Saw Rob Bell last night on his Introduction to Joy speaking tour.
It was interesting in that it intertwined with multiple conversations I have had in the last few weeks.
Rob’s talk was not what I was expecting at all, for the first half it was almost more like going to see a comedian, the guy is honestly funny.
That being said for those of you reading this who are on Twitter you need to start following the TSA’s Twitter account (trust me).
He spoke on a myriad of random topics but it all funneled down to hevel…
God provides the opportunity, live in the moment. He went through Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless” is translated from the word “hevel” which is best translated as vapor or mist.
Vapor, vapor, all is vapor.
Squirt a spray bottle, how long does that spray last? In the greater scheme of life we are but vapor or a mist snuffed out in a moment in consideration of time. Live the best you can in this exact moment. Both the past and present fold in on this moment making this moment the most impotrant. If you overlook that and despise the here and now you have lost a part of your life never to have lived….
Was talking with a friend yesterday and he was telling me how he had studied for a few years under a Jewish Rabbi. I knew that most Jews do not hold to a heaven and hell mentality. I asked him about this and he said “Rabbi Shumal said, he had enough to worry and do withnin the here and now then put effort into the after.” For Jews they look in the OT and heaven or hell are not mentioned or taught so why worry about it.
Earlier this week I was talking with a group of people about the endless possibilities of hope Christ walks with us in co-creating our future with Him as we live. I have said this a lately but the eternal life mentioned in most places in the NT dealt with the present moment, how to live a meaningful life in the moment.
My previous mindset was to put all things off for a future time, I also saw myself as a work in progress who was so far off from the good to come. That paradigm will suck the life out of you. Im not all HEDONISM like but… don’t neglect the here and now.
I guess I’m saying Savor the Moment. Don’t let things slip away unappreciated.
These are the ramblings of me
This may have been my attire for the evening.
Seeking to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating money to good causes; generous and benevolent.
Guess what? Most of us don’t have the ability be philanthropic with our finances, as much as I would love to pay off someone’s credit card debt or pay off your mortgage I’m not there (yet). Unless you debt is below $13.73. I might be able to help there.
Formerly I would read the Bible to see how I could better myself or find a way to get closer to God or evev make Jesus famous (that last one makes me laugh now). I also read it to point out the errors in others (I excelled in that).
Now I look at the scripture at a more macro level. Jesus continually spoe about love, forgiveness, and grace. Unfortunately for me, most of my life I grew up with a paradigm of a judgemental Zeuss type version of God. With that view I read and interpreted the scripture not as a book centerd on a loving (unconditional and even unconventional) God, but more of an ass-hat PO’d version.
As I mentioned I am looking at a more macro level and see the overall picture of an inclusive, empathetic, and loving being. So with that in mind…
Philanthropic, I/you may not be able to throw cash at problems but I/ you can reach out to those who could use a hand up instead of another push into. the proverbial gutter. Go all Isaiah 58 on the single mom or the unemployed or whoever is in your circle of influence.
I saw a post asking how we define spiritual success.
Funny thing, via grace the only view God will ever have of us is success.
Nothing we can do, achieve, or attain will change His view of us. We are already perfect successes according to him.
As far is from the east the
re is no record of any of our failures, he only sees us as successful.
We may fall short but his memory was way shorter than ours, he forgot about our fails somewhere pre-genesis one
The bible is the world’s oldest wikipedia article, made and or compiled by man.
Man has compiled and written from man’s perspective, using man’s understanding to explain what happened in the world around them.
It was written by the winners and losers of war. It was written by the common man, the pharisee, and kings. They used analogy, superstition, oral history, religion, and their understanding of science to explain God. You know that guy/gal/being that currently has 40K denominations all saying they have the correct understanding of God.
So when we say “God ordered people to kill babies, murder whole people groups, enslave people, and gave the ok for god’s elect people to rape women, I’m gonna take a moment and reflect on that critically.
If that is the god we are told to serve/worship I’m going to call that god a monster and not a loving being.
If that god is more wrathful than loving, not a g_d I want to trust in. That g_d is a monster.
“Love me or else!”
Not feeling it.
*originally written in 2015
Is God love? According to the Bible I think I can safely say that:
GOD = LOVE
(and it is unconditional love at that.)
A friend and spiritual father (Lloyd Rindels) once broke down 1 Corinthians 13 (you know that love chapter) in terms of relating it to a proper view of God.
Lloyd said read it with taking out the word Love and replace the word God,
It gave me a different view or understanding, and I liked it.
4 God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; He his not arrogant
5 or rude. He does not insist on His own way; He is not irritable or resentful,
6 He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but He rejoices with the truth.
7 God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 God never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. ……
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
aka a loving God/ever loving Parent who will always have my back no matter what crap I put myself in, He will be a proud biased Papa standing up for and bragging on me… “Look what my kid can do!”
Is that the God you know? Does it sound good? Does it sound to good? It is not the God I knew I saw a God of judgemental wrath and a Jesus who was my go between. ..
I heard and read of an unconditional love but had no clue of what that meant to me…
He is unconditional love poured out just for you!
This is excerpt is from the cave scene in
WM Paul Youngs book, “The Shack”
(For me) It was probably one of the most thought provoking parts of the book.
““You must choose two of your children to spend eternity in God’s new heavens and new earth, but only two.” “What?” he erupted, turning to her in disbelief. “And you must choose three of your children to spend eternity in hell.”
Mack couldn’t believe what he was hearing and started to panic. “Mackenzie.” Her voice now came as calm and wonderful as he had first heard it. “I am only asking you to do something that you believe God does. He knows every person ever conceived, and he knows them so much more deeply and clearly than you will ever know your own children. He loves each one according to his knowledge of the being of that son or daughter. You believe he will condemn most to an eternity of torment, away from his presence and apart from his love.
Is that not true?” “I suppose I do. I’ve just never thought about it like this.” He was stumbling over his words in his shock. “I just assumed that somehow God could do that.
Talking about hell was always sort of an abstract conversation, not about anyone that I truly…” Mack hesitated, realizing that what he was about to say would sound ugly. “Not about anyone that I truly cared about.” “So you suppose, then, that God does this easily, but you cannot?
Come now, Mackenzie. Which three of your five children will you sentence to hell? Katie is struggling with you the most right now. She treats you badly and has said hurtful things to you. Perhaps she is the first and most logical choice. What about her? You are the judge, Mackenzie, and you must choose.” “I don’t want to be the judge,” he said, standing up.
Mack’s mind was racing. This couldn’t be real. How could God ask him to choose among his own children? There was no way he could sentence Katie, or any of his other children, to an eternity in hell just because she had sinned against him. Even if Katie or Josh or Jon or Tyler committed some heinous crime, he still wouldn’t do it. He couldn’t! For him, it wasn’t about their performance; it was about his love for them.
“I can’t do this,” he said softly. “You must,” she replied. “I can’t do this,” he said louder and more vehemently. “You must,” she said again, her voice softer. “I… will… not… do… this!” Mack yelled, his blood boiling hot inside him. “You must,” she whispered. “I can’t. I can’t. I won’t!” he screamed, and now the words and emotions came tumbling out.
The woman just stood watching and waiting. Finally he looked at her, pleading with his eyes. “Could I go instead? If you need someone to torture for eternity, I’ll go in their place. Would that work? Could I do that?” He fell at her feet, crying and begging now.
“Please let me go for my children. Please, I would be happy to… Please, I am begging you. Please… Please…”
“Mackenzie, Mackenzie,” she whispered, and her words came like a splash of cool water on a brutally hot day. Her hands gently touched his cheeks as she lifted him to his feet. Looking at her through blurring tears, he could see that her smile was radiant.
“Now you sound like Jesus. You have judged well, Mackenzie. I am so proud of you!”
“But I haven’t judged anything,” Mack offered in confusion. “Oh, but you have. You have judged them worthy of love, even if it costs you everything. That is how Jesus loves.”
When he heard the words he thought of his new friend waiting by the lake. “And now you know Papa’s heart,” she added, “who loves all her children perfectly.” ”
This section helped me start questioning who God is, what is he really like, is what I have been taught about God correct.
Is God a loving being or if he were a real person would he be locked away by child services for child abuse?
I’ve been really thinking about the phrase eternal life and what it meant in Jesus’s day compared to our current understanding or interpretation. I I am beginning to believe that most of the mentions of eternal life that we here in the New Testament are dealing with not the Heavenly by-and-by eternity that we have been led to believe but more a day-to-day worthwhile and meaningful life a life that gives one’s self into or unto the world around that person at that time.
When discussing the question of eschatological judgment, defenders of traditional doctrine immediately appeal to our Lord’s teaching on hell. It is simply obvious that Jesus taught the eternal damnation of the reprobate. Certainly that is how almost all the English translations render the relevant New Testament texts. The classic passage is Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46). The parable concludes with these words (Matt 25:46):
καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον, οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (KJV)
And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (RSV)
And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during. (YLT)
And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian. (CLNT)
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If I were asked if I were a Christian or what denomination or sect I would call myself I would go wirh something like an Atheistic Theist or Atheistic Christian. Seems like some sort of any oxymoron but let me explain.
I grew up believing and listening to preachers from a very youmg age. My parents were part of an ACLU Lutheran church in small town Wisconsin. They were involved with the youth grpup. Somewhere along the line they started to ask questions and want more.
They went and looked around at other churches and eventually found a church that preached a simple salvation message. They beacme “savedcc and so did i. I tried to live upright. I followed the rules lived a Christian life. I went to a Christian college married a Christian wife and even partook in being a youth pastor.
I did everything I thouhht I should but I was living yet seemed to be missing something. In 2012 I literally fell apart, lost my job, ministry, and pretty much my family. I hit rock bottom and over the next couple years deconstructed both spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Leaving me to go through a total me overhaul.
I came out on the other side a totally different me. A better me (Ben 2.0+)
The way I look at God and who he is, is light years away from my 40+ years of how I did.
So, by saying Atheistic Theist or Christian , I.mean.”yes, I believe in God but just not the version that most do.
I read the following article and it states much of my current me. It’s a good read, enjoy. I know I did.
The God I No Longer Believe In
JUNE 14, 2017 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ
“Do you believe in God?”
People have asked me that question for my entire life.
The answer used to be simple and quick, almost involuntary. I had a tidy little collection of the platitudes and Bible verses I’d stockpiled, committed to memory, and carried around should I be asked. That’s what good Christians did, I’d learned. It’s especially what good Christian pastors did.
My job was to sell God—and I could do it well.
But little by little, I gradually grew less comfortable with those easy answers and I had less and less peace in my spirit with what they implied. I began looking around at many of the Christians whose God I was expected to fully share and amen and defend—and I realized that I couldn’t.
I listened to the celebrity evangelists and the partisan politicians and the brimstone street preachers, and knew that we were not speaking about the same thing. We couldn’t be.
As I read the Bible and prayed and studied; as I reflected on the world I’d experienced and the people I’d encountered; as I watched what Christians were doing and saying in the name of God, I came to the conclusion that I had to make a distinction between theirs and mine—because the two were simply incompatible.
I do believe in God, but there is a God I no longer believe in:
I no longer believe in a God who is male and white. (though I will use masculine pronouns below, as this identity is critical to the beliefs I’ve discarded.)
I no longer believe in a God who created women as less-than; who assigns certain tasks to them, who ascribes different value to them, who reserves church and home leadership solely for men.
I no longer believe in a God who doles out blessings like a cosmic Santa Claus; adding up our naughty and nice stuff, giving us good things if the scales tip in our favor and withholding them if we don’t measure up.
I no longer believe in a God who answers prayers based on volume; who will move to bring healing and help—only if enough appeals are made to Him, when a critical mass is reached.
I no longer believe in a God who is capable of permanently writing off His children for their mistakes, their rebelliousness, their unbelief; who would craft a place of eternal torment and suffering and separation—and then send them there for good.
I no longer believe in an all-powerful God, who would allow a devil dominion anywhere—let alone in the place where His supposedly treasured children spend their days, as hurting, vulnerable, and scared as they all are.
I no longer believe in a God who commands me to forgive others unrelentingly—and then holds a grudge against me should I fail one too many times; a God who is as petty, judgmental, thin-skinned, and vain as I am.
I no longer believe in a God who spoke to a handful of people a few thousands years ago through divine dictation—and who is now silent.
I no longer believe in an all-knowing God, who would create men and women with a specific identity and natural inclination to love—only to find them repulsive as they lived into those deepest truths.
I no longer believe in a God who would choose sides in any war; who would revel in violence, who would rejoice in death, who would celebrate genocide.
I no longer believe in a God who blesses America—or any other nation.
I realize that to many Christians, this means that I am no longer a proper Christian; that my faith is illegitimate, my religion heretical, my testimony nullified. I’m okay with that. I know that any bitterness or condemnation that they respond to these words with, is the voice in their head of the God they believe—and I understand. They are, just as I am, just as we all are: trying to figure out what God is and what that God’s character is—and how we should live accordingly.
All any of us can do, is to be as honest as we can at any given moment, about where all our searching and studying and praying and living has led us. This is where I am. I can’t be anywhere else. God knows this.
Today when people ask me, “Do you believe in God?”, especially when other Christians ask me—my reply isn’t quick or simple or nearly as tidy.
Now my response is, “How much time do you have?”
Quitting your calling….
I used to be a youth pastor who was really involved in activating 10 yr olds and up. I took teams of youth and traveled with worship and intecressory teams motivating and training churches in how worship and intercession worked together to move mountains and change the temperature of a generation (yeah about that).
I was a motivator giving a yu rah rah to change the world…
I spoke of calling an destiny, throw in a little hootzpah! Add a plan and create desire call forth Joel’s Army and the Esthter’s call forh a Nazarite or two bring on emotions, puberty, zeal and guilt.
Cast a vision cteate a false future narrative and name it “your calling “.
I now look at it and I may have been talking in order to sound like a voice rather than being a voice. I did not get it.
I used to think I had to do to BE, and to fall short was a disgrace and to have a God who was disappointed in my failure.
Have you ever watched one of those #fail compilation videos on YouTube? More than likely you have, there are plethora of them put there. Have you ever watched a #success compilation on YouTube? Yeah me neither. I don’t know if they exist.
I know that setting goals is important but what should those spiritual goals look like?
I’m going with Isaiah 58:6-7
…To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him…
I’m ok not having a pulpit ministry, I’m ok with not having a title follow, I’m ok without the praise of people. Anonymity is my friend it’s my calling to be in the shadows helping, feeding, upliftig, being there one on one.
My calling is not preacher, teacher, prophet, elder…..
It is to be human and an integral part of that humanity..