Sunday, December 07, 2008

Carlton Pearson

Last night I heard an interesting show on This American Life about Carlton Pearson, who is a pastor up in Tulsa, OK. It was a replay of an interview from 2005, so this isn't new...A number of years ago he decided that hell couldn't possibly exist, because a loving God couldn't really condemn people to hell. So he began to preach "the gospel of inclusion" in which there isn't any hell, and that Jesus' death on the cross covers all sins of all people regardless of their willingness to repents and receive salvation through Jesus.

The show was from Carlton Pearson's perspective, and he talked about how painful it was to be declared a heretic by Oral Robert's University, and have his church of 5000 disintegrate to 200. People stopped hugging him in the grocery store, stopped asking him to speak, basically turned their backs on him. They also included an interview with one the members of his congregation about how her neighbors used to confront her and tell her how wrong she was to not believe in hell. She felt so relieved that she didn't have to tell people that anymore, because it was mean.

Now his congregation meets in the Unitarian Church in Tulsa. They consider themselves part of the spirit-filled church, they believe that Jesus' blood paid for their sins, and set them free from bondage, and they're glad that they don't have to preach a gospel that condemns anyone. reflections: I went through a time where I realized that I was really mad at God for the existence of Hell. It seemed so unfair that some people would go to heaven, and some go to hell for eternity. That is a huge punishment. I believe that God is Love. How could a loving God send anyone to Hell?

However, I did believe the Bible is true, so I knew that:

John 3:16-21
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

I have learned over the years that Love doesn't operate in control, so because God is love, he allows us to make choices. We get to choose our response to Jesus' death on the cross. I believe that Christ's blood covers each and every person on the planet, like it says in the first two verses. But then, in the next few, it clears up the other half of the playing field: ours. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already." And it goes on to describe the reason that people might not choose to believe in the name of Jesus: "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

One thing I know is that exposure of shameful things is of the most scary, painful, humiliating thing possible. It's because our sinful nature and our pride wants to keep our bad deeds hidden. But I also know that exposure is the best possible thing to happen, because when the evil is exposed, we can repent, be forgiven, and move on.

I've come to my own conviction about the tension over a Loving God and the existence of Hell. I believe that God sees and understands the heart of each human ever born, and no matter what their circumstances, he gives each person an opportunity. Perhaps more than one opportunity. Regardless of culture, upbringing, location, I believe that each soul has a crisis moment where they get to choose to rebel, or surrender to God. It might look different in different circumstances, or cultural identities. It might look like totally orthodox Christianity. But instead of worrying about the questions of whether or not the native who has never seen anyone from the outside world to bring them "the gospel" as I've learned it, I've come to trust that the loving God who created the world will give them their chance to choose Him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thank you Cesar

Lately...We had a great Thanksgiving. We invited a family in our neighborhood who have three kids who are friends with our kids, and we've enjoyed getting to know the parents in the process. We also invited an older couple from our church who don't have family in town. It was fun to have a minor houseful of people, and enjoy new relationships over the table. I haven't had as many large group hospitality opportunities since we've moved to Texas, so I felt a bit rusty getting ready, but everything went off without a hitch, and we all had a great time.

We enjoyed vegging out the rest of the weekend, and today back at work I felt rested and ready to do my job. In fact, everyone at the office was quite chipper. I think the holiday did us all good.

I'm anticipating our trip to CA in 19 days. It will be so fun to see all our family there, and enjoy Christmas as part of the bigger group. We've enjoyed our quiet Christmases for the last two years, and are ready for a wild litany of gatherings.

We checked out The Dog Whisperer on DVD from the library, and have been watching Cesar in action. It's a crack up how the people project so much onto their dogs; I know we do the same with Dolce. (Just see her blog; it's an extreme example of owner projection.) So I've been thinking about exuding "calm assertive energy," especially with my children. My children know when I don't believe in what I'm telling them to do, and my own ambivalence undermines my authority. So, I'm thinking about parenting, thanks to Cesar Milan.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sam's Arm

Sam decided to jump off a swing last Sunday at the park, and he ended up with a buckle fracture in both of his little arm bones. So now he's sporting a cool red cast, which we got on Thursday. The doctor said that it will heal up just fine, and the cast is more to keep him from whacking it on anything than holding it in place.

Monday, September 29, 2008

That State Farm ad where.....

William decided to rewrite Psalm 73 in his own words, which was a very interesting and powerful exercise. I decided to rewrite a certain ad that drives me crazy on the same day. How amazing. We obviously think alike, sort of.

I don't know if any of you have heard or seen the State Farm ad that begins, "You know the place where...." For some reason, when I heard it the first time on NPR, read by the impassive guy who reads the ads, it just sounded wrong. I've been trying to figure out why. Perhaps it's because a big insurance company is trying to make itself feel like a friend. Or like a Good Neighbor.

The NPR ad ended with "Meeting you At That Place Where questions about insurance meets an agent with answers." It just sounded funny out loud, and I had to ask how often the average person actually has burning questions about insurance. I do know something, because I used to be the person who was The Agent With Answers full time. I enjoyed it, but usually Questions About Insurance had to do with a life crisis, or a bill increase. Not the sort of thing you want to chat with a stranger about, necessarily.

Then, I began to see the ads in my Real Simple Magazine. The pattern is "You know the place where (insert abstract relational thought) meets (concrete reality statement). So I thought I'd try to make up my own ads. Maybe you can think of some too.

"You know the place where Sleeping Children Look Like Angels meets Who Wet Mommy's Bed. I'm there. Pull Ups, for those special times of sharing."

"You know the place where It's Saturday Morning! Let's Take a Drive meets A Hungry Husband With Plummeting Blood Sugar. I'm there. Cheese sticks, to keep the crisis at bay."

"You know the place between Browsing the Makeup Aisle Feeling Creative and Realizing This New Eyeshadow Makes Me Look Peaked. I'm there. Coconut Oil, for that hard to remove kind."

"You know the place where I Love My New Hermit Crab meets Where Is My New Hermit Crab. I'm there. Band-aids, for that sudden pinch in the night."

Monday, September 08, 2008

I found it kind of funny

Today while I was checking out at the grocery store, I did my usual casual glancing at the tabloids lining the checkout aisle. I like to keep slightly current via headline on the latest scandals...Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie, George and Laura, etc. But I just had to pick up the one that had Sarah Palin holding Trig on the cover. My eye did pass over the one with Obama on the cover dropping off his girls at school, and being the perfect dad, but it wasn't quite as compelling.

You may have already heard the latest Palin scandal: Trig is not her baby. It's Bristol's. She is covering up Bristol's first pregnancy by saying she gave birth to Trig. And, Bristol might not even be pregnant right now, that might be baby weight. Of the after kind. Not the before kind. Sigh. And, not only that, but Todd had a DUI 22 years ago. That would make him....26 when it happened? Maybe? Sigh. Also, Sarah Palin made a snarky comment to a waitress in a diner when Obama got the nomination. (None of the other diners have confirmed this for the record, unfortunately.)

And the punch line is: "That's what happens when you don't believe in abortion, and your kids don't know how to use a condom, because you believe in abstinence, and you're just the first-term governor of Alaska.

The thing I found funny, however, was that as I turned to page 56 to read about the Palin scandal, I was treated to a full page spread of Michelle Obama in various Jackie-esque outfits. They had pasted all these photos of her at different events so that the reader could study her style. She looks great, of course. The funny thing to me is how hard that magazine is working to send a very strong message. Here it is: Barak and Michelle Obama are presidential material, Sarah Palin is not.

Interestingly, on NPR I heard that McCain is leading in the polls 50 to 46 right now, and the only thing they can attribute it to is Sarah Palin.

So, I'm watching with interest to see what happens. It's like a soap opera every day, with a little bit of leakage (who's really nursing????) to keep us interested. I think the plan is to make all those conservatives who like her embarrassed by the huge scandals surrounding her so that no one will vote for her.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My comment on God as a judge

I have had a knee jerk reaction that doesn’t like the idea of God using tragedy that affects the innocent and guilty alike to judge sin. And it feels very presumptuous to ascribe natural disasters to that motive in God.

A few years ago I had to really wrestle through the problem of pain and suffering and even the existence of Hell if God is a good God. Of course that’s a huge theological/philosophical question, but in a nutshell I came to the belief that: Yes, God is ultimately sovereign and good, but there are other forces acting on this earth, ie: Satan, and sin in us. God takes the things are wrong, like natural disasters and sickness and suffering, and uses them for good for those who love Him. Remember that “good” doesn’t mean our definition of a happy American life. It means stripping us of the lies we believe, and breaking our false foundations so that He can give us truth and reality and a foundation built on Him. Those who love Him are willing to submit to His reality, and that ultimately is the thing that keeps us out of Hell. I really believe that God gives each and every person ever born an opportunity to choose between reality/truth or self-created delusion that enables pride to be what drives a life. God knows what that dividing line and choice look like in each heart.

OK, so that could be a huge blog in itself.

Both Ezekial 16:49-50 and Romans 1 are dealing with the fruit of what happens when people don’t surrender their will to God. Like Jazzgeek and Jeff pointed out, there are a lot of sins that exemplify that state. And since we all have areas that are not surrendered, we all engage in sins of various sorts. Therefore we can’t throw the first stone.

I feel, however, that there is something that makes the Southern Decadence Festival and even the flow of homosexuality different. It has to do with the way it wants to be received.

The Romans 1: 29-31 passage says: They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

When I look at this list, I feel like there is a norm in our culture today which says “these things aren’t OK,” for the most part. There are actual laws against murder and slander, and there is a cultural understanding that these other things are “bad” or undesirable. Gossip and arrogance aren’t things that people want in their friends—it causes relational problems. I do think that the things on this list are engaged in on a daily basis, but I don’t think people are doing them for their own sake.

The thing that makes the homosexual issue different is that there is an active plan to make it a lifestyle norm for our culture. The people who believe that homosexuality is “bad” or undesirable are considered bigoted and narrow minded. The idea that God would choose to judge a festival celebrating homosexual behavior feels unkind. But if you do a little more research into what they were doing at the SDF, I think it crosses the line between deluded and flagrant. You don’t see festivals celebrating murderers or child molesters, or sexually active teens. There is a cultural resistance to those things that is being purposefully assaulted by the homosexual movement.

And, as we think about God as Judge, the truth is that He is actively judging deception in us all the time. Those things that happen that show up our lies are our own personal Hurricane Katrina. We have to leave that place of comfort where we’ve been living in deception, and move somewhere else and set up a new foundation based on humility and surrender to God. I’ve experienced enough shaking in my own foundation to see that things that look bad in my life are probably the best thing that could happen to me from a spiritual/truth issues place. It is the mercy of God to allow me to lose the foundational lies now, before I build a bigger house on top of them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Latest on Todd Bentley

I was sure to alert you all to the Healing Outpouring going on in Florida, and as far as I know, it's still going. Since then, we got to see Todd Bentley at the UNT Superpit, and I felt very good about him. He gave a totally orthodox salvation message, including repentance for sins covered by the blood of Jesus, so I know that the healing ministry is for the purpose of evangelism. For the last 4 years or so we've kind of kept tabs on him through various trickles of information, and it's been fun and exciting to see what is going on there.

When he showed up in the last year or so with all those tattoos and piercing, I said to Will, "That guy is in a lot of pain." But one thing I've learned is that the Holy Spirit can and does use anyone to minister regardless of their pain level, lack of maturity, or personal issues. And God's been doing that with Todd. Another thing I've learned is that God is in the business of humbling Christians. The verse "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" is found in two places in the NT, both are in the context of resisting sin.

James 4:4-10

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Will and I have a little inside comment we make to each other sometimes: "I'd rather be humbled in private than in public." And so far, the Lord has been good to us by keeping us from large scale humiliation (same word, scary implication?). But I have come to the belief that part of the Christian life involves a series of opportunities to humble myself, and each time I choose pride, the cycle gets bigger, and the implications of my pride get bigger, and the fall that happens when the humiliation comes gets bigger....So the continuum of the humiliation process can go from me asking forgiveness for my sins privately in a relationship, to ending up in jail where everyone knows my sin.

A couple of months ago a number of the main apostolic leaders in the Charismatic community, headed by Peter Wagner, went to Florida and publicly blessed Todd and what was happening in Florida. They also brought with their blessing an accountability component for Todd, which he received. So he basically surrendered to their leadership, and received their blessing over what was going on. Before that point there was no outside leadership or accountability for the Florida Outpouring.

The leaders who "put their stamp" on Todd did so in the face of much opposition from various parts of the Christian community, and Todd and the entire healing movement in Florida has been a very polarizing event. Christians either reject it or embrace it.

So, now the big news...In the last couple of weeks, the news has come out from Todd's Fresh Fire ministry that Todd had become "emotionally involved" with a woman on his staff, and his wife and he are separated. Its kind of a no brainer that going non-stop for months at a time is going to make you super weak anywhere that there is weakness but I also know that this is yet another level of humiliation for Todd. I wanted to post a letter from Doris Wagner about the whole event, because it expresses what the Apostolic Leadership over Todd is saying, and I wanted to give you, my dear readers, a bigger picture of what is going on from the Charismatic leadership side of the coin, rather than hearsay.

Here is Doris' letter:

A Message from Doris

My Take on the Lakeland Happenings

August 15, 2008

This past Tuesday, August 12, started out like any other tough travel day. Peter was out of the house by 4 a.m. heading to the airport for a grueling 24 plus hour trip to San Francisco, Tokyo, and finally to Singapore where he would arrive midnight the next day after crossing the International Date Line. He called me from San Francisco with his usual cheerful: "Hi, did you wake up?" He hadn't awakened me to say goodbye since I had major surgery on my foot on August 1 and it is sometimes tough to sleep well with the cast on my foot and lower leg.

Did I wake up? Man, the computer was filled with correspondence about Todd Bentley's announcement that he was separating from his wife. This was not quite a complete surprise since late the evening before the rumor of marital strife had been dropped in our ears, but it was just a rumor. Of course we had hoped it wasn't true. But there it was.

Since Peter doesn't do his own email, I had to read the Lakeland Ledger newspaper article to him. He then called Chuck Pierce, who immediately wrote the following letter to Peter and e-mailed it to me and wanted to fax it to Peter in the United Airline lounge in San Francisco where he had a little layover. After some detective work (I couldn't call him directly, his phone was busy and his battery was fading fast from overuse), I located him in the International Lounge and procured that fax number from the kind receptionist. She found him and positioned him at the fax machine where this letter from Chuck arrived:

August 12, 2008

Dear Peter:

When I got up this morning and prayed about the move of God in Lakeland and Todd Bentley, this is what God showed me: First of all, I felt a compassion to pray for Todd. The anointing of this move has stirred up a hunger in the Body, and the scrutiny of Todd's life has probably taken its toll on him. So when I began to pray for Todd this morning (since I usually set aside Tuesdays to pray), I saw several things. The Spirit of God is beginning to move greatly. Also, I feel that your call to set some sort of apostolic authority in place was warranted because of potential problems moving into this move of God. The order you set in place in Lakeland establishes a structure and boundary for Todd's problems to be addressed. Before that, there were no boundaries, and Lakeland had been going on for almost three months.

The thing we must remember is that God chose to use Todd to stir up the hunger in the Body of Christ. Therefore, as I prayed, the Lord took me to the life of Samson. He is a mystery. He had a Nazarite vow on his life, yet he had many character flaws. His character flaws did not stop God from using him. I think this is the biggest misunderstanding that the Body has when it comes to the anointing. That is why you see anointed men and women being used so mightily by the Lord, and then falling into sexual sin or monetary impropriety.

Because you have set an order for his life now, for the first time he has a shot at being fully accountable and breaking spiritual forces that could destroy his future. What he needs to do now is submit to apostolic authority over the next nine months. Ministry should not to be his goal. Instead, the restoration of covenant alignments must occur in his life. He and his wife might not be able to withstand the pressure of ministry together in the future, but during these nine months Todd's choice would be to submit to the authority structure that God has established in his life publicly. If he does that, he might have a ministry in the future. If this had not been set in place, this would have been much more serious. I'm sure others would say you should not have been involved at all.

Since Stephen Strader requested your help and he is in ICA, you did respond to his Macedonian call. Yes, you would have looked like a hero if you had waited and gotten involved now. But just as you wrote recently, you chose to establish the order first and then any spiritual discipline could be brought. That makes you look like a father.

Again, Todd's ministry allowed us all to see the hunger in the Body of Christ for miracles, healing and just a touch from God. Todd had flaws going into the time in which God chose to initiate his call and had not dealt with some of his problems. But God still chose to use him. Not only did his ministry reveal this hunger, but many have gotten saved. Now, hopefully, Todd will enter in the phase of being disciplined and establish his life in a new way so he can be qualified for use in the future.

Have a good flight to Asia.

Blessings, Chuck

To that, Peter added the following letter the "Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team", Skyped it to our assistant and grabbed his plane for Tokyo and Singapore.

To: Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
From: C. Peter Wagner
Date: August 12, 2008
Subject: Todd Bentley's Character Crisis

Most of you would be aware that the Lakeland Ledger broke the news publicly that Todd and Shona have decided to terminate their marriage. In Canada this requires a nine-month "separation" before official divorce proceedings can go into effect. I am quite upset by this development, and I know you will be also. I am now receiving a large amount of "I told you so!" email and I must say that my friends have a point. This has taken the lid off of a number of related character accusations against Todd that are now coming in which I might have dismissed previously, but no longer can do so off hand.

Let's take some time to process this. Todd was officially, publicly aligned with the Revival Alliance, so the three of you should definitely make some kind of statement, probably sending it to Steve Strang. Let's not sweep this under the rug with a "touch not God's anointed" as has been done with so many similar issues in our morally soft charismatic environment.

Meanwhile, I called Chuck Pierce for help, and he sent me the letter I am attaching with this. Chuck has some very encouraging insights for us.


C. Peter Wagner
President, Global Harvest Ministries
Chancellor, Wagner Leadership Institute

Then, during all of Tuesday, until after 1 a.m. Wednesday, all of my time was spent at the computer with e-mails and they all fell into two categories: the PROS and the CONS, roughly pretty equally divided. Wednesday and Thursday, all of my waking hours have been spent answering this type of mail.

The Cons are pretty nasty. One even said: "Let me be the first to say 'I told you so.'" These individuals asked Peter not to get involved in the "Lakeland Thing" from the onset. Some of them are probably rejoicing over Todd's problems. Several are demanding a public apology from all who were on the platform on June 23rd, along with God TV. Many are disrespectful, seemingly calling names and slinging mud. They come across to me as jubilant in victory. I question the godliness of this attitude. Along the way we have lost friends who have ceased to trust us, pulled out of our organizations and separated from us. That's o.k. They say we have been guilty of poor decisions and actions.

The Pros have seen things differently. They have agreed with our actions. Let me reflect a little on these actions as I see it. If I seem defensive, forgive me. Peter is such a kind and gentle person that he would never defend himself. I am a deliverance minister, and can become abrasive when I see Religious Spirits, Pharisaical Spirits, Spirits of jealousy, envy and even hatred become exposed. The fattest of all is the Accuser of the Brethren very much at work in the current situation. Whenever Peter is falsely accused in print, he usually just smiles and says "Did they spell my name right?" If things get really bad with false accusations, by a John Doe, he will serenely say "John Doe is not the enemy-we know who the enemy really is." This ability to handle the negative really bugs some folks and they dislike him even more. Believe me, my pillow has been next to his for 58 years and I have seen this played out. There doesn't seem to be a wide neutral zone, either he is liked or disliked. That's just the way it is.

Peter is a man of the highest integrity. He's a man of his word, as honest as the day is long. He has kept his wedding vows-no need to renew them, the old ones are still perfectly good! He has been total fun to live with and to raise our children together. He has treated me as a colleague with great respect. He is brilliant and godly. As we have been working on his memoirs, I have been amazed at what we have accomplished together, and we have worked side by side all of our married lives. Of all women, I consider myself to be highly blessed. Enough of that.

Peter did not jump into the "Lakeland Thing" lightly. He thought about it, prayed about it and we talked it over. Did "the outpouring" or Todd have some imperfections? Absolutely. Peter was asked to help out to set things in order and to investigate what some folks thought might be doctrinally "iffy." He was asked to do this by Lakeland's host, Stephen Strader, a colleague in the International Coalition of Apostles, which Peter leads. It was a "Macedonian Call" for help. That is Peter's job. Many of the Con people mentioned above thought Peter should have said no to this plea. After serious thought, prayer and consultation, particularly with our most closely related prophet, Chuck Pierce, we decided to move forward.

We felt as though there was a legitimate anointing on Todd's life. We knew he was an imperfect person but our honest desire was to sort out and save the good. The other charge against us is that we stupidly could not recognize that these miracles were being done under the power of a satanic spirit and that we were totally lacking in discernment. My answer to that is, there probably was some of the flesh at work on some occasions, and people operating with a higher level of discernment may have picked up on some things we could not. I seriously question whether a satanic spirit got away with all of the good. My conclusion is that it was mixed and we wanted to help sort out the good. The Apostolic Team of 11 apostles which Peter put together is still in the process of sorting all of that out, and time is needed to do that.

The most serious charge against us is that the alignment meeting of June 23 was absolutely wrong (implying that at best we were misled, at worst committed a grave sin in so doing). Our thought was to bring alignment to Todd, thereby gaining the right to speak into his life and ministry as he accepted the apostolic oversight of Che Ahn, Bill Johnson and John Arnott. This was accomplished. Please reread Peter's paper sent out to our entire mailing list a few days ago. Peter did not "ordain" Todd, as some journalists keep saying over and over wanting it to become truth. He blessed him, yes! Isn't it strange that all the negative things surfaced so soon after alignment took place and Todd agreed to oversight?

I see all of this as God's great mercy and love. Lots of critics just plain don't like Todd's looks. He's tattooed and pierced and dresses down on the platform. I wouldn't want my son to look like that, but to throw it all out at the cost of throwing out the anointing needs to be carefully considered. But then the world didn't think much of John the Baptist who probably wore smelly camel pelts and ate bugs. Jesus had other thoughts about John, however. As I work in the field of deliverance we start with what wants help and go from there. To see some major transformation in a person's life is a miracle often witnessed. We work with some raunchy raw material at times and our only prerequisite is that they want to be helped. It's enough. Man, indeed, looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Let's look at hearts and the hand of God, and bless what He is blessing.

Todd is in a perfect spot for help. The night of June 23 when we were there, Todd gave a long testimony. He has been wounded, and has wounded others along the way. He is still a young man, rescued from the streets and a biker society. He is not highly schooled or terribly polished. He does not fit the scholarly, seminary finishing school mold. He has not had the advantage of a solid steady home environment. But then again God has this habit of not choosing the things that we would choose. I could easily see that Todd needs deep inner healing and professional-level deliverance he has not yet had the opportunity to receive. One of our critics said that we got it backwards and should have taken him into a back room and ministered to him before the ceremony. We had the luxury of a few minutes with Todd before the evening meeting. We had never met the man before. Was I to say "Hey, Todd, you're a mess and need help in the next five minutes"?

The prescribed protocol is to put things in proper alignment first, then be in a position to speak into his life. That opportunity is presenting itself now. Todd now has the opportunity to address some character flaws and get them healed and corrected in order to carry the anointing God has given him. We in deliverance and inner healing minister to these things daily-they are nothing to be ashamed of. Not to deal with them out of pride or denial is where the shame can take hold. I worked with dairy cows as a kid and picked up some of their lice once. My mom told me as she treated my head with some smelly remedy "The shame is not in getting lice, the shame is in keeping them." I never had lice again!

Be assured that Todd's overseers, Che, John and Bill along with Peter are hard at work. Please give us some time. Peter is in Singapore and goes on to Indonesia for a few days and will not be back until next week. Che is ministering in Korea. Bill and John have killer schedules all summer long. We are working as best and as fast as we can, but there are constraints that slow us a little. Things like thousands of miles and schedules that cannot be changed, and when it is day here it is night in Asia.

I am very optimistic. I see a door of opportunity swung wide open. I see a wonderful, merciful God reaching out. What many are calling a rotten mess I see as a splendid chance for one of the church's finest hours. The mess was there festering for a while anyway, now let's fix it. Is Todd's situation a strange thing? The breakup of the family is one of the most common societal problems we face today. How many other couples contemplating family breakup could be encouraged to get help if this is a successful rehabilitation?

Todd now has some fathers by his side to help in time of need and to avoid shipwreck if he chooses to accept that help. He now has some authority in his life, and parameters are comforting to kids. He is deeply loved by many who are in a position to help spiritually, emotionally and mentally. He is a place of protection he did not have the luxury of before June 23.

Let me close by asking and a few questions:

Might it be that there is a hunger for revival as never before in our country? I think so.

Might it be that God wants to send us that revival and is anxious to do so but needs the right persons and proper government in His church to look after it? I think so.

Could it be that there was true anointing in an imperfect vessel and a merciful God wanted to set up circumstances to bring healing to Todd? I think so.

Could it be that when one apostle asked another for help in separating truth from error in a situation of mixture, that error began to surface so quickly? Isn't the church better off when error is exposed and corrected? I think so.

Could it be that God brought alignment, authority and order into the Lakeland situation and once that order was established Todd was in a safe place to be ministered to? If a wounded soul gets help and is rehabilitated, isn't that good? Isn't it wonderful to have a restoration process in place to help a brother back to useful service and full use of his gifts and anointing? If he decides not to be helped, we have done our job in making that help available, and his overseers have charge of his care.

Isn't this what the church is supposed to look like? I think so. If we fail, at least we will have tried. Not to have tried would have been failure to do what God required of us at this point in time.

Now here is where you come in. PLEASE PRAY. Ask God to so minister to Todd to soften his heart and to reach out for help, and to be fully healed. Ask God to help him to be willing to submit to the apostolic oversight that has been put in place. Ask God to heal his marriage and protect and bless his wife and three children.

This episode has the potential of being one of the finest hours the church has seen in recent years. I implore you to pray. Because this has all been so public it is all of our business and we must act on our knees. We have a real enemy capable of infiltrating the church to truncate this process. Let's fight for victory!

Sincerely, in Christ,


Monday, August 18, 2008

My crazy Sunday

My supervising pastor, Lisa, is about to give birth any moment. So, yesterday was her due date, and obviously she wasn't able to be at church doing all she does. I'm her assistant, so for the next month and a half or so, I'm responsible for various details that she does normally. I don't have to be responsible for the elementary kids teachers; Pam is doing that, but we just recruited about 15 new teachers for the fall quarter, and the meeting was yesterday. I had a lot to do, and basically I ran around from 8am to 2pm.

On my list of things to do were:

Get breakfast snacks ready for the elem. kids meeting from 9-10
Make sure all the nurseries were staffed
Find two subs when they weren't
Stay in the nursery until the sub could come
Make sure the babies room wasn't too crazy-we ended up having 4 adults in there with 10 babies
Get the prizes for the elem kids to the teachers in time to pass them out in class
Pick up the lunch at the store and get it ready for the teachers' meeting after church
Find pens and name tags for the teachers for the meeting
Enjoy sitting still while Pam led the meeting

At one point I was actually running across the parking lot with the prizes, and one of the new teachers saw me and asked me later, "was that you I saw running?" Yes it was.

I can't really convey the day, but it was crazy. And fun, in a way, since I had success and nothing too big fell through the cracks. And I was so blessed by the many adults who did the real work of the morning.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chuck and the Kabbalah

Last night I talked to Gretchen who had looked at the Chrisma Magazine article about Steve Lapp from Will's blog. At the bottom of the Chrisma article, there was a conversation stream about Chuck Pierce and the Kabbalah. We looked at the links, and found a blog all about how Chuck had to be a Kabbalaist because he uses phrases that are similar to the Kabbalah. It juxtaposed a paragraph from the Kabbalah, and then a paragraph in one of Chuck's letters. There were a number of phrases that were very similar. However, the content of the paragraphs had very different meanings. 

Today while I was at work, I heard Chuck mention the Kabbalah issue to someone next door. As he walked past our door, I asked him about it. He said, "Well, if someone's not mad at you for something, you're not saying much..." and we talked a little more. I shared how my sister had called asking me about it. 

So today, after I left, Chuck sent out the following email. It's funny for me because I didn't know anything about it until yesterday, but I thought that it might be interesting for ya'll to see what Chuck and Robert have to say about the whole thing.

Dear Friends:

 Many times we are asked how what we teach on the months, tribes and the Rosh Chodesh blessing of God is different from the ancient occult Jewish practice of Kabbalah.  There is some truth in the Kabbalah when it comes to the names of God and the ancient mysteries connected to the Hebraic letters.  However, Kabbalistic signs and writings must be coupled with magical practices for them to have power. This is different from understanding Hebraic times and seasons.  By understanding the times and seasons we live in, we can stay in God’s perfect time and then experience His supernatural power and Spirit.  True students of Kabbalah live a very strict, stringent life and resist any sort of secularism.  Though one sect believes in joyous types of celebration, legalistic rule is part of their structure.  None of those are practices at Glory of Zion. 

 Robert Heidler has written an awesome article that we have used over the past several years when individuals who do not understand why we teach on God’s biblical timing throughout His Word inquire of us as to what we believe concerning God’s Firstfruits blessing.  I think you will enjoy this teaching.   Kabbalah believes that God Himself cannot be really known.  Though He interacts with mankind, we really cannot see God in our midst and know Him personally.  We believe you can seek God, find Him, know Him, and have an intimate, personal relationship with Him. 

 I want to caution you not to discount all supernatural manifestation and teaching at this time in history.  We, in Western thought, tend to discount anything that is not totally rational.  We must remember that we are spirit, soul and body made in the likeness of God.  Kabbalah is linked with oral tradition.  We believe in the Word of God.  Therefore, the Word of God is the foundation and basis for all teaching that occurs here in this ministry.

 Please remember that Jesus tells us that we will worship in Spirit and in truth.  Therefore, you must get to know the Spirit of truth as well as the written Word.  Do not be like the Pharisees when Jesus said to them in John 5:38-40, “But you do not have His word abiding in you because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.  You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life!”   

 I want to encourage you to seek the gifts of His Spirit and ask His presence to fill your life. Get to know His presence in your atmosphere.  Do not just live the rational life of conforming to the world in your generation.  Also, gain knowledge of how God intersects with us in time.  You can do this by reading Interpreting the Times and God’s Unfolding Battle Plan.  You have been set in time and you can move from blessing to blessing until blessings overtake you.  The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity that is reigning in the earth realm guiding us.  Get to know the Father and the Son through the Spirit. 


Chuck D. Pierce

 Hebraic Understanding Vs Kabbalah

 Several have asked if there is a similarity between what we teach prophetically at Glory of Zion, and the occult Jewish practice of Kabbalah.  My answer to that is a clear and unambiguous “no!”   I have looked at websites and material that present Kabalistic teaching and I agree that it is occult and clearly demonic.

At Glory of Zion, we operate from a prophetic understanding, based on God’s revelation of Himself to the ancient Jewish people (Rom 3:1-2).  Through His historic dealings with Israel, God imparted to the Jewish people a unique “Hebraic” mindset.  This Hebraic mindset was also the mindset of the early church.  It is part of the “rich sap from the olive root” that Paul writes about in Romans 11:17.

When the church rejected its Jewish roots in the 4th century, it lost the Hebraic mindset, and adopted a pagan Greek worldview.  Because of this, there are many things in Scripture, and in the world around us, that we have a hard time understanding.  

Because the church has so embraced a pagan Greek worldview, Christians often find the biblical worldview strange and unfamiliar, but it is essential to understand if we are to correctly interpret what God is saying to His church today.

The Hebraic mindset includes the presupposition that God has revealed Himself and His purposes in many ways:  Through His calendar, through His providential dealings with Israel, and even through the Hebrew language.  The Jews believe that the Hebrew language was the original language given by God in Eden, and the Hebrew alphabet was given by God to enable Torah to be recorded. (Interestingly, many archaeologists now believe that written alphabetic language probably originated with the Hebrew people.) 

The kind of thing Chuck and I do, concerning the meaning of the months, tribes, years, etc, does not grow out of Kabalistic teaching, but out of an understanding of the Hebraic mindset God imparted to Israel.

In our English alphabet, for example, a "letter" is just a symbol used to represent a sound.  In the Hebrew alphabet, however, individual letters not only represent sounds, but ideas.  They each have meaning.  (The Hebrew letters were originally pictograms, like the Chinese alphabet.)   Even the shapes of the letters can be significant.

The meaning of a Hebrew word was often determined by the collective meanings of the individual letters.   This is not Kabbalah.  It was always part of the Hebrew language.  Jesus, Himself, taught that even the smallest Hebrew letter, and the smallest part of a Hebrew letter had lasting significance (Mt. 5:18).

It is true that those who practice Kabbalah also begin with a Hebraic view of reality.  Because of their background in Judaism, they have a Hebraic understanding of God’s times and seasons.  They recognize that the Hebrew alphabet has rich meaning.  The works of darkness always begin with a grain of truth, but then mix the truth with error.  Kabbalah begins with truth that is inherent in God’s creation and perverts it into something occultic. 

If we are to accuse Glory of Zion of Kabbalah we must also accuse every astronomer of practicing astrology, since they both astronomers and astrologers study the heavens and track the positions of stars, planets, and constellations.  Recognizing the truth God embedded in the Hebrew language is not Kabbalah, any more than all study of the heavens is astrology!

The problem for many Christians today is that we have inherited a Greek rationalistic mindset that has no appreciation of the Bible’s Hebraic context.

If you read even a little of the writings associated with Kabbalah, you quickly see that what they do is VERY much different than what Chuck and I are doing. 

We have had a number of Jews listen to our presentation of the Hebrew year.  These have included both messianic and non-messianic Jews, and even a Torah scribe from Jerusalem.  Their usual response is that they have never heard a Gentile with such a good understanding of the Hebraic way of thinking.  None of them considered what we are doing as Kabbala.

I believe the Hebrew months, alphabet, and numbering system are an incredible testimony of God's providential working, and His blessing on the Jewish people.  

I hope this helps!

Many blessings,
Dr. Robert Heidler



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our brush with greatness

Today Will and I went bowling with some people from our church. I should say, Will went bowling, and I went along for fun. We got there about 1/2 hour early, and with time to kill we sat down to watch the other bowlers while we waited. There was a nice family there; mom, dad, two little boys, and an uncle or something. As we idly watched, we began to notice that these two men were bowling strike after strike. It was effortless, and the norm. I was sitting there in my bowling cluelessness saying, "Man, these guys are good!" The balls were seemingly floating down the lane, almost making no noise as they touched the ground. I was very impressed.

Our friend came in the door, and as he walked up to us he said quietly, "Hey, that's Chris Barnes." Who?? It turns out he's a world class bowler who won about $700,000 bowling last year.  And not only that, his wife (sitting there watching them) is the top woman bowler in the world right now. Oh. That explains the 30 balls they had with them. It seemed like overkill. But I guess if bowling is your life, it's really not. 

So, we had our brush with greatness today. Thank heavens someone told us. We might have missed it!

Monday, July 21, 2008


I thought I'd give an update on things going on here.
This weekend was quite busy...we had Abby's last soccer games for the summer league she's been in. Her team won the championship, and Abby was delighted. There will be photos on one of our blogs soon. The first game of the day was against the most well matched team in the league, so it was very exciting. We've had fun going to the games, although we aren't a very good soccer family because we kept forgetting the practices on Tuesday nights. Oh well. She made it to most of them.

Madeline went to the play rehearsal that she and Abby are in at church. Both Abigail and Madeline have bigger parts in this one, which is fun. Abigail is going to sing a song with a couple of other girls. The play will be a big experience for Madeline because she is going to sing a solo, which she's never done before. She has a beautiful voice, and we're excited that she is going to make her first debut in front of an audience. She'd nervous, but it will be really good. John Dickson, our GOZ worship leader, is writing the song. He's going to work with Madeline this week to learn it. 

This Sunday was also really busy for me. We had a record breaking number of children in the classes that I oversee, so I was running around getting extra chairs, and making copies and finding other helpers and so on. It was actually a very peaceful day in the classes. The kids were happy for the most part, but there were a lot of them. After church we had a "Parents with Children" group lunch and meeting. We have been happy that a fellowship type group has been formed for the many new families who have arrived in the last couple of years.

That's a little of what's going on these days. We still have about a month of summer to enjoy, and we're doing that.

Tomorrow we have Dan and Jacquie coming to visit for a week; we're all looking forward to their arrival. I will have to work, but there will be lots of time for me in the afternoons and weekend to hang out with them.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Todd Bentley Thursday Night

I thought I'd give an update on the Todd Bentley meeting we went to on Thursday night. It wasn't as crowded as the South Carolina meeting I heard about, although the 10,000 person stadium was full all the way up to the nosebleeds, and even some directly behind the stage. All available parking was taken, and when we got there two hours early it was hard to find a space in the closer parking lot. A tour bus was dropping off people in front of the was definitely a big event.

It was good for me to sit through an entire meeting, especially for the sake of context. I really wanted to hear Todd and see a meeting from beginning to end, to get perspective. I came away very comfortable with the Biblical and evangelistic integrity of his message. He didn't do the "Faith Healing" thing that drives me nuts, but rather focused on how the point is to bring people to Jesus, and healings, signs and miracles is a way that he brings people to himself.

I also was impressed by Todd's authenticity and clear communication abilities as he shared what the Lord has done in his life, and what is happening in Florida.

When he moved into the healing ministry time I had to decide whether or not to be suspicious, or just watch with suspended judgement. In a situation where I don't know the people getting ministered to, I am not able to know what happens later. However, I do know that the Lord has worked through Todd Bentley for the last 10 years in healing ministry, so I believe that He was active on Thursday as well. Todd shared that he has a team of people who follow up with those who are claiming healing two weeks after the fact, and the ministry gets copies of x-rays, blood work, and other medical proofs of the healings. He is working to document medically what is happening, and wants this healing revival to be the most well documented one in present history.

He also was clear to acknowledge the fact that God does the healing, not him. Even in the way he dealt with the people who came up on stage, he wasn't doing the ministry right then and there; rather, he was asking them what they felt the Lord do while they were in the stands. The expectation was that the Lord sends his healing angels and anointing to anyone in the meeting. It wasn't necessary to come to the stage to be healed. After a time of ministry, Todd gave a very clear gospel presentation of salvation. He shared his testimony, and gave an invitation to accept Christ. I saw people sprinkled all over raise their hands. He led them in a very traditional sinners prayer, including repentance for sins. It was very good, and definitely an orthodox presentation.

The point of anything the Lord does in our lives is that He get the glory for it. Our part is to have faith and believe that what He has said in the Bible is true. He does the rest. I have found that in my own journey of receiving healing for Rheumatoid Arthritis, I began to pray for healing because it says to in James, but as I did, I began to see that I really didn't believe that God heals today. I also didn't think that God cares about what happens to my body, because it is going to "burn anyway." I had to continuously confront faulty beliefs in my own foundation, and the Lord has reworked my belief structure from the ground up.

I have had to let go of all kinds of things, including false guilt, taking responsibility for what is God's responsibility, vows about not being offensive, fear of being authentic, fear of not looking good to others, unforgiveness, and on and on. In return, I've received the ability to trust the Lord with my life, freedom from the need to control or "do it right", joy, peace, and rest in Jesus. I still have RA, and I still go weekly to the healing team for prayer for full and complete healing, because that's what I'm expecting. But, I can honestly say that the quality of my life has improved beyond dramatically since I began to pray for healing five years ago. On a physical level, I have some pain in my joints each day, but I am able to live my life and do all the things I want to with my kids and friends. I feel like the Lord has lessened the pain and joint damage dramatically, and has me in a holding pattern while I wait for my full healing.

The Lord has communicated a number of things to me during this season in my life. One, that I needed to get prayed for whenever the possibility arose. Two, that I need to be like the widow who went to the judge demanding justice against her adversary. He finally gave in because of her irritating persistence. The Lord told me that I need to be like that widow, and keep asking. The persistence itself was a hard lesson for me to learn, because I believed that whatever happens is God's will (true), therefore prayer is kind of pointless because He wants things to be the way they are, and I should just lay back and accept it (false). Three, He has been showing me how much He loves me. I have a place of rest in the shadow of His wings where I can get refueled and refreshed. It is the best feeling imaginable, and I'd rather have gone through this trial of RA and found that place of love and emotional healing than go back to where I was physically pain free and still believing that God doesn't really know me or love me like I know He does now.

Back to Todd Bentley...I felt like the meeting was for a more mainstream audience than even our church. (Some of you might smile.) Almost no one goes to a church like ours, where seeing the Lord move is a weekly event. So I Ieft feeling like I'd experienced something a little tamer than my weekly Sunday worship experience. However, I was really glad to get a personal context for Todd Bentley, and I feel good about his very clear evangelical message.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Next saga in the revival

We found out that Todd Bentley is coming to UNT to hold a meeting in the basketball stadium this Thursday, the 3rd. Its about 3 miles from our house. So we are going over there to see him. Our church isn't doing anything as far as hosting goes, but Chuck Pierce is going to introduce and welcome him. We hold our conferences in that stadium, so we know our way around there. That's handy.

The interesting thing we heard was that he held a meeting in South Carolina recently, and the people in charge told him that they'd gotten a facility that holds 6000, with room for 2000 overflow. He said that he didn't need a space that big-only in Florida were the meetings that big. (10,000 every night for the last couple of months.) On the way to the meeting, the traffic was so bad that the Highway Patrol had to come escort Todd and his group down the center divider to get to the meeting place. The traffic was from all the people coming to the meeting, and they had to turn away 8000 people.

So, we have decided to get there a few hours early, and bring our dinner for a picnic while we wait. It should be interesting to see what happens. I'll give a report here later.

It will also be interesting to see if the Todd Bentley meeting makes a difference at our church that weekend. I'm going to make sure I have extra workers available for the childcare, just in case.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Florida Revival

I wanted to alert you all to the revival happening right now in Lakeland, Florida. The main minister involved is Todd Bentley, who's ministry we've been watching for a few years now. He is Canadian, and has a very intense testimony, which you can read about in his book "Journey into the Miraculous." He's about 32, is covered with tattoos and piercings, and looks kind of like a shorter William. I've been impressed with his writing and speaking; we've listened to some sermons on his Fresh Fire Ministries website. He's very well grounded in scripture, and obviously has a deep intimacy with the Lord. If you watch the YouTube coverage of the Florida revival, you may not see him giving much content; just getting zapped a lot, and praying for healing for people. For a better examination of his message, look at the Fresh Fire Ministries website.

MSNBC just recently published an article about the Florida revival. I encourage you to read the article here. One of the reasons I decided to write this blog was because of the following paragraph from the MSNBC article:

Not everyone is comfortable with this expression of Christianity, including some Protestant theologians. R. Douglas Geivett, a professor at the conservative, evangelical Talbot School of Theology, is deeply skeptical of the "Florida outpouring" and does not believe Bentley’s claims of supernatural healing are consistent with Christian doctrine

"I don’t think it fits neatly into any branch of Christianity," said Geivett.
"Mr. Bentley’s worldview appears to be a mixture of New Age notions, an obsession with the paranormal, and an untutored grasp of Christian theology."

Most of us reading this blog know Doug Geivett, if not personally, then by close association. He's a good guy, and we have been learning from him for years. Knowing his Biblical scholarship, it is surprising to me that he believes that supernatural healing is not consistent with Christian doctrine. All it takes is a cursory look the New Testament to see that healing is a common thread in the ministries of the main leaders in the early church, and of course Jesus. And we've all heard stories of missionaries who had miraculous encounters with Jesus, or angels, and we probably know someone here in America who has been healed by the Lord. So why is it so hard to stomach something like the Florida revival?

One thing I've learned in my experience with the Lord is that there is always an offense that comes with the moves of the Holy Spirit. To receive what the Lord is doing, there is a requirement of humility and faith.

For example: The Virgin Birth. Who in their right mind would believe that a virgin would bear a child? That doctrine right there keeps people out of the church who cannot make that leap of faith. How about Jesus coming as a Servant, not a Conquering King? The NT shows the havoc that wreaked in the Jewish religious community. And of course, Jesus, a man, claiming to be one in the same as God. That one got him crucified. How about the doctrine of Grace? If you can't accept that you don't have what it takes to get to heaven on your own merit, you've missed the whole point. But it takes humility to get over that one.

In every instance of life change in the Bible, there is a requirement of humility and faith: Naaman dipping seven times in the Jordan to be healed of leprosy; the widow giving Elijah the last of her oil and flour for food, which the Lord multiplied for them and then resurrected her son who died; the entire story of Jonah; Daniel; Mary and Joseph; Nicodemus; The Roman Centurion; The ten lepers; and on and on through the Resurrection and Pentecost, and all the stories of the early church. Even the book of Revelation is a vision, which John had to receive by faith. It's the only pattern we have for our Christian walk.

Then of course there are the various revivals throughout history. There are always those who can embrace the thing God is doing, and there are always those who can't. Revivals necessarily include an emotional response, because people are being confronted with the deep love that Jesus has for them. If you haven't experienced what it feels like to know that Jesus loves you beyond measure, just like you are today, because He made you to be who you are, and knows everything in your heart and mind and still loves you, even in your sin and inadequacy, then ask him to show you what it feels like. It is a feeling like no other. I can't describe it adequately, except to say that it's like having a ball of peace down inside your chest, where anxiety used to be. It's overwhelming, and all you can do is worship.

We have a new song that we sing at our church all about how Jesus loves us. You can hear it here. Here are the words:
He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how gread Your affections are for me
And oh, how He loves us so, oh how He loves us.
We are His portions and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violenly inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us, oh how He loves us
Last week I was sitting up with the kids to the left side of the stage, and while we were singing it, I looked over the audience and saw people all over crying. It was because they were feeling the love that Jesus has for them, and being ministered to in a deep place in their spirit.

When I watch what is happening in Florida, it looks crazy. People are crying, and falling down, and shaking, and singing, and laughing. There are non-stop stories of healings and even resurrections from the dead. But having experienced what it feels like to be overwhelmingly loved by Jesus, I can understand, at least a little, what's going on there. Healing is always a result of Jesus' love. It is never a reward to us because we are good enough, or did something right. His love carries the offense that all true love does. It isn't based on my ability to earn it. I'm not loved because I deserve it. I'm loved because He just wants to love me.

You may hear more in the future about the Florida revival. It's been going on for over about two months now. I hope that as you evaluate it, you will remember the humility and faith that it takes to receive any move of God, and not just write it off because it looks so extraordinary.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Petersens

We have been spending a lot of time with Darren and Jennifer. It all started on December 23rd, when we finally got our families together after going to GOZ for 18 months. We had such a great time that we invited them over for Christmas Eve the next day and decorated gingerbread cookies with all the kids, and stayed up late talking and letting the kids watch movies. They have 5 kids aged 10 and down, and Jenn is about to give birth to number 6. She homeschools and maintains household order, and Darren works on the computers at UNT, and plays sax in our church worship band. All our kids like each other, and get along great, so it's easy to hang out. We are blown away to find a couple who we feel like we've known forever. This weekend their kids are with grandma, so we're getting a babysitter and going out for their anniversary. We're all looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yearning For Zion

I spent a couple of hours yesterday watching video and reading articles about the Yearning For Zion Ranch situation (down here in Texas, no less). I also read some articles about women who have left the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.

This blog is a comment that I wrote in response to Jonalyn Fincher's blog. She was talking about the need for freedom for women to do whatever they are called to do in life; i.e. work or stay home, as well as questioning the sanctity of "mother love" as an instinct in women in light of the FLDS mothers who allowed their children to live in an abusive situation, but are wanting their children back. I agree with Jonalyn in her desire to bring freedom to women in the church who have been under restrictive or controlling lifestyles. But I don't think that it has to do specifically with working, or staying home with kids, or other life situations.

I believe that the real issue we are talking about here is an identity issue, and a spiritual issue. I have been both a full time mom and a full time worker at different times during my adult life. What I have found is that freedom in my life comes not from my physical circumstances, but from freedom in my spirit to be the person God is calling me to be. I am changing in Him each day, and I will be until I die. What form it takes in the natural is not so much the point as my right to obey the Lord as He leads me.

I had to learn that my wants and needs are valid, that my "no" is valid, and that I can trust my instincts. Control of any kind is actually abuse. Control can be maintained by religious reasoning, physical intimidation, verbal intimidation, and things as subtle as undermining one's confidence in one's basic instincts.

I see the women in the FLDS church subject to all these kinds of abuse in an overt way. I agree with Jonalyn that it happens in the Christian church too. The issues of women's roles is one place where it can happen, but that is just a small part of it. Anytime guilt is used to control behavior, or when fear is part of our Christian walk, we are being controlled by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit. "Shoulds" and "Oughts" are not from the Lord either. It is much bigger in our Christian culture than we realize, and we can't see it until we move out of it.

Men suffer the same bondage that women do if they are kept in any way from the freedom God has for them. I believe that men who want to control the people around them are in as much bondage if not more than those they are controlling. I should add here that women are equally part of the problem when it comes to controlling. It just looks different most the time.

Ultimately, what we are really dealing with here is the age old battle between God and Satan. God always wants to lead us into freedom, and Satan always wants to lead us into bondage. When Jesus came to earth, he did treat women amazingly differently than their culture. But he also treated men differently. He accepted sinners and oppressed of all kinds, and announced his ministry with the passage from Isaiah 61..."The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim that captive will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come."

Honestly, as I have begun to walk in the freedom that comes because the Spirit of the Lord is in me, my distinctions between men and women, or circumstances, or functions in life has melted away. I now see myself, and the Christians around me, as a part of the body of Christ, where there is "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female." I am so delighted to walk in the same ministry that Jesus did-That of bringing freedom to the captives. Any time I hear His voice and obey, I bring the same freedom that He did; to myself, and to those around me, no matter who they are. They might be my children, they might be my coworkers, they might be the people I interact with daily. It doesn't really matter who. 

On Sunday night we celebrated Passover, which is the perfect picture of how the Lord takes us out of our bondage and into freedom. It's pretty ugly- there are the plagues, the unhappy Pharaoh, the leaving of the familiar, moving into the unknown, insurmountable obstacles like the Red Sea, and even 40 years wandering in the desert if we don't quite get it. But it is the hallmark of God's ministry in our lives. 

My heart breaks for the women of the Yearning For Zion ranch. And yet, I'll bet you anything this is God answering their yearning. Because He will always find and free those who truly yearn for Him.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Snow Day

This morning I left for work, and it was cold and overcast. By noon it was snowing big cotton ball sized flakes. At 1:30 a guy at church said that the Denton schools were closing down, so I rushed over to the kids' school, and got them. We crawled home at 15mph with the many other non-snow drivers, and made it. I probably could have used chains, which of course I don't have. William is just now walking in the door; it took him an hour and a half to get home. Meanwhile, the kids made some big snowmen in the front yard.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hi There

So, almost two months later, I'm back for an update. I started my job working at GOZ, and even though I'm only in the office 20 hrs a week or less, I'm still very busy. Those hours at home were good for getting a lot done. I'm adjusting to doing things a new way, in less time. Or doing less...:-) So far my biggest work has been to make sure all the volunteers are in place each Sunday. Today was the most sketchy, because I had three out of six workers gone. It definately was a Trust God day, and it worked out. I shuffled people around, got a couple of friends to fill in for an hour each, and one mom actually asked me if I needed anyone (bless her), so she filled out the baby nursery. I think I'm going to send out some Thank You cards this week. Being in the church office has been fun. I'm getting to know a lot of people, and I'm having a great time being an extrovert.

A couple who pastor at our church have gotten the green light on starting a married with kids group. Today we had them and three other couples and their kids over to our house to talk about it. I'm excited to have some community, and I know that many other families will too. I made a list from the nursery roster of possible families, and came up with about 40 couples. That kind of surprised everyone. But there really is a need. Our church is growing, and people need to plug in somehow. I think it will be good.

Tonight we are expecting some exciting weather. All weekend its been balmy, 70's with cloud cover blowing in from the south. Somewhere in the early morning, we are supposed to have thunderstorms, and possibly flash floods, as well as snow and freezing rain when the cold front from the north hits. Tomorrow is supposed to be freezing, with highs in the 50's. There is a tornado watch in effect, which means tornadoes are possible. We'll sleep peacefully, expecting children and thunder sometime in the early morning, and the weather radio next to the bed to let us know of any excitement. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

The girls got to be in a Purim play Dinner Theater at church this weekend, and Abigail was Esther. She did great, and spoke her lines clearly and loud enough. We loved seeing our girls on stage. The middle schoolers did a Cowboy Purim, with lots of western movie knockoff. That was funny, and they lip synced some funny Cowboy Purim songs that someone found. We had a dinner beforehand, and had a great time with various friends we gathered at our table. I met a lady in the parking lot who just moved here from Nebraska at the end of December. She hasn't met many people yet. I found out a lot about her; her story is like ours, and so many people at GOZ: God told her to come here, so she came. She left behind her grandchildren and children, and is delighted to be here. It feels like we are living in a magnet, with people coming from all over. I wonder what's going to happen next?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On Wounds and Bad Theology

I read Grandpa's letter this week in which he talked about the old Holiness theology from way back when. We found out that the old Holiness bird isn't actually quite dead recently in a theological "discussion" with a friend. He had a number of out of context verses to prove the point that there were two levels of salvation, and we went round and round for a while.

What we've seen in our friend is that it is all about his wounds from his absent father being superimposed on God. He only can imagine a God who requires perfect behavior in order to accept us, and also really doesn't love us or want a relationship with us. I'll bet you that crazy theologies could be directly traced back to father issues in those purporting them.

Grandpa talked about the good preaching from the Greek, and scripture in context being a big answer for this (and all) kind of heresy. I agree. But I also think that in whatever ways people are wounded, there is a wrong theology for them to agree with. Or they'll make one up that works for them. ie. Joseph Smith. (Or maybe I should say that Satan is standing ready with a perversion of the truth to feed them.) Their reality that they've experienced matches a messed up view of God. When Jesus shows up in their lives and actually loves them, and heals their hearts, the theology changes to match His reality. Suddenly large portions of scripture make sense.

Interestingly, I think that fewer Christians than we might expect have had that kind of personal encounter with Jesus that changes their view of reality. I think that a weakness in our American Christian culture is to substitute preaching and knowledge of the Bible for the encounter with the Lord through the Holy Spirit. I remember thinking in College that we talked a lot about our "relationship" with Jesus, but I really didn't know how to have a relationship with a person that I couldn't see or hear. I wanted to have a real relationship with this living God, not just talk about it like I knew what I was talking about. I'd say that a lot of pretending was going on, in me and my friends. I told the Lord that I wanted a real relationship with Him, not what I had. And, He's definitely been working on that since.

I see now that a relationship with Him is impossible if the Holy Spirit is not given the correct place in my life. The Holy Spirit is the one that Jesus left to be our teacher and comforter and empowerer. If I'm afraid of the Holy Spirit, then I miss out on the person who is meant to minister to me in my daily life, through the Bible, and other ways. He's creative. And He's one and the same with Jesus and God. So nothing He does will violate the nature of who God is or scripture. There are boundaries, but they feel different than the intellectual exercise I used to engage in as my normal operating system for my Christian life.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Simmering Down

The holidays are over, our house guests are gone, and everyone is back in school. This week I enjoyed getting the house back into order, and relaxing. I love having family (Dan and Jacquie DeHart and our friend Wendy) stay with us, and I love having everyone home for the Christmas break. But I also appreciate the structure of the schedule when we go back to it.

During the last week our church hosted a big conference at the UNT basketball stadium. I had fun working in the concession stand on Thursday and Friday for four hours each. I always laugh to realize anew what a people person I am. I love helping people get what they need, and the pressure doesn't bother me. It reminded me of when I used to help Aunt Gretchen sell rubber stamps in college. This time I was selling coffee and snacks. But the same rush of people. In return, the church gave me and the other volunteers a $50 gift certificate to the GOZ store, and the new worship CD. I felt more than compensated for my time and effort.

I'm enjoying our new car, and so is William. At the dealership, we had a choice between a 4-cylinder model, and the 6-cylinder super fancy model. I convinced him that the price difference wasn't enough to justify getting less car, so we got the really nice one. He's glad he listened to me as we zoom along at 85 mph with little engine effort. It's definitely the nicest car I've ever owned.

We are looking forward to my parents and Gretchen and Anders' visit in February. We are going to go to my cousin Chad's wedding, and have BBQ at a great place we just discovered, among other things.