Pegasus in Us

“Eternal life is not a gift from God; eternal life is the gift of God…not power as a gift from the Holy Spirit; the power is the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to give us an endless supply of life ‘that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’” (Ephesians 3:19) Oswald Chambers (emphasis mine)

©Sport the library / Brett Crockford
©Sport the library / Brett Crockford

Possessing the Holy Spirit inside us is like being a horse at the starting gate of a race. The horse cannot run the race until the gate is opened. Because we believe, we have this amazing power inside us. Yet, many of us think, speak and act just like someone who isn’t blessed with this mysterious gift. We’re a horse who looks like any other horse. How could this be?

Some of us spend our entire lives without ever allowing the Spirit to come alive in us. He lies dormant, abiding uninvited to participate in our family life, business life, social life, financial life,  emotional life or our spiritual life.

Ah, but once we open the gate and extend an invitation to the Spirit, we will begin to detect the abundant love, the copious grace and extensive power infusing us. As we allow the Spirit to dissolve the blinders from our eyes and the plugs from our ears, we will see and hear clearly the signs of His voice. We will, day by day, grow in the harmonious cadence of our relationship with the One who created us.

When that occurs, we will desire to do nothing less than let Him have His way with us. We will find strength in the surrender. We will seek Him out in every circumstance. We will comprehend the deep and abiding truth that it takes tremendous courage to love, and we can only do it with the Spirit’s infrastructure and tenderness.

As we imagine ourselves bolstered daily by the Spirit, we are able to awaken every day with a new perspective. Yes, we will walk at first, but think how it will feel as we are then able to skip and run. Furthermore, walking with the Spirit allows us to accomplish so much more than if we walked alone. Because it’s not all about us. Until we embrace the Living Water Spirit and begin to live out our lives on the bedrock of His love, we’re unable to offer that love and compassion to someone else – someone who may well be crying out for the life-affirming hope the salvation of Jesus brings.

When a horse picks up speed, he trots, then canters, then gallops, and in each stride of his gallop, his four-beat gait then allows all four feet to lift from the ground at once. Think then, of walking with the Spirit, our Divine Impulsion, as He helps us lift our feet off the ground.

galloping

“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—a glorious inner strength—that Christ will come alive in you as you allow his Spirit to be stirred in you. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, saturated in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

5 Positive Things that Occur When Disciples Leave Church

©theverybesttop10.com
©theverybesttop10.com

Numerous articles are published and posted listing reasons why Christians should go to church and the lousy excuses we make for avoiding church attendance on Sundays. We all pretty much know the reasons people leave, so I won’t list them here. Pastors and others in church leaderships make lots of assumptions about what happens to us Christians when we leave church. For their benefit, and for the benefit of those of us who do, I wanted to set the record straight.

1. We have the freedom to establish our own relationship with God without having to follow a pre-established, denominational set of rules.

In solitude, we are able to develop our listening ears for His voice without the stumbling block of anyone else telling us how we’re supposed to listen. We have the freedom to step outside of rules without the construct of an organization telling us what we’re supposed to do or not do in order to have God’s unique attention. We finally have the comfort of talking with God with ease, and telling Him everything we’ve wanted to say. We can talk and listen anytime, and simply be with Him any time of the day.

2. We ask the questions we’ve always wanted to ask.

Without being rebuffed, we have the opportunity to ask stupid questions, deep questions, and questions that relate directly to our own circumstances. We are finally at liberty to bring up questions of doubt, of contradiction, or lack of understanding and have them answered fully without regard for time. We can choose our own study Bible and look through it to help us understand God’s Word, going at our own pace.

3. We find other believers across the nation or world who are exactly where we are, establish relationships with them, and grow and mature our faith with them.

As we join in exploration of our faith together, we open our hearts and minds to different ways of perceiving and receiving the heart of God. We are able to allow more of His Spirit to work in us because we allow ourselves to know Him more deeply. We see a bigger God than we ever imagined, and begin to understand the amazing ways in which He lives and works through others across the world.

4. As we increasingly know God, we increasingly show more of Him.

Our heart and mind transforms. No longer do we live in the fear of doing the wrong thing. Instead, we live in the love of our Father’s embrace. We live in the knowledge there is no more condemnation, and nothing can separate us from the love of God as we live in Christ’s Spirit. We allow the light and love of Jesus to shine through us; this is the glory of God.

5. We begin making disciples.

The more we know God, about His heart for us and about His lavish love and grace, the more we desire to share it with others. We want to make Him known to those whose only experience of God is through those who would present Him as a God of wrath and condemnation.  The more we understand the vastness of God – that He isn’t only for one country or one denomination or one people group – the more we want to shout His name and glorify and honor the immeasurable height and width and depth of Who He is.

6. (Bonus) Some of us actually return to church.

When given the opportunity, without judgment or condemnation, to spend a season outside the confines of church walls, some of us are moved by the Spirit to come back, perhaps in the hope we can make a difference in the lives of church leadership. Perhaps we return as a way to touch the lives of people in our former church. Maybe we come back because we miss group worship or Bible study. Conceivably the Spirit has sent us back to contribute in a way our gifting will benefit the church.

Either way, returning or not, I would ask you who write about those of us who leave church to open your outlook a bit and see it from a different perspective; rather than abandonment, view it as a season of growth.

Prelude and Fugue in Family Major

To what shall I liken the Kingdom?

Well, sometimes it’s like a family of singers who perform a fugue… where one voice begins with a simple melodic theme, and one by one others chime in with variations on that theme, differences, harmonies, counterpoints, echoes, dissonances, only to see the piece climax with grand chords of resolution yielding greater light and beauty in their combination, than in the sum of the parts!

People with preternatural gifts in music (like Beethoven, Mozart, Bill & Gloria Gaither, or Bach) sometimes wrote (or write) such things.

Yesterday, I got to see this happen in “real time” here on Church Set Free.

We talk about diversity. We talk about difference. We talk about the Holy Spirit’s freedom to express His Truth to us in various ways and languages, and our individual histories and temperaments coloring our experience of His presence and inspiration. We talk about refraining from telling one another what to believe, but rather encouraging one another in exploring and embracing the relationships we have with Him and with one another. We encourage dialogue, discourse, and collaborative exploration of what it is to live in and as the Family of God in His Kingdom. We talk about the difference between “unanimity” and “lock-step Christianity”, and the diversity of thought and experiences we see reflected in scripture and the life and encounters of Jesus.

It can be easy just to talk about such things.

It can be easy to encourage the Church to be Set Free enough to embrace diversity of background, ponderings, viewpoints, traditions, and even opinions… without judgment, condemnation, or disrespect.

But when we meet together, these writers in/of Church Set Free, I am often a voice heard to repeat… “The Medium is the Message”. God is doing this really cool “experiment” thing, where we ourselves as a group are apparently not only called to “talk about” these topics, offer our own experiences, advice, learning, to encourage others… but to “experience” them, learn more about these principles, model them, and rejoice in our own growth here.

And yesterday, this incredible thing happened. One of us set out a viewpoint. (Soloed with an opening melodic theme). Another responded with a counterpoint. Another listened, wondered if there was dissonance, disharmony, and offered a further variation. The two initial singers then sang a duo for a bit, reaffirming harmony, establishing that while there may be some syncopation there, there was no atonal clash! It was just glorious!

(I missed the whole show onstage, as I was elsewhere doing otherwise at the time! Drat!)

But it was like being around the dining room table at supper, with the Father at one end, Jesus seated at the other, and watching lively discourse among brothers and sisters. At the close of the performance I was elated as I watched the transcript play out. Two things just filled me with joy, and today this post has just welled up within me.

Thing One:

The Brethren of Church Set Free do NOT have to sing in Unison. We can’t, to be perfectly frank. We come from traditions, lifestyles, histories, worship experiences that are vastly different. For us to agree on a “single melody line” would be for NONE of us to be genuine, authentic, transparent or sincere to one another or before you. We would have to put on a “One Size Fits All” suit, that either bagged some and pinched others, or had such flexibility and resilience that it accomplished nothing. Now, are there some points at which our voices unite? You bet! Like “Jesus is Lord!”, or “God is Love”, or “God loves first, and therefore sent His Son who lived, died, and rose again to live forever!” Lots and lots of themes we are in unison.

But in lots and lots of elements of playing out those themes, individually, relationally, corporately, practically… there’s diversity.

And yesterday, I got to hear this really cool little piece of “Chamber Worship”, where multiple voices cast light of differing perspectives and angles, on love in relationship in different ways.

That was AWESOME!

BUT!!!!! Thing Two:

JUST as awesome (maybe even more so), was watching those same brethren… as their melodic lines varied in volume and dynamics… step back a moment, draw breath, and consider the “meta-question” of… “Is my voice too strident? Is this harmony and counterpoint, or is this dissonance and division?”

THAT’s the REAL message (imho) that Church Set Free seeks to bring.

That as “Family” at the table, with God setting and heading the table, we can have lively animated discussion even of differing views, while still loving, embracing and glorifying. THAT was SO joyful and awesome to witness.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So…. bottom line here… what makes the difference between “division” or “dissonance”, and “diversity” or “difference”?

Um… gonna sound corny to say, perhaps… but the difference is the “relationship”. Relationship and the love with which we handle one another. Divisions and dissonance happen when the space between two persons becomes polarized into “winner/loser” or “right/wrong” or “better/worse”. When there is a breakdown, a failure, of the two elements of “respect” and “sacredness” of the other… there is now division and dissonance. When our eyes become focused on the “opponent”, and “defeating” him/her… as distinct from being focused on God, Truth, Jesus, Love and saying “hey, bro/sis, but what about this? or that? or this other?” (fill in the blank).

There’s a world of difference between saying, “I disagree with you, you’re wrong, and I shall fix that if you listen to me!”, and saying… “I see what you’re saying. But I see it differently. What if it’s more like… [whatever]?”

We never have lie and say we agree with something we don’t. We never have to lie and say something is right, when we have deep conviction that it is wrong. But we can always bear in mind that different people sometimes understand words in different ways, or have met situations that we have not, or have had experiences that express the grace of God in ways that we have not.

We never have to lie to honor God. We only have to love, to respect, and to treat the other as sacred.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yup, I was a really happy camper yesterday, proud of my brothers/sisters as I watched God’s happy face nod between courses of the meal.

To what shall I liken the Kingdom? How about a dinner table where God is glorified and discussion is lively? This certainly works for me! The medium is the message. We are all projects in work. Welcome to Church Set Free!

 

How Do I Love What I Don’t Understand?

When I was a young mom and involved in a church my husband just happened to pastor, I thought I was really something.  I thought that our decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom was the ultimate call of God on Christian mothers everywhere.  I actually had the mindset that all moms should be doing this.

One day, after a church service, I saw a woman I hadn’t seen in a while.  I liked her a lot.  She had three lovely boys and they were awesome.  Like me, she was a stay-at-home mom.  Was.  I asked, ever so cheerfully, how she had been doing.  And this is when my perfect world crumbled……………

She began to tell me that a wonderful thing has happened.  An answer to her prayers that set her free.  I asked her to tell me.  Excitement was rising in her voice and in my anticipation………

This is when she told me that she had been praying for a job.   A what??  A job outside of the home.  I think my mouth did one of those fall open and drool and no one but me noticed things.  A job??  Yes, a job, she kept the excitement level up in her voice.

She went on about their need for more money and her desire to be outside the home and contribute.  So she went looking and lo and behold, she was offered a great job.  The whole family rejoiced.

I put on my Hollywood smile and hugged her and told her how happy I was for her (I think I missed my call on the stage).  She went home and I went home…….. downcast and confused.

Let me take a side road here for just a second.  One thing I am good at is taking my questions to the Lord.  He and I just have a good thing together about asking and listening and getting answers.  Trouble is, they may not always be the answers I was looking for.

Now, back on the main road……. I went home and asked him.  Well, actually, I remember it well.  I asked him before I even left the building.  Something like this:  “What were You thinking?  How could that be Your answer to her prayers????? Huh?????  Why did you let her take that job?????”

And right then the room faded away and I was there with the spot light on me – and Him –  and He kindly said, “I let her have the job because that is where she is at.  She asked me for a job.”

I remember saying, “What do you mean?”  And He continued gently to tell me that He loves each of us so much.  He let me stay at home with my kids because that is what I desired and what I wanted more than anything.  Others want a career or a simple job.

I began to see a bit more clearly that day.  I began to see a different perspective.  More of God’s perspective.  I didn’t know that woman very well.  I didn’t know her dreams or desires or even how she is put together.  Heck, I really don’t know how most people are built.  Some can handle an intense career far easier than 24/7 diapers, bottle, crying, spitting – well, you get the picture.  Some get total satisfaction from raising children.  It doesn’t mean these parents don’t love their children less or more.  It simply means God love each of us and He knows what is best for us at any given moment.

That half hour out of my life, years ago, changed me.  To the good.  I still think I’m really something, but I try really hard to see people as He does.  It’s not easy.  Especially when it’s turned around and others judge me and think they know who I am or how I’m bent.  BUT, that lesson is alive and well and still at work in this imperfect person.  It has helped me shake off any judgments that come at me  – still not easy – but with the help of the One who answers my questions…… the One who let’s me ask questions …….. the One who answers me in a still small voice in my heart – I can love those I don’t understand.

Enjoy!images54

wingedprisms