Archive for July, 2009

“How could then…they didn’t even have Bibles?” Part 2

Some of the best comments in a long time came in to the Juniper Tree on my last post on the effect of worshipping the written Word while ignoring the other ways the Father speaks to us.  One friend said it this way: “I know it because I have read it in His Word, but it goes deeper than that: it is solid in my heart because I have encountered Him, and I have heard His Spirit whispering in my ear.” 

There is no substitute for the written Word, I love it, I generally read something from it every day and have for nearly 5 decades.  It is like food for a hungry soul that must feed on it to live.  But for most of those 5 decades I missed hearing God because of unbelief, hiding behind knowledge.

I was taught that in these “last days” our Father no longer speaks to us the way He did with the apostles and prophets.  That He no longer is operating outside of our knowledge of Him or our understanding about Him. My teachers were consistent, faithful to their hermeneutic and had a love for God that was real and hopeful.  But they allowed their unbelief to be fogged over by their commitment to wisdom/knowledge over faith.

Unbelief often has an appearance of being a being an approach to life that is careful, scholarly, conservative and skeptical of anything that defies logic and could possibly be faked or flow out of an emotional experience.  No one who operates out of that frame of reference calls what they are doing unbelief but it clearly is.

The mission of unbelief is to subject God to the mind and control of His creation.  Unbelief questions everything including God’s agenda and His way.  Unbelief’s favorite method is to demand proof.  If it really is a miracle, unbelief says, then “prove it”.

What is sad and so counter productive for Kingdom advancement is that unbelief is completely unable to represent Jesus in His power and glory.  It may sound wise, steady, steeped in conservative and proper Christian behavior but it effectively cuts off what the life of Jesus in us is capable of doing to see His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth (in the same way) as it is in heaven.

One old friend said to me during a discussion (argument) as to whether God was still healing people: “when people start getting out of wheel chairs and walking instead of a few people having their hearing restored, I will believe it”.  Well they are getting out of wheel chairs, the dead are being raised and now he wants doctors reports and x-rays to prove it.  The issue is not does God heal, the issue is will we believe He heals.

I am aware that there are fakers out there.  There are mean people who prey on broken, hurting and hopeless people for their own gain, but this intensive effort to protect ourselves from being fooled is more about unbelief than it is a desire to be wise so we are not deceived.

Fear of deception exists predominately where unbelief has been ruling for a long time.  Children believe, new followers of Jesus believe, people who are not followers of Jesus believe!  Wisdom does not believe.

It is not for us to put God on trial.  He is not subject to our knowledge, our wisdom.  When Paul spoke of renewing the mind it was to just such an issue he was speaking.  The unrenewed mind demands proof and demands the Creator explain Himself to the created.  Prove it God and I’ll believe it.  What arrogance, what unbelief.

1Corinthians 13:7 says this Love believes all things.  When we encounter the redeeming, freeing, consistent, unconditional agape of the Father it frees us from our protective instinct of unreasonable caution.  The apostle Paul takes us further into an understanding of this agape when he writes in Galatians 5: faith finds it greatest expression in love.  When fear is driven out by real agape love it opens up the door to the kind of faith that believes the Father’s desire to lovingly reveal Himself extravagantly through miracles.  An encounter with the Father’s love is the best method for dismantling unbelief.

The enemy of our souls always comes at us with fear which leads to unbelief which leads to falling back on wisdom which leads to power-less and glory-less lives.

My friend and pastor, Andy says: God is what (knowledge about) He is but Father is who He is (relationship with).  Religion is a call to knowledge about God, to aquiring knowledge about what He is which more than not produces fear and unbelief, while an agape relationship with the Father leads to a trust in who He is (our Daddy) and an ability to see with the eyes of the heart and not the proof demanding eyes of our head.


July 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm 1 comment

How could they…they didn’t even have Bibles?

I was raised, trained, schooled, believed, and taught that the Bible was the only way to hear God.  To trust any other method of revelation (if there was any other method) was dangerous, suspect and generally untrustworthy.  So I did what so many other people do, I worked as hard as I could to master as much of the Bible as I could, so that I could teach others at a high level of competency and not mess up because I didn’t know the truth.  Nothing wrong with the process just the result.

If the amount of Bible we know were a protection from messing up then most of us who know the Bible would never mess up.  Obviously that is not the case, so what is wrong? 

Hearing the Father through the written Word is not an option, it is mandatory.  The Bible is limitless, timeless and complete.  It is the Living Word of the Creator God.  I cannot live without it, anymore than I can live without breathing.  Having a relationship with the Father through the Bible is a given.

But ask yourself, “self, how could the early church be so effective in changing their culture and how could they be so united in their efforts to build Kingdom, when they didn’t even have Bibles?”  The amazing fruit of the early church couldn’t have been because they had their doctrine squared away and their teachers were “fundamental,” doctrinally pure and went to the right schools to learn the correct theological positions.  The whole creed thing that started a few hundred years in, effectively stopped the forward motion of the church.

The more of the Bible we have broken down into doctrinal positions and the more we have become experts in theology and doctrine the less cultural impact we have had and the less united as a Family we have become. 

We have more teaching ministries, discipleship tools, multiple media options from which to learn, the best educated preachers, teachers, the finest schools and amazingly gifted writers turning out thousands of really great books. every year.  We have so much more “knowledge” available to us than all of the rest of history combined, and yet the culture could care less about our faith or our knowledge and we who claim to have such squared away doctrine are failing in almost every area of life to live as we know and desire to live. 

It seems our increasing lack of effectiveness has come from making aquisition of Bible knowledge the point rather than hearing the Father, the point. When we value the Bible and knowledge over the Holy Spirit it becomes idolatry and does the opposite of what was intended.

The Holy Spirit loves to add to our knowledge things we think we understand.  He loves to take what we think we know and reveal what we need to know.  Why?  Because it is the Holy Spirit that reveals the Word not the other way around.

My friend and pastor, Andy Taylor often says this: “we don’t tie the ends up on our doctrine”.  That doesn’t mean we are wishy washy about truth.  What it means is that doctrine must be kept elastic by the oil of the Spirit or it will burst.  If it is rigid and unmoving it will not yield to the Holy Spirit when He reveals more of the Word to us.  Rigid doctrinal wineskins have a way of becoming irrelevant, powerless and finally they break because we are more concerned about preserving what we know at the expense of what the Spirit is revealing.

It has been my experience that the most dangerous heresies have not come from humble people, filled with the Spirit, who allow the Spirit to open up truth and who regularly have their wineskin refilled, but from people who fixate and cling to one doctrine and build monuments around that teaching and proudly tout their position over someone else’s.  Heresy almost always comes from making one doctrine the issue and not allowing the Spirit to bring life to that truth. 

Every cult, every irrelevant denomination got that way, not from hearing too much, but from not hearing anymore.

July 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm 8 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.82

Shelton, Washington

Here is the weekly update of our life on the road between “homes”.

Item one.  Travelling between Western Washington, Western Oklahoma and Arizona is becoming pretty “normal”.  We have logged nearly 50K miles over the last 3 years but some of those miles are just the here and there of “living” somewhere for a couple of months at a time.  This is at least our 8th trip back to Washington since we sold the house and started living on the road.  It is good to be back in Washington but it never quite feels “right”.

Item two.  Part of this nomadic life means you really don’t completely “fit” anywhere.  There are no roots and no real permanence.  That is the trade off.  If you live in a house and work in a community you collect stuff and take care of stuff and turn in a circle of relationships at work and whatever else you do to connect with people.  When you “live” in a variety of locations you don’t sink down in, because you know you are moving on and so every stop is temporary.

The relationships we have are as good as any we have ever had but they are such that you never quite “fit” because life is so different for us.  We don’t have regular jobs and we don’t have lawns to mow, houses to take care of or regular meetings or gatherings to attend especially when we are not in Sayre.  Sometimes I really want that “normal” again but that isn’t possible here in Mason County and if we settle into that normal in Western Oklahoma we miss out on life with our family here in Washington.  It is always a dilemma without a good solution, so we keep on doing what we do.

Item three.  Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington.  The most direct route to Washington from Oklahoma passes through all of those states and covers a little more than 2000 miles.  We stopped in Colorado Springs overnight to have dinner with my dad and see his new apartment.  He has a $3000.00 view for $300.00 in a senior housing place.  Really great.

I parked the trailer at my brothers business and it was the biggest trailer mess ever, by far.  I got into one of those jams people who pull trailers avoid at all costs but because of the “perfect storm” of situations I got to the place where I could not back up or pull forward without damaging the trailer, the pickup or both.  It was a lose/lose situation.  Wish I had pictures so you could see what I stepped in.  It was totally bad judgement on my part but there were so many factors going on it was easy to make a bad decision.  After much effort in a rain storm, angels lifted the trailer a couple of inches and we made it out with some small scrapes.  I still have nightmares about it.

We went from The Springs to Charlie and Lorissa Kingsbury’s family ranch outside Greeley, Colorado where we spent the fourthof July weekend with Charlies family.  We were treated like family (which we are) and had such a great time.  Wonderful meals, the Greeley Stampede (87th annual), fireworks at the country club (never been to one of those) prayer with Charlies car dealership partners over their businesses, church (the most patriotic Sunday ever!) and many more fun activities that left us gasping for breath.  Great fun with great people.

We left Greeley about noon and drove into Wyoming and on to a rest area 60 miles east of Bozeman, Montana where we spent a short night and then on the next morning to Missoula where we loaded up on groceries and headed to our destination along Lolo Pass and the Lochsa River.  We have stayed in this National Forest Campground many times over the years and always enjoy it there.  I caught a lot of fish including 10-12 of the biggest cutthroat trout ever on that river (16-20 inches)  Great fun.

Did something dumb there too.  Because the nearest place to buy a fishing licence is about 50 miles one way, down the winding highway, I decided for the first time ever in my life, and I fish a lot in a lot of different states, to see how the fishing was before I made the trip to get the license (there was road construction too).  I have fished dozens of different rivers in at least 5 states over the years, always bought a license and never, ever been checked, ever!  You guessed it.  10 minutes into my decision to check the fishing before buying the license, along comes the LAW and checks me for a license! I felt so stupid and there is nothing you can say, no explanation wanted and none he hasn’t heard before.  The saga is still not concluded because it looks like I will have to drive back over there to appear in court.  I am trying to work something out but they are pretty tough on poachers!  “You just have to believe me, Sir, I have never done this before, honest, really, I never have…”  Sure.

We left Wilderness Gateway Friday morning and drove the 500 plus miles to Shelton arriving in time for #1 grandson Sloan’s 5th birthday.  We drove to Gig Harbor to pick up Brad’s two children, Canyon Paul and Sage and brought them to Shelton for Sloan’s party as dad was doing a wedding and mom wanted to go along without two small children.  It was a long day but a log of fun.

Well, that gets us to today and the start of 7 weeks or so in Washington before we head out on another adventure in living “nowhere”.

Not sure what we will do with all of this time here but will let you know.

July 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm 6 comments

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