Life Together: Relationship is the Key


“It is a picture of my bride, the Church: individuals who together form a spiritual city with a living river flowing through the middle, adn on both shores trees growing with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nations. ….”

“….. You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m sure I haven’t met her…. She’s not the place I go to on Sundays.”

‘Mack,  that’s because you’re only seeing the institution, a man-made system.  That’s not what I came to build.  What I see are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs.”

The above is a quote from “The Shack”, which I am reading through at the moment.  (Thank you for all who suggested – several times – that I read it … I can see why!) This book is so rich in truth about God and his relationship with us … as an extension of the relationship the Trinity has within itself.  I can’t put it down!

And yes, I know it’s a work of fiction.  I am not equating it with Scripture, but the concepts in this book are so poignant. The author – AND God the Father (called Papa in the book) – work deliberately to utterly destroy what men believe they know about God and his relationship with us.  I can see why some people would be uncomfortable with it – but I just have two words to say:  poetic license. Enough said.  *grin*  Here’s an example – those who read the book would know that Papa is God the Father, but in the book is represented as an African American woman, who said, in part,

“… I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are dreived from my nature.  If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I  love you.  For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Powerful stuff.

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I didn’t plan it, but this post is an extension of my earlier Life Together Series – Showing Mercy, A Mutual Dependency, Authentic Friendships, and  A Shared Life. In fact, before my hiatus, I was dealing with relationship …. and the LoTR post that I still have to set up (sorry for promising for so long) will deal with fellowship and loyalty in relationship as well… stay with me.  It’s been a rough road for me – thanks for sticking this out with me.  Anyway as I was saying….

If the Church is not about the building, about the institution (“I don’t create institutions – nver have, never will”, Jesus said in the book) – what is it? Or, as Mack asked, “How can I become a part of that church?  This woman that you seem to be so gaga over?”

Jesus answers,

“It’s simple, Mack.  It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life.   What we are doing right now … being open and available to others around us.  My church is all about people and life is all about relationships.  You can’t build it.  It’s my job, and I’m actually pretty good at it,”

What about that?  There are so much nuggets of gold – more like great big pearls – of wisdom in this book… it’d take a while for me to process them all.

So, for God’s church to be authentic, we need to share life together,  authentic relationship.  Looking at one more set of quotes from The Shack, we bear out this point.  Talking to Jesus, Mack is asking about whose “in charge” of the Trinity – “I love how you treat each other.  It’s certainly not how I expected God to be.”  He tried to explain:

“… I have always thought of God the Father as sort of being the boss and Jesus as the one following orders, you know, being obedient…. the Sprit always seemed to be …. a free Sprit.”

Mack tried one more time,

“You know what I am talking about.  I am talking about who’s in charge.  Don’t you have a chain of command?”

Papa, Jesus and Sarayu had no idea what Mack was trying to say.  Jesus eventually said this:

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority amoug us, only unity.  We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command… What you are seeing here is a relationship without any overlay of power.  We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best.  Hierarchy would make no sense among us.”

And we are a part of that great Scheme of relationship.  Jesus later says,

“As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.”

Ok so there it is.  Straight.

What does this post mean to you?  Is relationship like this possible?  Can anyone say that it is evident in their own life?  Discuss!

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Movies Post – Call to Courage!


I know I promised an LoTR post, and there are LoTR references in this first post in the series… yes, this will be a series!  But coming from watching Transformers I had to comment on its impact on me.   So, enjoy – and GO TO THE MOVIES!

I just came from watching Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen… and I am feeling the call to courage!  I’m feeling the deep desire to walk worthy of my calling.  I don’t want to be a slave to my compulsions.  Sam (the hero of the Transformers story) wanted to live a normal life, so when he was called on to save the planet by the leader of the Autobots (the ‘good’ Transformers), he refused.  – he wanted to go to college.

I, too, have wanted to forsake my calling for a “normal” life.  I was tired of living the “good” life, tired of the “moral compass” I had to always be consulting.  I wanted to be the popular one for a change, the one who was desired and admired – most of all – I wanted to NOT be different!

BUT I AM DIFFERENT.

I came out of that movie thinking about the call of God on my life, the knighthood I received supernaturally from Christ – what ‘normal’ boy has that?  I felt a burning desire to get back to where I need to be with the Lord with a desire to be re-instated.

“Put aside the ranger.  Become who you were born to be!”

Words to Aragorn from Elrond, the Elven leader of Rivendell.

Aragorn ran from the call to royalty running through his veins.  As the heir of Isuldur, last King of Gondor, he was to be the next king – but he exiled himself and became a ranger, scorning the throne.

“…. the same blood runs through my veins. The same …. weakness.”

He has disqualified himself because, as a Man, he has the same weakness to power that his ancestor Isuldur could not resist.  He shies away from the throne – his destiny – because of fear.  I have felt the same fear… I’ve felt disqualified by my own weaknesses… I feel that fear, that disqualification right now as I write this post!

I just have to remember:  past failures – his nor his ancestors’ – had not disqualified him from his destiny – and mine have not disqualified me either!!!

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:6-7)

What movies inspire you?  Is God speaking?  Who else needs encouragement to be courageous?

LoTR Parallels Coming Up….


I will soon have the house ALL TO MYSELF for at least 3 weeks – the rest of the family is going to the States for a family wedding.  I wasn’t interested in going, since the lure of being a bachelor for 3 weeks was too strong! 😆  I love my family but one word was resounding in my heart when I heard the news and the date of the travel – Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

One of the things I plan to do during this time is to catch up on my watching of Lord of the Rings (again!)  I have watched these three movies so many times that I can ad-lib along with the movie if it is on…. don’t u hate people who say the next line before the actor does on screen? ( 😛 )  😆  Well, that’s me!

As I said over at ShawnW’s place, I hear God speak in several ways – one of the most unusual being that the Holy Spirit reminds me of movie quotes that fit into the theme of what He’s trying to say to me. (For example, look at my comment section of the last post.)

So one of my personal missions is to ‘research’ for my next post by re-watching the entire LoTR trilogy (AGAIN – Oh JOY!)  God speaks so much to me about fellowship (which was the theme of my last series), spiritual warfare, courage and sacrifice through that movie!  I wanted to research fellowship as well as spiritual warfare, so expect to see some LoTR themes for a couple posts.

For those who are praying for me, knowing that I’m going through some stuff…. a heart-felt THANK YOU!  I’m seeing breakthrough…. God is working in my life!  Keep praying that I come out of the dark wilderness with the power of the Spirit – like Jesus did!

First Guest Post: New Normal


This is my first guest post!  My good friend, fellow prayer warrior and all out good girl Annie consented to do a guest post for me…. part of the reason I hadn’t written anything myself is because I’ve been going through a lot of stuff… but I’ve also been waiting for her to answer me 😉

Anyway, here it is! My first guest post!  (And when you’re done, hop over to Annie’s place and read her stuff… she’s very good…)

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“NEW NORMAL”

Have you ever tried to …

break an old habit?
go on a diet?
change a wrong behavior?

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I discovered about a year and a half ago that my intestines don’t digest dairy very well at all.  (Some people call this lactose intolerance.  I don’t like labels.  Or excuses.  So I don’t say this.  I say I don’t eat dairy.  It’s a choice, not a victimization.  Anyway.)

When I discovered this, several things happened.  Firstly, I was relieved.  It explained several things that had troubled me for almost all of my life, and which I had asked the Lord many times to reveal to me what was going on.  Secondarily I was chagrined.  Really?? No dairy??  But I LOVE milk, butter, and cheese!  I grew up on them.  Yummy, yummy, yummy.  Thirdly, I knew from Scripture that the promised land was ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ and I had already looked up in the past the first occurrence in the Bible of eating dairy, and God Himself actually was the one who did.  Abraham served curds to God when He visited him (as the three men) before He went down to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah.  So.  I believed then (and I believe now) that my particular problem is a problem, and not normal.  So I’m still believing for the revelation on that.

At any rate, since that time, it has been a constant battle for me.  It is really hard to go out to eat and find non-dairy options.  This country’s cuisine depends on the cow like you would not believe.  The real war though, was in my taste buds.  The stuff just tastes so good.  I may know in my head all the consequences of eating a piece of pizza or taking a bite of that yummy Alfredo sauce pasta, but my taste buds are in denial.  They don’t consider the fact that if I eat it I’ll have to deal with the consequences.  They just know it will taste good.  And that’s all they know.

So I am left at the point of this decision.  Do I give in to my tongue?  Or do I respect the entire rest of my body and force myself away from it?

You know, when the Israelites left Egypt their physical situation changed.  They were no longer in bondage; they had freedom.  Yet even though their physical condition changed, in their minds (or hearts, as the Bible puts it) they were still longing for Egypt.  Egypt was still their ‘normal.’  They didn’t take ownership of where they were and say, “I’m free, in a desert, and pressing forward to the promised land.”  Instead they expected what they had had in Egypt.   They expected provision a certain way; they expected comfort a certain way.  And even though they knew that the precursor for having those things was bondage, they still didn’t give up wanting the ‘good tastes’ of Egypt.

So you’d think that after a year and a half I would have got this dairy thing down.  I mean, it’s the same decision every time.  But in my head you know … I always held on to the prospect of how good it would taste to eat it.

And finally I had an epiphany.

Psychologically, I hadn’t accepted that there had been a change.  I let my mind keeping thinking that ‘normal’ was everything I used to eat.  And therefore not eating it was ‘abnormal’ and ‘temporary.’  Light bulb!  I decided to change that.  So now, instead of looking behind me and ‘longing for Egypt,’ I created a ‘new normal.’  In my new normal … I just don’t eat dairy. It’s not something that’s forced on me; it’s not even something I regret.  It’s just … normal.

You see, in the past, feeling bad was normal.  And in my mind, I couldn’t break away from that.  Feeling good (when I didn’t eat dairy) was just a nice perk.  A temporary fluke.  It wasn’t normal.  I had put up with feeling bad for so long that it had come to feel comfortable to me.   And regardless of the fact that I had plenty of evidence to tell me that a ‘new normal’ was possible … my heart had never accepted it.

The epiphany came when I was willing to look at that and say, “It’s not normal for me to feel bad.  And look bad.  It’s normal for me to feel good.  And look good.”  The choice to not eat dairy was just a part of my new normal.

So I am happy to report that the last month or so I have lived in my new normal.  I’m not longing for Egypt anymore.

Normal never felt so good.
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Has there been a ‘new normal’ in your life?  Would you like to share?

PS: for those who are interested in my symptoms and results, I would love to answer questions.  Most people, I think, wouldn’t, so I haven’t made that a part of this post.  🙂

Annie

http://callingtodeep.blogspot.com
http://www.myspace.com/callingtodeep