Sunday, February 10, 2013
i consider myself very sensitive to God's Holy Spirit. i have had many experiences since i started following Jesus that reinforce my knowledge that God is always speaking to me, if i am willing to hear him. sometimes i am in situations where God tells me something in the spirit, and it creates a great degree of awkwardness or second guessing if it is God or my own issues affecting me. awhile ago, i heard God speaking to me about someone that i had begun to hang around with and was in a position of leadership over the ministry i was involved with. i was dealing with repetitive intuitions about something hidden that was not cool actively taking place. i decided to confront him. when i did, he was very incredulous and would not acknowledge there were issues. but that voice didn't subside. in fact, it just got more pronounced. like i said, i sometimes deal with guilt when i feel that way without actually knowing for sure that there is hidden sin. summary is, it was recently disclosed that i was definetely hearing the voice of God. he was not living the way he was trying to be perceived. i tell you, if you have been born again by God's spirit, don't doubt the things He tells you. even if it endangers what you believe to be a friendship. this is a transcription of the correspondence we exchanged at the time of my confronting him. so sad.
August 9, 2011
8:33am Len Kiel - i'll be honest NAME DELETED - . i don't even know why, but i am concerned about things at terra, and you in particular. i have felt for awhile that i only see part of you. that you are very selective about what you reveal, which is pretty standard behavior in humans anyway. but i have a vibe that something significant has happened to you internally, maybe as a result of something you have done, or experienced recently. honestly i don't see this as anything that is my business, and the less i know the better. i just wanted to let you know what i believe has transpired. i pray for you regularly and hope i am off, but i don't think i am. peace
8:42am NAME DELETED - it has felt very busy lately and I do feel often that I'm just trying to keep my head above water. I'm sure that this has shown itself in the time I have invested into our friendship, in comparison to what it used to be. And for that I'm sorry. At the same time, I thought we had reached a place in our friendship where we could be honest with each other. Where I could challenge you in some areas that I think you are missing it. I do this, not out of superiority, but out of love and an outside perspective. Maybe that has bothered you?
9:01am Len Kiel - confrontation is not really a problem for me. i think if anything connected to that area, i just don't believe anything fruitful will come from being more involved with social interactions. i am a sinner and God is the only reason i have hope, but i feel like i have totally different priorities and most importantly, a very different view of God than anyone else i've met. i guess i see myself as unattached to this world where others depend on people and situations rather than God. i recognize the need for food and shelter to survive, but i totally look at God as being the only source of those things as well as everything else. to me, it seems like most americans (especially, but i'm sure it is common in any part of the developed world) worry about SO much. and not just the essentials. i think they worry about their careers, their mortgages, their health and anything else that they can find to worry about. this is NOT trusting God. it is not my righteousness that makes me truly depenadant on God, because i have none. it is His proven goodness over the last 23 years. He has NEVER let me down. not once. He has intervened in situations that i brought upon myself to take care of me when i deserved the consequences of my actions. He has always guided me in the path toward Him when i have become distracted. when i talk to people that are professing christians, more than not, i hear them talking about things that have nothing to do with God. it really bothers me. and that's at church. i just wonder how much time the average christian in this country spends thinking about how amazing Jesus is, compared to the time they spend thinking or fretting about career, finances, family, relationship, church stuff, vehicles, vacations, music, television etc.. once again, this is not a proclamation of self righteousness, because i am selfish and evil. but that is what makes me so thankful to God that He still loves me, and even more so takes care of me beyond anything i could imagine. i just feel alienated from the way the people (including christians) are so caught up in what i find irrelevant. i am not a new christian, so you can't just blow it off as me still being in the honeymoon phase. and i hope i never lose that drive to not let anything else crowd out my focus on Jesus. because He is the only reason i have anyhting good. so the stuff itself means nothing. i don't expect you to see this as rational, but i don't see the lifestyle and mentality that seems to be so prevalent in america as rational either. and i don't want to be in a constant state of feeling op-positional to people who i supposedly have the most important factor we could have in common. so the less contact i have, the less i will judge or be abrasive. i don't think i'm better or more spiritual than anyone else. i'm just not as distracted. and i still sense that something has taken place in your life.
9:19am NAME DELETED - We have certainly discussed the above plenty. I'm very clear on it. We disagree on parts of it. I'm fine with that. I love you and Chelsie. I value your friendship. I would love to actually talk about this face to face. But at the same time, I don't want to have to convince someone to be my friend. I believe I have been a good friend and pastor to you. I have worked hard to understand your perspective. I have confronted out of love. I have embraced you regardless of whether we see eye to eye. I have been completely honest with you. I have not told you every detail of my life only because I don't believe our friendship has reached that point yet. I am here and willing to continue our friendship in whatever form you choose. I will leave that up to you.
9:35am Len Kiel - you have been very accepting of me. but i guess my issue is that you are in ministry and it's not just about me, or friendship. your relationship with God needs to be a relationship that is above and beyond a christian who is not in ministry. i wouldn't expect you to share all the details of your life with me. but being that you are a pastor, transparency is a very important factor. once again, not for my sake, but those who trust your guidance in general. if you are not making an effort to constantly be honest with those who you have an accountability to beyond your peers, this could have effects in the negative that you have no control over, regardless of your intent. once again, i don't have a clue where this vibe comes from, but i don't believe it is unfounded. you don't owe me anything, but God wants anyone in any leadership position to be honest even in areas that are difficult to communicate.
9:56am NAME DELETED - I appreciate your concern. I am in completely accountability with my wife and the other 4 pastors at terra, as they are with me. This has been in place for years. We are open about our weaknesses, struggles, temptations, and sin. It's a very healthy situation. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me and we'll get together and talk. Thanks.
9:59am Len Kiel - okay man. i am sorry if i have mistaken the vibe for something significant when it isn't. i don't want to falsely accuse, and i know it wouldn't be fair to say that i demand your transparency yet not be willing to hang out. i dunno. i just get weird vibes toward something at terra and you in particular. but i won't assume the worst. i know that my discernment isn't accurate at times. like i said, i don't feel like you owe me anything. the concern keeps haunting me though.August 11, 2011
12:09pm NAME DELETED - hey man..
12:09pm Len Kiel - hola
12:11pm NAME DELETED - just checking in to see if we're ok. I'm kind of confused by this turn in our friendship..
12:12pm Len Kiel - i have nothing against you at all. but i will admit i'm wary. but like i said earlier, i feel very cautious toward everyone, especially those that are active participants in churches. i just feel like we aren't truly close. but that's probably because i am cautious!i don't really feel cautious toward people that don't wear a badge of christianity because i know they are spiritually blind already!
12:14pm NAME DELETED - i just don't understand where that came from, specifically with me...
12:16pm Len Kiel - i think it was partially due to comments that you have made in the past collectively. also what appears to be a lack of focus on God practically (in conversation, facebook stuff), your obsession with music, what appears to be a decreasing joy in leading worship.and i feel strongly that there is a huge, significant factor/event that would have a huge impact on how people view you that most are not aware of.
12:18pm NAME DELETED - i am quite focused on God, but don't see FB and the scorecard for my spiritual life.*as my scorecard for my spiritual life..i know we disagree on this, and thats ok..im not sure what the collective comments are that I've made in the past, so its impossible for me to reply to thatim not obsessed with music, it is a hobby and past of my job.and i have had no significant factor/event that has affected my life. well thats not true, there were a few events years ago (literally decades) that did, but that is not a factor any more...we all have times in past lives that we are not proud of...
12:23pm Len Kiel - there isn't anything that is a scorecard for our spiritual life. but i know from my own experience with God that when i am focused on Him, i express it like second nature. when i am not focused on god, especially if i am practicing a behavior that i know i shouldn't be, i become very mute in that area, and when i attempt to be "spiritual" it comes off as forced and has even made me feel uncomfortable or kind of gross or something. i become very conscious of my counterfeit enthusiasm for God and what i should be living. it has happened at many points in the last 23 years.
12:27pm NAME DELETED - i can understand what you are saying. I wouldn't disagree with it. BUT not would I say it is the same for everyone. In the same way that when I worship in a congregational setting, I feel that i need to physically express my worship (as much as I can with a guitar around my neck..)
12:28pm NAME DELETED - but I don't automatically disbelieve someone's worship when they just stare at the screen and softly sing a song...
12:28pm Len Kiel - like i said, i don't feel like you owe me anything. we don't hang out so it doesn't affect me directly. but because we have hung out before, i do have a degree of emotional investment in who you are, and most importantly, your relationship with Jesus. the teaching is right on at terra, so as long as that doesn't change, we will continue to attend. i believe many of the people who go to terra have very different priorities than chelsea and i though, so i have no desire to expand my connectivity within the congregation. but this is not a new tropic.
12:30pm Len Kiel - once again, i don't see myself as better, or more spiritual. just not distracted by stuff that i find useless. i don't judge people because they are in to the stuff they are into, but i like being able to not feel owned by the parts of life that have nothing to do with Jesus.
12:36pm NAME DELETED - but you are as...into....music as I am, possibly moreso, its just that its YOUR music that you are creating....that isn't any more "spiritual" then me listening to music I love, talking about it, and learning from it, so like I can help make our worship experience at Terra something that resonates with people and allow their worship to flow...
12:37pm NAME DELETED - what would be your "ideal" in our friendship and the amount we are invested into each other?
12:52pm Len Kiel - NAME DELETED - , i can't really say that i've ever experienced friendship in the way that people generally experience friendship. i'm guessing that it is mainly because i did not grow up in a family environment. but i think i also have a view of friendship that is different from the standard. i see most people's friendships, by my standards, as friendly acquaintances. a friend to me is someone that i can be willing to trust to the extent of not being concerned about being betrayed in any way. i do have a few people that i have known for a very long time that might actually fall in to that category. and chelsea is definitely in that category. but i just don't have enough experience with anyone outside of the very small group that i trust. i don't think that experience comes from tribes or church activities either. people are very selective about what they present to others. and i have been involved in enough churches to see, consistently, that people wearing the "christian" label are more prone to be artificial, because in their mind, they have more at stake. i know this is somewhat paradoxical because you have to be around people to get to know them, but i feel very in touch with God when i don't spread myself so thin. i was very involved in church, home study groups, christian music ministry etc., while i was practicing some of the most destructive sin i have ever committed, while appearing to most as a really "christian" guy. and i've seen many others, including pastors in the churches i attended do the same. i am aware that the bible encourages church unity, but i believe that the model presented by paul and other writers is nowhere near the level of commitment to God and accountability to each other as it was in that setting. i find that the people i trust most at terra are the ones who are alot more expressive about areas of their lives that most people won't even consider expressing. observations about one's own temptations, shortcomings and failures is a far more accurate presentation of who a person is than shallow expressions that most are inclined toward.
1:02pm NAME DELETED - so you're saying that if I were to not only talk about God more on FB, but also express my temptations, shortcomings, and failures, I would somehow prove that I am trustworthy?
1:05pm Len Kiel - no. i'm saying that after a longer amount of time, it's possible that i would see that you are not only who you present yourself as, but also see that we had the same views of Jesus in a practical way, i would feel more inclined to hang out. it's not like i've replaced you. i only hang out with chelsea, and before her i stayed singular.
1:06pm NAME DELETED - I'm not saying agree or am going to do what I just asked. I'm just trying to figure out exactly what you're saying...it just seems strange to me to say that you will somehow know me better, more authentically, if I post certain things on FB, then you will if we spend time together and talk...
1:11pm Len Kiel - i am saying that it's not like we have hung out much in the last year or so. the times we have hung out recently, in addition to my perception on what i have seen on sundays have made me become cautious. if i'm off it sucks. but i'm sure you have reservations toward many people you encounter as well. i don't see you as singled out in my concerns. it's just that i have actually had conversations with you, whereas, i haven't with most terra people or pastors. but i feel a general cautiousness toward most there, and in the american church scene in general. but i hav a different perception of you now, than i did say, last year. observations and such. if i'm off it really doesn't matter because i don't share my opinions with others (chelsea and i discuss things) because i don't communicate with people, and even if i did talk to others, it wouldn't be any of their business how i view anyone aside from them.
1:18pm NAME DELETED - i get it. and i understand your general cautiousness towards people. I am not quite as..fixated ..on it as you, but i get it, and wouldn't try to convince you otherwise. what i don't understand is 1. what was different in the last few conversations we had? and 2. other than what you stated earlier (lack of joy in worship (which is not true), obsession with music (also not true), and what I post, or actually DON'T post on FB, what has changed? These things above are huge unfair assumptions.
1:20pm NAME DELETED - i thought we were having enjoyable conversations. and all the responses i got from both you and chelsie were "we like this and want to do it more...".you have to understand, this is quite confusing..
1:25pm Len Kiel - well we did enjoy it until mainly the last time we hung out. i can't speak for chelsea, but i just don't see the same way you do about what we Need as opposed to what we think we need. what we rely on God for, as opposed to not relying on god. this is not uncommon for me. i see most people who claim to be christians as being very sketchy on what that even means, so it isn't surprising that people don't see God as He really is. i don't know why people have faith only up to certain points, but i just don't see God like that. i am very non invested in things that seem to be the focus for others. i have to go to sleep now, but if you have any specific questions in addition to the ones above lemme know. and remember, i'm just some dude.
1:32pm NAME DELETED - k. but you're not just some dude. You are my friend. I wouldn't take this kind of time for most people. I also hate misunderstandings. Its one thing for people to understand each other and disagree. Its another thing for people to not understand each other, and then make assumptions about what they like/dislike, agree/disagree. I will work hard to make sure I understand someone, and they understand me. And if we find we disagree, then we decide if its the kind of thing that keeps us from having a relationship or not. Everything you have stated is observed from your limited point of view. You have misunderstood much of who I am (as Im sure I have of you). To see a relationship dimish due to wrong assumptions is not something I will easily let go.sleep well, my friend...
1:57pm NAME DELETED - Although I don't think there is anything wrong or God-displeasing with what I post on FB, and nor do I think I am anymore "spiritual" or "Godly" based on how much "spiritual talk" I post, I do feel led based on our conversations to think and pray about what could be accomplished better for the kingdom through my interactions on FB. I post stuff about my family bc I love them and are proud of them. No problems there. I post about music simply bc I love it and I find music, as do you, that I think is beautiful, creative, and I want people to know about it. I have talked to so many people that have come into wonderful art that you and I love, due to my posts.BUT, I agree I don't post much god-talk. Mostly bc I find this to be deeper and more important than a mere FB post. I do this type of talking multiple times a week, in person, for hours, with both Christians and non-Christians, which is much more valuable than simply posting a scripture (which the Christians appreciate and the non-Christians mostly don't get nor investigate typically).BUT our conversation has prompted me to consider that there is a way to be found to post things that give glory to God, encourage others, and introduce Him to non-believers, that isn't a cheap one-sentance blurb that is mostly confusing to those outside of Christianity. Im not sure what that looks like yet, nor have I seen it much on FB, but I will continue trying to figure it out. Thank you for spurring this on in me...
Friday, February 8, 2013
When World War II ended in 1945, the entire Jewish secular and religious culture in Europe had been obliterated, and from 5.6 million to 5.9 million Jews had been exterminated. Some 1.5 million of the victims were children.
We must keep in mind that all of this was accomplished by the means of what was considered to be not only a legitimate, but also an influential government that had been legally elected by the public. The world’s reactions to Hitler’s actions were also initially not fearful or concerned, but more aligned towards apathy. “As long as it doesn't happen to us!” many said. The “Church” was also supportive of Hitler. That this chapter of recent history was even able to transpire tells me two things.
1. Humans are not inherently good.
2. Good intentions do not mean that good will be the result of those intentions.
What do you believe is the underlying source or standard for laws that are made? There are certain laws that are accepted almost universally throughout history. Murder is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Attacking someone without provocation is wrong. But why? What is it within us (the human race) that points out what is right and what is wrong? What is our conscience and where does it come from? It is the inner knowledge of what is wrong compared to right that we are all (the human race) born with, and it is placed there by our Creator, God. It is a part of His image that we were created in. But why do we do things that are wrong even when we know they are wrong?
What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. From the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes. For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other. These people have exchanged God's truth for a lie. So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen! For this reason God allowed their shameful passions to control them. Their women have exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the punishment they deserve for their perversion. And because they thought it was worthless to acknowledge God, God allowed their own immoral minds to control them. So they do these indecent things. Their lives are filled with all kinds of sexual sins, wickedness, and greed. They are mean. They are filled with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, haughty, arrogant, and boastful. They think up new ways to be cruel. They don't obey their parents, don't have any sense, don't keep promises, and don't show love to their own families or mercy to others. Although they know God's judgment that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do these things but also approve of others who do them.
Romans 1:19-32 (GW)
It is obvious even within our own lives that we do things quite often that, if observed in another person, will illicit a response of indignance or offense within us. So we are obviously able to distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Anytime we feel ashamed of or guilty for something we have done, that is our conscience working within us. But at some point if we ignore that inner voice and continue to do things that we know we shouldn’t be doing, we begin to lose our innocence, and the drive to do what is right. This is what brings about the worst thing that can happen to us in this life. Our heart becomes hardened. It is what is commonly referred to as a person who “doesn’t have a heart”. Everyone is born with a “heart”, but some allow theirs to become polluted and corrupted. At that point the “heart” or conscience ceases to function in the manner it was designed to function in. We quit caring. One may still realize that what they are doing is wrong, they just don’t care anymore. If God is the one who places this standard of what is right and wrong within us, what IS that standard?
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 (NLT)
So from this, we are told that God’s standard for good is nothing less than perfect good. Otherwise, the verse would say something like, “Because most people have sinned, they aren’t perfect, but that’s okay.” Paul clearly defines in the book of Romans that what separates us from God is our bad behavior. ANY bad behavior. Did you know that the word “sin” is actually an archery term that was in use when the King James’ translation of the bible was originally put together? At the time, any shot that did not hit the target directly within the bull’s eye was called a “sin”. Anything less than perfect. So in context, anything within us that is not perfect is considered sin. Why? Because God is perfect. And He cannot reside in any circumstance that does not meet this standard. Jesus lived a perfect life as a testimony of His being One with God the Father. So if Jesus is good, what is it that makes Him good? He is good because He has nothing imperfect within Him. This is the standard of good that is required by God. We use the word so loosely that it has lost its meaning in our time. But if we are to compare our own behavior with any other human regarding our being good, Jesus Christ has been the only human who ever existed who was able to qualify for this designation. No other human can claim to be perfect; therefore no other human has ever been good. Not even Mother Theresa. She did many good works, but even she had a bad day and snapped at someone at least once in her long life. I guarantee it. I’m not saying that we are unable to do good deeds. And maybe we can do those deeds without ulterior motives or not just to make ourselves feel good. But this still cannot change the standard by which we are to judge someone being a good person. You can even go back and re-read the first part of this writing to reexamine the dictionary’s definition of the word good if you need a reminder. The problem lies in how much of our behavior we require in our own minds to be “good” to qualify us as “good”. But anything less than 100% is failure.
Then a man came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good deed should I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, obey the commandments.” “Which commandments?” the man asked. Jesus said, “Never murder. Never commit adultery. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The young man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments. What else do I need to do?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he owned a lot of property.
Matt 19:16-22 (GW)
In this exchange, He was confronting the man to define the word good in his own mind. What made the man call Jesus good? Of course the man was correct, but Jesus wanted the man to look at himself in comparison. Was the man good? Obviously the man realized he wasn’t as good as he thought he was after he recognized his own imperfection regarding materialism.
Not one person has God's approval. No one understands. No one searches for God. Everyone has turned away. Together they have become rotten to the core. No one does anything good, not even one person.
Romans 3:10-12 (GW)
You may then say “But I do good things, so this means that I am not ALL bad”. Let’s look at it this way. If you own a pair of headphones that sound good, but then one side stops working, would you still call them good and continue using them in that condition? Most likely, no. You would either replace them with a new pair or have them repaired. If you chose to have that pair fixed, then you could accurately refer to them as good again. But when something is not serving its intended purpose, or is not functioning correctly, we do not call it good. And if we use that same standard when referring to a person, not one person qualifies for the title of good. This doesn’t mean that anyone is of lesser value than anyone else, but we still cannot accurately call any human other than Jesus good. Understand? It’s all about who you are comparing yourself to. And yes, if we compare ourselves to someone like Hitler, we might be able to consider ourselves good. But what if we compare ourselves to the one person we know for sure is good? It’s just like when you refer to something you own as good. It all depends on what you are comparing it to. You are probably going to consider dirty water good if you haven’t had water for three days.