church nonsense, Light, war on women

Unveiling

Alaska

The hub read the first two chapters of Job aloud while I sipped my second cup of coffee.  Then he flipped ahead several pages and read the end of the story.

“Don’t worry,” he said.

I recognized those words as a reference to yesterday’s post which, he said, brought Job to mind.

“I know I’ve said it before,” I remarked, “but I’m always struck by the ending. Before Job’s face to face encounter with God – when his ears had heard of Him, but his eyes had not yet seen Him – back when he spoke of things he did not understand, his daughters were not in the party hosting rotation, they were always mere guests.

But after he saw God and spoke with Him face to face, he saw things more clearly. And suddenly his new daughters were named in Scripture and they were given a portion of his inheritance.”

Because once you really know God, you understand the value of women.

Which is why I am disenthralled with pastors who hold so tightly to the mis-teachings and/or mistranslations of Paul when it comes to the role of women in the church. They have heard of God, but they have not seen Him. Their knowledge of Him is limited by their loyalty to the traditions of men.  Like Job, they are going through the motions. And, like Job, I am sure they are sincere in their reverence for God. They just don’t know what they are talking about. Who they are talking about. And I have a hard time sitting in their audiences.

If those pastors had ever really seen Him, they, like Job, would completely change their minds about God’s daughters and give them an equal share of His inheritance – and an equal opportunity to host His parties.

The hub said, “Amen.”

And then he went fishing.

But before he left I told him I am asking God to unveil Himself in a mighty way in Detroit on July 25.

Being a man of action, the hub immediately made the sound of something exploding. “Maybe the statue will be struck by lighting, or disintegrate before their very eyes.”

I, being a woman of contemplation, added, “or maybe He will do the Damascus Road thing – you know, speak to the leaders of the event and ask them why they are persecuting Him.

Whether it is a spectacular external sign like the one with Elijah on Mt. Carmel, or a subtle internal movement like the one in the heart of the thief on the cross, is up to Him.

Either way, or both ways, it will be powerful.

Copyright 2015, Light & life

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Jesus, Light

Don’t Worry

Sometimes this world starts to scare the p-o-o-p out of me. Like yesterday when I read this:

“The Satanic Temple Detroit Chapter is getting ready to unveil a controversial sculpture in Detroit. A bronze Baphomet monument will be revealed on Saturday, July 25.  The one ton, 9-foot tall monument reportedly pays homage to Satan.”

The WNEM article went on to say:

“A Facebook site for the event asks participants to dress to impress the Devil…”

I didn’t even know Detroit had a satanic temple.  Wish I still didn’t.

But today I am thinking about some of the things Jesus said:

“I know where you live—where Satan has his throne.” (Revelation 2)

He knows.

“Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16)

So I am taking heart.

“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16)

Because Satan’s going down.

And I am looking ahead to the glorious day when his counterfeit, unholy trinity is thrown forever into a hot, stinky lake:

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.” (Revelation 20)

When my daughter was a counselor at Wildwood Ranch – a ministry of the Detroit Rescue Mission – one of the favorite songs of the campers started like this:

“Well I went to the enemy’s camp and I took back what he stole from me.”

It’s time to stop singing and start taking back. Or keep singing WHILE taking back.

It’s time to ramp up my prayers for the city.

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Jesus, Light

It’s All About the Awe

I read some grandiose words while scrolling through WordPress yesterday.  The zealous author was proclaiming how he would always do this and never do that.

I smiled because it reminded me of the time Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” To which Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I smiled because I’ve been there.

And now I’m here, in a hazy spiritual fog.

The fog can roll in on the best of us, and I’ve grown tired of passively waiting for the Son to burn it off. So yesterday I spoke up:

“It feels like my spirit is trapped in a haze, Lord, and I don’t know how to shake it off. How do I get out of this fog and back into close fellowship with You?”

I grabbed The Full Life Study Bible I inherited from my dad and opened it, unintentionally, to the book of Malachi. Actually to the outline just before the book. There it was, midway down the outline, the question that has been on my heart:

“How are we to return?”

How am I to return?

I started to read while the Spirit talked me through Malachi’s entire Q & A. It came down to this:

1. Appreciate the Almightiness of His Love.

There is a distinct place, a distinct love, to which to return:

God: “I have loved you.”

Israel: “How have you loved us?”

God: “I made a distinction between you and your brother. I chose you.

His love is revealed in the choosing. And that choosing ought to mean something.

I don’t know why You revealed yourself so clearly and unmistakably to me, and not to my sisters, but You did. You did and it is huge.

2. Get His Cross Back in Balance.

“Judah broke faith,” whispered the Spirit. “They got into bed with a foreign god. They kept bringing their offerings to Me, though, and then flooded the altar with tears because I was no longer paying attention to them.”

Israel: “Why don’t you care about us anymore?”

God: “I’m sticking up for your wives. You’ve been cruel to them, you’ve been casting them aside and I hate that. I made you one flesh because I wanted godly offspring, not so you could give lip service to me and then run around on your wives and expect a blessing. Not so you could act just like the brother I did not choose. Are you kidding me?”

I get it, Spirit, but I’m not running around on the hub. So what’s the equivalent? Am I running around on You? Am I getting too cozy with the world? Am I acting like those who don’t know You? Have I gotten your holiness and your compassion out of balance? I confess I have not been taking You as seriously as You deserve to be taken.

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It’s so easy to do these days with everyone debating how God feels about homosexuality and gay marriage. It’s tempting to want to be liked by everyone, to want to make everyone feel good, be the compassionate one, to ignore His holiness. But to ignore His holiness is to say that we are kinder than He is. And we’re not.

3. Find a Church that Isn’t Playing.

God: “I made a covenant of life and peace with [the priests, pastors, church leaders] and that covenant called for reverence and awe, yet you show contempt for my name. Where is the honor due me?”

Priests: “How have we shown contempt for your name?”

God: “You bring me lame offerings.”

It’s the Cain thing again.

I have grown lazy, I admit it. 

Yes, you have, but this one is on your church. The awe and the reverence due Me are gone. The awe has become all about the polished music, the polished programming, the lights and smoke and staging, the numbers, the awesome things they are doing, “the wow factor” and the desire to be better than anyone else in town.

“Oh that one of you would shut the [church’s] doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!”

I know. You know I know. You know how I have longed to worship in honor and awe, in a place that draws from me Your spiritual best. You know how I long for a church that isn’t playing.

Help me.

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Light

Rushing Wind

Wally over at Truth in Palmyra wrote a devotion on revival today. It brought to mind a story I sometimes share when I speak to middle and high school students. The story is from a book entitled Innocence Lost, Hope Regained, by Richie Lambeth (with Scott Tompkins).

The book is a collection of true stories gathered from Richie’s years as a youth pastor.

The story I share with the kids is about a high school boy – a gifted ballplayer – who disappoints himself and his parents by slipping into sin. It’s a good story and the kids – especially the boys – seem to identify with it.

Here’s the part that came to mind this morning:

          I got up and walked to the front of the church. I asked the pastor if I could share something. He knew God was doing something special in me so he said yes. I had always been so concerned about what people thought of me, that it had ruled much of my life. But right now I simply didn’t care. I just wanted to be right with God.

          I went to the pulpit and took the microphone, “I have to ask you all to forgive me for I have sinned a terrible sin. I have betrayed my family, my friends, myself, and most of all, God. I have committed fornication, and I am so sorry. Will you please forgive me?” I didn’t know what to do next as this had never happened in our church, so I started to walk back to my seat. Everything was real quiet and I started to think I had made a big mistake. But then the pastor called me back and put his arm around me.

          “That took a lot of guts Eric,” he said, “And I’d like to give the church a chance to respond.”

          What happened next blew my mind. Some people started speaking out and saying, “We forgive you Eric.”  Some people started crying and some people started softly singing, “Amazing Grace.” God seemed to fill the room. I had never felt His presence like this.

          Then another teenager came up and handed the pastor a bag of weed and confessed that he had been smoking pot. Then an old man came up and confessed to being cruel to his wife. All of a sudden there was a line up to the pulpit and one after another began to confess sin and we prayed for each other. It was the beginning of something incredible at our church. People were being real with each other like they had never done. The love at our church was so thick you could almost cut it…

Scripture says judgment will begin with the house of God, so I’m thinking that until we get it right, there will be no hope for anyone else.

Revival, to me, means removing the log from my own Christian eyes, speaking the truth (about myself and God) in bold, clear, humble, redemptive love and, thereby, unleashing the Rushing Wind.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Then maybe others will want clean hearts, too.

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Light, war on women

It’s Simple

I read Mugisha Charles’ post this morning on the history of the Azusa Street Revival, and these few sentences made me smile:

“People of all ages flocked to Los Angeles with both skepticism and a desire to participate. The intermingling of races and the group’s encouragement of women in leadership was remarkable, as 1906 was the height of the “Jim Crow” era of racial segregation, and fourteen years prior to women receiving suffrage in the United States.”

In  the aftermath of Ferguson, Baltimore and now the tragedy in Charleston, there is much talk of healing our racial divide, of coming up with solutions.  I have one, and it is simple:

God.

Laugh, scoff and dismiss, if you must, but it really is that simple.

I’ve been witnessing something very cool in a city near me:  Blacks and whites from both urban and suburban churches are coming together to revitalize the city. Some are volunteering as tutors in the elementary schools, some have started a community center – where, among many other things, students from a nearby Christian college formed a t-ball team this summer, investing in the lives of some of its youngest residents.

The Spirit brings racial unity.

As Zephaniah said, on behalf of God, “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”

It’s going to take God purifying our laughing, scoffing, dismissing, racially inflammatory lips to get us working shoulder to shoulder doing stuff that is productive and good.

We need a revival, a move of the Spirit.

I smiled at revival’s tie to women in leadership.

And I thought of Job.

At the end of all his suffering, after he uttered those famous words, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” after he had an up close and personal understanding of the character of God, Scripture records this:

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.”

Did you catch that?  Job granted his daughters an inheritance, too.

Because once you know the character of God; once you not only know about Him, but actually know Him, you finally get that He created us in His image, male and female.  We each represent 50% of His image, and all of His image is necessary to represent Him, all of His image is necessary to lead in His causes.

I have sat in churches where half of His image is excluded from leadership and I have felt a heartbreaking, annoying, at times painful, restlessness in my spirit.  Because the Spirit just doesn’t stick around where half of Him is being dismissed, where the teachings of Paul trump the teachings of Jesus.

Want a revival in your dying church?

You might start by taking another look at the Scriptures; by dethroning Paul and making  Jesus your King.

I shared all that I was thinking this morning with my daughter and she had some really good things to add.

So I asked her to write it all down.

I’ll post her words tomorrow.

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faith, Jesus, Light, Michigan

63 Degrees in the Motor City and God Was Listening

It is sunny and 63 degrees in the Motor City.   I took my car in for its 10,000 mile check up today and everyone at the dealership was giddy.  Several warm days in a row has put us all in a good mood, given us hope.

New life is poking up through the straw in my garlic bed.

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And in my city:

Tough, Cheap, and Real, Detroit Is Cool Again | National Geographic.

There was a big prayer walk through the city 4 years ago.

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It was thrilling to see people of all ages come from the suburbs to join those who live in the city to pray for Detroit.  I loved overhearing the fellowship of people who had nothing in common but Jesus.  I was blessed by the beautiful voices of the Evangel Temple singers who were  directly behind me, singing as they walked.  I loved coming upon random groups performing on various street corners.

 It made me think of what Isaiah said:

“Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you..  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn… Lift up your eyes and look about you:  All assemble and come to you… Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.”  Isaiah 60:1-5

The size of the crowd was impressive.  Not as impressive as it is when the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.  Not as impressive as it would have been if EVERY Christian from EVERY church in the city and suburbs had come.  Not as impressive as it would have been if our Jewish neighbors had been invited to join us.  But still my heart throbbed and swelled with joy.

And God was listening to our prayers that day.

It is going to be glorious times a million on the day when people stream to Jerusalem from every nation.  Isaiah said we will be bringing gifts and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.  We won’t be walking in silent prayer – like I mostly was unless someone came along and said, “If you love Jesus say glory” – we will be proclaiming praises.  We’ll probably all be singing as we walk – most likely we’ll be singing Psalm 118.

Zephaniah 3:9 says, “Then I will purify the lips of my peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”  Jews and Gentiles, males and females alike serving Him shoulder to shoulder.

God bless Detroit.

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