Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Condemn or Connect?

Dear Church Inc.,

Are we here to condemn or connect?

Maybe a few more connections will end our condemnations. Maybe a few more conversations will suppress our condemnations. Maybe our definition of "evangelism" (a word never used in the Bible) has become the very blockade to our goal of "evangelization" (another word never used in the Bible). If I am to do the work of an "evangelist" (a word used once in the Bible and then directed to a pastor) shouldn't my goal be less condemnation and much more connection?

Condemnation works splendidly when the Judge of a criminal court has heard the final verdict of a jury. After days, weeks, and maybe months, a jury comes back with a final decision, the Judge has no option but to "condemn" the accused to a sentence that fits the crime. Yet even then, a court of appeals might pursue a more fitting conclusion. Even in earthly terms, a fair justice system longs for REconnection to productive society and less condemnations to a hopeless box.

The machinations of evangelism have blurred the lines of authentic love and honest human connections. Somewhere along the way Church Inc. created a theology of self-loathing and disgust for humans as a means for giving glory to God through effective evangelism. We have been stuck in the need to convince humans how bad they are in order to see how good their Creator is...And we, who are called to lead humanity to FIND their way, have LOST our way. The only sin Jesus urged anyone to accept as their own was the sin of self-righteous, self serving bigotry. All others, He forgave with instant connection.

It wasn't disgust for the human condition that drew God to become a Human. He became one of us, and disguised Himself in a human costume in order to powerfully CONNECT! So powerful is this connection, that one of US is now at the right hand of God, making intercession for our continuing connection.

This is far from complete but not far from a truth we had better discover. Connections will almost always prevent condemnations.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Repent! God is Better Than You Think, So Change the Way You Think.

 Religion Inc. has made a living with shame and guilt. It’s often chronicled by comedians of Jewish or Catholic heritage and an inside joke with some pastors and ministers of other backgrounds; “If it weren’t for shame and guilt I don’t how we could muster a crowd on Sundays” is a missive I’ve actually heard.

 One of the driving factors for this phenomenon is that absent the real presence of Christ, there’s truly little other means of stirring religious interest. Think about it; if I’m desperate for statistical success as an amateur preacher or, for that matter, a veteran professional church promoter, I know instinctively that every human has a fairly easily reached threshold for feeling guilt and shame. When that’s used for some kind of “witnessing” venue or an agenda driven evangelism conversation, it becomes a tool in my tool box to achieve a result. Problem is, what I achieve by guilt and shame will likely have to be sustained by the same.

 Thus, religious practices can drift into the lowest of human experiences and seek to hold the interest of followers with a misery that Jesus Christ actually came to vaporize. He announced His Kingdom as “the gospel” or, GOOD NEWS. He read Isaiah 61 to a stunned gathering and proclaimed healing for broken hearts, liberty for captives, freedom for prisoners, delight and pleasure and comfort for mourners. An utterly contrary notion for the Religion Inc. of His day who relied on shame and guilt to keep the masses showing up for the offering plates.

 As a result the word, “repent” has inherited the sole ideal of “feeling bad for our sins”. And since (in my own opinion) most people have good hearts, it is easy to talk folks into the corner of “feeling bad for sins”, they admit it and presto, an evangelism statistic is born. “We went door to door witnessing and 22 people repented and received Jesus”. Here’s a possible interpretation: “We told 100 people they were born into sin, have no good in them at all and they live as totally depraved without any excuse unless they say this prayer and accept Jesus. 22 people were so honestly in touch with their own shortcomings they were willing to do whatever it takes to feel better. They repented!”

 I know, I know. We have done whatever it takes to “plant seeds”... God gets the glory, etc. etc. etc. But at what greater expense? I’ll tell you what expense ~ the magnificent character of God the Father and full beautiful manifestation of the Goodness of God in the Face of Jesus Christ.

 The Greek word for repent is “metenoeo”. It means to have a reformation, to think differently, to change one’s mind. It also certainly carries the notion of compunction, which is to be pricked of conscience. I am contending that we should stir these ingredients thoroughly until they come up like this; the epiphany of an honest inventory of my life where I have come to see that my actions at best have been a waste of time and, at worst, my actions have been destructive and painful for others and myself. I will change my vision to one of high values and purposes. I'm having a revolution of thought and destiny. I can finally SEE what I was created to be!

 Repentance isn’t only about being sad about what I’ve been. It’s also, and actually more about, being thrilled with what I can become!

 But if we introduce repentance as the connection with our shame and guilt without a greater connection to our purposes and value in this life, we create a system of belief founded in constant introspection with little or no escape other than to die and go to heaven... where we can finally BE who we were created to be.

 Sorry. I'm not interested in that version of the purpose of Jesus Christ. He didn’t come to ramp UP the power of the Old Testament with heavier laws. He came to set the captives of Religion Inc. FREE.

 In Mark 1:15 Jesus made it clear that the time was fulfilled, His New Kingdom was within reach and we should repent (change our minds) and believe the gospel, which is easily translated as....GOOD NEWS.

 Through Jesus the old Kingdom/Covenant was about to be completed in order to make room for the fulfillment of the NEW. This NEW Kingdom required a complete epiphany! A complete NEW way of thinking. A total renovation out of fear based relationship with God, to a NEW love based relationship which would drive out all fear. The OLD thinking, Religion Inc. thinking, shame and guilt based thinking, would actually be a wall against this NEW Kingdom.

 “REPENT! God is better than you think, so change the way you think. Do you feel that compunction of shame for stealing on your taxes last April? GOOD...that means you are alive. Now, make it right so that from here forward you can reach, run and respond ONLY to your destiny on earth. You were not put here to be a beggar for the dimes you can save by cheating on your taxes. You were put here to be a King/Queen whose wealth allows you to give more than you are forced to give by mere earthly laws”.

 Jesus is not the King of bums. Jesus is the King of Kings and Queens. When we leave repentance in the poverty of religious manipulation we devalue Jesus into the CEO of Sin Management. But when we truly REPENT, He becomes the High Priest of our Destiny, praying at the Throne of God for our complete personal fulfillment in this life.

 Raging angry preachers have made repentance a bad thing. They are wrong. Repentance is an epiphany! To repent says, “I’m waking up! I am picking a new direction. I’m not going to waste my life on mediocrity. From here forward I will live fully and abundantly”.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Beauty

I have not always loved Christmas. I tried real hard when I was a kid with some successes and some terrible failures. What I didn’t know then but I’ve learned since is that drug addictions and family dysfunctions don’t take a holiday break….in fact, they ramp it up. It can be summed up in the holiday greeting I grew up with, “Merry Kiss My A__”. Lovely sentiment, isn’t it?

But somewhere in life with two little kids and a wife who grew up with a family that relished Christmas, I had a Scrooge-like epiphany. Something, somehow broke into my reality and lodged in my heart and thinking. This life, this world, this one and only shot we have at spreading good cheer, needs Christmas.

And here, I am not talking about the Christmas “wars”. That’s nonsense. If I’m upset about losing influence in the world due to the fact that not enough people say, “Merry Christmas”, it is not a sign that the nation is in a moral free-fall….it’s a sign that I need to regain my credibility.

And, I am not talking about the droning of some who argue that Jesus’ Birthday is not actually December 25th (they’re right), or that we need to end the commercialization of the holidays (simple heart-felt gifts are always of higher value than money spent), or that various traditions of Christmas have been borrowed from a variety of pagan rituals (yep, it’s true; along with the modern calendar, astronomical maps and more names of people places and things than an encyclopedia could list) … blah, blah, blah.

I still believe this life of multiple disappointments and grieving needs a Christmas break. This world of scary people and hatred needs a Christmas break. This one and only shot we have at spreading good cheer, needs Christmas.

It’s about the insertion of beauty in a collection of far too much indignity and disgrace. It’s about clearing a small patch of ground, declaring a cease fire and singing Silent Night. I looked this up in Wikipedia, so the details might not be completely accurate. Just bear with me and read this;
"The truce began on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium, for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.

The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land" where small gifts were exchanged — whisky, jam, cigars, chocolate, and the like. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. At one funeral in No Man's Land, soldiers from both sides gathered and read a passage from the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

In a world of reality shows that become ugly reality, we need beauty. In a world of unhinged ego, we need beauty. In a world where a friend of mine presides and weeps over a daily parade of human agony in the justice system, we need beauty. In a world where the f-bomb is a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb and artistic musical expression, we need beauty.

I want you to understand why I don’t care if pagan paltry has had a role in shaping Christmas. In my opinion, if something is beautiful, it was created by and belongs to God. Winter solstice provides a unique opportunity for reflection on dark bone chilling nights. In the mind-set of the Old Testament, if you touched a leper, you got leprosy. But now, on this side of the Cross, when we touch the leper, the leper is healed! Some people just need a bigger God, a far more real Jesus and much more completely defeated prince of darkness.

Let me tell you about my own personal Christmas tradition that brings me to tears every year. I started this when my kids were tiny. Late on Christmas Eve, after everything is done and a quiet has settled in, I take my car keys (or bells if they are available) and I go outside. I look up at the sky as if to look for Santa, throw my head back, jiggle my keys and as loud as I can I shout, “HO, HO, HO! Merry Christmas!” I’m not kidding. Ask anyone who lives within a mile of me. Dogs howl and the valley around me echoes….and I cry.

I cry because it is my shout for beauty. I cry because I hope some kid somewhere hears me and wonders if there really is a Santa. I cry because I love the moment. In this one and only shot for bringing peace on earth and good will toward all people, beauty deserves at least 15 minutes of fame every year.

So, Merry Christmas…HO, HO, HO!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pre-Christian World

It has been said that Christianity has not failed but that it has rarely been authentically attempted. I believe we are not living in a "post-Christian" era as much as we are living in a PRE-Christian era; a time of genuinely REpresenting the beauty of Christ and the true character of His Father.

What if we are not at all living in a society of past Christian glory? What if the history we tend to see only with the most romanticized ideals does not at all support the notion that our best days of faith are behind us? Isn’t it possible we’ve never known a truly, majestically thorough impact of genuine Kingdom Come influence in the U.S.A. and the western world?

Think about it; a Christian nation did not advocate the ownership of slaves. Christianity was not the core value supporting the Natives of this land being herded off to reservations and marginalized into the near extinction of their culture. It was not a Christian nation that forbade women the right to vote for most of our history. A nation living out the full bloom of Christ like beauty did not sponsor segregation with its ignorant “separate but equal” world view.

To be perfectly transparent about it all, some people painted the above crimes with the brush stroke of their silly interpretations of the Bible, but they were utterly and completely wrong! The error of their ways is so thoroughly egregious it is impossible to say with any certainty how long it will take to live it down!

Here’s my thundering point; it is utterly and completely possible that we are wrong to think of our current day as being a “post-Christian” era! I’m proposing that to live in the illusion of our past being something it was not is to rob us of the potential of an outrageous dream inspired faith for today and tomorrow!

We have not yet seen what God could do in a truly Christ inspired environment. “Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” (Job 26:14).

Our day is a time of birth pains waiting the revealing of the authentic children of a Father Whose love is prepared to make an appearance on the stage of history. What wonders we will behold are limited only by our allegiance to fables of the past.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Heal the Sick and Say, "This Is the Kingdom!"

Two years ago I was awakened by the Presence of God on a Sunday morning. He poured into my heart the following promises for healing in our house and upon our region. The phrase “deluge and oceanic appearance of a Healing Presence and an environmental shift” is as near a quote as I can ever remember God speaking to me.

I urge you to join us in believing for these broken areas of our humanity to be healed in magnificent ways. This day October 11, 2011 we covenant again to the promise of God for our region.

God has promised me: A deluge and oceanic appearance of a Healing Presence and an environmental shift for the following 7 areas of healing and health;
1. Emotional healing; from unfounded anxiety, sudden-harsh, but brief; crippling nevertheless~ healed!

2. Thought life healing; self destructive-from self sabotaging success to unreasonable surrender to defeat~ healed!

3. To be significantly loved; undeniably, permanently connected to significant relationships ~ healed!

4. Healing from the inability to effectively convey the truest quality of love~ healed!

5. Healing from the victim mentality; asserting that my life has challenges that only others can correct ~ healed!

6. Healing from the spirit of poverty; “there’s never enough” must change to, “there’s more than enough” ~ healed!

7. Radical, raw, real, recognizable physical healings. YES, YES, YES!

As our doubts abound, so the pain will continue to own our quality of life. As a faith and passion for God and His presence abounds, so will our quality of life arise. Stay where you are and keep what you've always had. Or, you can arise and reach for what you have never known and you will grow beyond you're wildest dreams.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Business and management gurus tell us that a person’s ability to think metaphorically is as important as intelligence quotients; hence my title, MQ = IQ.
I think that sails beyond the business world and is exquisitely true for all of life. Metaphor is defined as a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” is a simple metaphor. It begs the listener to expand their knowledge base without undue or extreme literal explanation.

The Bible is rich with metaphoric delights. The person who says that every word is intended to be taken with a wooden and literal eye is unwittingly draining the Book of its potential awe and power. Even “Thou shalt not murder” grows when the Holy Spirit is allowed the breath of Jesus who says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty…whoever says, ‘you fool’ shall be guilty…”. Suddenly murder becomes a subject of inventory for every single one of us whose resentment, dishonor and unkindness lives unchecked neatly tucked away in our hearts.

Cognitive researchers whose life is spent in thinking about how people think (how’d you like to live with one of these folks?) tell us that as the world grows more complex “imaginative rationality” has become ever more valuable. Metaphorically speaking in a tired cliché that’s called, “thinking outside the box”.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints”. We are on the brink of a spiritual renaissance, or as Kris Vallotton calls it, “the eve of construction”.

Literalists have the world blowing up while others of us have the earth being consumed in the passions of an outrageous God whose Throne is encircled by a rainbow and surrounded by a leadership team saturated with eyeballs beyond count and bodies carried about by six wings.

Which reminds me; God told Noah that every time He looked at a rainbow He would be reminded to spare creation. As if to underscore this notion, God filled His own Great Room with a round rainbow. Metaphor or not, that’s just cool.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Wake Up!

I’ve noticed when I hear, “They need to wake up!” or the twin saying,
“They need a wake up call!” the clear suggestion is that someone else needs an alarm clock blast. Oh, and here’s the best one, “This nation needs a wake up call!” Seldom is it said, “I need a wake up call!”

Ephesians 3:14, “For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

The definition for “awake” in this passage is of particular interest to me. It means to collect one’s faculties, to waken. To rouse from sleep, sitting or lying, disease and death, obscurity, inactivity, ruins, non-existence. To awake, lift up raise and rear up, to stand and take up.

My definition is this: change your patterns. Shake up your standard procedures. Get out of your predictable thinking and force yourself into emotional, intellectual and spiritual fresh air.

A few days ago I downloaded a bargain book to my Kindle, “Poke the Box” by Seth Godin. The basic premise is about a researcher who built a simple buzzer box and put it in front of a one year old child. The box had 2 buttons, a buzzer and light. Push one button and the light comes on, push the other button and the box buzzes. Left in front of a child long enough and the little tike will learn to “poke the box” for the reward of sound and light. The sub title of this bargain book is, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” I’m officially on the lookout for things to do for the first time.

America wakes up when I wake up. Others will wake up if I wake up, if for no other reason but to keep an eye on me to make sure I’m not about to disturb their snoozey lifestyle.

Revival does not come when we pray for the nation to be revived. Revival comes when I draw a circle, jump in the middle of it, throw everyone else out of that circle and I pray for the one person in the circle …ME… to be revived. In fact, I would say it this way; the whole world is waiting for me to WAKE UP!