To You

Dare I say that a theology that divides and separates is no gospel at all. If my theology doesn’t help me see all in Christ then I think it is headed in the wrong direction. Back to the spiritual stone ages.

If my theology doesn’t lead me to love people more then I don’t think it is correct. Now let me clarify that love is not the same thing as enabling or condoning all behaviors. There is no love in lies. Deeper connection is sometimes associated with increased costs required to take a stand for what is the ultimate best for all involved.

But if my theology puts us back into an us/them or in/out mentality, then I think we’re circling back around the same old worn out mountain. The same tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Same song, different verse. No real substantial difference than the rest of the religions out there.

Real life is so much more complicated. Existing on continuums. Spectrums of awareness. We need each other. The difference between asking why versus the pride of certainty. Investigating. These are real people with real lives. And Jesus loves them all. God loves them all. Holy Spirit loves and is constantly at work with and in all.

If The Good Shepherd goes to gather every last little sheep, what gives us the right to give up on someone? Giving them over to God is not giving up on them. We do what we do but their healing is not our responsibility. We participate. Salvation does not originate in us. Relief from the condemnation rained down by probably well-meaning clergy and also a multitude of common every-day religious folk.

Loving you means I can tell you no as well as telling you yes. Loving you asks, “What can I do to help?” Versus circling around the sinner with stones ready to throw. This is a heart issue. Not another behavioral checkbox. We comfort with the comfort we have been given.

Start by looking inside first. This is not about posturing. This is not about simplistic “happy thoughts”. Real relationship rises to face reality. With a heavy dose of hope. From our Creator, our Father. Whose heart is full of eternal unfailing love.

This love happens organically. This theology arrests your heart and new life flows upward to your mind. Unforced joy and peace that passes understanding lifts you up out of the performance pit and into the everlasting arms of a Father that enjoys you and doesn’t do abandonment.

Will you rest in Him?

We all want to be loved. At what point did you give up? At what point was it too much? What is the next root of deception that we can expose and remove in the pursuit of embracing the truth of your identity in Christ and the wonder of all that entails? How can I help you embrace the new life that is already yours for the taking? That will free you as no other formula ever could.

Thoughts to consider as you continue in conversation with those you encounter in this moment. Relying solely on Holy Spirit for protection and specific direction.

Selah.

Beyond Belief

“Reason can help you better understand what you see, but it will have a hard time convincing you that you never saw it. So too, emunah endures even when reason can’t catch up… the greatest vitamin you can provide emunah is plain exercise.” – Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

“the basic, root meaning of emunah is trust and reliance, not intellectual acquiescence in the truth of certain propositions… If one disobeys a command and is therefore accused of lack of emunah, it makes much more sense to say that one is being accused of lack of trust in the commander than of quibbling over the accuracy of statements made by or about the commander… loyal behavior, not systematic theology” – Dr. Menachem Kellner

“So you’re impressed with yourselves that with your emunah you can recite the kri’at Shema, nu? O you do so well…why, even the shedim have your da’as and emunah! But they shudder!” – Yaakov 2:19 (Orthodox Jewish Bible)

“The twice daily mitzva of kri’at shema is defined as a declaration of basic tenets of belief…” – Rav Moshe Taragin

Not to be just in our mouth, but more importantly on our hearts. What is inside will come out. Not only in our speech, but also, and more telling, in our actions.

“Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting — with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us continue holding fast to the hope we acknowledge, without wavering; for the One who made the promise is trustworthy.” – Hebrews 10:22-23 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Some say flying, but right now it feels like falling. And yet…

“Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God’?
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:27-31 New King James Version)

“Ani maamin! Help my lack of emunah!” No longer claiming perfect faith. Our heart cries echo his prayer.

Jesus waited until the crowd gathered. They witnessed the blessing of a man who had renounced his independence.

“Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!'”

And yet there must be something in Jesus telling the father of the sick child that prayer (and fasting) were the keys to deliverance. Is it a greater statement about how His prayer and fasting delivered us?

“And having been made shalem, to all those with mishma’at toward Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, he became the source of Yeshu’at Eloheinu Olamim” (Hebrews 5:9 OJB)

“The feminine noun משמעת (mishma’at), meaning subjects, or literally group of guys who listen.” (Abarim Publications’ online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary)

“Mishma’at refers to the group of people who hearken to the king and are particularly close to him…” – Rav Amnon Bazak

My experience has been that prayer and fasting do not work like sorcery to make things happen. Rather, they realign my mind to hear and see more clearly, spiritually and otherwise.

A study in prayer is desired. But it’s too late and my heart needs time to process just the slightest taste of the glimpse of this magnificence.

“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: ‘Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.'” – Isaiah 30:15 MSG

 

Diligent

One time several years ago I went to The Alamo to street witness with a group of people from my church. A friend named Tusi was my witnessing partner that day. We arrived at Alamo Plaza and started talking to people. Tusi saw a snow cone stand and said she wanted to go get a snow cone. My attitude was like, “Tusi, we are here to save people from hell. Not to eat snow cones.”

She stayed with me and we “witnessed” to a few more people. But whenever we weren’t talking to people, she kept talking to me about snow cones. Finally I was like, “Fine! Since your ‘flesh’ is getting in the way of ‘witnessing’, go get your stupid snow cone.” I didn’t say it like that, but it was my attitude.

She left me and went over to the snow cone stand and was taking a long time. I went over to bring her back to “work” and there she was praying with the snow cone people for their business. God, as only God can do, gave me a funny wakeup call that day. Been learning a lot since then.

God participates with us just as we are. Not in spite of who we are. The pressure is off. Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. There is no competition or condemnation.

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4