Adullams Cave

Monday, February 27, 2006

Naked and Loving it

"Where are you Adam?" , God's loving and soft voice beckoned.

"Ummm...I heard your sweet, kind voice in the garden and it frightened me because I am naked. So I hid myself. I was ashamed for you to see me." Adam replied still crouched behind a tree with his wife beside him.

"Oh Adam. Who told you you were naked?" Did you eat from the tree that gives the knowing of what good and evil is?", God's voice was filled with parental concern.

"Well. Not really, the woman that YOU made for me, she ate and I, ...um....well I might have had a little nibble...accidently." Adam suppressed a scream as Eve pinched his arm as hard as she could and gave Adam his first glare - the one his ancestors would come to know so well.

Well that is my take on a segment of the part of the bible we call the fall of man. It really does not matter whether you believe in the bible or not, the story is a good way to explain how we lost our innocence.

Before the knowledge of good and evil entered our souls, Adam was like all of us as children; naked and loving it. There was no shame for either Adam or Eve. Neither was there any sense that their naked bodies or sexual interaction with eachother was in any way dirty or wrong. They felt as un-self conscious about it as two frogs making time in the middle of a pond on a lilly pad. It was all good and they didn't have to hide the smile on their faces while they lay on the grass afterwards sharing a cigarette.

Before the knowledge of good and evil came we were happy and free...like little kids; carefree and unencumbered by self conscious thoughts and feelings like shame, awkwardness, uncomfortability about our bodies, sex issues , unfounded and ungrounded fears, phobias, insecurities about how we look, act, speak and even think. All of this came about from the fall. The time when we allowed the knowledge of good and evil into our lives. Because when we did, it took over us and has dominated man's conscience ever since.

Think about it. In the above passage when God asked Adam who told him he was naked, he didn't have an answer. The fact was no-one told him he was naked. He came up with it himself. God had no problem with them being naked. Adam thought of it all by his -seperated from God- self, after taking from the tree of 'knowing what good and evil is.' It was then when man started forming his own code to live by. In Adam's code, his first holy decree was : "THOU SHALT WEAR FIG LEAVES OVER ALL FLOPPY BITS!" Later on, before the law was introduced the bible says that "each man did what was right in his own eyes." It varied from person to person but each one had his own version of right and wrong.

We think God invented the law but I don't think so. Way before Moses and the 10 suggestions there was another code in place. Every human had one - still does. It is the knowledge of good and evil. Of course the precepts of each one's code differs either slightly or greatly from person to person, age to age, place to place and culture to culture. But every individual and every people group that has ever lived has had some type of code or ethical (and non-ethical) system that they have developed over time. The only exception is found with children, they don't know right from wrong, they just do what they want. They live spontaneously and from the desire of their heart.

The trouble is our individual codes don't really work. Just like the OT law (or the NT law), we cannot live up to them. We either fail them continually or we judge and alienate others because they don't live up to our expectations (our code). That is why God sent the law and made such a big deal out of it. He did it to highlite our problem so we could see that this knowledge of good and evil, even when it comes to the laws of God, doesn't help us. We are powerless to save ourselves or live life the way we truly want to; freely. Our codes, along with our seared consciences, either defend or accuse us, leaving us either proud and self righteous or ashamed and condemned. Our code as Christians may even be our own interpretation of the bible or that which we have inherited from our church culture but it is useless if the original problem is unresolved. As radical as it sounds we must somehow in our walk with the spirit, lose from ourselves the knowing of what good and evil is. This is why Christ came to do away with the law and we must do away with it also. If we cling to our codes and have not been restored to innocence we will live our lives with a weight on our shoulders and without the capacity to live and love freely.

I'll finish by saying that I am not advocating we all run naked down the street, letting it all hang out while screaming, "It is for freedom that Christ set me free!!!" That wouldn't be loving to our neighbours- especially around dinner time. (Unless of course we have the healers following behind us opening the eyes of the people who have gone blind from the shock, or in some cases, the horror.)

I am simply re-advocating what Christ meant by declaring "Good News" to all: That we loosen up and get free by trusting Christ and his cross alone, forsaking all of our personal and religous codes and laws, along with their implied expectations of ourselves and others, whether they be self imposed or otherwise.
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In other words, lets strip off all that which is weighing us down. :)

Comments

Sorry if you tried to comment the last couple of days and couldn't. Mysteriously, the comment settings were altered to allow comments from team members only. As it happens I don't have a team and if I did it would be all inclusive. ... :)

Ode to Pale Blue Dot

Check out "Pale Blue Dot", Eddie F's latest offering at: http://www.edgeoffaith.com/blog.html

It truly is a thought provoking and awe inspiring piece of writing that helped me put things in perspective as I started my day today.

While I don't subscribe myself to all of the Edge of Faith ethos, I really like Eddie's honesty and searching questions and particularly the way he writes so clearly and forthrightly. Thanks Eddie.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

From Linda with Love

The following is a recent post written by my friend and sister Linda who belongs to another e-group I frequent. I included it today because it comes from a place that reflects my own heart, but told from her experience it is much better than I could ever theorise. I particularly love the way her freedom does not compromise her love for others or her willingness to go where the spirit leads.

Hello friends,

I think fellowship with other believers is not only necessary, but irresistible. How, where, when etc. are all variable factors. This list is one form of fellowship, and I enjoy it immensely.

Right now I attend a small exclusive home group. I do not embrace their doctrines, nor do they embrace mine, yet I know God has led me to go there for now. I was raised in this group…and left in 1980 because of the legalism and exclusivity. Now, I’m there for a different reason. I still am able to glean beautiful things from our fellowship together, and my hope is that one day, a bridge will be built between us concerning our differences. In this group I am refused the emblems and the privilege of testifying or praying. I’m fine with that, since I know God has planted me in the group for HIS purposes.

I also go to a Pentecostal church…WORLD’S apart from the home group! Here I enjoy lively worship, a word of instruction (with motivation), and personal ministry is given/received when needed. I also meet in homes with women from various denominations and non-denominations for prayer, ministry, worship, warfare etc. Sometimes I meet with a group brought together for specific strategic prayer. This happens on an “as required or instructed” basis, and the people who come feel directed of the Lord. The group changes all the time.

I am not a signed member anywhere, but I am a member in the body of believers. Sometimes I call myself a Freelance Believer. Sometimes I enjoy fellowship and worship in other denominations as well, such as Baptist, Mennonite or Catholic. This diversity is awesome to me. I’m glad to be free from institutional and legalistic bondages. I am free to go wherever God would direct me, and stay as long or as short a time as He instructs. I am always welcomed wherever I go. (maybe only in my own mind…LOL)

My involvement in local church endeavors, such as a city wide effort to support a homeless shelter, is welcomed, accepted and respected. I’m good friends with several of our local pastors and my born-again experience is never questioned. I’m invited to minister with them as well and my personal ministries to others are prayerfully supported by them. None of the IC have burdened me with a need to become a signed member. All the advantages of membership are extended to me (except communion in the RC and the above noted exceptions in the small exclusive home group), with the exception of voting…..which is not a biggy for me anyway. My vote is always cast in the spirit!

I have never had a confrontation with any IC spiritual leaders (excluding the small home group I was raised in) regarding membership vs. non-membership or even concerning attendance. Lots of times I just don’t go. I don’t need their validation to determine whether or not I’m doing something right or wrong. God is sufficient. The discussion has just never come up. Is it because they don’t care? I don’t think so.

So, I don’t know….this is the way I live right now, and I love it. If God wants this to change….I will gladly do whatever He asks. I don’t feel pressured by the opinions of other people (even leaders), but I always welcome their insights. I don’t bring up the topic to people that I know are “hard-liners” for church attendance and membership in the IC. Maybe this is how God has directed them, and I don’t mind if they think poorly of me.

Please excuse my verbosity. I have written to simply say, “You MUST listen to God and do what He says, whether it does or does not agree with those around you.”

Sometimes He will direct you to do things that even YOU don’t agree with! LOL

Blessings,
Linda

Who is the 'one'?

Ok. So my profile has been viewed 64 times since I commenced blogging 7 days ago. I've looked at it 63 times. But now I cannot get the question out of my mind; 'who is the one?'

Oh hang on...I'm just re-calculating.....(dum de da dum de da, imagine hearing suitable re-calculation background music....dum de da da dee dum dah)

Ah I see...I miscounted...Iv'e looked at it 64 times after all.

Bummer.

:)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For love or Dogma

I was once at an AA meeting (whole other blog) and I heard a man get up and say "Hi everyone, I am John and I was born with an apposing view." Even the sad and sorry state I was in at the time couldn't keep me from chuckling at that statement. Mostly, because I related to it. I like to always take the other viewpoint. It has been a stumbling block at times in my life and my relationships with others. It has also served me well when I began to search for my own answers about the bible and Christ. I was able to think, too easily, outside the collective Christian evangelical box etc.

Lately I have been reflecting on the couple of hundred thousand different Christian sects there are and the equal number of different viewpoints. In a way it makes sense because God is big right? People viewing an unimaginably huge object from different angles are naturally going to view it differently. Not one person is the same as another. Everyone's views vary no mattter how similar some of us are. Historically this is the reason why the church has so many different split offs.

As I mentioned before, grace has been my gig for many years and Jesus crucified is my standard. But really, just lately, I have longed to be in genuine communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether they are inside the walls of the IC or not. I feel I need them, and heaven help them, they need me too. I do visit churches from time to time because I love the experience of worshipping God in the body. I dislike the church system but I do not despise or judge anyone. I actually think in the end that we are all ok.

I dont think the answer for the church or the world is going to be found my getting a group of people or all groups of people to believe roughly the same thing. Unity by conformity or Unity by uniformity only works if it is forced or if it is very temporary. Eventually someone has a new idea and splits and so on and so on until u have 2 thousand years of church history.

Unity in Diversity is God's idea. Same body, many different parts.

Unity in diversity can only work if we somehow can learn to place love above our doctrines or even our most precious beliefs. To be able to love as Christ loved us, laying his own life and position down for us. Man, he even forsook his own place as God and let us kill him. He took on sin, in his own body, so that he actually became sin - or so says the bible. He became the opposite of his very own nature in the name of love - for us.

So, I wonder whether we will get there. I guess we will because I think it his the Lords plan for us to get there. A place where we could even lay down the beliefs we know to be true for the sake of others, for the sake of love.

Would I be prepared to lay down my most precious, pet doctrine, truth or revelation for the sake of true 'Christ crucified' type of love?

Paul says he became like one under the law to those under the law and to those without law like one not under the law. I think that is freedom and love in action, working together.

Jesus said they will know we are his disciples by our love. He doesn't say we will be recognised as God's own because of some other truth or revelation or doctrine or precept. Only the love we live out with one another.

Actually, any Christians u talk to and the one thing that we all seem to agree on as far as the bible goes is that it definately tells us we need to love one another. This is not argued by anyone as far as I know. Yet though it is the one thing we collectively agree on, it is the thing we have collectively been unable to do.

This is so ironic I ain't sure whether I want to laugh or cry.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dogma Revisited

So I promised to tell you what I thought was the other significant time that the word 'dogma' was used in the bible.

When you read it you will notice straight away it is a verse that expresses almost identically the same truth in Ephesians 2:15 that I mentioned in the pre-cursor to this post, Dogma....still struggling (19th Feb). That truth is that Christ ended dogma as part of the package won for us at calvary by rendering the law and its ordinances useless. Except, with the following verse, Paul is a little more specific and descriptive in how Christ closed the lid on the whole law/dogma thing. Here it is:

Colossians 2:14 "Having blotted out the handwriting of ordinances (Dogma) that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to his cross."

As I said, the same revelation as the Ephesians verse. Except here the phrase 'blotted out' describes a very specific action. 'Blotted out' is a phrase translated to English from two Greek words. One is the prefix, 'ex' and the other means to' oil' or 'anoint'. The phrase 'blotted out' literally means 'ex-anoint.' It is the action of someone who uses a cloth or some lime to soak off the oil from something.

This to me is extremely grand and beautiful in that Paul tells us that what Christ did was soak up the anointing from the law and its requirements himself. He did this by fulfilling it and completing it. It was as if His prize for the law's perfect fulfillment was the anointing it had been given to govern God's people until the time of Christ came. Until the Christ, who's name means, "The Anointed One" came and gave us, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, 'a new and better covenant'.

Of course it doesn't stop there. The rest of the above verse says that he took the law and its dogmatic, unrelenting and oppressive rule over the people and nailed it to the cross. Only one thing was nailed to the cross and that was Christ himself. He took the completed covenant with him, fulfilled in his own flesh, and crucified it forever.

The law had been anointed and mandated to rule God's chosen people until the moment came when that anointing and mandate was soaked up, removed and taken up by the one who's yoke is easy and who's burden is light.

What does it mean to me?

It means the fight is over. Not only have I been forgiven by the blood of the New Covenant but also the requirements that stood against me and accused me, that were contrary to me, have been stripped of their anointing and power and taken away. It means I can rest in peace.

RIP
Simon
:)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Digressing from Dogma

I want to digress a bit.

I have been known, amongst the ever thinning Christian circles that I frequent, as the Grace Man. Many years a go I began to dump all religous dogma, the law and the letter to find a real vibrant and exciting relationship with the God of Grace, Jesus Christ. My journey has led me to camp outside the walls of the traditional church to embrace the church that has no walls - except perhaps the one wall that surrounds us all in love, which is God himself.

Yesterday I wrote about dogma, division and the way that Christ ended both of these things on the cross.

While I wrote my blog yesterday, I made a cynical joke about the Roman Catholic Church and the costumes the priests/bishops wear. I felt a couple of conscience stabs about it but still, I left it in because I am the 'Grace Man' and I am free, right? (I really love to make jokes. It is a big part of me, although some feel it is the unfunniest part of me... :( )

Anyway today I wrote the following comment on another post because, although really done in innocent fun, it had a link on it that I felt represented a very cynical and unloving attitude towards the Institutional Church by those of us who have been enlightened to it's inadequacies.

This is the comment I made:

"I think the reason the church started building walls, literally and metaphysically, is because a handful of people got a hold of a truth and then allowed it to become a wall of division between themselves and their other dear brothers and sisters. Someday we have to stop using the revelation we have been freely given by Gods grace to slam those who havent got it. All that we do with this type of cynical slagging of the church is erect a new church, complete with its own walls. I am a joke a minute type of guy and there is elements about this that truly are funny but I also feel a sadness about it. Whatever mistakes others have made, the have made genuinely and we must, when it comes to the IC, love, love, love with tender and gentle understanding that proves what we have is from God. There is much about the organised church that I dislike but I cannot deny the blessings I also recieved from it in all the years I drank from its wells. I certainly would not be here today without it and the very special beautiful people who still call it their home."

I think it is a very real and valid comment.

Then, when I went back to my own blog to see if anyone had left anymore comments on my blog from yesterday, the paragraph in which I made the cynical joke about the Roman Catholic Church jumped out and poked the 'Grace Man' in the eyes. He, he.

So, I removed it.

Then I thought, "Well how the hell come I have this atttitude!?". The answer for me is simple and it did not take me long to make the connection. When it comes to the RCC I still have hurts and unhealed pain in my life from some very serious offenses that were committed against me as a boy, by a catholic priest. Although the Lord has very gently, over time, healed the pain of those wounds, some hardness, maybe even some unforgiveness remains.

Hardness of heart from unresolved hurts and pain always results in cynicism - even if it manifests under the guise of humour.

I need to continue to allow the lord to sift and heal my heart of the pain I have suffered in organised church systems, even if the hurt is not so obvious.

Then, maybe I could one day become known not just as the Grace Man but as the Love Man.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dogma....still wrestling

It is a strong word dogma. Sort've rolls off your tongue like a punch. Dogma is inescapable for most of us. For instance my body seems to be dogmatic about continuing to breathe and my nanny will throw her falsies (teeth) at me if I don't cook her eggs exactly right.

I was surprised to find that dogma was actually a greek word and it is in the NT like a handful of times. Twice it is mentioned, I think, with profound significance.

One time is in Ephesians chapter 2:15 "having abolished (rendered entirely useless) in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances (dogma), so as to create in himself one new man from the two."

Really that is what dogma essentially is, a bunch of statutes or immovable decrees. This verse seems to say that the law and commandments of that time (jewish law/OT etc) contained in the dogma that was being delivered to the people was rendered useless by Christ on the cross.

The other interesting word in that passage is the word enmity. If you are really keen and u look at the surrounding verses u find that Paul was describing the wall of division that seperated jew from gentile, the clean from the unclean. It was the law that made the jews different and the law that commanded them not to associate with the stinky gentiles. That is always the ultimate outcome of dogma....division, enmity, seperation, and as seen in the history of the church, a whole lot of heartache for a whole lot of people. This is kind of ironic because if there is one thing that God is revealed as being dogmatic about in the NT, it is that we get along, love another, and be one.

In short; Dogma always divides, Christ ended Dogma, Christ ended division.

I'll probably share about the other significant time dogma is used in my next post. I gotta go...nanny wants her eggs...please pray I get them right!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wrestling with Dogma

Actually the dog in the photo below belongs to my friend Michael. He is a man who loves Jesus insanely and turned his back on religion and the world. Here is a quote from a letter he wrote to me from prison quite some time ago (He is free now and happily living with his wife and dog-ma).

"I have realised I can love. I am not required to do anything else. Anymore requirements are an afront to the cross! The religous amongst us have lowered the bar, while thinking they have made it higher, by turning freedom into a doctrine. They have stolen the prize from the cross and given it to the enemy who captivates those with weak faith. That is why it is the 'church' or 'christianity' who always persecute those who really are free. My advice to you is this, put the bible away and follow your heart."

He, he.... what a guy. Actually there was a very long season where I had put the bible away and learned to listen and follow my heart. This was and continues to be the most profound and life altering experience as far as my walk with the Lord goes. I needed my experience with the Lord to be solid and real without the scriptural words that I was using to either condemn or approve of myself. The bible had become for me this book that I measured myself against constantly until all life was drained from me and I could no longer bear it. Now I still measure myself but rather than using the bible, I measure myself against the cross. The cross is the moment and event for which and to which every jot and tittle of the bible points to. The cross is my mirror. In it I see myself small and forgiven, tall and loving, big and important, loved and unafraid, a child with his friend, a boy with his big brother, a son with his father, an intimate lover....

I read the bible now happily, understanding it and using it as a useful tool to explain his love, light and forgiveness to others. I reject the thoughts that my old self-accusatory nature occasionally likes to yank out of the closet. I sit and stand, half bewildered and half in awe of "what manner of love the father has given to us..."


Simon wrestling with dogma. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The he said, she said bible game

There is a lot of this being played these days, especially on the internet. I've been known to indulge in a hand or two of "you show me your verse, I'll show you mine", myself.

It reminds me of a story of a husband and wife sitting at their table one day with three guests. The husband suddenly gets up and announces that he is off to play golf. The wife smiles and says nothing and off the man goes out the door. Later when the three guests leave they have a discussion about why the man got up and suddenly announced he was off to play golf. The first guest, a sports enthusiast himself, said that he could relate to the sudden urge to play sport and thought there was nothing strange about it. The second man, a religious man of habit, said that the man, no doubt, played golf at this time every week. The third person, a cynical woman who had been betrayed by an unfaithful husband, concluded that the husband was not off to play golf at all but to see his mistress.

Later that day when the husband returned his wife asked him how his golf was. He replied “Good darling, I knew you wouldn't mind me leaving so suddenly, I can't stand those people and I had to get away.” The wife replied smiling, “Of course sweetheart, I understood perfectly.”

If it seems elusive, the point is simply that the way a person interprets the words of another can be largely subjective to who and what type of person the listener is or even what stage of life they are at or, and this is the most important part, what level of closeness does the listener have with the person speaking. The wife understood completely what the true meaning of her husband's words were because she knew him intimately. She slept and breathed alongside him. She understood his tones and words and gestures because they shared a love deeper than any bond. Of course, she is not going to turn around and tell her guests that the husband doesn't like any of them, that would be rude. But she knew what her husband was saying because the message he sent was really for her.

Jesus said, 'My sheep know my voice.' He also spoke to Pharisees Inc. who were the religious bible bloggers, squabblers and fat controllers of the day, saying; “You search the scriptures because in them you think have eternal life but you will not come to me of whom the scriptures speak.” See these guys sat around all day arguing about tithing the crap from gnat's bums and debating endlessly about what the acceptable scriptural proportions of a stone used for throwing at slutty women were. You know, which verse applied where and to who and for what....blah, blah blah, etc, etc. In reality, the scriptures can be mixed or unmixed to paint any picture. In truth though, the one picture it was intended to paint, for the one who it was intended for is of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, drawn for his betrothed wife, with this message, “I love you, I died to make you mine forever, I'll be back in a while to pick you up.” The wife understands the message perfectly. As for the others standing by, interpreting the message in all manner of weird and wild ways, well, they don't really matter too much, every wedding needs guests and bridesmaids and people to do practical stuff. I am sure that with our tongues firmly stuck in our cheeks we will find plenty of things for them to do on the big day...:) For me, I wanna get as close as I can to the wonder upon wonders, the one who poured out his blood to sweep me off my feet, my groom, my hero, my Jesus.