Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What is Church? Part 1.

     I've been giving a lot of thought to the idea of Church. What is it, why is it, whose is it. Growing up American, steeped in Western Christianity, it may be that what it has become or is, is not what it is meant to be. Or perhaps what it is is not how it began. Sound confusing? It depends on what your definition of is, is. ;)
     I'm hoping to get into all facets of this subject; church history, scripture etc, but I think I want to begin with what I feel God has been talking to me about. To me, about me.
     I keep having these dreams about a married man being attracted to me while his disgruntled wife watches. They have been highly unsettling, mostly because it has taken me a while to realize that again, dreams are often figurative, not necessarily literal. After the most recent one, the meaning burst on me all at once, while I was vacuuming.
     The dream was talking about the New and Old Covenant. Galatians describes this relationship as follows:

      For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman [r]was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. 24 [s]This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children [t]who are to be slaves; [u]she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; [v]she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
     “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear;
Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor;
For more numerous are the children of the desolate
Than of the one who has a husband.”
28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say?
   “Cast out the bondwoman and her son,
       For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, [w]but of the free woman.

     What I was seeing in my dream was the relationship God had with the Old Covenant (slave woman) and the New Covenant (Free woman). On this side of the Cross, we are in the New Coveant, and we look back on the Old, as something entirely lesser. Hebrews says that the new covenant is nothing like the old.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says,

“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
[f]When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
9 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.
10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
[g]I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From [h]the least to the greatest of them.
12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”

13 [i]When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is [j]ready to disappear.

     In my dream, I could feel the desire of the husband. And I could feel the desolation of the wife. At the end of the dream she tells me all the things she had done to get his attention and get him to marry her. Gifts, behavior, anything to win favor. And it wasn't enough to keep him.
     This is a great picture of God's desire for His people. In fact, if you read Exodus, it is very apparent that the covenant God made with Moses was not the covenant God wanted to make. God wanted a nation of priests and kings. But because the people were afraid and asked for a go between, and laws just like other nations had, God created what we now know is a kinship covenant, instead of the superior grant covenant He had intended.
     From the beginning, God had wanted relationship out of intimacy. He began in the Garden, walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He pursued Abraham. All throughout scripture God pursues His people for friendship, for intimacy, and gets spurned. Like Michal watching David dance in his pj's, mankind gets embarrassed by passion.
     Then Jesus. And all of His Passion is put on display. With an incredible act of love and selflessness He gives Himself away; to begin the departure of the old system of behaviors and punishments, blessings and cursings, and to usher in the Kingdom created from the relationship of God with His People. It is not a proper thing. It is not neat and tidy. The passion of Jesus and His pursuit of His Church is shameless and wild, gut wrenching and joyful.
     And we now have today. We have taken this wild and free new Creation and have bound her with the old corsetry of the Old Covenant. That somehow we can win His favor with our services and fastings, proper language and separateness. This is not the plan, friends. This is not His plan. This is not what He paid for.
     He spent Himself to set up a marriage with Himself and a Bride of His own stature. And we stay content with salvation and milk. Fortunately, God is not a pedophile, and He will wait as long as it takes for us to grow up. And growing up does not entail attending 'church' regularly. It means maturing to the heighth and depth and width of being a people filled with God. We do not go to a temple any more and tiptoe around the Holy of Holies. He is in us. On fire and waiting to get out and ravish us, and show the world what He is really like.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Peacekeeping and Peacemaking

After the recent election, the amount of fear and anxiety I saw in social media really concerned me. When I asked one of my favorite leaders what to do about it, her reply was to receive peace and give peace. Last night I woke at four am and started thinking about all the weapons that I've learned to wield in my battle for my mind and heart and how that has affected my life. At four am the words in my head seemed profound, but I don't remember most of them so I'll just start with a list. :)

1. Forgiveness.
           Forgiveness is the most beautiful gift. How selfless did Jesus have to be to die, sinless, so that we could be forgiven? No punishment. Instead, restoration of relationship. For me, forgiveness has had to become a lifestyle choice. It's not a little thing. For those of us who have experienced abuse, oppression, etc, it feels wrong to forgive. It seems like the opposite of what should happen. Relinquishing the need to demand a debt paid. But in this upside down Kingdom, it's the only way to have freedom. My soul is my own. I don't want to spend another second letting bitterness, fear, and anguish wreck my joy. This is a path that is not fully possible without God. Not only does He heal, He restores and brings us on the other side with more than we had. Like the Hebrews leaving Egypt with riches.

2. Thankfulness
          This used to be impossible for me. I looked at my childhood and just felt a huge gaping hole. I had no happy memories, only trauma. To be thankful felt like a farce. How could God ask me to be thankful when I had nothing to be thankful for? Scripture tells us to be thankful in everything, not for everything. So undoubtedly it's a substance not contingent on circumstances or things. I started practicing thankfulness. I just started thanking Him. Even when I didn't feel it. Even when I felt like I was going to throw up. You know what happened? All that junk, that bitterness, that scar tissue, the horror....started to break up like arctic ice in the spring. I started feeling positive feelings for the first time ever. Real joy. Whenever I get locked into my performance anxiety, thankfulness is my first weapon of choice.

3. Rewriting my brain.
            This is a follow up on the first two. We have control over our thoughts. Some of our thoughts aren't ours. Some of our thoughts are the fruit of wrong belief systems. BUT!! We can change how we think. If the thought doesn't lead to joy, to hope, to vision and to love, then it is not our best. When I have thoughts that lead me into negativity, fear, anxiety, hopelessness...then I ask God what I am believing. Once I see the lie, then I ask Him what His truth is. It's always better. It's always life giving. And it always comes with the grace to rewrite the old junky way of thinking.

4. Changing how I speak.
               This is a follow up on the third. :) Out of the heart the mouth speaks. What are we saying? Our words reveal what we believe about God, the world, ourselves and each other.

5.  Worship
               Worship is one of the biggest weapons I have. Spiritual warfare doesn't have to be all crazy and loud and sweaty. It can just be elevating His Name over the situation. Giving Him glory. Adoring Him. He's a good father. He's my best friend. He's my comforter. Everything has to bow before Him.

So the first five weapons I listed are foundational. It's about creating good ground; pulling out the weeds, chucking out the rocks, and planting the right stuff. It's about learning to have peace, and to keep it. To rest in Him and what He says about me. To know the truth and to walk in it. This next tool I want to talk about is something I recently discovered. But before I tell you what it is, I want to talk about peace making. Recently my daughter came to me and said, Mom, peace is better than war. I said, You're right. And sometimes we have to have war to make peace. I always think about peace making like pulling out the big guns. Maybe a Colt 45 Peacemaker... ;)
This last year I battled anxiety in the wee hours of the morning. I'd wake up and not be able to sleep. I tried my other weapons; worship, prayer, etc. It was a fight. Too much of a fight. Then one night I realized that I was fighting defensively, not offensively. Did I not know Whose I was? It was like I was fighting on my back. I mean, I was because I was in bed, but I was on my back in the spirit.

So I call my most recently discovered weapon, My Roar. At three am in the morning, I got angry. All of my insides swirled up and roared at my anxiety. IT FELT SO GOOD. I am strong, because He is strong. I am perfect because He is. I am whole. I am forgiven. I have grace. I have joy. I WILL TAKE THIS LAND. AND THEN I WILL GIVE IT AWAY.

I want you to live the fullest, most healthy, most joyous life possible. I say that because I KNOW HIM. That's what He wants for you. Stop living on your back. Address your soul soil. FIGHT! WIN!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Jessica's Song

I heard your step at the door and I waited
To hear your voice and it came
You called so gently and sweetly
My heart leaped

But I was slow to come and when my hand turned the latch you had left
My soul cried out its loss
Oh that I was quick to answer your call

I ran and searched but didn't find you
I was laughed at and teased.
"Why don't you want what we are all satisfied with?"
But I am not. I am not satisfied.

Where is my heart song? Where is He who beckons and raptures my soul? How could He leave me dry and panting? I thought I had lost all.

But then He was there all at once and little by little. I knew Him. I knew the one who called through the door. I knew the one who formed my soul. He laughed and I laughed and joy was the wedding and hope conceived.

All at once and little by little.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ugly Prayers

I talk to God all the time. Not formally, more like just having a conversation with my friend or my dad. Sometimes it isn't pretty. I don't always know how to frame the feelings I'm having. Last night I was feeling overrun with shame and fear, for no reason. As I prayed about it, I saw how I had partnered with shame all my life. Well, sometimes you just have to renounce that junk. I wrote this last night, kind of a poem, kind of a song. But it was my prayer.

Shame is not my father. Rejection is not my sister. Fear is not my brother. I have revoked my bond with them. They have no hold.

The Lord of Hosts is my father. He adopted me. His heart is towards me. His heart is full of loving kindness. I am pierced, like Him; because of love. I am His. The transaction is eternal. It can't be broken. Death is a glory, but resurrection is Love realized.

Whom have I but You? You lead me, heal me, fill me. Call me higher, further, deeper. Show me your face and let us be one.

Sometimes I am strong and ready to run. Sometimes I am broken and falling. And you are there. Do what you need to do to bring me into your purposes. Be gentle for I am weak and hungry for love.

I am not always holy or whole. But I am because you are. I don't pray the right words and my heart feels raw and rebellious and fearing. But I will fear not. Because You.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


I woke up very early this morning worrying. Life looms larger in the darkness sometimes. I got up, made coffee and opened my bible app. The daily verse didn't speak. I then started scrolling through all my highlighted verses. I have verses highlighted back to 2012! These are verses that spoke to me directly; what I'd call highlighted by His spirit. Maybe verses I needed to hear. Comfort. Maybe a promise for the future. They were so good. The first entries were from Isaiah 54 so I read the whole chapter and cried. I'm so grateful for the highlights. I can see where He has been faithful to speak in the moments I can't hear anything but fear. I'd challenge you to start making note of scripture that seems to target you. Expect Him to fulfill His Word. His lovingkindness is never ending. 

“"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3 NASB

Monday, August 15, 2016

In The Stillness

There are many times in my day and night that the world seems to slow, and I become aware of me. The quiet, my mood, my heartbeat, my fear. Lately, every time I arrive at that place I feel anxiety, and then I hear, Fear Not. 

I want to live fearlessly. I used to wake in the middle of the night feeling dread. I thought it was all the things I'd procrastinated, but as I've matured and stopped procrastinating, the feeling has remained. I know that's the enemy, and he had no right to my mind or my sleep. I want to train myself to know my heartbeat, but to hear His in the steadiness of the quiet. A little like touching the railing while walking down a stair case. It's there, ready for me. 

“For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.”
Habakkuk 2:14 NLT

This is a promise. God plans to fill the earth with an awareness of Him. I want to be walking in that awareness, and be a railing for others. Ready. Still. An echo of the Fathers heartbeat. ❤️

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Simple Gospel

Once upon a time, a father had a son. The son was much loved, and adventurous and creative. One day the son decided he wanted to start his own venture, but he needed capital. So he asked his father for an early inheritance. The father wanted to do it WITH the son, but he loved his son so much he gave him the money and his independence. The son left with his money and broke the fathers heart. Every day the father would look out the door hoping to see his son, but to no avail. Till one day many years later, he finally saw him coming a long way down the road. The father didn't stop to put his shoes on; he just ran to grab his son and hold him. The son was broken and ashamed and filthy, but the father didn't care. He had his son back. 

Fear is a powerful influencer, but it's a lot like an abusive spouse. You either submit to its tyranny or leave it...often to find other fears. 

The church has used heaven and hell as very powerful gospel tools. They are quite effective...until they aren't. They get you to sign up for the product, but the reward system is impractical. I mean, how do you know you've chosen well until you die? 

Jesus never used those tools. He loved and hugged. He healed and set people free. He talked about Kingdom. He said the way to the kingdom was wholeheartedly following Him. He talked about living a whole and restored life. About trusting God in the moment for your daily needs. If He expressed anger it was towards the religious leaders not walking in love and promoting behavior over relationship. He made wine for drunk people. He paid taxes with fish money. And, He said He only did what He saw the Father doing. Jesus is not the nice version of the Father; He and the Father are one. (John 10:30) 

Shame is not part of His plan. That's a tool of the enemy. We can't agree with that. Conviction is a tool of the Holy Spirit. Shame drives us away from God, conviction drives us to Him. Shame says, I suck. I'm worthless. I can't be with Him because I'm dirty. Conviction says, Woah. This isn't good. I need to take this to my Father. I can't fix it on my own. His ideas are full of life. And He has the best hugs. 

The whole purpose of life with Him is that we become like Him. Because we become like the people we are with. Salvation is not about fire insurance. It's about becoming a son and daughter and changing the world.