The Flipped Hierarchy of Repentance

The early churches of the Bible had one central message, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Our present-day church has (my opinion) a convoluted perspective of the early message.  Today’s vision is one of existence near the bottom of Maslow’s  hierarchy of needs: repentance, necessary for continued physiological existence and mandatory for entrance into the next level of eternity.

  • Repent to avoid Hell.
  • Repent to “make it” to Heaven.
  • Fly or fry.
  • Turn or burn.

I believe that Jesus meant something so much greater…

To better translate the phrase, we could say, “Repent, for the Kindom of Heaven is within reach.”  This makes the process slightly more aspirational.  The end result of repentance is much more than just a fire escape.  A changed life is more magical than an iPad, more revolutionary than a John Lennon song, and more than meets the eye.

The Kingdom of Heaven is within reach, and the potential exceeds your wildest dreams…and those with childlike faith may proceed and lead.

This is the secret to any good leadership approach. 

One may inspire, but to really gain followers the secret is to impart an aspiration within them to be all that they can achieve and more!

Social Justice is an Enduring Christian Ethic:

Educated. Employed. Insured. Concerned. #OWS

Observing and Accompanying Occupy Asheville: 23 October 2011.  |  The 99, Culture of Camping Under A Bridge, Community, Media, & Taxpayers.  |  My Assessment, Diagnosis & Prescription:

Back in 2011, when I was in Asheville, NC with my wife (who was attended a training class).  I wasn’t planning anything special, because I was behind on my reading and seem to always have paperwork to do.  I wrote a blog post and enjoyed some carrot juice at Earthfare and then drove back to Greenlife Grocery so that I’d be closer to my wife’s class.  That’s when I noticed the protestors.

I parked nearby at a convenience store, bought an extra case of water, and walked to the Occupy Asheville welcome center.  Surprisingly, all the donations are being logged into a register, and I was told they will be uploaded to the website on a “Thank You” page.

I didn’t have much free time, and most of the protestors were dispersed at nonviolence training while I was there, but I was able to chat briefly with enough people to form some opinions and further develop my own conclusions.

These thoughts are mine: 

Remember, these thoughts are mine and I tend to have an opinion on almost everything so please find a quiet space and think these things through for yourself.

 

I’ve been continuously educated for my entire life.  I am gainfully employed, insured by a major medical plan that has no dollar limit on care, and yet I am concerned about the trend in our country.  I support the Occupy Movement.

Support:

Support is coming from everywhere and donations are being tracked.  I added my name and a description of my donation to a nearly full register of donations.  The “vibe” of this gathering is very calm, and elegant.  The tent city is situated under a bridge that has beautifully decorated with modern “street art” and the view from a distance is one that emanates peace.

Inclusion: There’s Room for Everyone’s Opinions

Most of the protestors were involved in break-out meetings when I was at the event, but I did have a pleasant conversation with a gentleman holding a sign that promoted his cause: The Zeitgeist Movement.  {For the record, I think some of this circular logic about utopian future is unattainable.}  One might think that the Zeitgeist folks wouldn’t need to join up with the Occupy people, but I was surprised to learn that there are many aligned beliefs.  The Zeitgeist guy talked about the issues we have as a nation with commerce, the factory system, workers rights, and the profit system.  His examples of the failure of American society were engaging and his brochures were available for free.  What would you expect someone promoting a Utopian vision for America to look like?  This one was a fifty something US Postal worker.

Another conversation I was able to listen in on, involved some planning for future training on sustainability and environmentalism.  This is Asheville.  I’m not disappointed to learn that these protestors are concerned about these things, nor am I surprised that they are willing to share what they have to others for free.

As I walked through the tent city, located under dual bridges, it occurred to me that the vibe was entirely serene and there were signs everywhere.  The signs tell a story all their own, and as they say…numbers don’t lie.

Talking with a final protestor, I learned that the latest challenges the group faced were bad PR and the Highway Department.  Essentially, the Occupy group was offered a barricade by the city and later they were snubbed in the media for accepting it because it cost the taxpayers over $100,000.  Here we see a typical example of the role of society to taint a peaceful movement by painting it into a corner.

Government asks, “Would you like a free barricade?”

You respond, “Of course, because no one here wants to get hit by a car.”

Media propagandizes it, “Do you see how much this protest is costing the taxpayers?”

 

When I asked about the media, I was told they’d been down to see the protest but they really haven’t covered the story.  Additionally the transportation department was now addressing safety concerns with the protest.  Strange that it would suddenly become a concern after so many days.

 

It’s no secret that organized society disdains everything about protest.

Naturopathic Perspective & Assessment: Cancer is a disease of affluence.

A protest means that a segment of the populace disagrees with the “norm.”  I think that the Occupy Protests are a Cancer of Community and Country.  The problems that have caused the protests must be resolved or the protests will never end.  This is essentially what cancer is, and why it is so difficult to stop.  {I do not mean to imply that society’s disease is incurable, but rather (like cancer) the situation is dire and only an intense change can repair the damage that has led to this outcome.}

 

Cancer is a disease of environment, and the fact that we have spent a hundred years building a society that caters to the few, elite, untouchable while largely ignoring the cries of the weak, sick, and desperate among our people has securely entrenched a bitterness inside our citizens to eventually stand up, speak, out and scream that the system is broken.  Now, we reap the whirlwind of fury that past generations mortgaged and passed the buck to some future day…this has become that day.

 

From the beginning, I have supported the Occupy movement…and clarified my position that I do not believe the issues of the day can be addressed by a protest of singularity.  A plethora of corruption exists in every facet of America, with a concentration in the corners that hold the majority of the power.  Too many things are broken for one protest to correct them.  Too many issues exist for one vote to change them.  Politicians do not listen to their constituents.  We are all disenfranchised by the special interests who have hijacked our representative government.  Wealth is not synonymous with evil, but power tends to corrupt and absolute power; as they say, corrupts absolutely.  With an aristocratic class of the most wealthy in America essentially living above the law, I think maybe we have finally crossed that invisible line in the sand.  It started in the churches with the richest, most untouchable leaders falling in disgrace.  In the end, we’ve forgotten that they were placed on the pedestals by those who worshipped them and the same applies to all of us that believed in the American experiment as making us a superior people.  Wealth requires responsibility, and our land has long lost any of that virtue.

 

Occupy represents that splinter in the back of every politician’s mind.  There’s always been a fear that the people en-masse might rise up and scream that the system is unjust, corrupt, broken, and ineffective.  The empire has no jobs because it doesn’t care about the people anymore.

 

Fair Trade is a virtue when you buy a cup of coffee, but a “living-wage” conversation will never be debated by any of your political representatives because neither political party will risk the discussion that minimum wage laws are inadequate.  Can’t you hear Rush asking, “Exactly how much should be pay someone to insult us when they ask us if we want fries with that?”  The fact remains, that some companies (Starbucks for example) have already taken on some of societies biggest issues (healthcare is offered to part-time employees) and still managed to pay higher wages than their competitors in the same field of business. Sure, the coffee’s more expensive, but it “tastes” better without that bitter flavor of human slavery (foreign and domestic), right?

 

No one wants the Occupy protests to continue, but they will…because the situation demands it, and even if there are momentary lapses of coverage, the movement will only die when the country is healed.

Diagnosis: More than meets the eye.

Within the Occupy camps, there are thousand of entrenched leaders.  They are not afraid to be arrested, and some of them doubtless are willing to die for their beliefs.  I dare not ask you to believe the way they do, for most readers are not nearly brave enough to tread those waters…especially if you don’t agree with what they stand for in the first place.

 

The world is filled with problems.  They must be addressed, and we are ready for the challenge.  No one else is coming, and if we are to have a better tomorrow we are the ones who have to get active today.  The sickness in society can’t be suppressed much longer, and the only cure is a successful evolution: permanent societal improvement.

 

At issue in every city, is the fact that the protestors are now being met with police brutality and disrespect: these are citizens, not criminals.  (Imagine what you’d do if these were rallies that your church organized.)  Did you attend Washington for Jesus?  What if there were tear gas grenades launched there at your children’s feet?  What if there were attempts to make your movement look ignorant by every single media outlet?

 

Corporations would do well to look within these camps for their next managers and leaders.  There are intelligent people who need employment among the Occupy crowd, and I think they could make your company and our world a better place for all.

Prescription: Leadership cannot be hidden.

Leaders inside the entrenched campsites are working to teach nonviolence, hone their negotiation skills, refine their intellects, and prioritize future actions.  All of this is happening while the movements are working to maintain financial accountability.

 

Will they succeed?  I suspect that there will be numerous hiccups along the way, because we Americans always overcomplicate things.  It should be a simple journey from absolute corporate corruption to complete transparency, yet that’s not likely going to be the way things unfold.

Looking Forward: Order and Honor Are Only Found In the Trenches.

When I was a kid, I remember seeing demonstrations and riots on television from all across the globe.  Dictators were oppressing their people, and the blood ran freely in the streets.  I remember the Iranian hostage crisis that ended just before President Reagan took the oath of office.  I remember the Berlin Wall coming down.  I remember being slowly conditioned by the media to sympathize for the protestors.  The riots in the street were happening because the people had a God given right to express themselves that was being unfairly suppressed by their evil overlords:  evil governments that should embrace Democracy, wicked leaders that should show compassion for the citizens of their land, and what they were demonstrating “for” was the very thing that we as US citizens held as a sacred right.  We as Americans had the right to freedoms of speech and public assembly, so nothing like that would ever happen here.  One day when the dictators were slain, the world would be safe for everyone to live in peace and Democracy.

 

Fast forward: Egypt now stands in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protestors because they have progressed toward freedom further, faster.  The media continuously seeks to discredit the protestors because they don’t have a singular issue.  The talking heads largely ignore or poke fun at the Occupy positions while they continue to spread, police begin to invoke illegal authority, and protestors are physically harmed by the police.

 

This is not my beloved America, and I’m not going to pretend that everything’s OK.

I cannot condone or understand the cowardice of these law enforcement officers.

I cannot stand beside her while she exhibits unconscionable collusion with greed.

She is becoming a monster, and the greatest threats always come from within.

 

The Occupy Protesters are not terrorists, they are patriots.

They are not standing in a posture of entitlement.

Theirs is a position of responsibility.

 

They stand in stark contrast to the police who act as if they are beyond legal restraint.

An honorable nation would never do this to her citizens: this is not Tiananmen Square.

This revolution will not be intimidated, because Americans do not back down.

The revolution will not be confined to one city, one issue, one demand, one political party, one race, color, creed, or religion.

 

Unless the President does his job and defends our Constitution, our nation will crumble.

There are no business hours on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Consider the Occupy Protests a vote of no confidence.

No specific demands are necessary.

 

It doesn’t matter what the protesters stand for, and it doesn’t matter if you agree.

American citizens have a RIGHT to stand up, speak out and protest.

Citizen protesters have a right to protection.

 

We are all Occupy Wall Street.

We will Occupy Every Street.

We are all Scott Olsen.

 

Empower.

Improve.

Occupy.

Until…

The Purpose of Chosen

I worked on a pre-launch with Dayna Bickham, and was able to read her book as a result of meeting her through that project.

The Purpose of Chosenuses some very familiar historical texts from the Bible’s account of David, Goliath, and King Saul to encourage and motivate the reader.  I had an opportunity to read an advance copy of the book before it was published, and I freely admit that (for me) it’s difficult to be impartial, because I love the underlying story.

The most often neglected dimensions within the tale of the boy who became the warrior king of Israel are the consequences {a man of war cannot build God’s house} of that lifestyle of violence and warfare.  While these are not specifically dealt with, there is a sense of responsibility and accountability for dealing with our own issues that I sincerely hope will grab the readers’ attention.  If we refuse to feed our ‘baby giants,’ then perhaps we won’t have to slay them later.

Without leaning too far toward those favored areas where I hold partisanship, the things that were most valuable in this volume for me are the elements of practical application. I think Dayna has done a remarkable job of identifying the areas where we can experience a personal transformation in our lives, and yet she leaves room to share this experience across all ages.  (Perhaps that’s the most appealing value of this book.)  To summarize a few pillars and anchors that are waiting for the reader who will embrace the values she espouses:

You were designed to fulfill “the dream.”  You were made to accomplish more.

Keys and keepsakes are markers in life that propel us through the hard times.

When we fight to win, we can overcome the obstacles that present themselves.

Seize the moment.  Change your life.  Change the world.

Arm yourself.  Slay “your” giants.  Do not delay.

Who Did Nineveh Repent To?

Jonah is one of the most confusing books in the Bible.

The title character is an utter failure, and is portrayed in the most unseemly fashion. The role of hero is played by an obedient fish in the first act, and at the climax by a willing worm. If we are to believe any of this tale, we must stretch our faith and admit that God is bigger than Christianity.

How Do I Know if Someone is A Prophet?
The answer is normally simple: what they predict actually HAPPENS.
Jonah’s prophecy didn’t happen at all, yet he’s a Prophet and Jesus plans to mimic him.

Jonah’s Pointless Prophecy:
Jonah as Prophet, is an epic FAIL. Old Testament Prophets revealed the word of God in thunderous judgements of fire from Heaven (Isaiah), waters into blood (Moses), and predicted times of national captivity (Ezekiel). A Prophet was someone like Judge Dredd, Rambo, or Dirty Harry.

Jonah foretold God’s certain judgement on Nineveh with a forty day timeline. Since we know how the story ends, we think of this warning as a countdown to a disaster that can be averted, but there were no such mercies in those days. Jonah became angry at God for forgiving the heathen. Jonah admitted he was a failure and leaned suicidal in his disappointment that the disaster was averted.

Unbelievable Outcomes:
Much of the Christian faith seeks growth through evangelism, yet in a time when there was no salvation option and no such role as the Evangelist, we find a Prophet who is a failure that became the most successful Evangelist of all time. The justification for missions work, street evangelism, and all church outreach is the philosophy of “How can they hear without a preacher?”, yet here in Nineveh, repentance flows like proverbial milk and honey. A national fast was proclaimed and God decided to not destroy the city. There was no message of salvation, and no altar call. How can this be?

Digging Deep:
I’ve heard that Nineveh worshipped the god of the sea, and that Jonah’s appearance on the shore with his skin bleached from stomach acids and seaweeds wrapped around his body would have gotten their attention, like a weeping statue of Mary. The eight word sermon leaves no room for repentance: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.”

It’s unreasonable for me to believe that they researched Jonah at all, and even more unlikely that they could learn about the God of Israel in this time of fear and paranoia. They must have turned their focus back to their heathen gods with a renewed devotion to them. It pains me to think this way, but I’m fairly certain I’m thinking clearly.

Redefining Religion:
We’ve heard about “putting God in a box,” but one can’t travel far from this type of thinking without becoming a Universalist and losing sight of ones’ own path. Anytime we see salvation as “in” and “out,” we’ve essentially placed God in that box.

When we think of ourselves as saved and others as lost, we miss the point of Jonah.

We need to find ways to narrow the gap between ourselves and those who feel distant from God. Perhaps shedding the “box” model is the first step. If we examine Jonah’s revival, we must conclude that Nineveh took actions that moved them closer to God, even though they probably aimed their intentions toward other gods. I prefer to look at our relationship with God as whether we are getting nearer or farther away, so that means I can find God actively working anywhere.

Can you celebrate with someone who moves toward God, even if they do not share your perspective or religious brand?

Who Was Acting Drunk?

I dropped in on Bible study, and had an interesting insight that challenges some modern church ideas about the nature and moving of the Holy Spirit.  {Then again, maybe it was just a crazy thought.}

Take another look at the day of Pentecost and being ‘Drunk in the Spirit.’

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

In open discussion, someone asked “Why on earth would anyone accuse these people of being drunk?” 

Here’s the answer that, ‘came to me’ after some pondering.

There were three groups of people there:

1.) The 120 Disciples: They came down from the Upper Room, praising God in other tongues.

2.) The Devout Jews: These Jews lived in Jerusalem, but came from every nation.

3.) The Others: They mocked and made accusations of intoxication.

Why would they accuse these people of being drunk? 

Let’s examine both miracles and decide which group could be mistaken for having imbibed so early in the day…

The SPEAKING Miracle:

The fact that the 120 disciples were speaking in these foreign tongues is a miracle.  They were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them the utterance.

The HEARING Miracle:

The next miracle was that everyone heard in their own tongue and dialect.  They heard the people speaking their ‘native’ tongues.

Who was accused of INTOXICATION?

It makes sense to conclude that the accusations were pointed toward those in the crowd who heard them speaking in their own language.  The HEARERS would have been the ones causing a ruckus.  They might have even appeared tipsy, when they disputed the dialect, language, and origins of the speech.

They were being rowdy, and they were arguing about which language was being spoken.  They couldn’t get their story straight.  Some said these were Galilaeans, some said Egyptians, and some said Arabians.  This led to no small stirring within the crowd.  They mocked what they saw, and they disagreed. They all knew that the others were wrong.

I think the crowd in this text was accusing the HEARERS, not the SPEAKERS.

Thinking this way will effectively challenge everything that’s taught about ‘drunkenness’ as a virtue of Holy Spirit baptism, but those who seek to embrace that interpretation can find plenty of support for that conclusion in other verses.

Flipping Turtles

I’ve recently embraced the bi-modal learning methods that Jeff Bezos talked about when he channeled Steve Jobs at the Amazon event to unveil new Kindles.

Listening to the audio version of Wrecked, I remembered what I love to hear in audio books…the author’s voice.
When you read and listen together, you can catch a better impartation of what the author has to offer. (I have the Kindle version and the audio.)

I enjoy reading what Jeff writes, and also highly recommend his blog, but the audio book is probably far better than the print version, unless you get both of them.

Wrecked is an easy-read, and a must-read, if you want your foundation to grow stronger when your entire world is shaken wrecked.

Jeff will take you to the streets, and deep into the underground catacombs of Nashville’s homeless population, where he’s worked hard to make a difference.

He’ll invite you inside his stream of consciousness, and you’ll understand how we all mature from reckless youth to responsible citizens in our own broken worlds: on-the-road, in-a-job, on-the-mission-field, or in-a-marriage…and what to do when the adventure eventually comes to an end.

Through tales of his activities among the down-and-out, Jeff keeps explaining how he’s trying hard to bring lasting change to an ocean of indifference.

In the end, he keeps flipping turtles right side up, in an effort to save them (my interpretation of the cover image), only to learn in the end that he is one of them.

And so are we.

The Problem With Principles

There can be a serious problem with trying to live according to your principles…

That problem can be seen when we tend to defend our principles rather than follow them. Biblical principles should be adopted and adapted to allow us to interpret laws. Laws do not change, but even in modern courts they require interpretation. The Pharisees sought to prosecute Jesus for lawless behaviors, based on their incorrect interpretation of God’s Law concerning working (healing) on the Sabbath, when even the scriptures describe God violating that principle in Creating the worlds. When interpreting the day of rest from a legal perspective, those Pharisee lawyers had made activity illegal, although God completed ‘His’ work and rested on the seventh day of creation.

A principle-only religion will eventually divide the Christ followers into a hate-filled minority of ineffective snobs. To follow Jesus into a world of hungry souls, we need to honor laws of nature, seek to understand, and love without prejudice. Revival in our generation will come dressed differently than before (new wineskins) and won’t repeat itself. People rarely take issue with Jesus, so we need to model His actions, seek His heart, and reveal His character to the world without taking an approach filled with dispute and empty rhetoric. Effective outreach cannot include arrogance.