Monday 18 May 2009

more thoughts on "The End of Religion" .

May 19, 2009

Over the past month or so, a friend has been sending emails of things he's been learning from the Word -- and today, I printed out the last 1/2 dozen or so, and went down to the beach (it' s such a beautiful day!) and sat on a bench, and read through them... and heard the voice of Father speaking through them, confirming so much He has been teaching me. They also related a LOT to the thoughts I've been having about the book The End of Religion ... and I would like to share some of what he said, because it really adds to and confirms what I wrote the other day. (If you haven't read the blog from May 14 "My thoughts about "The End of Religion" by B. Cavey" and May 17 "Thinking about your amazing love... and other discussions with Papa" you should probably read them first; then you'll see how these thoughts from my friend fit in!)

He wrote:

You are worthy. You're OK. The cross made you OK... 'Worthy, worthy in His sight, I cannot more worthy be, For in the Person of His Son, I am as worthy as He.' ... speak out what [you] know and believe...declaring all [you] know about that Cross. Out loud.... 'He bore it all.' .... 'The cross of Christ, the blood shed there continuously cleanses and frees us from all sin.'... the finished work of Christ implicit in those words, 'Father, forgive them' .... I [am] in fact, through His work, not mine, 'as worthy as He' .... If you are feeling unworthy and attacked...try believing by declaring anew the old, old story of the accomplishments of the cross. The grace and power of His magnificent love Who shed His blood from within its cruel grip will come through for you. You will be restored.


... there is, in the universe, a Resurrection principle... [which], at work, means that 'God works all things for good to those who love him' .... in the affairs of men who will, against all odds, trust God and not give up on His plan. Or even if they do, the principle works because God, not man, controls our affairs ultimately.... the Resurrection changed everything. That event whose principle had been at work in the time of Jacob and Joseph resulted in Jesus walking out of the tomb alive. He killed death that day, giving us the hope that everything will come right in the end, however dreadful the mess we're in and how much it seems to be our own fault.... the Resurrection bypasses all considerations of fault and blame.... Our part is to believe.... Personally, I have seen the death principle savagely at work on many of my circumstances... It has reaped its grim harvest and done its worst.... But, only if we give in to it can it win today and, even then, it will only lose in the end because the Resurrection principle is higher than the laws of sin and death.... trust in and declare the Resurrection even when [you] do not understand [what is happening in your life]...

And ...

Ephesians 2:7... envisions the 'whole purpose of everything' in one verse: 'He did this that HE might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immesurable riches of His free grace in kindness and goodness of heart towards us..." ... God did what He did so that He could demonstrate GRACE throughout the ages to come.... grace is: an act of love for no other reason than that the one who gives it out likes you and wants to make you happy.... God's purpose is to demonstrate GRACE, not to flex His divine muscles, not to 'Lord it over' His creation but to permeate His creation with His grace... God made certain people alive by placing inside their spirits the Holy Spirit of God even when they were 'dead in sin.' Paul rewords it... 'He gave us the very life of Christ.... He did this in order that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in His kindness and goodness toward us.' (Amp.)

[A comment of my own here: The more I consider the review of "The End of Religion" which I have already discussed a couple days previously, the more it seems to me that the writer of the review seems to have a different view of where mankind is, in the "ages" the Word of God speaks of, than I do. My friend has, from his own study of Scripture over many years, created a possible outline of these "ages" ... and I'd like to share it here. Of course others have also made their own outlines; this one I think is simple and pretty accurate. I believe we are in what he calls the "period of grace" ... that we are freed from the "period of ... God's law: God's character in a code" .... (and that, while we are already experiencing the kingdom of God, as believers, the fulfillment of it, the "Age of the Kingdom" as described below, is yet to come...) Anyway, I found this outline interesting... and the comments following the "Age of the Kingdom" definition....what do you think? As we are already under grace, what does this say to us as we ourselves live in the Kingdom, even if it isn't yet in its fullness? This does not seem to be a simplistic faith, but a great challenge to love and follow our Savior with all our hearts... and all aspects of our being!]

Anyway, he also wrote:

1. The Age Before Creation - God, who always was... fellowshipped with Himself...

2. The Age of Innocence - God lived in His creation with His children, walking with them 'in the cool of the day' before their terrible choice to go their own way without their creator... [making] themselves slaves of evil and participants in a fallen age that would fill the earth with violence and death.

3. The Age of Sin and Death - is the destructive age that came from the above choices...

a. Period of Human Government - leading to the catastrophe of the great flood and following it for some years.... We call it history - man's story of sin and death...

b. Period of Israel and God's law - a nation was ... given 'God's character in a code' .... They badly obeyed this holy law but still, it was a light of life for those who would choose it...

c. Period of Grace - God will use the witness of those who deliberately choose grace to spread, in the ages to come, that message of love to the race of man. Eph 1:10 says... 'He planned for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, both things in heaven and things in earth.'

4. The Age of the Kingdom - ... after 'certain adjustments' in history - perhaps the collapse of everything in which man has put his faith - the world will see the King and His Kingdom in full measure... the prayer Jesus said to pray - 'Thy Kingdom come' - .... It will be answered!

Those little glimpses we've seen... will be common practices of the ones whom God chooses to entrust with these powers in the Kingdom Age.... When they exercise those powers in love and grace, not as religion, not for profit and not for personal power, the world, by the millions, will turn to the truths of the Gospel. This message will not have any other agenda than grace, pure undeserved grace with no motives other than love, exactly as Jesus showed the world before it hung Him on a cross.... Can you try to imagine how long it would take [for people to] choose Jesus... if incorruptible servants of grace healed them, fed them... removed monstrous laws from their society.... What delight and what acceptance would all those stiff Christian religious people enjoy given true reality with the real facts to prove it. In the Kingdom Age, the Gospel will be preached in all its fullness... re-establishing order into the chaos of human affairs...

5. The Age of Judgment - time during which the wrongs of history are addressed, when justice is pronounced... justice will be understood to have already occurred on the cross when the payment of all sins was meted out in terrible fullness as He 'drank the cup' of sin.... When He cried, 'It is finished' or 'paid in full' He was pronouncing the full payment of the purchase price necessary to redeem man from the mess he had made and the slavery to sin he had accepted as 'normal life.' Legally, it was a 'done deal' although practically it will take the ages to unfold it all 'on the ground.' Nevertheless, within the justice of God and within the principle of restitution so clear in the code of the Hebrew laws, there will be an additional personal accounting.... the age of judgment will be in the good hands of those who have learned both of justice and mercy. In the end, it will have righted all the wrongs, established a true justice always tipping the the scales in favor of grace because that is the whole purpose of the ages.

6. The Eternal State - 'heaven'.... We know little about it but must believe that it is, in fact, beyond all dreams, wonderful and beautiful....

Finally, to conclude, the purpose of the ages - and you may understand them differently from me - is to demonstrate grace. When it is all over, when the ages have unfolded and the last case has been heard, it will be all about grace. I think I should make my life 'all about grace' as well. But how? And how about you?

[My comment: that last paragraph: what a challenge! ... and if you haven't read my blog from yesterday, "reaching out to people on the streets," you might enjoy seeing one way that some people are living grace...]

reaching out to people on the streets

May 17, 2009

Went to Another Chance breakfast and church gathering... breakfast starting outside about 6:30, gathering around 8:45... normally till about 9:30 - but it was such a beautiful day we decided to do that outside too - and it lasted till nearly 10:30! Some people who feel uncomfortable going inside (into the church basement next to the lawn where the breakfast is held) seem more likely to stick around - and with coffee and cinnamon buns set out beside the group sitting around in lawn chairs, others going by stop for a snack, and some of them stay to listen in! It was great - so much discussion, prayer, really good teaching on faith and its practical outcomes (deeds, works, actions, whatever you want to call them! scriptures: James 3:14-24, Heb 13:5-8, Phil 2:11-13, Mt 6:25-34 ... and I'd add to those, Eph 2:8-10, 1 Tim 6:6,10, and Heb 11:1,6,12:2 and 2 Cor 4:16-18!) ... and stories from Mexico, illustrating those principles, by a guy who just came back (he goes down a couple times a year to help out at a orphanage and so on). Then a far-ranging discussion... And because for sure not everyone there is "churched" some really unusual ideas (for "church"!) are brought up... and the people are treated respectfully, but steered toward Jesus, the Truth and the Way... and if the conversation starts to go down rabbit-trails, ___ brings it back on-track, sometimes with a bit of humor, like "I don't believe in the X-men either!" ... and always bringing it back to the truth of the Word of God. I can imagine that if some of the ideas people brought up were mentioned in a more traditional "church" setting, there would be some gasps, and discomfort, and maybe people charging in with the Truth... But here, people are listened to, and treated with respect, and then the Truth presented gently and patiently (and humorously!). It's an awesome learning experience for me.

___ was saying how he's going to be "ordained" next month (he's been "walking love" on the streets here for 7 years, since he became a Christian, learning from studying the Word, and sharing with others as he builds relationships and cares for the people on the streets) ... and one of the guys said, "I thought you were a believer, not into that religion stuff" ... and he replied, "Well, the apostle Paul says he was "all things to all people," and when I'm trying to explain my ministry to 'churchy' people, and trying to encourage them to reach outside their buildings, for some people in those churches, a "Reverend" in front of my name will give me more credibility to be listened to." [Those he reaches out to on the streets already all call him "Pastor" ... but he doesn't have 'formal' training... and he doesn't "look" like a "Rev" either... which is hard for some "church" people to accept]. Anyway, the guy smiled and said, "Oh I get it! That's okay, then!"

It turns out that one of the people at the gathering had come to our house a couple times back in the day when hubby and I had "Sunday Soup" every Sunday afternoon (we did it for at least 2 or 3 years, and there were a lot of different people over that time, so I didn't remember him specifically, though he did look familiar, and then when he told me who he'd come with and all, I remembered him!), for anyone who wanted to drop in... and he was reminiscing about the "awesome soup", and wishing we'd do it again (we stopped because hubby's new work schedule at the time interfered...). Well, I've been seriously thinking about starting something like that again, so told him to let me know when it would work for him, and we'll start again... and to bring people with him. I really had been thinking about it, but didn't know whether to start Soup again or not... and asking Father what His will is... and then this guy comes and requests it! I love the way You work things out, Papa!

Well, ___'s message on faith and deeds was right on for me, a lot of confirmation of what You've been teaching me, Father! Thank You!

my thoughts about "The End of Religion" by B Cavey

May 14, 2009

A friend of mine loaned me a book, The End of Religion, by Bruxy Cavey. Although I didn't agree with totally everything in the book, there was a lot of stuff that I thought was really worth reading and considering... and so I sent an email to some of my friends whom I thought might be interested in it, offering to send them the quotes I had copied from it.

One of my friends replied, and passed on to me, for my consideration, a "review" by someone else who had read the book ... and not only was the review very antagonistic to the book; it also seemed like the reviewer and I had read totally different books. I read it and was amazed again by Your love and grace - and this reviewer read it and proclaimed it to be "simplistic... dumbed down... significant error... contrary to the biblical message... heretical... wrong" and urged people to "Please stay away, far away from books like this." I was astonished!

And all day I can't stop thinking about how amazing Your love is... and I do want to obey You in return (the reviewer pretty much said that the book advocates a simplistic love of God without obedience to Him). One thing he wrote that really disturbed me was: "Adam and Eve committed original sin so we are separated from God and therefore need rules and a mediator in Jesus to help us live as we should... We need rules because sin is our true nature"...

But Father, when I read Your Word, I hear Jesus saying that we need Him and His sacrifice on the cross to free us from slavery to our sin nature... and that You have given us Your Spirit as well to guide and grow and help us... and that we love You because of Your love and grace toward us... and that as we live in You, abide in You, we will love You and others... and in that loving, come to true obedience - the spirit, not just the letter, of the law.

Okay, and the reviewer also wrote, "The Bible is the only way we can know Jesus and why he died on the cross." But we can also know Jesus because He came and lived among us and taught us Himself... and died and rose again - and longs to live with and in us every moment by His Spirit! Without His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, living in us, even the Bible is (to those who do not believe) a "dead" book, "foolishness!"

As I responded to my friend who had passed on the review, maybe the reason I liked the book so much was that it backed up what I have been experiencing in my walk with God: I love to obey Him because He loves me - I no longer feel rebellious against His rules and regulations because I know that He has made them for my good, because He loves me (though this does not mean that I also accept the rules and regulations and rituals of men who may even claim to be speaking for God, if their rules are counter to the Word of God - to Jesus, the Word, the Truth!).

When I read the book, I do not see the author advocating disobeying God - in fact, when I read it I see him all in favor of obeying God because of what God has done for us and the relationship God longs to share with us. The gospel message, the power of the cross, is shared clearly.

When I say a book is worth reading, I don't mean it is "perfect" ... What I mean is that it is worth thinking about - usually because it challenges our dearly-held preconceptions, the way we "perceive" truth... It doesn't mean I agree with everything. I suppose that is why two people (the reviewer and I) could read the same book and have such totally different reactions to it... I came to it with the experience and joy of a relationship with God who loved me so much that He took the judgment against my sin upon Himself, and in doing so freed me from it's bondage, and then gave me His Spirit to guide me in His way, His life, so that I gladly obey out of love and gratefulness... while it seems (though I could be wrong, of course) that the reviewer has come to the book with a deeply held conviction that at least as long as a human being lives, even as a "Christian," the sin nature continues to control, and the only solution is to follow a carefully laid out list of rules, regulations and rituals in order to be obedient and thus please God (and, perhaps, earn or at least maintain, one's salvation)....

(My first reaction was that perhaps the reviewer, who is clearly antagonistic to anyone whom he feels is "postmodern," may not even have read the book, or had just skimmed it, looking for "evidence" of "postmodern heresy" ... but on further reflection I really do think that the "preconceptions" we bring DO color our reaction to what we read, and even our understanding of it... Looking at it again, myself, trying to see it through the eyes of a belief system that emphasizes rules, regulations, and rituals - a belief system that I myself grew up with, and am therefore overjoyed to have discovered the amazing love and grace and of God - I can see how, with a deep adherence to that system, I could have at one time reacted surprisingly similarly as the reviewer did!)

The reviewer claims that the writer of the book "wants to whittle the Bible down to a simplistic message: Love God Love Each Other and get rid of all those pesky religious rules, symbols and traditions. This dumbing down of the gospel needs to stop." The interesting thing is that in my read of this book, the author isn't trying to "get rid of all those pesky rules, regulations" etc.... In fact, he says that they can certainly have value in their place: as part of your relationship with God, and definitely as an outgrowth of it: we love and obey Him because He first loved us! - but not as the road to God, or the way to gain His favor (or the way to "stay saved") (or the way to make God and/or others love us and approve of us)! I do not read this book as a "get rid of rules" approach at all. As for "dumbing down the gospel," I found this book spends a lot of time on the incredible importance of the cross, and of the fact that following Jesus also definitely includes the cross in our own lives.

The reviewer says, "Cavey says that we need rules because we do not love each other as we should" - and yes, he does say that... but Cavey goes on to tell why we don't love each other as we should - because of sin! - and then he rejoices that God has provided for the forgiveness of our sin... and that if we accept that and are walking in relationship with God, our obedience will be greater (in quality as well as in quality, as we apply the principles behind the Biblical rules to our lives) than our "rules and regulations and rituals" (letter of the law) obedience because now we obey out of love and gratefulness (and spirit of the law), rather than simply out of fear or from being "forced to."

The reviewer also says that the author "tries to demonstrate what our relationship with God should look like, devoid of institutions and rules.... Even in the beginning God did have one rule..." Oddly enough, when I read the book, the author did discuss the rule God gave in the garden; and nowhere in the book do I find advocacy of the kind of relationship the reviewer says the writer describes. On the other hand, the author of the book does advocate carefully considering the rules, regulations, rituals, traditions that we follow, as to why we follow them, and as to whether they really are Jesus' message, and so on. And I think that is important, if we are to avoid, as Paul urged the Galatians, getting caught up again into the slavery from which Jesus delivered us!

Oddly enough (in view of what the reviewer claims about the book), I come away from reading this book wanting to OBEY God more, LOVE Him more: the two are inseparable, as the author says. The book challenges me to love and obey God even more, to share the gospel more (even if it results in persecution and people disliking me).

Father, that is how I feel. If I am wrong, please show me... but please, oh please, don't take away Your love! If I had to go back to knowing about You and about Your love, in place of knowing You and being in a love relationship with You... oh Father, I don't think I could bear it!

I want to obey You. I want to love You, honor, revere, respect, worship - yes, and also fear You with trembling ... because of Who You Are.... Love, Truth, Wisdom, the Creator, the Way, the Life, the Light ... God Almighty! Not because if I don't obey a bunch of rules and regulations I will be sure to fall, or You will come after me with a big stick, or You will reject me.

Your Word says we love Him because [even though we totally deserve judgment and punishment - yes, death!] He loved us, and died for us, forgiving us that we might gain His life!

"Gospel" is good news!


By the way, my "readings for today" confirm this love of God that results in free obedience ... the freedom Christ's sacrifice has given those who believe in Him.... Check out Exodus 12: 13,17,41 Psalm 31 Psalm 32: 1-2, 5-11 Isa 31: 1,3 Isa 31:6-7 Acts 2:38-39, 42-47 Acts 3:15-16, 19-20 1 Corinthians 14:1,3,4,6,12,26,31

more thoughts on slavery vs freedom

May 11, 2009

Reading in Exodus 6... I've noticed or been taught lots of Old Testament shadow-pictures of New Testament truths... but just saw another one here today(although what ___ wrote in his last blog certainly prepared me for it - and __'s book did too!)

Exodus 6 says: 2. God also said to Moses, I am the LORD (I AM - YWHW). 3. I appeared to Abraham, to Issac and to Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name, the LORD, I did not make myself known to them. 4. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6. Therefore, say to the Israelites, I am the LORD and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them and will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD. 9. Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.... 7:5 and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.

So, this is what I'm thinking about this passage...

Later, God spoke to His people: I am Your Father. I appeared to you before as God Almighty and as the LORD. But now I am making Myself known to you as your Father, by coming to you in My Son Jesus, and by giving you My Spirit to live in and with you, individually and together as My family.... I am establishing a new covenant with you, to give you the kingdom of God (aka the kingdom of heaven) - a greater land than Canaan, a land where you and I will dwell together for all time, in the kind of relationship I had with Adam and Eve, as was my original intention for you, My special creation.... I am now bringing you out from under the yoke of the "law," freeing you from slavery to rules and regulations - freeing you from the penalty of death for sin - redeeming you by My greatest act of judgment, by the sacrifice of My Son's blood, the final, totally, permanently effective sacrifice....

And yes, God did it! But how easily His people come under slavery again.... I wonder... are people who are enslaved under the yoke of religiosity not listening to the gospel, the good news of freedom, for the same reasons as the Israelites? - too tired, too discouraged, working too hard to just survive, lost hope that there really is freedom available? Father, are You "stretching out Your hand" to bring out of slavery Your people who have been drawn into bondage... bringing them back into the freedom You provided for them through Jesus' blood?

It seems to me that when Israel went down to Egypt, it was, as Jospeh said to his brothers (Gen 50:19): You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

- And yet, God Himself told Israel (Jacob) that the people, even in the amazing initial "saving of many lives," would go through a 400 year slavery period - and then God would rescue them, bring them into the promised land, by a mighty hand...

I wonder, have we needed/required (or worse, chosen) a period of "slavery" (to religiosity, to churchianity, whatever) in order to really understand the greatness of the freedom and deliverance Jesus brought? The original believers surely understood it - at first, anyway (it wasn't long before the Judaizers and others were doing their best to bring back the bondage of the law...)


Prov 28:19 He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. (Sometimes I wonder if my current lifestyle, even my "writing," is actually "chasing fantasies"??? Papa, I "feel" You don't want me to take a "job" right now (and You are surely providing for our needs, and even teaching me to have less of them!) .... but in what way might I be "working my land"?? I always had "plenty to do" with my 5 kids at home... but now... well, not so much...) (I'm still maybe having a hard time discerning between "doing for You" and "being in You"...)

It seems to me that a problem with "organized programs" is that the day-to-day needs and even emergencies "slip through the cracks" because they don't happen to fit the "schedule" ... and yet people in the "programs" feel comfortable because they see the program as being there to take care of things. The thing is, relationships - and indeed, real life/ living - are not predictable, schedule-able things, are they?!?! (Kind of like how hard it is to "catch" those "teachable moments" when one has to fit the "curriculum" into the "time schedule" and "deadlines"...).

Prov 28: 22 A stingy man is eager to get rich, and is unaware that poverty awaits him. (It just occurs to me that You are taking amazing financial care of us these days in so many ways. Thank You!) (Isa 28:29 ... the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom!)

Prov 28:27 He who gives to the poor lacks nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

needing Your body

May 7, 2009

Feeling so much better today... is it "just" getting off to an awesome start with You, Papa? (I went to coffee time - just full of happiness - actually, joy! I felt like dancing! Walking there, chatting, walking home. Even if it was cold and gray out... At first I was thinking it was my mocha... but I realized it was with me before that... then I realized it was You! Holy Spirit! Father! Jesus! Just as I asked!) And spending time with Your people? .... Looking forward to coffee tonight with ___ and ___ and hubby!

When I told hubby this morning that I was going to coffee time "because I need time with adults," he said, "Aren't I good enough?" ... and I pointed out.... "You have time with adults every day at work!" and he said, "Oh yeah...

But it's not just that. I still long for that NT church "meeting daily from home to home." I miss friends (Your family!). (I miss music, too, and sharing Your Word, and sharing Your walk. I miss mutual encouragement, and yes, accountability... okay, I'm not sure "miss" is the right word... because there were a lot of times before when there wasn't much of that, after all... but I kept hoping for it, longing for it, hanging it there believing it would really come some day... sometimes there were really bright moments! Thank You for them! So yes, I do miss those! And I long for all of that - because it is what Your Word promises, right? It's what the early church experienced, isn't it? And it should be true for us too, shouldn't it? Lord? Please?!?!! )...

When I was walking home, I was humming (in my head!) that song, "I love to be in Your presence with Your people, singing praises; I love to sing and rejoice, lift my hands and raise my voice.... You put my feet to dancing...!" Wow, I really did want to literally dance in the street! Well, at least I was flinging my arms out and smiling ear to ear!

May 9, 2009

Psa 26:12... in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.... (I feel like I'm "cut off" from "the great assembly" ... whatever that is...)

Isa 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You (I remember it this way: Thou will keep him in PERFECT PEACE whose MIND IS STAYED ON THEE, because he TRUSTETH IN THEE... Yes! That's right! Thank You Lord!).... v8 ... your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.... v9. My soul yearns for YOU in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for YOU!... Isa 26:12 LORD, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us...

Father, ___ is anxious that I should "attend church" .... as she correctly says, we need the support of Your people - after all, it's YOUR church, YOUR body... and so I do, Father, even if maybe there is "system" involved.... not sure what to think/ do/ be... oh Papa, I love being with You... but You were the one who initiated Your church family/ body... and I need that too... in Your way, plan, place, whatever. Please open my eyes and heart to let me see where YOU want me to BE with You and Your people... Thank You! Amen!

the tithe thing... and slavery vs freedom

May 4, 2009 (continued)

Papa, I've been "worrying" about "the tithe." ... and we seem to have been "wasting money, digging into the tithe" with things like the steam cleaner, and "wasting gas" going out for drives (but wow, You have saved us from "car expenses" over and over, with these 2 wonderful cars You have provided: Big Red and Little Red :-) Wow! So really "low maintenance" and all... and when one "breaks down" the other is there... and good gas mileage (we only spent $37 on gas the other day... and didn't gas up from April 8 to May 2! Wow! What's with that?!? We just don't seem to need the car much!)... and hubby has enjoyed those "drives" the past couple days (and so have I, and You've been teaching me from them!)... and I've had so much fun with the camera, and sharing photos... Oh Papa! We are so blessed! To have a marriage with love (and form me - and him, too, no doubt - to have You here to share with, talk with, when we can't seem to talk/share with each other for whatever reason...).

Oh, what I was writing about "wasting the tithe"... and just living expenses... and buying that new printer (and me excusing myself, saying, well, I can use it for You...)... and all the "eating out" we've done the past few days... and as I was sitting here visiting with You, Papa (I was going to write, "having coffee with You!" It just seems like such an appropriate metaphor!!!) it occurred to me that maybe You're taking me through a de-tithing time, too (so I can learn to just give joyfully, gratefully, freely!!! Wow!!! Yay! I love You, Father!)...

So I just opened Your Word, and this jumped out at me (before I even started to read "today's reading" : it's underlined and it was just right there!) Mt. 21: 13 It is written, he said to them, My house will be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers. (Someone said that a "den of robbers" is not the place where the robbing takes place, but the place that the robbers plan their robberies, and then go back to afterwards to gloat over their loot, and hoard it, and plan more robberies... oh my.... oh dear...). So, Papa, does that have something to do with the whole "tithe thing?"

But verse 14 says about Jesus in God's house: The blind and the lame came to him at the temple and he healed them. That is a whole totally different thing than it being used as a "den of robbers" ... A place to come and be healed by You, Jesus! walking with Papa, led by Your Holy Spirit! Verse 15: "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

And Father, You also say that your house is a "house of prayer" ... Jeremiah 7:11 a house of prayer which bears God's Name ... Isaiah 56:6-7 a place to serve the LORD, worship Him, keep the Sabbath, hold fast to His covenant... joy, offerings and sacrifices accepted....

Papa?? What are You teaching me? Jesus? Sarayu Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:1 (from You!) It is for freedom that Christ as set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery... Galatians 5:5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (hmmm... or churchianity or unchurchianity?) has any value... The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love... Galatians 6:15 What counts is a new creation... 16 Peace and mercy to all who rollow this rule, even to the Israel of God...

(This is all coming from a "cross reference" I wrote in the margin at Matthew 21:21 a long time ago! .... and I don't even see the "connection" now to the cross reference - whatever it meant to me then - but Galatians 5 was meant by You for me today... and yesterday I was too tired to finish my Bible reading so I left the Matthew reading for today... there are no coincidences in Your economy! Praise God!)

Gal 5:9 A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough... v11 persecution... the offence of the cross [a good and necessary thing, obviously!]... 13. serve one another in love. 14. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." :-)

BUT (15. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other [I've been there... :-( ... forgive me, Father... forgive me, please, those I've bitten and devoured... and maybe destroyed, oh dear :-( ].... v 20: hatred, doscord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy... 26 conceited, provoking and envying each other...

v.16 So I say, LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, AND YOU WILL NOT GRATIFY THE DESIRES OF THE SINFUL NATURE... 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law... v. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law... 24. belong on Christ Jesus... crucified the sinful nature... 25 Since we live by the Spirit, LET US KEEP STEP WITH THE SPIRIT. .. 6:2 Carry each others' burdens, and in this way You will fulfill the law of Christ... 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up...10... Therefore, AS WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers...

Thinking about what ___ said about being quiet and observing: I used to have so much to say... now... not much at all (and when I do open my mouth, my foot seems to so often fall right in... was it doing that before and I just didn't see it?) (Proverbs says even a fool will seem wise if he keeps quiet!).

(aside.... hmmm.... Anyone who receives instruction in the Word must share all good things with his instructor... Papa???)

needing Your church - but fearing re-imprisonment

May 4, 2009

Good morning Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit (Sarayu!) Thank You for waking me early! I NEED, NEED, NEED this quiet time with You. There are SO MANY interruptions and distractions once the day gets started.

And it is tempting for me to just lay tyhere in bed, start a little "prayer" (or even a real conversation) with You... but fall back asleep... and really not get back to it later... meaning to, but losing focus, track, remembrance... the TV blaring, people's needs to be met, projects distracting....

Okay, so what I meant to say was, "Dear Jesus, could You please go and pray - talk to! - Papa for me this morning?" The thing is, I am feeling the need to be prayed for - and encouraged and uplifted - and I need Papa's wisdom. I know that is why You have given us Your body, Your church... but right now I feel terribly disconnected ... in the "wilderness" as that article put it. Sometimes I am tempted to run back to Your people (at least to "our church" ... You know what I mean)... Okay, please listen: I do want to be with Your people: but I really don't want to be tied up, imprisoned, worked to death in.... well, You know, prison-bar scaffolding (politics, "working for God," striving to be a "leader," so much knowing about You... but so often so little knowing You and Your family... etc...)

Do You still love me? I know Youdo. I suppose it's like that old saying: "If you feel like God is far away, guess who has moved!" But I don't know if it really is that, exactly. I can't really put my finger on "me moving away" (although there seem to be plenty of symptoms...). Okay, listen: I feel like I'm in a void, like I need someone to assign me something to do! It's like I'm "missing" rules and regulations and paycheques and time schedules and curriculum guides and obligations-and-responsibilities, policies-and-procedures (and the "rewards" : human approval, goals met, money in the bank, etc)... and other people around me also "working together," "building Your kingdom"... it's hard for me to not be "in the forefront/ deeply involved/ leading/ pulling together as a team" ... it seems lonely (is that an evil thing to feel???)... lonely to "just sit back" and let You build Your church and kingdom... and let You do Your work (with me just walking alongside and being part of it as it happens, as it unfolds...hmmm? Papa?).

The thing is, I've been reading Romans and now 1 Corinthians... and on the one hand, we're "free from the curse of the law," but on the other hand we are "fellow-workers" ... and I can't seem to find that "fellow-worker" place, Lord. I really do feel as if I'm stumbling around in an arid, dusty, dry wilderness, while the Promised Land is right there, within eye-sight, but I can't get in. Yes, I know... in Christ, I am "in" (And I've been "in" for a long time... and yes, there have been times when I've feasted on the milk and honey and those incredible clusters of grapes - and the new wine pressed out of them - and the hundred-fold grain! ... but it feels like there is something wrong right now).

(I wonder about Paul, sitting there in prison... or house-arrest, whatever.... and there were times when he was deserted and feeling so alone... and yet in those time he had YOU there with him... and others did drop by sometimes... and he communicated with others in writing, sharing Your Word and Your love (and his own father-in-Christ-love! Wow!) with them... and with all Your family throughout time and place! Is this a word of encouragement from You to me, Papa? Thank You, I know it is!).

(I hear You telling me, "Just a little longer, My child. I have it all under control. I am working out My plans and My purposes - perfectly - and not only will your turn to be "part of my work" come ... but you are already, right now, part of it... only you don't see it right now. I am with you... and you are with Me. You are! Just trust Me. Keep abiding. Don't you think that maybe it's a good thing that you "can't see" how I'm "using you" in My plans? For, can't you see, the temptation to become proud isn't there dangling itself in front of you! And isn't that a good thing, Norma, my little child?")

(Yes, Father... You speak so kindly and gently... You know my weaknesses so well... and it is so kind of You to keep me out of their pathways... like little Christian looking at that lovely green path running parallel just over the fence, while Your road was dry and dusty... and how could he - and Faithful, I think it was - possibly get lost if they spent some time traveling parallel?? ... Father, sometimes what looks to us like the Promised Land really isn't, is it? And sometimes (often...) what looks like the wilderness is the narrow way, Your way... and sometimes it seems awfully lonely... but You are watching our every step... and You do send along Your helpers when we truly need them... and You do bring us into places of rest and refreshing... but Father, they are YOUR places... not the ones that the world (and enemy) dangles before us... and oh, dear Papa, please help me keep my eyes on You, help me to cling to the old rugged cross, to never set down my "scroll" for one instant...)

Papa, I love You. You love me. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!

The sanctuary thing vs love walking

May 3, 2009

I took muffins with me to the Another Chance breakfast gathering. After a really stormy night, the morning was beautiful with sunny, clear blue skies, and fresh air. Had a really nice time chatting with people and then the "service" discussion time.

One thing ___ said is that he gets afraid sometimes that "churchy" people will try to rush things to get "results" with the Another Chance gathering, and that he hopes that instead they will observe and listen and build relationships ("love walking") and let God work things out His way and time.

Sometimes I feel like maybe I'm out of place because I'm not "doing" anything other than sometimes baking something and sometimes chatting - but a lot of the time just sitting there quietly... and yes, watching... so that helped him, to hear him say that.

And after I came home, I was reading this article on that house church site (the guy who writes all those books about house churches) and he was talking about the "de-tox, wilderness" time people go through after they leave churchianity... but warning people not to stay there too long (ie. the Israelites could have got to Canaan in 11 days but ended up taking 40 years - hmm... not so sure about that analogy). Anyway, at the end of the article was information about how to find and get involved in one of the network of house churches he's involved with... and that scares me too, making me wonder if it really is the "genuine article" of maybe just another trap??....

(Another thing it said in the article is how some people have had to leave homes and job security to move somewhere they can be part of a house church...) (and I wondered about that, too??....)

___ told me there would be a good music group at church this morning... but Father, I just feel sick to think of going to "service" there. I do go to that church on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the coffee time with the street ministry, and I go and chat with people in the office and stuff... but through the back door... I actually find myself avoiding the front door that leads into the "sanctuary" .... I just don't want to do the "sanctuary" thing... Is that wicked? Father? Papa? Daddy?