Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God With Us or Us With God?

My title here is too important to give passing notice. You really must pause and read it. Now, which is it? Be careful...this is a trick question. The trick is to get all of us asking ourselves some hard and overdue questions.

The Christmas story teaches us that the angel told Joseph that his new son, Jesus, would be called, "Emmanuel". More than the most common name of a Lutheran church, this title tells us the depths of God's thoughts and character for what He intends to be an unbending reality of our faith. GOD.....with....US. However, in more ways than I care to count or discuss, we have unintentionally and intentionally distorted that most basic of all truths and have literally reversed it; Us....with God.

After all, we often tell people that the ultimate goal of going to the altar and "getting saved", being confirmed, "praying the sinner's prayer", finishing catechism classes, believing the 4 spiritual laws, receiving Jesus, etc. is that we "go to heaven when we die". Hence, "us with God" is the goal. If we are not careful, and I might add, we have not been careful, this ideal becomes "true north" on our spiritual compass. Hence, I believe that we have lost our way....pun fully intended.

Problem is, everything about Jesus, His life and teachings, was anchored in the prophetic power of the Emmanuel reality. God stepped into and became The Human. The human did not become a god. The human did not achieve divinity. Divinity, if you will, achieved humanity. God dignified the human condition and forever made a statement of His goals "down here". Even when we imply subtle changes to that order, we vary from the path like a car drifting over the yellow line or into the ditch.

God with us means transcendent realities are part of the everyday life of the folks with whom God IS. God with us means no more being afraid of "this old world"; in fact, in means "this old world" should be put on notice that world changers are on the scene. God with us means we can be carriers of an insuperable, irrepressible Presence. God with us means that Jesus meant every little Word of His prayer, "...ON EARTH, as it is in heaven...". And every word of His other prayer, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one". God with us means we can shred the barrier between us and "heaven" and expect heavenly realities breaking out in ever increasing measures in us and around us.

"GOD WITH US" changes everything, and NOTHING about that should be ANYTHING less than the "true north" on our compass.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hail Mary!

I love Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her story, her life, her spirit makes me want to shout out, "Hail, Mary!"

I heard a great man of God, David du Pluesis, say, "Catholics worship her, which is a mistake, but Protestants ignore her, which is an equal mistake". In other words, to make her a god is to miss the power of the reality that God wants to be mightily glorified in little, simple, normal human beings. But, to minimize her because some rigid religionist might accuse us of being too "catholic-y" (an accusation I have actually heard) is just as evil as making her the fourth member of the God-Head. The gospel of Luke says that her faith made her sing, "all generations will call me blessed and declare me happy and to be envied!" (Amplified Version of Luke 1:48)

Pretty heady stuff for a peasant girl living under the political boot of Roman blood-thirstiness. Not to mention the sheer spiritual audacity of her faith in the atmosphere of a stale and dead Jewish religion. The fact that the angel Gabriel came to her in a full material appearance should say more to us than we usually accredit to this kind of event. Angels don't appear with good news to folks who are not inclined to believe such an outrageous event. She is clearly a firebrand of faith prior to her visitation. Pretty heady stuff indeed!

Now, what about you and me? Are we inclined to believe that God is looking for more peasants to exalt in the face of political and material arrogance? Do we have any expectations of angelic visitations? Is there anyone out there walking in any kind of faith that is rocking any ships of state or status quo? How about some virgin spiritual soil ready for a Kingdom Word that will give birth to some transcendent supremacy on the earth AS IT IS in heaven?

We simply must stop reading the Bible like we're visiting a museum. It's a calling! It's a dare! It's a document, 1400 years in the making, of prophets, poets and warriors relating how God is fishing for people who are willing to risk everything for an evening stroll on stormy waters. Praying, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth AS IT IS in heaven..." is pure stupidity if we are not ready, eager and willing to make room for Gabriel to challenge our normal sensibilities about what can or cannot logically happen!! Heck, I'd settle for a chat with an angel named Snorklenose if it meant being chosen for making some Kingdom history!

Where are the Marys of 2006? If its you, let me be the first to shout out a "HAIL" in your direction. Let's pray and live some Kingdom disruption on earth AS IT IS in heaven.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Predictions

I am The Great Rann-Dee', or at least The Average Rann-Dee'. I see all, or at least I sort of see some things. I know all, or at least kind-0f know some stuff. Hear me as I make Christmas Predictions for 2006!

Christian Family Councils will urge you to to boycott stores who do not say, "Merry Christmas". Your friends and family will warn you about the political agendas of merchants who will not allow bell ringing in front of their doors. Nativity displays will be banned from public properties. Other holiday greetings will be mixed into our Christmas celebrations. The Up-tight, Up-Right, Intoleration Patrol will demand Holy Action! I know, I know. You are overwhelmed by my prowess...or at least by my mediocrity.

Let me now predict what discerning, wise spiritually alert people will do. They will re-read my last blog and apply that truth to the Christmas season. Instead of fighting the nasty evil liberal conspiracies of our day, they will channel their energies toward positive purposes. They will bless those who curse us, they will pray for those who abuse us, they will love their enemies, turn the other cheek, walk the second mile and practice other idealistic virtues taught by the Christ of our Christmas.

Wait....I'm getting another message from the Beyond, or maybe just the Book Shelf. Here it comes..."if your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good". There you have it...I must go now. I am so exhausted from the use of my mystical powers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blinding Your Predator

I heard a anecdote the other day that falls into the category of, "Gee, this is so good, I hope its true and even if it isn't, it still makes a powerful point". Bear with me if you happen to be one of those folks who has to know the absolute accuracy and validation of a given illustration. The principle involved is Truth all by itself.

Eagles have few natural predators. I imagine that nature has deposited sufficient brain cells in potential enemies that instill in them a sense that even if we catch one of those beauties, we will pay a bloody price from talons and a beak that will extract a painful price for our bravado. However, as in humankind, the animal kingdom has its share of moron chips that are tolerated in the hard drive, which means eagles have a few predators.

But, eagles, I have heard, have an instinct for out flying their enemies with a strategy that I love. If an eagle is pursued, the eagle has a radar for flying straight at the sun. Apparently, according to this unverified anecdote, they also have the ability to protect their eyes when they do this without losing track of their pathway to the sun. It's as if the eagle says, "You want me? Come and get me. In a few minutes, I'll be eating your freshly fried eyeballs."

Had any predators on your behind lately? Felt the breathing of an enemy on your neck? Then fly for the Presence of God. Get militant about being thankful. Get aggresive about praising God for every beat of your heart. Get a bead on the highest point of faith in God that you can possibly imagine, pin your ears back, get some streamline to your profile and rocket yourself high into the transcendent supremacy of the radiance of God in and around you. BLIND YOUR PREDATORS with a life lived to glorify God.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Dance of Heaven and Earth

Down through the years, and more especially in the past century, essential components of Christianity have been marginalized, diluted, “tamed”, domesticated and even eliminated for the purposes of mainstreaming the message. While I certainly believe that the truths of Christ are for the everyday person (Jesus emphasized the importance that the gospel was getting out to the “poor”, or what we would call “Joe 6-Pack”), I also believe our efforts to get it there have fallen far short of that noble goal. In fact, the mainstreaming effort has BECOME the goal. “Git ‘em saved!” The bridges that cross the obstacles have now become the destination. We’ve gathered the masses onto the bridges when there is a road that stretches out in front of us for as far as the eye can see!

In the book “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell, he says, “Here’s what happens: Somebody comes along that has a fresh perspective on the Christian faith. People are inspired. A movement starts. Faith that was stale and dying is now alive. But when the pioneer of the movement dies, the followers stop exploring. They mistakenly assume that their leader’s words were the last ones on the subject, and they freeze their leader’s words. They forget that as the innovator was doing his or her part to move things along, that person was merely taking part in the discussion that will go on forever. And so in their commitment to what so-and-so said and did, they end up freezing the faith”. I would add to this that corrective movements start in reaction to these fresh perspectives and often label the fresh insights, “heresy”.

The result has been a fear to explore. A fear of what the Apostle Paul called, “A spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”. (Ephesians 3:17) There are “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” and a “surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” that is the same power that raised Christ from the dead AND seated Him at the right hand of the Father. All fear to explore these spiritual diamond mines must yield to the divinely created need of our time.

Historically, we are in a “moment”. A moment like when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple and they were met by 2 determined explorers; Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) Simeon was said to be “waiting for the consolation of Israel”. The word consolation means the urging, the calling or simply, “Why the heck did God put us here? There’s got to be something more!” He snatched the baby from Mary’s arms and said, “This is the revelation!” Anna then came up “at that very moment” and, in so many words, said, “This is more than a baby! This is what we’ve been waiting for!”

The air around me these days is crackling with the Spirit’s static electricity. In the middle of the summer I started preaching a series of messages I called “The Transcendental Church”. I’m still preaching that series. Sunday I’m changing the title just to help our media department keep track. “The Dance of Heaven and Earth” is where I’m headed. I’m not entirely sure of what I’m even trying to say in this blog. I just know, I refuse to miss this “moment”. This moment is the moment for which I was born.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Keep Looking Up!"

Keep Looking Up!

Here’s my dilemma. I’m taking some much needed time off. My wife is in Texas attending to family business and I’m relaxing, reading and winterizing our yard. This morning I made a terrible mistake; I tuned in to Christian TV. Now, I need to blog some steam out of my system….bear with me.

In a short 23 minutes of “Christian” TV I listened to the following:
1. A painful song loaded with sappy sentiment about, “lately I’ve got leaving on my mind…”, sprinkled with the vocalist’s admonition to his audience, “I’m tired of this ‘ole crazy mixed up world! How many of you join me when I sing, ‘lately I’ve got leaving on my mind?’”
(this singer sported a hair sprayed mullet, a colorful ‘80s sport coat and 2 tone shoes…my dad always said, “never trust a man wearing 2 tone shoes”)
2. A “commentator” behind a “news desk” telling me that he has “good news”. What would that “good news” be? His sources tell him that a nuke has been smuggled across the Mexican border into the U.S. And…
3. If you don’t know Jesus, why don’t you give your heart to Him today. As we close today, “Keep looking up!” Hmmm, looking up should be pretty easy given the low point of this pit.

The network broadcasting this misery cut away to their promo at the end of the show and told me, “…we’re presenting the finest in family and Christian entertainment”. Lovely.

On behalf of pastors and Christians everywhere, please forgive us! On behalf of Christianity down through the centuries, I’m sorry we’ve become this bizarre caricature. In this corner of the world, please hear this one voice in the wilderness, “TURN CHRISTIAN TV OFF!” I know…I should have heeded my own advice.

OK, OK…that’s it, that’s all for today….I’m on vacation…I’m going outside to pick apples in my yard. I’ll be singing, “How Great is Our God!” and praying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN!”

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If One Mountain Moves...

Mark 11:22-26 has always been one of those Words that won’t leave me alone. I mean leave me alone in the sense that were times, I have wanted it to leave me alone! “Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.”

I’m quite sure that many honest people have looked at these words of Jesus and secretly thought, “What the heck was He thinking when He wrote that blank check!?” Like I said in the above paragraph, I’ve winced at these Words, in part because when people try these outrageous promises and nothing happens, they run to me, as a pastor and demand satisfaction. Somehow, I’m often chosen as the customer service representative for God when these things require some kind of unlimited warranty.

In my earliest days of faith in Christ, I was given a Bible with the Words of Jesus printed in red. I didn’t know how that worked or even why some of the Words were in red, so, in my simplicity, I decided that those were the most important Words. The absolute first Bible passage that jumped out at me was Mark 11:22-26. In those days, I was a customer and not a customer service agent; just a teenage kid. This passage transfixed me! I read it every morning and every night. I left my Bible open to that passage in my bedroom. I was amazed, intrigued, curious and not the least bit eager to try this promise on “for size”.

I’ve walked a million spiritual miles since then and today, that verse isn’t just printed in red, its red-hot! Today, I know that if the Kingdom of God, God’s transcendent supremacy, is large and in charge inside me, if I sneeze right, entrenched arrogant externalities that mock me are blasted aside. Today, I know that the insuperable prowess of Christ the King is looking for opportunities, through my obedient faith to vaporize inferior material realities. A mountain climber will say that they climb the mountain, “…because its there.” Believers need to learn to move mountains for the same reason.

“But I tried that and failed.” Then try again. If you fail again, don’t cry, don’t whine, don’t marginalize the promise and don’t call customer service! Suck it up, wipe your nose, check your motives, be an overcomer and out of the faith that says, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God”, give your mountain directions to the nearest ocean to sink into.

If you speak to 99 mountains or if you have to speak to one mountain 99 times, and on the 100th attempt the earth shakes, boulders roll and the mountain moves, wouldn’t it be worth it all?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Political Ads and Mr. Poopy Pants

Political ads are a delightful study in human nature. Both from the design and delivery of the ad itself, to the presumed assumptions the campaigners hope to achieve. For the sake of illustration, let me offer a fake ad for a fake candidate from a fake political party. Ready? Prepare yourself. This could get complicated.

“I’m Snow White and I approve this ad. Are you sick of Mr. Poopy Pants? Me too. Vote for me November 7th and I promise to be Jesus, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and Bullwinkle.” Miss White clearly wants you to believe 2 distinct things: She is good incarnate and he is the Anti-Christ (with irritable bowel syndrome). Tough choice. Better think long and hard about who you will support. The issues are painstakingly spelled out here so that there can be no mistake about what you are voting for: Snowy or Poopy.

Somewhere, in the past decade or so, in some ad design meeting room, somebody convinced the political powers that be that the American public should not be bothered with clarity of thought or distinctly articulated vision. The decision was made to simplify the information process down to the lowest common denominator: the other side has poopy pants. That’s it, that’s all, don’t look any deeper than that. Poopy pants.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was the Dick Van Dyke Show. Dick’s character, Rob once decided to run for a political office and ended up running against a complete genius, played by Wally Cox. Long and short of it was that at a public debate the genius smoked Rob and Rob ended up sitting in front of him asking questions and saying, “Wow. I didn’t know that!” over and over. Ironically, Rob won the election even though he tried really hard to lose so that the best man would win.

Wouldn’t it be fun if my fake campaign ad went like this: “Hi. I’m Mr. Poopy Pants. I have I.B.S. It’s embarrassing but, I manage. Miss Snow White is a good person and she might even do a better job than me. Oh, and she smells good too. Anyway, I’d appreciate the chance to work for you if you’d let me. I’ll do my best, but I’m sure I’ll make a few mistakes along the way. Maybe Miss White could be on my staff and help me if I’m elected. I have some pretty cool ideas at a web site you can visit. Thank you for your time.” Ah, doesn’t that just make you want to say, “POOPY FOR PRESIDENT”?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Go To Heaven!

OK, OK. No more hinting. This is it. I'm going to get this off my chest and out in the wide open for all to see. I'm here today to confess my real motives, my truest thoughts. Here goes….deep breath….I WANT HEAVEN ON EARTH.

How did I get this messed up? Who influenced me? What book, what conference, what false teaching got to me? How could a pastor of over 30 years get caught in this ideology? Oh, I don’t know; maybe it has to do with all the child-like theology I’ve sung through the years. You know what I mean, right? “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the Book for me”. Then I open the B-I-B-L-E and it says, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted to him.”

Then, add to it that since I am a pastor and some people expect me to explain everything God does, or, maybe it would be better to say, what God DOES NOT do. “I spoke to the mountain and it moved alright….it jumped right on top of me! What’s up pastor? Explain the furthest reaches of the unfathomable, unreachable, omniscient God to me! But make it quick, because I have picnic with some friends straight up at noon and then the Packers are playing on TV and then I want to see a movie tonight and then, OH my gosh, have you seen the latest TV hit? Desperate House-Mice! There’s this cat and then there’s this bunch of hormonal mice….Anyway, why don’t the mountains move?”

I WANT HEAVEN ON EARTH! I want to see an army of believers raised up who believe the B-I-B-L-E when it says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” and when it says, “If you are raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” and where it says, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all we can ask or think, according to the power that works with in us…”. AND they believe it day by day by day by year by year by year until someone somewhere is “built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” and “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ”.

I WANT HEAVEN ON EARTH! I want to be one gift of the five (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) who is equipping the saints with a determination that the goal is nothing less than, “the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer children, tossed here and there by waves….”. Which coincides with the Words of Christ when He promised, “If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you…” Is it just me, or does anyone else see that there’s a connectedness to all of this?

Mountains of a lesser ranking to the Mountain of the House of God not only move they are disintegrated by the Presence of God in the arrival of Sons and Daughters of Heaven’s Substantiality. When we live in the Heavenlies because we are consistently connected to our position of being Seated with Him, Heaven arrives in every step we take on earth.
“But pastor! That’s just my spiritual life…what about my ‘secular’ life?” Heaven on earth means that everything came from God and is going to God, which by implication means that everything, and I mean everything, is spiritual and nothing, and I mean nothing is secular! When I pray, that’s spiritual. When I picnic with my friends I don’t “turn off” spirituality, I bring it into that arena. When I go to church, that’s spiritual. When I go to a board of education meeting, that’s spiritual. When I sing at church, that’s spiritual. When I sing “Wild Thing” in my car that’s spiritual. Do you know what will happen when a sufficient number of us believe and live this to be the most superior reality on earth? Heaven will start arriving on earth in ever increasing dosages!

I WANT HEAVEN ON EARTH! Hell has been here too long. It’s a tired old reality. It’s time for hell to go to hell where it belongs. And, its time for Heaven to COME TO EARTH WHERE IT BELONGS!

A couple of nights ago I was awakened with a start at 2:45am. My heart was pounding and my mind raced, "What's up God?" He said, "Everything's fine. You're OK. Go back to sleep." Hmm. The next day this person shows up at my office who I have never met or ever heard of before and says, "Last night I woke up at 3am and this voice says to me, 'If you go and see Pastor Randy Dean everything is going to change'" Hmm. I prayed with that person, lead them to Christ and when we opened our eyes, heaven was in the room. Hmmm....Knocking on Heaven's Door? Maybe its more like, HEAVEN IS KNOCKING ON OUR DOOR!

Monday, September 25, 2006


A few blogs ago I promised to take a swing at the current Christian use of the word, “saved”. Now, before I go any further, let me say that I have been as guilty as anyone in my use and misuse of this word. I’ve said more times than I can count. “I’m saved! Are you saved?” Let the reader progress with that information, and yet, I intend to challenge all who read this to join me in a dive into a deeper end.

Here’s where the word has a root in scripture: “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved…” (Romans 10:9) In itself, that’s straight and simple enough. It’s a principle of God’s great canopy of provision for the human race. However, let’s take a closer look….

The Greek word for saved in this passage, and others, is the word, “sozo”. It means to be healed and made whole. I love that last phrase, “made whole”. Last week I asked a judge to give me legal definition of being “made whole”. (By the way; Thank you, your Honor). Here is a synopsis of his response: the offender sets about, with system and community insistence, accountability, encouragement and support, to put things back right; restoring the break or tear that the violation has created in the community. In this regard, an arsonist should replace, rebuild and repair the harm done to the victim.

To put things back right. To restore the violation created in the community. Wow. Now, fill that into “saved”. Jesus has put things back right. He has restored what the violation did to the community of human kind for all history. We are saved, alright! But I’m not sure we have given ourselves fully to the power inherent in just how saved we are!

Too often, we Christians go about getting people saved like we’re selling vacuum cleaners. You are saved if you sign a card. You are saved if you respond to my manuscript lead directions to get you to say the right words. And yes, I know that some people can connect with Truth beyond our over-simplified mechanics. Some one, some where will always find salvation in spite of us. I am just crazy enough, however, to believe for a better day than that.

I am beginning to believe that Jesus wants His followers to live for a message that is filled with far more hope than we have ever imagined. Try this on for size: what if “saved” means that Christ has put everything back right going all the way back to Adam and Eve’s fall? What if “saved” means that the violation created in the community has been fully restored? What if there is a transcedency beyond the typical notion that asks, “Are you going to heaven?” What if the Kingdom of the Heavens has been restored to me and I’m saved from living out of the shallow end of a mere material life? What if seeing the heavens opened over my life is what being saved is all about? What if I’m saved out of a paper thin existence of fear, worry, anxiety and the paper chase into a wide expanse of a life of visions and dreams and wonders and awe and ecstatic beauty today? Bad things may still come my way, but because Jesus has truly and magnificently saved me, there will never be any bad to come that will be bigger than the good that is within me, now.

What if I’m saved from a living death into a Life that has become a radiance and a pervasive environment of health, goodness and being whole? What if those of us who love to talk about “being saved” started living “saved”? Wouldn’t the world around us want to be “saved”? Wouldn’t that become an attractive, light filled, salt flavored influence? I'm just asking a few questions.

And, I’m just asking….do you want to be saved? I know I do….

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let's Make a Miracle

She wasn’t supposed to be teaching public school at the age of 57. At least that was her goal 30 years ago. “The Plan” was to take early retirement at 55, move to the Florida Keys and get a perma-tan. “The Plan” was gone. Its exit began 7 years ago when her husband came home with a strange gray look on his face.

He had just learned that his business partner of 16 years had been secretly sabotaging the accounts of their small, but successful plumbing business. In a matter of days, the revelation of a long term gambling addiction erased years of hard work and a life-long friendship. Bankruptcy was the only way out.

He continued to do the only thing he knew to do; plumbing. Side jobs and the occasional new home project kept him busy. But the bankruptcy and his own integrity did not erase a fairly sizeable amount of debt that he simply chose to pay. And, they both agreed, that God would always receive the first ten cents of every dollar they earned. The tithe was and would always be, holy to God and them.

Now, on this first day of school, the hallways were buzzing with excitement that was in direct contrast to her bleak mood. She was not supposed to be teaching at the age of 57! But, here she was, going through the motions, decorating the room, dusting off her lesson plans and pretending to be interested in the fresh new faces entering her 2nd grade classroom. “If I am this emotionally drained today, what will I be in the dead of winter!?” she complained to herself as she called the names of her new students.

“Michael Mayes….Michael Mayes….? Michael? If you are here, please answer!” From the left corner a muttering weak voice said, “Here”. Her mind said, “Ugh. I can smell a problem.”, but the Holy Spirit said, “Look at him. Now! Make eye contact.” She knew to be obedient even in the midst of her weariness, and so, looking up and pausing, she gazed at the boy with the weak voice.

From head to toe, his appearance shouted, “I’m tired and I don’t want to be here. Leave me alone.” Her computer print out indicated that Michael was new to the school, which meant that whatever problems he brought with him would be new as well. The Holy Spirit picked up where He left off, “He’s one of the reasons you are back here again. Let’s make a miracle together.”

Her internal dialogue with the Holy Spirit took milliseconds, but the content was rich with revelation. “You’re hysterical! Here I am sucking my thumb clear up to my elbow and you want to ‘make a miracle’ with me for this little boy.” Woven into the conversation was a recollection of her pastor’s recent sermon, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘the Kingdom of heaven is within your reach. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” The Spirit closed the exchange with a verbal kiss, “I love you, oh mighty woman of faith and power.”

A smile broke across her face like a summer sunrise. “Good morning Michael.” She paused, he shuffled. Under her breath, she whispered, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, in Michael, just as it is being done in heaven.” Suddenly, he looked back at her, directly in her eyes. It was as if she had thrown a water balloon at him. The Kingdom of the Eternal had just slipped into the moment. Darkness was fleeing at the speed of light and something dead in this little boy was stirring back to life.

A miracle was already made. An empty, wounded teacher became a Kingdom warrior in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reality Faith

Recently, someone very dear to me (who, by the way, may be reading this) asked me for a way to help a friend to understand faith. My email response was this, “Defining faith to anyone is like explaining love to a junior high kid. It’s elusive. It’s not a feeling but it does have feelings. It’s not a bolt of lightening, but it can produce a ‘moment’ when the moment is needed. Faith is allowing yourself the privilege of seeing the unseen, reaching for the unreachable and letting your heart hold a possibility in the face of multiple disappointments.” I must say I was pleased with what jumped out of my heart and onto the keyboard. It was without premeditation and dripping with my own passions.

After I read what I had written, it hit me: I needed that definition for myself. If I’m not diligent, I can allow myself the subtle error of thinking that I am a “professional person of faith”. No such thing exists in this very real world. Faith must never become canned, packaged and reduced to formulas. In fact, at that level, it ceases to be faith. We pastors have an occupational hazard of sermonizing life instead of passionately living a life that, in itself, is a message.

Jesus responded to a variety of expressions of faith. In one case a broken hearted woman wept at His feet and washed His feet with her tears. He called that action, “faith” and His response to her tells me that faith is more “felt than tell’t”. He was not looking for a precise, antiseptic, robotic regurgitation of a memorized lesson. He was looking for the heart. In fact, one the most quoted scriptures used to "get people saved" is Romans 10:9,10. (Side-note; I'll write a blog someday about this much abused Christian cliche, "saved" seems to reduce the glorious beauty of salvation to a WWLtCGD? = What Would Larry the Cable Guy Do? Git 'em saved! The thought just gives me a sharp pain in my side...around the spleen region) Sorry for the digression. The Romans passage cries out for the full engagement of the heart to the power of the resurrection of Christ! "Believe in the heart that God raised Him...." Oh, that lights a fire in me just typing the words!

“Letting your heart hold a possibility in the face of multiple disappointments…”. Another way to say it is, “Faith is spelled, R-I-S-K”. It’s about putting your heart “out there” one more time. In recent days I've been putting my heart and my faith right out there on my sleeve. Quite frankly, there are moments when it's terrifying. So what, life isn't for the faint of heart. I dare you to join me.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Look At Us!"

Once again, Dr. Luke must have felt like he was losing his mind. None of his medical training prepared him for the astonishing events he was called upon to record. In his gospel he told of how the crushing masses were being overwhelmed with a force field of health and well-being that was flying out from the sheer presence of Jesus. Now, he is recording the Acts (notice, not the doctrine or the belief system of, but the ACTS) of the Apostles.

Peter and John are walking time bombs of a transcendent supremacy. They are pregnant with the Kingdom of God within them. They've spent days, weeks, maybe months soaking the King's influence into their bodies, souls and spirits. If they don't find an outlet soon, somebody is going to get....well, not hurt, but really healed. And then IT happens.

They are going to the temple at the hour of prayer, not to GET prayer, but to release the Kingdom in their praying. Interesting, isn't it? We often go to church to "get" prayer, when the truth is, we should be loosing the King's reality THROUGH prayer everywhere and at all times. What would happen if the next time you go to church, you went to release the pent up flood of the Kingdom of God within you? What if thousands of us did that the next time we go? I'll tell you what would happen; A lame culture would rise up and walk in the Spirit.....but, I'm ahead of myself....

A lame man had been laid daily at the gate called, "Beautiful" so that he could beg for money. Humanistic religion is no better than humanistic politics. Throw money at the problem. It won't do them any good in the long run but we will feel better in the short term because we did something, and we get to be seen doing it by everyone passing by. That's not compassion, that's enslavement, for both parties. Am I against helping the poor? Not at all. I do it formally and informally almost everyday. All I'm saying is that feeding the hungry can be done by an atheist as easily as a believer. The believer's dilemma is that we are too easily satisfied with that alone. C.S. Lewis once said that the problem with modern Christianity is just that; WE ARE TOO EASILY SATISFIED WITH MODERATE BLESSINGS AND GAINS when richer realities await our faith.

Dr. Luke said that the man looked at Peter and John. Then he said something positively and wonderfully redundant; "Peter....said....'LOOK AT US!'" (Acts 3:1-10). I believe that in that crack of time, that seam of the eternal breaking in on the temporal, that the man saw a flash of what was coming at him. The insuperable prominence of Christ's influence was coming at him at the speed of light through the hand of Peter who "seized him" by the hand, made him stand and leap and leap and leaping, praising God.

It is time, TODAY, for all of us who believe that the invincibility of the Kingdom of God is within us to SEIZE some hands with more than our material answers, but with our transcendent goods! We have the potential of a prominence that could roar out from us. Mountains are supposed to move when we speak. Ten people are supposed to SEIZE US begging to be taken with us to our God. Whole nations are supposed to be discipled. Yet, it is not an unbelieving "outside world" that is the problem is unbelieving "believers". "LOOK AT US!" Indeed....

Within us is the same force field that leveled the fields around Jesus. Within us is the same excellence of a presence that was pulsing through His clothing, beaming out of His words and stampeding the inferior reality of darkness. Within us, behind our eyes, waiting a MOMENT when you are too bulgingly pregnant to hold the promise within you any more. Push it out and say to someone, TODAY, "LOOK AT US!"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Radiance of the King

Dr. Luke must have been freaking out as he watched thousands of tormented, disturbed and just generally sick people crowding around Jesus. Think about it. 2000 years ago, if you were sick….you were SICK. A bad cut could kill you. An impacted tooth could kill you. There was no such thing as antibiotics, aspirin, band-aids, “stitches”, vaccinations, tetanus shots and the list just keeps going on and on. And that doesn’t even begin to mention anti-depressants or any other kind of help for the psychologically needy person.

One of the words that Dr. Luke chose to use to describe some of the throngs crowding Jesus was the greek word “nosos” which had a notion of being morally messed up. Another word he picked was “astheneia” which had to do with being painfully backward and mostly emotionally feeble. Nice group of folks, huh? And we’re talking herds, packs, pulsing, pushing, grabbing masses. Oh, and one other thing….hygiene….deodorant….tooth paste? Forget about it….

But beyond that collective, crusty mess of humanity, Dr. Luke records his astonishment at what was happening to these people…. “the multitude were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all”… “laying His hands on every one of the them, He was healing them”… “great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses”… “the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing”.

Dr. Luke’s reflection of all this was that Jesus kept referencing that this activity was the presence of the Kingdom of God. This presence, evidently, was a radiance or a transcendent power that was pushing away and pulsing through crowds like a giant beam of creativity making broken lives completely well! Jesus was giving off this force field of health, well being and wholeness that was more contagious than the sicknesses which were being eradicated.

In one location, so many people were profoundly impacted by this “aura” that they, quite naturally, begged Him to stay. His response summarizes my theme here; “I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Dr. Luke’s cataloging of these outrageous events is the chronicle of what the Kingdom of God does and how it influences a region.

What does this mean to me? I want to become a bearer of that radiance. And not only that, but I want to start a revolution of that kind of transcendent supremacy. If the Chernobyl disaster can leave a sickening radiation field for 10,000 years, then how much more can the Resurrection of Christ produce a domination of health that can send Holy Shock Waves through a region?

If the Kingdoms of this world are to become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, then somebody needs to start something that is seriously buckling some knees. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can say for myself….I desperately want this kind of Kingdom Reality in and around me. Church status quo has now become part of the sickness of our society.

Enough! I cry out, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dear God,

Dear God,

Hi. How's Your day going? Do You have "days"? I can't really wrap my mind around that. Well, any-hoo...

I've got several things on my mind today. I'd like a moment of Your time....hmmm....what's time like for You? Dang, there I go again.....oh....sorry for the "dang".....well, sorry for the word that was in my heart that got translated, "dang". Alright, here we the point.

As I said, there are some pressing things on my mind today. A passenger jet went down in the Ukraine yesterday. I've got a couple of friends in the Ukraine this week. They would have been flying. Are they OK? I'm not hearing anything, so I'm assuming they're fine.....right? Right? That's bothering me....

Last month, do You remember.....sorry about that....of course You of our church board members, and a good friend, had a heart attack, right here in my front of me no less..... I wasn't sure why that was still laying pretty heavy on my mind until yesterday when I talked to another good friend who has to have bypass surgery this week. We are all about the same age, and suddenly I'm listening to every thump of my own heart. Could You fix it so that the rest of my friends would stop making me nervous like this? Oh, and heal my friends too.... sorry.....I'm being pretty narcissistic, huh? Yea....well...let's keep that just between the 2 of us. I have an image to maintain....

There's some other stuff too, but suddenly I'm feeling pretty selfish. I thought praying would help me feel's not working. Are You mad? It's not that the whole "time" thing, is it? Hello....anybody up there? Crap; now I'm really bothered. Oh, sorry again for the "c" word... OK, OK, OK!!! I'm sorry for the REAL word that got translated into the "c" word. Geez......

Uhm.....does "geez" mean something else? Crap, I mean.....dang it.....I mean....hey look at the time....well, not that time means anything to You....does it?

Your Pal,


Thursday, August 10, 2006

If Not Here, Where? If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

When Jesus hit the shores of earth with His outrageous new message, He said, "The wait is over. God's strategic plan is finally and once for all, in place. The pervasive and pervading quality of God's perfect authority, command and domain is within everyone's reach. Change all your previous thinking about what constitutes 'religion' and believe in this announcement of perfect wholeness for all humankind." While this wording may not be familiar to you, it is the R.D.V. of Mark 1:15. I love the R.D.V. It's my favorite translation. It speaks from and to the heart. My heart, that is. It's the Randy Dean Version as revealed by the Spirit of Truth.

The last time this perfect and pervasive influence had been present on earth was at the creation. God and humans were at complete harmony with each other. Health, wholeness, happiness, artistic creativity, breathtaking beauty and true human potential were unlimited. Man opted out of that plan and chaos, disease and tragic limitations followed. But, because God is infinitely good beyond all definitions, He put in place a long range plan for the restoration of His creation. That plan found its new genesis in the aforementioned arrival of Jesus, the Christ.

God's desire for humans to own and manage planet earth has never been rescinded, but it awaited the arrival of the next Man, or Son of Man, to kick start the plan all over again. Hence, the announcement Jesus made. From that announcing point forward Jesus set out to prove His claim. He took control, or domain over the chaos, disease and tragic limitations that the first man had chosen. If someone was blind, Jesus said, "Here's a taste of God's original plan; SEE!". If someone was dead, Jesus said, "God never planned for death to be the 'norm' on earth. LIVE!". If a party needed wine, Jesus said, "OK. This pushes the limits just a bit, but I'm game. Hey water.....PARTY!".

Millions of dollars of lotto money are wasting away in banks all over America. Why? Because hundreds of winners have failed to claim their prizes. It's true. Prizes great and small have been neglected because many people have simply forgotten that they had a lotto ticket or they just tossed the numbers aside thinking, "What's the use. I'll never win anything." Similarly, a prize beyond measure has been "buried" in the field of the earth. Jesus said that the pervading and pervasive influence of God's domain was and is BACK. He also tantilizingly said (in Matthew 13:44-46) that it had been "buried" as a dare for someone, somewhere to sell everything they have in order to go buy that field and unearth the treasure.

Too many elements of God's church today are starving, spiritually bankrupt and totally ineffective when the truth is, they are wealthy beyond imagination. They could be a city placed on a hill, the light of the world with the nations streaming to them happily begging for their tangible Good and the Living God. But sadly, many are just resigned to an insignificant holding pattern, waiting for their number to be called so they can leave the planet that was assigned to their charge.

I don't want to go anywhere until I've finished my desparate search. Along the path of my life, I have worn out 3 or 4 shovels digging for that buried treasure I mentioned earlier. Just recently, however, my newest shovel went into the dirt and I felt a sudden "thud". Moments later I was weeping over an open heavens that I found just beneath my feet. With this discovery in hand, I'd like to invite you to join me at the local expression of the church I'm pastoring. I'm throwing a wedding feast for my portion of the Bride of Christ and the Groom is in the back room contemplating what to do with several water pots at His disposal.

Wanna party with us?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Dance With the Groom

Life is full of "firsts". First steps, first words, first day of school, first job, first girl/boy friend, first kiss and the firsts go on and on. You'll always remember your "first" whatever. I've discovered that there truly is a first time for every thing and, indeed, the more "firsts" you have in life, the more life stays alive.

Last Saturday night I officiated a splendid and magnificent wedding in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It was a marvelous night of "firsts". After a particularly moving ceremony and a lovely reception the wedding dance called us out of our shy reserved seats. Close to midnight, toward the end of the dance, without notice and without advance thought, I found myself having a "first".

Much earlier, I had asked the DJ to find and play Eric Clapton and Cream's "The Sunshine of Your Love". That song has been hanging around my internal karaoke for several weeks and I just wanted to hear it thump right out load. At long last, I heard the opening guitar riffs and my feet hauled my 53 year old body onto the dance floor.

Maybe some of you know what that "first" moment of a song and dance is like when you've been aching for some time to sing and dance to it.....there's something of a fog around you......its a transcendental/metaphysical moment.....or, something like that. Anyway, when I came to my senses, I realized I was pretty much out there, alone. Except for the groom......I'm doing the "Wa-too-see" (60's dance) with my clergy collar on....with a guy. A "first" was happening.

That "guy" was my son. The "first" was my dance with a groom. That might be a first in history, period. Pastor/father dancing with groom/son. What a night!

This morning I'm imagining the "first" blush of creation when God the Father said, "Let there be light!". And God the Son screemed, "OWW!! Dad, That's Amazing!" And God the Spirit picked up a Fender Strat, plugged it into a 5,000,000 watt Marshall stack and played the "first" edition of "The Sunshine of Your Love". And that's when God made a note to Self; "Rock music is Good.....p.s. Several thousand years from now, make sure Randy Dean gets a cool son named Jonathan to have the first father and son wedding dance in history."

Monday, July 10, 2006

The One Year Old Blogger

I'm officially a one year old blogger. I'm not familiar enough with the demographics of this medium to know whether that means anything at all. What I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy punching out my stories, thoughts and provocations.

Looking back over the entries I can see a slice of my own journey over the past year. I hope you've enjoyed my postings and invite you to keep checking in with me. One of the earliest comments someone made a year ago says it well for me, "I'm glad you joined this bloggishness".

If you haven't looked back at my entries, take some time and browse. I promise to make you smile, frown or at least, think. Blog on brothers and sisters........

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Loving Life

I'm loving life this morning. It's the 4th of July and God in His great lovingkindness saw fit to arrange the cosmos perfectly for my pleasure. This cosmic alignment is actually quite's the set-up:

NASA postponed the space shuttle launch due to weather and other conditions to be at a time when I can watch it on my satellite TV. While some folks are boating, camping and generally outside, I'm glued to the TV watching the astronauts getting strapped into Discovery. Every so often the camera cuts to a shot of the engines of the shuttle and they are heaving, breathing smoke and giving off a gigantic hissing that just makes me growl with pleasure. Now THIS is my tax dollar being used for productive purposes.

The countdown is perfect, the NASA geek guy calmly tells us, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and Discovery lifts off...". Its the only imperfection of the show. I say we get the guy who introduces boxers with, "Let's get ready to rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumble!" I imagine myself strapped in this behemoth screaming, "Yeeeeee-Haaaaaa!" with Eric Clapton and Cream playing, "The Sunshine of Your Love" in my headphones. NASA just needs a better DJ.

Anyway, when all of this is done, I just can't wait to blog and tell you about it. So, there you have it. I'm loving life this 4th of July. I'm loving America. I'm loving God. Life is good.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Teleology, Continued

One clarification to the last blog: my challenge to research all those "ologies" came across poorly. It was not meant to be condescending, but meant to challenge. Underneath all my faith based optimism is the fact that 22 years ago I was challenged by men and women of God to look closely at what I said I believed, and it changed my life and my ministry.

I came from all the fear based end-times teaching and when I found all my current "ologies" the Bible suddenly and beautifully made all the spiritual sense I was longing for. When I said, "You've got the time to research" it was to call you out of any of any "hurry up" mentality and spend the quality time you need to find what the Apostle Paul called, "a spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Him (Christ). And that, my friends, is Christology!

Thank you for visiting this challenging blog!

Got Teleology?

There’s no healing for my hope. I am hopelessly hopeful, incurably whole and beyond help for the view I hold of the God I love and the world He loves. I'm positively giddy about the future and drunk with a Holy Spirit induced high that won't let me go! And yes, I've seen the end-times forecasts on Christian TV. I've heard the gleeful singing about getting ready to fly away from this soon to be incinerated planet.

But my good cheer just will not let me go there with these bell ringers ding-donging doomsday. God has given me a theology with a teleology that has a methodology of an ontology rooted in the very nature of God as revealed in His Christology. It's just that simple. If you need any help on those terms, just do some've got time.

Hmm...research and time; those are commodities that the sleazy salesmen of end-times products won't encourage you to use. Its just too costly to their bottom line. Trust me on this one; their "product-line" is generating a healthy profit that they can not afford to surrender. Bluntly stated, if they admit they are wrong, on any level, it costs them millions of dollars.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality”. In a speech following his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, William Faulkner said, “I decline to accept the end of man….man will not only endure, but prevail….because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

There are voices in the church today who, with unchained reach and unfettered volume, are declaring the opposite. To them, there is a violent "end” of human life based solely on the evil nature of humans. Nuclear holocaust like hail stones from God with a garnish of devinely inspired 15.0 earthquakes......and those are just the appetizers! Their teleology welcomes the thief whose goals are killing, stealing and destroying.

"But pastor! Haven't you read the Book of Revelations?" Nope; but I have read the Revelation of Jesus Christ, if that's what you are talking about. And, my oh my, the optimism I live just rides ever higher. That part, where God says to John, "Come up here and I will show you what must take place after these things" just makes me squeal with delight, like a kid in a school yard recess "free for all" snow ball fight.

When John gets yanked out of his earth-bound funk by the power of the Holy Spirit, he sees a rainbow laced throne, glimmering with jewel like magnificense. That report alone makes me sound like a pessimist. What I'm trying to say is that in the face of the true dangers of the world in which we live, the Church can not afford an anemic teleology that plays into the plans of the enemy of God's creation! If you believe "it all blows up" in the end, then, whether you know it or not, you welcome and possibly subconsciously enjoy every incident that confirms your ultimate and final view of God's purposes. I just read in Ephesians that everything in heaven and earth will be summed up in Christ. Therefore, my teleology is producing a sky-high faith for everyday events that will lead to that summation!

Now, before I close this chapter, lets go back to William Faulkner's quote and speech. It's loaded with a healthy teleology. Google the speech with the quote, "I decline to accept the end of man". His warning 56 years ago was that if authors of any kind of literature stood among and watched the end of man, they would write not of the heart, but of the glands. They would write not of love, but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion.

In my view, even so-called Christian literature (Left Behind come to mind?) slides into this morass and has unwittingly contributed to the pessimistic immoral culture we so despise! So, tell me....Got Teleology? Is it brimming with unarmed truth and unconditional love? Is Christ risen from the dead and victorious over the grave? Or is His resurrection just an anecdotal historical event for your personal future pleasure safely distant from this blue planet turned to ashes from God's fury?


Monday, June 05, 2006

Route 666

Tomorrow will mark (pun intended) a scary day for a few people. June 6, 2006 or, 6-6-06. One Hollywood film company will cash in on the silliness by releasing a movie. Hell, Michigan (a real town!) is having some kind of festival tomorrow complete with people in devil costumes, temporary tattoos for the forehead and right hand and, more than likely, a gathering of "concerned" Christians to protest. It all just makes my spleen hurt.

Aside from the date, in my own experience I've been witness to a dozen or more theories about this much ballyhooed number, "666". Once, there was a giant computer in Brussels. Or was that a large brussel sprout in an old computer? Then, there was the arrival of the bar code on all of our merchandise! Right now I'm holding a book written in 1984 that devoted a chapter to the sinister power of the bar code with a concluding exclamation, "666 is here!". Then there was the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Morgans, the Rothschilds, the Boogeyman! Quickly, someone call Ghostbusters! And that's not even giving mention to Y2K and 88 Reasons the Rapture will happen in 1988. Oh, my throbbing spleen!

I said in my last blog that I made a commitment to God many years ago to be a voice of Truth in the face of these ridiculous fantasies. The end-times conspiracy theorists have held center stage for far too long. They have abused the Bible, the work of the Cross and the Resurrection with impunity. I've offered my own ministry and calling to do whatever I can to call the people of God out of this shallow wading pool and discover an ocean of practical, liveable Truth, which does not require the memorization of a dispensational chart.

The book of Revelation (13:16-18)is the origin of the reference to the number "666". In spite of the current fanciful interpretations, shouldn't we ask ourselves, "What would the first readers of these passages have thought?" How about the "mark" of sweat on Adam's forehead (Genesis 3:19) regarding his disobedience? Or, what about the High Priest of the Old Testament, marked on his forehead with gold letters proclaiming he was "Holy to the Lord"(Exodus 28:36)? Then there is the "mark" of the law of God on the hands and foreheads of those who are blessed and called by God (Dueteronomy 6:6-9) and the warning not to think that the power of our own hands provided our wealth apart from God's blessing (Dueteronomy 8).

The "mark" in Revelation is to be a revealed truth about our calling to be blessed by God and to never fall prey to the temptation of thinking that what you have or what you own or what you achieve is anything apart from the goodness and generousity of God's power to bless! He calls us to the perfection of His devine nature which is represented by the number of perfection, "7". He warns us to never be satisfied with the "almost" good of a number just short of seven, "666". God calls us to His creativity and a freedom from the love of money. He longs to deliver us from the spirit of greed into the beauty of knowing, "it is more blessed to give than to receive".

The "beast" has been driving souls into an early grave for centuries, but Christ has conquered His "Anti-" and offers something else; "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have LIFE and that more abundantly."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Happy 6/6/06!

Attention all fans of everything that has to do with the:
a. end times
b. book of Revelations (see my earlier blog by this title) and prophecy conspiracy scriptures
c. the mark of the beast and
d. the rapture......
This blog will bother you. It will basically make fun of the aforementioned theories. It will milk the sacred cows of these bothersome intrusions to a mature spirituality that loves and is vitally connected to the Living Christ. OK? Stop now.....c'mon haven't stopped yet.....well, so be it. You've been warned.

Next Tuesday is (spooky music the "ah-ah-ahs" of scary choir voices added)
6-6-06! The anti-christ will begin a tour of the nations with his tatoo shop in tow to offer all of us unsuspecting bobble heads the Mark of the Beast. No one will be able to buy or sell without it and if you refuse it, it will be "off with their bobble head!" Of course, this is just a synopsis of what some folks have been out to sell us but whatever their version is, it comes down to these basics.

It is unmitigated piffle. Tripe, tomfoolery, silliness and fantasy. I shouldn't be so vague. Let me just say it the way I believe it; it is deception. I decided many years ago that the Body of Christ had been drained and beleaguered for too long by these attacks on mature spirituality in Christ and that I was going to be a voice, maybe a voice in the wilderness, but still a voice for One whose character deserves better than all that.

Now that I have your attention, I need to end this short blog. I will come back next Tuesday to finish these thoughts. I know all the arguements, all the proof-texts from the Bible, all the pre, post, mid and "A's". The preterists, the literalists the blah, blah, blah. But I also know the Lord Jesus Christ Who came to seek and to save that which was lost. THE Christ Who trumps every anti-christ spirit that has ever walked this earth.

666? Its all about man's inability to be his own provision, his own perfection without God. What's the answer? The Mark of the Name of God our Father written on our foreheads. It's all about, "Who is your God? Who provides your life, whose Name is written in your mind? Whose love has seized your mind, will and emotions?"

Come back be continued....................

Friday, May 19, 2006

DaRandi Code

Brace yourselves. I know something you don't know. It is so disturbing, so cage rattling, so outside the norm that no one, no where, at no time has ever thought of what I know. I would tell you this mysterious, conspiracy laced riddle but then you would be in grave danger, just as I am for knowing this, this, this "thing". OK. Never mind. What's the fun of having special knowledge if you can't use it to be pompous and rich.

I have chosen to call this the "DaRandi Code". I came up with that title all by myself. I am brilliant. What I know will change everything you have come to believe about all human history, life on planet earth and the recipe for Rice Krispy Bars. Please, control your emotional response. I know this is unsettling. I know that some of you are actually losing bladder control even as you are reading this. Please, just quietly slip out of the room and take care of your personal hygiene needs and come back to this blog when you feel that you are capable of some self control.

This special knowledge came to me in an ancient, centuries old bowling alley in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I was leading a archaeological dig through a burial mound of discarded rental shoes. If you have never done a dig of that nature, it is almost impossible for me to adequately describe the stench that boils up into your nostrils. It is a combination of aerosol disinfectant and moldy foot odor. The air was also thick with second hand smoke and cheap beer breath. One member of my team was overcome by the noxious fumes and had to be air-lifted to an area hospital.

About the time I was going to call off the dig for the night, my helmet mounted light came across something tangled in the shoelaces that was not red, green, tan or gold (which for the novice reading this is the natural color of the "bowlicus renticus shoeicus"...please pardon the technical reference). Carefully, gently, tenderly I pulled the papyrus like material out of the mound, my hands trembling. The images that jumped off the page and into my optical nerves threw my mind and body into a state of complete ecstacy. The kind of "Price is Right" swoon when you hear your name spoken with that announcer man tone, and the mystical phrase, "Come on down".

It was a ketshup/mustard stained, scoring scroll. Among the typical X's and /'s for strikes and spares with the occasional -'s for open frames, an amazing figure appeared on the page. An untrained eye would have missed it, but the brimming genius of my large brain did not overlook this exception to the rule. There it was, immediately following what the ancients once refered to as a "turkey" (3 strikes in a row, for those of you who are not as smart as me). The nearest key stroke I can find on the computer keyboard that resembles this sign is "~" (quotes not included). Again, for emphasis, what I saw was XXX and ~. Not a dash (-), but a ~. Do you know what this means?

It means that 300 is not a perfect game. It means that someone, somewhere has scored, or has the possibility of scoring......a 301. All these years, all those league nights of striving for the "pocket" of the pins, all those gutter balls, all the demonic 7 - 10 splits and all this time, a "~" was available to us!!! We've been lied to by the venerable Bowling Associations of America. Their hierarchy has kept this from us, their high priests who hide behind the "machinery" that places the pins have been secretly laughing at our vain attempts to roll the perfect 300.

Since that fateful day of discovery till now, my life is in danger. The only comfort I have, my only solace, is for you to immediately bring me lots and lots of money. Not hundreds, not thousands, but only millions of dollars will protect me. Trust me. I know. You must go to your banks, cash out your checking and savings accounts and bring the cold hard American dollars to my home today. I don't know how long I have before the large bellied men with obvious comb-over hair do's find me and drag me behind those mechanical altars from which gutter balls never return.

Please. I am begging you. Do not spend your money this weekend or any other time, for that matter, at some movie which is mocking my discovery. Their thinly veiled attempt of plagiarizing my works with their "DaVinci Code" is sickening. I alone must have your money. It is my only hope. Those of you who know me, know that I sign off all of my e-mails in the following manner; ~prd~. Notice the symbol "~". It is the sign of my discovery, the hieroglyphic image of this mystery, the reminder for you to go NOW to your bank and get all your money and give it to me. It is the only way.

You will never again be able to hear the sound of all ten pins crashing against each other without knowing that the ~ is out there. It mocks you because now you know, that all your heretofore cherished notions about bowling, are false. Quickly now. I need money. And somebody, please tell Tom Hanks he should have done "Forest Gump II" instead.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Love You

I could write the book, "The Idiot's Guide for Coming To Christ". No choir singing, "Just As I Am" and no counselors waiting with plastic smiles and clever gospel tracts in hand. No heads were bowed, no eyes were closed, no seeker sensitive "bait and switch" set-up to lure me in. I hated church, I hated Christians and I hated their thinly veiled attempts to witness to me. I hated my mom and dad's new "faith". I hated life and I especially hated me. Hate; pure, raw, real.

Just as I was? I was just between drinking binges at 16. Too cowardly to shoot myself or slice my wrists. But not too cowardly to drive my dad's Cadillac up a hill at 100 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road just to hear my car load of friends scream for mercy and curse me. I will always wonder who it was I almost killed at the top of that hill. I took the left hand ditch at the last moment.

The beginning of the end came one night when, in the grey cloud of my misery, I was running my head into the walls of my bedroom. Not in the figurative manner of speaking; literally ramming my skull as hard as I could into the walls hoping to cause an injury bad enough to kill me. (People close to me now say that explains some things about me 37 years later). My insanity was based in the lie I believed and was speaking out between thumps on the wall, "Nobody loves me". I fell asleep, or to be more accurate, slipped into unconsciousness that night, sobbing those words into my pillow.

I think it was the next day, an old German man from a church my parents were attending came to the house. He parked his old Volvo a block away (because he knew I knew his car and would not come home if I saw it parked in our driveway). He sat and waited patiently for me to come home that night because he told my mother he had a dream about me the night before. He didn't tell her what it was. When I walked in the door and saw him sitting in my house, I cursed under my breath....

With a thick German accent he said, "Sit down." Honestly, my knees buckled and I sat. He choked with emotion and continued, "I had a dream about you last night. I saw you crying and saying, 'Nobody loves me'. And God told me to come here tonight and tell you that He loves you and I love you."

I have spent my life from that moment till this running toward and leaping into the Arms of that God. The rest of the events of that night belong to another blog at another time, but all of the above was written to lead to this moment for everyone reading this right now. Gather yourself for a moment of clarity and focus and drink these last words into your soul.....

God says to you right now, in this crease of eternity; "My child, I love you." He told me to tell you that. Yes He did. Whoever you are. Whenever you read this. God is looking back at you through this computer monitor and speaking those Words into your reality. A century ago the words, "born again" were not used to describe being "saved". In his book, "The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus", Brennan Manning says, "A century the deep south.... the words used to describe the breakthrough into a personal relationship with Jesus were, 'I was seized by the power of a great affection.'"

I am being obedient to a heavenly vision to use this venue to say we all need to be seized again and again for the restoration of an authentic life and faith. In too many ways, Christianity today has become a system, a "thing" and it does not seize lives as it could and should. That could change, even in this very moment.......there it is..........can you hear it? His Voice..........

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Now, With God's Help, I Shall Become Myself" ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Many people breathing, but not many people living. Crowds laughing, but not many happy. Stadiums cheering, but few champions. Car after car flying down the highway but few inhabitants within consciously aware of any significant destination other than geographic.

The promise of authentic Christianity is the reversal of this night of the living dead. Christ shouts through the centuries, "I have come that they might have life, and that more abundantly!". His guarantee for that Life, however, became the most counterintuitive act of all history; the crucifixion.

"Butcher Me! Ravage My body with your most efficient rakes of hate and after you do your bloody best, stake Me to a tree and hang Me out to dry. With your most important governmental prowess, seal My carcass in a dank death chamber. I will allow you 3 days to enjoy your arrogance......and then, I swear to you out of My Father's integrity, I will reject your offer to stay dead and explode up out of the dirt! A new kind of Life will be the harvest of your deed."

Jesus told His befuddled huddle of 12 that He would be butchered but live again. He told them straight out, that because He would Live again, they, and we too, would Live. Can you see their deaf and dumb faces nodding an oblivious affirmation? That Gomer Pyle, mouth hanging open, drool dripping "Yes sir, Sergeant" look? More importantly, do you see our very same obtuse response? We too, are a befuddled huddle.

That is, until somebody, anybody jumps out of the crowds and stadiums and parades to nowhere and screams, "Now, with God's help, I shall LIVE and become myself!" Christ awaits a people in every generation whose honest hunger outweighs the sedatives of their culture. His Resurrection, for them is far more than a line in their doctrinal pledge of allegiance. His resurrection is the power to finally, by the grace of God, become my truest, real self.

Hallelujah, Christ is Risen! And, hallelujah, SO AM I!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gay, Straight, Red State, Blue State, War, Peace, Blah, Blah, Blah

I feel so left out. I'm not energized enough about any polar extreme that I feel compelled to protest for or against anything. In fact, the last protest gathering that interested me was held in Washington D.C. when Martin Luther King Jr. preached his immortal "I Have A Dream" prophetic Word. Some days I wonder if I am the only Christian alive that just is not interested in either side of most current protests. What side you ask? Pick a side, any side; I'm not on any of the protester's sides.

Gay marriage? I'm just busy keeping my straight marriage healthy, counseling other straight marriages so they stay healthy, meeting with straight couples who are planning on getting married and trying to spread as much love and healing on lonely singles as I can to keep them on the path of good mental health. I must be too apathetic about the greater cultural war to get involved in the politics of gay marriage.

The last time I checked, straight marriage is in a train load of trouble, all by itself. There's at least a 50% failure rate going on inside and outside the church. So, for now, I am going to leave the gay marriage argument up to all the smart people who are protesting on both sides of that issue so I can concentrate my simple tiny brain on what's going on right in front of me. Jesus warned me that the speck I see in someone else's eye might just be the plank stuck in my eye.

Pro-Choice? Pro-Life? I am completely pro-life; but for the "life" of me I just cannot imagine parading with signs, signing petitions or even putting bumper stickers on my car. I am spending my "pro-life" energies on ministering to people who believe that after they were born their dysfunctional parents aborted them. Teens and men and women whose fathers and mothers never mentored them. Adult children still looking for parental support and acceptance. I simply don't have time to go to the state capital to find a TV camera that will capture my indignation for the evening news and my 15 minutes of fame.

Oh, and by the way; in my 33 years of pastoring I have wept with many young ladies who have called me for help with the heart breaking "decision" to make about a surprise pregnancy. AND....with every one of them, since abortion became legal, the pressure they felt to end the life of their baby was coming from a man in their life. A boyfriend, husband and yes, even their fathers who were pushing them toward.....are you ready for this......the "woman's right" to a choice. As a result, I view abortion as more a sick and happy relief for some proud, arrogant, irresponsible sperm donor boyfriend/husband or shallow shaming father. Go to a protest at an abortion clinic? Not for me. I'd rather work out at a local gym for a few months so that I could adequately beat the crap out of few males (not men) who have broken too many hearts. Yes, I said crap.

Now what will happen is that someone will protest me writing the word "crap" in my blog. HEY! Maybe this will solve my problem of feeling left out. Yes....that's the ticket! Now I can be part of the whole protesting thing by being the object of a protest! Cool! That beats the crap out of being a protester!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hello. My Name is Truth

Truth will wreck you. It will set you right side up is an upside down world. Truth will strip you of every selfish notion devised by your past, your pains, your problems, your personality, your preferences, your possesiveness, your poverty, your personality, your prosperity, your pity, your power, your perfectionism, your performance, your peers, your paralysis, your predespositions, your prudishness, your put-ons, your papa and your paranoia.

Truth will meet you head-on with no intention of slowing down or dodging you. It's reality will be like headlights frozen on high-beam bearing down on you in it's own lane, challenging you to awaken to the reality that you are in the wrong lane. As a matter of fact, Truth won't even "honk". That sound you hear is your adrenalized heart-beating.

Truth, while not forgiving in itself, will lead you to forgiveness. Truth is a living power, a driving rain storm, a relentless blizzard and a sunshine drenched perfect day. Jesus said, "I AM the Truth....". Truth walks. Truth talks. Truth laughs. Truth weeps. Truth bleeds. Truth will die with every intention of living larger later.

Truth will set you free, not in spite of these things, but BECAUSE of these things. Truth heals us when we accept the stark fact that we don't know it. Truth delivers us when we crawl across the gravel of life, reach our bleeding fingers toward its hem and snatch it hard to our weeping face and say in our heart, "If I can just touch the edge of Truth I will be free".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Hearts for Stones

I am preaching a lenten sermon series entitled, "New Hearts for Stones". The content is shattering me. It is literally haunting my thoughts and dreams. I am confident I am reaching at least one person with a Word from!

The essence is rooted in several promises throughout the scriptures that promise God's longing to dig out of our chests the hearts of stone and replace them with new hearts of soft flesh. I won't take the time or space for references here. Get a concordance and simply look up "heart" and start reading. The sheer volume of God's focus on the matter of "heart" will speak for itself. What is crystal clear to me from the Spirit's Voice in all of this is that a cold stone heart is more offensive to God than any, and yes, I mean any, other sin we churchoids (look up the suffixe "-oid") protest.

Author, Anne Lamott says, "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." That's the heart of stone. Now, without me doing your work for you, can you identify the possibility of that stone in your chest? If so, you've got a promise to claim. God wants to give you a new heart.

Yesterday I was reading about a churchoid group that is criss-crossing the nation to go to the funerals of military service men and women killed in action. Their one and only purpose is to hold signs and yell at the funeral attendees the content of their stone hearts. "God killed your loved one to punish America for its sins!" "God is America's Terrorist!" Those are the nicest, and only quotes I'll print in my blog! Minnesota is studying legislation to put this churchoid group at a "safe" distance from any funeral held in the state. As far as I am concerned, Wyoming would not be a "safe" distance. I did find it enlightening to read that one mother of a slain soldier said, "My son fought for, and died for freedom of speech....if they want to stand out there at my son's funeral...they have every right to be there."

My simple point for this simple blog is this: the only solution is for each of us, one by one, claiming God's promise for a new heart. I cannot carpet the world, but I can put on a pair of shoes. I cannot stop people pretending to be the church from advertising their dead stone hearts, but I can claim a soft real heart for myself. And maybe, just maybe, it will be so real for me, that I can start a revolution of heart.

That is why I pastor. That is why I preach. New hearts anyone?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Prayers I've Never Prayed

I have several book titles rattling around inside of my mind. Friends and family tell me I should be careful about saying them out loud because somebody is likely to steal the title, write the book and make a bunch of money. Well, today's blog is me not being careful. In fact, the title is one of those book titles. The difference is the book would have to be written under an assumed name to protect the innocent, the ignorant and the outright stupid. All three of which might just be me.

Have you ever gone to a "prayer meeting" and sat there listening to public prayers and wondered, "Who are we really talking to here?". When the prayer goes something like, "Dear Lord, You see the need of Brother Jones. He is in the St. Dude's Hospital with severe colon seizures"; Who are we really talking to? Wasn't that just a 2-fer moment where we snuck an announcement into the prayer? Or better yet, how about the "Prayer Breakfasts" where we talk about prayer for an hour and offer up 3 minutes of praying to bless the food?

All that aside, my frustration as a pastor is that I have way too much "rascal-randy" running around inside me when I see certain situations, know too much about what's really happening and then have somebody ask, "Pastor; would you just lead us in prayer about this?" (On a side note: have you noticed how it is the nice Christian thing to say the word, "just" in every sentence? JUST pray.....JUST trust the Lord....JUST do your best.....I'm JUST so concerned?) Anyway, rascal randy runs up into my mind and Pastor Randy has to make a decision.....(by the way, in my internal theater, r.r. looks and sounds like Bugs Bunny and P.R. looks and sounds like Elmer Fud). Got the picture?

Do I let r.r. pray? "Dear Lord. You see the incredibly short sighted decisions these people have made. How, when faced with self-preservation versus sacrifice, they have chosen to do what they want without bothering to ask You what You might want. Now that they are backed into a corner, they need You to bail them out. Please ignore the obvious patterns of bad choices they make. Please step aside from Your Holy Mental Health and be a gigantic codependent Daddy and clean up their mess with the least amount of inconvenience to them so that within 90 days of this time, we will be right back where we started. Amen" (carrot chewing noises followed by a long silence).

Funeral prayers by r.r. might clear the room. "O Lord! This guy was such a jerk! Some folks are here today just to make sure he's gone!" Wedding prayers might get r.r. killed. "Almighty God. This couple is clueless. They're saying 'I do' when they should be saying, 'I duh'." And most of what r.r. would pray would simply get P.R. run out of town and forced into the federal witness protection program in another state. Christians rival the Mafia when they're mad.

That's why prayers are NOT 2-fers where we sneak announcements and gossip into the mix. "Prayer Breakfasts" should be called "Let's Get Together and Eat Too Much and Laugh Alot and Pray Short Prayers at the Beginning and the End Meetings".

Thankfully, P.R. has won my internal debate with r.r. for who gets to pray out loud."Just" please pray for me that I won't let r.r. accidently win someday, open my eyes and look at a room full of church folks loading pistols, sharpening knives and thumping baseball bats in the palms of their hands. At which point, r.r. and P.R, better have legs like Bugs Bunny that spin like blurring wheels and make that ricochet sound running out stage left.

Monday, February 06, 2006

When God Attacks

One night, last October I was getting ready to speak at a Saturday night youth rally in the Twin Cities. The band was spiritually and authentically on fire with true and pure worship. I was a wonderful wreck trying to blink through my tears to keep eye contact with the worship leader so I would know when it was my time to preach. I suddenly and without any personal intention on my part, was seeing a vision. If that makes you nervous, I cannot help you. Its true, its lovely and it happened.

I saw a gigantic icy white lion. Not C.S. Lewis' Lion. To date, I still haven't seen the movie, and besides, this vision happened before the fanfare or even the ads. The lion was ravenous, glorious and lasered in on me. All at once I heard God's Voice saying to me, "Randy, I want to attack your soul!" I do not know how loud I spoke back, but I do know I responded immediately by saying, "Please, come and attack me, now!" The lion blurred directly at my face as I threw my arms wide open. When he came upon me I was bathed in his whiteness. When the icy colored fog lifted, I looked in my lap. The lion became an enormous, delicate Lamb. I shared the experience that night and the next morning, at my home church.

Now fast forward 3 months to last week. One of our assistant pastors, Steve, came to me with a book in hand and said, "Pastor, look at the part I highlighted". Here is what I read: "I will not leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to Me. If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly." Brennan Manning, "Lion and Lamb".

I am currently basking in this Attack. Outside of God's ravening brillance I can faintly hear and see the hell that hates God's work in me. Just beyond the glory of God's hunger for me I am also vaguely aware of people who don't understand or like what they see God doing to me. Unfortunately for them, they are too terrified to step into the fray to "rescue" me. I say "unfortunately for them" because if they understood this Attack, they would be the rescued and not the rescuers.

An Old Testament man named Jacob wrestled with God and walked funny for the rest of his life. I expect as a New Testament man, I will come out of this Attack a dancing fool, for the Lamb of God. WATCH ME! If I've said that once in the past 6 months, I've said it a hundred times. WATCH ME!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Soapbox Warrior

A lonely figure wanders to a busy street corner and throws a wooden crate down with a crash. His features are striking, with long-ish gray hair and piercing dark eyes. There is nothing noteworthy of his attire, except to say that it is clean, pressed and simple. With his box in place, he steps upon it and slowly draws a small black book from the back pocket of his jeans. Most people walking by seem determined not to notice the unusual actions of this man who is making it clear that he will soon be attempting to gain a great deal of attention.

The pages of the small black book are worn, even ragged and his eager search through the book makes it clear why it is in such an abused condition. Suddenly, he sees in the tattered pages what he longed to see, and with a long drawn breath he sharply exhales the words, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!" A few people walking by are startled by the break in the voiceless silence, still others are visibly upset at the intrusive effort made by this stranger. However, two and three, now five and six people inquisitively stop to listen, sensing in the Voice a mysterious distant call from somewhere strangely familiar yet sadly undefined.

A large vein swells on the side of this man's neck with every passionate word he speaks. It would appear that this vein would burst from the weight of the Words it is pushing into the air of this busy street corner. Still, most passersby want nothing to do with this odd demonstration; they have no interest in the rantings of this Voice. But to the half dozen who have stopped, there is a greater urgency in the content of these Words than there was just moments ago in their harried and hurried footsteps. Like the swollen vein in his neck, their hearts are beginning to swell from the passion of the Words.

The echoes off nearby building walls naturally amplify the Voice above the sound of cars and trucks as he cries out, "We live in a world gone mad with self-promotion, indulgence and ego. Men find pleasure from their power over a girl. Women seek revenge on males through harsh manners and crude gestures. Babies are torn from the last safe haven on earth by forcepts and suction and children, confused by the insanity, mistakenly act out their rage by brutalizing their peers. Laws and government are powerless to heal. Self-important religious bigotry only parades itself as masters of the obvious. There is only one answer! A new heart! And only the God Who lovingly fashioned you in the secret place of His almightiness can give you that new heart. Today, let Him slip His invisible Hand into your chest. Let Him crush your heart of stone into the powder from which He will then with gentle genius recreate a heart of soft infant like quality. From that new heart will beat a new rythmn of Life. Birds will sing symphonies without beginning or end. The rain will wash your face, the sun will dry your tears, the moon will dance through the night sky and draw from your eyes a wonder and awe for which you long. Your sins, which stain you like a warrior of hate, will be displaced and removed so that the only thing from this day forward that you will wish to fight will be the old self you once treasured and despised. Come this day to Jesus, for He is your God."

Now, the six who were stopped by a mysterious Power, are bowing on a sidewalk, concrete altar. Their shoulders quiver from the release of long held emotions. A wide section of this street corner has been allowed to this tiny cathedral gathering as pedestrians pretend to ignore what is all too obvious. The man from the crate steps down and touches each bowed figure with kindness that seems foriegn to the volume of his just finished speech. One by one, those who have been bowed stand tall and look at each other as though they have just each one arrived home from a far away place. They are inexplicably changed. So too will the world around them be changed as they go home and find small planks of wood, nails and a hammer with which to create their own wooden crate.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Extreme Makeover; The Church Edition

I'm a sucker for the ABC television broadcast, "Extreme Makeover; The Home Edition". It's a quasi-reality show where they pick a deserving family whose house is in some kind of disrepair, rot, mold infestation or just plain ugly condition of some kind. They plow the shack to the ground and build a palace in its place.

The families are usually made up of adoptive/foster parents, single moms or dads with huge herds of kids and a wide variety of physically challenged adults and or kids. They're sent away for a free vacation during the house transformation and the show ends with the family wisked back for the surprise unveiling. ABC intentionally aims at weeping saps like me who are given to watch these shows, cry and bask in the glow of all the warm sue me.

My point in bringing this up is that it has given me a great idea for another reality show; "Extreme Makeover; The Church Edition". Like the Home Edition, a group of design experts could descend on an unsuspecting ministry and wake them up with a guy on a bullhorn in the front yard bringing the wonderful surprise to light. Free vacation! Brand new ministry!

I can see it now; "Hey! Pat Robertson! Wake up! It's the Extreme Makeover team! We are here to take you to the West Bank, Israel, where you will spend the next 90 days living with Palestinian Christians with a roll of duct tape around your mouth. Having your mouth sealed might save your life, and if it does, it will also give you a rare opportunity to listen to people whose point of view is radically different from yours. Once you are done there, you will be helicoptered to Jerusalem to minister to Ariel Sharon and his family....the duct tape will remain on."

Or, "JJJJJerrrrryyyy Falwell! Come on out....we have an jetliner fueled and ready to fly you to Calcutta, India where you will take Mother Teresa's place. For 90 days you will walk the mean streets of Calcutta without a single TV camera to record your actions or any body guards or PR handlers to protect you. You will live her vow of poverty and be forced to love the most unlovable people on the planet. When you are done there, we will fly you back to the the place you once said was ripe for the judgement of God and deserved a killer hurricane...... New Orleans! Once there, we will assign you to an inner city church where you will spend an additional 90 days pastoring a massively wounded flock. No cameras, no handlers. Just you and God looking into the eyes of people hungry for answers and help."

Oh no....I feel a lump in my throat....I have to stop now.....I'm such a sap.....

Monday, January 02, 2006

God -- The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God. God is the Holy Spirit.

Do we believe that? Do we wrap our faith around that? Are we walking this earth with that reality beating in our chest? Something in me says that if we did, we Christians would be massively different than we are and the truest character of God would be far more accurately advertised. Something else in me shouts that the church of 2006 needs an extreme makeover, the likes of which is only possible if God, the Holy Spirit does the making over.

Not clever church growth "experts" who have not paid a bloody price for laying down their lives for a people in the inner city or the "outer city" middle of no where. Not the touchy feely sensitive to the seeker terrified of the truth hired hand pastors secretly proud of the number of sheep they've stolen by scratching where those sheep itch instead of healing the actual brokenness of their spirits. Not "pop-theology" end times magicians playing with Bible verses like David Copperfield pretending to saw a pretty lady in half. Where, by the way, the only thing sawn to pieces is the precious Word of God.

Not a smoke and mirrors change; but a real make over by the power of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit raging through today's Temple the way Jesus did in the Temple of His day. With a whip lashing the backs of temple "professionals" and throwing the tables of their ill-gotten cash around like some kind of internal tornado was roaring through the house. Today's Temple is boldly declared to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, the Church, the people of God.

Come Holy Spirit! Be God Almighty in me, and the church that I pastor. Come ruthlessly to heal every layer of the wreckage of humanity that intrudes in what should be the beauty of the Bride of Christ. Come Holy Spirit and fearlessly rebuke Satan in every one of us the way Jesus did when Peter was too dumb to know the difference between the things of God and his own "stuff". Come Holy Spirit and tell us that we don't know what spirit we are of when we, like Jesus' own 12 disciples, with judgemental religious thinking were eagar to call fire down on "bad people".

Come Holy Spirit! We repent for making You God Jr. We repent for making you the author of parlor tricks that entertain only our perverse curiousity. We repent for boxing You in, pouring water on Your Fire, telling You how to pray instead of letting You pray the ragged, raw and real passions of Your needs. Come Holy Spirit, in nothing less than the full majesty of God in us, to make Jesus Christ more Lord in and through us than You have ever been allowed.