Many of y’all know I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore. What many y’all may not know is that, contrary to eyars gone by, and due in large part to Arthur Burk’s influence, I no longer critique others’ choice to celebrate the same, whether or not it is unbiblical, though I have reasons stated for no longer so doing.
That said, if Jesus is going to be made the center of your celebration, whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, or account all days the same (Romans 14:5), and if it is going to be an act of warfare, given we do not needlessly cede anything to the enemy that God created, including the time span that happens to be labeled December 25th, then we simply must regularly exercise a quality of spiritual warfare that we commonly call by the name “thankfulness”.
Carl is a man of God whose walk with God is robust and makes many of my generation’s walks appear anemic by comparison. He assigned me and my now-ex-wife to do altar ministry 10 years ago at our then-home-church, and his formerly-regular, now-occasional counsel due distance are among the best I have received.
Concerning thankfulness, he writes:
Growing up, my mother was the oldest of 4, raised by a widowed single mother and poor would not begin to adequately describe their circumstance.
Those days instilled an attitude of thanksgiving for the little things that never left her.
Looking back, I now understand one of her little idiosyncrasies at Christmas.
She would watch everyone else open their gifts and when that was over, she would take her little Keen Kutter pen knife, and carefully slice the tape, slowly unwrap her gift, and neatly fold the wrapping paper to be saved for another year.
I often wondered why she took so long to open her gifts, but as the years pass I think now I understand.
It was the savoring of something good, An attitude of joy and appreciation that centered as much on the love that brought those gifts as on the gift itself.
“We didn’t have a lot in those days” she once said, “so we wanted to make what little there was, last as long as we could.
In her eyes, an orange and a pair of sox held the same esteem as the grandest, most extravagant gift imaginable.
When she passed, she left a drawer full of neatly folded wrapping paper, some of it so old it was yellowed and brittle and now I know, tucked away in the folds were a lifetime of memories made more precious by thankfulness.
I didn’t save the paper this morning, but I did use her little Keen Kutter pen knife to carefully slice the tape and as I unwrapped my gifts, taking care not to damage the paper, I remembered to be thankful for all the good things in my iife, even the little ones.
Jesus is Lord
I can only add a hearty “amen”. And this post honors the deposit of thankfulness and gratitude in even the small matters.
I do realize that the Charismatic Movement has in many places grown abusive or tone-deaf to the fullness of Scripture.
And many of those of us who are associated with Bethel, have grown to treat the part that they have as synonymous with the whole truth.
It’s not, gang.
They have a small piece.
And many have become uncritical, unjudging, undecisional groupies of everything that comes from Bethel, MorningStar, or [pick your denominational influence].
Jesus didn’t command us to dwell in perpetual powerlessness.
He charged us repeatedly to pray.
He also charged us to dance between intimacy and principles. Many of us in the Bethel constellation have dropped the complex weaving together of principles for an oversimplified answer to every problem.
Bill Johnson, the Heiligenthals, and others, however, have held onto the principles of 1) resurrection that Jesus said would happen, period, and 2) to love not in reaction to the devil, but rather in reaction to the Father.
I am not saying Bethel got everything perfect. Some of their material on the fivefold ministry is absolutely dubious.
Much of the teaching on the fivefold ministry is downright toxic because it is not couched in the language of “this is what we have seen”, “let’s discuss”, and “what have you seen?”.
But this, a desire to see healing and miracles take place, is one area where they shine. A transformed mindset.
Meanwhile you Calvinists and Reformers have taken all sorts of verbally and spiritually abusive shits in Bethel’s and the Heiligenthal‘s front yard.
And Now Comes My Greta Moment To the Calvinists
Your brother and sister didn’t ask you to bash their dignity or their theology. They friggin asked you to pray for resurrection, in accordance with John 11, and you are acting like Mary and Martha who were allegorized resurrection.
How dare you….
Your responsibility is to, in light of God’s sovereign hand, to ask Him, based on the possibility that it might be given, in alignment with the Sermon on the Mount.
To jump on board and seek for His hand to move in this family’s life and not to decide the frame of what that looks like.
The sovereignty of God was designed to embrace God’s capacity to do what He wants, which includes resurrection.
If the parents determine to pray for resurrection, your job is to get off of your lazy asses and pray as they request, in accordance with the full kingdom agenda.
It is not to bash them as crazy, and tell them how heretical they are.
Jesus didn’t die so we could have the opportunity to doubt whether or not He would work, paired with the fear of our perverted view of His sovereignty.
It is to rest our lives in the hope that He just might do something that is different than your expectations.
We are sick of chronically powerless, inauthentic, partial Christianity that treats God as a dictator who has ceased to work now that the canon is finished.
We want more and we affirm Scripture and the nature of God demand there is more.
But it would be dishonest of me to say that I didn’t get prompted to write the following after I read a piece by Arthur Burk and Margaret Lehman from the Sapphire Blessing Application available for smartphones.
The link to the Google app is here. The link to the iPhone app is here.
Seriously, gang, this is one app that is worth the charge of a few bucks per month for something that would provide a deep piece of life.
With that disclaimer and credit out of the way, onto the heart of the post.
More Than Sincerity….Effectiveness.
It takes more than our own capacity to do something that is the object of our dreams.
In order to take on a dream and to bring it to fruition, we not only have to dream and see the good thing Father has given us. we must also undertake and understand the process by which the dream comes into being.
It is not just something that God merely does without our assistance, or something that just happens.
It takes work….considerable work…on our part, and the setting together of many different principles to cause something to happen.
Bringing a vision to pass is not just about having the vision. It is about writing that vision down, and seeing what parts are your responsiblity, and breaking those parts of yours into measurable principles, weaving together those principles into tasks, and the tasks into something sustainable.
We don’t do more of it faster and harder if it is not working.
Rather, we change our tool, our principle that is not working for one that may work.
We were made for something, and the Lord does not bring it to pass unless….
Moses climbs the mountain.
Solomon forms a political alliance with King Hiram of Tyre.
David kills a lion and a bear.
David sings in the fields with his flocks.
Jesus learns masonry and building construction in the stonemason’s shop.
John the Baptizer dwells in the desert.
Samson keeps his hair long.
Adam communicates to Eve.
Eve comes against the serpent.
The eleven tarry.
Saul asks for Ananias.
Orville and Wilbur understand birdflight.
And make several trips.
And care for their colleagues more than their flying contraption.
And hours of being ridiculed behind closed doors while they experiment behind the bike shop.
We move into our realm of reality.
And stay in a church that does nothing for us.
Or with people that are little more than obstacles.
On the way to an assignment.
And flow outward to a church where you are not fed, but rather you do your work in feeding others.
And remember what He did for you.
Gang, we must move past sincerity, to the place where we embody principles.
Because dreams become reality when vision moves into principles.
With credit to Arthur Burk for catalyzing this concept repeatedly.
Stop being a sincere, slothful idiot (from the Greek idiotes, meaning “unlearned” or “someone who does not understand”).
You were made for more than just drooling and waiting for God to do it.
You were made for partnership with him.
Partnership means you bring some of the resources and capacity to develop skill to the table.
The first time I felt it, was from reading the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The last time I felt it, was in the loss of a dear friendship to me.
I don’t know if there are times when books or friendships bring to us that feeling of a structure that can create a black hole that sucks life from us, but I can say that when I read books as a very emotionally-sensitive person, I feel them intensely, for better or worse.
I read and can see each scene, and each plot device, and resonate with each similie, metaphor, allusion, and turn of phrase.
I think there are certain books that are designed, especially if the author in question has been given a gift with words by God, and an anointing for wordsmithing, which are designed to draw us in and leave us with something, a treasure or an antitreasure, if you will, if we let them affect us.
For those of us who are emotionally sensitive, we experience books in a different way, and as a result, we may have to read books through a filter in order to prevent negative structures from becoming erected by the assaults of the critters, especially of authors whose flow is defiled.
For example, those of you who know William Butler Yeats, might know that he practiced automatic writing, and had a way with words, and as a result, he was completely tied up with powers that were not of the kingdom.
Lewis and Tolkien, conversely, had streams that were plugged into the Lord as their source, and, as a result, for those who read his material, we see principles throughout that are not accompanied by defilement. Conversely, it is like a white hole manifesting when I read these. Especially when the relationships are lifegiving and mutually beneficial rather than sucking and depleting.
For example, the discovery of the White Sapling in The Return of the King shewed forth the life-giving relationship between Mithrandir and Aragorn II Elessar, the King of Gondor. Further, Aragorn fulfilled the known legend in Gondor that said “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known”, when, after the wounded were taken to Gondor’s Houses of Healing following The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Aragorn healed them with the athelas plant. This exquisitely-penned account shows one of the deep dynamics at work in Tolkein’s writings that exposes the work of a Redemptive Gift Teacher.
With Reservation, A Further Recommendation For Understanding Relational Dynamics
I will say, though I cannot recommend her works apart from some serious reservations (for those of y’all that wonder about those reservations, feel free to ask Father about them), Joanne Rowling imbued her Harry Potter series with some of the best relational dynamics among friends, particularly around the area of loyalty, of any set of books I have thus far written. Granted, it was pulpy fiction, but the dynamics of interpersonal relationships in those books played out exceptionally well. If you have a solid filter in place, and Father gives you the grace to do so, read them, but only with a massive filter in place.
My Major Questions When Asking Whether Or Not We Should Read a Particular Book
What is the source of the stream that flows from the essence of a writer, and thus, through their writings? “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Has Father given you permission or instruction to read that writing? If so, then there is something in it for you.
Are there principles in the work that you are writing? If so, then read in order to hunt for the principles of a given work. For, all truth is God’s truth, whereever it may be found.
Is there a filter you need to have in place as you read a particular work?
Sometimes Father is going to give you a grace to read something that He will not give to another, and vice versa. Thus, just because you see Him teaching one through this or that work, does not mean you have a free pass to read. What you do have is a free pass to talk to Father about the book or piece in question. Use that pass repeatedly. Discern, discern, discern. For example, because of the witchcraft in HP, it is not something I would readily recommend to any and everyone. Same with Yeats, or any others. I also have some real reservations about recommending a believer read Calvin’s writings, if they are susceptible to despair that could be magnified by reading the works of a man that believed in double predestination. For those who wish to wade into a particular work, great care should be exercised in discerning what is meat to eat and what is bone to reject.
This might sound like a laborious set of tasks for some, but when we use these filters as we read, we read ore effectively and with an eye toward executing more in alignment with the priorities of the Kingdom of God.
“Where are all the real men?” is regular fare for talk shows and new books. You asked them to be women, I want to say. The result is gender confusion never experienced at such a wide level in the history of the world.
How can a man know he is one when his highest aim is minding his manners?
-John Eldredge, Wild At Heart, p. 7.-
I am a fairly sensitive and empathic soul. And yet, the westward expansion of this Antichrist spirit that wants to destroy women with misogyny also wants to destroy men with misandry.
Whether or not we realize it, and we may only deeply realize it when we understand the war has pitted men and women against one another’s inherent dignity, the critters (namely the Mesmerizing Spirit and the Spirit of Antichrist) have pitted male and female against one another.
They have made us out to be a laughingstock, and our responsibility is to speak truth to power that is being used to abuse and desensitize male and female to affection for and defending of one another.
We as a culture are in need of recovered masculine and feminine souls. Souls that have war chops and bedside manner.
Souls that love deeply and are willing to risk one for another.
Gang, our highest aspiration as men is not to be swell guys or subservient women.
It is to mirror image our dangerous and beautiful King who will not extinguish a smouldering wick, but rather will pour gas on it.
Our responsibility is to handle each other well, and to equip and release.
Sometimes a person’s soul is like a King case, and sometimes a person’s soul is like a Blessed Furnace.
Can we adapt to both, as the season demands?
Or shall we continue along this path of declawing the lions?
TRIGGER WARNING: Positive posting of a passage from the Message Paraphrase by Eugene Peterson.
If I may, Eugene Peterson wrote a plethora of works that have stood the test of time for those who are ordained and called to the office of pastor.
From Tell It Slant, Run With Horses, The Pastor: A Memoir, Under the Unpredictable Plant, A Long Obedience In the Same Direction, and Eat this Book, to Traveling Light, Reversed Thunder, Answering God, Where Your Treasure Is, Like Dew Your Youth, and Leap Over a Wall, the author of As Kingfishers Catch Fire was known for not a few well-penned-and-smithed turns of phrase.
And this capacity to smith words from the Old Testament, Hopkins-educated purveyor of biblical truth from the Tanakh was persistently on display.
And while one of those vloggers I enjoy told us to burn his bible paraphrase, there were some places where The Message shone, as it fell flat in other places.
And, yes, I am sure you can cite 12 or so places where the Message sucks it up badly, but here is a place where Peterson, an honest OT scholar, unlike other…ahem…passionate…types…does some of his finest work.
One of those places where I as a scholar really appreciated Peterson’s streetwise lexicon was Romans 12:1-2, which reads:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
Now, granted, if you have not read a major translation, you might not know the backbone of what is behind this passage, but it really does add some interesting color and decor to the concepts to which Paul is speaking.
From the ESV, we read:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b]2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
And the NASB 95:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 (NASB95)
WHAT?!?!?!?!? YOU MEAN PETERSON EVEN SHINES IN THE MESSAGE….
Yes….even in the Message that talks about all sorts of unusual things….
One of the things that I appreciate about Peterson, when that paraphrased is preached by someone with a large amount of earned authority to people who are well-versed in Scripture, is that another layer of revelation may come.
Look at that first phrase in Peterson. He is talking about the everyday life that you and I live, and he is exhorting us to place those before God. In other words “God, it is all yours.”
Your every single act in your every single day belongs to God. Your every single quirk and trait was placed into/hardwired into you by God. Your smile when things evoke pleasure when you are alone, and joy when you are in community, was put into you by Him. Your anger when something violates God’s justice was placed into you by Him.
NEWS FLASH: not every evokation of anger is off or in need of medication or counseling. Some things are just wrong. Full stop.
Your every enjoyment of friends and community, your every problem-solving furrow of the brow was placed there by Him. he made problems as tools for growth into our deeper design.
Next, read this from the Message.
Don’t become so well-adjusted
Right, which means allowing something to force us to comply or into a mold or to become pliable for another….
to your culture
Coming so far into alignment with the culture that raised us or that birthed us or that saw us come into completeness… Or so becoming what everyone else needs us to be..or a level of compromise that indicates a relaxing of the standards…
that you fit into it
that we become one with it, and move right into “our assigned place”
without even thinking.
Gang, this is the beginning of the brain rot that was described in Romans 1. Although they knew God, they did not glorify him.
ON THE OTHER HAND
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Recognize what Papa wants for you as his child, as his son, and as his bride. Don’t give the world a place that should belong to God and vice versa. Have Him seated in the throne of your heart and move and listen, and hear and act accordingly. In accordance with that, your very life will be found on the altar in order to become material for sacrifice. Revelation 12:11 echoes the fact that setting your life down on the altar is one of the ways that you overcome the wiles of the dragon. His slick presentation is met with both a shrewdness that comes from being as one of the King’s Serpents (Matthew 10:16), and pairing that with the innocence of doves.
We so frequently pick the one or the other. Either to be pure and holy, and senseless tougue-wagging fools who do not know when to keep our mouths shut around the secrets that the Lord has told us, and we so blab everything and yield our position to the prince of the power of the air with every word we think is God-fearing, because we think we are supposed to speak all of the truth we have been given and so we do not keep tabs to distinguish what Father has instructed to to share versus what He has told us to ponder.
Or we are so slick and slimy and wise, as it were, but we also don’t maintain a threshold of innocence. God has made us to pick up both serpentine and avian tendencies. And to alight on a situation, and to be careful with the strategies that Father has shared with us so that we do not accidentally blabbed to the enemy in a provocative fashion.
OF CAKES AND GAYS
Question: When are we going to have believers who own a bakery that bakes cakes for gays as well and, clothe that freaking cake with our earned authority, such that there is a presence of conviction and love that travels with that cake, so that everyone who comes to that gay wedding falls out under the power of God, after they have paid us top dollar, they come to know the Lord and their eyes are opened.
Our current mentality towards social issues lacks a whole lot of shrewdness and a lack of understanding pertaining to our own earned authority.
It is time for us to change our strategy from an adapted position of powerlessness, to one where we exercise the FULLNESS of our authority.
Speaking of adjusting to meet the new attack with a new counteroffensive. Because they can stop us from baking and making a living doing what we are passionate about.
But they cannot stop us from praying, and if we are willing to serve them and “wash their feet” with our baked goods or whatever else, they may come away transformed.
SCOTUS telling us we could not pray in school did not keep prayer out of schools. Your not praying is your own choice. And as long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in schools.
Again, you are not a victim, and you are not powerless.
AND NOW ONTO LISA BEVERE
So, what does Lisa Bevere have to do with this.
She carries a whole lot fo earned authority to speak to the issue of Romans 12.
And she speaks with an unction that some might label as feminist, but not quite.
She knows who her King is.
Listen to the following, where she uses the Message to get her point across.
And recognize, it is not just about exposing false teaching, but it is also about exposing inadequacies in our self-perception as preached to us by powerless pulpit-mongers.
Gang, THE CROSS IN NOT JUST ABOUT BLOOD AND PEACE AND SALVATION! IT IS A WEAPON!!!
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
Mary observed the physical reality, and expected her son to fix that reality.
And there was a wine that Jesus was going to pour out in the future that it was not time to pour out.
We need to know when and how and to be aware of and in alignment with the right thing at the right moment.
When it is time to expect the physical wine or the spiritual wine, our response should be allowing Jesus the latitude as to the precise moment of when to provide the what.
Jesus was about to provide the physical wine, not yet, for the revelation of his Messiahship, not yet…and for the full expression of that wine pour-out, way not yet. That expression and that provision of spiritual wine was years from then.
Teachers will exercise this habit that is glorious to Father and annoying to the more moving, unpredictable, and spontaneous of the Redemptive Gifts.
And we need to be ready to work in the context of those that, to some of us, is irritating.
There are sports cars among us, and there are payloaders and semis among us.
And God made them all.
And those of us that are steady and consistent and ponderous, like the Teacher and like Mary the Teacher, are going to say the same thing in each situation, and we need to be ready to function in their presence and blow their mind, and for them to walk in deeply thinking about the situation that just happened.
And I guarantee you, Mary thought about that exchange for the rest of her days.
And in the process of fixing the problem of no wine, he manifested (he incieived—that is, provided the INCEPTION of a solution to a deeper problem: lack of spiritual drink.
This is why the Seven Miracles of the Gospel of John are called the Seven SIGNS of the Gospel of John. They were parabolic illustrations for us AND FOR Jesus’ immediate audience.
Our job with the Teacher is to exercise EXTREME PATIENCE WITH THEM TO LEAD THEM ALONG AND GIVE THEM THE WINE A PIECE AT A TIME AND LET THEM STEW.
Teachers are not Microwave or Pressure Cookers or Insta-Pots of the gifts (those of you with no patience, who don’t have the skill for the slow cook, please garner some cooking skill and patience) cookers. They, like their Father, are the crockpots, the slow cookers of the gifts.
Mary took these pieces and slowed down. She pondered.
She stewed. She cured the concrete. She baked the pottery.
And, unimpulsively, she received the trust of God to steward the deposit of those memories.