Monday, March 30, 2009

Growing in Grace - Radical Sonship Conference Recap

I just arrived back from the Radical Sonship Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, which was hosted by Steve McVey of Grace Walk Ministries and Paul Anderson-Walsh of The Grace Project / Grace London. In this week's Special Edition of Growing in Grace, I chat with Mike about my experience at the conference. It was a weekend full of beautiful friendship and wonderful teaching about what the love and grace of God looks like as we not only soak and marvel and revel in it ourselves, but also as we actually partake in the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4), and God's love and grace is poured out of us into the lives of others.

Throughout the weekend, Steve and Paul said that they had far more material than they had time to present, so you can imagine that we barely even touch the tip of the iceberg with this short program! But we hope this program will at least provide somewhat of a glimpse into the radical nature of our lives as adopted sons of God (see Gal 4:5, Eph 1:5).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Last set of Atlanta pics

"Blogging Buddies"
Me, Jamie, John, Matthew, Gary
Outside the Cafe Intermezzo, hanging out before saying our goodbyes
Jamie, John, Ryan, Sherry, Gary, Matthew

Flying in to Cedar Rapids
It SNOWED while I was gone!

My car at the airport

A wonderful welcome home from the kids!

More pics from Atlanta

Jamie and Ryan chatting with Paul Anderson-Walsh
A pic of John, along with Matthew taking a pick of Paul, Jamie and Ryan :)
See the photo Matthew was taking here (third photo)

Sherry and Gary Kirkham


At the Cafe Intermezzo

Radical Friendship

A lot of this past weekend is still sinking in. A weekend full of memories that will last a lifetime! Words are not coming to me at this time. I think my body and mind are tired, all due to some very wonderful things, so I'll most likely post more words about the weekend at another time.

Steve McVey and Paul Anderson-Walsh hosted the Radical Sonship Conference in Atlanta. It was definitely some radical teaching, all based on some themes lifted from the book of Ephesians. But like I said, I'll have to focus on sharing some of the radical teachings later, and for now I'll focus on my radical friends with whom I got to share in all this! I really can't even adequately describe the feelings I had this weekend, as I came face to face with these friends who have only lived inside my computer up till now! It was a sweet, sweet time.

First off though, a pic of the miles and miles of fluffy cotton over which I got to see the most beautiful sunrise ever! On Friday morning I left Cedar Rapids in the early hours of the morning, while it was dark and cloudy. Heading east towards Detroit, we flew above these clouds, and soon I saw a little orange ball in the distance, rising fairly quickly as we were heading towards it at 5-600 miles per hour, with the earth below spinning quickly in the same direction! I wasn't able to get the camera in a position to photograph the sunrise, but it really was a beautiful glimpse of the beauty of God.

Below - Gary Kirkham, Matthew Campbell and me

John Fincher and Jamie Weeks
A partial view of the conference room

Steve McVey teaching

More to come. See also descriptions of the weekend and pics from Matthew, Gary, Sherry, John, Jamie.

No Online Study Tonight

Hi all,

I can't remember for sure, but I think last week I had mentioned that the Recover Your Good Heart online study would be on for tonight. However, I hadn't thought of others who were traveling out of Atlanta today, just as I was, and last night we talked about how it would be better to not have the study tonight. So... chapter 10 of the study guide will be discussed next Sunday, and we hope you can be a part of it! I'm very thankful to the book's author, Jim Robbins for having written this book, as well as the study guide that has provided many great thoughts and questions that have been the catalyst for many great discussions!

We've talked about doing something else after we're done with this study. Many who have taken part in this study have really enjoyed the relationship aspect of it. Friendships have been built, and like I said, there have been many great conversations. Others have been part of the chats in a more quiet way, and have told me they've simply enjoyed watching what everyone else has had to say. I think it's wonderful that technology (specifically Yahoo Messenger) has made all of this possible!

As for what we do next, I've thought about doing the Grace Walk Experience and I'm also open to other suggestions. More info to come.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Atlanta, baby!!!

Just time for a quick update on the Radical Sonship conference with Steve McVey and Paul Anderson-Walsh. I arrived in Atlanta yesterday and was promptly greeted by John Fincher, and I fully appreciate all the hospitality he and his wife have shown me! Later in the day I got to meet Ryan and Jamie, Matthew and Gary!!! It's been a long time coming!!! Last night's session was wonderful, and we're looking forward to a full day today. I'll try to post some pics later.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I gotta have more cowbell, baby!"

In case anyone didn't get my "cowbell" remark at the end of my last post, here's where it came from. One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits. (In the B-52's video in the last post, singer Fred Schneider is playing the cowbell, and it reminded me of this skit). =D

Atlanta / Blogging / Community

Three days till Atlanta!!!

I'm not hopping "in my Chrysler that's as big as a whale" (see video below) but I'll be hopping on a couple of big jet airplanes (thanks Ryan and Jamie for making that happen!!) on Friday morning and heading down to Hotlanta for the Radical Sonship Conference with Steve McVey and Paul Anderson-Walsh! I exchanged a couple of emails with Paul a couple of weeks ago, and I'm excited about what's on his and Steve's hearts regarding this weekend.

I'm also excited to be meeting some friends that I've known only online up to this point! Ryan and Jamie, Matthew Campbell, John Fincher and Gary Kirkham are among those who I've enjoyed "blog" fellowship with, but now will be meeting live and in person! I'm very excited about all of this!

Did I mention I'm excited!

Many of us have come to know each other by a means that we never would've thought of, even as little as 1 to 3 years ago! The blogging world has truly opened up a whole new realm of relationships for so many of us! We all have our "real life" (in the flesh) relationships, but through blogging and commenting God has brought some of us together in a very wonderful way. Check out what nAncY said in this short post yesterday on the subject of blogging and commenting. Among other things, this sticks out to me: "...making it a place of relationship, communion, sharing." Yeah!

When the Lord whispered '' in my ear 5 years ago, in answer to a question I asked Him, He didn't fill me in on whole lot of details. Some of the details have been filled in since that time, but at first I thought it was primarily going to be a place for me to share my writings about grace. I had no idea what a blog was, so I simply typed up a couple of "articles" and posted them on the website, having no idea who would read them, or if anybody would at all. Then in June of 2006, Dave Lesniak asked in the Grace Walk Forum if anyone had a blog. I didn't have one, but if I remember correctly it was within 24 hours of his asking that question that I started this blog. Again, at first I thought of it primarily as a place for me to write about grace, and I had NO IDEA how all these friendships would come out of it!!! I'm so thankful to the Lord for joining so many of us together through our various blogs. Life has never been the same since, and will never be again!

Unfortunately I'm in a season in life in which I'm not able to spend as much time blogging or commenting as I have in the past. I hope this changes, but for now I'm simply enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the friendships that have evolved in the past 2 or 3 years!

"Headin' down the Atlanta highway..."

(P.S. I think this live version needs more cowbell!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Focus on God's High View and Acceptance of You

This week's Growing in Grace program is a spin off of last week's program, and is again inspired in part by another blog post from Steve McVey, Who Accepted Whom? It's common for people to read the Bible and interpret what they read in a self-focused way, putting the responsibility on themselves to find God, to accept God, to come back to God, to perform for God, etc, when in reality God is the one who has reached out to us and performed all the work necessary for us to have a free, loving, intimate relationship with Him.

Kap and I talk about how we need to rid ourselves of an Old Covenant mentality and look at the Bible in light of God's high view of us as His treasured children, and His unconditional acceptance of us and love for us. He has placed us in Christ and He has made us alive together with Him. He has made peace with us. He has accepted us!

Despite the prodigal son's low view of himself, the father ran to him and accepted him with open arms, and paid no attention to what the son thought he might be able to do to gain a small measure of acceptance from his father. He threw a party for him!

We can forget any notion of "our part" in any of the salvation plan and in any part of the living out of this life in Christ. God has not left it up to us to make any of this happen! As if!!! He has simply asked us to believe. Through faith, we are branches on a vine, and we have no life in and of ourselves, but yet being connected to the vine we are privileged by God's grace to partake in the fullness of life in the Vine!

Recover Your Good Heart Study tonight!

The Recover Your Good Heart study is on for tonight!

The chat starts at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and goes for about an hour or a little longer. We're using Yahoo Messenger. My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please 'buzz' me or send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat. Chapter 9 this week - "Desire and the good heart."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ruth Part 2 - Unconditional Friendship

About a week and a half ago I posted God Sent Ruth - Friendship, which is a great message from my old pastor, Mark, from 1997. He continued on with Ruth the following week. You may think that studying an Old Testament character such as Ruth might be dull or boring, but it's amazing how much grace can be found here!

Among other things in this message, Mark talks about friendship - friendship between Christians (which of course should be rich and unconditional, but is often full of conditions and judgmentalism), and friendship between Christians and non-Christians - which Christians often sadly stay away from, or at least only view from an evangelistic standpoint. He sidetracks off of Ruth's story with his own touching story of a decision he made to relate to a certain coworker not in a "Christian" or "religious" context, and not for the purpose of evangelizing him, but rather from the perspective of unconditional friendship. The coworker knew he was a pastor and kept expecting Mark to preach at him about Christ, and in fact he even kept bringing up Christian stuff himself, but Mark simply related to him as a friend who loved him unconditionally. It's amazing what can happen if we just love people.

Mark also reiterates what he had said the previous week about God having made a LAW that said no Moabite shall be a part of the congregation of Israel, but yet here was Ruth, the Moabitess, coming into it with Naomi. The New Testament would later say that if a person broke any single law, he was guilty of all and was under the curse... and yet so many blessings would come out of this act of Ruth being a true friend - forsaking her own people and way of life - and clinging to Naomi and becoming a part of her own people. Did you know that Jesus descended from Ruth, the Moabitess?!

There's so much more here. This is the kind of stuff I was weaned on in my early days of having begun to shed legalism and embrace grace. I can't say enough how I highly recommend giving this a listen!

We Didn't Pay the Price - He Did!

This week's podcast was inspired in part by a recent blog post from Steve McVey - It's Not About Us. When Steve was at our church 3 or 4 years ago, he shared some of the same thoughts that are in this blog post. He spoke of how parables such as the Pearl of Great Price and the Treasure Hidden in a Field have been taken to mean that we have paid a great price to gain a precious pearl and a rich treasure named Jesus. But in the light of the gospel, in which Life and Salvation is a free gift - not something we can buy - those views just don't make sense!

This week Mike and Joel talk about how we've misidentified the pearl and the treasure as Jesus, when really the pearl and the treasure is us! God so loved the world that He gave Jesus. Jesus purchased us with His own blood!

It's not about us. It's not about us keeping a covenant. It's not about us paying some price to earn or obtain Jesus. It's about what God has done for us! Be encouraged with some words this week about God's great love for you - how He treasures you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Steve McVey's Sunday Preaching

For several weeks I've been meaning to post a note about this. This is a great opportunity to get some great, practical grace preaching every week. In Steve's own words:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bizkit the Sleep-Running Dog

Recover Your Good Heart study tonight!

The Recover Your Good Heart study is on for tonight!

The chat starts at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and goes for about an hour or a little longer. We're using Yahoo Messenger. My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please 'buzz' me or send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat. Chapter 8 this week - "Personal transformation - a more hopeful view."

Accepted in the Beloved

" the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6)

The word translated as accepted is Charitoo, meaning "to grace" or "indue with special honor."

In Christ God has fully accepted you. He has graced you. He has "honored you with blessings," as another definition says.

A few sentences earlier Paul says that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! He says that God chose us (we didn't choose Him). Paul then goes on to say that in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence!

You are blessed with a grace that abounds toward you! It's not just sprinkled here and there. Grace encompasses your entire life!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

God is Not a God of Second Chances!

Over the years, many well-meaning people have spoken about how God is a God of second chances. "If you mess up," they say, "God will give you a second chance to get it right." They might talk about Jonah, and how he ran from God and then was given a "second chance" to do what He originally told him to do. Various interpretations of that story notwithstanding, the God who is revealed to us in Christ and the New Covenant is not a God of second chances!

First of all, do you think He thought we'd get it right the first time? Many would agree that He knew we wouldn't get it right the first time. So then do you really think He thought if He gave us a second chance, we'd then get it right? What if that didn't work out so well? How about a third chance? Or a fourth or fifth chance? A one hundredth chance? Is God's mercy and grace a matter of a billion chances? Does God think that eventually we will get it right?

The good news is that God didn't even give us that first chance to get it right! Whether we're talking about salvation or whether we're talking about the daily living out of our faith, it's not a matter of God giving us a certain number of chances to get it right. It's not about Him giving us "do-overs" when we've messed up. He doesn't say, "try again."

He's not looking at our efforts to get it right! It's all about His grace and His life working in and through us. He doesn't give us second chances. He takes away all our chances and gives us His very life instead! To repeat, in Christ God hasn't given us a second chance to get things right. Instead, He's deleted any and all possibilities of giving us the chance to get things right. He's replaced "I'll give you X amount of chances to get it right" with "I got it right for you!"

When we've messed up, and fallen short of living out a perfect life of faith, God doesn't say, "Ok, I'll give you another chance... Get back up and try again." Rather it's a matter of us denying any sense of us trying to get it right, and instead simply resting in His grace and in His very life that we have entered into, where all the work has already been done! Don't kid yourself about needing a new chance to begin again. You are His workmanship, not your own!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wolf Man Kap

WELL, OF ALL THE MADKAP THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD, MY FRIEND AND GROWING IN GRACE CO-HOST, MIKE "KAP" KAPLER, IS BACK ON THE RADIO AIRWAVES! Oops, I must've had my kaps lock on. Sorry. Anyway, of all the kaps he wears, Mike Kapler is back behind the Golden Spirit Microphone (I had to put on my thinking kap to come up with that) at the radio station he and I both used to be a part of, 89.1 'The Spirit' here in Iowa. The radio station is located in Cedar Rapids, which, by the way, is not the kapital city of Iowa, and, incidentally, is not located near any snow-kapped mountains.

The station plays a Positive Hit Music format, and you can listen online anytime by clicking on the above link. So grab a kappuccino and sit back and have a listen. Kap is on the air during drive time, from 2 to 6pm Central Time. Too bad it's not the night shift. That would be a nice alternative nightkap. FYI, the station is not part of any kap and trade system. Since this is a listener supported station, you can pledge your support if you'd like, helping it to stay afloat, and not kapsize... but just so you know, they do not accept donations of bottle kaps. Anyway, I tip my kap to The Kap, and wish him well as he kapitalizes on this opportunity to get back into doing something he's always loved!

To kap it all off, I was listening to Kap on the radio yesterday and he was talking about some news that I'd only heard as a rumor, but kaptured here in this blog post: Michael Tait (of DC Talk fame) is taking over for Peter Furler on the road on lead vocals for Newsboys! How kaptivating! Kap truly has the kapacity for sharing all kinds of such tidbits, so be sure to tune in. Speaking of Newsboys, remember when they did the song Breakfast on their Take Me To Your Leader CD? You know, the song that talks about toast burning and milk turning and Kap'n Krunch waving farewell? Well, on the liner notes on the CD, it says that some of the singalong vocals on the Breakfast song were done by the kaptive audience at an Ottumwa, Iowa concert (just two or three hours south of here).

One more thing... I cannot leave this out. It's that time of year when Kap and I put on our Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals baseball kaps, respectively. The season-long rivalry begins! Go Cardinals! Dekapitate the Cubs!!! Show 'em who's Kaptain!!!

Go Go's - Head Over Heels

Follow up to yesterday's Trust Your Divine Dance Partner post, which featured the great advice given to Belinda Carlisle earlier this week on Dancing With the Stars. Here she is with her band the Go Go's, singing the song Head Over Heels. These days this song speaks to me about the busyness, craziness and deceit of religion - and its ultimate failure - and the finding of freedom in our rest in Christ and in the new heart we've been given.

Oh yeah, and it's just a fun song!

Go Go's - Head Over Heels

Been running so long
I've nearly lost all track of time
In every direction
I couldn't see the warning signs
I must be losin' it
Cuz my mind plays tricks on me
It looked so easy
But you know looks sometimes deceive

Been running so fast
Right from the starting line
No more connections
I don't need any more advice
One hand's just reaching out
And one's just hangin' on
It seems my weaknesses
Just keep going strong

Head over heels
Where should I go
Can't stop myself
Outta control
Head over heels
No time to think
Looks like the whole world's out of sync

Been running so hard
When what I need is to unwind
The voice of reason
Is one I left so far behind
I waited so long
So long to play this part
And just remembered
That I'd forgotten about my heart

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trust Your Divine Dance Partner

I've heard the Christian life described as a dance with our Divine Partner, and perhaps you've heard that too. In order for a dance partners to dance beautifully, the man leads and the woman follows his lead. And in order for the woman to follow the man's lead, she needs to trust the man. She needs to trust his lead. She needs to trust his moves. She needs to trust that he will catch her. She needs to trust that he will take the right steps, so that when she moves he'll be right where she needs him to be in order for the choreography to flow smoothly. And so on.

I may or may not be describing all of that very well, but you get the gist. In the same way, we need to trust the lead of our Divine Dance Partner.

I'm not a huge fan of Dancing With the Stars. In fact I'll just say it: I've never watched the program before! Well, perhaps in flipping through the channels I've caught a minute or two of the show in the past. And that's exactly what I was doing a night or two ago when I came across the program. I just happened to catch the tail end of a performance with Belinda Carlisle (of the Go Go's fame from the 80's) and her dance partner, Jonathan Roberts. I then saw what the judges had to say, and I was captivated by this very interesting bit of advice from judge Carrie Ann Inaba as she spoke to Belinda:
"What I think you need to work on is trusting Jonathan. I felt like you were trying to do the choreography separate from Jonathan. You've got a great partner; just let him lead you."
We have a great Dance Partner, don't we?! He's not looking for us to perform well for Him, but rather to trust Him as He leads us in a beautiful Divine dance.

Check out Carrie Ann's words to Belinda, beginning at around 3:18 in this clip. This clip also features the Iowa native, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I'm in You, You're in Me

This is perhaps my third time posting this song in my almost-three years of blogging. Yearly isn't nearly enough, in my opinion! One of the best love songs ever, and one that brings tears to my eyes as I think of the love relationship between our Divine Lover and us. Two versions of the song below... one from 1977 and a live one from 1995.

I don't care where I go
When I'm with you
When I cry
You don't laugh
'Cause you know me

I'm in you
You're in me
I'm in you
You're in me
'Cause you gave me the love
Love that I never had
Yes, you gave me the love
Love that I never had

You and I don't pretend
~We make love~
I can't feel anymore than I'm singing

I'm in you
You're in me
I'm in you
You're with me
'Cause you gave me the love
Love that I never had
You gave me the love
Love that I never had

Come so far when you think of last fall
You can't buy what we made, you and I
I'm in you
You're in me
I'm in you
You're with me
'Cause you gave me the love
Love that I never had
Yes, you gave me the love
Love that I never had
You gave me the love
Love that I never had

I don't care where I go
When I'm with you

If you've got some extra time, here's a live version of Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do" from 2008. Fun, and rockin'.

I'm so thankful for His grace

I was just sitting here thinking about the many, many conversations I've had with people over the years that have revolved around God and our relationship with Him. I was thinking about all the ways in which I've been taught by others and the ways in which I've taught. I was thinking of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James and all the other writers in the Bible. All the words that have been shared by them and me and others.

I was thinking about how I've got a lot of doctrine about God. So much of it is really great! I'm very thankful that I have a doctrinal understanding of God and His grace, and that I'm still learning and growing. I was thinking about this, and I was overwhelmed for a few seconds with the wonderful sensation that even with all that I know about God, and even with the way that I've come to know Him personally and relationally, I DON'T HAVE HIM PEGGED, not even for a minute! I don't have Him figured out at all! And that's a good thing.

The truth is that we've been made new creations, and we have a brand new identity in Him, and we are one Spirit with Him. We have a communicative relationship with Him, in which He speaks to us, and us to Him, and He interacts with us, and we can know Him intimately... and it's ALL good!

But yet with all that I know, and with all that you know, and with all that all of humanity knows about God, and with the ways in which people know God intimately... and with all our doctrinal understanding, no matter how true or accurate it is... there is soooo much about God that we either think we know that isn't really so, or that we just plain don't know at all, and we hypothesize and we extrapolate and we articulate and we dialog and we share and we proclaim and we lecture and we listen and we infer and we establish doctrines and so on and so on - you get the point. And all the while, even in the midst of all our God-knowledge and all our God-ignorance, He loves us unconditionally and is full of grace toward us, every single second of our lives!

By all means let's keep up the dialog! Let's keep on sharing and learning and extrapolating and all that good stuff! We can most certainly be bold with what we believe, even with the understanding that we really hardly know a thing about God! He's revealed Himself to us in many ways, and I believe He wants us to communicate all of that with one another. I think what I'm saying is simply that I'm humbled that this wonderful God, who has a billion true and false things said about Him every single day, even from the likes of you and me, continues to love and adore us, and keep us in His limitless grace!

This also gives me humility in sharing truth with others. Holy cow... anything that I know that is true isn't a result of my wonderful thinking powers! He's GRACIOUSLY revealed it to me, and I want to be very gracious and loving in my sharing with others. I want to speak with clarity and boldness, and with great patience, kindness and love... and always with my heart and mind open to what God has to say to me through others, even if that means it penetrates and cracks open my own preconceived ways of seeing and understanding things.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Nothing Can Separate Us From God, Who IS Love

The New Testament writers point out that nothing can separate us from God's love and that God is love. So... what can separate us from God Himself? Nothing! God's love is unconditional - it has no conditions. He loves us. Period. He showed it to us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us - the ungodly. Somehow some people have gotten the idea that now that we're Christians, the things we do or don't do will keep us from God. But nothing can separate us from God! Nothing can separate us from His love! His perfect love should cast aside all fears and worries that we'll ever have our fellowship with Him broken. Through His love and by the finished work of Christ - and by nothing we've done or not done - we remain in perfect, unbroken fellowship with God.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Recover Your Good Heart study Sunday night!

The Recover Your Good Heart study is on for tonight!

The chat starts at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and goes for about an hour or a little longer. We're using Yahoo Messenger. My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please 'buzz' me or send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat. Chapter 7 this week, "Good and becoming good."

God sent Ruth - Friendship

I was folding laundry tonight (YES, I'm the laundry person in our house!), and while doing that I began listening to another excellent message from my old pastor, Pastor Mark, from 1997. I became so excited to share it that I stopped what I was doing and went to the computer to begin uploading it, so I could post it here when I was done. Well, I'm done, and here it is. :)

This is a great message. Of course, I'm biased, but I really do think you'll get a wonderful perspective of God by listening to this! I really don't want to give anything away, because Mark really does a wonderful job of laying the foundation and making so many wonderful points along the way. I'll just say that the name Ruth means friendship, and Ruth the Moabitess ended up becoming a part of Israel. What's, um, interesting, is that God's commandment had forbidden Moatibes to ever enter into God's household, but yet here we have Ruth - friendship - coming into this fellowship.

Like I said, there are so many wonderful little tidbits throughout this message. I encourage you to give this a listen and let me know what you think.

Kings of the Wild Frontier

It's been just over two years since I posted Kings of the Wild Frontier. At the time I only knew a handful of you, and I'm thankful for how those friendships have developed, and how new ones have formed! Well, in that post I spoke of how today's tamed Christianity, based upon rules, principles and methods for Christian living, had caused damage to my marriage at one point in the past. Since I couldn't keep up with the onslaught of rules, principles and methods - especially, but not limited to, the 'marriage principles' - I had underlying thoughts that I didn't really love my wife. At the time, two years ago, it was really good for me to write all of that stuff down. It helped me to realize more and more that I wasn't created to be tamed and controlled, but that I was meant to get out and live!

The Kings of the Wild Frontier theme has stuck with me, and really has become more and more established in all areas of my life. Kings of the Wild Frontier is the title track to an album from 1980 by Adam and the Ants. I was living in England at the time, when "Ant Music" burst on the scene and became wildly popular, instantly. I absolutely loved the music (and still do). At the time, I sang along to all the lyrics, but I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to what they were actually saying. However, a few years back I was listening to this song and one line in particular jumped out at me like never before:

"I feel beneath the white there is a redskin suffering from centuries of taming."
The imagery here, as I see it, is of a white man who feels the passion and "wildness" of an Indian warrior on the inside, and yet it's all been bottled up and contained within - not able to be released - due to the taming of modern day white man's culture.

My heart cried out to God that day. I'd heard those lyrics a thousand times before but they never really registered with me until then. How much of my life has been bottled up and not truly lived, all because I've been living in a system that is trying to tame me, rather than release me to be who I truly am. Again, many of the teachers and preachers of principles and methods may have really good intentions (and many of them don't), but either way the people are left not knowing who they really are, and they live with various sorts of struggles on the inside that they can't quite put a finger on, all because they think they're doing the 'right' thing by trying to apply all the principles that are taught every week.

Living as the wild (not tamed) creation that you are does not, of course, include doing things that hurt yourself or others, or that are not "expedient" or "helpful" (see 1 Cor 6:12, 10:23-24). But the church - even when it's had good intentions - has gone so far with rules, principles and methods for Christian living that it has essentially snuffed out the true nature of the lives we're meant to live. In many cases they don't even realize what they're doing. Their tamed lives perhaps have a great outward appearance - "an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body" - but yet "are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (see Col 2:20-23).

What ends up happening is a lot of faking. A lot of acting. A lot of trying to keep up with others who seem to have it together, while those who seem to have it together know that they don't really have it together, but can't let anyone know! And there is a lot of living inside a box. A box of must's and should's, rather than trust and get to's. A box of performance, trying to get it right, trying to be good Christian boys and girls, but never seeming able to arrive, and therefore never being able to get out of the box. Often not even knowing there's a whole world outside of the box! I was in that box for quite some time. Even as I began to grow in grace, I kept myself in that box in many ways.

How about you? Have you suffered in some way from the taming of the modern church? This is not meant as a means of bashing the church, of course! But reality is reality. People have been hurt, and it's up to us, by the Holy Spirit, to spread the freedom for which Christ has set us free!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Google meme

James at Idle musings of a bookseller tagged me in a Google meme. The rules for the meme are as follows:
Google your full first name (not your nickname) and the word "needs" like this: "Joel needs" and then post the first 10 things that Google finds. You may have to go to the website and do a little reading. Then tag 5 friends (not including the person who tagged you) and pass it on.
So here goes! (See who I tagged below).

1. Joel needs your help, to help Katrina victims.
2. Joel needs to do his hair differently.
3. Joel needs to reread Ayn Rand.
4. Joel needs them.
5. Joel needs to go shopping.
6. Joel needs a spare engine.
7. Joel needs a new turbo, STAT!
8. Joel needs a MySpace page.
9. Joel needs to decide whether he's a techie or a suit.
10. Joel needs a family to call his own.

BTW, I left out a couple of more "colorful" google results, as well as a few results that said "Billy Joel needs..." :)

Ok now... Tag, you're it!


Titus 3:4567

Titus 3:4,5,6,7
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Light vs. Ignorance

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place" (2 Cor 2:14).

When you see the word "darkness" in the Bible what do you think of? I used to think of darkness as "evil" or "bad." I suppose we could use the word in that context at times. But many times the word means something else. The way the word is used in the Bible can often mean "ignorant" or "lacking in knowledge."

The Apostle Paul preached words that helped bring light into dark places. In other words, he preached knowledge - knowledge of the Person, Jesus Christ - and his words shined the light in the darkness. Where there was once ignorance in regards to Jesus, his words shined the light and "diffused the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."

It wasn't Paul's lifestyle that the Gentiles were interested in. It was his Jesus. It wasn't the law that he had formerly preached. It was Jesus. The sweet smelling aroma that attracted people to Paul was really the knowledge of Jesus, and when Paul shined the light on the truth of who Jesus really was, people came running to him, and not away from him.

It's been a while since I shared a message from my pastor in the late 90's, "Pastor Mark." Tonight I was listening to a message from him from 1997 that I just couldn't help but share! I believe you will be highly encouraged by this, as he speaks of how the "light," in many cases in the New Testament, is really referring to the knowledge of Jesus, and darkness is referring to being ignorant of Jesus. When the light shines in the darkness, ignorance is diffused and people come to know the One who God gave as a gift to mankind.

Download it, give it a listen, and let me know what you think! It's almost an hour long, and well worth it if you listen to just part of it or the whole thing. I love Mark's sense of humor and his excellent preaching of Christ.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Love - The Essence of Who God Is

The Bible says that God is Love, and we find a great description of the many facets of love in 1 Corinthians 13. This week we talk about God's unconditional love, and how it's interwoven into every last aspect of our lives in Christ. We cannot be separated from love in any way!

God so loved the world - even while we were still sinners - that He gave His Son. God demonstrated His love for us in this way. How can we ever think we're somehow outside of His love?!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Recover Your Good Heart study tonight!

The Recover Your Good Heart study is on for tonight!

The chat starts at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific and goes for about an hour or a little longer. We're using Yahoo Messenger. My id is jsbreeze111. If you'd like to be a part of this study, simply add me as one of your contacts at any time (identifying yourself so I know you're legit. I'll sign on 15 to 30 minutes before the start of each study. When you log on, please 'buzz' me or send me an IM to let me know that you want to be a part of the study, and I'll invite you into the main chat.

This week we'll be looking at Chapter 6, "Sabotaged spirituality."