How tame is our God?

How tame is our God? Consider this quote from AW Tozer:

The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. The God of the modern evangelical isn’t a God I could have much respect for. But when the Holy Ghost show us God as He is, we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight. (Gems from Tozer)

  • How domesticated is the God we worship?
  • Do we confine  him within our evangelical boxes?
  • Do we ask him to color within the lines we create for him?
  • Are our expectations of him limited by a narrow theology?

Or is he allowed to surprise and astonish us?

“Aslan is not a tame lion.”

Aslan lion

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God’s love language

I sometimes wake in the night, and if I can’t get back to sleep, I get up to pray. It’s become a habit I’ve learned to appreciate. We have a long hallway in our house, and I love to walk up and down that hallway seeking the Lord.

Yesterday morning, in the early hours, I began my time with God, as I usually do, in worship and praise. I found myself pondering the question, how do I show God how much I love him? What is his love language?

Which took me to in my thinking to the book,The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D Chapman. The five love languages Gary describes are different ways that people best experience love, especially from their spouses. The five he focuses on are

  • words of affirmation
  • quality time
  • gifts
  • acts of service
  • physical touch.

As I began pondering and praying, I found myself thinking that, with the obvious exception of physical touch, all these are ways we can express our love to God.

Words of affirmation: God loves to receive our praise and worship. It even says that he inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3).

Quality time: our lives are so busy that it’s easy to neglect spending time in God’s presence. Or perhaps more relevant, how do we, (like Brother Lawrence) learn to experience his presence even in the mundane busyness of life.

Gifts: Although it includes finances, I don’t think this is the primary way we give to God. We give him our lives, becoming a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). He’s delighted when our lives bear fruit–and this includes the fruit of others becoming followers of Jesus.

Acts of service: It sometimes gets overlooked because we cannot earn our salvation, but God delights in our service for him–as we lay down our lives to help others. Just yesterday, thinking about acts of service being a way to express my love for him helped me to perform an act of service that I usually prefer to avoid.

I know that this doesn’t begin to touch on other ways we can love God like obedience and the quality of our character, but I found it a helpful concept.

What do you think?

heart

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The Path of Freedom

Brandon Chase is a frequent contributor to House2House Magazine Online.  I always enjoy his posts which I find insightful and thought-provoking. He also writes about Life, Love and Church – and how Jesus is all of these – on his blog Zōē Perissos. He has recently written an ebook The Path of Freedom: Few find it; Fewer walk it; Be one of the few. As I read this book, I was caught up in his story of how, from a churched background  Brandon found the freedom he longed for. I know others long for the same.

Felicity: I know from personal experience how important motivation is in writing a book. Why did you decide to write The Path of Freedom?

Brandon: The Path of Freedom was really a private wrestling I had with the Lord long before it was ever an eBook.

I had observed something that “bothered” me – in my own testimony, and in years of ministry with and to Christians - that is: the lack of real understanding of and living in the Freedom we are supposed to have in Jesus.

I was a “Christian” half of my life – and had no concept of what being Free was. I have witnessed countless Brothers and Sisters taste this Freedom in some area of their life – only to seemingly fall out of it, return to old sin patterns, wrong belief, or other bondage.

The fruit of Freedom is too often not there, or fleeting.

This eBook is the culmination of my wrestling with the Lord in asking the question, “Why?” and my understanding of what He showed me about Freedom – what It is, how It is entered in to, how It is remained in, how It is grown in, how It is Lived from – and why It matters.

You are not getting another “how to” book here. Rather, this is an unveiling of “what already is,” and what it means to “see” that reality, and Live from It.

Felicity: How has this process of writing a book changed you?

Brandon: That’s a really insightful question. As you probably can relate, writing is a wonderful fellowship with the Lord – I hear from Him and learn from Him in the “classroom” of the keyboard.

But before I ever get to the point of actually writing, for me, the process of writing about the things of God begin in the abiding in Him and seeking His things. When I did this for the specific purpose of understanding Freedom, He was faithful to show and tell.

This process has changed me eternally in that I now “get” Freedom. Please don’t hear me to say I am an expert, or have fully reached the bottom of understanding. That would be like reaching the end of the Lord Himself – and He is unsearchable in His riches! But I grasp what it means to realize His Freedom, and more importantly, what Living from that Freedom looks like, far better now than before this process started.

Those who take this journey with me will too.

I believe any sincere and seeking follower of Jesus who desires the fullness of relationship, intimacy, Life and Freedom in Him will benefit from this book.

Felicity: My blog focuses primarily on simple, organic church life, and on empowering women who follow Christ. How would these audiences benefit from your eBook?

Brandon: Great question.

Religion, and the institution of “church” has had a very negative, mostly unintended consequence of doing the precise opposite of what it proclaims to do – that is, set people Free via the Gospel. It has instead become one of the most significant prisons keeping people from that Freedom. Even in the organic/house/simple church movement, there is a great temptation for the “fellowship” or “community” itself to become its own special bondage.

I address these in the eBook.

The Daughters of God, Sisters in the Lord have been in a “cage” for far too long. That’s why I rejoiced over your recent book, The Black Swan Effect, and its prophetic message.

While certainly not the only cause of this “imprisonment,” part of the reason has doubtless been because (along with men) women have failed to apprehend and believe in their identity in Christ, and Live from it.

In my eBook, identity is addressed, and will bless women and men who have been lied to about, or who have failed to agree with God about who they are for far too long.

Felicity: How can readers who are interested get your eBook?

Brandon: You can get a FREE copy of The Path of Freedom by joining my newsletter list. This will automatically subscribe you to free updates to my blog, Zōē Perissos, as well as any other future eBooks and will give you a link to download the book.

Felicity: Any closing thoughts?

Brandon: I’m praying that this eBook opens eyes to more – More Freedom, More Life, More Jesus – and inspires us to Live, really Live Free.

The world and the Church are hungry, starving, for the people of God to realize their Freedom – and to Live It.

Thank you, Felicity for this opportunity to share. Blessings!

Five vows

In my late teens/early twenties, I came across AW Tozer’s “Five vows for spiritual power.” I’ve tried to live my life by them ever since. At times they’ve been inconvenient, I’ve certainly broken all of them at one time or another, but they’ve formed a compass for my life. They’ve simplified decision making. They’ve convicted me. They remain a guide.

Here they are:

  1. Deal thoroughly with sin
  2. Never own anything
  3. Never defend yourself
  4. Never pass on anything about anyone else that will hurt them
  5. Never accept any glory

The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church is a clarion call for a New Reformation encompassing the whole body of Christ–Leonard Sweet

Rethinking giving

Until a few months ago, the church that meets in our home did what I suspect the majority of simple/organic churches have done with their giving.

Nothing!

That’s not to say that people haven’t been giving. They have–generously. (A few years ago, a friend of ours did research on how giving within simple/organic/house churches compares with the traditional church. Well over half the people give more than 10 percent of their income. The typical American Christian gives 3 percent.) But most people don’t tend to give via the house church. They give to friends they know on the mission field, needs within the church as they have come up and various other charitable/spiritual projects they have wanted to support. All of it good.

The issue was forced on us recently when a couple told us they wanted to do some of their giving via the church.

What to do?

As a church, we sought the Lord and had the sense that he wanted us to be more strategic in our giving. It’s not that one or two people should make the decision about where the money should go. As his body, together, we were responsible for asking him what he would like us to do with any  money collected. Even with people continuing to give their regular support to projects they are committed to, with no buildings and no staff, there’s a lot of money available.

So we opened a bank account, and each week we have a pot available for people to put money in.

In the past three months, as a church, we’ve spent time seeking the Lord as to what we should do with the money collected. Each time, there’s been a general consensus as to where it should go. We’ve given to missions, we’ve helped some people within the church who had overwhelming financial need, we’re helping one of our young people go to camp over the summer and we’re giving a proportion (rather than a set amount) regularly to House2House.

The most strategic network of churches I know of regarding finances is in Killeen, Texas. Last time I heard, they’d given more than $1.2 million since their inception.

What if the rest of us were to be strategic with our giving too? What if, as a movement, we were strategic with our giving? What more could God accomplish?

 

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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

[Tweet "Ten days to go! The Black Swan Effect launches on April 5th."]

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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