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Kingdom Of Heaven November 30, 2009

  We hear “kingdom of heaven” and we think “kingdom of life after death.” But that’s the very opposite of what Jesus is talking about. Remember—he says repeatedly, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, has arrived! It’s near, here, at hand, among you! It’s not just about after you die; it’s about here, now, in this life!—Brian McLaren (New Kind of Christian, 107).

 

Some Quotes From The Shack November 26, 2009

— Here are just a few quotes from “The Shack.”  If you haven’t read this book, don’t listen to the nay-sayers.
This book is, with no question in my mind, a God-thing. —
Buy it HERE.
—————–

“Does that mean,” asked Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?” “Not at all,” smiled Jesus…”Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.””

“All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda.”

“So no, I’m not too big on religion…and not very fond of politics or economics either…And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”

“Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved.”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

In seminary [Mack] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book.

“”Sometimes honesty can be incredibly messy””

“I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

“We are not in a chain of command.  We are a circle of relationship.”

“Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want.”

“Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself- to serve.”

Buy “The Shack” HERE.


Also read: Brief reviews of “The Shack.”

 

Spiritual Adultery November 13, 2009

This deals with the relationship or lack of relationship believers have with the law. For many Christians, the idea that in Christ, they are totally free from a system of rules is a scary thought and they often try to relate to Jesus in the same way as they related to the law or in some cases leave Jesus and return to the law. This is “spiritual adultery.”

Here are some of the common methods that Christians use to try to overcome sins.

Tell others of your commitment to overcome.
Pray and promise.
Read “Christian self-help” books.
Memorize and quote Scripture.

Real victory over sin is a gift that only comes from Christ, fleshly efforts to overcome never bring success.
1 Corinthians 15:57 says,  But we thank God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is spiritual adultery?  What relationship does the believer have to rules?

Romans 7:1-5   Brothers and sisters, all of you understand the law of Moses. So surely you know that the law rules over people only while they are alive. For example, a woman must stay married to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law of marriage. But if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, the law says she is guilty of adultery. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law of marriage. Then if she marries another man, she is not guilty of adultery. In the same way, my brothers and sisters, your old selves died, and you became free from the law through the body of Christ. This happened so that you might belong to someone else—the One who was raised from the dead—and so that we might be used in service to God. In the past, we were ruled by our sinful selves. The law made us want to do sinful things that controlled our bodies, so the things we did were bringing us death.

How do we get out of marriage to Mr. Law?   We had to die!

All other sins are preceded by spiritual adultery!
Galatians 5:4   If you try to be made right with God through the law, your life with Christ is over—you have left God’s grace.
The believer has no relationship with religious rules…our only relationship is with Jesus Christ!

Spiritual adultery happens when we go back to our first spouse (law) to get our needs met instead of staying with our New Spouse (Jesus/Grace) for our happiness. We become distrustful of Jesus and His ability to meet all our needs. We want to make sure and “do it ourselves.” The most difficult thing for us to do is completely depend on Jesus! When we return to our former spouse (rules), we are being unfaithful to Jesus.

What does spiritual adultery look like?

Placing confidence in behavior…especially “good” behavior.
Placing confidence in doctrinal beliefs and knowledge of spiritual matters.
Trusting anything or anybody besides Jesus for our acceptance before God!

How can it be a sin when a Christian does a good thing?
Hebrews 11:6    Without faith no one can please God… Doing “good things” in our own power, using our personal efforts and acting independently of God is just as wrong as doing “bad things.”
In both cases, the real issue is independence from God…not placing our faith in His provision. 1Thessalonians 5:24 says  …He will do it.

The difference between the law tree and the life tree:

The law tree offers knowledge about what is right and wrong, but gives no life. The life tree is Jesus Christ who tells us what is right and wrong and gives not only eternal life, but abundant life here and now.

When we try to get life from the Law Tree, our focus is on behavior, but when we go to the Life Tree, our focus is on God who alone can give us life!

Do Christians need the law?
1 Timothy 1:8-10   But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God.

For whom is the law given?   People like the ones described in the above Scripture.

If we as believers don’t focus on religious laws, what will govern our behavior?

Jeremiah 31:33-34   “This is the agreement I will make with the people of Israel at that time,” says the Lord: “I will put my teachings in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. People will no longer have to teach their neighbors and relatives to know the Lord, because all people will know me, from the least to the most important,” says the Lord. “I will forgive them for the wicked things they did, and I will not remember their sins anymore.”

Christians are governed by relationship, not rules! The indwelling Christ will lead and guide. The law defines sin as a violation of the rules, grace defines sin as a violation of the relationship.

Why do Christians try to build their lifestyle around a set of rules?

It seems natural…just the way life works best…that’s the way the rest of life is governed.   A set of rules makes it possible for the ones that are strong to out-perform the ones that aren’t.  I used to feel quite superior over Sabbath observance and abstaining from certain foods and alcohol.

Colossians 2:20-23   Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these: “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t even touch that thing”? These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used. They are only man-made commands and teachings. They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a man-made religion. They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self.

–Steve McVey

 

Everything Is Spiritual

“In the Hebrew language, there is no word for “spiritual.”  If you would have said to Jesus, “Jesus, how is your spiritual life?”  He would have said “What?”  To label part of your life as “spiritual” and part as “not spiritual” is foreign to the world of scripture, and to the worldview of Jesus.”
– Rob Bell
This stuff is absolutely amazing!
You won’t want to miss this presentation.
Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.
(If you can’t afford it, let me know, and I’ll buy or loan you a copy.)
——————————–

Some reviews:

Michael J. Cauller says:
Who would have thought that a lecture on Creation stories and Quantum Physics would be so instrumental in conveying the truth of a holistic perspective of spirituality?  I’d say that Nooma is like a piece of candy and this is like a steak dinner.  Brilliant stuff.  Excellent revelation as one would expect.

Christopher Bernard says:
Rob Bell has received a great deal of criticism in his career for a variety of reasons. Some might have some merit, but most come out a desire for him to be something he is not. He is not a world class Biblical Scholar; he is not the greatest theological mind; he is not a person that will champion conservative ideologies, nor liberal. If you desire any of these things from this man, do not buy his work for you will be disappointed.
But if you are looking for a thoughtful person engaging with faith, culture, and life, then you might have found someone that will really speak to you in a refreshing confession of Christian faith.
Rob Bell is a pastor with a heart for humanity. He is a person that desires to unite, rather than divide. He is a person who recognizes the burden of our society and addresses them in faithful ways and “Everything Is Spiritual” is a wonderful testimony of God at work within Humanity.
I was blessed to watch this. And I trust that those who have ears to hear will come away from this experience moved in profound ways.

Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.

Here’s John Sexton’s review of live presentation of “Everything Is Spiritual” at The Glass House:

The Glass House is a small concert venue in a little artists’ colony section of downtown Pomona. It’s surrounded by vintage clothing boutiques and used record stores. Usually it’s host to punk bands, but on this Wednesday night a somewhat different crowd had turned out to see a young pastor from Michigan named Rob Bell.

Our Ticketmaster tickets ($10) read “Door: 7PM Show: 8PM.” My two friends and I arrived a bit after seven and found the place already packed. Nearly 350 people sat on folding chairs facing a corner stage. The stage was black except for a huge whiteboard about four feet tall running the length of the stage, perhaps 16 feet. A few white lights were shining on it, making it appear to glow slightly.

As 8PM approached someone came on stage to ask us to turn off our cell phones and to let us know that tonight’s performance was being filmed. A few minutes later the mood music that had been playing in the background became louder, adding to the concert-like atmosphere of the show. Finally, Rob Bell stepped on stage dressed all in black. He uncapped his marker dramatically and we were off…
He began with a ten minute discussion of Genesis chapter one, treating it as Hebrew poetry. He paused once to emphasize his underlying principle of interpretation, i.e. “the Bible is not a science text book.” If there were young earth creationists in the room, they decided not to throw vegetables at that moment.

At one point, he pantomimed Adam naming the animals God brought before him. When Adam named one “cat” God’s reaction was “Hey, I didn’t make that.” It was one of the lighter moments in the message. Rob then made this aside: “Someone out there with a blog, please don’t write that I hate cats. There’ll be demonstrators at the next show.” So while it was extremely tempting to title this post “Rob Bell Hates Cats”, I resisted.

The second and longest part of Rob’s talk was, in fact, about science. From quarks and strings to the vast universe itself, he covered an enormous amount of ground. I have a background in this material, so I listened with an awareness not only of where he was going, but also where he might have gone. The impression I had was of watching some agile person cross a river by leaping from stone to stone. At times he would slow his progress to draw out a tricky point, such as quantum entanglement or the stellar habitable zone. At other times he would skip lightly over issues too complex to engage in an abbreviated way, such as the differing interpretations of quantum theory. But always it seemed to me he dealt accurately and fairly with the material. It was an outstanding 20-25 minute summary of modern physics. It was a setup for a point he would make later.

Next, he turned to the issue of perspective. Using Flatland characters, he discussed how God’s interaction with our world may be difficult to understand in everyday language. This is where the “emergent view” of all things theological came across most strongly. Is God Calvinist or Armenian? Rob suggests there may be a way for him to be both.

I recognize that answers like this will never satisfy those who’ve invested any energy in either of the alternatives. And I probably enjoy a good theological argument as much as the next person. Still, I found Bell’s appeal to lay down our theological arms quite winning. There are simply some issues where the Bible stands in tension with itself. Perhaps this too is inspired and should be respected. At times I get the sense that the seminary-denominational complex has an institutional investment in keeping the arguments going. In any case, this was probably my favorite section of the talk.

Having loaded his plate with literally “everything”, Rob now had the unenviable task of summing it up neatly. If his conclusion wasn’t fully successful it’s worth pointing out that few pastors would even have the courage to try.

And there was a theme that came through, a single thread on which all the beads of science and theology were strung. We live in a very big world and yet its one in which our perspective has the ability to shift our understanding of everything. Is the universe an accident or a work of design? The truth is it could be either. Is theology confusing because it’s imperfect or because our language is insufficient? Again, it could be either.

Is anything spiritual or is nothing?  Rob suggests that as Christians we must choose everything. It’s this perspective that changes what we see. We move forward through life with the anticipation — the faith — that God is not absent, that he may indeed be hiding in plain sight.

I don’t know if Rob Bell has read Roy Clouser’s The Myth of Religious Neutrality, but he certainly seems to have adopted Clouser’s ideas on the religious control of theory-making. In any case, Rob’s presentation of it is a lot of fun. If there’s one person I’d like to have a chance to have a long talk with at some point, he has to be near the top of the list.

Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.

 

Little Tin Stove November 9, 2009

Filed under: Humor,Personal — lifewalkblog @ 4:48 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LittleTinStove
Ahh, childhood memories.
During our recent move, I found this little memento from my past, pictured to the left.
When we were children, my brother and I were baking mud pies is this little tin stove.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  The problem is, this culinary undertaking took place in my father’s corn crib.
The fire we so wisely built on the floor of a wooden structure, destroyed, of course, said containment system.  Who would have seen that coming?!?!?
Just one of the many delightful playtime activities my brother and I engaged in.
We were so cute.

 

My Review of “Through Painted Deserts” November 6, 2009

This is my 3rd Donald Miller book.  I must say, it’s my least favorite of the three.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying it’s bad.  It’s actually quite good.  I just liked the other two better.

In “Through Painted Deserts” Donald chronicles a road trip he took with a friend in a beat up VW van.  The main destination was the Grand Canyon.  There were, of course,  plenty of adventures before and after.  They lived in this van.  They slept in the van, and in the woods, and wherever they could. 

I can somewhat identify with the story.  In the 70’s I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with two other guys and a girl.  The four of us, and all our camping gear, in a Vega!  Yeah.  Fun.  Well, I think they all enjoyed it.  Me, not so much.

Anyway, this is that kind of story.  Miller makes many observations of life and Christian spirituality, just probably not as many as in his two previous works.

“I’ve learned that I don’t really know much about anything.  Life is not a story about me, but it is being told to me.  I think that is the ‘why’ of this ancient faith I am caught up in: to enjoy God.” – Donald Miller –

So, I do recommend this book, but only after “Searching For God Knows What,” and certainly after “Blue Like Jazz.”  If you get through those two, and still want more Donald Miller, then read “Through Painted Deserts.
I’m looking forward to his latest, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.”  Hey, it’s even got Steve Taylor in it.  That should up the sarcasm!

— dave

 

…And I Feel Fine November 3, 2009

200px-REM_End_of_the_World_US7

I’ve just finished reading another article about the year 2012.  Here we go again.  I’m so tired of this crap.
So many were sure the year 2000 would do us all in.  Y2K had the country worrying about computer crashes bringing the world to a technological end, if not a complete end.  I remember telling people I thought 2000 would come and go just like every other year.  It did.

I think people, for some reason, like instilling fear.  It’s like some kind of perverse game.  Just look at the dozens of  “Beware” of  this-or-that emails forwarded.  Ninety-nine percent of these are sheer fabrication.  People just blindly forward them on, without checking them out.  I especially hate the ones that falsely include the tag “I checked this out on Snopes, and it’s legit.”  Well, I check them out on Snopes, and they’re usually NOT legit.  Forwarding these things is a total act of irresponsibility.  So is using scare tactics involving the calendar.

How many hundreds of years of false predictions will it take for people to wake up?  Remember “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In ’88?”  I think they’ve had one every year since.  In my research, I found a list of failed end-of-the-world predictions, starting in AD 30.  Sextus Julius Africanus had predicted Armageddon at 500 AD.  Charles Wesley predicted 1794.  On and on and on.
Some Christians seem to wear this paranoia like a badge of honor; like it somehow serves or pleases God.  I’m convinced it certainly does not.  If anything, it detracts from the central message of Jesus.

Jesus said “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  Over and over Jesus teaches that the kingdom is here.  The kingdom is now.  We are the kingdom people.  We are God’s house.  We are the new Jerusalem.  It’s not about the “sweet by and by.”  (By the way, show me where ‘heaven’ has streets of gold.)

Could 2012 be “the end of the world as we know it?”  Sure.  So could tomorrow.  But concern over the end of the world gives us the wrong focus.  This all distracts from how we are to treat other people.  It distracts from how we are to treat the earth.  After all, the world’s going to end soon, so who cares if I dump my trash in the street!  It takes our minds off of important things, like social injustice, hunger, and other areas where we are to be the “salt of the earth.”  It ignores, or worse, violates the part of Jesus’ prayer that says “on earth as it is in heaven.”

How are we to live today?  The answer to that question shouldn’t change whether the world ends in 2012, or tomorrow, or ten-thousand years from tomorrow.

–dave

 

 
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