So This Is Love

So this is love,
So this is love.
So this is what makes life divine.
I’m all aglow,
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine.
My heart has wings,
And I can fly.
I’ll touch ev’ry star in the sky.
So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of.
So this is love.

I love this short little song from Disney’s Cinderella.  There is so much truth packed into it.  God, as Love, invades our lives and transforms them.  We now have access to the highest of the Heavens.  We have access to his riches and his grace.

Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the main questions that philosophy seeks to answer is, “Where do you come from?” God has been talking to me about my origins these past two weeks and it really tied a lot of things together for me. I’m sure philosophy has some really interesting answers but here’s mine.

The four Gospels were written by four very different men. If you’ve peaked at the first Gospel, Matthew, you’re probably wondered what the deal is with all the “begats”. Well, from what I know about the culture of the day, your origins were very important. They determined what your station in life was and who would listen to you. Both Matthew and Luke, the 3rd Gospel, give a genealogy of Jesus Christ. However, they are different.

Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham. Matthew wanted people to know that Jesus was a Jew and also heir to the throne. Luke, who was a doctor, traced Jesus’ lineage back aaaaallllll the way back to Adam. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was a human man, the Son of Man. It is believed that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s family history because Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus.

What about Mark, the 2nd Gospel? He wanted people to see the suffering servant side of Jesus. Nobody cares about the family history of a servant. So Mark doesn’t bother with a genealogy.

Then that leaves John, the 4th Gospel. At first glance, you’d think that he left out a genealogy as well. You see, John wanted people to know that Jesus was the son of God. Where does God have his origin? In God! Now read the first couple verses:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:1‭-‬4, emphasis added

John’s genealogy is pretty simple. Jesus came from God. But what else came from God, according to John? We did!!!

If you think you’re a result of your parent’s decision on prom night, you are very mistaken. You’re a result of the conscious direction and will of God. God does not make accidents. You may have even been conceived out of rape but your true origin is in Jesus Christ. That’s far, far greater news.

I was talking with a friend the other day. He’s feeling a lot of condemnation from his family. He’s trying to better himself but his family only sees and remembers the bad. I think sometimes we have to choose which family we’ll follow. Not all the time but sometimes. That doesn’t mean disowning them*, cursing them, or holding onto unforgiveness, it simply means choosing a different path than they showed you.

*Sometimes, going “no-contact” is the only sane and healthy choice with an extremely narcissistic family or family member. It’s never easy so really pray about this option before going through with it. God will give you the grace to handle it.

There’s a proverb that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

This is all fine and good if your parents or guardians started you off on the right path. A lot of us, however, were not and now we’re seemingly stuck on a dead end road. It is a scientific fact that that our brains grow more in the first few years of life than the rest of our life combined. This is when we need to recognize our origin and possibly switch paths. And God gives us Grace to do it through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

Again, this is not about disowning family or breaking up families. Far from it! He’s calling us to or true origin. Whose heritage will you identify with? Whose heritage will you manifest? Are you descended from your natural father and mother? Or are you descended from Jesus? Jesus was all about his father in heaven. I’ve posted on this before. When Jesus was tempted, he never said he couldn’t do those things. He refused to do them because His Father had not requested it. The temptation wasn’t all the kingdoms of the world at his disposal, they’re already HIS!!! The temptation of Jesus Christ was to convince Him to do something independent of His Father in Heaven!!!

Just as you have DNA from your parents, you have inherited spiritual DNA from your Heavenly Father. And you are the spitting image of Him!!!! When the Father looks at you, he sees Jesus. You might need a bit of a polish now and then but He sees Himself.

Here’s the issue: Nobody has a problem believing Adam gave sin to all but hardly anyone believes Jesus brought holiness and righteousness to all. Sure, you may have inherited a disease from your parents or a bad personality trait or a predilection to addiction. It’s easy to see what you’ve inherited from your natural family. Almost no one wants to see what they have inherited from their spiritual family.

It’s like that scene in Ever After. Danielle had been secretly meeting Prince Henry for romantic rendezvous’. She had been using her mother’s name because her mother was a noble. Danielle makes it to the ball, only for her stepmother to out her as a servant in front of the prince. Her stepmother literally rips her wings off. Prince Henry, being human, is understandably upset. The same happens in Heaven. Satan continually tries to “out” us as fake. “She’s not really yours. She’s been my servant for 20/30/40 years.” Jesus, however, knows the truth. He says, “No, you’re wrong. She’s been my child since before the beginning of time. She may have glanced your way a time or two but she’s mine.”

So what we need to do is change our identity. In Genesis 17, God makes his covenant with Abram.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”  Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:1‭-‬5, emphasis added

At first, it seems God is giving an impossible command. Walk before me and be blameless. But what happens after that? Abram gets an identity change! He’s no longer Abram but Abraham. Sarai is now Sarah. Both their names get an extra “ha” like a breath of air or even laughter. Air or laughter is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They now have a name that reflects their origin in God. Now the command is not so impossible. If God is faithful and blameless, then so are we!!!

Such. Good. News!!!!!

Tarzan

“A normal man will do the impossible for the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.”

From Song of Solomon: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

I was scrolling Facebook the other day when I came across this trailer for the new Tarzan movie. Normally, I don’t watch videos on Facebook but the caption caught my eye. “My husband is no normal man.”

Holy Spirit immediately began to speak to me about Tarzan as a type and shadow of our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Before a couple days ago, I had never given the story of Tarzan much thought but now I’m going to have to read some of the original stories.

I was meditating on this image of Jesus as Tarzan and here’s what I wrote:

He doesn’t care about your culture.
He doesn’t care about your rules.

He doesn’t care about your religion.

He doesn’t dress like you.
He doesn’t talk like you.

But he loves you.

He is your North Star.

You conform to him.
Not the other way around.

Abandon your culture. Abandon your rules.

Learn a new language. Learn a new culture. Speak out of the heart and spirit.

The enemy can take you but you can say,

“A normal man will do the impossible. My husband is no normal man.”

You can face your trials with no fear.

For he will come for you. Be near you.

He is wild. He is passion. He is fire. Jealousy unyielding as the grave.

He has no fear. He has made a public spectacle of your enemies.

Your husband rewrote the natural order to be near you.

Where is death’s victory?

Where is death’s sting?

Your husband is no normal man.

Yet.

You are one with him.

You are no normal person.

Greater things will you do together than apart.

Blamelessness

Note that “this week” means two years ago…. I’m trying to clear out some drafts…

This week in our small group we are talking about blamelessness.  In Genesis 17, God reaffirms his covenant with Abram.  God says, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.”  Out of context, it would appear to be an impossible command.  Considering the previous chapter is all about Abram and Sarai’s indiscretion with Hagar, definitely impossible.  However, in the next few verses, Abram’s name is changed to Abraham as well as Sarai’s name to Sarah.  Their identity is changed.  What is added is a breath, a “ha”, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

This is a sign for us. To walk blameless, we need to have our very identity changed by the Holy Spirit.

A Prophetic Word For My New Pastor

Previously, I wrote about the Three Little Pigs. The straw house represented the unbeliever who put his hope in worldly things. The house of sticks represented the new believer who begins to build his identity on Christ but still has a foothold in the world. The brick house represented the mature believer whose identity is grounded and rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ. What we had was a brick house. It was good and strong. It kept the enemy at hand away.

But a new thing is coming. What was once a brick house will become something much greater. What I saw was the starship USS Enterprise. The Enterprise D in fact with Captain Jean Luc-Picard.  What was their main foe? That’s right! The Borg!

Let’s examine this. The Borg represent a society of increasing sameness and control. Their catchphrase is, “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” They go from world to world, assimilating individuals into one collective. Everyone is the same. Free thought is wiped out.

They come across the Federation which is made up of many different persons from many different planets. It is a vibrant community. There is no control. Free thought encouraged.

In a world that says, “Assimilate or cease to exist,” we will be a light in the dark. We will be a vibrant community made up of many different nations. We will go out and free people from the world system. We will strip off the artificial pieces of their identity. We will strip off the parts the world told them they needed to survive and belong. We will rebuild their identity based on the word of Jesus Christ.

I also felt this was for the family as well. The Enterprise name was a name to be praised and feared. The Enterprise name lasted for centuries. I felt like the family name would be famous for His name for centuries and it would begin today. Maybe not the name but the legacy would last for generations.

Wild Mass Guessing – Creation

I had a thought the other day inspired by John Crowder.  Now, I want to add a disclaimer here.  Wild Mass Guessing, as explained in this post, is just that.  It’s guessing.  It’s a thought that I have that I do NOT hold to as solid doctrine.  Second disclaimer: I do not know John Crowder.  He does not know me.  He doesn’t say anything like this in the video I linked to above.  I would be completely embarrassed if he ever read this.

So, anyways, I got to thinking about the Bible verses that state that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world.  This always bothered me.  Was Jesus somehow in Heaven getting the snot beat out of him before there was any sin to atone for?  Maybe it was figurative?  Maybe it just means that it was Christ’s plan before creation even began.  I have no solid ideas on what exactly this means.  I’ve posted some thoughts about it before.  Now, I’m going to take it a level further.

In the video linked to above, John Crowder describes God as taking up “all the space”.  Not just the space in the universe but heaven and hell as well.  EVERYTHING is inside of God.  As my mind is wont to do, I took this to its logical extreme.  Jesus was fully God so he must have had the entire created order within him on the cross.  But what if it was a little trickier than that?  What if the act of dying on the cross was the act of creation itself?!

Crucifixion Corpus Hypercubus

Time is nothing to God.  It would mean nothing to him to create the universe from inside the universe.  Think about it, six hours on the cross for each day of creation.  40 hours in the grave for the 4000 years or so of the Old Covenant.  Just like the seed dies to produce the tree.  So too, the Son of God dies to produce the entire created order.  Then, the created order produces the Son of God which creates the universe, etc…

In mathematics, we call it a recursion relation.  You may know it by the term “fractal”.  Simply, whatever comes out gets put right back in.  You have a function or machine and some initial condition/s or rather some raw materials.  You put the raw materials into the machine and get out a product.  You put that product right back into the machine to produce another product.  So on and so forth.

Actually, it makes me think of a Klein Bottle.

Klein Bottle

I don’t mean to say that the cycle produces infinitely many universes.  I like this image better.  It is self-contained.  It is actually better represented in four dimensions because, in 4D, it doesn’t intersect itself.  You may have heard of mobius strips.  This idea is similar.  The bottle has no discernible inside or outside.  If you follow the “outside” of the bottle and trace along back to the same spot, you will find yourself on the “inside” of the bottle.  Keep tracing for a second round, you’ll be back where you started.

Anyways, my idea means that the universe and God are non-orientable.  The universe is completely inside of God and God is completely inside the universe.  You start with God and trace along, you’ll find yourself in the cosmos.  Trace along the same line in the cosmos and you’ll find God.  “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1

What does that mean for sin?  It means it was never an obstacle!  Jesus not only came to create the universe but to recreate the universe.  Dying on the cross was his creative act.  His time in the grave is spent undoing what went wrong then he rises in a new creation.  He goes to Hell to release the prisoners.  But he also appears to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc.  He shows them what is coming.  His spirit goes all over the place.  Then he comes back to his body on the third day and rises again.  This time he has reclaimed, redeemed, recreated the entire created order.  He rebooted the universe in a way.  Think of the Doctor at the end of season 5 of Doctor Who.  The universe is deteriorating around him but he sacrifices himself to reboot it.  While the universe is rebooting, he goes back through his timeline and appears to Amy and tells her how to bring him back.

I want to reiterate my disclaimer.  I have no scriptures to back this up.  I do NOT hold to this as solid doctrine.  I sometimes look at the Bible as a science fiction story and this is what happens.  I don’t need counseling or prayer.  My immortal soul is not in danger of exploding… or something…

 

Midnight Again

For years, I’ve been obsessed with Cinderella.  There is a lot of prophetic significance to the story.  The name Cinderella means “Little Ashen Girl” because she sleeps in the ashes of the fireplace.  She is a slave in her own house.  The house is run by her stepmother and stepsisters.  Her life is changed when an invitation to the national ball comes in the mail.  Her stepsisters and stepmother make her work even harder than usual.  Somehow, she manages to sew a few things together and look somewhat decent for the party.  Her stepsisters are livid and tear her dress to shreds.  She is left crying in the garden when, suddenly, a pure spirit lights up the area.  This spirit promises to make Cinderella ready for the ball but the spell will break at midnight.  Off she goes.  She dances with the prince.  He falls in love.  She runs away at midnight, leaving a remarkable shoe behind.  The prince searches high and low for the owner of that shoe.

In the same way, we are slaves in our house.  The house is run by Satan and his daughters of religion.  Our lives are changed when we are introduced to The Gospel.  The Holy Spirit comes and transforms us and allows us to see/hear/feel Jesus.  Isaiah 61 says “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on mebecause the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashesthe oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  Cinderella means “Little Ashen Girl” but the Holy Spirit comes to take away our ashes and give us a crown of beauty.

Let’s get in Cinderella’s frame of mind here.  She is an abused girl who just wants one night of escape.  One night that she doesn’t have to work.  One night to feel beautiful.  One night to have fun.  Marriage didn’t even her mind.  She wasn’t there to snag a prince like her stepsisters.  She didn’t even realize who she was dancing with that night!  Because her vision was too small, her focus on only one night, she took the fairy godmother’s words literally that the spell would break at midnight.  One night, no more.  In the same sense, we just look for one night or one season of escape but then back to the world we go.  The problem is, we don’t realize who we’re dancing with!  It’s the prince, it’s Jesus, and he’s already in love with us.  He isn’t looking for a fling or a mistress.  He’s looking for a bride, someone to be part of him, someone to help him do the work of the kingdom.

So what happens at midnight, the beginning of a new day?  Cinderella had a choice to make.  She could stay and let the spell break and risk everybody seeing her as she was.  Or she could go back to her old life with nobody the wiser.  She runs, of course.  But what would have happened if she stayed?  Would the fairy godmother have renewed her?  Maybe, just like the Holy Spirit, the fairy godmother doesn’t want to do the same thing twice.  Maybe, the fairy godmother had something greater in store for her.  But, because Cinderella couldn’t see past midnight, she ran.  It’s the same in our own lives.  We sense something is about to shift but, because we are not focused on eternity, we run.  We may not go completely back to our old life.  But we do pull back.  We let our practices become prisons, our movements become monuments.  You see, Cinderella could have lived happy for the rest of her life based on that one night.  Happy, but still in slavery.  We become so used to one way God moves in our lives that we don’t notice when He’s moved on.  What used to work no longer works but we’re so blinded by our habits that we don’t even realize it.  Don’t get stuck on formula.  You may be happy but still in slavery.

What happens next?  Cinderella leaves a shoe behind.  She makes it home just as the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.  The next day, she is humming and dancing as she does her chores.  She doesn’t realize that the prince is looking for her.  Curiously, she still has the glass slipper.  It didn’t change back.  When the prince comes, the stepsisters fall all over themselves to make the shoe fit.  In one version, they cut off their toes and heels to make it fit.  The stepsisters represent religion.  They work and work and work to snag the prince.  They think they are the rightful bride.  They think they can seduce the prince by their works.  But he isn’t so easily swayed.  He looks at the heart, not outward appearance.

When the prince comes and the stepsisters try it on to no avail, he asks if there are any other ladies in the house.  They quietly mention their spinster stepsister who works in the kitchen but she couldn’t have been at the party.  She’s just a servant.  The prince insists.  They bring her out and, of course, the slipper fits.  And, of course, they live happily ever after.

Last night, while worshipping the Lord, I saw a picture of the prince putting the slipper on my foot.  I was wrecked from the point on.  What is the significance of the shoe?  The prince wanted to reaffirm Cinderella’s identity.  Not her identity as a slave but her identity as a princess, a bride.  I felt like there are those of us who feel like we had our chance, our season, our dance with Jesus but that was 1, 10, 20 years ago.  But he is coming.  He is searching for his bride.  Not just another dance but a life lived alongside him.  One of my favorite authors likes to say that he’s not looking for the experience of a lifetime but a lifetime of experience.

Three Little Pigs – OR – What is your house made of?

Growing up, I lived in a house that should have been condemned.  The windows were broken.  The walls were cracked.  It was deathly hot in the summer and horrendously cold in the winter.  The roof leaked (fortunately, the leak was right over the bathtub).  The bathroom floor was rotten from water damage.  The basement flooded all the time taking out the water heater.  The house eventually was condemned and torn down long after I moved out of it.  The weird thing is that I miss that house terribly.  Almost nightly, my dreams wander back to that house.  Whenever I’m in my hometown, I actively avoid that side of the community because I don’t want to see the empty lot where the house once stood.  I like to pretend it’s still there.  It was a dilapidated piece of junk from the time I was born but it was my house.

We get comfortable in our houses.  You kick off your shoes, turn on the tv, sit in YOUR chair.  We do stuff in our houses that we wouldn’t do at somebody else’s house.  In your house, you have the freedom to change the channel, walk around naked, scream at the wall.  You also know the quirks of your house.  The living room floor may lean to the north.  The oven may heat better on one side than the other.  You may have an electrical outlet that doesn’t work.

But what happens when a storm comes?  Can your house withstand pouring rain and strong winds?  My childhood home barely made it.  Thank goodness we never had a tornado.  We lived in Kansas after all.  What about a fire or an earthquake?  Any number of things can strip us of our comfortable surroundings.

Jesus told a parable about houses.  In Matthew 7, he says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So my question to you is, “What is your house made of?”  Obviously, I’m no longer speaking of physical houses.  Our homes are extensions of ourselves.  They represent our identity, a place we can truly be ourselves or perhaps hide our true self.  What do we build that identity on?  How easy is it to tear down that identity?  I recently read an article that was making the rounds on facebook.  It was called, “I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity, and I Wish I Hadn’t”.  Read it here.  The author had built her whole identity on being a virgin.  When she got married, she could no longer claim to be one.  Sex was horrible for her because it took away the identity she had spent years building.  Other people create an identity based on all sorts of things.  It could be based on their finances, academic success, talents, etc.  Other people create negative identities.  “I’m an alcoholic.”  “I’m worthless.”  “I’m an abuser.”

I’m reminds of the Three Little Pigs.  Hopefully, we are familiar with the story but if you are not, here’s the basics.  There once were three little pigs.  To protect themselves from the ravaging wolf, they built themselves houses.  The first pig built his house of straw, it was easily blown down by the wolf which then ate the pig.  (In other versions, this pig runs to his brother’s house.)  The second built his house of sticks.  It was also blown down by the wolf which then ate the second pig (or, if you rather, ran to his brother’s house with the first pig).  The third pig built his house of bricks.  No matter how hard the wolf blew, the house would not come down.  The wolf then tried to come through the chimney but there was a fire and a pot of boiling water down below which killed him.

A couple months ago, Holy Spirit started showing me some truth in this famous fairy tale.  It culminated yesterday (Sunday) in church.  Holy Spirit showed me that this story represents our journey as believers.  The first pig builds his house of straw.  It is the flimsiest house of all three pigs.  He represents the unbeliever.  He may even be completely unaware there is an enemy coming to destroy him.  He lives blissfully unaware of a world outside his four walls.  His identity is built on a faulty foundation.  It may be his success, his mind, his negative traits, or his positive traits.  The wolf comes and blows through this like a house of cards.  The wolf representing the enemy of our souls.  Jesus often used the picture of a wolf to represent Satan.  He used shepherding metaphors a lot and the biggest enemy of the herd was the wolf.

The first pig can also be likened to the foolish builder who built his house on sand.  He does not believe in Jesus and follows his own commands.  But since the mind of man is so changeable, it is like sinking sand and his house, or identity, falls apart.  The house might stand for 50 years but it will eventually come crashing down.

The second pig is like a new believer.  He is eager to please God.  He is on a spiritual high.  However, he tries to please God through his own works.  He knows there is an enemy out there waiting to devour him so he builds a house to protect him.  This time, he builds his house of sticks.  The enemy has a harder time bringing this house down but it is still easy work for him.  God is not “pleased” with our works.  He adores belief and rest in his finished work on the cross.

The third pig is wisest of all.  He is a mature believer.  He builds his house of bricks.  Bricks are expensive and must be crafted by skilled laborers.  The third pig doesn’t buy them or make them.  He finds them.  They have been provided to him free of charge.  He rests in the finished work of Jesus.  All the best materials have been provided.  No working to buy them, they are found like pearls in the ocean.  The enemy comes along and can’t blow this house down.  It is fire, tornado, hurricane, and earthquake proof.  The house doesn’t even budge.  However, the enemy is crafty and will try to find another entrance.  He tries the chimney.  What is the chimney?  It keeps you warm and you can cook your food there.  It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit whose fire is always burning.  The wolf is eventually devoured by this flame.

The third pig is like the wise builder in Jesus’ parable.  He builds his house out of rock.  The wise builder builds his house ON the rock.  The enemy comes to destroy it but is unsuccessful.  The wise builder follows Jesus commands.  However, Jesus’ command is simply to believe.  He yoke is easy and his burden light.  We simply rest in him and let him work through us.  Everything has been provided through his work on the cross.

What is your house made of?  Are the storms of life too easily devouring you?  Or are you living to please a grumpy god in the sky?  Run to your brother’s house before the enemy can devour you!  Your brother’s house is made of precious material that can withstand the storms of life.  In His house is rest and food for your soul.

“My Father’s house has many rooms (or mansions); if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6

Community

Community is a hard subject for me.  I’m extremely introverted.  I like to be alone.  My favorite vacation is sitting at home with a book or netflix.  So when Christians talk about community, I feel a little claustrophobic.  The thought of being around people all the time makes my blood pressure rise.  In all honesty, community has negative connotations for me.  I think of conformity, going with the crowd, changing who you are to fit in.  I think of robots marching in tune to some monotonous beat.  In the darkest parts of my mind, I think of community as a prison.  Is this the vision Jesus had for community?  Of course not!  Society has drummed that image into my head.  So now I’m on the hunt for a true definition and picture of community.  Is there such a thing as a community that embraces the individuality of each person instead of diminishes it?

What started my questioning was the story of Lazarus.  In John 11, we have Lazarus’ story.  If you don’t know the story, read it in John 11:1-44.  In short, Lazarus was sick and eventually died of his illness.  Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus.  Jesus came around after he had been dead four days to see the family.  Jesus was very upset by this news.  In the story, there is a whole community surrounding this grieving family.  They follow Mary to Jesus who then goes to the tomb of Lazarus.  Jesus says a short prayer to His father and then, with a loud voice, calls for Lazarus.  Lazarus comes out hobbling.  He is still bound in the graveclothes.  Jesus orders the crowd to loose him.

The fact that he was still in his graveclothes stuck out to me.  He needed the community to come around him and loose him.  Was Lazarus freed from death?  Yes.  But he still needed help.  It is interesting that Jesus orders the crowd to loose him.  Surely, he could have done this himself.  But possibly there is a deeper picture here.  How many times have you gone to church and been prayed for?  It creates a spiritual high, doesn’t it?  But after a day or two, you’re back where you started.  What happened?  It could be that you’re still in your “graveclothes”.  You need the community to come around you and loose you.  In the past, I wasn’t one for accountability groups/partners but I’m getting warmer to the idea.  We need someone to take the graveclothes off of us.

For example, let’s look at addiction to pornography.  Jesus has set you free from that.  Please believe it.  But you still have patterns and learned behaviors from that addiction.  You still have your nightly rituals, your web history taunts you, you can no longer use it for stress relief.  Those are your graveclothes.  They can only be removed by getting involved in your community and confiding in a trusted friend.

If Lazarus had been raised from the dead with no one around, how long would he have remained in the grave?  He might have died all over again!  This happens when we try to go it alone.  We get free for a little while but then succumb all over again.  We get free for a little while, then succumb all over again.  It’s a cycle.  But when we have a community surrounding us, we can fully walk into the Light.

Sometimes God’s miracles are instantaneous and mind blowing.  Other times, they are a slow burn.  During these times, he uses other believers to work those miracles.  We all have the fullness of God in us.  Is it no wonder he uses us?  We are powerful beyond imagining.

My quest for community is not yet finished of course.  I still have a lot of questions.  But hopefully I’m started on the right path.