“you know just enough to be dangerous”

Those words still echo through my mind, spoken by a professor friend of mine.

I walked (maybe even skipped) across the big stage to receive my degree from Dallas Seminary in May but in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t done yet.  There was more left to know and learn.

I know enough to be dangerous, but I know I need more.

Which is why I’m up blogging at 2:49am instead of sleeping.

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from death to life

Let-Go

Letting go.
Letting things die
so i can live..
so I can really live, again.

There is life, even in death
because some things need to die, so other things can live
like dreams

But why do we keep praying for clarity?
We are never promised clarity
But … but
we can walk by faith, and not by sight
we can choose trust instead of the questions

And somehow in the mess
there is beauty
in the ashes
and in the end
we may experience a joy that only comes from Him in the midst of the
madness, chaos, confusion and doubt..

and a seed of joy is planted
growing bit by bit
sprouting into a tree.  A tree of life.  Again.

So… what do you want to do with that?

What do you want to do with that degree?
Is this [job] what you were hoping to do as a career?
How long are you planning to stay?

The questions we ask people about life, whether it be careers, marriage, children, hobbies, etc… often are the wrong questions to ask.  During day one of orientation for my Master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary I was asked numerous times, “What degree program are you in?” closely followed by the question, “Oh, great, so what do you hope to do with that?”  Or, “What kind of ministry are you planning to serve in after you finish?”

So many of our questions are leading questions.  We intend to lead people to a specific type of answer.  An answer that belongs in a neatly organized box.  And not only that, but these questions do not focus on the heart of who the person we are conversing with, rather, we are forcing people to answer in a particular way so that we can categorize them.

Since my move here to Seoul, I have been asked too many times, “Oh, so is this job what you were wanting to do when you attended seminary?”

Um, no.  It isn’t.  Wasn’t.

I had no clue I would be here.
I have no clue how long I will be here.
I have no clue where I will go next.

God only knows.

And that’s the thing about all our grand plans: they aren’t ours.  We can plan all day until our faces are blue and our fingers are bleeding with callouses: we cannot know the future.

Proverbs rightly reminds us: “A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NET)

Wrath.Grace [John 8]

The scene was not uncommon in the Gospels: Jesus teaching.  The audience also not uncommon: the twelve disciples, various other followers, and the skeptics: the religious teachers of the law.

I always image the religious teachers standing with their arms crossed in the back of the crowd whenever Jesus taught.  Yet still hanging on to every word Jesus said, to judge and find fault with him, or perhaps on the verge of believing he was more than just a teacher or prophet.

Then, a woman was “placed” before Jesus.  This woman, they said was caught in the very act of adultery.  “Such women” were to be stoned.

What say you Jesus?

The crowd eagerly listened.  Perhaps Mothers with young children scurried back to their homes, offended to be in the presence of this woman.  I always imagine her wrapped in a sheet.  However this woman was presented, I’m sure her face wasn’t unknown to those in the crowd.  They knew her, at least her reputation.  And now this reputation was confirmed as she knelt on the ground, weeping tears from the depths of her heart and soul.  Her sin was now exposed.

[Too bad the religious leaders were more concerned with what Jesus was about to say or do, and not this woman herself.]

The Old Testament was serious about sin.  Well, God is serious about sin, but read Leviticus for a new view.  It will bring perspective to the demands a Holy God.  He expected holiness from His people.  God’s wrath and jealousy for his people was that they have devotion to only Him, and that their actions reflect this devotion.

The religious leaders knew the Old Testament like the back of their hands.

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10

“And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords.” Ezekiel 16:38-40

Yet this picture in John 8 paints a different picture of God.

(AND, side note = where was the man she had been sleeping with?  The law also says he was to be killed too, but for some reason they only felt the need to condemn her.  Interesting.)

Next, Jesus writes in the sand.  Bible scholars have their own speculations on what he wrote, but truthfully, we really don’t know what it was.

Jesus then said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

[Scribbles in the sand again.]

woman-caught-in-adultery

And one by one, they all walked away.
Every.
Single.
One.

No one condemned her.
No one could condemn her.
Not even the sin-less Jesus Christ, who knelt down next to her.

Friends, there is much to be said about these short 11 verses.  But tonight, I will not begin to say it.

We all are sinners in desperate need of God’s grace.  Good thing for us: God is in no short supply of grace.  He has lavished it upon us in ways we may never know.

So walk in grace today.  Wherever you are, whatever your situation, whatever your story is: may it be told with grace.  Lining every corner and crevice of your heart.

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miracles and the holy spirit

Jesus Christ performed many miracles while here on earth.  Let me say that again, JESUS CHRIST PERFORMED MANY MIRACLES WHILE HERE ON EARTH.  

Are we numb to the idea that the Son of God, while present and with us here, worked MIRACLES?

My suspicion is that if he were to be here, living among us today and performing miracles, we would seriously question who he was getting his power from, and perhaps even think there was a demonic presence in him.  That’s what we do today when anyone claims they’ve seen or experienced a miracle.  One of the “joys” of living after the ‘Age of Reason’ I suppose.  We as humans have become so logical that we can’t even accept that it’s a miracle that we wake each morning.

We as Christians have also become so logical that we doubt even the truest of intentions and heart when we pray to see revival… which will also bring about miracles.  

Though true, in Matthew 24 we are warned that false prophets will perform many signs and wonders. Every situation should be approached with a logical/intellectual mindset, we should also be aware that miracles were the “staple” if you will during Pentacost.  

“But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you….” it says in Acts chapter 1.  Power?  YES, POWER.  POWER FROM GOD!  

 

*I’ve been thinking about this after some friends and I had a long taxi ride back to GES the other day… if y’all are reading, thanks for the conversation, it’s really had be thinking the past several days…*

After the Holy Spirit comes, in Acts 2, the first thing was there was a thundering sound that filled the room, and each of them began to speak in other languages.  <If you are a Baptist you tend to skip over some of Acts 2, or simply have another interpretation that doesn’t address the issue of tongues.>  The other languages were for the purpose to proving the Holy Spirit’s power, but also so that the people in the room from other areas could all understand one another.  

Peter then commands order in the room, and makes it clear that no one in the room was intoxicated.  In verse 17 it says, “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy.  Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.  In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants- men and women alike- and they will prophesy'”.  (Perhaps there was a need to say men AND women because of the culture at the time).  “‘And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below- blood and fire and clouds of smoke…. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved'”.

God’s spirit is with us.  Think about it.  Not the “holy spirit” as we call it… but GOD’S SPIRIT.  With us each moment of each day.  And there is POWER in the name of the LORD.  There is POWER in his spirit.  

Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about is the difference between Christians here in the East, and Christians in the West.  Here, there is already some element of animism to the religion.  It’s a very mystical and spiritual experience.. life that is.  Since their religion IS their life.  In the States we tend to separate the “religious” and “life”.  I’m not saying we as Christians should turn completely mystical in our “religion”, but there SHOULD be a huge element of that in our lives, especially since GOD’S SPIRIT dwells in us… in our bodies and hearts.  

If God’s very spirit is in us, then we should be experiencing miracles every day.  Or maybe we do, but we just don’t recognize it.  In Galatians chapter 5, it talks quite a bit about God’s Spirit in us.  The fruit of having his spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  One of my favorite verses is verse 25, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Sprit’s leading in every part of our lives”.  How many of us actually recognize when we have feelings (negative or positive) about a situation that it is the Holy Spirit?  I’m not always thinking that, but maybe we should re-think our every day lives and remember that he dwells within us.  

Back to miracles.  In our taxi ride we discussed that miracles was one of the signs that you had the Holy Spirit.  Across the board; everyone.  

I’ve been experiencing a miracle in my own life, and I didn’t even realize it until recently.  I’m drinking “Pepsi Max” right now.  Seems normal, yea?  Well, some would scold me for drinking pop (or as some call it, “soda”) but the average person who doesn’t know ME wouldn’t think twice.  

For about five years I’ve suffered with IBS.  If you don’t know what it is, Google it.  I struggle with stomach pains all the time, especially while under stress.  I’ve dealt with depression as another piece to the IBS puzzle as well.  BUT.. today, I’m drinking Pepsi Max.  For years, I couldn’t have any pop, or anything carbonated.  I couldn’t have any dairy for about a year.  I couldn’t ever drink coffee.  I couldn’t ever have anything that was fried or had a lot of saturated fat.  

But friends, over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a miracle, and I was too blind to see it.  I was too busy to see that God has been healing me.  Now, I’m not in perfect health now, and my stomach does still act up occasionally, but going from my condition a couple of years ago to now, drinking CAFFEINE.. that my friend is nothing short of a miracle.

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There’s much more that could be said about the Holy Spirit, and it’s role in our lives.  I think the Church of America often focuses much attention on JESUS, rather than God, “three in one”.  Think about that.. it’s so true.

In 1 Corinthians 12, spiritual gifts are discussed.  We all have a gift from God’s Spirit that is for the purpose of serving the body of Christ.  In verse 7 it says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other”.  So, point number 1, we each have a gift.  Point number 2, it isn’t to boast in our abilities, but rather to HELP ONE ANOTHER.  Discernment of messages is a spiritual gift, but so is speaking in “unknown languages”.  So working together, we can hear from God and discern what he is speaking to us.  We shouldn’t shy away from this either, this is how God can speak to us today.  But of course we know as a continuation of these thoughts and ideas, in chapter 13, everything should be done in love. Love is even greater than faith, and hope.  “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless.  But love will last forever!  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless… (12) Now I see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mrror, but when we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13: 8-10, 12).

In John chapter 16, Jesus tells more about this gift that will be given to us.  It says “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgement”.  Then it says “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.  He will tell you about the future.  He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.”  The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to guide us to truth, not to lead us astray, especially since he’s from God.  Sometimes our discernment and skepticism tends to kick in well before we think something is from the Holy Spirit.  Maybe what we’ve been taught is holding us back from communing fully with God?  Maybe it’s holding us back from seeing more miracles?  Maybe we are holding back the miraculous from happening every single day.

I’m not saying these things to judge the Church of North America, but if we would begin to release ourselves to experience God in a way that may not make logical sense to us, perhaps that’s when we will be released to fully serve God?  We can’t see the full picture now, but soon, we will.  

Walk in his spirit today, and each moment.

Remember that love is greater than anything else we can do or say.

May God’s Spirit guide you.

 

(Sorry, this was much longer than I intended it to be!)