Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cam, in real life

So, I watched Dan in real life last night. And besides being a touching and valuable comment on family and relationships, I thought the last line of the film really touched something about the way we should see life as God-followers as opposed to the traditional world-driven religious 'Christian' view.. (haha wow that's a laden sentence)..

I don't want to give too much of the film or its ending away, but this fits within the premise of the story - Dan is a column writer for a column called "Dan in real life" and the film ends off with him dictating his latest entry, and saying how he wants to talk about plans - and more specifically what he calls life plans.. and he says a few things, but then says something more or less like this.. ..yay - i looked and actually found the quote! (here). The quote is: "Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised."

Isn't that such a flip on the head of our usual drive!? Because for so many of us, it's all about the plan! About your 5-year plan, about what you're going to do with your life, even about what God's plan for your life is (how that question has plagued me!!). We badger matriculants about their plans. About what they're doing with their lives and about what we think they should be doing - yet how many of our lives have ever 'gone to plan'!? What is it about this western world that makes us so pre-occupied with eradicating all risk - and as a result - so much of the joy and excitement of life!? The best advice my religious leaders could give me was completing the 'blue print' - which was really just a slightly more descriptive 5 year plan. I never actually got round to doing it - and boy did I feel that I just wasn't where I should or could be - because I never did the stuff. And this isn't just about the younger people.

I suppose, I should preface this by saying - I don't think it's wrong to decide what to study, or what job to take. I'm not advocating sitting on our proverbial behinds and doing nothing.

BUT. How about planning to be surprised!? How about it? How about planning to live in the unforced rhythms of God's grace. How about planning to do THAT!? Why would my leaders point me to some blank piece of paper for me to decide, when there is a living God waiting to light my path?

I think so many of us just have a bad attitude. We despise surprises. it's uncomfortable. But what if we changed our attitude. What if we embraced surprise. What if.. we rather planned to be surprised?

If we were honest with ourselves - how many of the plans we had for us that have been brought to fruition have really left us feeling happy and fulfilled? And how many of the plans we've had have really ever been brought to fruition?

Life isn't something we can plan. It's not something that we can map out and predetermine. The shame is that when we do approach it like that we more often than not get bogged down in our confined religious views, dogma and mindsets, and miss out on the life of surprise and fullness that Dad has for us (for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord..).

I'm so much more amped on a real life relationship with my Abba-Dad, learning to live in His plans, to hear His heartbeat, and to rest in what He has laid out for me.

He has this wonderful gift for all of us. Why do we so often sell ourselves short of this? We take the "salvation" - but to what end? To return to living life on our terms!? We are like the Israelites on being saved from Egypt who continuously wanted to return. And then when they had the chance to enter the 'land of milk and honey' chose the desert because it felt 'safer'.

Are we really THAT blind? God didn't save us for the desert people. He saved us for the 'milk and honey' of real close relationship with HIM! Yet we pass it off for the dry, bland desert-life of religion where food or drink that nourishes is always hard to find. Is God with us in the desert? YES - but that isn't where He longs for us to be!! And I am so scared that if we aren't careful - many of us will die (and have died) in that place.

We need to be that people that embraces what God has for us. What He has saved us for - a life FULL of relationship with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu (you will need to read The Shack to get that reference...).

What a full and joyous life this is going to be! This journey that beckons us all!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

so, I was going to write a bunch on my thoughts on church...

...and I have many. I was really eager to get it all written down and hopefully draw some discussion out of it, but I felt Dad was saying that now is not the right time.. so I'll wait on it.

The truth is, what the church is or isn't is not what I'm passionate about and maybe discussing it now would withdraw from the fact that I'm falling more and more in love with HIM. What I'm most passionate about, is having a real and deeper relationship with Abba-Dad.

I'm experiencing such a great sense of freedom and acceptance in God. It's still early days, but I've really found a peace and joy in the first few steps I've taken in having real relationship with Abba. And it's just getting better and better.

To be honest, it's all about relationship with DAD. It's not really about anything else. The rest will come. It will follow, but until we get this right, we're chasing after our dirty rags. Actually, what I meant to say.. is until we let DAD get this right in us, we'll just be chasing after our dirty rags.

This God journey is something that Dad takes us on. It's something that He starts and it's something that He brings to completion in Him. And so, if something I'm writing here draws your heart to HIM, then I'm achieving what my heart for this is. I strongly believe Dad is with each of us as we are all on this journey at different stages, and so if I can help facilitate that journey, then wow! that's what it's about!

What I've realised is - without Him IN my life, without DAD as an ongoing reality, without my life being truly and openly intertwined with His, anything I do, really is dirty rags. It really is a waste of time.

That doesn't mean I have to rush into this, going as fast as I can to get to the goal. Well maybe it does. But when that goal is a deeper relationship with DAD, that HE Himself is growing in my life through my availability to him - then the 'going as fast as I can' is only to get me to a place of being open and able to rest in Him and what He is doing at this time.

So, as I understand it as this: If Dad hasn't called me to something, the reason for being involved is fruitless. That is so incredibly freeing! By extension - if Dad has called me to something - as much as I can within where I am on this journey - I will be there!
What I mean by this - is I'm sure there will be times when I get this wrong - where I might miss something that Dad has called me to, or get involved in something that Dad hasn't called me to - but the truth is - Dad has the grace for that! The joy of being on the receiving end of a perfect expression of a Corinthians 13 love relationship, there is all the freedom within that to mess up, and ironically enough - it's that freedom to mess up totally that gives us the strength to carry on towards this goal of full relationship with Him - it's God's love that compels us -when we are weak - then we are strong.

to end with a cliche.. it's not about doing. it's about being.
it's about living this life connected to God and trusting Him to do the rest. He is faithful to complete what he has started in us.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm redefining "church" as...

...the interconnectedness of people who are related to God.

I just love that thought!
Why are we so stuck in church as that thing some of us do on sundays?

Maybe - just maybe - we should let God define who and what His people are, for a change...

Some resources I've been drinking deeply of

In the light of my new found life in Dad, I thought I'd post some of the websites and resources that I've found enlightening and that has really helped me shake off the shackles that have kept me in a controlling religious mindset for so long.

The thoughts and ideas expressed in these pages and audio downloads have had a revolutionary effect on my heart and thoughts about God, and has ultimately helped me realise there is a better way.

Please take some time to dive into the following. Much of it is audio download, and as such, can be heavy on us who don't have unlimited bandwidth. I have a lot of this downloaded already or from friends, so if you are in South Africa, and need me to write you a cd or dvd, please let me know (it is all freely available).

Ok, without much more ado, here are those links:
The God Journey:
Better yet - their Archive page:
The God Journey is a more-or-less weekly podcast by Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings, and is an ever-expanding conversation about life and thinking outside the box of what we've always known (in regards religion and relationship with God)

It's a website with a lot of resources about living in a fresh understanding of God. Also by wayne jacobsen, and has a bunch of resources. The good place to start is here - it's a seminar that explains and lays out this revolutionary way of thinking. It's a free download. There's 8 sessions at about 20Mb each, but is well worth the bandwidth! I have a copy of the full seminar if anyone wants it.

It was this seminar that has really turned my life around - I strongly recommend this to anyone and everyone!

The Shack
This is an amazing book. It is available in South Africa - I presume at most of the current Christian bookshops.

The website has more information, as well as a few bits and pieces that you can read to get an idea of the story.

I'm in the process of reading this, and it really is profound.

Jake Colsen
Jake Colsen is actually 2 authors (Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman), who wrote an internet-based book (which has now been printed) - and is available as a free pdf download on this page or download it directly here.

As much as I can remember, that's it for now - but there really is so much there. Let me know if you have any thoughts - positive or negative.

One other thing - most of these websites have blogs and forums too - so it's worth looking through that for more resources and ideas and people's responses to these things..

That's it for now!

Does God's command to Love Him, by it's very existance, render it an impossibility?

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine, and some of what we discussed was Jesus' summing up the commandments in "Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul and mind and your neighbour as yourself" and His follow up command with "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you". Both paraphrased, and sorry for no reference.

But we got talking about this, and I said in part that I don't believe that it's possible to command someone to love you. The very notion of (true) love, is that it happens without command or expectations. And if we were to think of any relationship where one person commands the other to love them, it would be a very unhealthy relationship indeed.

That was more or less the gist of what I said, but my friend didn't say too much about it then. This morning though, I received an email with his thoughts on this topic. I will post them below and then after that, I'll give my reply - which is rather long and deviates a little but I think in the end gives a very good starting point for where I find myself at the moment in my understanding of God and how I (we) relate to Him, and in some ways - what I believe His ideal plan for humanity is.

Again - Comments are more than encouraged, as this is something that is very fresh to me, and I am very eager to discuss and work through these issues with whoever wishes to discuss them...

I was thinking about the question, can you command somebody to love you?

I had these thoughts:

1. Yes, because God already has issued a command to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind and strength

2. Yes, because Jesus said, a new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you

3. There must be a reason that God /Jesus issues such commands: possibly ...............................

a. To communicate the boundaries within which God designed us to live full lives

b. To provoke us to think about it so deeply that we are convicted by the Holy Spirit of gaps in our hearts or minds or capacity to make wise choices

c. To allow the Holy Spirit to draw us to the Father (The Word of God is living and active ..........)

Thee are probably other reasons but I end up with the conclusion that God has commanded (that does not set a precedent for people to command other people) that we love Him, therefore I take note of that which limits my love and make wise choices to break through those limits into John 10:10’s life in abundance.

There are some started thoughts not a theological thesis, but they challenge me.

This was my reply...

In response to your thoughts.. I'm not sure that I agree 100%. I'm hesitant to argue something that doesn't have necessarily have a well defined answer.. but I do believe that this particular point is of paramount importance to our understanding of who God is and how we relate to him. In some ways, I think this might just be an issue of semantics, but I also feel there is a lot more to it than just words.

I hear what you are saying, however I'm hesitant to believe that God would ever command someone to love him (in the sense of a commandment or rule).

I still feel that a commandment to love in itself negates the ability to love and rather it lends itself towards a very unhealthy and manipulative relationship. None of which I believe is God's heart.

Right through the biblical history of mankind, I see God's heart is for a people who love Him. He made Adam and Eve for relationship. When that broke down, he chose for himself a people. When they rejected him, and chose Moses and then later the kings as mediators, you can sense God's pain in that rejection. Then He sent himself to earth and confined Himself to the constraints of our humanity and made the greatest sacrifice possible to restore that relationship. I am extremely hesitant to presume that in this utmost of expressions of love, God would then command us to love Him?

The way I see it - is that the command to love was a figure of speech - I see it as Jesus saying - in the old covenant, these are the hundreds of laws I expected you to follow - but in this new covenant, all I want is your love - I don't expect anything more.

I don't know the specific scriptures, but I believe there are sufficient supporting scriptures for this. I think it was Paul who spoke about us loving him because he first loved us. I don't think that's an intangible idea that calls us to love this God because he loves us, I think that it is our growing understanding of how much He really loves us that enables us to love Him. There are many places in the gospels and I think the letters that speaks about things we 'should' do, but then goes on to say that we can't achieve it without God's intervention..

So I think that even if God has 'commanded' us to love him it's a command that we can't complete without Him doing it in us.

I'm fast realising that unless we are specifically doing something that God has called us to, we're labouring in vain.

I still don' see how it is possible to love someone as Jesus loved us - or His disciples - without Him doing the work within us.

I don't see that God relates to us (when on a father/friend/brother/bridegroom level) that is anything but way more than we can think or conceive of the 'perfect' manner of relationship that we could have with another human. Jesus often says 'how much more' in the context of human relationships and how God interacts with us. He lived out God's love for mankind, and it was through that relationship that the humans around him were drawn to know and love him.

I cannot conceive that God would really command anyone to love Him and actually mean it as a command (in the way we understand it - something that we have to do to achieve acceptance or acknowledgement). If this was His goal, then he could easily have created a bunch of beings that loved him as a default setting - in some ways that would have been better than creating beings who have the freedom not to love him in the semblance of choice, and then command them to love him.

Is it good to love God? YES! Is it what we were created to do? YES! Is it something that God longs for with everything in him? YES, I believe so.

But I struggle to see how love can be real and untainted when it is a command or action that we are required to do.

Regarding your possible reasons for these commands:
a. I don't think that we can live full lives outside of God's love. But I also don't think we can live full lives when we see loving God as a command we have to strive to live up to. I think that knowing and loving God is something we are called to, and something that we were made for - and that it is a real and tangible relationship which is defined in knowing Him.

b. I think it's the other way round. I believe that it is the Holy Spirit that will quicken things in our hearts that will point us more and more towards God. And through this process of truly understanding His love for us, we will grow in our love and understanding of Him.

c. Again, I think that it's the Holy Spirit drawing us to the Father that enables us to love Him, not actioning the command to love him that enables the Holy Spirit to draw us. I really struggle to see love as something we are forced or required to do. As much as love is an action - it is so much more than that! Love presumes relationship, and no healthy loving relationship is defined by rules or regulations or actions that should or shouldn't be accomplished. A truly healthy relationship is surely defined by untainted boundless love for each person in the relationship. It is for the longing for the betterment of the other person. It is in all it's glory Corinthians 13. And that is how God sees and behaves towards us. And it is the revelation of that which empowers us to behave in a reciprocal manner with God and with those around us.

I believe it was God in Jesus and Jesus' understanding of God's love for Him that enabled Him to love us as much as He did.
God never commanded Jesus to love Him, it was a natural process, not a contrived one.

I hope I'm making sense. And sorry if I sound passionate. It is something that is very close to my heart, and something that I long for everyone else to have a similar revelation of.

I think there's more to this than what I've said. There's also much more to my thought process in getting to this place. Where I am at the moment - is I'm slowly experiencing more and more of God's love for me, and a lot of my previous preconceptions are falling away. There has been so much that was in my spirit that I couldn't bring together with my previous world view, but all of a sudden, it's as if the veil has fallen and I'm seeing things clearer. I'm starting to see God once more as the author and finisher of my faith. I'm better understanding the promise that Jesus will continue the work He started in me, and that I (grow to) love Him, as (I comprehend how much) He loves me.

I've realised it's not about works or actions or things. That it's not about doing so much as it is about being. That I shouldn't busy myself with things I think (or have been told by others) to do to be a better christian - as even my best works are as dirty rags - but rather as I am drawn closer to God and as my relationship with Him grows closer, I will end up doing what I see my Father do.

I don't have all the answers, but I'm not too worried. I have sufficient to see the next few steps ahead, and I firmly believe my Dad is there with me to guide me along the way. This is a journey and it's not something I'm destined to get right first time every time. I think for the longest time I've been caught up in 'doing stuff' - or feeling condemned when I wasn't 'doing stuff', but in it all I never knew Jesus. I have been so scared of that verse where Jesus says to people who confessed that they did all these things in His name - that he never KNEW them. It's this and a growing realisation that relationship is not only possible, it's my destiny, that has helped me start to let go of the things that hinder, and run hard for the prize.

When the prize is the deepest relationship with Jesus/Dad/Spirit that I can have, running the race, and keeping my eyes on that prize only get's easier and easier the closer I get.

I know I've digressed a little - but this has been good for me to write :) - I'm at a place at the moment where I have very little nailed down, the paint is still fresh, and although I feel I have the revelation in my heart, the words in my head are still taking a while to form - and writing it out like this has been very helpful to me! :) I hope it helps you understand in part where I am at and gives some context for the way I am beginning to understand how the love commandment and everything else fits together...

That was where I ended off.. I know this is a mighty chunk of words, but I really look forward to any comments or thoughts you might have on this...


Hi, my name is Cam

This is my first post, and comes as I want to post my now-to-be second post. I've been wanting to start a blog about web & design industry related topics for sometime now, and then recently I've feel I've taken a fresh direction in my life journey from a God point of view - and I've been wanting to lay out my thoughts and ideas and growth partially for a reference at a later stage to see where I've come from - although I could have started a diary for that - but I also want to hear your opinions and thoughts - and I'm quite keen to thrash ideas out and hopefully come to some decent well thought out conclusions on these topics. Also, it is my hope to present ideas and concepts that will at the least encourage you to think about them, and maybe bring a fresh revelation or two.

Please feel free to comment at will, although blind flaming will not be tolerated, if you disagree about anything, feel free to say so in as respectful a manner as possible.

With that said, I think I'll end this post, as I am dying to post my second one, which, I think - lays a good foundation about where I am currently on the matter of God and my soul.

One more thing I wanted to say.. - I think this blog will end up being mostly my thoughts on God, and here and there a bit about life, some interesting things I might have read, and possibly some design and web themes. I might move this at some time in the future to a place where I can define between these topics better.. but for now, I think this blogspot is my new home.