Who Rules the Universe?

I had such a great time leading this discussion on Revelation Chapter 5 last Thursday! It’s all about the meekness and trustworthiness of the God who rules and judges the world. I think it can really give some perspective on the disruptive crises that face our nation and the globe… Take a listen!

“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals…

And… I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…”

 

You Have Full Permission to Indulge

Often I find myself having discussions with other believers about God’s nature and character. It’s not unusual for someone to express to me, “My view of God is changing and expanding. I need to know though, is it really okay for me to explore the idea that He is as good as my heart is coming to believe? Shouldn’t I try to maintain some sense of Him being [insert judgmental, controlling, retributive, etc.] too?”

It seems to me that our souls actually need to be given permission to trust that God is radically good. We need to be told that there are no contradictions to God’s goodness within His personality. This is often a struggle though, especially for those of us who are well versed in traditional schools of theology that painted a more confusing picture of the Divine as we were growing up. Sadly, much of the Christian world is responsible for using the Bible to portray this false “balance” within God’s heart. That is, a balance between Endless Mercy and Harsh Judgment, Life-Giver and Destroyer, Intimate Friend and “Holy, Scary King…” etc. etc. Of course we don’t straight up acknowledge that is is the idea we are presenting. This is the impression honest seekers of truth are left with nevertheless.

Our souls actually need to be given permission to trust that God is radically good.

God spoke to me through a vision on 11/11/2011 that helped me as I was starting to grow in clarity on these matters. I was approaching Him in prayer, and I pictured in my mind the Throne Room in Heaven. Ephesians 2:6 tells us we are already seated in heavenly places in Christ, so I wanted to make that position of intimacy and authority with the Lord my starting place for communion with Him.

As I looked toward the Lord, I felt Him say to my heart, “Look at Me!” I realized I was shamefully looking down a little, rather than confidently looking Him in the eyes. I lifted my gaze, and when I did I saw His two beautiful eyes of fire that the Book of Revelation speaks of. They were warm and radiant. Immediately I was hit with the realization that they were gateways to His heart. The impression that I received was that one is the eye of Grace and the other the eye of Justice. Both eyes though were blazing with a fire that poured from the same pure heart. It is a heart of burning Love.

This was a metaphoric lesson I needed to learn.

The vision ended, and I was left with this feeling that God is for me. He’s never against me. I was liberated to indulge in my love for God’s grace, knowing that that grace consists of the same substance as His justice. The two are flawlessly in union with each other and in no opposition in how they shape God’s perspective of myself or the world.

Since this experience, I’ve learned a lot from Scripture and study that has convinced me God is only and always loving. It’s not just something that is “technically” true to me anymore. I am gorging myself on His goodness, His grace, and His love for me. Through this process I am finding it only to brings me greater health and maturity. It even gives me better discernment when needing to recognize false gospels and heresies that would seek to interfere with my relationship with Jesus.

Now I want to be a voice that gives others the freedom to search out the endless depths of God’s goodness.

So to those of you who are starting to revel in God’s extravagant kindness, but wondering if this is safe… 

Don’t over-complicate things.

Don’t feel you have to have an immediate answer for every objection that comes to your mind when you doubt that God is really as enjoyable as you find Him to be.

Don’t let tradition or skepticism hinder you from thinking outside the box and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you.

Let God take you on a journey of discovery, and be willing to follow Him wherever He brings you.

I promise, as long as you are falling deeper in love with the Man Christ Jesus, you will not regret it. There is a feast to be had for you (Isaiah 55:1-3). You have full permission to indulge in it!

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Salvation from… God?

I don’t know who originally created this meme, but I saw it on Facebook a while back and had to screen shot a picture of it:

This is laughable, but the maker of this image has a really good point. 

Most of what I’ve known as the Gospel my whole life was a message of love, forgiveness, and mercy… set against the backdrop of a God who gave violent retribution to those who refused to accept His salvation plan. It wasn’t always clearly stated, but there was this underlying idea communicated that Jesus came to save us from God ultimately. If you took your theology studies deep enough, you’d see this very dark message hidden in the details.

Fortunately, I’ve come to be convinced that salvation really is a gift from a perpetually good God who has NEVER been set against us. It was we who were opposed to him, not the other way around. Memes like this though provide good commentary on the way we have utterly perverted and miscommunicated the Good News we have been entrusted with.

I’m not going to go into a deep theological discussion in this post, but I wanted to post it as simple food for thought. We should ask ourselves, “Does our understanding of the Gospel ever make God look like the bad guy unnecessarily?” If so, we shouldn’t be surprised when masses of millenials are rejecting it.

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Meet John Crowder

Back around 2006 – 2010 I was super caught up in the “Prophetic Movement.” I had experienced God’s supernatural power in dramatic ways as a child, and this new movement was exporting tons of teaching on how to continue to explore the ways God speaks and touches people today. It was really exciting to me.

The problem was, I still didn’t know the Gospel that well. And most of the leaders of the Prophetic Movement had a very limited concept of what the Gospel actually was.

Thankfully, I discovered a YouTube preacher named John Crowder. He was popular in the Prophetic Movement for a short time, until he really started to expound on the root of all prophetic experiences — the Gospel of Grace. Crowder began to preach exclusively on the goodness of God as it was revealed at the Finished Work of the Cross. This was uncomfortable for those who liked him just for the Holy Spirit manifestations that he had been walking in.

By some miracle I continued to listen to Crowder even when it constantly challenged me. Over time he became one of the most influential thought leaders in my life.

I would like to introduce you to John Crowder as well. If you’re up for it, check out the following videos from his YouTube Channel. The first is an introduction, and the three following that are classics of his that I have watched over and over.

If you like them, subscribe to his channel and continue to let your brain-washing deepen. You will not regret going through the detox this Good News brings!

“Who” (Not Just “What”)

 

God is a Person.

Sometimes I feel like that just needs to be stated.

I listen to a lot of speakers from a lot of backgrounds, including some of the most progressive voices in the Christian community. Many of them have a great understanding of how definitively loving God is, and how pervading His (and many would say Her) Presence is in all of life. One thing I have found to be seemingly lacking in the theology of some of these teachers is that God is personal.

He’s a real (Triune) individual with a personality, and He is highly relational.

In other words, He’s not just a “force.” Nor is it appropriate to equate Him with the Universe itself. He is the Creator of the known world, and the lover of our souls. Without that understanding, our concept of “love” and the Divine “Presence” becomes somewhat detached from reality. We are missing a more full picture of the Lord’s nature if we turn Him/Her into an ethereal “it.”

God actually has a heart. He actually has passion for us. He sincerely wants to communicate with us — back and forth. He really is relatable, just like Jesus is in the Gospels. Saying all this is not a form of “anthropomorphism” or personification. Christ was being straight forward when He claimed, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). He truly is “the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). We can know Him intimately… just as with any other close friend (John 15:9-17).

Yes, God is Spirit (John 4:24). Yes, He is the inner light in our souls. And yes He is everywhere. But He is also a distinct Being initiating and building a unique relationship with each one of us. Further, He personally desires the reciprocation of love from each one of us. We cannot fully respond to or appreciate His love if we do not actually address Him as the interactive lover that He is. He gives heartfelt devotion to each one of us, and He is worthy of our happy, voluntary adoration in return.

So let’s just be a little careful with how we describe “The Divine.” This Transcendent One has a Name (Philippians 2:10-11), and we can consciously connect with Him much deeper when we acknowledge Him for who (not just what) He says He is. 

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