Wednesday, August 27, 2014

True Holiness

When I initially began to jot down thoughts for this blog, it was going to be more of a don’t-use-holiness-and-living-above-reproach-as-an-excuse-to-avoid-sinners kind of post. And while I may still hit that, I want to instead share the realization that train-wrecked me this morning. My train of thought for this post was totally derailed by this realization.

The Greek word for holy is hagios. It is used a total of 229 times in the New Testament. It is defined as "most holy thing, a saint".

Friends, this messed me up.

1 Peter 1:16 (KJV) "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy".

The word hagios is used twice in that verse. The holiness that God is calling Himself is the same holiness that He is calling us to.

Hagios is also the same word that is used to describe the Holy Spirit.

That Holy Spirit is the same one that lives in you.

Hagios Pneuma. Holy Spirit. 

The third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son. His personality and character is Holy. 
His work and power is Truth. 
He is never a depersonalized force. 
He is Life giving. 
The spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ. 

Romans 8:9 says the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us.

Hagios Pneuma lives in you.

Hagios is in you.

The Holy is in you.

You. are. holy.

Hagios Pneuma. 

You have done nothing to make yourself holy.
You can do nothing to make yourself like God, like the Holy.
You need to do nothing for it.

When you said "Yes" to Holy Spirit, "Yes" to Jesus Christ. You were filled with the "Holy One".
You are a son or daughter of God. You have God's last name. He adopted you. You are His. Therefore your name is now "Holy". Your nature is "Holy". You are "Holy".

You don't have to fear being tarnished by sin around you. Jesus was never afraid of the sin of the prostitutes and tax collectors rubbing off on Him. He was confident in His nature as Holy. You have His Spirit living in you. You are Holy. You cannot be tarnished by spending time with sinners.

Jesus never feared losing God's approval by spending time with the "worst sinners" as they were called.

Jesus came to bring the Spirit of Holy to the ones who do not know they are holy.

He didn't come for those who are righteous (dikaios). "Those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined."

He came to declare the ones who have not been set free from sin as hagios.

Jesus wasn't afraid of the appearance of evil like so many in the Church are.

I was a part of a church for a long time that disapproved of spending time with those who were outside of the church. To spend time with homosexuals, atheists, fornicators meant that I was in sin too.

The church (even I have at times) has preached that we are to live above reproach- therefore we are to abstain from this and that and this person and that place. Jesus hung out with the "worst" (though I don't think He considered them to be worse sinners than the pharisees) in the "worst" most reproachable places. Jesus' best friends were involved in the "bad sins". He hung out with prostitutes. He invited them to parties and went to their parties. There was alcohol there (oh my!). He hung out alone with a woman (NO!!!!!) adulterous woman!(Blasphemy!) But He was holy. He didn't lose His holiness or his God-ness. He was surrounded by the appearance of evil. And everywhere He went, God went, Holy went, Truth went, Love went, and miracles followed. 

Our calling to be Holy includes loving like Jesus loved.
How many times have I heard that we shouldn't give to homeless people on the street corners because they are just going to spend the money on drugs and alcohol?

Jesus didn't say love those who are going to use the love well.
He didn't say feed and clothe and give to those who are going to instantly become "good" and un-sinful.
He didn't say care for those who have their crap together.
Our call is to be like Jesus.
Our call is to love like Jesus.

When I look at the way Jesus lived, the way the Holy lives, and compare it to my life and to the lives of many in the church, so often I am disappointed by our misuse of love and grace.

We are given exceedingly more than we can ask for or imagine, but we won't give to others for fear that they may misuse the gift.

What if we are misusing the gift friends?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Journey to the Weeping Room: The Father's Favorite Place

Matthew 5: 10-12, 43-48 (The Message)
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Not only that- count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak likes about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens- give a cheer, even!- for though they don't like it, I do! and all of heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. 
You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend, and its unwritten companion, 'hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best- the sun to warm and the rain to nourish- to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like ti. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
If you aren't a fan of The Message translation- Check it out here.  

Most of you are well aware of the horrible things going on over seas. Most of you know all about the violence and injustice. Most of you have made mention of it on social media. You have changed your profile picture to the "N", you have tweeted your support for the Christians, you have vented about the horrid deaths thatIsis is causing. You have watched the news, read and shared articles on your newsfeed. You are aware. You are likely even thinking about it now with deep pain in your heart. You have cried and pleaded with the Lord to end the murder and bring about justice for His people. 
Abba hears your prayers.
Abba hears the prayers of the ones being persecuted.
Abba hears the prayers of the rape victims.
He hears the prayers of the ones who have lost children and friends.
He hears the prayers of the ones who are taking their last breath here on earth, and He hears their shouts of jubilation as they find themselves in eternity, with their Friend forever. 

Our Father sees. He knows exactly what is going on.
He experienced it Himself.
His disciples long ago experienced it.
His disciples today are sharing with Him in that suffering.

He isn't unaware. He hears their cries. He hears your cries.

Can I be offensive to some of you momentarily?

He hears the cries ofIsis. He hears the cries of terrorist. He hears the cries of rapists. He sees their brokenness. He hears their longing for freedom. 

And the Father weeps. 

His creation is living lovelessly. His children and deceived. The ones whom he so longs to call "friend" are lost. 

Do you not think the Father is just as sorrowful, if not more so, about the thousands who do not know him and are persecuting His church?

Friends, yes, my heart breaks right along with all of you who weep for the women and children who are being horribly treated, even unto death.

My heart breaks for the ones being abducted and kept as personal sex slaves! 
If you forgot, I work to fight sex slavery and injustice.
I am all about social justice.
But my Friend is all about people living in Love. 
My Friend wills that none perish.
He wills that everyone will know Him intimately.

Any who do not know Love send Him running to the weeping room.

The Father is calling us to journey with Him to his favorite place- the weeping room. 
The room where every cry is heard, every tear is bottled. Every tear of the just and the unjust. Every cry of the good and the evil. 

Friends, If your sin can't change the way the Father feels about you, then why do you think it changes the way He feels about those who are persecuting the church?

Think about Paul. Before Saul became Paul he was murdering Christians. He did exactly what is going on right now. Then he encountered our Friend, his name was changed, and he wrote a huge portion of the book that you build your life upon.

How many Sauls are waking up right now? How many more will wake up as a result of your prayers? 

I guarantee you that the persecuted ones are praying for their enemies at this moment. 
If they can gather the strength to pray for the ones who are beheading their children, who are we to not join them? 

Abba, we pray for the persecuted church. We thank you for changing the direction of the missiles in mid-air as you have done time and time again. We pray for you to deliver your children, yes; but I plead with you Holy Spirit, to bring those who are walking outside of Love home. Pour out your Spirit on those who do not know you. Give them dreams and visions. Wake them up in the night with encounters with Love. Abba, bring the lost ones home. Leave the 99 for the one once again. Jesus, we long for you to come. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Boxes, Houses, and Castles: A Home fit for a King

I've placed you in perfectly ordered boxes. 
Each one labeled distinctly on it's side. 
I know what goes where and when it expires.
Sort of.
I have your ordered in a way that makes sense.
The You that is loving is right next to the You that is kind.
The You that is good is stacked on top of the You that is called Dad.
The part that is merciful is next to the box that knows my weaknesses.
Your grace is right next to your expectations of me.
Your will is stacked on top of surrender.
Your justice is overlapping your seeing of evil.

But then things get hairy.
Your holiness spews over.
Your jealousy is causing the walls of this castle to tremble.
Your anger is too close to your delight.
I can't make your fire stop burning away chaff.
You wound the ones you love.

The boxes are labeled as fragile, but really there's nothing fragile about you.
It is I who is fragile.
My ideology.
My theology.
My wish-ology.
That is what is fragile.
You don't fit into my preconceived ideas about who you are supposed to be.

So I build a bigger enclosure for you.
One that will make you look more homey
One that will hold a Dad like you.
I build you a House.

It has a roof.
Windows and a door.
I even add a picture on the wall just for you.

I invite you inside to meet with me there.
To share a cup of tea.
Maybe bake some cookies.
Then dance in front of the fireplace with your daughter.

But soon I realize that while you are a dad,
You are also a King.

A holy, passionate, King.

So I tear down the house and I build you a castle.

This castle is fit for a King indeed.
You have plenty of space to pace as you ponder your decrees.
You can sit in your throne.
You can prop up your feet.
You can look out over the kingdom and hear the peoples praise.

I have finally built something that you will love.
I have finally built you a home.

But you.
You walk through the walls.
Your glory all around you.
Your power spilling over.
Your love like an ocean.
Your passion like a wildfire.

You waltz out of the castle I built for you.
Instead, you begin to build.
You begin to build a dwelling place that is fitting for you,
God, Dad, and King.

I see you building.
I see a coffee shop.
I see a laptop.
I see a chair up next to the bar.

What I see next, surprises me the most.
It's not a box you a building.
It's not a house,
Or a or a kingdom with a castle.

What you are so intently building is me.
I see you smile.
I see love flood your eyes.
I see joy fill your face.
The place you feel most at home in,
The home in which you love to dwell,
Is me.

I am your favorite place.

I am the one you created to hold your glory.
I am the one you long to set up camp in.
You plant your roots deep inside me.

Yes, you are God.
Yes, you are Dad.
Yes, you are King.

And yes, you are Friend.

Come and dwell in the center of my heart.
Make yourself at home in me.