We can move to questions now or I could share just a couple of sound bites to stimulate some conversation. I really like conversation! You know, I think the reason that conversation isn’t very popular with what’s calling itself “church” is because it’s very hard to take up an offering for a conversation. But that’s already precluded, so we can talk. I love it.
As I’ve been looking at relationships and living in them now for over 35 years, rather than repenting, I’ve become more and more convinced that this is what Jesus prayed and died for. That somehow we would be one, as He and the Father were one before the foundation of the world. The “Us” that said, “let Us make man in our image, male and female,” knew what He was doing.
We’re not quite sure what to do with it yet, and so it’s really important to get the point of male and female, because if you don’t get the point, you are left hung up on the plumbing. And that’s where what’s calling itself “church” seems to be. The more repressed and the more in denial what’s calling itself “church” becomes, the more moral failure, even pedophilia, we wind up with.
So it’s time to get the point. And I think “searching together,” and talking about… can we talk about this? God said in Isaiah, “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord…” Remember the context? They were “shot.” They were really “beat.”
In April of this year, I said a couple of things that got me in some trouble. Some of the speakers left a conference after my first comment before the conference even got going.
How many of you know Nate Krupp or heard of Nate? Well Nate asked me to moderate the speakers meeting that would determine what we would talk about and who would do the speaking and what kind of venue. (I hate to do that stuff. I just don’t like being in charge.)
On the way to the front – actually it was a circle… (I like circles better) to sit in the moderator’s seat; I was prompted to say, “To what then shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It’s like a drop dead gorgeous woman who walks into a room full of women.” And there was a silence after that. It was kind of an awkward silence. And then after a little while I said, “gender neutral.” I don’t know what got me into more trouble, the drop dead gorgeous woman, or saying “gender neutral,” but I was in trouble by then. And it was going down fast after that.
Well, the topic that I had for the general session was a city with 12 gates and only one street.
Does that ring a bell with anybody? It’s in Revelation 21. It’s kind of interesting because where that conference was held people were getting lost trying to find their way to the conference center. I got lost – and it was my second year going. So when I was on my way to the front of the room I raised my hand and asked, “Did anybody else get lost on the way to this place?” And most of the people had gotten lost! I said, “I have really good news for you: we’re heading for a City with only one street.”
Before my day of final embarrassment came, about 3:00AM the Lord awakened me, I thought it was the Lord… I’m pretty sure it was because I’ve had a few go rounds with Him… He usually wins. Across my ticker went, “a street called ‘stupid’.”
My subject is going to be “12 gates, one street,” and at 3:00 in the morning I’m awake with “a street called stupid.” I was pretty excited about it, because the “house church movement” is beginning to develop brand names. One of the real popular brand names now is something called “simple church.”
Anybody here heard of “simple church”?
About the time that 3:00 in the morning rolled around, I was convinced that was just way too complicated. Because the word “church” has become so loaded. All of us have had an experience with “church,” one way or another, and I haven’t met anybody that hasn’t been offended by what’s calling itself “church.”
I use that expression because there’s what God calls Church, you can read all about it in the Bible, and then there’s what’s calling itself “church.” And I don’t like to say anything against what God calls Church because by one sacrifice He perfected it forever. And I dare not touch that.
But then there’s something that’s calling itself “church,” and it comes in a whole lot of packages. One of the recent ones is “simple church.” I don’t think it’s very simple. I think it’s still loaded with agendas. Just take the agendas out of special buildings and put them in living rooms and create a lot of spiritual down line and networking and things get complicated. But one of the ways of understanding a City with only one street is that it’s distinct from the “information highway.” Especially a “street called stupid.” There’s the information highway, and then there’s the street called “stupid.”
(A couple of years ago it occurred to me that The Power of the Holy Spirit is a lot like human chemistry. You know the kind. You are out in a restaurant, look around and see a couple who has it, they kind of glow in the dark. Made me really appreciate why The Lord didn’t want His representatives to leave Jerusalem without it. So I asked The Lord, which came first, the body language or the chemistry. As I searched for an answer, it occurred to me that on the day of Pentecost before the Holy Spirit showed up, they were all together in one accord. They had been in the upper room for about ten days together with the women and children. I hadn’t ever seen that, and asked The Lord how is that possible, and I felt like the answer came: “They were stupid.”
The problem by now is that we all know too much to get into the same room together – plus we still seem to have some gender problems.)
And the next line that went across my ticker, because any time a thought hits me like that, my scanner starts scanning whatever Scriptures I’ve got in me, and the scanner came across “a street called Straight.” (Right about then I was wishing I had my Concordance with me, but I was in a strange place and I didn’t have my Strong’s. I consider my Strongs my first line of defense against scholars.) I wasn’t sure if it was a “strait jacket” or exactly the kind of “straight” it was, but it was a “street called Straight” that Paul went to.
I had been wrestling with, “Lord, why am I not in the Spirit more often, and why don’t I stay there longer. I had been on that street a few times, and I’ve become convinced that there’s nothing that’s in the Kingdom of God, except by the Spirit. Nothing is allowed in, except by the Spirit.
The other thing that is kind of a determining factor as to what’s in and what’s out, is blood. Nothing is in the Kingdom of God, except by blood. So, the blood and the Spirit are both essential. Not an “information highway,” it’s not programs, it’s not “let’s make a deal,” it’s not “so you think you can dance.” (The previous speaker had used the dancing word picture through out his presentation.) There’s only one way to get in there – it’s by the Holy Spirit. He’s sovereign.
Actually, during the conference in April, it struck me that you can stand at the foot of the Cross all day long, but it won’t do you much good unless you stand there as a “menstrous woman.” She is gender neutral in the Scriptures – Isaiah 64:6: “For we’ve all become as one unclean, and all our righteousness as menstrous rags.” “Menstrous.” The Hebrew root word there is “periodic.” We get to mess up time and time and time again, and it’s about the time we feel messed up that is our best chance to get in. About the time we think we’ve “got it” we don’t. When you think about it, of all the women God could have chosen in the Scriptures, to call “Mother,” He picked a desolate woman.
Is that fair? I mean did I say anything unbiblical here?
I mentioned last time I was here… I guess a number of you were here then… that I’ve been having 2 question conversations with “church” leaders for years. I ask them, “What page is that on?” and they say to me, “Who do you think you are?” This just to say, my heart commitment is that you might be able to ask me, “What page is that on?” If I say something that scandalized you, and I say “scandalized” – they were really scandalized, still scandalized from April, but, I just long for an opportunity to give an answer for the hope within me. So, if you’ve got a problem with anything I’m saying, and it’s “too adult,” why you can get me in private afterward or take me out behind the wood shed, or we can talk about it here. I’d love to be able to talk about it here!
Only one person asked me, after the session determining the speakers and venues, about the “drop dead gorgeous woman.” Is that too Gnostic or hard to get for any of you? Does that communicate at all? Can you picture what happens, the dynamic and the body language when she walks in the room?
Then, the “gender-neutral” part – this gal asked me about it – so here’s the “gender-neutral” part:
What women bring to the table doesn’t require that they say or do anything. They’re a problem just the way they look. Huh? I mean, let’s be honest. And the Eldridges in their little books, Wild at Heart on the one hand (what the guy brings to the table), and Captivating (what she brings to the table), do a great job of elaborating what the image of God, “male and female,” brings to the table so that we get a complete picture of what God is. The woman is imaging – the glory of God. The little book, Captivating, if you haven’t seen it, I mean it made me look at Carleen with whole new eyes and I was already looking quite a bit.
The difference is you get the same effect, gender neutral. A man generally has to either say something or do something. And if a man either says something or does something that is prettier than what the other men in the room are saying or doing, it’s the same dynamic that goes on. It’s seen best when Jesus came to Jerusalem. All the experts who were experts before He got there wanted to kill Him.
That’s a real problem in what’s calling itself “church.”
We need to get “the drop dead gorgeous woman.” And how do we get that? Where are we going to find that? We find that at the cross.
We come to the cross as a desolate woman, a woman who’s got nothing going for her. She’s not fruitful. She’s not effective in her space. She doesn’t feel beautiful. I mean, even in the old creation a drop dead gorgeous woman entering the room may be loaded with insecurities and guilt and all sorts of problems. The reaction of the rest of the women has nothing to do with what’s in her, it’s just by the very nature of her appearance – she’s causing trouble.
“We come to the cross as a desolate woman, a woman who’s got nothing going for her. She’s not fruitful. She’s not effective in her space. She doesn’t feel beautiful.”
as we more fully awaken to who we are, we see more and more that our desolation is the beginning of all that is beautiful.