it's dangerous to the health of the child. His internal organs haven't developed enough to properly digest solid food. He's just not able to remove the nutrients needed for growth and to maintain health and, trying to force him before he's ready, could result in permanent damage to his digestive system.

Although it does help with numbers, attempting to force a decision from a person can cause similar damage to his spiritual well being. Darin Hufford has written an excellent post on this subject. I believe his post, Christian Preemies, clearly describes the damage done by this aggressive soul winning tactic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Butterfly Circus

The link to this video was posted on Wayne Jacobsen's Lifestream blog. This is a beautiful story of love and grace. To introduce it, Wayne wrote:

"Someone sent me this link today and I was met with an incredibly inspiring movie of how believing a lie can devour our lives, and discovering the truth can transform even the most painful circumstances: The Butterfly Circus

I have no idea who is behind this, or what their intended meaning was. I can’t imagine that it wasn’t a redemptive portrayal. At least that’s how it resonated with me. This touched me far more than Avatar, for which I paid far more.

ADDED NOTE: I guess I do know these people. Just found out from Brad, my partner over at The God Journey that he is involved with the folks who made this movie and they are dear brothers and sisters with a passion to tell powerful stories of God’s work in the world. So, for those of you who think Brad and I share everything with each other, it’s pretty clear we don’t. I had never heard of this before today and am so blessed to find out that I’m only one degree of separation away from those involved… How cool is that?"

Monday, February 8, 2010

To Amy, a very special friend

This song is dedicated to Amy who has been my friend for several years.

Amy’s an amazing woman with a huge heart of love. She encourages me and supports me in all that I do and she’s always there for me when I need to talk. I haven’t always let her know how much she means to me and what an important part of my life she is so I want to dedicate this song to her. She’s a very special friend and I’m so glad God has brought her into my life.

Amy, I love you and I’m glad you’re my friend.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Karen's story - part 2

As I explained in a previous post, my friend Karen, sent me several private messages sharing her story. She had been a victim of spiritual abuse and has learned much as a result of having gone through that experience. I believe her story would be an encouragement to other so I asked her if I could post it here. Because of the length of the messages, I've decided to post them as a series, so here's part 2 of Karen's story.

"That’s the theoretical stuff. Now I want to talk about my own personal reactions and down-to-earth lessons. I am far from “healed,” so if some of these sound jaded or cynical, they probably are….

If you meet someone who hears from God all the time and presents themselves as spiritually sensitive or godly, run like hell. Especially if they want to “mentor you.” They’re either compensating for something and hiding some deep insecurities or they’re on a power trip which can be very subtle. A person can really exalt oneself and feed off the good feelings of “doing ministry” and become bad news without realizing it.

Be alert for addictive behavior like immersion in christian music, always seeking “more” from God, activities and mannerisms that make people appear as other than human or real--unapproachable, distant because they’re so into Jesus that they have no time or space for you. Ya can’t love God and not love those around you.

If you can’t talk about or question the unspoken cultural rules, mannerisms, or mass opinions, get out.

Trust your gut. If you’re feeling something that you can’t verbalize that makes you uncomfortable, listen and don’t dismiss it even if you can’t describe what you are uncomfortable about. Clarity on that will come later. If you’re feeling repressed, you are being repressed.

Don’t be surprised if your best friends suddenly ignore your existence.

If you have to go someplace to find God or God’s anointing, healing, or whatever, chances are it’s just another human activity and full of emotionalism and hype. Do yourself a favor and stay home.

Look out for dishonor and disrespect meted out to people who do not conform. Look for uniformity touted as “unity.”

If someone starts talking about “touch not God’s anointed”, get out.

Often there will be a brief time in a new group where there is more freedom than you’ve ever seen in a congregation. Watch for leadership to start talking about training people to operate in their gifts, or requesting that you go to a select group of people (an inner circle of “elders” or “more experienced people”) before being allowed to speak, or the beginnings of teachings about Jezebel spirits or spiritual authority. All or some of these indicators mean that the fun is over: someone feels threatened and needs to be controlling. When that happens, you may as well leave, because the initial freedom that drew you will never be allowed to return. It is classic bait and switch, and you will be left to jump hoops without ever getting to your destination of freedom of expression within the body. And you will be shut down.

Intellectualism may not foster spirituality, but neither does emotionalism.

Bondage is often disguised as freedom."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our Father's Freedom

One of the joys of my Alabama experience was the new friends that I made while there. One of these friends is David House, a former pastor who recently left the institution. A friend of Darin's, he had come Saturday night to hear Darin speak.

When I arrived, David and I immediately connected and we began sharing about our individual journeys. Wanting to spread the good news about our Father's love and to encourage others on their journeys, he told me he was planning to set up his own website.

I've been fortunate to have been involved since it was set up and I'm excited to be able to share with you David's new website. I hope you'll check it out and let him know what you think. I know you'll want to bookmark it for future reference.

So, here it is . . . Our Father's Freedom!