Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Why you like Jesus

Posted: April 29, 2020 in Media, Theology

-What does a panic attack feel like?
-What are spiritual atmospheres?
-How do we renew our minds?
-What are practical tips to tear down strongholds?
-What would you say to a younger version of you?

How do you replenish?

Posted: April 25, 2020 in Media, Theology

There are like a dozen clarifiers and footnotes I could add to this. Here’s just four:
  1. Not all depression is spiritual warfare (for example, I fight seasonal affective depression from lack of sunlight which is physiological in nature (this year was awesome, thanks for asking)
  2. I’m not talking about “possession” but mild oppression like being harassed by an irritating but real enemy. I believe this form of demonic warfare (temptation to believe and feel in agreement with a lesser evil spirit) is the most common one we typically face
  3. Don’t jump the gun and assume that whenever you or others are misbehaving it is “demonic.” I once went forward at church for prayer hoping I was being afflicted by a spirit that was provoking me to anger fits because that’s easy to deal with. Dennis Yatuzis prayed for a minute, laughed out loud and said, “The Lord says it’s just you.” Dang it.
  4. The easiest and most common solution to these problems is to agree with and submit to God from the heart, the root level.


Who the heck are you?

Posted: April 21, 2020 in Media, Theology, Tim's Sermons

In the age of spin, do we base our identity on what we feel, on what others think of us, on what we achieve, on our genetic personality, on our choices, on our vices and virtues? Do we derive identity from the groups to which we belong?

Am I overthinking? Isn’t it just obvious? And why are we so driven to firmly insist (when others misunderstand us) “No, THIS is who I am, not that!”

For those who prefer to read…

“May you never bear fruit again.”

When the disciples marvelled at the fig tree immediately withering, Jesus said, “If you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can tell the mountain to go jump in a lake and it will. You can pray for anything and if you have faith you’ll receive it.” (Matt 21:21-22)

When Jesus cured the demonized little boy that his followers could not heal, he said that the problem was their unbelief. He counselled them to pray and fast, seemingly not to win God’s favor for the boy, but to open themselves up to a proper heart posturing toward the Lord.

So to be faithful to Jesus requires us learning how to follow him in this teaching about our authoritative declarations. We’re meant to use our words to bring God’s will into situations that we encounter in life. That much is clear. Jesus wasn’t showing off. He was teaching and modelling the life that he created us to live. But after following Jesus these 23 years, I haven’t seen the majority of us taking this aspect of Jesus’ life and teachings very seriously…and I have a few theories as to why.

One reason may be that the parts of the church that DO take these words seriously have left a sour taste in our mouths. Do you feel like that’s true? I think for me it is. And I think that the outcome is that, as a result, we have pulled away from this teaching, which is actually Jesus’. Think about that. Something that Jesus lived and taught us to live is ignored by most his own people because of bad PR. And I don’t think most of us notice it’s happening. My friend Dennis says we’re the world’s best cherry pickers.

So. Bad PR. What bad PR, exactly? I’m gonna give four kinds of bad examples.

First kind of bad example. Faith declarations that just don’t happen. Once when Carrie was in severe pain, a sweet lady declared to my wife, “You’re healed!” but for days after Carrie was in the worst pain ever with a fever and later required surgery to remove an abscess which left a big scar. Another example, before I went on sabbatical people declared it was going to be like a paradise with Jesus, and that I’d return in revival that the church would never be the same, but it ended up seeming much more like being in the wilderness tempted forty days by the devil. I made it out, faith and pastoral calling intact, by the sheer grace of God. It left me doubting whether those well-intentioned friends were actually declaring the word of the Lord. If anything, their incredible declarations landed on me as intense pressure to produce something far better than what I had been offering them as a pastor up until then. One person even told me that Jesus himself was going to physically show up in my room and talk with me, which did not occur. I bet you already thought of an example, didn’t you? Painful. Results matter. Accountability and follow up matter too, and without them, prophetic integrity suffers. And all prophetic words are meant to be sifted and tested, not just received. More on that in a different chat.

Second kind of bad example: When faith is used to blame the victim. Sometimes “faith” has been practiced in a way that leaves people who are receiving ministry feeling that it is somehow their fault that bad things are happening to them. If they “just had more faith,” they’d either be healed or never would have experienced misfortune in the first place. I once brought my neighbor to church and he was receiving prayer. He happened to be losing vision in both eyes and someone exhorted him that he needed to lay hold of Jesus’ garment and his unbelief was essentially the problem. Yeah, he never came back to church. The same person told another young man that his carpal tunnel syndrome was due to him missing his daily devotions. Not helpful.

Third kind of bad example: Faith declarations that serve self, not God. We’ve seen too much of, “I declare a new jet airplane for my ministry.” It might help us if the people who tell us, “You can have what you say! So say what you want,” weren’t wearing ostentatious gold watches, expensive suits, living in huge mansions, and continuously informing us that God will bless us to the degree that we financially support their ministry. That turns me off, right away.

Fourth kind of bad example: Faith declarations used merely to attain worldly goals. The world values wealth, power, health, attractiveness, essentially winning. The kingdom values humility, love, kindness, meekness, and often looks like the underdog. So you want to make this teaching about the authority of the believer and the power of faith to be attractive to me? Then, if you happen to make millions of dollars per year, reverse tithe, like Rick and Kay Warren. Live in a normal house, wear normal clothes, drive a normal car, and give to HIV victims in Africa, dig wells, provide health care along with your message about Jesus. If you want to set an example I’m interested in following then don’t wear $3,000 suits and live in an ostentatious mansion while others are starving. If you are a CEO, buck the trend of making 271 times the salary of the average worker who makes your products and who is no less important and no less loved by God than you are. Yeah, I know. You think I have a poverty spirit. I don’t. I like nice things too, and I honestly am happy if you can have them! But come on, the kingdom is more about what you give away than what you keep! The Lord Jesus said that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of the needle. My default, even without being wealthy, is the pull toward greed and selfishness. The last thing I need is to have my very faith itself twisted into something that can be used to serve my own selfish aims. What I need is to become love. One of the reasons I so respect Bill Gates and am glad he’s the billionaire and I’m not is that I believe he’s more trustworthy with those funds for the common good than I suspect I would be. John Wesley said, “Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” I like that a lot.

Okay, so those are some things that may have caused us to skip over this cherry.

Let’s go all the way back to my original point: Jesus both lived and taught us to use the power of our tongues to command the world to line up with God’s intentions, and he clearly taught that our level of faith has a proportionate impact on outcomes. I know. It raises questions. But what do we do with that? Argue against it? Throw it away because of bad theology we’ve encountered? Or invite him to teach us HIS way?

Pray this with me: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! Teach me the power of my words to create worlds, because I’m your child, made in your image. Teach me to pray! Teach me to say what You are saying, to see what you are doing, and to cooperate with your Holy Spirit in daily life. Expand my heart to see You clearly! Open my heart, that your living words can find good soil in which to grow! Teach me how to be faithful in the little things and not be overwhelmed by the greater things.”

I end with two odd stories.

So there was this healing revivalist who used to hold big crusades with all kinds of people coming to Jesus and so many miracles happening. He had an uncanny faith that he could lay his hands on the sick and declare them to recover, and God would do it. He was in a terrible car crash. As he lay dying he told his son to put his hands on his wife, who was terribly injured as well. He prayed for her as his life slipped into eternity, and she recovered. That is odd. But I believe it.

Robbie Dawkins was in the hospital with his mom while she was dying of cancer. The family had prayed for her healing over and over. He sensed that she was going to go home to heaven, but his dad just couldn’t accept that. As another woman in the hospital overheard their prayers and songs for Robbie’s mom she longed for someone to show her that kind of care. So of course, the family moved to her bedside and began to sing and pray. During that time Robbie sensed that God was going to heal this woman. He had a moment of intense grief and the feeling that it wasn’t fair or right – non-understanding. But he obeyed God. And the woman was healed and recovered. And his mom went to heaven.

I think both of these stories are faithful representations of what this stuff looks and feels like in real life. We’re meant to speak to the fig tree, to the mountain, to the illness, to the darkness, to the waves. To use the power of life and death that are in our tongues. It is a matter of faithfulness to Jesus. And there is much mystery, need for faith, surrender, and trust. And as usual, faith doesn’t put us in charge, faith puts us in touch. In touch with God, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Teach us, Father!

The 46th

Posted: April 19, 2020 in Media, Theology

A song. Based on Palm 46. Duh.

We don’t arrive

Posted: April 15, 2020 in Media, Theology

The whole gospel in one word

Posted: April 15, 2020 in Media, Theology

3 Minute Theodicy

Posted: April 15, 2020 in Media, Theology