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The Jesus Lens October 27, 2011



“Jesus didn’t give his followers a book.
He gave them his holy spirit.”

The Bible is a wonderful gift from God, when it’s not worshiped and is properly viewed, not as a legal document, but as part of the “story of God’s unfolding revelation of himself.”
People like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Spencer Burke, and Wayne Jacobsen have not abandoned their Bibles.
Quite the contrary, they all hold scripture in very high regard.
They all just realize how terribly misused, abused, misunderstood, and misapplied its contents have been.
Books like “Velvet Elvis,” “A New Kind of Christianity,” “He Loves Me,” “The Misunderstood God,” and “The Naked Gospel,” all, to varying degrees, deal with what the Bible really is and how to properly approach it.

The Bible, according to the book of Timothy, is “useful.”  As someone else said,  “That’s a far different job description than we have given it.”
Certainly, from verse to verse, the Bible does “contradict” itself.  That’s because it is a “progressive revelation of God,” by people inspired to record events the way they remembered them at the time.

Anyway, this new series “The Jesus Lens” by Wayne Jacobsen seems promising. I’ve only watched one session so far.
In it Wayne addresses those who have basically thrown out their Bibles altogether due to the way we’ve been falsely taught to approach these inspired writings; a way that can make God seem to be a distant, mean-spirited overseer.

One thing we see in this first session is that truth is not revealed in this verse or that verse.
But rather “in the sum total of the scriptures we have the truth.”


Watch this first session, see what you think.
It’s only about 20 minutes.
I’ll be interested to see where Mr. Jacobsen takes us from here..

[Go to Session One of “The Jesus Lens.”  Click HERE.]

 

More About My Journey May 9, 2011

As part of an ongoing online conversation, I was recently asked what “inspired” me to leave institutional religion.  I actually get that question, and ones similar to it, a lot.

The following is (with a few added statements) what I had to say in response to the most recent inquiry:

I can’t pinpoint at what part in my journey I started having the inklings to leave the institution.  I know that in part it was affected by books like “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” “Pagan Christianity,” “So, You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore,” “The Shack,” and “Velvet Elvis.”

But these books often just put words and clarity to what was already happening in me.

Anyway, yeah, it doesn’t feel good to have old friends and “church family” see you as having strayed, or being deceived.  I have to keep remembering I used to think the same way.

But I’ve learned this for SURE:  You can’t argue people into agreement.

Arguments are usually only to convert the “other,” and never really intended to find agreement.  There is a “winner” and a “loser.”  Plus, fundamentalism is steeped in an “us vs. them, I’m right you’re wrong” mentality.  The mere idea of agreeing to disagree is enough to send many of them into tirades.  It’s happened to me more than once.  It’s amazing how their focus is on a list, rather than on knowing Christ, or living in harmony.  The discussions are usually “Is this a sin?  Is that a sin?  What can I do or not do and still get to heaven?”  What a ridiculous way to live.

I have both friends and family who I know I can’t have those kinds of discussions with.  In those cases I try very hard to steer clear of theological topics, and do my best to just share our lives together.
No one “convinced” me of my different (and ever-growing) beliefs.  It’s truly a God-thing.  There’s so much that I’ve learned that could only come gradually, as God knew I was ready for it. Look, if our understanding of God is growing, then our beliefs will change. Change is inherent with growth.

You really have to get to a place that Brian McLaren describes this way:
“I gradually learned to simply share with those who either “got it” or wanted to get it and not to bother – or look down upon – those who didn’t.”

That’s usually not as easy done as said, but it’s the best way I’ve found so far.

Of course, some people only want to “fight,” and it may be best to end, or at least limit, contact with those people: The kind who love debate, but couldn’t care less about conversation. I know I don’t need that kind of negativity and stress.  We need people who will lift us up, not tear us down.  I wish I had more people like that, but for now, most of that “gathering together” has been online.  But God is good, and it’s all part of the journey.

I hope this has addressed some of the issues you raised, and maybe brought a little bit of encouragement your way.

In His Love,
dave

For more about my journey, growing understanding, and some personal info,
CLICK HERE.

 

Free, Or Just Rebellious? July 8, 2010

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Check out Wayne’s site at: http://www.lifestream.org

 

Why I Don’t Go To Church Anymore June 3, 2010




Why I Don’t Go To Church Anymore

by Wayne Jacobsen


If you are happy with the status quo of organized religion today, you may not like what you read here. My purpose is not to convince you to see this incredible church the same way I do, but to answer your questions as openly and honestly as I can. Even if we don’t end up agreeing, hopefully you will understand that our differences need not estrange us as members of Christ’s body.


Where do you go to church?

I have never liked this question, even when I was able to answer it with a specific organization. I know what it means culturally, but it is based on a false premise–that church is something you can go to as in a specific event, location or organized group. I think Jesus looks at the church quite differently. He didn’t talk about it as a place to go to, but a way of living in relationship to him and to other followers of his.

Asking me where I go to church is like asking me where I go to Jacobsen. How do I answer that? I am a Jacobsen and where I go a Jacobsen is. ‘Church’ is that kind of word. It doesn’t identify a location or an institution. It describes a people and how they relate to each other. If we lose sight of that, our understanding of the church will be distorted and we’ll miss out on much of its joy.


Are you just trying to avoid the question?

I know it may only sound like quibbling over words, but words are important. When we only ascribe the term ‘church’ to weekend gatherings or institutions that have organized themselves as ‘churches’ we miss out on what it means to live as Christ’s body. It will give us a false sense of security to think that by attending a meeting once a week we are participating in God’s church. Conversely I hear people talk about ‘leaving the church’ when they stop attending a specific congregation.

But if the church is something we are, not someplace we go, how can we leave it unless we abandon Christ himself? And if I think only of a specific congregation as my part of the church, haven’t I separated myself from a host of other brothers and sisters that do not attend the same one I do?

The idea that those who gather on Sunday mornings to watch a praise concert and listen to a teaching are part of the church and those who do not, are not, would be foreign to Jesus. The issue is not where we are at a given time during the weekend, but how we are living in him and with other believers all week long.


But don’t we need regular fellowship?

[DON’T STOP NOW!!! Read the rest of this very important article, by Wayne Jacobsen.

Click:  HERE.]

 

Review of “He Loves Me” December 12, 2009

“He Loves Me.”  A simple title.  Actually, so simple it kept me from reading this Wayne Jacobsen book for years, even though I’ve enjoyed his other writings, audio, blog, etc.  I mean, it’s a book about God’s love.  What Christian doesn’t know about God’s love?!?!  I know His love for me is based on His grace.  I know it’s not by merit.  I know…

Well, this book is SO not as simple as its name, and yet, it is.  One of the many things I’ve learned over the last 10 years, is how much we say we know (and sincerely believe we do) that we really don’t;  at least not the way we should.  This book is yet another journey into learning what we’re sure we already know.
It looks at the Cross, not as an act of judgment, but as an act of love.  We’ve too long reduced the Father and Son to some schizophrenic “good-cop, bad-cop” god.  {The Father was really, really mad, so Jesus had to jump in the way to keep us from getting beaten up.}  Yet Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Hmmm.  Something is amiss.

I’m amazed at how fearful of grace many Christians really are.  Always afraid of what someone else will get away with.  Afraid of losing their ability to use religion to manipulate and control others in the name of God.
God may have wrath, but God IS love.  His wrath is against ungodliness and sin, but never against you.  “He Loves You.”  This is about learning to live loved.  It’s about choosing relationship over the fear of hell.  It’s about no longer trying to earn points with God.  That’s something many Christians say they don’t do, but listen to them talk very long, and you’ll see otherwise.
There’s a very small portion called “A Touchdown For Jesus.”  It may help you rethink what kind of testimony really gives God glory.

“He Loves Me” looks at many facets of the diamond that is God’s love.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Just add this book  to your personal library.  You won’t regret it.
— dave
To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some excerpts to wet your reading appetite.

We often view sin as evil action alone and miss the nature of sin itself. At its root, sin is simply grabbing for ourselves what God has not given us. In this realm, our best intentions can draw us into as much bondage as our most indulgent desires.
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We don’t enter into this kingdom by a sinner’s prayer, going forward at a religious gathering, or reciting an orthodox creed, but by learning to trust who he is and by living in that trust no matter what life hurls at us.
No longer oppressed by the need to appease God, we are free to live in his love, and that can completely transform everything about the way we think and live.
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There is absolutely no condemnation or guilt for anyone who lives in him. Now you can be with your Father just as you are, still in the process of transformation, and not have to hide anything. Those who are o longer influenced by shame can finally live authentic lives.
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When Jesus asked people to “repent and believe” the gospel, he was not asking them to be sorry for their sins and embrace an orthodox theology.  He was asking them to forfeit their own agenda and embrace his.  That’s the invitation to the kingdom.  It is not whether we want to go to heaven or hell, but whether we want to trust God or continue trusting ourselves.
—————
In every situation you’ll ever encounter, you will be offered two options in prayer: “Father, save me,” or “Father, glorify your name!” One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment, the other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart.
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I don’t think there has been a time since the Middle Ages when the practice of Christianity was so at odds with what it means to live in the life of Christ.
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His message was not “Come to God or you’ll burn in hell.” His message was “God’s kingdom has come near you and you can become a participant in it. You have a Father who loves you.”
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As you grow increasingly certain that his love for you is not connected to your performance, you will find yourself released from the horrible burden of doing something for him.

I used to be driven to do something great for God.

I’m not driven anymore.  I haven’t tried to do anything great for God in more than a decade, and yet I have seen him use my life in ways that always exceed my expectations.  What changed?  I did, by his grace.
My desire to do something great for God served me far more than it ever did him.  It kept me too busy to enjoy him and distracted me from the real ministry opportunities he brought across my path every day.

God’s work won’t be thwarted by my lack of participation.  He will touch people anyway, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

His focus on touching people instead of managing programs has revolutionized my view of ministry.

People who learn to live out of a genuine love relationship with the God of the universe will live in more power, more joy, and more righteousness than anyone motivated by fear of his judgment.
To Buy it, Click HERE.

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Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Since Adam’s fall we have come to picture God not as a loving Father inviting us to trust him, but an exacting sovereign who must be appeased. When we start from that vantage point we miss God’s purpose on the cross. For his plan was not to satisfy some need in himself at his Son’s expense, but rather to satisfy a need in us at his own expense.

But I am deeply bothered by the thought that in some way God was able to separate himself at the cross. The popular understanding of the cross seems to be that God the Father executed wrath on God the Son while standing at some discrete distance.

Such thinking not only denies the essence of God’s nature but then distorts what happened at the cross. Paul wrote that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ…” God was no distant observer, but a participant. He didn’t send Jesus to do what he would not do; but God himself acted through Jesus to bring about our redemption.

Some have taken Jesus’ cry that his Father had forsaken him to mean that at the darkest moment, the Father had to turn his back on the Son. God cannot bear to look on sin, they argue, so that when our sins were laid on him, God had to turn his face away from his Son.

God has never run from sinful humanity. He didn’t hide from Adam and Even in the Garden. They hid from him as he sought them out. It is not God who cannot bear to look on sin, but that we in our sin can’t bear to look on God. He’s not the one who hides. We are. God is powerful enough to look on sin and be untainted by it. He has always done so. He did so at the cross.

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some other reviews:

Do Yourself a Favor and Read This Book
Excellent insight. A logical, biblical foundation for a new framework for understanding God’s intended relationship with His children. Love, rather than fear. Even if you don’t consider your relationship with God to be based on fear or “appeasement” (I didn’t either), this book will challenge you to reassess many of the traditions and approaches that dominate many in the Evangelical Christian Church. However, the book is not written from a critical point of view. A freeing book. Approach with an open mind. This book is having a strong, positive impact on my life. I have recommended it highly to several friends.
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The Best Book I’ve Read On The Topic of God’s Love For Me
I’ve enjoyed a meaningful relationship with God for 37 years, and have read extensively on the topic of God’s love for individual people. This is definitely the best, most specific, and down-to-earth book I’ve read on this topic. It has impacted my life and how I view God. It’s very freeing indeed.
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“For those of us who are longing to ‘live loved,’ I cannot recommend a better follow-up to The Shack than this book. It is an exploration and adventure into the heart of the God we hoped was truly there, and who loves each of us in particular with an everlasting love.” (Wm. Paul Young, Author of “The Shack.”)

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.
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