Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The greatest commandment

It never ceases to amaze me how many of us say that the law is fulfilled but then say we only have two laws now that Jesus himself gave us:
  1. Love God
  2. Love your neighbour as yourself
We happily say this is the law of love and it sums up all the law into something we can understand and practically achieve.

But of course this wasn't Jesus' last word on the matter. Just before his death he said: 
"A new precept am I giving to you, that you be loving one another; according as I love you, that you also be loving one another." (John 13:34 CLT).

This is a complete game changer! His initial summary of the law into the Top 2 is just as condemning and unachievable as the rest of the law, and still brings death in the end. We just can't make ourselves love God, and we don't really love ourselves, let alone our neighbours. So Jesus "new commandment" over shadowed ALL the law and gives us the only hope we have - to be loved by Him and then love each other in the same proportion to our own experience of that love.

How simple is that! We don't have to live by ANY laws ever again. We don't have to even think about them! The only thing we need to concern ourselves with is how much he loves us and letting that flow over into everyone else. There are no "yes buts", no "life principles", no "golden rules", only pure unadulterated freedom to enjoy God in all His fullness, IN us, ALL the time, absolute freedom, guided only by His presence in us. This is why its called the Good News!!

I know many of you are already saying "yes but", but this freedom is the only thing that allows us to run into His arms without a care, and to hear His voice, and to live from the place of Love.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


This is a beautiful analogy from Rob Bell.
Father's love is so much better then we can ever imagine!

Friday, 24 February 2012

New Day

A challenging clip from Truefaced.
A New Day is already here for the living.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

There's a wolf out there...

~ Jeff Turner

There's a wolf out there, masquerading as both a sheep and a Shepherd; a wolf ho thirsts for the life blood of the saints; a beast who takes pleasure in watching the sons of God shaking in their boots in fear that something as benign as enjoying life will land them in Gehenna. 

He relishes in beholding us pockmarked with depression, fear, sleepless nights and joyless prayers, all because we cannot rightly see who the Father is. 

He sits in the front row of most Evangelical churches, howling 'Amen' each and every time the 'preacher' spews forth curses, and law and legalistic gibberish. 

He loves to watch the little children terrified as the preacher waxes disgustingly eloquent about God's bestial house of horrors in the underworld. 

He cheers as we trumpet a gloomy, hopeless last days message that causes sons and daughters with great potential to expect little more than hell on earth in the days to come. 

He loves watching artists and authors, poets and playwrights, movie producers and musicians shipped off to Bible colleges, only to be stripped of their callings and individuality, and instead turned into mindless, unthinking, soulless, plastic preachers. 

He loves watching dysfunctional people perpetuating the myth of a dysfunctional deity who's only interested in us sharing in his dysfunction! 

He loves it all! Why? Because all of it is designed to make you miserable; to drain the color from your eyes and suck the joy and wonder of living right out of your soul. This tyrannical monster is not to be tolerated, debated with, and certainly not accepted as a brother. 

Enough is enough. Down with the fuhrer and his anti-gospel gestapo. It's time for a Gospel revolution that shakes this monster to it's foundations! It's time for a reformation that brings the whole ungodly structure down into it's own footprint! It's time for the life, liberty and love of the Godhead to be screamed from every rooftop, street corner and pulpit! This is revolution! Are you on board?

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Graceful Balance

I spent the afternoon yesterday with a small group and spoke to a guy there at some length about John Crowder (and others like him, I'm not singling him out except that he is very prominent at the moment). This guy is, as many are, of the impression that they are grossly deceived and heretical in their doctrines, but his biggest indicator of error was about what he had seen of the fruit of those people.

(After publishing this post, I saw a clip of John Crowder that explains a lot of things I was questioning about him, check it out here)

Unfortunately, I had to agree, especially that many are aggressive and patronising and present a glibness, that all they care about is being "whacked" by God so tweak theology to fit that experience and too bad if you don't get it! There's a sense that all the worlds problems can be solved by pretending they don't exist. Now I know and agree with the the joy of the finished work of Jesus, but I'm talking about an overly simplistic arrogance that denies the heart of those who struggle and suffer.

So, I found myself having to cut through all that to get to the essence of the "grace" message. After much discussion (which was very good natured despite being passionate) we found we actually agreed on many issues. The interesting thing is a lot of the differences come down to semantics. Things like what we each mean by righteous, holy, sanctified etc and concepts like hungering after God, walking in brokenness and letting our weaknesses be our strength, comforting the broken hearted and mourning with those who mourn.

After a while he saw that we are mostly seeing the same things from a different angle, but here's the thing. His hunger and passion for Jesus and his experience of the Father's heart was already there, he understood what it is to not be bound by law and religion.

There are many brothers and sisters in this place, and in our zeal to express the incredible revelation of Father's unconditional love, and the finished work of the cross, we assume no one else gets it, and everyone else is in bondage to the old covenant. We have taken the wonderful truth of the gospel of grace and made it elitist, to the point where we are arrogant and refuse to see that many others, who didn't have the same issues with bondage to religion and legalistic striving, already understand, but don't use the same terminology, have the same paradigms, culture etc - they aren't a member of our club!

So the very unity, love and passion for Jesus we are trying to convey is destroyed by our elitist arrogance. I love so much of John Crowder's teaching, but the elitist "club" attitude hurts me. I don't have a problem with people getting whacked in the spirit, but we always have a choice about where and when and how appropriate it is any given setting. We also have a choice about the emphasis on glibly claiming our blessings or letting it just be a natural overflow of our intimacy with Him. In the middle of all my joy and love for Jesus, and my hunger for Him, I can still relate to the reality of those around me, walk with real empathy and trust that Father will quietly and efficiently meet any needs at any time in any way.

From all this, I'm realising more that we can just be gracious in how we present the grace message and we don't have to prove anything. If we are showing the fruit of our intimacy, that's more important than the message itself!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Human Understanding?

Been a lot of discussion about Gods love and justice and how we understand it lately. I think this is probably because a lot of the arguments around UR and Penal Substitution delve more into our understanding of Gods character, rather than just trying to interpret scripture.

Generally, a lot of people are saying we can't apply human standards/understanding of justice or love to God. Nor can we apply human emotion, reason or logic to the way we think God should sort things out.

I have a big problem with that concept though. He put in ALL mankind an innate understanding of unconditional love and justice. Sure it gets twisted up with our un-renewed thoughts, but deep down we all just know pure love and true justice, its what it means to be created in his image. When we resort to saying his ways are higher than ours its usually based on Isaiah 55, which is actually talking about God accomplishing his will, how that fits together and how the logistics of all that is way beyond our understanding. Its nothing to do with his character being beyond our understanding.

In fact its quite the opposite when we look at scripture as a whole. He makes his heart's desires very clear. He gives us clear indicators of what love looks like, of what justice looks like, and calls us to aim for the same standards.

So when I think about my heart for the lost, knowing that I am in union with the triune God, and Holy spirit in me will lead me into all truth, I can be confident that my logic, reasoning, compassion, mercy, intelligence etc are all essential to understanding Gods ways, that scripture will be honoured and Jesus will be glorified. God created me with all these things and sent Jesus to redeem them.

So I HAVE to read scripture with my heart and my head, I have to feel his heart for His creation and not bow down to clinical biblical fundamentalism, otherwise I'm just another Pharisee.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Modern Gospel

~ Jeff Turner - Sound Of Awakening
 Here's the modern 'gospel' in a nutshell:

God the Father had been imbibing the wine of his own fury for around four millennia, and finally, due to his weak constitution, he found himself spiralling into an angry, drunken rage! Having had one too many cups of wrath to drink, the father began to make his way up stairs towards junior, the apparent 'object of his wrath' and the cause of all of his woes. But thanks be to...god...big brother Jesus was on alert, and upon hearing daddy's heavy, drunken feet trudging up the steps, burst out of his room and intercepted him. Big brother endured blow after blow after blow from his enraged parental unit until finally, daddy's wrath had been fully vented. As though emerging from a trance, suddenly, the father found himself sober. He turns around to behold the tear stained face of his youngest, and now hysterical, son. Having vented all of his wrath on his eldest, daddy now looks at junior and exclaims, "No worries son! We're cool now! I beat big brother in your place! I've gotten all of the fight out of me and now we can be buds! Seriously. You can trust me son."

An over simplification? Yes.

A still accurate portrayal? Yes.

Good News? Heck no.

How could one ever feel comfortable in the presence of a 'father' who needed to maim and kill another in order to keep him from doing the same to you? Just as a child can never fully relax and be at ease in the presence of an alcoholic father, no believer can ever be truly at rest with such a notion of God lodged between their ears. What if the ubiquitous unrest and anxiety that plagues humanity can be blamed almost entirely on an interpretation of God the Father that makes Him look more like a Furor than a father? More like a Hitler than a healer? What if even our dysfunctional 'christian' families are simply mirror images of our own misinterpretation of God's dealings with men? What if our brokenness and bankruptcy is the byproduct of our toxic folklore concerning the Father of our spirits? I think most of us can agree that the 'what if?' isn't even necessary, we all know it's true.

The crying need of the hour is for the Church to recapture the image of the Father. We need sons who have learned to behold Him as He is and who are then able to express and project that image to a broken and bleeding humanity. Are you out there? Have you seen Him? Have you heard His voice? Have you tasted His sweetness? Then what are you waiting on? Let your tongue be untied! Let your voice be as clear and sharp as glass! Let your pace be swift and intentional! Run and find the broken wherever they lay, and declare to them the heart of the Father who has saved them!

This is real. Lives are at stake. God is Love.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Perfectly Loved and Accepted

Many thanks to Colin for this post, take the time to read it through - wonderful!!

What would we look like if we knew we were Perfectly Loved and Accepted?

Some thoughts on who we are and how we work, and how the Gospel is the Power of God for the salvation of humanity.

I have for some time thought about how we interpret our own selves by how someone like Paul or James or others have written their own thoughts down, explaining the Gospel to those to whom they wrote....and then we take those thoughts of theirs and keep trying to interpret our own beings and minds based on their explanations.....we often make quite a mess of our inter-interpretations as we relate these explanations to our own minds, especially in the light of our 2012 understanding of human makeup..

One of these is the explanation of our 'nature' ... two natures, or the old and new nature, or I and Me, True and False nature ...and other variations of this same thinking...
And whilst I don't want to cross paths with anything to do with the Gospel as recorded on the writings of the early church fathers, I have wondered how we would interpret some of the things from a 2012 vantage point, having discovered a lot more of our internal mental and emotional workings....In other words, if one had to approach someone totally unchurched, un-christianized, how would we explain what happens inside of us, and why it is that we divide ourselves up into different natures, and how do we interpret that with the Law and the Gospel...

We are a very complex creation, so amazingly made that our emotions, bodies, minds and spirits seamlessly blend into one incredible combination, collectively called 'the human being', or a Person...
Our hormones and chemicals within our bodies have a very distinct part to play on our minds and emotions, and I do not want to dwell on that too much, other than to mention that our physical fitness, excercise and diet can play a very important part in our overall sense of well-being...

That being said, I want to focus on the other side of life, and that being our emotions and minds, undergirded by our spirit-being.
We are designed to live in the knowledge of 'being loved'....

As parents know full well, a child grows and develops best, both emotionally and mentally, in an environment of love, acceptance and discipline (correct guidance and teaching to gain wisdom)
This is our home-base...love and acceptance in all it's variations of forms and expressions..

To be accepted, loved and valued without measure, is how we are designed to live and grow best.....

One may say "But that is impossible, we live in an imperfect world where that kind of environment does not exist"
Perhaps ? Perhaps it's not impossible !
Let's look at non-acceptance and what happens to us when we grow in an environment of non-acceptance.

If I begin as little boy or girl to feel unaccepted, or not perfectly loved for who I am, I begin to look for acceptance and affirmation somewhere, because it is what we need for healthy development....
So I might start throwing tantrums to get this attention, I might start whining or showing off....and invariably get scolded for doing so, which reinforces this behavior, or pushes me into hiding within myself...
We are complex beings and we have many side-shows of varying reactions to not being loved and accepted, too many to even begin to mention here...

A side-note here, and that is to mention something pertinent to the very early stages of development...breastfeeding a baby for as long as possible is one of the best ways to give a newcomer to this world the love and comfort and acceptance he or she needs at the earliest stages of one's life. (As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word)

And breastfeeding is one of the things that our modern lifestyle seems to have no time for, so the necessary love and acceptance required in a child's development is already compromised from the start...ok, that's just a small sideline...

Other pitfalls are absent fathers, even if they are home; and both mothers and fathers with their own emotional and relational issues that carry into this newcomers life, further reinforcing this lack of a perfectly loved and accepted environment..

So....how does the newcomer to this world begin to react to feelings of rejection and shame, which are the symptoms of the lack of perfect love and acceptance ?
Although there are many variations to rejection and lack of acceptances outworkings, they can be boiled down to a few basic reactions.
A lack of love, acceptance and security instils fear and shame, and fear and shame causes a sense of hiding within oneself, combined with a putting on of a brave front, or a pretence of who you are to cover the shame you feel about yourself...
And shame is also reinforced by the reaction to your 'unacceptable' behavior, which in turn reinforces futher shame and more pretences.
These pretences are learned from the society you grow up in; you learn to present what is best accepted in the company you keep, and that can be many different types of company, even varying a few times during any given day
(eg I can have one presentation for my work place, another for my home, another for my golf-buddies, another for my shopping days, and of course, saving the best one for my church)

These presentations are learned and developed from an early age, because it is here at this young stage that the fears from unacceptance are instilled, and the development of these presentations become an integral part of my life, patterns of thinking, and actions borne out of the inverse reactions to the fear and unacceptance.

A note to add with regards to fears....
Our reactions to fears can be as such :
  • If I fear lack, for example, brought on by an absent father and an environment where there was alcohol abuse in the family, and there was never enough food in the house, or by the post-war depression, or current recession....this fear of lack can cause greed, hoarding, overspending, stealing, workaholic tendencies, and many more reactions
  • If I fear being vulnerable and open to others, I can develop a hardened disposition where I can easily kill someone without blinking an eye.....
  • If I fear not being accepted, I can develop jealousy and envy to those who seem to be accepted..
  • If I fear not being good enough, I can strive to prove myself good enough, and this can have severe adverse outworkings, like arrogance, unhealthy competitiveness, etc.

These reactions to fear and shame are so many and so varied, that it would take a book to describe just some of these reactions....and every person reacts in their own specific way, or ways, depending on the circumstances.
These reactions to fear and shame are what Paul calls the 'Old man', or what others have described as the Law man, or the Adamic nature, or the Me and not the I, or the Ego or the False Identity......

We need to see something clearly....We do not and never had two natures ! We are not divided between good and bad, and if we feed the good that good will win, or if we feed the bad, it will win....
We are one person with one nature !
However, if we fear within and are ashamed of ourselves, we hide or squash the fears and the shame inside of us, and develop these pretences to present ourselves acceptable to society.....and this effect seems to be two separate natures...the good and the bad, the old and the new.

These squashed fears and shame do not disappear, because they are part of 'you', but because of our skill in hiding these unacceptable feelings, and the skill in learning an acceptable behavior, we develop two types of personalities...the good and the bad.

Now if we are provoked enough, given the right conditions, this 'bad' personality comes out of hiding, tempers flare, wives get beaten husbands get the cold shoulder, people get killed in road rage, etc.
And when it's all over, back into squashed hiding it goes and the good guy gets the go-ahead to show society who 'you are' again.

These two sides of the coin are the most common within mankind....What can develop with some people who have suffered major trauma, is the development of multiple personalities, where the pains are hidden to the degree that they are totally obliviated from conscious memory, and with the pains and memories hidden, so is the 'person' attached to those memories, and then different visible personalities are developed to maintain a reasonable and acceptable show in society.....but that's another branch of the complex reactions to Fear and Shame......

When we see 'sin' in humans, what we are seeing is THE REACTIONS to Fear and Shame...

To control this sinful behavior might have some positive effect, but the problem is that the root of this behavior has not been dealt with...and what happens then is that because a lot of effort and will power is placed in this behavior control, it becomes tiring, and invariably the person trying, fails...and with this failure, more shame is instilled, and with it a sense of judgement is instilled, particularly if 'The Fear of God' is brought into the situation....and more fear develops, so a growing vicious cycle ensues, and the death of this person is the result...

This 'death' could be physical, but mostly it is not....most often it is the loss of life in the sense of this person not being able to live a normal wholesome life as he or she was designed to do (Eat of this Tree and you will surely die)

How does this whole dilemma get sorted ?

If Fear and Shame are the root of bad behavior, the solution would be that which both prevents Fear and Shame, as well as healing the after effects of previous damage done to the mind and emotions due to a life-time of living in Fear and Shame

(a further note is to understand that these thought patterns of Fear and Shame and methods of dealing with them, are learned and passed down from generation to generation, and we are born into families with these set patterns 'hide and seek', patterns that we don't recognize, because we think they are 'normal')

What does our Creator have for us that is a permanent solution to our human problem ?

Perfect Love casts out Fear
Perfect Acceptance removes Shame
Is there such a thing as Perfect Love and Acceptance ?
From humanity ? I doubt it ... in fact, a definite "No...humanity is unable to give perfect Love and Acceptance"

Especially if we understand we all carry these patterns that have developed over thousands of years, that no one is by any stretch of the imagination "Normal"....so who would set the path straight for a Normal presentation, with no fear, no shame, normal thought patterns, having been perfectly loved and accepted ever since forever ?

Enter the Gospel....The Good News !

When Jesus was asked "How do we relate to this God?".... Jesus answers "Begin by saying Our Father"
He further says that this Father, who He (Jesus) has known and has been loved by and accepted by forever, will look after all our needs, that we never have to fear lack...He will provide, no need to get envious or jealous of another..
The Good News says that we have a Father who loves us unconditionally, perfectly; accepts us even if we totally mess up... Not a potential Father if we say and do certain things that make us His child, but the revealing of the Father we have always had, but did not know....

The Good News that tells us that He has removed all remembrance of our wrongs, not for His sake, because His love for us was able to see that our wrong doings were all based on reactions to Fear and Shame, but it is for OUR sake that He has removed remembrance of sin, so that we would not live in Shame and Fear of judgement.....

A Love that is so consistent, never ending, nothing can ever cause this Love's River to stop...a Love that sees right into your heart and sees everything, burning through all the Fear and Shame because Love does not induce Shame, it removes it...an acceptance that has no end and no beginning, that no 'bad' could ever turn this Face from it's fixed gaze of the Purest of Love and Acceptance pouring from His Eyes.......

What if we knew this Love ?

What if we knew that this Person has always existed and this Gaze of Love has alway been fixed on us, long before we were even conceived, because it was this Person who Created us for the pleasure of living in the awareness of His Perfect Love and Acceptance?

This Person is called Father...the Father of whom the whole family under Heaven and Earth is named....and He is Love....

What if we had someone who had known this Father's perfect Love and Acceptance His whole life, and was able to show us this Father, and show us His own wholeness....which is also ours when we know we are Perfectly Loved and Accepted, untainted by Fear and Shame and all it's outworking symptoms of "Hide and Seek", (Hiding from shame, Seeking approval), now able to live out our lives in the same wholeness of our only nature, the one nature made in this Father's own likeness....
What if we really knew this ?!

[Now, I need to address this as well:

What if we were first told that this Person who is Love, rejects us as well, rejects the very fabric of our being, who we are, until we accept His Son?

What if we were told that this Person was not our Father until we had first run through some hoops, and one of them being to accept His Son or else He would reject us, but not just reject, but hold us over an eternal rotisserie of torture forever....
That He was even capable of this kind of treatment of us......

He, who is known as Perfect Love and Acceptance...humanity's only hope of being free from the outworkings of Fear and Shame , is also known as Fear and Rejection Himself, the Ultimate Fear and Shame inducing influence, ever ?]

The only way that He, who is Perfect Love and Acceptance, is to totally heal and remove all traces of Fear and Shame induced living in humanity's lives, is for us to understand that He always has been Father to us, even in our ignorance, and that He always will be Perfect Love and Acceptance to us....and if we saw that He sent his firstborn Eternal Son to us to show ALL of us what His thoughts are towards us, thoughts that will never change....an example of who WE ARE ....

This Son ... Perfectly Loved and Accepted....just like us ..... but never tainted with Fear and Shame because this Father is incapable of inducing Fear and Shame ..... is Jesus, OUR Brother !

To see Jesus, to see how He is Eternally Loved and Accepted, to see His nature, is to see our own....because He and us have the same nature, and when we live in the knowledge of Perfect and Eternal Love and Acceptance, our ONLY nature comes to the fore....

We lose our Fear and Shame, we come out of hiding, we stop pretending with all it's shows and facades, we stop our jealousies and envying without even trying, we begin to see each other in the same Light that we see ourselves, good-natured people, made in the same image and likeness of our Father ....

What if the World knew who they are, seen through their Father's eyes !

What would we look like if we knew we were Perfectly Loved and Accepted ?


What does our relationship with God look like? I mean, in reality, real life, day to day stuff.

How do we "do" relationship? If I want a relationship with another person I don't read books about them, although that helps me understand them a little. And I wouldn't meet them and just sit there expecting them to just talk to me, tell me what to do and how to run my life. Neither would I just talk to them endlessly without listening.

I'd talk and expect a reply. I'd expect to have intelligent, understandable conversations. We would share our hearts with each other and as our relationship developed we would trust each other more and more with our "secrets". We would be supportive of each other and never assume our love and respect wasn't mutual.

We wouldn't be afraid to speak our minds, knowing that we would never ever intentionally hurt each other, and always be willing to forgive.

Does my relationship with God look like this? If it doesn't, is it a relationship? Are we just acquaintances who just say hello occasionally? Am I in a grovelling co-dependant one sided relationship with Him?

He speaks to us, yes, voices in the head/crazy person stuff. We have conversations with Him - real live two way conversations. And we can trust those conversations. Holy Spirit is in us - the fullness of the trinity is in us now in all his glory, waiting to have interesting conversations about our thoughts and feelings, fears and anger, anything and everything. He is our best friend and intimate lover (yes men, as hard as that may seem he wants that kind of intimacy!). Our daily boring little lives are never boring to Him. He is so happy to chat away any time, anywhere, or give us a bit of space, butt in at awkward moments, laugh at us, laugh with us, cry with us.

Anything we expect in a human relationship, He will be there in a way that is perfect, beyond anything another human can offer. Its that real and that incredible. We can totally trust our recreated spirit in union with His spirit! Its done and finished - we just have to stop and take the time to build the relationship. Listen, talk, respond, relax, be natural. It doesn't get any better than this!