Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sunday Assembly - an accidental, and honest commentary on institutional church

My attention was drawn recently to the video below. Give it view, then continue on for a few thoughts on the matter.

 I suspect many church people would feel irritated and upset in some ways after watching this. Some perhaps might even be feeling pity, thinking these folks poor, godless fools for seeking such things. 

You might even expect that this is the part where I offer some rebuttal to such efforts and offer reasons why this effort is misinformed, immoral, etc, etc.

But I don't have those things to say. This video reveals some very good things about the human heart, mainly that we're all looking to connect and relate, and we'll do so. Also that doing those things is not distinctly or uniquely spiritual and definitely not religious. 

If there's anyone whom should be made to think deeply about this video, it's the Christian - particularly the Christian involved in the Institutional church.

Here's what I get from this video.... though very appealing,  there's nothing especially super-natural to most of what we do in Institutional Church meetings. The weekly assembling, the talks (messages), the singing and music, food and even the fellowship aren't "Church". What is it that most believers participate in over the weekend that is distinctly different from what's in this video?

I've heard more than a few people say that church is comprised of 1) teaching 2) singing/worship 3) fellowship. This above shows these things - at least in part, though admittedly the content is not about God.

One must conclude then that these things themselves are not Church, nor must they hold the significant place they hold in the lives of The Church. Why? Because none of these things requires Christ to be present in order to accomplish them! Even the unbeliever can meet together in a similar assembly with similar results of fellowship, encouragement, happiness,  perhaps even feeling loved!

The folks in the above video are living proof that people can and do all those very same things without Christ. Yet, scripture describes The Church though as entirely unique on the planet. If it's possible to do the exact same stuff without Christ, what are the distinctive marks of being The Church then?


Without Jesus being present, and without his spirit leading an assembly, there's little more going on in many meetings than there is in the video above. 

Jesus is the only thing necessary for the Church. If he lives in us, then we have all that is essential. The meetings, the buildings, the songs, the sermons... those can all be used for good, but they themselves are not Church and do not make being The Church possible.

I'm not saying all these unessential things are bad, or even to be avoided. I am saying however that we've placed a higher value on these peripherals of the assembling together rather than on the substance - and that substance is a person. And core to how the Person is made visible and present is in the participation of every one whom possesses a portion of Him. 
That person is Jesus. He is the head of The Church, the first and the last. With Jesus, we can not have anything else and still have everything.

It's interesting to note that with nearly an identical format to "church", this group is experiencing a 3,000% growth rate. The institutional church would being doing a jig to even experience 30% and is experiencing negative growth numbers and has been for some time. 

So then... it seems fair to surmise that the problem must not be in the programs, building, format, etc. Pastors and leaders, please take note of this.  Most of those people that are disinterested and/or losing interest are because of the substance, or lack of it rather. 
People abandon what they no longer value. People don't value what has little substance or is often the machinations of people with little or no vision and purpose.

Many would like to respond that Jesus is just unpopular, and so our churches are experiencing "persecution" for being identified with Jesus. No, that's not it! 
Shame on us for insulting those who have endured real persecution, the loss of liberty, limb, and life for their faith by saying that people leaving the institution is such. That's hogwash! Jesus himself said "If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL men to myself". Jesus is the substance of what people desire. Where Jesus is, so there will the people long to be.

Hopefully, by some act of grace, we'll come to understand how Jesus views Church, and discard every hope, idea, and ambition to the contrary.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 3

This is a continuation of the "No more GMO church" series and builds on Part 1 and Part 2. If you've not read it yet, please do so the rest of this makes sense.

Friends... ask yourself.... what healthy living thing needs so much intervention and oversight to reproduce? Do you have the encourage most young people to desire to reproduce and offer coaching, teaching, education, programs, etc to get them to do so? Of course not! We have to bridle their enthusiasm for reproduction. True spiritual life - the life of Yeshua (Jesus) does not need intervention to reproduce. In fact, sadly, intervention stops the desire to reproduce as it over-complicates reproduction and makes it look like something that belongs to professionals. We would not likely tolerate it very well if we delegated all our reproduction responsibilities and desires to professionals. Why then do we tolerate such in our spiritual lives? This just should not be.

Does The Body of Christ need fellowship, support, meeting together, leadership, and relationships with one other? Absolutely. And friends - we've not stopped doing those things - in fact we do them more and more deeply than ever. It is our belief, experience, and conviction that those things naturally take place when the Body of Christ is healthy and Jesus is leading them. Further, we don't see most of the above things happening in any substantial measure in the institution - with the exception of leadership, and that unfortunately doesn't often take place as it should. 

The Church does not need rigid organization, control, heavy-handed governing, etc. Like gardening, it needs attention. It needs good soil, good water in ample quantity, fresh air, and regular weeding. As the old saying goes.. " the best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow". The same is true with our own gardens - both individually and corporately. The good gardner (John 15/16) has all wisdom and knows what to apply when deficiencies are found, when to prune and cut back, what to throw into the fire and how and when to harvest. Is this your experience within the institution?

Our like us, has your experience in the institutional system has been leaders that are gravitate towards extremes of passivity and disconnectedness from the sheep, or assertive and controlling, treating the sheep as human resources - more like CEO than a gardener. We don't see either in Jesus.

In our experience, the institutional seems to deeply resent and even despise the organic. Organic is twelve men who spent time with Christ were able to turn the world upside down. They didn't attend a new members class, they didn't read the latest fad books on the faith, or watch videos that would help them in their walk. The didn't require the approval of leadership, their passions were not made safe and acceptable to the institution. They were guerrilla warriors under a captain of the Lord of Hosts! Is this our experience today?

Center to the spiritual DNA of the disciples was this. They simply spent time with Messiah and followed him. The beauty of what has happened since is that it required absolutely nothing other than the presence of Christ. The same is still true today. The ONLY thing necessary to see the Kingdom expand is the King himself. He has given us all that we need.

The institution seems to really hate this idea - at least in practice. Rather, we've come to believe we need every sort of shiny thing in order to grow. Friends - if you plant GMO seed you can have the best gardening tools this world can offer - but you're still going to only get a single season crop at best. You won't get the rich, heirloom crops that are rich in flavor, nutritious, inviting in appearance, and most importantly have an innate ability to reproduce after their kind. Plant the seed of Jesus and watch it grow.

A few more things...
Let us conclude by acknowledging that yes, we are painting with a broad brush. We have encountered and know exceptions to what we write here. The fact that exceptions exist however doesn't invalidate our observations or statements. It's the grace of Yahweh that anything grows from the GMO institution and as mentioned, largely in part because there are those serving as the 'root stock' DNA for these hybrid crops.

We praise God that it does produces anything, but also want to see the Body of Christ experience the fullness of the organic, spirit-led life that is available only though being connected to the head of the Body - Jesus and following him as the sole head of His Bride and Body.

We're coming at this not as those who are under any impression that we are successfully living out these things. We're not judging any hearts of those in the system. We're not saying this with a "we're doing it right and others are wrong" attitude or disposition - rather an invitation to deeply consider if what you know and observe of this institution matches what you see of Jesus in Scripture. We're just desperate to see us become whom we believe Jesus would have us be and quite frankly believe the institution stands in the way of such.

We believe - at least at this time - that we can linger inside of "Monsanto" all day, all year, for the rest of our lives. We're don't expect we'll ever see the system suddenly decide to stop using GMO and start going organic, any more than we expect Monsanto to do so. Rather, we're hoping to invest our time and energies into pursuing the Great Gardener - loving Him and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We believe therein that we'll be where we ought to be.

Our aim isn't to convince you of these things - that's not our job. If this has caused you to become upset - don't park there. Get in touch with us, talk with us and let's continue onward in love.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our "No more GMO church" series and is a continuation of Part 1.

Last time, we elaborated on the modern agriculture practices that produce GMO crops and some of the reasons why they're used or desired. Now it's time to discuss the unfortunate reality of such practices and begin to talk about the parallels with institutional "church".

The achilles heel of GMO agriculture are many...

Firstly, the plants grown from GMO processes are often sterile, or at the very least, cannot reproduce their exact kind of plant. They do contain seeds, but those seeds cannot give a farmer the basis to plant the next crop. To grow a marketable crop the farmers must go back to the seed company for more and pay a cost for doing so. 

Secondly, when the wind blows, the GMO crops spread their pollen - which contains the unnatural DNA. This "frankencrop" DNA intermingles with the natural organic seeds and often corrupts the DNA, sometimes irreversibly. Sometimes seed companies intentionally place genetic material in their crop - sometimes called "suicide genes" to help protect their patent and create farmer dependencies. A lifetime of careful seed selecting by generations of farmers can be wiped out with a good windstorm when planted too close to the GMO. 

Furthermore, these plants are patented at the very level of their DNA. Yes, patented. If the DNA of a patented GMO crop shows up in another farmer's organic seeds, they can be and are sued for patent infringement. Oftentimes, they must destroy their own organic varieties that were naturally grown but corrupted with GMO DNA. The courts of our great land actually enforce such actions folks - I'm not makings this up! The GMO camp is enemy number one of the organic, natural, sustainable food movement. And for good reason! 

You likely have heard of "Monsanto" - one of the largest corporate owners of seed patents and interesting to note - the company that brought the world Saccharin (and likely many cancers with it). Farmers all over have serious grievances against Monsanto. Many believe they're single-handedly ruining the world's food supply. 

Regardless of the believed evil of Monsanto - my intent here is not to write about Monsanto, but to draw a parallel - one that may offend many - especially those who are part of the institutional church system.

In our view, the institutional church system is to The Body of Christ what Monsanto is to the organic and natural foods of the world. The parallels are many... many of them you can no doubt see just re-reading this post up to this point. There are too many to list here, and you may even have your own (share them in the comments if you like). Here's some of what we see, hence why we don't want to be a part...

The Institution church system doesn't support or allow things to grow organically and naturally. It feels it must tweak and control the very DNA of the crops to grow better, faster, bigger. It's appetite for these things is endless. The copious systems have one goal - "more bigger faster better". Sure, these are always framed as being "for the Kingdom",  and  "outreach", but in our opinion, as with GMO produce, their fruit might appear attractive and flavorful, but tastes quite bland when you bite into it and is nothing close to fresh organic produce. I'm sure that just as Monsanto may want to legitimately solve the world's hunger, so the institutional system likely has equally good intentions. We're not questioning intentions - only the outcome.

The institutional church system creates a dependence on itself rather than Jesus.  Like a seed company demanding purchase of new seeds every season, so the institution often creates a crop that must come back to itself for the resources to produce the next crop. Oftentimes, this is just as profit-driven as it is with the seed companies and is an anti-pattern to multiplication and exponential growth. It's similar to a one-child policy. If all you ever do is produce a replacement to yourself, the world has not really received any benefit. It's break a break-even scenario.

Most institutions cannot and do not reproduce. Just as most GMO seeds are totally sterile or cannot reproduce their own kind, so the crop of the institutional church system cannot or does not reproduce. Statistics witness to this as the amount of those professing faith in Christ continues to decline. Often many in the institution lose their natural ability to reproduce after their kind - if they ever have it to begin with.

The facts testify to this - at least in this country. "Christians" aren't reproducing more Christ followers - not even their own children are choosing to follow Christ - at least 70% or more of them aren't! So tell us... if even the children of those in this system by and large choose not to follow the Christ presented them. That leads me to our next point...

The institution goes about things backwards. Many mistake dividing as reproduction. It's not. That's no different than a farmer sub-dividing their fields into smaller fields. You still only get the same yield (perhaps less), but now have additional labor and expenses to farm the same land that was present before. That's a silly idea. Many churches start with the idea of a huge field, then we'll divide when it's big enough. Have you ever seen a farmer take that approach, or do they add to their land holdings as they have need?

The crop produced by the institution is unappetizing and unsatisfying.  Just as your average grocery-store tomato looks like a tomato and appears very appetizing, when it comes to eating it, it's quite bland and underwhelming. It was developed in a lab not for it's taste, but for it's ability to withstand traveling thousands of miles from field to fork and for it's profitability - not it's ability to satisfy taste buds. Companies know that if that's all you can afford, you'll buy it anyway.

The institution appears likewise - creating crops that are underwhelming. Can it really be that Jesus is really so unappealing, underwhelming, and inadequate, or just too hard to follow? If we're reproducing Him, how could people not find what the institution offers to be irresistible? How did people respond to Jesus when he walked among us? Crowd were so suffocating to him he often needed to retreat. People are hardly beating down the walls of most "churches" on any given weekend.

Maybe... just maybe... what is being presented is NOT the Jesus whom drew all but the religiously self-righteous to him, but a Christ created in the image of the institution?

The good news of Jesus Christ should produce streams of LIVING water in lives. It should quench thirst. It should have explosive consequences on the community and the world. While the institutional system does do good, ask yourself - is it having the affect Jesus said the good news would have? GMO crops feed people - sure. Buy they're nowhere near as satisfied or nourished as they are with organic crops.

The crop of the institution isn't sustainable.  In our experience, the institution produces a crop that doesn't stay alive beyond a season and/or doesn't thrive without massive amounts of cajoling and manipulation. The West consumes the most resources of the "church" globally yet produces the least crop of Christ followers. In case that sounds angry or bitter - we deeply love the people in the institution and are anything but angry or bitter at them. We don't believe the problem is the people, but the system itself!

The institutional crop requires intervention - the constant re-sewing of the seed. It's heavily dependent on process and organization. This alone should bear testimony to it's lack of life. If twelve people turned the world upside down in a relatively short period of time, why can't over 90 million apparent followers of Christ not be the headline stories of the nightly news every day and night? Is Jesus wrong, or have we created a Monsanto-like monster of an institution and called it something it's not - The Church?

The institutional crops effect the organic natural nearby. Just as pollen from GMO seeds effect nearby organic produce, so the institutional crops effect the natural organic life of those believers in close proximity (one of our chief reasons for getting away). The natural, organic life of Christ in a believer gets shaped into what serves the institution - often reducing it's natural ability to reproduce and bear fruit. Believers start with zeal and passion and love and a thirst for righteousness and are tamed to the whim and will of what serves the institution.

I believe this excerpt from the movie "Walk the Line" sums up this idea well...

[after record producer Sam Phillips stops Cash's band a couple of verses into their audition]
Sam Phillips: You know exactly what I'm telling you. We've already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just... like... how... you... sing it.
Johnny Cash: Well you didn't let us bring it home. 
Sam Phillips: Bring... bring it home? All right, let's bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing *one* song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it? Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' *you* felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear...
Oftentimes we're made to sing a song that's not ours because we've been told that's what the world needs, when in reality, the song that people want to hear, and NEED to hear, is our unique song - a life that is transformed by Christ.

And so I ask... is the institution encouraging you to sing "about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it out" or is it encouraging you to sing the one song you were meant to sing?

Stay tuned for Part 3

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 1

We recently decided to take a break from "attending church services" with some of our local brethren. Even saying that sentence feels so wrong - as it should given it's so loaded with scriptural misunderstandings and errors. Better said, we've taken a break from being involved in what we're going to refer to as "GMO Church". More on that below...

Taking a break has caused some speculations, worries, grievances, curiosities and more. While we seek to address those in ways that unfold truth, but conveys love for The Body of Christ and no judgement for others is tough. Misunderstandings abound. Many will have hurt feelings simply because they cannot help but feel judged personally along with the system(s) they're involved with. We see the basis of relating as a person - Jesus - not a common meeting place, time, or event. Though we're willing and used to being misunderstood, we'd still like to know we've tried to offer some rationale to those who are sincerely interested in understanding our hearts and intentions.

And so, we're doing a series of blog posts for those interested to read. Below is the first part. It would be best to read these in order :)

Part 1
We're gardeners... not very good ones, but we enjoy gardening, or at least the hope of growing healthy foods that will sustain and nourish our family and others too. As we've gained experience and knowledge in gardening, we've come to understand some things about growing - especially in a sustainable, repeatable fashion - one that anyone could do and teach to others.

This means growing things in a way that requires little intervention in the growing process. We do see involvement in growing as necessary, however, the difference in labor between these two terms is substantial!

Consider this... most agriculture in western culture is heavily dependent on non-sustainable technology and practices, It frequently employes an intervention approach. If you just let most modern produce sit in the field, it would not grow beyond one season. It's so technically dependent on process, engineering and technology, that it doesn't stand much chance of ongoing life without intervention. Further, it often tends to endanger any natural, organic produce growing nearby. More on that in a sec.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, bringing upon them a curse on the ground among other things, mankind has devoted substantial efforts towards overcoming that curse. One of the outcomes has been the ideas that if we tinker with the genetic make up of plants (and animals), we can grow more crops - better, faster, cheaper and with less effort. In our efforts to do so, we've realized certain small victories, but perhaps at great expense - especially in regards to the natural world and created order of things.

The process of tinkering with the genetic makeup of plants produces what are referred to "GMO(s)" or "Genetically Modified Organism(s)". Some GMO efforts are quite harmless and little more than speeding up the process of selecting the best attributes of one kind of cucumber and the best attributes of another cucumber and combining them to make an awesome cucumber. This has been done for millennia by gardeners hand-pollinating plants, keeping the resulting seeds and repeating the process to develop good quality seeds. However, many GMO efforts change the very DNA of a species often by inserting foreign elements into the DNA in order to take attributes from one unrelated species and combine them to produce outcomes not naturally possible. It would be like inserting mouse DNA into a cucumber because the mouse had some attribute that would be especially helpful to a cucumber.

The most famous examples are corn, wheat, and soy that are immune to pesticides such as "Glyphosate" (Roundup). Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide. It kills just about any kind of plant. Corporations have used GMO technology to produce plants that are immune to this herbicide. It would be equivalent to creating people who could resist poisons. That means a farmer can bypass the normal labor of farming, spray the entire crop of living plants with Glyphosate  and only the weeds will die. Another example is often "BT Corn" which is corn with "Bacillus Thuringiensis" baked-in to it so that it basically contains it's own pesticide. On the surface these might sound great to some. But are they?

This is almost the stuff of science fiction and produces "frankencrops". These crops initially appear to save time and labor - overcoming the curse God placed on the ground in Genesis - attractive to someone looking to bypass the labor of weeding, no doubt - but those ingesting these crops are eating pesticide-laden food as a result! Though this process may have started with good intentions, it has become the bane of many a farmer - even leading some to commit suicide!

Many will say "it's impossible to feed the world without these GMO crops and process!" Friends...that's bullshit... People suffer for lack of understanding, not because they lack herbicide-resistant crops. People have gotten their sustenance from growing things without GMO since time immemorial. They still can today. However, that's a topic for another blog post another time...

Needless to say, experienced GMO farmers might tell you that the price hasn't been worth it. Many feel stuck and are slaves to the intervention approach. They do produce crops, but they've also got a system that cannot move forward with ongoing intervention in increasing measure - they very opposite of sustainable.

Stay tuned for Part 2  where we'll discuss those consequences and begin to explain what that has to do with "church".

Monday, July 22, 2013

Freewill, God's sovereignty and other nifty stuff

"For we know that He is able to work all things together for good, for them that are called according to his purpose". Romans 8:28 

Big surprise on the above verse, huh?

I'll just be honest and get to the point... I don't think understanding how a loving God could give us the ability to make free decisions at all conflicts with the same God having the ability to 'control' or pre-destine the ways and means of the events of life.

One day, as I was considering this, this example came to mind...

  1. To start, I ask that you pick a number... any three digit number greater than 100...
  2. Now, order the numbers of the number so that they are in descending order.
    For example, if you had thought "294", the order would be "942"...
  3. Next, reverse that number and subtract it from the number you came up with in step 2...
    For example, 942 minus 294
  4. Now... reverse that number and add it to the number you came up with in step 3...
If you followed these instructions, your answer should be.... (scroll down)

>> 1089 <<

Pretty neat, eh?

If your number is NOT 1089, I bet you make a free will choice to leave or try again right about now :) Hopefully you'll try again.

In the above example, you had the ability to choose between 900 or so choices... you freely made your decision without any input or action on my part. I simply put you in circumstances where the choice could be made. Despite your free ability to choose among 900 numbers, I already knew that combined with some additional circumstances I provided to the mix, you would ultimately arrive at the conclusion that I determined in advance - long before you even read this article!

Perhaps the grand dilemma of how free will verses predestination is similar? I mean... I make decisions every day - on my own, by my free will. Yet at the same time, I can also recognize that God is actively and sovereignly at work in the circumstances of life, and the outcome of my decisions - even the not-so-good ones! There are things that happen to and around me that aren't the result of my decisions - they may even have the opposite (ahem... 'reverse') affect of what I had chosen. Circumstances are added and removed to the plans I had made for myself - mostly out of my control. The summation of all these events leads me somewhere - a somewhere that sure feels like it was my doing, because I made one or more choices!

However, just like the above, maybe the decisions we make, that feel like free choices and are free choices are nevertheless made within a set of 'rules' that govern their outcome - much like the above?  Maybe the ebbs and flows of life circumstances are like some of the steps above that manipulate the decisions we make toward a certain pre-determined outcome? Would this not allow God to control outcomes and yet not be the author of all decisions and perhaps not all the minutiae of every detail of life - or even all the big ones?  If that were the case, he would certainly not have coerced or forced us to make sinful decisions despite being able to determine the outcome. I believe this also explains perhaps how God can be causing good outcomes without causing bad circumstances. 

So can one say that free will or predestination are a one-or-the-other sorta thing? I think not, nor do I see a need to even consider it a dilemma. Perhaps for all the dogma out there, both are essentially true. If not, I'd like to hear someone explain the above to me and show me how I had either no choice or that it was entirely pre-destined :)

Hope this brings you some things to consider and a joyful response toward a favorable view of a good God! For you theological nincompoops who will take undoubtedly take umbrage with the idea that both freewill and predestination have merit... take these ideas for a spin for a while and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I have to admit... for much of my life thus far, and even sometimes in the here and now, I struggle with feeling lonely. It's not that I am truly alone, per se, but sometimes it just feels like there's no one that is interested in relating to me unless it's to receive something for themselves. (For my spouse or good friends that might be reading this... though we all do this to one another to some degree, I'm not specifically thinking of you, so stop thinking that right now!).

It always bugs me when I feel this way. Not just because I hate being lonely, but because, as a believer, I've always been under the impression that knowing Jesus and being known by him should be plenty good enough to not ever feel alone. Sometimes this leads me to doubt, asking such questions as "do I really know him?" and things of that sort. That just makes loneliness suck that much more!

Recently, my wife and I have been reading a book by Donald Miller called "Searching for God Knows What". In this book, Donald Miller makes a point that was quite a revelation to me in understanding loneliness.

Miller conveys the idea (paraphrasing here) that Adam experienced loneliness, or at least, the Godhead thought it was not good for him to be alone before sin entered the world. Did you catch that? Before Adam ever made a wrong decision in his life, when he was in a perfect, unhindered relationship with the God of the universe - the kind of relationship where they talked all the time, walked around together, etc... Adam could be lonely!

So apparently, loneliness isn't some sign or symptom of a spiritual problem at all! God didn't say "boy, Adam must have a spiritual problem, he's feeling lonely!" In fact, it was the Godhead that came to the conclusion (perhaps before Adam did) that it would not be good for him to be alone - that he needed companionship. God did all this before the sin that would separate Adam (and Eve) from himself ever entered the world! Some could say that God was purely speaking of a mate when speaking these things, but I don't believe that's the case. More on why in a minute (or another post perhaps).

I find great freedom in this in many ways... It's very liberating to know that loneliness doesn't mean something is wrong with me, but that it's part of our human nature - and not necessarily based on some effect of the fall either! I also find it really encouraging that God saw Adam's need for companionship and met the need before Adam even knew he had it. God desired for Adam to not be alone. He desires the same for me and the same for you. It's good to be around others, to have meaningful relationships, etc.

I suspect many people will read this and think... "uh, hello Captain Obvious... loneliness is not good, yeah, we get it, k' thanks bye". I can only say, yeah, I know that too - but it's easy to fall into the evangelical, individualistic trap that is American-Christian-thinking that reduces walking with Jesus to something we individually do in the privacy of our minds. That thinking is wrong and leaves no place for one to process the feelings and thoughts of loneliness.

So, whether obvious to everyone else or not, I for one am glad for this new revelation and in the knowledge that God's desire is for me to be around and enjoy others.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trampolines: A lesson in spiritual physics

What kid doesn't like a trampoline? More than a few adults I know, including myself, enjoy them too! I love trampolines because a few brief milliseconds, I get to escape gravity and experience the freedom that comes with being unencumbered by it.

The problem is, No one is free to experience weightlessness by their own power. What goes up must come down!

Because of this, I think that gravity is perhaps the best spiritual analogy we have to what the scriptures describe as "the law of sin and death" (Romans 8). Just as gravity effects every single human being born into the world, so this law effects all human beings. Every single human being is born into a world tarnished by sin and the consequences of Adam's sin. God told Adam that living outside of God's purpose and plans for him would result in death and it did! The proof is that he died. The proof that you and I are effected is that we too die! Since then, humans have been on a quest to prevent or delay these consequences for as long as possible.

As I thought about this, I started to see how all our religious ideas are nothing more than jumping on trampolines. We're foolish enough to think that with a little assistance and increased spring under our steps, we can jump better and escape the spiritual "gravity" of sin and death. Further, we go on to compare ourselves with others even though we share the same limitations. We get enamored by our religious "tricks", "flips", and the heights to which we can soar. No matter how good we are on the trampoline, we all experience the same end to our efforts as we fall back to earth.

Like gravity, sin and death cannot be overcome by strength and will power. This is the fundamental problem with every religious/spiritual idea that places self or another at the center of the effort or solution. It's a fool's errand.

In the natural world, there's really only one way to escape the effects of Law of Gravity for sustained periods - the Law of Aerodynamics. We experience this law when we climb into an aircraft and allow it's power and design to lift us from terra firma.

Aerodynamics allows people to function in a universe where gravity exists without being controlled by it. Aerodynamic does not nullify gravity - they coexist!

Many are quick to claim that God isn't real because he would do something about all pain and suffering if He did exist. This is like cursing gravity while refusing to acknowledge aircraft as a suitable means of overcoming it. Pain and suffering are the result of sin and death - spiritual gravity! Spiritual Gravity is overcome by Spiritual Aerodynamics - Jesus Christ.

Without nullifying His own first edict that disobedience would result in sin and death, God has addressed pain, suffering, sin and death by providing a way to overcome it without escaping it. Just like the Messiah himself suffered for his people, we too are granted the privilege of suffering along with others - pointing them to the way of overcoming.

Had God renegged on His edict to Adam, he would be unjust. When our legal system lets people off the hook for their crimes, we revolt. Yet, we demand that God do just that. God will indeed deal with pain and suffering entirely at the consummation of all things. Until then, He has provided a vehicle for us to rise above the spiritual effects of sin and death.

The core of Jesus' teaching are to stop jumping on the trampolines of religious effort and enter Jesus Christ - God's single vehicle of salvation. Jesus had hard things to say to the professional trampoliners! Many accept this for their justification, but then return to the trampoline to live out their relationship with God. This too is wrong.

Jesus conquered sin and death. His resurrection proves that. When we place our faith in Christ and his ability to overcome sin and death on our behalf, our existence is no longer bound and determined by sin and death. He says we're "in him" and so we are no longer bound by them either.

If you're a jumper, become a flyer. If you're a flyer, rescue a jumper from their tiresome efforts.

Feedback and dialogue is appreciated.