Monday, December 21, 2015

Stillness

Nothing in this life is both easier or more difficult than stillness. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Identity Defined

There is no distance or separation between you and God right now. All distance exists in our mind and perspective and those thoughts and sight are shaped and influenced by our experiences in this physical world. But the victory that overcomes the world is our faith in that which is unseen. (1John 5:4)  Now your journey is to surrender who you thought you were to simply be who your Father has always known you to be. In Christ is your authentic identity and you are the creative expression of the home that God desires to dwell in. It is in this place of peace that we are most alive. 

This is not a position that is left unchallenged. We have an enemy who seeks to steak, kill, and destroy. But we can refuse to allow that enemy to have a place of influence and define who we are. Recently my wife, Traci, was in a car accident and while she was spared serious injury it could have been a very different situation. My identity as a husband and father is able to be threatened. So while those are good roles and I do them as unto the Lord, they by themselves do not define who I am. Any identity that you have that can be threatened is temporal. You only have one identity that is eternal and that is “in Christ”. Nothing can threaten that. And it is from the foundation of that identity that the rest of life flows abundantly.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Hidden Goodness of God

The Hidden Goodness of God

“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” You know it’s a really good thing that it was Jesus who said this. We certainly wouldn’t let anyone else get away with talking about the Bible like that. Jesus knew that it’s our tendency to treat the “letter” like an instruction manual rather than a love letter revealing the heart of a good heavenly Father. So when you read the Bible now to look for plain directional formula of what to do or not to do you’re basically scratching the surface of the letter and recreating the law all over again. The Bible is an invitation to a beautiful relationship and a glorious celebration and if you discover the heart of your Father, the Spirit of the letter becomes clearer and clearer.

Take, for example, Matthew 18. For many churches, this is the handbook for excommunication. Jesus gives an example of someone caught in a fault or sin. To just look at the formula it seems clear and simple. Step one, go tell him about his fault. Step two, if he won’t hear you take another person. Step three, if he’s still not listening, tell the whole church. Step four, let him be like a gentile or tax collector. It seems simple enough as one, two, three strikes and you’re out. And if kicking someone out of your community is the goal, this seems like a good deal. Except for this one little plot twist. Matthew, who this Gospel is attributed to, is a tax collector, and later through Paul, God demonstrates His love for the gentiles. How did Jesus Himself treat tax collectors and gentiles? When He encountered Zacchaeus in Luke 19, He went to his home to spend time with him personally. When Jesus encountered the gentile woman in Mark 7 who asks for healing for her daughter, Jesus grants her the miracle and praises the greatness of her faith. Matthew 18 is a challenge to our prejudices, not Divine permission to reinforce them.

For another example look at Mark 16. Jesus has just resurrected from the dead and appeared to Mary Magdalene and two who were walking on the road to Emmaus. In a dramatic (and perhaps a little bit unfair) plot twist, Mark 16:12 says He appeared to them in a different form. Both Mary and these two from the road run to tell the disciples that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. The disciples are the inner circle, the ones who were chosen personally. Why would He appear to anyone else first? That had to be a blow to their ego. Maybe it was the fact that they weren’t reliable sources, or maybe it was the odd fact that their accounts of His appearance were so different. Whatever it was, the disciples don’t believe them. It’s at this point that Jesus appears in the room and rebukes them for their unbelief. The very next thing you see is Him saying, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Again, this seems pretty simple, and we have long used it as a clear way to tell who’s in and who’s out. The Gospel (Jesus Christ is risen) is preached and if you believe it you’re in and if you don’t you’re out. What did the disciple just hear? The Gospel message that Jesus Christ is risen. What have they just done with what they’ve heard? They didn’t believe. Do you see it? According to the letter, the disciples meet the criteria to qualify for condemnation. But Jesus reveals the love and power of the Spirit by embracing and empowering the very ones who are worthy to be condemned. It’s a sobering thought to consider that the 11 who made up the foundation of the church were actually the first unbelievers of the Gospel. This is the goodness of Jesus Christ. He empowers and validates the condemned and disqualified. The letter doesn’t force you to condemn anyone. But it does give you permission to condemn and reject them if you choose to live by the letter alone. Jesus steps beyond the letter to live by a higher law. The law of Love.

Here’s one final example for you to consider. Do you remember when 1 John 2 says, “Love not the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” But Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” So which is it? If you’re focused on the letter this will be endlessly confusing. But if you catch the wind of the Spirit, and know the heart of your Father, this makes perfect sense. The freedom to reject someone makes your acceptance of them an act of pure love, for love can’t be forced or demanded. Perhaps that itself is the greatest act of love. That when you have qualified for condemnation and bear the weight of guilt, Love steps in and overturns the sentence. When we condemn, we reflect the nature of our own blind fear. When we love, we reflect the nature of a just God. It is the justice of a good God, that the blindness of our condemnation based on the letter is healed by the compassion of the Holy Spirit and an unfailing Love Who bears, hopes, believes, and endures all things. I hope these studies prompt to rediscover the Spirit in the letter and empower you to look beyond the surface into the simple hope of the hidden goodness of God.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

A question to meditate on.

"Does your Father not love you the way He asks you to love others?" Ted Dekker.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Rediscovering

The sun settles into the pocket of cloud at the edge of the horizon, ultraviolet beams bust through holes worn into the clouds by the wind causing me to squint tight my eyes. It rolls down the wall of blue and like a mood ring the color responds to it's heat. The sun must be a confused lover today because orange, pink, and purple can't seem to find out where one ends and the other begins. Embracing the blue the colors never merge, never separate, never dilute like paint into a dull gray. At 35 thousand feet it feels like I'm above it all, but 93 million miles away this molten hurricane of fire hardly resembles the beauty it's light is forming before my eyes here. The sounds of Muse breeze through my airtight earbuds and I want to roll down the window of this jet, crawl outside and on top of it, standing left foot forward, right foot dug in and ride this supersonic surfboard through banks and turns careening through the clouds like a hawk glides between the walls of a canyon. Ignoring the impossible physics of the quest, I could feel my feet leave the fuselage for a second or two wondering how far I had just passed through the air only to touch down on two feet still intact. It's delightful, at a certain age, to discover that you still have an imagination.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Suffering and Expectations

As much as we walk in victory, though saved, in this life there is still suffering. 

Jesus, though a son, learned obedience through that which He suffered. (Heb 5) 

We don't often think of suffering producing anything good but the Scripture makes a pretty strong case for this. That whatever we don't learn by observation, the experience of suffering will teach us. Often with more lasting results. Resistance builds strength. So in life you find yourself bearing the weight of some frustrations with no clear solutions. That's not an unhealthy thing.

When you're building a life not everything is going to work. If 2% of your goals get met by the time you're 40 you'll be doing unusually well. Life sucks the life out of life when you have built an altar of expectations. Goals get trashed and rebuilt and by the time they come around to getting fulfilled you often want something entirely different. When you develop the ability to exercise preference you're eating deeply of the fruit of the fall. It's ok. We all do everyday. That fruit is preference or another word for it is judgment. Everything you want to be is the preference of one thing over another and ultimately it is that very thing (preference and judgement) that leads to suffering. Think deeply about this. So then what is suffering?

Suffering is a self inflicted state of mind based upon the frustration of unmet expectations. All suffering is tied to this. I expected one thing and another happened. Now I'm in suffering.
When you're frustrated, you're never frustrated for the reason you think you're frustrated. You think it's because things aren't the way you want them to be. But it is only because you sense a powerlessness in the wanting. To have what you want requires you to chop wood and draw water, over and over again, until you realize that what you wanted you never really wanted. It is when your expectations all die that you find peace in the storm.
For example, you have a conversation that you want to go a certain way. But the other person isn't cooperating. Did they do something wrong? Only in your mind. So you suffer. (I used to have this happen all the time) Every offense is simply an unmet expectation. Sometimes we don't even know that we have them until they're exposed by a circumstance that refuses to cooperate.
We all want many things that have little to do with Jesus but are just a part of life. We want human love. We want physical affection. We want food. We want people to be kind and gracious. We want air conditioning in the summer. We want to be healthy. We want a lot of things tied to this physical world that Jesus doesn't automatically give us. We thank Jesus for these things, or not. But the lesson in all of this is that our joy is not tied to the physical world. We discover this by the suffering of unmet physical expectations while still retaining and cultivating an awareness of the presence of Jesus.
So did Jesus have unmet expectations? I'm pretty sure He wasn't controlling of the Pharisees abuse of Him. He got frustrated. He was tempted in EVERY way that we are, yet without sin (never separated from the Father). Still, temptation is suffering because it puts the soul in a headlock over unmet expectations. This is why Jesus said things like, "My soul is vexed..." That's suffering. That actually brings me tremendous comfort. To know that God is absolutely familiar with all of my suffering and is victorious within me brings peace and healing and silences all suffering.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lifted from the dust

God's faith in you is unshakable. He's believed in you from before the foundation of the world. Don't give up on you. God hasn't. #GodIsGood

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Resting Reconciled

Being made in His likeness, we awaken to our authentic identity in Him. He decimates our man made, circumstance fashioned, false identities by assuming our likeness and dealing with what we can't imagine a holy God can comprehend. Satan brings temptation upon man in the Garden, and later God tempts Himself (led by the Spirit into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted) in a garden.  In the Garden of Eden God calls out to man 'where are you' as God forsaken. On the cross Jesus cries out to God as man forsaken. He faces down the identity of atheism by assuming the identity of the atheist in the most radical way imaginable. For in the garden and on the cross, God annihilates the separation anxiety of Divine and human rejection in that for a brief instant God Himself appears to be an atheist, crying out, "Why have You forsaken me?" And from that place of lonely isolation, He reconciles the cosmos to Himself, dying and raising from the dead not just for us but as us.  That's grace and goodness beyond the realm of understanding, but not beyond the realm of experience. The grace of Jesus is most often experienced long before it is understood. I would even say without the experience there is no understanding.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Moving on...

Having been both a father and a son means that there are people on either end of the spectrum of existence that have claimed a stake in the soil of your soul and when they are gone they are missed. There's not a day that goes by where I don't miss both my father and my son.  One has moved out and the other has moved on.  Somewhere in the middle here we are.  Now my son works in the same place where my Dad carried me around on his shoulders in the pic below. Britain gets up before dawn and took this pic of the Magic Kingdom and the castle in the distance on a quiet cool morning. I'm so proud of him. There's something of that place that meant a lot to my Dad and that my son cares for it now is fitting. Sorry to drag you along on this personal journey but thanks for reading. 
 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Liberty and Law

"For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near." HEB 1:1


The Law was at best a dim representation of the grace of Jesus.  The Law was pointing to a future event, while the Gospel is good news.  News is reporting that which has already taken place.  Recognize the time you are living in.  The Gospel is not merely encouraging a holy lifestyle to become worthy of something to come, but a lifestyle of freedom in response to the holiness already imparted by the grace of Jesus Christ. 

The establishment of law isn't the mark of a civil society, for it's our lack of civility that prompts their establishment in the first place.  As the hearts of people begin to reflect their authentic identity, (made in the image and likeness of God reflecting His love and goodness), one would think that we would reward ourselves by eliminating laws one by one in due time.  Instead, we continue to make new ones.  

Ignorance would say that which is legal is also righteous, just as it would say that we are righteous because we don't break laws.  That is what defines a legalist. It is one who defines righteousness by law.  But Jesus dares us to live in perfect liberty by making us righteous apart from law.  It is how we respond to freedom that reveals the heart of a people.  What reward is there for walking a path that you are chained to?  The fact that we need laws defining our behavior is proof enough that we don't truly know who we are.  But we're waking up...

Questions and Answers

Who is the Holy Spirit? What is His role in the Trinity? Are there other spirits? How can we distinguish between the unholy and the Holy?

 The Holy Spirit is the kindest most gentle expression of God’s heart that I’ve ever met. He guides into all truth (Truth is Jesus) so He always leads me to Jesus, all of Jesus. Hebrews 5:14 talks about solid food is for those who have their senses exercised (trained) to discern good and evil. So it’s possible to sense the presence of God and the presence of something other. It does take training. This is important because most people have the ability to discern evil but the challenge is to discern good. It doesn’t just come by having the letter of the Word as your sole litmus test for what’s of God or not. (Dangerous thoughts ahead…) The Pharisees knew the Word better than you and I and couldn’t recognize the literal manifest presence of God standing right in front of them. Matter of fact, they claimed devotion to God but the presence of Jesus stirred contempt and hatred, so clearly their senses weren’t exercised simply by devotion to the letter. Abraham got a legit word from God to sacrifice his son. God doesn’t condone human sacrifice. God’s word to Abraham at the bottom of the mountain was different than what He told Abraham at the top of the mountain. But the word of the Lord stands forever, right? Hosea got a legit word to marry a prostitute. How many Pastors today would agree with Hosea if he came and said God told him to do that? Jesus emphatically tells a crowd to eat His flesh and drink His blood, so strongly that they all get offended and leave. God doesn’t condone cannibalism. Bottom line to all of this, unless the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us, we will kill ourselves and each other with the letter all day long. (Read internet message boards on Christian bloggers. Brutal, loveless, people more concerned with being right than revealing Truth.)

Questions and Answers

What is being drunk in the Holy Spirit and where is the basis in Scripture?

 This gets muddy when we put these two concepts together because it implies that one isn’t complete without the other. First, what is being drunk? It’s being given over to alcohol to the point where one loses control of his/her faculties or behavior. What is being in the Holy Spirit? It’s righteousness, peace, and joy. (Romans 14:17) I’ve never liked the term drunk in the Spirit, but I’m not offended by it because I understand that the joy and bliss of the presence of God transcends the limits of linguistic description. (I’m getting happy just writing this. Associative meditation perhaps, but He’s just soooooooo good!!) The difference between chemical intoxication and Spiritual ecstasy is different internally but sometimes generates similar physical responses. Hence the Acts 2 scene where onlookers made the assumption by the behavior of the church that they were drunk. Eph 5:18 says don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. The implication there is that one experience is the counterfeit of another. When you get the revelation that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, that the Prince of Peace has made you His temple, and that fullness of joy is found in His presence, the result of these concepts can fry the formerly limited ability you had previously assumed was possible when it comes to tasting His goodness. I dare anyone to spend five minutes meditating on John 14:20 and not be effected Spirit, soul, and body.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Looking Up

I don't know how else to say it, but to see, really see Jesus, sometimes it doesn't come from hearing a great sermon or reading an amazing book. Sometimes it comes through falling so hard into the dirt road of failure that the gravel marks are permanently imprinted on the palms of your soul. The hand that reaches down to bring you to your feet again, that's the hand of God. That's the encounter with Love that changes everything.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Freedom

"With Grace comes the revelation that your sin or behavior does not have the power to manipulate God or dictate to Him whether He can love you or not. The love of a father would seem to make him vulnerable to pain, so mankind wants to retain the power, through sin, to be able to hurt God if God disappoints or offends us. 

You may think that you have the ability to threaten God with the pain of loss, but I would ask to what extent could your child cause you the greatest pain? The most pain one person could inflict upon another would be injury to the point of death. And that's exactly what God's children did to Him.

Yet in both His death and resurrection He embraces you in reconciliation, grace, forgiveness, and love.  He embraces you in your ignorance declaring, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they do."  He embraces you in His defeat of death, by unveiling love, not revenge upon humanity.  It is the resurrection that validates your innocence and is that premeditated decision to love you that nullifies your ability to control God with any past, present, or future behavior. 
While you were still lost in the blind confusion of sin's identity, He died for and as you.  This union with literal righteousness Himself completely liberates you from sin by removing any power that sin had in controlling and manipulating your life. Authentic Love produces authentic freedom, and you are authentically loved by God, right where you are today." )    
  





Saturday, December 21, 2013

Waking Up

The origin of our reconciliation is in the perfection of our inception.  God exists beyond space-time, encompassing the end and beginning together, so He knew you before He formed you and in your origin is the artistic expression of a master designer.  God created you as a way to express Himself.  You are the mansion He has chosen for Himself to dwell in, and His heart is to receive you unto Himself.  Our creation has never stopped.

Though the work is finished the manifestation of that work is revealed as we awaken to our authentic identity.  Throughout our awakening there is revelation and rest.  Revelation comes from knowing the Answer and rest is when you realize that the Answer knows you.  Even more so, that the Answer has united Himself with you, and even in your blindness He empowers you with identity.  Your identity is not dependent upon your ability to fully understand who you are.  You are fully capable of adopting a false identity, acting out the role of a fictitious character, and presenting it to the world around you as if that is who you really are.  But it's what God knew before He formed you that is the true you, and He is thoroughly committed to you being fully revealed and known by yourself even as you are fully known by Him.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Forgetting to Remember

Experience is the most vilified necessity of your life. Religion promotes works (activity) while demoting experience (the result of activity). At its base level, a moment of servant hood provides God opportunity to form within us what can never be learned by mere meditation and contemplation. So religion creates confusion, working against itself to create a system that creates structure by confined activity. God is constantly working, loving, creating, in the most intimate and beautifully hidden ways to place memorable moments in our lives that anchor us into His heart. In the Old Testament man is admonished to pass down in declaration what God has done before so that the now generation lives with the awareness of what He is doing now and will do tomorrow. In the New Testament Jesus maintains this priority by commanding the disciples to remember again and again. Even communion is given for the purpose of remembering what He has done. We are told to remember because He knows that it within your capacity to forget. I'm convinced that the ability to forget is not a glitch in put design, but a gift that we abuse when the mind is not renewed. In 2 Peter 1:9 we are told that the only reason we lack in the area of virtues is that we tend to forget how pure we really are.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Freedom to Choose

Jesus gave mankind the freedom to hate, the challenge to love, and enough verses in the Bible to support both vengeance and grace.  What you do when you are free to choose anything says so much about the God in your heart and your eyes.  A prison cell has never produced a pure heart.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Dad's Radio Broadcast

I'm continuing to broadcast for my Dad's radio show that he had for more than 30 years.  I don't personally receive payment from the ministry, but rather, the program helps to take care of Mom Vanderbush and also generously supports quite a few trusted missionaries, ministries, and Bible sending organizations worldwide.  It's a small way that I can honor Dad's life, legacy, and desire to continue to share the love of Jesus Christ beyond his own lifetime.  The website to hear the podcast is vanderbushministries.com.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The End From the Beginning

You are designed with a blueprint that originated in the mind of God. You are a product of Gods imagination. When He created the cosmos, He spoke it into existence. When He created you, He expressed to Himself a declared intention. "Let Us make man in Our image, after our likeness. And let him have dominion..." You were created to be and to have. You exist by identity, but you have by authority. Adam and you have the same assignment, to rule and to reign. You reign according to your identity but you rule by authority. Lest we for a moment get serious about this, the very essence and presence of the Lord is marked by joy. Its the fullness that envelopes Him and the pervasive nature that surrounds Him. So it was within the context of joy that the One Who is Love prophesied you into being. You were chosen to be in Christ from before the foundation of the world. He is your home and you are His. He is the destination of this journey of revelation. (John 14:20) And that's the point of all human existence. That the romance of God would be fully manifest to us as it is to Him.