THE CHOICE: BEING RIGHT OR RIGHTLY RELATED?

Believe me, I get it. When I read the Bible it seems every-other page is about keeping oneself separate from sinners, asking the Lord to vanquish one’s personal enemies, or the Lord wiping out the sinful. It hardly seems in keeping with Jesus’ radical proclamations that the Father loves us the same way He loves His own Son (Jn 17:23), or Paul’s declaration that God is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:19-23), or John’s declaration that “now are we the sons of God…” (1 Jn 3:3). It’s easy to make the same mistake Israel made, confusing the Lord’s caution about our tendencies with His own loving nature. Israel, a people in covenant with God for the purpose of bringing the nations to worship Him, mistranslated the Lord’s prescriptions about wholehearted worship for exclusivity and isolation from others.

Jonah’s story – a prophet from Israel refusing to take the Good News of Father’s forgiveness to a Gentile people (Ninevah) – is a metaphorical narrative of Israel’s arrogant isolation, a misunderstanding of the Father’s heart.

The truth is, the Father has revealed beyond question that the godhead paid the ultimate sacrifice to be rightly-related to a restored humanity. Grace trumps law, love trumps rules, relationship trumps individualism, the Tree of Life trumps the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet we still default to personal rights, personal opinions, rules, and group think. Yes, it’s just human – but it’s not divinely human, nor is it simple.

A deliberate and mature study of Scripture yields an understanding of a progressive revelation from God which must inform our Bible reading and interpretation. We must also learn to differentiate between personal convictions, community standards, and universal biblical absolutes – and the tendency to always interpret our personal convictions as one of the other two.

I remember decades ago in the early days of my pastoral ministry, a man started attending my church who drove a truck for a beer distributorship. Anything having to do with alcohol was “of the devil” (or so I had been told by my mother who was the daughter of an alcoholic). I was conflicted. Can this man keep driving a beer truck and really serve the Lord? My struggle with the Lord over this led me to value the man and let the Lord deal with the “non-essentials”. Decades later this man contacted me, long since moved to a different city, still wholly living for Jesus and expressing gratitude for the Father’s love and acceptance shown years ago.

This is by no means an argument for alcohol (or any counterfeit for wholeness). It is to say that the only way to really be the reflection of the Father’s unconditional love in the earth is to first grasp His heart for people. He would rather us be rightly-related than be right (though it’s no argument for holding on to being wrong). Satan’s strategy is to divide us, keep us in a dual-mindset of right vs wrong, good behavior vs bad behavior, good doctrine vs heresy, and blind to the third option of love. There’s no cosmic quiz at the Pearly Gates – did you learn the 10 cardinal doctrines of the church? The sixteen fundamental truths? No. There’s only love.




Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2019

THE CHOICE: BEING RIGHT OR RIGHTLY RELATED?

LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN

Following my first experience with scuba diving off the Colombian coast, I realized there are a number of similarities between the new world of deep blue sea and learning to live in the largely uncharted waters of the Spirit. Both exhausted and exhilarated, the boat ride back to shore provided me with an overwhelming awareness that learning to live and walk in the Spirit requires a similar learning curve, and a new awareness of why so many choose to stay safely on the spiritual shores.

Chiqui and I were enjoying a short 4-day vacation in Santa Marta, Colombia, and found the opportunity to experience a “first” that was too good to pass up. We signed up for the scuba lessons and dive, and showed up at the hotel pool the next day anxiously eager to take our first lesson. The instructor provided his credentials, fitted us with our equipment, and began to explain how it works. We learned about buoyancy, clearing the mask, and steady breathing. The underwater swim in the pool was fun (and controlled), making even a West Texas non-swimmer feel fairly confident. We swam back and forth in the large pool a few times. The real dive in the ocean was a different story.

1. The Lesson in the Pool, much like keeping our Christianity in the church building, was helpful but nothing like dropping into the waves, currents, and living sea creatures. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t have taken the dive without the pool lesson, but when I dropped into the ocean, though only 50 yards or so from a small island, I realized there was little comparison. I was in a foreign atmosphere – an unknown world below me –I had the keen sense that I was on someone else’s turf. Reflecting on this, I wonder if we either fail to realize the reality of the spiritual battle in the unseen world (the spirit dimension), or we discount the effectiveness of the equipment we’ve been given for that battle.

2. The Equipment is heavy out of the water. The tank, vest, weight belt, array of hoses and mouthpiece feel confining and awkward out of water. It was difficult to rationalize how so much equipment would actually free me to enjoy the unseen world. Of course, decades of learning and technology have made the equipment fairly carefree once you actually drop in. It caused me to ponder how much training we do in church – how much teaching on the gifts of the Spirit, the authority of the believer, the inheritance as sons – which may become more weight than glory if we are not willing to venture into the unseen world.

3. My Incompetence in General in the area of swimming set me up for self-doubt. You see, I have never been a good swimmer. I can’t float, and when I try my legs just sink to the bottom. So, I quickly learned to play sports in which I could excel and avoid the struggle. Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but the fact is, I convinced myself that I don’t like to swim. This adventure was an attempt to “replace the lie” I had believed. When I dropped into the water, however, I recognized my lack of confidence in my swimming ability and equipment – so the brief panic attack was probably evident on my face. I think this happens to us spiritually as well. We grow up in church, hearing sermons and testimonies of those who have great experiences with God. But our first attempts to get acclimated to the world of the Spirit can be daunting. It is easy to convince ourselves to “never try that again.” “It’s not for me.”

4. The Dive Master took me by the Wrist. After I cleared my mask and breather, I gave the instructor a reluctant “OK.” He took both Chiqui and me by the wrist and we headed below the surface. Honestly, everything in me was saying, “You can’t do this! Go back to the boat now!” But the calmness and certainty of the dive master gave me the time to learn how to regulate my breathing and clear my ears. We learned later that dive masters take psychology courses to learn human behavior in stress and crisis situations. He later told us that it has been proven that “the power of simple human touch, like taking someone by the hand or wrist, calms fears.” What’s more, he said, “This is why when little children are afraid, they lift their hands to their father.” When he said it, I saw the genius of Jesus sending the Holy Spirit, the Dive Master, who “dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). I never have to dive alone.

5. I Found Myself Suffocating on Too Much Air. The compressed air in the tank automatically forces its way into the lungs. The natural tendency for the novice diver is to take in air and hold on to it, fearful to let too much out. But the opposite is true. The real work for the diver is to concentrate on exhaling rather than inhaling. The first ten minutes of my dive I was not exhaling enough and consequently felt like my lungs were packed. Eventually, I slowed down my breathing and concentrated on letting out as much air as possible, until my body asked for fresh intake. I had to learn to breathe again. I think the same sense of suffocation is a reality in many believers’ lives. We take in so much teaching, so many great sermons, blogs, and books – but we may not be giving out as much as we are taking in. Believers can feel like they can’t take a deep breath – but it’s not because they are deficient on taking in, but on giving out. When we balance our spiritual intake with our generous sharing, living, and giving, we can begin to relax and enjoy the beauty with which God has surrounded us.

6. I Began to Focus on the Beauty of the glorious underwater world. Even if you’ve never been snorkeling or scuba diving, you have likely seen enough National Geographic or Discovery Channel documentaries to know the brilliant incandescent colors below. I began to relax, with slow steady breathing and the dive master’s grip still on my wrist, and to notice the glories of the unseen: moray eels, puffer fish, brilliant blue mackerel, hundreds of species I had never seen before, and gorgeous coral which keep divers going back again and again. I couldn’t help but feel the Father’s delight in the fact that we were enjoying the beauty of His creation.

The clear water of the swimming pool may seem nice until you see the life of the ocean. The equipment may feel bulky until you get in the water. You may be convinced you can’t swim well in the things of the Spirit. There may be voices around you that sneer at the idea of “going deeper,” but nothing can match the glories of the risen Christ being revealed to those who will dare leave the well-worn paths onshore for what “has been revealed to us by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-10). This life in the Spirit may initially feel strange, uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous. But He will stay with you, teach you to breathe a different way. A compelling vision of the glorious Christ comes by the Dive Master, the Holy Spirit.


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2018

LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN

THE ORPHAN SPIRIT BARGAINS, SONSHIP LISTENS

 


Have you ever bargained with God? Have you ever said, “God, if you’ll just get me out of this I promise I will ….”? Most of us have. Most of us have found ourselves in some uncomfortable predicament and our first response was to make a deal with God for a quick rescue. “God, I’ll do this… if You’ll do that.” At the core it is an attempt at a contractual leveraging that is actually foreign to unconditional love. Let’s see where that comes from, and through an odd story in the Old Testament, find Abba’s better way.

Here’s an example: first Israel, and then an “orphan” named Jephthah, whom Israel chooses as a leader. It would be helpful if you would read Judges, chapters 10 and 11, as full background. In these chapters we come upon another painful drama of Israel’s wayward heart which leads them to idol worship, subsequent crisis, and deal-making. The orphan spirit works corporately because it works personally, and bargaining is a certain indicator.

The tribes of Israel are facing a war with the Ammonites but have no moral compass – they have been worshipping all the gods of the surrounding foreigners (11:6) and have no real relationship with God or confidence in Him. Rather than seek the Lord for His direction, they only ask for deliverance and, as most of us have done at one time or another, they repent … with a bargain, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever You think is best, but please rescue us now. Then they got rid of their foreign gods…” (11:15).

Notice carefully, that though Israel had just “repented,” they still acted as orphans. Rather than seek the Lord for His voice, they assembled together to seek out the most courageous man among them. They say, “Whoever will launch the attack against that Ammonites will be the leader of all Israel” (Judges 10:18). They are willing to bargain, to make a deal. That makes perfect human sense, right? But they don’t even realize that they are leaning on the arm of human strength and capability as their source of deliverance.

Chapter 11 opens with the background of Jephthah and introduces him as “a mighty warrior,” but he wears the typical garb of the orphan spirit. His father was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s actual wife “bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away” (11:2). Do you see the picture? He is raised in rejection – a bastard son, slandered by the “real brothers” – and eventually (when it was time to step into inheritance) his brothers drive him out of the house. His sonship is challenged, his inheritance denied. He is driven from his home and from his father. How does someone live with such rejection? He compensates by becoming a “mighty warrior” (Judges 11:1-3).

Facing the imposing Ammonite armies, and compromised due to their own idol worship, those who had driven Jephthah away call him back to lead them, not on the basis of relationship, but because he could perform – he’s a mighty warrior. They said, “Be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites” (11:5-6).

Jephthah becomes a leader of Israel, not because he knows God and has learned to depend upon God via communion and relationship, but because he has learned to fight (the game of human power). From a human perspective it seems Jephthah’s strategy worked: “Prove that you are better than they said by becoming the best in your field. Prove the world wrong.” He becomes a mighty warrior and is elected as their leader.

The problem is, the orphan spirit doesn’t leave just because a person is promoted into leadership. In fact, the new pressures of leadership will only bring the insecurities and bargaining to the surface. This becomes clear when Jephthah, facing the greatest challenge of his life, cannot actually trust his own warfare abilities and makes a vow to the Lord saying, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31).

You can read the sad account of Jephthah arriving home after the victory to have his only child come out to greet him (Judges 11:34-39). His bargaining cost him dearly.

If we have misconceptions about God, we may read that story and immediately question Him. Why would God want Jephthah to offer his own daughter in sacrifice? Is He that kind of angry, vengeful god? No. The reality is, God graciously gave the armies of Ammon into Israel’s hands because they repented, but neither Israel nor Jephthah sought the Lord concerning how He wanted to win that battle. There is no indication that God put Jephthah up to that bargain (though we can admire Jephthah for keeping his vow).

What kind of supernatural victory would Jephthah and Israel have seen if they had sought the Lord and listened to His voice, rather than making bargains with God? How often do we bargain with God – “God, if you’ll just do this for me, just this time, I’ll never do so-and-so again… I’ll serve you the rest of my life… quit that addiction…”? What kind of “birthmark” do you carry that seems to drive you to either victimization or hyper-victory?

Daniel, among others, would be a great contrast in narrative. He knows who he is, stays in communion with God, listens, and when the pressure is on, he trusts himself to God, who preserves him supernaturally in the lions’ den. Could it be that we don’t see more miraculous interventions because we’re bargaining instead of listening and resting in a revelation?

Bargaining with God reveals a lack of trust that Father really knows what we need and has already made provision for it (Matt. 6:28-34). Bargaining implies that I must leverage God –overcome His reluctance to do good. Bargaining implies I haven’t been good enough and have to “put my thumb on the scales”. It means that we don’t know God as Abba, an infinitely-loving father who only wants good for His children. So we approach Him as a boss, merchant, or corruptible judge who is looking to make a deal. If we don’t know God as a Father who accepts us as we are, we will try to “power up” to prove our identity.

You see, it’s really about your identity – knowing and living in the revelation of your sonship through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Without a revelation of your sonship, you cannot simply change your mind, think new thoughts, and decide to walk as a son. All the “change your

thinking” training does no good without a spirit of wisdom and revelation – the Holy Spirit convicting you in your spirit that you are a son/daughter of God. You may even learn the “sonship language” and be able to use the words of sonship and the orphan spirit, but without transformation in your spirit, you will revert to orphan thinking when the pressure is on.

How would life be different if you had nothing to hide, nothing to prove, nothing to fear, and nothing to lose? Ask the Father to reveal Himself in your inner man, and to open your ears to listen, so that you never have to bargain again.


2018 All Rights Reserved | Dr. Kerry Wood

#TheAbbaFactor by Dr. Kerry Wood | Available at http://www.Dr.KerryWood.com and Amazon.com

THE ORPHAN SPIRIT BARGAINS, SONSHIP LISTENS

A Case For… Sonship

In Lee Strobel’s fascinating autobiography (made into a movie), A Case For Christ, the avowed atheist investigative reporter sets out to prove the resurrection of Christ is a hoax.1 In his investigation, he is stumped by the biblical documentation of over 500 eye-witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. He sought out Psychologist Roberta Waters, then President of the American Association of Psychoanalysts and leading authority on Human Behavior at Purdue University, to ask about the possibility that these “sightings” were actually mass hallucinations. Dr. Waters, an agnostic herself, responded,

“Hallucinations are like dreams – they happen in individual minds – they don’t spread like the common cold.” She continued, “500 people having the same dream would be a bigger miracle than the resurrection itself.”

Then the psychologist prodded in return, “May I ask you something?” Is this about your father? I’m just curious what your relationship with him is like?”

Strobel hesitatingly mumbled, “Ummm… complicated.”

Dr. Waters persisted, “Let me guess; distant, cold, doesn’t express much affirmation or love?”

“Guilty on all charges,” said Strobel. “Why do you ask?”

The psychologist said, “I imagine as a skeptic you’re familiar with history’s great names in atheism; Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre, Freud,…?”

“Yes, of course, some of my greatest heroes,” Strobel’s interest was piqued.

“Did you know that all of them had a father who either died when they were young, abandoned them, or was physically or emotionally abusive? In the world of therapy, it’s called a father-wound,” she said flatly.

“No, I was not aware of that. But with all due respect Dr Waters, I did not have a loving father, but it doesn’t mean that I have a problem with those who do. What I have a problem with is some made up loving father. If God was real I could accept that he loves me. I just don’t believe He is.”

Waters—“I don’t disagree”

Lee Strobel had believed a lie about fathers, and thus a lie about God and himself. Hundreds of thousand are incarcerated in the prisons of America and the world today who either don’t know their father or if their father ever loved them. The “father wound” perpetrated upon the human race is not an invention of modern psychology. It is the topic of the closing chapter of the Old Testament, the very last verse in fact, and the welcoming of Messiah in the New. The earth is smitten with a curse, a human epidemic of fatherlessness, but One is coming with a “fathering spirit” who will “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children back to the fathers” (Malachi 4:6). Jesus comes to show us the Father, and the way back home. For more, read The Abba Factor, by Dr. Kerry Wood, and see the striking contrast between “orphans” and “sons”, and the journey home.

——————————————————–

1 Lee Strobel, A Case For Christ: One Man’s Journey to Solve the Biggest Mystery of All Time. Pureflix: 2017.


Dr. Kerry Wood | 2018 All Rights Reserved.

A Case For… Sonship

The Shack – Why I Recommend the Movie

Many have undertaken to write their own reviews of Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack. Most of the ones we have read are negative – issuing dire warnings against what they perceive to be a heretical, unbiblical story. We see it with different eyes; and though we know we will upset some people by saying so, we want to share a few reasons why we love and recommend both the movie and especially the book. Let us say up front that we are neither providing a thorough review of every theological point in the book; nor writing a response to the accusations of those who oppose the story.1 We also want to be clear that we are not expecting that you will agree with us (or with the authors of the book). If you have questions about the theology of the book/movie, find answers – informed answers. Then use your discernment and arrive at your own conclusions, but graciously let people think for themselves and have their own opinions.

Overarching Themes

The overarching theme of relationship: This is the story of Mack, a man who, like many of us, has experienced deep trauma and unexplainable pain in his life. Because of his pain, he is distanced from God. But it is also the story of God, who longs for relationship with His children. It is the story of a Father who extends an invitation to Mack to be restored in relationship with Him (an envelope shows up in Mack’s mailbox). Jesus expresses the Father’s heart when He prays “…for those who will believe in me … that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23).

The overarching theme of wholeness: This is the story of a broken man who has forgotten how to love. He is so concerned for his own pain that he has turned completely inward in self-protection and self-preservation. But it is the story of God, who reaches out and invites him on a journey of wholeness – where his feelings are validated; his questions are answered; his judgmental attitude is corrected; and his heart gets mended. As a result, Mack is freed from himself and in this newfound wholeness he is free to love extravagantly, to live with gratitude and inexpressible joy. This is what John tells us about the Father’s heart: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). (The word “saved” is translated from the original sōzō (grk), which entails salvation, healing, restoration, preservation, wholeness).

The overarching theme of forgiveness: This is the story of a man whose heart is bound up in unforgiveness. It is eating him up and affecting his whole life. Mack’s life is a picture of the unforgiving servant who is being tormented (Matthew 18:21-25). But it is the story of God, who steps into the picture to help Mack process his pain and to give him the strength to forgive and receive healing. It is a picture of how God can take our brokenness and make something beautiful out of it if we have the courage to trust Him and obey, even when it is painful. In the book version, God says to Mack, “Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation. And sometimes – and this may seem incomprehensible to you right now – that road may even take you to the miracle of fully restored trust.”

Other Salient Themes

Now here are some of my favorite lines/scenes from the book (which are slightly modified in the theatrical version without losing their meaning).

1. God’s Holiness: “I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all you can ask or think.” This is consistent with Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” A key aspect of God’s holiness is that He is different from creation; He is beyond the world he created.

2. The Trinity: “All love and relationship is possible for you only because it already exists within me within God myself. Love is not the limitation; love is the flying. I am love.” John says it clearly: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:8, 16). The relationality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity.

3. God’s Design for Us: “Humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image.” The Bible is clear that God has created us, in His image, with a purpose (Genesis 1:26-31). David declares in Psalm 139 that God has intentions for us. God says it of specific people in Isaiah (44:2, 24; 49:5) and Jeremiah (1:5), so it can be inferred that this applies to all of us. Jesus sets us free from our limitations so we can experience abundant life.

4. Good and Evil: “You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil in your own terms. That is a hard pill to swallow; choosing only to live in me. To do that you must know me enough to trust me and learn to rest in my inherent goodness.” This points to the original sin, where Adam and Eve chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:1-7); but God teaches us in Proverbs that the antithesis is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When we are tempted to think that God is the one causing the evil we see in our world, we do well to listen to Jesus who tells us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) and “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

5. Judgment and Redemption. In the judgment scene “Wisdom” asks Mack to be the judge of the world. In doing so, Wisdom exposes the folly of man in contrast with the heart of God that seeks to redeem and restore all who are lost: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In the movie the Father speaks of an evil man and expresses His desire (but no guarantee) that he be redeemed. This is consistent with Peter’s statement that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Bible is clear that Jesus’s forgiveness is extended to all humanity; but we have a choice as to receive or reject His gift (John 1:12).

6. Pain and Suffering: “Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.” God never promised us a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus says that “In the world you will have tribulation;” but He also promises that amid trials we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Many of us can testify that God can (and does) work amazing good from tragedy; but we must not allow that to confuse us. Jesus is very clear when He says that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He shows us that He is the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep; not the thief that comes to do harm. Likewise, Peter shows us who initiates the suffering, and what God does about it: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour … the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).

7. Fear: “Do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?” The most frequent commandment in the Bible is “Fear not.” But this is not a request that we choose not to fear; but an encouragement that we can face whatever trials make come because He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:8 is one of the many instances where God says something to the effect of, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” So, Jesus declares, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This is good news.

The conclusion of the matter:

In the words of our dear professor, Dr. Wess Pinkham, The journey toward wholeness starts with a whole relationship with the Heavenly Father, where we see our Heavenly Father as healthy, loving, forgiving, and accepting of who we are right now. An intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father is the only way to be whole.2 This is what the beautiful story of The Shack depicts. If you insist on knowing God as angry, punishing and judgmental, our advice is that you don’t read the book or watch the movie; it will upset you. But if you are open to seeing what it means to be made whole in the loving arms of the Triune God, you will not be disappointed.

________________

1 For a thorough response by one of the authors of The Shack see Wayne Jacobsen’s “Who’s Afraid of The Big, Bad Shack?” at http://www.lifestream.org/whos-afraid-big-bad-shack. For a look at the theological underpinnings of The Shack, see C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (FaithWords, 2012).

2 Chris Waters and Wess Pinkham. Finding Closure to the Pains from the Past (Lookout Mountain, TN: Journeys to the Heart, Inc., 2006), 18.


Dr. Kerry Wood and Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2017

 

 

The Shack – Why I Recommend the Movie

WHY WE DON’T HEAR MUCH “WWJD?” ANYMORE — dr. kerry wood

Part Two: The Active Ingredient Do you remember the WWJD bracelets with the question we were supposed to constantly ask ourselves – “What would Jesus do?” Why do we not hear the WWJD anymore? Why do we only hear parodies on WWJD? Among other reasons, the WWJD phenomenon was based on a concept that we […]

via WHY WE DON’T HEAR MUCH “WWJD?” ANYMORE — dr. kerry wood

WHY WE DON’T HEAR MUCH “WWJD?” ANYMORE — dr. kerry wood

HOW’S YOUR SPIRITUAL MAINTENANCE PROGRAM?

One day at lunch I struck up a conversation with a man who works in the service department of a luxury auto dealership. I asked him what percentage of car owners bring their cars in for scheduled maintenance, maintain their own, or fail to maintain their cars – just letting them run down. He raised his eyebrows and said, “That’s a good question. I don’t know, but I would guess that 10 % of our (Cadillac and Infinity) owners just let them run down.”

I was going somewhere with the question, and eventually asked him how many people take better care of their cars than their own spiritual welfare. Boy, I had his attention. A long conversation ensued.

I left there determined to find out more about people habits, because I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a correlation with how we treat ourselves and how we treat our stuff (no doubt, some treat their stuff much better than themselves). I found out that millions of roadside auto breakdowns each year could be prevented with basic vehicle maintenance. A 2014 AAA survey found that 35 percent of Americans skip or delay service or repairs that are recommended by a mechanic or specified by the factory maintenance schedule. That same survey shows that those who ignore maintenance “ultimately pay higher repair costs.”

AAA responded to more than 29 million calls for roadside assistance. Two thirds of Americans have never had their car battery tested prior to their vehicle failing to start. 60 percent of Americans do not check tire pressures regularly. Twelve million calls each year are related to engine trouble, fuel issues and other mechanical mishaps, 600,000 vehicles for transmission failure. And perhaps it is telling on human nature that even with “low fuel” lights, AAA provided gasoline fuel delivery to more than half a million vehicles last year. And just think, these numbers only reflect those who use AAA Auto services!

I suspect many fail to maintain their cars properly for several obvious reasons:

1. Some think they simply don’t have the time.

2. There is no apparent problem, so everything must be OK.

3. Some assume it is more expensive to do regular maintenance.

4. Some don’t know that regular maintenance is necessary.

I would suspect the same can be said about spiritual self-care. Some assume that spiritual care is the pastor’s job. Some think spiritual care is only necessary in an emergency. Some assume they don’t have time or that spiritual care is an unnecessary expense.

You’ve heard it said, “If you think education is expensive, just try ignorance!” We could say, if you think spiritual health is expensive, wait until you see the bill on spiritual famine! Unfortunately, the gauges on the human condition are generally masked behind rationalizations, blame on circumstances or people, or even activities and substances that medicate the condition. People tend to cover spiritual famine with constant noise and buzyness — we cover the gauges. Sadly, many never know there’s a problem until they are broken down on the roadside of life.

The Lord’s early answer for this “gauge denial” was the Sabbath; a weekly maintenance to allow the owner to “check the belts and top off the fluids”. The Sabbath has never been rescinded. In fact, we have now received the Holy Spirit who can interpret our gauges for us as we go – but we still have to slow down and listen to Him. What habits have you developed to maintain your spiritual health?


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

HOW’S YOUR SPIRITUAL MAINTENANCE PROGRAM?

Applying Old Testament Laws

“I will meditate upon Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Ps. 119:15, 16

Understanding the difference between Old Testament saints who were serving God by faithfully obeying the law of God, and New Testament believers who are born again and living by the Spirit, is necessary for properly grasping the role of the principles and precepts for today. The fundamental difference is that Old Testament saints were not born again. No one was born again until Jesus was raised from the dead for our justification (see the first new birth experience, Jn 20:22). This means that Old Testament saints lived by simple will-power to obey; having their sins rolled back by yearly atonement sacrifices. This is why we see Israel turning away from God continually, suffering the consequences, then returning again. The purpose of the Law was not to make men righteous (Gal 3:11, 19) but to show that one cannot stand faultless before God without a perfect substitute (Heb 10:1-10), which provides the way for a new heart and new spirit within (Ezek 36:26, 27).

So now that we are born again and have the Spirit of God dwelling within us (Jn 3:5-8), what role does the law of God, the principles and precepts, play in the life of the believer? Do we now ignore the Old Testament because the demands of the law have been fulfilled (Rom 10:4)? Are we now free to live any way we please because of God’s freely-bestowed grace? Paul’s answer to the Roman Christians was, “God forbid!” We are no longer under the law –but now the law lives within – written on our hearts and empowered by the indwelling Spirit of God, causing us, moving us, to walk in the impulses of the Spirit to please God in every way (Rom 8:3, 4).

So when one reads the legal requirements Old Testament, what do they mean to me today? And how should I apply them?

1. Understand that Christ has fulfilled the legal requirements for our salvation by the sacrifice of Himself. There is nothing you can do to earn your salvation.

2. Your sanctification is no longer a matter of sheer will power (making yourself do right), but is a partnership with the Holy Spirit who lives within you and is constantly making His divine energy (energes—operation, working) available to you to do what you could not do before, including resisting temptation. Notice this divine-human partnership expressed in Philippians 2:12, 13: “… work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.” God (the Spirit) is working His will and power in us — therefore, we

apply that divine power to take personal responsibility to please Him. So, staying full of the Spirit is a key to our sanctification (Rom.8:13).

3. The principles and precepts are not, then, what we have to do, but what we can and will do when living a life full of God. Paul says it best – it’s no longer I, but Christ living in me (Gal.2:20).

4. See the principles and precepts as what life looks life when living it in the fullness of God’s Spirit. For example, the “Be-attitudes” are not a new list of do’s and don’ts super-imposed over the existing law, but a picture of what life in the Kingdom is like when we’re full of Him (Eph 3:19).

5. The principles and precepts of the Law serve as a huge gauge on my spiritual dashboard telling me when I am “running on empty” or need a refill of the Spirit. If my “want to’s” are not locked in to God, or I am not seeing people (and material things) the way God does, then I need let the river flow again (Jn 7:37-39).

What the law of God declares you MUST do, the Spirit of God makes you WANT TO do and keeps bringing you to a conversation with Jesus, asking Him for more of His Spirit. This is how His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If it seems you are struggling, spending a lot of energy to do the right things (but actually wanting to do the wrong ones), ask Him to fill you again with His Spirit – but don’t get back under the burden of the Law. You started this new life in the Spirit, let’s keep going and growing that same way; don’t be too quick to replace a dynamic relationship with the Person of Jesus for principles and precepts about Him.

“Fill me again with your Spirit Father. I want everything you have for me today – but mostly, I just want You.”


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

Applying Old Testament Laws

THERE’S ONLY ONE LEADER OF THE “FREE” WORLD

There’s only one leader of the “FREE” world, and He’s not a president. There is only one truly FREE world, and it’s not a nation – but a global community of called out ones who have life as God has it – the life of the Eternal One. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” Most certainly, He is the leader of the “FREE” world.

In this American presidential election season we hear a lot of talk about “the leader of the free world” and everyone assumes this is a reference to the President of the United States. But constitutional amendments which specify freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of worship, do not guarantee that the people living under a political jurisdiction are truly free. This reality is on public display in my own country daily.

Every believer in Jesus Christ must know that there is a world that is free-in-principle, but a different world that is free-in-Person. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

The only FREE world is not one which is dictated by borders, a certain political stripe, or those living under a particular national flag – though political freedoms are hard-fought and won and should be prized and protected. The truly FREE WORLD is one in which persons are free to be what God has ordained them to be by the power of the Spirit – free to do what is right, free to do what it is they are called to do – not withheld or constrained by any internal or external power of sin or self-centeredness. Free to love. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

It may be a fact that America has the greatest per capita of people incarcerated, more than any other nation. I don’t know this for a fact. But if this is so, it is an indictment on being “leaders of the free world”. But it may also merely point to a deeper reality; that having more money, better jobs, more education, more free time and personal choice does not make a person free. There are many living behind bars that are actually more “free” than those on the outside. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

It’s time to re-define the “FREE” world. The free world is where men and women have been set free from the tyranny of sin, the bondage of fear, the orphan spirit of self-promotion, self-ambition and the lie of the self-made man. The free world is wherever a man or woman has shed the grave clothes of self-fulfillment and have walked into the perfect law of liberty – dead to self but alive unto God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The “FREE world” is not characterized by mimes of the intellectual, savvy, stoic and astute, but by the child-like sounds of laughter, spontaneity, fearlessness and effortless pursuits that come from free-range dreams of children living under a Perfect Father’s perfect love. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

In the truer sense, the FREE WORLD is wherever people (in whatever nation and ethnicity) are living under the leadership of the real LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. There’s only one leader of the “FREE” world, and He’s not a president. “And whom the Son has set free is free indeed.”


Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016

THERE’S ONLY ONE LEADER OF THE “FREE” WORLD