Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Schizophrenia Not Allowed

One of the interesting realizations along my journey has been how schizophrenic the traditional views of God, His Word, and His Ways tends to become.One is the way we tend to look at the Old Testament and the New Testament in different ways. While there are more ways we look at the front and back of the Bible with differing views, this only deals with one particular aspect of our perception.

It occured to me that we tend to look at the Old Testament as stories holding truth about what we should and should not do as God's people, but we tend to look at the New Testament as primarily a record of what we should do. It's like we turn the magic page between old and new and the very nature of the complete story changes.

I remember one of the major themes of the Old Testament is the fickleness of the God's people. Story after story after story details how the people of God ride the roller coaster of loving God and following Him and then ignoring God and going their own way; or worse yet intermixing the ways of God with the ways of the God-less.

Wouldn't it make sense that this theme played out throughout the entire record of God's redeeming work? Or did that propensity for man going his own way magically disappear between Malachi and Matthew? I'm beginning to realize that the theme indeed continues as we see the closest followers of Jesus, after the resurrection, return to fishing where Jesus finds them and puts them back on the right path (sound like an Old Testament theme to you?). Then there's the page turn between John and Acts. The very first act in the "church age" was for the closest followers of Jesus to create the first nominating committee and "throw the dice" to determine who should replace Judas among the twelve. (I personally believe this was taking matters into their own hands as we later see God replace Judas with Paul; His work, His time, His way vs our work for Him, our way, our timing)

Where did the disciples see this method of determining the will of God? Do we have record of them sitting under a tree or beside a road with Jesus during the three years they were with him so they would know where to go and what to do? Some have challenged my interpretation by pointing out that Jesus was filled with the Spirit and was able to hear the voice of His Father that way, while the disciples at this point had not received the gift of the Spirit so they had to use another method. Again, I don't see Jesus instructing them to do that or showing them how in the record we have of His time with them.

I would cite more examples, but that would incite a riot here and I'm not after that. What I'm trying to do from this point forward is test everything I see in the New Testament (as well as the Old) against what I see Jesus doing and what I hear Jesus saying in the record of His time here among us. If there's a difference between what Jesus said and did, it leaves room for considering if that was something we've added to what Jesus and His Father intended.

So, to me, this thread of the fickleness of God's people continues throughout the story. So where are the turns back to the old ways? What events in Matthew-Revelation are the record of God's people returning to old ways instead of following the new way Jesus showed and left them? What pieces of an old way of life do we live out today because "it's in the New Testament" even though it's in there to show that even after Christ's sacrifice for us was fulfilled we still battle with the draw to our old ways of unbelief? At least I'm watching for those now as I read the New Testament too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Unity in the Spirit

I had an unusual experience this week and it brought me to a greater appreciation for the concept of unity in the Spirit. When I look around and see all the disunity in what's supposed to be the communities of believers I see some managed unity, but nothing like this experience this week.

A God-appointment orchestrated via Facebook brought me back across a former high school mate, Steve Villanueva. While we each knew of each other during our high school years and that we both were involved in church, that was pretty much it as far as being friends.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="We Have Been Lied To"]We Have Been Lied To[/caption]

We met at a local Macaroni Grill for about two hours. The first 10 minutes was about the formalities... where and what since high school. Then Steve told me he had a book that was published and was being released this month (We Have Been Lied To by Stephen Villanueva which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target now, and Borders later this month). WOW! How cool is that.

As we continued to talk throughout lunch I was overwhelmed with how two guys, vaguely acquainted for four years over two decades ago could come together after barely knowing each other so long ago and having zero contact since could be so on the same page. I listened intently as he laid out the things God had been teaching and showing him. Recalling the same stories from Scripture with the revolutionary understanding which God had given me over the last couple of years. It was as if we had been hanging around with each other and heard the stories time after time so we were able to speak as one.

Then it hit me. I had always talked about the unity that should exist for believers because the same Spirit was alive in both, but never had I experienced it quite like this. I had even joked that the Spirit was not schizophrenic so when there was disunity one or the other was not led by the Spirit. Story for story, words lining up with words, experiences akin to the others. It was truly amazing.

Then I began to reflect on the work God had done to inspire the writing of the Bible into the amazing book of unity it is today and was further in awe of the moment.

If you are walking in the Spirit, then the Spirit in you should be in full agreement with the Spirit alive in another Christ Follower. Have you experienced a relationship/conversation like this? If not, wonder which Christ Follower is the one not consistently walking in and being led by the Spirit?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

There IS truth to be learned from Star Wars (and beyond!)

Anakin Skywalker... watching the final installment in our Star Wars epic watch-a-thon (several evenings through episode 1-6) a thought occurred to me...

(haha, check out this article I found looking for the picture to the right...)

Thinking of our brother Aaron Horton's now famous (with me anyway) quote:
No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what perspective you have in life, all of us can recognize a common theme emerging in the world. We see it in the stories we love, we see it in history, we see it in our own lives. There is beauty and innocence, interrupted by tragedy and sadness, followed by longing for rescue, and hope for a better day. We love the stories best where a hero comes along to set the world right and bring a new day to pass where we return to that place of beauty and innocence again…changed of course…but back home again. That story is older than the middle ages, the roman empire, or even the Bible. It is the story written on the very heart of God…woven into our lives because we were made in His image.

... I began to realize that if I believe what Paul talks about in Romans and understand that we were all created in the image of our father originally, only we've lost touch with it through our sinfulness...

... it becomes apparent that there WILL be hints of the character of God in all the stories even the fallen man tells. In the things we (mankind) hold to as ideals; love, peace, hope, etc., and the things we loathe; hate, lust, jealousy, even from a worldly perspective; we can see and point to God. Because God's image is "in our DNA" the hints of that image will be present in the work done by the creator's creation. WHOA!

That's why so many of the amazing quotes in movie after movie, book after book, song after song, etc. after etc. can point to the essence of real truth! Sometimes even more honest about it than we tend to be in our own religious lives:

Anakin Skywalker
"Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other."

Qui-Gon Jinn
"Your focus determines your reality."

Anakin Skywalker
"Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden."

Qui-Gon Jinn
"Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel... don't think. Use your instincts."

"Jedi Masters don't go crazy -- they just get eccentric."

... just a few... many more there are! (sorry, could not resist)

I think the depth of Aaron's insight sunk in to a whole new level last night! All those stories which portray pieces of kingdom truth just askew from our naturalized man point of view.... hints of truth from the wrong foundation/perspective... Wow!

Press on!