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!"