Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Mystery of Potential

The western rational mind gets nervous around the mysterious, the mystical and the spiritual. As such, American church circles are quick to label such things as "of the devil" or "false teaching". Interestingly enough, however, God did not chose the western rational mind as the platform for the launching of the scriptures. God, from His eternal perch, could see that the eastern, tribal mind would best serve His purposes through out human history. Ever read about tribes in the Bible? How about Wise Men from the East?

That's why the Bible poses several challenges for us. Let me offer a sampling of some of these challenges and examples of the ones that annoy me the most. If you are bothered by these questions or concepts , or you bother other people with these things....duck. "Where are the dinosaurs?" "How old is the earth?" "Where did Cain get his wife?" "The Bible's version of Creation should be taught in our public schools as a counter balance to evolution!".

Ignorance in these matters is not bliss. It's a pain in the tail. The Bible is not a book of science. I repeat, not a book of scientific explanations, scientific data or anything remotely related to science. To impose western scientific questions upon it is like looking for the meaning of life in a calculus textbook. If people of faith taught and lived the Bible from its truest value we would actually fight to KEEP it out of public schools for fear and concern that the public school system would dumb it down into science! It MUST be handled by the hearts and hands of people born from ABOVE and genuinely born of SPIRIT. Our silly fear of evolution (and a myriad of other modern boogie men) is rooted in our lack of BEING people of SPIRIT! Dare I say that the best way to resist the theory of evolution is for church people to stop acting like religious monkeys?

The Bible intentionally raises the bar of mystery to call out to and from the human condition the spirit factor. God's Voice is calling deep unto deep waiting for a child to respond. The Holy Spirit seeks hearts first, not minds. The resonance of the human heart echoes back to the chords of God's mysterious Voice. Listen. Stop imposing formulas and lists and shallow bureaucratic filters on God's passionate language of love.

In his book, "Leading Without Power", Max De Pree says that organizations of all types and kinds degrade and suffer, "when poets are terminated and bureaucrats promoted". The American church has allowed this virus to truncate our truest power and value in the name of rational debate and even for political purposes. I say its time to reach for our core values of the sweetly mysterious Spirit and let the Wind blow "where it wishes" so that once again we can "hear the sound of it" because, "so is everyone who is born of the Spirit". Read the source of these quotes again, for the FIRST time; John 3:8.

I'm ready for the mystery of our potential to be released and realized! How about you?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mo' or Jo'?

Moses had a relationship with God that bears little or no resemblence to anyone, anywhere I see today. Yet, curiously, I hear people invoke how God dealt with Israel under Moses' leadership as a parallel for what God is speaking to America today. Things like destruction upon our country for its sin and evil deeds. I promised myself to aim high with this blog and avoid going head to head with the prophets of doom....so lets just move along before I brake my promise to myself.

Back to Moses. When Israel decided that Moses was gone too long on his mountain retreat, they invented a new religion and made a golden calf. God slipped this into the morning devotional with Moses and said, "Let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation." Did you catch that? And not just a one "that" but there are two "thats" here...

First of all, God said to a man, "Let Me alone..." or "Get out of the way..."! And secondly, in a naked appeal to the man's pride, God offered to make a "great nation" out of that man. On the first account, Moses did NOT get out of the way so that God could smoke Israel and on the second account Moses made an equally naked appeal back to the character of God and said, "Turn from Your burning anger and change Your (almighty) mind!" (I added "almighty" just for grins). In fact, Moses later added that if God was going to fry Isael, then He should start with Moses.

Too many current religious leaders would have stepped aside, with a smug smile and given God their blessing, found the nearest TV camera and announced, "God told me..." To say nothing of the fact that they would gleefully accept becoming the founder of a new great nation/ministry. Aw shucks...I think I just broke my promise.....

There's another Old Testament story that comes to mind here as well. God told Jonah to give the city of Ninevah a 40 day notice that a terrorist act would blow them up...or something akin to that. Did Jonah do his best Moses imitation? No. He looked more like us. He ran right into the digestive tract of a fish in order to hide from his God given responsibility. When it finally occured to him that being obedient might be better than becoming fish manure, he repented and the fish puked him up within a 3 day walk of Ninevah. Upon his arrival, he preached, Ninevah did some serious repenting and the terrorist plot was canceled. End of the story? No....

Jonah pouted and prayed to die. In the midst of his praying to die, he admitted that he knew the character of God so well that he said, "I fled...for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents concerning calamity (terrorist attacks)". In other words, he wanted them to get what they deserved so that the end result of destruction would make him look like a real prophet. As it was, nothing bad happened like Jonah hoped it would....hmmmmmmm...

It seems to me that God is looking for something deeper in those of us who represent Him than just the ability to scare the pants off the nearest bystander with predictions of doom or pronouncements of God's "will". I know there is much more that needs to be said about all of the above, however, for the sake of this one blog let it be summed up that more of us need to look like Moses and much less like Jonah!

What if your one life means the difference in historic change or historic calamity? Would you chose to pay the price to introduce change or would you take the path of least resistance and step aside and watch calamity with the explanation, "Oh well, it must have been God's will..."?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fight Like Hell

Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and Tour De France champion, is credited with saying, “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages then maybe we can learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.”

Of late I am in the process of God’s yanking me upward in my faith and hope. Last week I read the book, “Rees Howells; Intercessor” by Norman Grubb. It was like a spanking that made me laugh and cry all at once. When I was a kid growing up in the harsh realities of Milwaukee’s ‘60s I had a good friend who bragged that when his dad spanked him he would laugh. I knew his dad to be a brute and I didn’t believe him until one day I was a witness to one of these weird rituals. Now, I know the illustration fails to be entirely accurate to the character of God (God is not a brute; although you might think so if you managed to push Him hard enough) but the idea of a spanking making you laugh at yourself is the best way I can describe what I learned from this incredible book. Read it for yourself….I think you’ll discover what I mean.

Anyway, all this takes me to Lance’s quote that finishes with, “fight like hell”. I’ve fought like hell. In fact, going back to my Milwaukee roots, one of the survival tactics I lived by was to spread far and wide the following information: if you pick a fight with me, you will likely win. Just know this: you will never forget me! I’ll be the skinny little white guy who left teeth and toe-nail prints on any part of your body I could reach. Think ‘Tasmanian Devil’. You’ll always wish you had not enjoyed the pleasure of beating me up!” That strategy probably saved my life.

Now, I’m no Lance Armstrong and the following musing is with all due respect to him. I’m just Randy Dean and from my perspective I’ve learned that there is a better way to fight. It IS fighting in the same spirit that Lance suggests except with a different root source in place. I’ve found out that Heaven fights too. The difference is that heaven always wins and uses temporary loses as stepping stones toward greater victories. One story in the Old Testament says that ONE angel from God went to battle and killed 185,000 skilled and successful warriors in one night. I’ll take those odds.

My point here is this: GET YOUR HOPES UP! Refuse to live by resources short of heaven’s bounty! HOPE like crazy. HOPE like there IS a tomorrow. HOPE in spite of every haunting doubt. Grab, claw, scratch and snag at heaven’s extravagant treasury. And if by some definition, you “lose” (whatever that may mean!) for God in Heaven’s sake...at the very least, LEAVE SOME TEETH MARKS BEHIND AS A TOKEN FOR YOUR ENEMY TO REMEMBER YOU BY!