Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why is this so hard to get?

One of Albert Einstein's most quoted sayings is "insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I love that quote even though I weep as I realize how "insane" many in the western church are by this definition. Why is it so hard to ask questions about what we are doing, especially when the results are so far from what we know can be true?

Back in July of last year, I wrote about some tendencies in the traditional approaches to church that those choosing those approaches must consider. This blog entry will make more sense if you read that before continuing. You can read that entry in a different window by clicking here.

But my question (and citing the quote from Einstein) comes this week because I see so little change in the behavior of those who are part of the western church. Oh, they move a few chairs around, make things more slick and contemporary, try to force "community" on people, etc., but the basic behaviors (and the assumptions that drive them) continue unabated, with the sad results that our culture remains unchanged in its descent into the abyss. Goodness, folks, if spending so much time on sermons that people forget doesn't work, why does everyone keep doing them? If people remain in their performance-based understanding the Jesus life, why do we continue to focus on behavior rather than heart?

But I am not discouraged nor do I wish to sound negative. Jesus is bringing life to His Church, and evidences of that abound. All across our nation, followers of Jesus are connecting with one another, discovering grace-based life in Jesus as family, usually but not always outside the boundaries of what is generally called "church." Some day I will write more about this, but today I want to pose questions and hope that they will trigger a change of heart in those who have influence in "the church."

And even in more traditional settings, life is beginning to show up. The following video was recently shown at the Foursquare Church's yearly convention. Click here to see it in a separate window. You will see that it addresses some of the same things in my blog from last July. And I am personally aware of a true awakening to genuine intimacy with God and the supernatural among many who are part of very traditional churches--Aslan is indeed on the move.

But we still need to ask the hard questions, I think. It isn't that hard to take a peek and ask oneself, "Is this ________ producing followers of Jesus who are relationally healthy, explosively joyful, inwardly peaceful, truly kind, etc.?" If not, can we please do something different? :-)

Just thinking out loud here and giving you a glimpse into the scary mind of Tom Wymore!

Wondering but not worried!

Tom, one of Abba's little boys

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chicken, Ostrich, or Eagle?

One doesn't need to be a world-class economist nor a prophet to know that a huge economic collapse is in the future for our world's economy. Most of our politicians here in the US may be oblivious to this fact, but anyone with even a small amount of common sense can see that collapse at some point not too far in the future is inevitable. And this collapse is likely to make the Great Depression look like child's play.

In light of this fact, I have been asking Father how to avoid sounding like a chicken or looking like an ostrich. By chicken I mean, "Chicken Little," the little chicken that went around crying, "The sky is falling!" and by ostrich I mean the hide-my-head-in-the-sand approach. How can we prepare to soar like eagles above the impending storm, not to escape but to serve those who were not prepared? (Christians who stockpile things are doing it to have it to give away, I trust, since this world is not our home.)

So here's a few of my thoughts as I ponder this.

First, the sky is not falling--rather, the economy is collapsing, and instead of fearing this, believers can quite reasonably rejoice in this. The death of the American dream may be one of God's greatest gifts to us, dear ones, because it will do two remarkable things: it will help believers discover what they are really trusting in and worshiping (what we fear indicates where our trust and worship really go), and it will also remove the illusion of security in the things of this world from those who don't know God (I see a great harvest ahead!). In light of this, it seems wise for us to examine now where our trust lies, methinks! It may also mean that we need to examine our ways to be sure they are economically wise so that we will indeed be able to help others who are not prepared. Just a thought.

Second, ignoring things will not make them go away. Okay, so I know that ostriches don't really bury their heads in the sand, but I couldn't find another bird metaphor that fits! My point here, though, is that we cannot hide from that which is coming upon the world. The Bible clearly teaches that in the last days things will get really hard, for everyone and perhaps especially for believers because of increased persecution. And the facts are clearly pointing to a huge economic collapse--something that may cause even believers a bit of fear at first. But if God really is our refuge (and He is) then we can get to that place that means we won't be afraid even if everything around us collapses. Psalm 46 says it best, I think. "God is our place of safety. He gives us strength. He is always there to help us in times of trouble. The earth may fall apart. The mountains may fall into the middle of the sea. But we will not be afraid. The waters of the sea may roar and foam. The mountains may shake when the waters rise. But we will not be afraid." (Psalm 46:1-3 NIRV)

An eagle? Legend has it that eagles fly over storms. This isn't really likely since the maximum height a Bald Eagle can reach is about 10, 000 feet, but again it makes for a beautiful picture! There is a promise in Paul's words in Philippians 4:11-13 that tells us we can learn how to fly even in times of economic uncertainty. "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength." Dear ones, please note that this is something we learn. It isn't automatic nor does it come overnight. Paul wrote this late in his life having been stretched many, many times into a place of living in peace in the midst of many trials. So rather than be upset that we are upset about uncertainty, let's embrace the uncertainty with the knowledge that God is teaching us how to trust Him in a way that invites us deeper into Him, not in some trite, feel-better way, but in a way that gives birth eventually to deep abiding peace. Make it so, Papa, in all of us that we may be light indeed in the midst of the fear all around us, drawing people to Jesus by His peace within us!

I close with Paul's words in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, which are wonderfully fitting for these times. "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life."

Learning to fly...

Tom, one of Abba's little children

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dance Well, JoySong!

Early this morning, yet another one whom I loved deeply lost a battle to cancer (but won the ultimate prize of entering into the Dance of Heaven!)

There was a time not too long ago when a death to cancer would have prompted me to bring out my "theological guns" and shoot vigorously at whatever I could find, but those days are past, I trust. I still believe with all my heart that God's will is to heal the sick: all those oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38), but with Jettie's death last year my heart has become more able to embrace mystery...

So I will instead write today a brief tribute to my friend, Carol, who now dances with Jesus along with Jettie and many others I love who have graduated into eternity.

I cannot think of anyone who would be more at home in heaven than Carol (her email address, JoySong fits her so well!). Carol loved the manifest presence of God like few I have known. I cannot think of anyone more likely to dance their way into Heaven than Carol! Dance well, JoySong! I know you are indeed dancing well with the One you loved more than life itself!

There are many things I could write about Carol--she is a dear, dear friend. But the thing most on my heart this morning about her, triggered by her passing, is her selfless, caring heart. I find myself today reflecting deeply on Carol's invitation to me a few months ago not to go on this journey with her if my heart couldn't bear it. How amazing it is that when she was facing the greatest challenge of her life, at a time she very much wanted and needed those who love her to be with her, Carol would be thinking of me and how another battle with cancer would affect me! The more I have thought about this today, the more I see how it reflects the core of who Carol is: tender to Papa, sensitive to others, self-effacing to the max and so very, very kind and good! Ah, Papa, I am invited to deeper levels of other-orientation by Carol's life! Thank you for a life well lived!

Well done, JoySong! You lived well, you loved well, you died well, and now you dance better than ever!

Weeping in loss, resting in mystery, rejoicing in hope.

Tom, one of Abba's little boys