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Humans Being

We become humans by being…

human being

Not all that long ago, when things were new, there lived two people in a little garden which was exactly like heaven on earth. It was called Eden, and it was a paradise. The people there, Adam and Eve, were created to be stewards over this little piece of heaven. They were given a few tasks by their creator – take dominion, be fruitful, eat anything you want – but stay away from that one tree.

They were all in one accord – man and woman, God and creation – and it was very good! Nobody really knows how long they lived in this blissful state, and we don’t really have any way to know what it was really like. Imagine your best day ever, times infinity – probably doesn’t even scratch the surface.

They were fully alive! Fully human! Firing on all cylinders, cooking with gas – call it what you want, they were everything they were created to be. They were everything we are not.

I have spent time imagining what it must have been like. Perfect bodies – not these rags we wear that get stained and wear out. Walking with God – nothing to separate us from his presence. Unity – all of creation on the same page, headed toward the same destiny.

I imagine that as they fulfilled their calling and filled up the garden with more people, that it’s boundaries would expand until all the earth became nothing but paradise, nothing but an exact representation of everything God had in mind when he dreamed up heaven.

But that’s not what happened – that’s not what happened at all. Something else happened. People say we were tricked, we were led astray, that the tempter took our inheritance from us. But the truth is, the first man and the first woman made a choice all on their own – they chose to know over choosing to live. We all, when faced with the exact same choice, make the exact same choice.

How could God, who knows everything, not see this coming? And if he did see it coming, why didn’t he stop it from happening? The short answer is, if he prevented us from choosing between himself and ourselves, how could we truly ever be able to love him? That’s the choice before all of us, and the choice we make determines how human we will become.

So, choices were made, and now we live in a fallen world. A world full of sickness, death, evil. It’s not the heaven that God had in mind. Not even close. But even still, all is not lost.

You may hear people talk about “plan B” from time to time. “Well, I was too short and colorblind, so I couldn’t be an astronaut – so my plan B was becoming a lumberjack.” Or something. Most of us are living in plan B. Or C, D, or even Q.

God, though – he only has plan A. His goal, from the beginning, was to present to his son a worthy bride, to have a family. To have children to care for who love him as a father. Is it too late for all that? I say no!

The son emptied himself, came to earth as a man – as Adam once was – full of the father and living as if he were in heaven. He came to show us what it would be like to be fully human – to be firing on all cylinders and cooking with gas. And what did he do? Well, he changed the world. He broke history out of it’s rut. He made a way for us to be humans – the humans God created us to be.

And he did so much more! He solved the greatest problem of all – the problem of how fallen humanity could be reunited with it’s father, it’s creator. He did it by being fully human, and when presented with the choice he chose differently that the rest of us – he chose God instead of himself.

And he did even more than that – because he chose wisely, he was able to be everything a human was meant to be – the blind received sight, the lame walked, those with leprosy were cleansed, the deaf could hear, the dead were raised, and the good news was proclaimed!

And even greater things than these will we do, because Jesus has gone to the Father!

And yet – how many people have you healed? How many have you raised from the dead? How many greater things have you done? Don’t feel bad – I pray for the sick and they get worse. I pray for the blind and the deaf and they walk away not seeing and hearing. I have never prayed that a dead person would come back to life. Because…dead – that’s just not how things work in this world.

But that’s how they worked in Jesus’ world. The second Adam, the most human human being ever. Because he and his father were one, because when he said the kingdom is at hand, it wasn’t just a philosophical way of living or thinking – it was a spirit empowered way of being human. And we all have access to that. We have access to the father, and all the resources of heaven. But we’re too busy being something other than what we were created to be to know it.

I don’t know how this ends. For me I mean. I want everything God has for me, but still it seems I labor in vain. I can’t heal anyone – even when I am praying fervently and sincerely and crying and pleading. Even when I mean it with all my heart. Even when I say, “in Jesus name.”

Why? Well, I don’t know. All I know is, I am saved, and the same spirit that lives in me, that lived in Jesus, can live in you! Choose – choose life over struggling to do good so that you won’t be a bad person. You have a free will – and the only good use of it is freely choosing to lay it down, to empty yourself of yourself and be filled with his spirit – so choose now. Be what God always dreamed you would be – a human, a human who is being everything they are capable of being.
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You Shall Know The Truth!

“Truth? What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate

truth

I’m writing a post about truth where we won’t talk about the truth to start with. You might be wondering “why not?” Ok, here’s the deal – our minds are not set up to be able to accept the truth. We think the truth is out there, and we spend our lives trying to find it, but most never do. The truth is out there! And it has nothing to do with aliens and conspiracies. I just really like X-Files and have been dying to use that gif for about 3 years now. Have fun loading it on mobile. (Edit – the gif was just too much – so I switched it out for jpg.)

Ten chapters before Pilate cynically asked Jesus, “what is truth?” in John 8:32, Jesus said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!” He was talking to Jews at the time, about what should have been something very important to them – freedom. After this statement, Jesus heard their response, “we are descendants of Abraham and have never been the slaves of anyone.”

Really? It seems to me they might have forgotten about what happened in two-thirds of the Old Testament.  It seems that they may be forgetting everything about their entire history, including their state of affairs under Roman rule. But that’s none of my business.

As I reflect on these verses though, I see parallels in my own life. There is truth to be known, there is freedom to be had. But only lately have I known and experienced it. What changed in my life? The truth didn’t change – or else it wouldn’t be true, right?

What changed is how I know things.

I have been involved in the Freedom Ministry at my church for several years, as part of the Freedom Team. I have been going to the classes for five years now. I’ve heard them online, been there in person, listened to Freedom podcasts. I’ve even taught some of the classes to a variety of audiences over the years, and I pray with people every single week who are seeking freedom. But as much as I have experienced it myself, I was always limited in what I could experience because my brain was not set up to know things in the right way.

When Jesus says, “you shall know the truth” he was not saying, “I have three points about truth that all start with the letter ‘M’, and there’s a poem at the end that’s pretty cool, and then here’s a prayer to repeat every day around 4 pm, and some verses from the Old Testament that you should highlight in your scroll.”

A friend of mine named Paul hit the nail on the head today in a teaching on the Kingdom of God. He said, “We didn’t have the internet when I was a kid. We had a pool of knowledge, but we had to jump in a boat and row out to it.” Now, everything we as people know is accessible through a few keystrokes and a click of the mouse. Don’t you think if knowledge could save us, we’d know by now?

Knowledge actually drives us further from the truth! If you remember, in the Garden there were two trees – one full of knowledge, the other full of life.  We chose, and continue to choose, poorly.

Bear with me on this – it gets deep. The Greek word for “know” in John 8:32 is γινώσκω (ginōskō) which we translate “to know”. But this definition barely scratches the surface. Do you remember in the Old Testament, in the genealogies where it says, ” And Suchandso KNEW his wife and she conceived and bore a son and they named him Suchandso jr”?

Just think what would happen if there was a man on his honeymoon who got out a pen and paper and started asking his wife all kinds of things like, “what’s your favorite color? Your favorite food? What’s your favorite Star Wars cuz I like The Empire Strikes Back and I even brought the DVD!”

NO!

Your honeymoon is no more about learning factual data about your spouse than knowing truth is about three points and poem. The knowledge that produces freedom is about a way of knowing that conceives something brand new in our lives!

What is truth? You’ll never know until you experience a renewing of your mind – you’ll never know until you repent.

The word for “repent” in the bible is μετάνοια (metanoia). I have heard for so long that repent means to “change direction.” I have heard so many sermons on repentance where the illustration is “I was going this direction, but I turned and now I’m going that direction.” That sounds a lot like something we could accomplish all on our own, when repentance is God doing a new thing in us.

The literal meaning of “repent” is “to change your mind.” But beyond this, when used in the bible, it means “to have your mind changed by a source outside yourself (God) that you submit your will to.” Our action, then, is to willingly die to ourselves. God’s action is to raise us to walk in a new way, in a brand new life, with a new way of processing in our minds what is real, no longer to be conformed to the pattern of this world.

When Jesus said, “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” he was telling us that we have to change our minds, we have to change the way we think and the way we perceive because for those who have eyes to see, the Kingdom is here, it’s at hand, but until something new is birthed in us, we won’t be able to see it or be a part of it.

Do you want to know truth? Or are you like Pilate who believed that truth is relative, subjective, unknowable for certain?

The truth is Jesus is truth and if you know him in a way that results in a rebirth, you will see the kingdom with new eyes, you’ll hear God’s voice with new ears, you’ll be seated in heavenly places with Christ, and everywhere you go, the lives of those around you will change because of what God has done in you!
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In The Beginning, God

nebula

 

The first four words of the bible are some of the most important words ever written. They dispel virtually every thought of the worldly, scientific mindset our culture is enmeshed in. We depend on data. If there’s no input, there’s no progress – that’s one thing that’s never changed. What needs to change is the source of that input.

In the beginning God…But after that, we.

We tried to become our own source. The world we live in was created by the Word of God, but as masters over this creation, we have formed it in our image. God created the world and gave it over to mankind to rule, and then Adam made a choice to trust knowledge over the life-giving power of God. We’ve been trying to get God’s attention ever since.

In the beginning God created. Then with what He created, he formed some things as well. We were formed from dirt by God, then He breathed His Spirit into us. At that time, we were perfect, fully alive, 100% connected to Life. Our choice was to remain connected, or to not.

God placed man in the Garden – the first temple – the place where He dwelled with mankind. The Kingdom, heaven, was here. And at that time we walked the earth alongside God. At that time, we saw as He saw, we thought as He thought, we lived as He lived. Genesis 2 reveals that in the garden were many kinds of trees, and in the middle of the Garden there were two – the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God said they could eat from any tree except one. They could have apples, pears, bananas, kiwis, oranges, peaches. They could have life and it was all good.

In the middle of the garden were two trees and a choice to be made. They could eat from the forbidden tree or not eat from it.

Rather than call upon God, they chose on their own and did what they thought was right. And then, banished from that first place of worship, physically, spiritually and mentally, mankind has sought to find a way back to God on his own terms ever since.

We try to do good, thinking it matters, but we have forgotten that in the beginning God. We learn all there is to know, and by our observations try to understand even more, but we forget that in the beginning God. We make plans, formulate hypotheses, create, innovate, build, rebuild but in the beginning…God.

We deny what we are trying to do by striving. We say there is no God. We trust the scientific method, we try to unlock the mysteries of the heavens and die in that attempt never having found what is all around us, right in front of our eyes.

For this reason Jesus came to die. To break the cycle of mankind’s struggle to “get it” on our own – to solve the problem of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember, knowledge of good and evil are both fruit from the same tree, and neither bring life. Bob Hamp has said, “When the problem is knowledge, more, or better knowledge is like pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire.”

The more we know, the farther we are from God. Jesus came to give us life, to reconnect us to God, to make us citizens of the Kingdom. And if you’re His child, the Kingdom is here, and you are living in it right now.

You can walk with God, just like in the beginning. You can know Him. He can be your source. The cycle of striving for more can be broken. You eyes can be opened to what is all around you. You can see as Adam saw in the beginning.

We have proved, over and over again, that our desire is to know God, but the means to do so is beyond us. We can’t get to the Kingdom trusting our own way. We have to make a willful choice to not trust our will. We have to make a willful choice to lay down our will and enter the Kingdom of God.

In the beginning, God. It will end the same way. How you walk through the middle part is up to you.

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The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like A Sand Dollar

sand dollar

Last Thanksgiving, my family took a wonderful trip to San Diego. We stayed in a hotel right by the beach, and almost every day we were there, we were exploring the sandy shores. The weather was beautiful – sunny and warm – and although the water was too cold to get into the ocean, we had plenty of fun on the beach.

One of the things my kids wanted to do was search for sea shells. We have a giant bag full of them around here somewhere. One day while we were out, my daughter Zoey found a sand dollar. And at that point the search was on for more.

We searched high and low for hours, but only found the one sand dollar. I knew, and explained to my kids, that the best time to find sand dollars is right after high tide, early in the morning. But nobody (including me) wanted to get up that early on vacation.

Soon our vacation was over, we came home, time passed, and I forgot all about this experience. Until yesterday.

I worked yesterday until around noon, came home, had some lunch and decided to take a little nap. I fell asleep pretty hard actually, and had a dream.

I generally don’t remember my dreams, but the ones I do remember involve me either chasing something or being chased, falling off a cliff or building, showing up in middle school in nothing but my underwear, breathing under water (seriously – who dreams that?) or that I have a super power such as flight or the ability to turn invisible at will.

This dream was different. Vivid, but partly in black and white, partly in color.

In this dream, my whole family was on the beach again. It was sunny, but chilly. We were desperately searching for sand dollars, but all we could see were shiny rocks and sea shells. They were everywhere – they littered the beach, they hurt our feet as we walked over them.

We came to a low spot on the beach and a young man with long hair and darkly tanned skin asked us what we were doing. We told him we were searching for sand dollars, had been searching for hours and days, but had not been able to find anything except rocks and shells.

He looked at each of us, snapped his fingers and said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar.” We looked, and where there had been nothing but rocks and shells, there were now sand dollars everywhere.

I was still dreaming. I could see the blue water of the ocean, the color of the sand, and that the sand dollars were that same sandy color – they had been there all along, but we couldn’t see them because of the rocks and shells.

When I woke up, I immediately knew what was going on in my dream. The beach was the whole world, and our desperate search for sand dollars was what everyone in the world goes through – a search for meaning, for purpose, for peace and rest. The thing being searched for is at hand, but it’s missed because of everything else that’s in the way – the worries of life. Jobs, laundry, dirty dishes, house payments – the day to day things that keep us from seeing what is true, what is real, what is eternal, what is just below the surface and blends into the background.

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” If you’re a child of God, it is something you take with you everywhere you go. It is on us, the sons and daughters of the King, to prepare the way, to clear away the debris of the day to day so that the world can see what lies obscured in the background. And even for us it can be hard. We have the same worries as everyone else, but we also know that if we are seeking the Kingdom, all these other things will be added as well.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sand dollar. Not at all hard to find! And people are searching for it. They are desperate, lost and alone. But we can show them the way!