Author Archives: metamorpheus

Free download of Brandon and Desiree’s book on Kindle!

Hi Everyone,

Now through Friday, our book, “The Holy Spirit of the Bible,” will be available to download for free through Amazon. After that, it will return to its regular price of $9.99. Please download while this promotion lasts and tell your friends!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Holy-Spirit-Bible-ebook/dp/B0085P16UU

Thank you,

Brandon and Desiree

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What Science is now saying about Hearing God

What Science is now saying about Hearing God

Thanks to Suzan Jerome for originally posting this, it is well worth reading!

Tanya Marie Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist at Stanford University, author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.”

Based on all her research, Luhrmann makes some great points. One point is the difference between schizophrenia and hearing God, both of which involve hearing a voice(s) outside of your own.

Another point she makes is that this is a very, very common thing. She quotes a statistic from 1999, which states that 23% of all Americans had heard a voice or seen a vision in response to prayer. This amounts to 62.5 million people who would say they “heard from God.” Were all the people surveyed Christian? I doubt it. Was the group surveyed truly representative of the Church? Probably not. But, it does encourage us to ask ourselves where we stand on the subject of whether God is silent in the modern era!

Luhrmann’s article concludes:

“About a third of the people I interviewed carefully at the church where I did research reported an unusual sensory experience they associated with God. While they found these experiences startling, they also found them deeply reassuring.

Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard. But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception. History tells us that those experiences enable people to choose paths they should choose, but for various reasons they hesitate to choose.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, “I will be with you.” He went forward.

Voices may form part of human suffering. They also may inspire human greatness.”


How Is Your Soul?

How Is Your Soul?.

This is really what Heroes and Heroines has been delving into for the past 6 months!


Susannah Wesley, mother of John Wesley

Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, long struggled with the concept of Justification (being made right with God, restoration to Him).

Her life, as was Charles’, was marked by a constant labor to appear in a positive light before God. It wasn’t until her seasoned sons came to an understanding of Justification and conversed with her about it, that she began to understand this truth of Scripture. She had led an exhausting life of effort to earn merit with God, and had passed this same mindset on to Charles.

Charles had spent grueling years as one of the very first missionaries to America, and the results were abysmal. It was in a deep depression and disenchantment of failure that God brought along his brother, John, who began teaching him a scandalous (at that time) doctrine of Justification and Grace. After much struggle to embrace this doctrine, Charles finally found the peace in God that he had been missing, and that his missionary efforts were starved of.

Susannah Wesley appears to have come to the same conclusion later in life. Take a look at one of her diary entries as she reflects a newfound pleasure and fulfillment in experiencing God:

Noon. ” To know God only as a philosopher; to have the most sublime and curious speculations concerning his essence, attributes, and providence; to be able to demonstrate his Being from all, or any, of the works of nature, and to discourse with the greatest propriety and eloquence, of his existence and operations will avail us nothing, unless at the same time we know him experimentally; unless the heart know him to be its supreme good, its only happiness; unless a man feel and acknowledge that he can find no repose, no peace, no joy, but in loving and being beloved by him, and does accordingly rest in him as the center of his being, the fountain of his pleasures, the origin of all virtue and goodness, his light, his life, his strength, his all; in a word, his Lord, his God. Thus let me ever know thee, O God!”

Some people only look for the easy path. Others, however, attribute difficulty and tedious labor to their standing with God. Is your Christianity marked by exhaustion and fatigue? We know that we can’t do anything to earn salvation. But, are you busy trying to earn God’s favor, affection, and blessing? Ephesians is repeatedly clear on the matter; if you are His child, you are so because of His kind affection which He lavishes on you.

If He is so generous with His love, why do we keep trying to earn it?


Misinterpretation of the spirit

We have spent recent time and energy examining the role of our spirit in relation to our soul and body, and we could spend another whole year unpacking everything. The spirit, ultimately, is a critical element of you and of me, and our recognition of it is entirely necessary as we explore the depths of communing with God.

I came across this quote from a secular source this morning and just had to share it. I believe this author does a good job explaining a distinction between our spirit and our soul/heart/psyche (the seat of our intellect, emotions and will).

“All true energy and beauty of the body, all sureness and boldness of the sword, but also all genuineness and ingenuity of the understanding, are grounded in the spirit, and they rise or fall only according to the current power or powerlessness of the spirit. Spirit is what sustains and rules, the first and last, not a merely indispensable third element.

…the whole phenomenon of literati and aesthetes is just a late consequence and mutation of the spirit falsified as intelligence. Mere ingenuity is the semblance of spirit and veils its absence.

As soon as this instrumental misinterpretation of the spirit sets in, the powers of spiritual happening shift to a sphere where they can be consciously cultivated and planned.”
Heidegger

The author may not realize it, but he is illustrating, from a different vantage point, the distinction between knowing God in spirit versus mind, worshiping in spirit versus mind, and so on.

Our mind is a critical element in knowing about God, but our spirit is the location where we know Him.

What are your thoughts on all this?


Priesthood: Obligation or Gift?

In our Sunday morning series, we have been exploring concepts of Identity that children of God are automatically called into.

Last month, we spent a good amount of time looking at our identity as priests. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are a “royal priesthood.” Why? So that we may have direct access to God, and so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Wrapped up in this identity as priest is a sobering reality: our body (spirit, soul, and physical form) is a very holy place. You are His temple.

It would be easy to take a glance at this reality and be intimidated by all it entails. It would be easy to view it as heavy and burdensome. But, how does God view this identity He has established for us?

“And you and your sons with you shall guard your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift…” Num 18:7 ESV

I suppose it should be intuitive. Our identity is a gift. Priesthood is a gift. But just in case I get overwhelmed or intimidated at the thought, God gives us the affirmation in writing, “I give your priesthood as a gift.”


“God doesn’t want me to have any fun.”

People often think that God doesn’t want us to have any fun. He just gives us a bunch of commands that we have to follow, and if the particular offense doesn’t “hurt anyone,” then what’s the big deal?

Case in point:
Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
Eph 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

“Do not be drunk” wasn’t one of the 10 commandments-is it a big deal? Is it mandatory? Is God just trying to keep me from enjoying life?

To better process this thought, let’s look at the word dissipation.
Dissipation- noun
1.
the act of dissipating.
2.
the state of being dissipated; dispersion; disintegration.
3.
a wasting by misuse: the dissipation of a fortune.
4.
mental distraction; amusement; diversion.
5.
dissolute way of living, especially excessive drinking of liquor; intemperance.
6.
Physics, Mech. a process in which energy is used or lost without accomplishing useful work, as friction causing loss of mechanical energy

God gives us strict commands as well as suggestive guidelines, even proverbs, because He is a good parent. He wants a full and abundant life for us, His children. Jesus Himself reiterated this in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” And apparently, being drunk is not an abundant life.

According to the definition above, being drunk is a waste and a misuse. What is it a misuse of? Our faculties. Our gifting. Our passion. Our calling.

Ephesians 5 goes on to illustrate something better: a potentially mind and sense altering experience orchestrated by the Spirit of our Father. Why? So we can enjoy Him and each other, and be blessed and tended to in the process.

We can see then, that our Father in heaven really is a good parent. His guidelines are intended to keep us safe and fulfilled so we experience the fullest life imaginable.


“I don’t need to engage emotionally with the Father.”

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about being authentic with our Heavenly Father, our Abba. She told me how she “just isn’t an emotional person,” and how emotional connection with the Father “sounds great for people who have that need.”

We hear this quite often.

It is an awkward thing to consider coming into our Father’s presence barefooted, hair disheveled, and clothes unkempt. After all, isn’t that what emotional honesty is: Messy? I tried for years to clean myself up and pull myself together for His sake. I’m not even talking about asking forgiveness of sin-I understood the elementary concept of grace. I’m talking more so about “getting my house in order.” Performance.

I remember, once as a child, playing over at a friend’s house. His dad was very austere, and didn’t seem to like children. As I was in the back yard, pretending to be on some adventure and wearing a snorkeling mask and flippers, I heard the man call for me. I was afraid of him being upset with me if I responded too slowly, so I ran as fast as I could to him. At the same time, however, I was more afraid that he would be displeased with me showing up in a mask and flippers, so I tore them off my body as I sprinted around the corner toward him.

I still tend to do that with my Abba in Heaven. I still have moments of fear that He will look down on me for running up to Him in my play things, sweaty and out of breath. And yet, that is how He loves me; He wants me to be with Him, and express to Him the exuberance and elation of the good times, and the pain and loneliness of the sad times. He wants me, and all of us, to come to Him as little children-as His little children.

As I spoke with this woman about how she just doesn’t relate with the Father emotionally, I asked her a final question. “I know you have recently lost a dear, old friend in a car accident. I know that you mourned and wept. Did you, at any point-at several points, call out to your Father in Heaven, and pour out your heart to Him, with all its hurt and sadness?” Of course she had. We all do. And as she poured herself out to her Heavenly Father, she was emotionally honest with Him. She connected with Him. He hurt with her. He ministered to her. She experienced oneness with her Abba who loves her dearly.

This is where we often miss the reality of our connection with our Father. We tend to be emotionally honest with Him on our terms, perhaps only with the emotions we feel safe expressing. Perhaps with the only emotions we are engaged with ourselves. May we always look to join with our Abba in our happiness, in our gratitude, in our fear, in our anger, and in any other emotion He has blessed us with.


A Reality of Yielding

Yielding to God takes courage. Many of us say that we don’t have the faith to yield to God’s direction, invitation, prompting, leading, etc, but reality is that every time we yield we build faith. Our faith grows with our own actions. You truly can start with what feels like zero faith and have it bear instant fruit.

Yielding to God begins, quite simply, with us saying “Yes” to Him. It may be a simple directive He is giving us. “Brandon,” go talk to that person. It may be Him illuminating an injustice. “Brandon, take action-step into this!” Of course, yielding can also involve invitations to relinquish something. 

I was reading Numbers 14 yesterday, and was struck by an element of Joshua’s yielding to God. If you recall, God instructed Moses to send spies out into the Promised Land, to prepare the Israelites to rally and move forward into it. Ten spies came back and spread a message of fear, while only two spies came back with a message of destiny. 

If this analogy is at all representative of how God’s children react to His agenda nowadays, then what we might glean from this story is that only about 16% of God’s children are willing to move into His will, and yield to His leading.

God wanted to lead ALL of them into their promised destiny: a land flowing with milk and honey. That is proverbial “speak” for abundance, rest, and fulfillment. He had amazing things in store for His kids. But, the collective cry of the people was woe and self-pity, “Oh, that we had died in the land of Egypt!,” and, “We would have been better off dying in the wilderness!”

Do you hear this? They were so fearful of yielding to God and being led into a place of rest, abundance and fulfillment, that they romanticized their previous bondage! 

How often do you and I do the same? Are you doing it now? Are you minimizing how bad your misery is, or, worse yet, are you romanticizing your bondage in order to make it seem “not so bad?” All so you don’t have to yield to where God wants to take you?

What was God’s response to this in Numbers? God gave them exactly what they asked for. They shunned His leading and the special destiny He had prepared for them. They said it would have been better to die wandering in the desert. So, that is exactly what God gave them. Later on in the same chapter, God swears that the entire generation of those people would die in the desert, and their children would have to suffer in the desert 40 years because of their parents, before they could inherit the blessing the parents had shunned.

I don’t know about you, but I want the best He has for me, and for the people under my care. Yes, it can be scary to move into the unknown, but that is true of LIFE, period. I don’t want to choose blistering heat and barren soil over a lush garden. I don’t want to choose starvation over contentment. And I don’t want to choose insecurity over belonging. 

I don’t want to choose fear and it’s stale scraps over destiny and the pleasure He provides. How about you?

 


The Holy Spirit Hasn’t Changed

As Desiree and I worked on The Holy Spirit of the Bible, a central message began to take form: the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed. He is the same Spirit that was at work as far back as the Old Testament takes us. This is particularly significant for Christians to understand who dismiss the complete work of the Holy Spirit because of confusion over Acts 2 and Pentecost.

I was reminded of this reality once again today as I read Numbers 11. Moses is exhausted, frustrated and burned out as he faces the reality of leading the children of Israel. As Moses brings his frustration to the LORD, God responds by offering to Moses to “take some of the Spirit that is upon him” and distribute it upon the Elders of the 12 tribes. Look at what happens as the Spirit of God, very early on in the Bible, falls on His people:

“…it came to pass, that when the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied.” Some sources state that this was a one-time occurrence. Other biblical texts state that they prophesied and “continued to do so.” The point is that the Spirit of God behaved here as He did elsewhere in the Old Testament, as well as in Acts 2, as well as in the rest of the New Testament, as well as He does today. God has not changed, nor has Jesus’s intent for us through His Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, the people’s response to this activity of the Holy Spirit resembles what it often looks like today:

Eldad and Medad, two of the Elders on whom the Spirit had fallen, were prophesying out among the people. “Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘Moses, my lord, restrain them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!’” Numbers 11:25-29

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, reiterates the same exact sentiment when he states, “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now, I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy…”

Many Christians believe that a transition happened after the first century, once the last of the disciples(turned apostles) died off, and that the Holy Spirit stopped being needed in the capacity Jesus told us we would need Him. The Bible, however, doesn’t indicate at all that such a transition would happen.

If there is any sort of transition identified in Scripture, it is between the Old and New Testaments, where Jesus changed how we interact with God. If there is any sort of delineator in the Bible between God’s former and current approach, it is hinged upon the work of Jesus Christ.

And while this, THE transition of all history, does change the access we have to the Spirit of God, it does not change Him, His attributes, or His behaviors as recorded in the Bible.