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When Jesus “in-thunders”

[First of all, an apology to many of you who have made comments to other posts on my blog. The last few weeks have been crazy with the launch of The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church and I've just not had time to respond as I usually would.]

The other morning, I was reading John 11, the story of the raising of Lazarus, and I found myself weeping over the passage. My tears tied up with the depth of emotion expressed by Jesus at the situation. Here’s what verses 33-38 and 43 say in the NLT:

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,  and he was deeply troubled.  “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”  But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance…  Then Jesus shouted,“Lazarus, come out!”

In this passage, Jesus has deep anger, is deeply troubled, is still angry and shouts!

On Friday, in the church that meets in our home, we broke into groups to study this passage. I decided to look up the meaning of the word translated “angry” in a Greek version. The word literally means, “in thundered!” Jesus was thundering inside. Was it the work of Satan he was thundering against? Death?

Strong’s Concordance and the Helps Word Studies gives the definition, “snort like an angry horse,” “roar with rage,” “express indignant displeasure.”

So our group spent some time praying with a young man who has a brain tumor (please pray for Jose. He’s undergoing another brain surgery today). We “in-thundered” against the tumor. (It was a noisy prayer-time!)

I think Jesus “in-thunders” over a number of things. I think he “in-thunders” over sickness and disease, poverty, injustice.

What do you think?

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On earth as it is in heaven

Here’s a quote from an interview with Alan Hirsch in The Black Swan Effect:

I don’t understand how a true evangelical can claim to appropriate the Gospel in all its fullness and countenance, and tolerate, for example, racism. So if someone questions me on issues like these, here’s what I say:

“Can you imagine a situation in heaven, when Jesus is fully King, and God reigns completely, where people are traded as slaves—bought and sold as other people’s property?”

People reply, “Of course not. There’s no way that would happen in heaven.”

And then I say, “Racism: can we conceive that in heaven there will be some kind of hierarchy of race in heaven?”

Everyone says, “Absolutely not!”

Then I take it to the issue of gender. I say, “Can you foresee a situation in heaven when you stand before God, that women are inferior in status or function to men?”

It would be very hard to hold a belief in the inferiority of women in light of the weight of glory. Of course I’m reflecting Galatians 3:28 here: “There’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but Christ is all in all.” (paraphrase).

The people of God are meant to live in a Kingdom reality. “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10, paraphrase). We’re meant to embody what the Kingdom stands for and make it real now. If we’re the ones who are to model what the ultimate heavenly reality is going to be, then we can’t avoid the gender issue, because the Gospel does address it. That’s the theological nub to me, the center. The evangel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, does away with all the idols and false distinctions that people claim, and that must include one of the most fundamental definitions of all—male and female.

 

Who should read The Black Swan Effect

Two years of hard work, multiple phone conversations and emails, incredible co-authors, a wonderful design and editing team…. It all comes together at the end of next week.

Here’s a video I made about who should read the book.

Who will be interested in The Black Swan Effect? from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.

[pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus

Erik Fish, founder of Student CPX which teaches students how to make disciples and plant churches on campuses, and his family are staying with us at present. A few days ago, four heavy boxes arrived for him. They were the first copies of a new pocket manual he has written called [pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus.

The church that meets in our home seemed a good place to try it out. The book aims at teaching the basic commands of Jesus through seven discipleship practices. So last Friday, the group of us gathered there went through Experience #6: gather. We read through the instructions about how to use the book, discussed some Scriptures, answered questions and then experienced Jesus by celebrating communion together.

With us was a young woman, a co-worker and friend of one of the gals who gathers with us. She is from the Middle East and has no background in Christianity. It was her second time here. She went through Experience #6 with us and was full of questions. So Erik and some others took her through Experience #1: change. She wept her way into the Kingdom.

This little booklet is a great tool for discipling new believers. You can get it here.

We are different

I don’t have a problem with men and women being different. I studied medicine (I’m a physician by background) and not only are we anatomically different, nearly every system in our body is different in some way. The X and Y chromosomes make an impact. We obviously have different endocrine systems (hormones), but other systems differ too. For example, our skeletons are different. Our musculature is different. Our brains are different (men’s brains are larger, but women’s have more connections between right and left hemispheres.) When I studied diseases, I had to learn the differing rates at which diseases occur in men and women. Study any text book on pathology and you cannot get away from the differences.

It’s not hard to believe that the chemical and physiological differences impact how we think and process things.

Are there differences between men and women?

Yes.

I have no problem with those differences.

What I do have a problem with is when those differences are used to create a gender-based hierarchy, or when they’re used to limit women, preventing them from doing and being everything God has commanded them. Or when they produce stereotypes that people are expected to conform to, or when they are used to demean women.

What I long to see is for the body of Christ to welcome those differences, creating a synergy from our different strengths.

What do you think?


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How Moses is a foreshadowing of Christ to women

Someone recently pointed out an interesting passage to me. I think there are some good lessons to learn from it.

When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” (Exodus 2:16-19 NLT)

Reuel, who we see from Exodus 18 was also called Jethro, later gave his daughter, Zipporah, to be Moses’ wife.

Here are several points:

  • Women as well as men were shepherds in Moses’ time.
  • Their father, Jethro, was the one who assigned them this task
  • These seven young women cared for their father’s flocks, bringing them regularly to get water
  • Other shepherds, not wild animals, made their task much more difficult by chasing them away from the well. (Was this because they were women?) One has the impression from Reuel’s comments when they arrive home that this was a daily occurrence. How sad!
  • Moses, who is a type and foreshadowing of Christ, rescued the women from the other shepherds and helped them with their flocks by drawing water for them
  • By Exodus 3, Moses is looking after those same flocks. It’s while he’s doing this that he sees the burning bush
What  can we learn from this?

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If the world were a village…

You think you have it tough? I recently came across these figures on a site that encourages people to pray for various countries in the world. (Visit the site--it’s well worth the time.) All of us are aware of some of the injustice around the world, but these figures brought it home to me…

Picture the world as a village of 100 people.

  • Six people (all U.S citizens) own 58% of the wealth
  • 74 people own 39% of the wealth
  • 20 people own the other 2% of the wealth. If you have a bank account (with any amount) you are among the richest 30 people
  • 18 people struggle to live on $1 USD per day
  • 53 people struggle to live on $2 USD per day
  • 20 people are undernourished
  • 15 are overweight
  • One dies of starvation
  • 20 people have no clean drinking water
  • 56 people have no access to sanitation
  • 80 live in substandard housing
  • One person has AIDS
  • One has a university degree
  • Seven people have computers
  • 67 are illiterate
  • 48 people cannot speak freely of their religious faith

Of the 6.5 billion people in the world, 2 billion have never heard the Gospel.

In the light of this, how should we then live?

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When God is silent

When Tony and I moved here to the States in 1987, probably the toughest part of our lives so far at a spiritual level kicked in. Why? God became silent. He stopped talking to us.

Back in the UK, nearly everything had gone well. It was relatively easy to know what God was saying. In fact, when he spoke to us about moving to Texas, his leading was so clear that we sold our house and moved here, knowing no one. We felt a bit like Abraham, but were confident he would continue to lead us clearly.

And then silence.

Nothing. Nada

No clear direction.

It wasn’t so much the little things. It was that clear sense of direction, knowing we were following him, in the center of his will, that was missing.

To start with, we confessed every sin, real or imaginary, that we could think of. After all, we reasoned, sin separates us from God.

Still nothing.

We tried everything. We had faith, we prayed against the enemy.

Then I got angry with God. How could he bring us here and then drop us? Needless to say that didn’t work either.

Finally, I came to the place where I realized my total dependence on him. If God chose to leave me on the shelf and never to use me again, that was his prerogative. He is the potter, I’m mere clay in his hands.

A number of things died at that point–any desire for limelight, any sense of entitlement, any hankering to be anything beyond ordinary.

It was then, after nine years of God’s kind of seminary on the backside of the desert, his training in the school of wilderness experience, that, God, in his mercy, started speaking again.

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Covering and control

Only too often, I come across this kind of sad story of spiritual control:

“I committed some “offense”  (usually not a sin but something that went against the church’s “rules”), and the pastor /church excommunicated me. No one else in the church is allowed to talk to me. My old friends avoid me in the grocery store. The ones it hurts most are my kids, who just don’t understand….”

As far as I’m concerned this is control and abuse. It’s an application of the “heresy” of covering.

Control takes other forms too. Like baptism.  Only someone who is ordained can baptize. Show me that in the Bible! Or communion. It takes a special sacred person to give communion.

Often it’s applied specifically to women. Women can’t baptize. Where’s that in the Great Commission?

Give me a break!

 

 

 

Feet and forks, knees and mouth

As a former physician, I still maintain an interest in health. I recently read an article (I think it was probably by or about Dr. David Katz who is an authority on preventive medicine), stating we can reduce our lifetime risk of all chronic diseases by 80 percent with our feet, forks and fingers. That is, if we will exercise, eat right and not smoke.

What would be the equivalent of feet and forks in terms of seeing the moves of God that we long for? Just as with disease prevention, doesn’t it come down to the basics? How about knees and mouth? That is, prayer and telling our stories and Jesus’ story?

Feet and forks really only work if we take are intentional about using them. We have to make an effort to exercise, a decision to eat right. Just as preventive medicine only works if lifestyle choices become ongoing habits, I suspect that one-off prayers and witnessing occasionally, while good in themselves, will not produce the results we long for. However, a lifestyle composed of prayer, and deliberately going out of our way to share our faith with others will produce more fruit than just sitting around and hoping it will happen.

What do you think?

 

 

 

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