The JOY of Anti-Gravity

One moment here is better than 1000 elsewhere.
One moment here is better than a thousand elsewhere.

This image was taken last night as the sun was setting. The kids were jumping off the porch into the grass as the celebration of a beautiful day and cap to their weekend.

Their repeated attempts confused me until I finally freed myself from my “Why are you doing that?” mindset and grasped that they were PURSUING & CAPTURING a fleeting moment.

In life, all we really have are moments that tick by at 60 per minute. We also have a choice between capturing them or letting them slip by.

As adults we balance the moment of weightlessness, with a proven knowledge of the effects of gravity.

Gravity is pervasive. The weight of the world is pressing on us.

  • Our jobs. Our relationships.
  • Our physical limitations.
  • In our illness or weakness.
  • In our economic need.

At every turn we are being pressed, poured out and molded by countless pressures.

But we have an option–LEAP! Press with all your might against the force. Then capture the moment.

As people, we were not meant to be chained to the earth, there is something within each of us that so deeply longs for liberation.

While some will never be free because they see the effort of jumping as futile, or even wrong, there is an army of people who know that satisfaction for this longing comes contained in very small bits of the present.

Those who venture for this moment, capture something more than the present, they find proximity to a presence.

Nearly every endeavor a person can engage in has the potential of this presence. It’s everywhere. In every sport, passion, or pursuit. It’s the joy of antigravity.  It’s that moment when you are no longer held captive to everything that pins you down. You finally become free to jump.

While in the air, you have only the rush of the air (the Pneuma or Spirit). You can’t hear the dirge song on the ground telling you to play it safe.

Yes, liberation comes with gravity attached. So what?! Gravity is a reminder of the vast amount of effort we must put forth in life to counter balance it for the sake of freedom.

We are only bound if we don’t leap. What a free person possesses in that moment is worth what gravity will deal every single time.

Leap form your porch and join us.

The Jerk at the dinner party.

Can you imagine going to a dinner party where all your friends are gathering? Now suppose one young couple there had brought their 11 month old baby and was relishing with everyone how this little child was beginning to walk.

You know how it goes. The child pulls themselves up on the coffee table and navigates around things. Then they reach out with a big smile on their face and venture a few steps toward mom and dad.

Way up on their tippy toes, tottering and tipping. One little step gives way to another and the child is off on their own, making forward progress. Making strides to the parents who called her.

Now imagine your shock when someone who is supposed to be one of your good friends comments and say: “You call that a walk? She’ll never make it with that walk. That is pretty pathetic.  She should walk just like me.”

This illustration highlights something that takes place every single day in cultural Christianity and those trapped in the mindset of fundamentalism.

Because of the way most modern Christian people are taught to relate to the world, they invalidate any spiritual progress, they nullify any effort or motivation toward the transcendent, and like a prig, they hold out blatant disrespect for any person who tries to relate to God outside of the tidy church delivery system.  Even small differences within the same denomination can be enough for some to disassociate. It’s a glaring blemish of fundamentalism, not liberation.

It’s the byproduct of a person who is convinced they possess all or at least most of the truth. It’s someone who has certainty when in reality they live among tons of ambiguity that they choose to ignore or diminish.

It’s time we rethink the distribution system of our religion.

Christianity is not the same as our theology.

The Christian message is that God sends his begotten son to make a way for humanity to hear his voice and be changed by it, thus changing the world. Our theologies are all the different theories about how that works.  Some may be better than others, but in the end theological constructs are not the goal, but only a means to the end of relating to God.

The moment we become convinced ours is the correct doctrine, we have already put God in a box. And while a person may possess a very robust theology, he or she will inevitably miss God in the process. God is always higher up and further back than our best ideas about him. His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8).

Test this theory.  Ask two church pastors of different denominations to work together. Better yet, ask those of two differing faith commitments.  Ask churches and Mosques around the  city to join in an effort to feed the hungry or clothe the poor.  While there are amazing examples of people working together, the vast majority of the time the answer is: “Not with those people.”  Look around the city. How many little silos of religious communities are there that can do no more than barely pay their own bills. Are those examples of bright lights in the city? Our country is littered with tiny enclaves of theological correctness that bear almost no influence on 70% of the people living here. That is not the biblical picture of Jesus’ Church.

And behind it all is a person who sees another persons walk, and says; “You call that a walk?” A person more concerned with the means of how a person relates to God rather than the fact that the relating makes us related.

Scripture depicts an amazing banquet where every tribe, nation, and tongue will gather together in honor of the host.

Trust me, you don’t want to be the jerk at that dinner party.

Is a Sermon more powerful than a Blog?

As you answer this question, my hope is that you become aware of the biases that might be present in your thinking.

If you over “spiritualize” what a sermon is and you convince yourself that preaching from a pulpit on a Sunday morning is a sanctioned or “official” means of God speaking through a servant to a people, then it is quite possible that you will truncate your ability to hear God’s voice in other areas of your life.

On the other hand a blog, so long as it is just a mind rambling on about observations, may not have much truly helpful content or any basis whatsoever in truth. It can easily be entertaining but may not have any reliable anchor to truth which is beneficial to the reader.

We know there are preachers with vast audiences just as there are blogs with huge followings. While the common assumption is to conclude the sermon is more reliable, the fact that on average, less than 40% of our population actually believes a sermon is a source of reliable information, namely because it is the crown jewel in a Sunday event that most people in our cities do not opt into.

Just like sermons, most blogs fall on deaf ears or on very few ears at best. And just like sermons, every now and then a blog post really speaks to a person.

When that happens, what is transpiring?

In essence, two or maybe three minds are connecting. What is interesting, is that it is precisely the same if one were in a building.  The mind of the communicator is connected to the mind of the receiver.  The way in which God would use a pastor to prepare a sermon may in fact be no different than the way He would use a blogger. Inspiration (from the Greek word Pneuma meaning Spirit or Wind) is that God breathes into a person something that makes them take action and write down something, knowing the audience can be built up.

Scripture tells us in John 3:6 that something that is born of the Spirit IS Spirit.  That is nondenominational. That thing that is born when you are inspired (be it Art, business, leadership, restoration, cooking, physical accomplishments, and so on….) is SPIRIT.

It feels like us. It feels like its OUR SPIRIT.

…and it is. But its more than that. It’s also God breathing in us. Through us.

When we are bored and uninspired, is it not these times where we are most depressed? Isn’t it at these times where we most despise our life?

It’s a sort of death and somehow we know this deep inside.

It pains us. It scares us that life will stay this way forever.

We need God to breath in us. Even if we wouldn’t call it that. We need an idea that will take us out of our funk. We all know we need a lift that will save us from this death.

All people share this experience. It’s part of the human experience.

Now if you capture this in you mind, and these words allow you to rethink how a breath can transform things, then maybe, just maybe, a blog is a gift, from a place farther up and further back than you originally thought.

In one sense, these are my words. But in another sense, these words are only coming through me.

The time you saved by not going to a Sunday show is now yours to live and give to others. You now have a new way to relate to God. To learn.

Not a dollar was wasted on building, lights, salary’s or insurance.  Every cent in your pocket can go behind your inspiration and you can benefit a world that is waiting for you.

We need inspiration or we die.  Who will your inspiration build up?

The Danger of Duty

In a recent dialog with a friend we were discussing the subtle ways that duty is expressed in life, primarily in the ways in which people relate to God.

On one hand there is the biblical interpretation that says those who would follow after God must bear their cross and deny themselves (Luke 9:23), meaning for some that even if you don’t want to do the right thing, you should do it anyway as a form of duty, or because it is the right thing to do. It will feel like cutting off an arm or gouging out an eye (Matt 5:30). In other words, duty is the path to Heaven.

But is it?

I’m not going to go into Piper’s ideas on Christian Hedonism as I find them quite lacking for many reasons. But while the scriptural texts can develop a case for duty on the surface, on a deeper level they seem to develop a case against it. Namely, that if a person is performing duty or any perfunctory religious ceremony as a way of relating to God then they have already missed the boat.  God tests the heart (motivations behind what we do) (Jer 11:20).

In fact, many texts tell us that we can do the right thing (duty) the wrong way and it is horribly wrong.

  • The Pharisee praying but doing so in pride. (Luke 18:11)
  • Those who perform religious acts in pride and yet God rejects them (Isaiah 66:3)
  • Those who give reluctantly out of duty not because they are generous in heart (2 Cor 9:7)

…and in the end Jesus will tell many people who filled their lives with doing all kinds of religious duty, thinking they were relating to God, he will simply say, “I never knew you.” (Matt 7:21)

So DUTY is DANGEROUS.

Duty is how the older brother relates to God (Matt 15:29) and in the end never enters the celebration at the fathers house.

For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are operating out of duty, then we are already missing God.  I don’t deny the obligations of the truth or that life requires us to do things we may not want to do. We can do things we wouldn’t prefer doing but it is a knife edge as to whether the act produces good or creates a monster, and it balances on a tiny nuance.

That tiny nuance which makes all the difference in the world–is whether that act stems from love–the best possible motive of all. Not love as an emotion of favorability, but love as a humble act of the will.

  • It’s the difference between a parent who despises changing a diaper and does so reluctantly and a parent who does it in a loving way and makes the process beautiful.
  • It’s the difference between the employee who works because he/she is afraid of losing his/her job and the employee who despite the oppressive environment still brings to bear all of his/her gifts and talents because they love the integrity of who they are more than a paycheck.
  • It’s the difference between relating to your spouse out of obligation or relating to them out of desire and love.
  • It is the difference between the two ways all people everywhere have ever tried to relate to God: religion or relationship.

I believe we actually possess the ability to choose that motive. It all hinges on whether ones religion is based on “self-preservation” (i.e. trying to avoid Hell), or if it is based on loving God.

If we love God we will keep his commandments.(1 John 5:3) But the moment we ever believe that keeping his commandments is the means to keep us from Hell, then we’ve made God a means to an end, and not an end in himself.

No wonder duty feels so much like Hell, because it is the evidence of a hell bound disposition.

  • it will make your job hell.
  • it will make your marriage hell.
  • it will make your relationships hell.

The disposition of Heaven is then loving something more than preserving ourselves, and that isn’t duty, its freedom.

Dormant Potential

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I spend a lot time in conversations with people who find themselves stuck in the workplace. You know the drill: people who have passions, ambitions, goals and hopes that far transcend the realities of their employment. Most people are not really satisfied at work, they are underemployed, or they are working in a field that is disconnected to their deepest passions, and they are working in environments that are based on fear, or control and thus they never get a chance to really thrive in work or life.

We all know people in this place. To some level, we all find ourselves in this place. We can all imagine the world a little bit better than it is. A world where we are finally cultivated, passionately connected, and where we get to develop into our full potential, where we are economically made whole, and where that hardly matters because we would likely do this kind of work for free.

Work cultures are not unlike other cultures found in religion, politics and education. Those in power, want to stay in power and direct all the worker bees on what to do. Don’t get me wrong, there is a need to organize people and their efforts based on jobs and required activities. But there is a big difference between an employer who oppresses by using fear and intimidation, and a leader who inspires a person to bring excellence even in the pedantic work because he has connected it to the greater mission.

One stifles people. The other builds them up. One is a prison. The other is liberation. They both perform the same tasks but do so in radically different ways. One is darkness. The other is light.

I believe we are on the cusp of a real revolution. People are less likely to work for systems that oppress. The trend is for companies to produce greater benefit to the world if they want to attract the best talent. Companies with a social conscience are popular. People work much hard for systems that liberate people and cultivate them into their personal best.  This is the function of the gospel as far as I can tell–It’s the liberation of the captive, and the setting free of the prisoner (Isaiah 61, Luke 4).  Yes, I said it: business can display the gospel.

Imagine what a few tweaks could do to the present economy and world, by liberating and activating the present workforce. People don’t have to work scared, they put in far more of themselves than ever. Service goes up because everyone changes from the W.I.I.F.M. approach to life. Businesses thrive because they focus on mutually beneficial exchanges of goods and services–true win/win’s. Production goes up, profits go up, tax revenue goes up, unemployment goes down, opportunity to grow and be in the best possible environment rises, and people flourish wherever they are. It’s transportable to every system in the globe.

It’s not just a pipe dream. It’s possible. It’s already happening.

Wow. A changed disposition shared among the workforce, can change the world. A new idea makes all the difference to everyone on the globe. But, It’s not a new idea. It’s been around for years. Promised in Judaism, found in many world religions and it is the hallmark of authentic Christianity (as distinct from cultural christianity which is amuck today).

It’s the promise of a new kingdom. The benefit of people being inspired by a leader who leads and liberates them from the inside-out.

People get this everywhere I go. I think its time we all work together to liberate this potential within all of us. Let’s play to win, and stop playing not to lose. Offense. Not defense. Hope. Not despair. Liberty. Not captivity.

It starts with our disposition today.  What will you bring to those you will touch today. Will do unto others as you would have them do unto you? If so, your a worker in the kingdom of light, hope, and liberation.

It’s your choice what kingdom you want to create.