When it’s Not Working it’s Working (Nuts)
In This Hope We Are Delivered
“Y’all must be born again.” That’s the Judgment of God, delivered by the Word of God, to Nicodemus the Pharisee and, apparently, another Pharisee named Paul.
“The perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality,” wrote Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. . . You must be made in the image of God.
It’s a message not often heard in the institutional church, for we pastors can give you knowledge of Good and evil and teach folks how to judge, but on our own we can’t give birth; at best, we can preach a Word, that is an imperishable and eternal seed and trust it will take root in the soil of our broken and dirty souls.
Well, we’re all conceived in this womb of a world and born into another.
Thirty-four years ago, my firstborn was born after 24 hours of grueling labor. I had never witnessed a person in such pain. I remember thinking to myself, “Appreciate this baby, for this baby is the last you will ever have; there is no way that Susan will go through this again.” But the moment she got a good look at our son, she just blurted out, “Oh! I want another one!”
The night before he was crucified, Jesus said to his disciples, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow for her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish for Joy... your sorrow will turn into joy.”
We (Adam, mankind) all give birth to the “Son of Man.”
And we’ve learned that that man is somehow, also, our new man.
So, our old man, is giving birth to our new man, that is also the eschatos man—the Super Man.
We’re giving birth AND being born.
I had never witnessed a person in such pain, up to that point. But then my son was born.
He had a black eye, bruises all over his body, and his head was the shape of a cone.
Giving birth hurts, and being born (first time or second time) does as well.
Imagine the trauma of being born: Your entire world turns against you and expels you. You pass through a dark tunnel into a blinding light. You’re born utterly naked. Then someone takes what seems to have been the most vital and important part of you—that part of you that attached you to the womb world, that part that brought life to you in that womb world: the umbilical cord—they cut if off and throw it away.
When my son was born, he wouldn’t stop screaming. The nurse wrapped him in swaddling clothes, placed him in my arms, and then said, “Talk to him. He knows your voice.” The moment I spoke, he fell silent: He was home . . . as if his sorrow had turned into joy.
How did he know my voice? We preached on that seven months ago in Romans chapter one. Every night, I’d speak to my wife’s belly; I was not a thing in Jon’s world, but everything in that womb world would vibrate to the sound of my voice. Our Father is Love and Light, and his Word is Life, Truth, Reason, and Logic.
Perhaps it’s important to learn to trust our Father’s voice here, that we would rest in his arms there.
Jonathan heard my voice, and he even received breath from my world in that womb of a world through that umbilical cord. It was actually a thing in his world, yet it brought Spirit, breath, oxygen, and life to Jon from another world... a bit like bread and wine in this world that can bring spirit in blood from another world. The bread and wine will perish, but the Spirit is eternal.
It was about a year later that Jonathan said “abba.” He said “Daddy.” It was my spirit in union with his spirit, returning to me as a word of Love. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts that I’ve ever received. I did not set him down and say, “You are unworthy to speak my name.” Yet speaking my name gave him a sense of worth that shaped him into an image of who I am.
Well, if a baby in a womb could reason, surely that baby would wonder, “What are these hands for? What is this mouth for? What are these lungs for? These things are pointless . . . but this umbilical cord-- i
Piloting Old Stone Temples
The Condemnation of Condemnation (and the Birth of All Things)
Most commentators seem to think that Romans is a legal argument explaining how some people will be justified and others will be condemned, and so they pick it apart for knowledge to be used in preparation for judgment day—your day in court.
It’s rather ironic since Romans—and particularly chapter eight—appears to be a legal argument against legal arguments and a picture of something far more personal, passionate, and existential than any day in any court.
Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
That verse fills me with Hope: Can you imagine the freedom? Where would you go? What would you do? How would you live? . . . if there were no condemnation.
Then, it fills me with Confusion: If there were no condemnation, would I even recognize myself? For all of my “life,” I’ve been preparing for my day in court.
Then, it fills me with Terror: Last Thursday I woke up at 3AM with Romans 8:1 running through my mind, “...no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I thought, “I sure do condemn myself... a lot.” Then I condemned myself for condemning myself. Then I thought, “I’m not in Christ Jesus, for there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!” Then I thought, “What’s not in Christ Jesus? ‘In him, all things hold together.’” Perhaps I don’t exist and can’t hold together! And Judgment Day is coming; Sunday is coming, and I have to preach on “no condemnation” when I am trapped in a raging vortex of self-centered condemnation...
Romans 8:1-3, “There is therefore now no condemnation... For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned the sin in the flesh...”
How exactly that works is a topic of great debate, and according to Paul, ultimately beyond our comprehension. But this much is clear: Through the cross, God condemned my raging vortex of condemnation; he condemned sin in the flesh—my ceaseless attempt to justify myself by condemning others, then myself, and ultimately God.
Jesus was NOT condemned so that I would never be condemned.
Jesus was condemned so that we would all be condemned by condemning him.
Jesus died so that we’d all die in him, and then live in him, in a reality where there is no such thing as condemnation, for that is God’s Judgment: Eternal Life—an endless communion of sacrificial love, the condemnation of condemnation.
“The mind of the flesh is death; the mind of the Spirit is Life and Peace.” (Romans 8:6)
“But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9)
Paul speaks as if the Spirit of God (the Breath of God) is entombed in every human heart until Jesus delivers up his Spirit on the tree in the garden and the curtain separating the inner tent from the outer temple rips from top to bottom as if something gets in and something gets out.
Paul speaks as if the Spirit of Jesus really is the Promised Seed, the “sperma,” and that through his death he impregnated us with himself, such that his Spirit becomes one with our spirit (God’s Breath), such that my old “me” has become pregnant with my new “me” that is also Jesus’s “me,” and that that “me” is growing and fixing to be born... fixing to breathe the breath of God in the New Creation. .
It takes faith to breathe. To breathe is to expire and inspire the Spirit.
Romans 8:10, “The Spirit (Breath) is Life because of righteousness (that’s faith).”
Romans 8:15, “When we cry ‘Abba Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God...”
Thursday morning around 3:30 AM I lay awake trapped in a vortex of condemnation. The Accuser was breathing down my neck, whispering “you’re not worthy” and I wanted to die.
And then I remembered the Gospel we’re preaching; I cried out “Dad, Abba, Fa
Easter for Me (The Chief of Sinners)
We had a guest speaker on Easter Sunday.
He claimed to be the “Chief of Sinners,” the world’s most religious man, author of the world’s best-selling book (The Bible), and a slightly above average tentmaker.
The Bible is actually all about camping in tents, who gets to go into what tent or who’s tent, and how all our tents could turn into one enormous temple.
Having borrowed my two-man pup tent, he set it up on stage and shared what I had told him: “This is a special tent. My father and I used to camp in the wilderness in this tent. He’d pull me close and tell me stories; I’d lose myself and find myself in him. He let me know—out of all the things in his stories—he thought nothing was better than me. Outside of the tent, I felt like I was never enough; inside the tent, that thought didn’t occur to me and I would fall into a delicious sleep. Outside the tent, I worried about what had been and what might be; inside the tent, I was utterly content with now. Outside the tent, I was always trying to be “me;” but inside the tent, I am who I am. I’m home.”
Our guest speaker then shared that his friends called him “Tiny,” pronounced “Paulos” in Latin.
Saul is his Hebrew name—Rabbi Saul, that is—but he preferred Paul.
“Easter for me, happened on the road to Damascus where I was going to commit religious genocide,” said Paul. “I had become so evil for I had tried to make myself so good. It turns out that I wasn’t the savior of Israel but, rather, the Israel that needed saving.”
“Suddenly a light, brighter than the sun, showed all around me. A voice said, ‘Saul, why are you persecuting me. It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.’”
“Easter killed me,” said Paul. “To quote myself, ‘I suffered the punishment of eternal destruction that comes from the presence of the Lord (2nd Thess. 1:9).’ But eternal destruction is the presence of eternal construction; the death of death is the presence of eternal life,” said Paul. “And that’s what Romans is all about and that’s why I borrowed your pastor’s tent.”
“The Bible really is all about destruction, construction, and camping. It’s all about this tent inside this other tent inside a courtyard and what you need to do to get inside that innermost tent. It’s God’s tent and it can kill you.”
“In the book of Hebrews, we explain,” said Paul, “that the outer tent and courtyard represent this present age but the inner sanctuary, behind the curtain, is like the presence of the age to come, the Sabbath of God, the 7th day, when ‘it is finished’ and ‘everything is good.’”
The Israelites camped with this “tabernacle” in the wilderness, just as God instructed but then put it in a giant stone box that we call the temple.
“Y’all find this to be boring,” said Paul, “because you don’t know that ‘y’all are God’s temple.’ Or as Jesus said to us Pharisees, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’”
Paul reminded us of what we’ve already learned: that the Garden of Eden is in the inner tent in the depths of the temple that is you. But just like every adam (human), when we were tiny, we each took “knowledge of good and evil” and began to judge ourselves in order to make ourselves in the image of our creator; we each began to grow an “ego.” And in this way, we were exiled from ourselves, our true selves, and so no longer at home in our own “lives.”
“So, this is the situation of every adam that has become self-conscious,” said Paul. “You have a ‘life,’ (a self, a psyche) constructed with your decisions, which I call ‘the flesh.’ It’s like this beautiful old stone building in which we’re meeting. It’s like the outer courts of the tabernacle and temple. Very nice. But you worry about this ‘me’ that you have created, for it’s lonely as hell and falling apart, so you wonder what does it all mean?”
“You worry about yourself but in th
Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi
Incredibly dynamic, powerful, thought-provoking. I'm amazed that this new podcast has 297 messages up already. I visited a few times up in Denver and it's great to be able to listen from our home in San Antonio, TX. May God richly bless Peter, his congregation, and his ministry.