Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Search for Kingdom Treasures

I have spent most of the last 30 years working in churches and involved in a variety of ministry work. I've done everything from worship music, kids ministry, to feeding homeless people. I've been on committees and church boards and worked on staff on occasion. I've done just about everything except church finances. It was my own safe little world. I knew what I believed and knew the standard answers for most of the things I or other people struggled with. I spent a lot of time in the Word and in prayer and being led by the Holy Spirit.

I few years ago much to my surprise God let me know it was time to begin a new adventure out side of the church. Up to that point I felt my calling was to encourage mainly believers in their walk with the Lord. There are times in our lives and walk with the Lord when like Abraham the Lord says follow me I'm taking you from the land of familiar out into the unknown.

When I became a believer I left behind a world of new age beliefs and practices. At the time I consciously distanced myself from the whole lot of it because I didn't know enough to rightly divide it and determine what fit in my new Christian paradigm. I thru the baby out with the bath water and really didn't look back and decided I would deal with it later. So you can imagine my surprise after 30 years of avoiding that subject, when God's direction was to go back into that world and search for kingdom treasures.

After six months of prayer and soul searching I finally decided on a direction and enrolled in Massage school. I have since graduated and am building my private practice. In massage school I encountered a lot of what I would have formerly thrown in the basket labeled "new age" and simply avoided. I found myself at first just listening to other peoples ideas and beliefs. I told people, I don't have to agree with you on every point to like you and be your friend. I am able to agree to disagree.
I found myself doing a lot of translating. I was often surprised to find names for things I already practiced and had discovered through prayer. I found people who are very hungry for spiritual things but expressed and looked at things from different perspectives than I had formerly considered.

I am still constantly wrestling with how and where does this or that idea fit. I have wrestled and continue to wrestle with the ideas of various types of energy work, healing stones, reincarnation and karma, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and so much more. The easy thing would have been to continue in my dogmatic stance and say its all of the devil. I have found that I have had to re-think my beliefs in light of Gods love and mercy. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows James 1:17I have to consider the possibility that I have been like a blind man trying to describe and elephant and realize that others may be trying to describe the same elephant just from another direction. They like me may have discovered things about God but like me did not have a name for that idea or concept. Their descriptions of spiritual things are heavily influenced by their culture and world view as is my own. So I have majored on loving and listening in this season.

I have to admit that this journey has profoundly challenged me and in many ways humbled and changed me.  There are many days that I spend wresting with the Word, praying and asking the question is there any other way to look at this or that passage as I try to harmonize it with my expanding world view. It has not been easy but at the same time I know I have not walked away from the love of God. He has sent me here and I am His ambassador. That does not mean that I am handing out the Four Spiritual Laws or the Romans Road,  people seem a bit jaded to that approach. I have found that they are surprised when you are willing to actually listen and hear their spiritual take on things. They are so used to Christians trying to force their vies as the only way and always having an agenda rather than taking time to listen. While ultimately truth is truth, God is able to meet each of us right where we are at this moment and help move us a little closer to knowing His love and our destiny and purpose.  None of us when we first encountered Jesus had our theology all perfected. He loved us right where we were and then little by little brought us up in His kingdom thinking. It is after all, His kindness that leads us to repentance.

We all too often have used fear to motivate people into the kingdom and I believe we have missed the mark in that regard. It is quite often fear that I have to wrestle with that I might some how displease or dishonor God in my questioning of ideas that are new to me. Fear keeps us stuck but love allows us to soar and discover truths hidden all around us.

During this journey, I have constantly looked to Daniel and Joseph who found themselves thrust into a foreign culture. Daniel becomes the top most respected wise man of his day. He had to have studied all kinds religious views, and the latest knowledge and wisdom of his day. He was one of the brightest and best of his day and found favor before the king and before God. Some how he managed to remain faithful to God in a foreign pagan land. I believe it was his influence that trained the previous generations of wise men or Magi to be watching for the star that would lead their ancestor to the Christ child far off in the future. They were ready for the Messiah when most of Israel didn't even recognize what was happening right under their noses in Bethlehem.

Joseph is a similar story of living a life of integrity in Egypt. Even when he is thrown in prison finds favor with the guards. Out of prison he rises in and leadership second only to the Pharoh to make a place for his family who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery to be rescued from the famine of the day. He had to fit in to that culture and Pharaoh gives Aseneth, the daughter of Potipherah priest of On to Joseph as a wife. Genesis 41:50-52  Aseneth bore Joseph two sons Manasseh and Ephraim who become part of the 12 tribes of Israel. She's the daughter of the priest of the sun god.  I'm thinking that Joseph while remaining true to God had to consider some aspects of his wifes world view. I have to wonder how her views may have played out in the lives of their sons and in Israel.

I thought Alice Linsley of Just Genisis had an interesting insight. She seemed to think that Josesph and Aseneth were probably cousins and that even in Egypt the Horite marriage patterns continued. Thats a whole fascinating study found at her web site.  She says in a comment to the article Potiphar, Son of Horus "Also, you are lifting up something that many Americans don't understand about slavery in the ancient world. It was mostly high-ranking people who were slaves. The nobles among conquered peoples had greater skills, education, connections, etc. They were the ones taken as slaves. The peasants were ignored or killed if they resisted." Blood lines were a big deal to God and to the Horites it seems. I can't help but think that there is so much in history and antiquity that we probably don't fully understand.
I read these stories and I think God is not bent out of shape by the same things that get our religious panties in a knot. I think of the hymn The love of God by Frederick M. Lehman that says...

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.

I think God has far broader reach than we dare imagine and a far greater love for all of His creation than we can begin to conceive. In all my wrestling what I have decided is to stand on what I know and that is the great, great love of Jesus. Like Jacob who wrestled with God who said he was not letting go with out Gods blessing. I continue to wrestle and believe that God is not put off by my questions. If he would bless me to show others His kindness and love people till they ask why - I will have been found faithful in my life and walk in God's favor much like Daniel and Joseph. 

So the kingdom treasures that I seek, I believe to be both people and ideas that have been overlooked and discounted by the church. I pray for wisdom and discernment to be led every step of the journey by the Holy Spirit into all truth. I expect there will be times when I will have my thinking and perspective all tangled up but I trust that God in his infinite wisdom will help me to sort it all out. 

Along the way I have had Christians ask me what my thoughts were on various subjects like yoga and healing crystals and I have been able share my take on those and other subjects. What this journey has done has been to draw me closer to God as I have sought to gain His perspective on the ideas and culture of our day. Quite honestly its not all evil and of the devil as I once pridefully assumed. Anyway I am probably getting closer to being able to write more about that journey and the many interesting things I have discovered by taking my head out of the sand.

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