Beautiful Crackpots

A new podcast is up!  We are usually taught by this world to keep up an image of strength even when we are weak. This is how many are trained to minister to others. But interestingly, Paul spoke of glorying in his weaknesses.  These things are often skimmed over as we read the Bible as if they’re merely nice little poetic sayings or Paul being modest.  Yet, the truth is Father truly is glorified in our weaknesses because He loves us right in the middle of them. It is often in our weaknesses that others are touched because there is less of us and more of Him.  When we don’t live in denial of our struggles we are less prone to become Pharisees and are better able to genuinely connect with others. http://untangled.podomatic.com/entry/2014-09-09T11_55_42-07_00

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Authentic Christianity

Last week I had a few days when it seemed that everything I attempted to do failed. What should have been a twenty minute job replacing a wax seal on a toilet turned into a three day marathon that climaxed with an expensive plumber’s bill. Meanwhile my computer was being ravaged by spy ware until it was useless. That problem also ended with an expensive fix. I will spare you the recitation of other details associated with those three days.

I’ve learned that it’s no use to ask God “why?!” during those little episodes. In the past he’s already made it clear that I’ve asked for it. I’ve told him often that I wanted to be like Jesus. It turned out that he doesn’t accomplish that by softly laying tenders hands upon me and gently massaging his image into my being. I discovered a long time ago that more Bible reading or singing worship songs to him don’t do it either.

The problem is that I want things to go smoothly. I don’t want my goals to be frustrated. I want to do the practical stuff quickly and efficiently so that life will be sweet and I’ll have more time to serve God. His answer to me is that his and my short term goals are different. He’s only concerned with answering my prayers requesting to be conformed into the image of Christ. He doesn’t need my service, he wants me. So I knew that already, right? Unfortunately most of us who call ourselves followers of Christ may know what that means in our head, but have little understanding of how it works out in terms of practical application. Being basically selfish, I’ve been a slow learner, but God searches the heart and will perfect what he’s begun.

What do we know experientially about kingdom economics? (See blog for Aug. 29th) What do most of us know about the fruit of love? There are more than enough Christians who sing love songs to Jesus, talk about loving him in meetings, and tell him how much they love him in prayer gatherings. They revel in times of intimacy where his presence
seems almost tangible. In such instances they feel like they love him in return.

But what feels like love is not real unless it engages the needs around us. Emotional highs never reach beyond ourselves and only lead to self deception and fruitlessness. If one’s at a costume party dressed like a farmer its O.K. for him to call himself one even if he’s never seen a chicken. Its only make believe, so no one’s expecting an egg. But miss-
directed self love masquerading as intimacy with God ensures that those deceived by it remain sterile while encouraging infertility in others.

Genuine love always leads to the cross. As I was stumbling through those three days of petty troubles, I thought about how I was enjoying a picnic compared to those who were being beaten and burned to death in areas where I’ve preached. If one could talk with martyrs before they were burned at the stake, most of them would say they were simply living the normal Christian life while looking for a city with foundations. Today most Christians are looking for a foundation that will ensure a life of security and comfort on this planet while the lost are dying around us and the poor are going without basic needs.

Jesus is our only sure foundation. We are eternally secure in his love and are blessed with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Peace and joy comes when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and pour ourselves out for others. It’s walking in resurrection life that only comes through the cross. Nothing less can be called authentic Christianity.

David Fredrickson

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Intimacy or Self Love

My computers been in the shop, so I was unable to put up a blog for awhile. Here’s a thought until I can get around to it:

Love isn’t love unless it’s engaged. Love can’t be engaged without producing. If you’re at a costume party dressed like a farmer it’s O.K. to call yourself one even if you’ve never seen a chicken. It’s only make believe, so no one’s expecting an egg. But miss-directed self love masquerading as intimacy with God ensures that those deceived by it remain sterile while encouraging infertility in others.

David Fredrickson

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New Podcast!!!

Just wanted to give everybody a heads-up, because of changes in Bob Humphrey’s schedule and workload he hasn’t been able to podcast anymore.  But don’t fret!  David Fredrickson teamed up with Loren Rosser to continue the Family Room Media podcast.  Loren had his own podcast he started after moving to Texas called “Untangled” so David has joined him on that one.  But we haven’t been able to sort out the technology yet to get the podcast onto the Family subscription for those of you who subscribe to it.  We don’t have an estimate on the length of time of when that will happen.  So, in the meantime we’ll post the link to Untangled here and you can either play it out or download and even subscribe to it through the link.  ENJOY!

This week’s podcast:

In and out. Night and Day. Love and Judgement.  Did you know that love and judgement for us humans are polar opposites?  We weren’t created to judge, that place is reserved for God alone. But thanks to partaking of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we thrust ourselves into a position for which we weren’t created.  We were created to abide in the love of our Father not to be experts on good and evil.  The root of that knowledge is actually the desire to live independent of God.  We cannot abide in love and judge others at the same time.  We either eat of the Tree of Life or The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This is what Loren Rosser and David Fredrickson discuss in this podcast.

http://untangled.podomatic.com/entry/2014-08-23T14_50_03-07_00

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Kingdom vs Pagan Economics

Most of my closest friends are in the middle of some degree of what Westerners would consider a financial crisis. Outgo is exceeding income. Life savings are either non-existent or on their way to extinction and every attempt at creating a sufficient income stream comes up empty. I have an intimate understanding of their dilemma as my wife and I are in the same boat. Yet none of us are underfed, homeless or on foot. Somehow God provides us with more than we need for the present and often supplies many of our wants.

Shortly after I resigned my position as senior pastor of an institutional “church” I was stymied in every attempt to find employment. With a hint of exasperation, I asked Father what he wanted me to do. His answer: “Do whatever I tell you to do and I will provide.” Years later it occurred to me that what he said could be taken as a paraphrase of Matthew
6:33: ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.’ I had almost forgotten that this had been the foundation of our lifestyle for 12 years before accepting a pastor’s salary.

For the 10 years since, we have never known a regular income that matched the outgo, yet the bills are always paid on time, we enjoy a nice home, and even take an occasional vacation. Unexpected sums of money from unexpected sources have come seemingly out of the blue. We have never put out a newsletter or broadcast our needs in any other way. Even so, I would feel more comfortable if I could count on a regular income that matched the outgo. That only proves that I have a lot to learn about child-like trust and still would like a measure of control. I could cop out and say that I only want my wife to feel secure, but she’s doing as well as I am with our unpredictable future.

I can’t remember when I’ve ever heard a sermon on the verses that precede the one quoted above. ‘So do not worry saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?”
or “What shall we wear?” for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.’ Running after luxuries (anything above basic needs) is not even considered. I wonder how that truth fits into prosperity doctrine. Is there any difference between religious Christianity’s attitude toward provision and finances and that of the worlds? I’m afraid it would all have to be defined as pagan economics.

I’ve shared meals from a common finger bowl in unlighted mud huts with generous folks in Kenya who were more content than many overfed Americans I know. I never met anyone more at peace with their situation than a beautiful young Indian woman who lived in Mumbai in a huge slum where the “dwellings” were nothing but gunny sacks draped across sticks. They had no furnishings, just a dirt floor with nothing on it. She was one of the few in the slum that had a job. She earned a few rupees making roti (unleavened bread) and was able to sustain herself with the income so that she could live beside the sewer in her five by 10 foot dirt space where she gathered a several children daily to share Jesus with them. She had everything Jesus promised; food, clothing and opportunity to serve. She asked us for nothing. Welcome to Kingdom Economics 101.

David Fredrickson

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As a Man Thinks

A friend told me a cute story about his 4 year old granddaughter a couple days ago. Ella was sitting on the kitchen floor ignoring her toys, so her mother asked her what she was doing. “I’m thinking about the bad things I like to do,” she said. “Ella Jane, that’s not a good thing to do!” her mother said. “I know, but I still like to think about it.”

It’s human nature to judge people by what they do. We’ve been either punished or rewarded for what we do or don’t do before we could walk or talk. Religious teaching has reinforced the concept and encouraged us to believe that our ultimate worth is based on our behavior. But when Jesus addressed the Pharisees at one point he quoted Isaiah 29:13: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ ”

The ‘rules of men’ are focused only on behavior. God focuses only on the heart. Jesus went on to say that it was what comes out of the heart that defiles a man, ‘for out of the heart come evil thoughts…’  Of course evil thoughts lead to evil behavior, but what if a person was so disciplined and had such a strong will power that they were able to keep from following their evil thoughts with actions? Would they be less guilty than the one who acted according to their thoughts?

I will never forget what God told me one day many years ago when I first began to “pastor.” “You’re a Pharisee,” he said. “You keep yourself from ‘sinning’ by your will power and raise the bar high for those who are weaker willed than you are. Keeping from sinning has no merit unless it is I who am keeping you.” God is love, and love is the only pure motivation for good behavior. Otherwise, we may as well do whatever we please.

And, in fact, we should, for if we walk in love, it will please us to please him, even in our thoughts. We no longer have and evil heart, but a new one with the law of love written upon it. If we guard our new heart with love, our thoughts and outward behavior will follow.

David Fredrickson

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Running in the Dark

 

I often encounter people who feel like they’ve entered a season with no direction in their lives, like they’re wandering around in the dark. These are folks who love God and want to do his will. Yet it seems as though he’s looking the other way and turning a deaf ear to their requests for guidance. There are a few areas I’m dealing with right now where I can definitely relate.

In a religious setting, we’d be told that we had sin in our lives or we weren’t spending enough time in prayer. Or maybe we were failing to submit to leadership who would be more than willing to tell us what to do.

There’s an interesting scripture in Isaiah 50:10-11 that addresses those who fear and obey the Lord, yet walk in the dark with no light. It simply instructs them to trust in the name of the Lord and rely on God. It goes on to say that those who try to manufacture their own fire and walk in their own light will lie down in torment.

If creating a sense of obligation or shame doesn’t do the trick, religion is always good at creating light shows, making it look likes something’s happening when it’s not. Just get involved, get with the program and you’ll be fine. It’s like offering strange fire on the altar. Yet religious obligation, shame and false hope equal torment.

But according to Isaiah, leaning on Father and believing that he loves us keeps us in the center of his will. So if we’re in the dark, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that sin is blocking our path. And we don’t need to know anything other than that he just wants us to trust him and receive his love. The darkness will pass, and you’ll be exactly where he wants you to be; in his arms.

Yet trusting in and relying on God leaves no room for passivity. Blind Bartemaeus was sitting by the road begging, but his ears were open to what was going on around him. When he heard Jesus was approaching he was ready for action even though being met with resistance from those near him. When Jesus called to him he cast his only means of shelter and income aside and ran to the one who he fully trusted to be the Messiah. He received his sight because his actions proved his trust in God to be everything he needed.

Sometimes we stay in the dark longer than Father intended, because we’ve let deferred hope dull our hearing or are unwilling to give up our security blanket/s. But the only security we can count on is his unchanging and unsurpassed love that overcomes every obstacle and meets every need. Hope that is based on any thing or anyone but God himself will always be disappointed and will keep us in the dark, but hope that’s anchored in his faithfulness produces a trusting heart that banks on who he is rather than what we think he said. Then we can run with reckless abandon to the one who is the light.

David Fredrickson

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Successful Living

I was chatting with a friend yesterday who has been faithfully serving Christ for many years. He’s prayed often that God would use him for his glory. Yet he’s in financial crisis, has almost given up on his dreams of fruitful service, been stripped of much of what he’s held dear and hasn’t a clue as to what his future holds. If you can identify with him, take heart. You’re in a growing company of pilgrims that Father trusts enough to answer their prayers!

I’ve often taught that we must find our joy in Jesus, that he’s all we need, our hope and expectation, our rock and our salvation, our glory and the lifter of our heads. It’s easy to believe we’re living there when Father’s blessing us in tangible ways. Victory is our song and we’re all tight with Jesus. We think we’ve found the key to walking in resurrection life. But then the bottom drops out and we realize that our joy was in the blessings.

Many Christians have been taught a very Western view of “successful” Christian living. It’s spoken of as something that can be measured in terms of external blessings such as health, wealth and pleasant circumstances. If you’re a pastor, it can be measured by the number of members, the size of your building and your influence in the city. An evangelist measures his success by the number of souls saved and so on. But the only thing that counts to God is faith expressing itself through love.

Paul wrote that he and his fellow apostles were weak, dishonored, went hungry and thirsty, wore rags, were brutally treated and homeless. He said that they had become the scum of the earth and refuse of the world. (Quite a contrast to so called apostles today that require for one to be a millionaire before being accepted as an apostle!) And that was not just a process they were going through before a “break through.” Most of the apostle’s lives ended in a brutal death at the hands of their enemies.

Our circumstances may remain difficult, our fruitfulness may remain unseen, and the future can never be counted on. But if we are learning to be content as we rest in Father’s love, if our lives reflect the fruit of the Spirit and we remain with child like trust in the midst of trials, we will be a continual fragrance before him and a huge success in his eyes.

David Fredrickson

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The Master’s Servants

Many years ago I worked with an outreach ministry in the San Francisco Bay area where I met a man I’ll call Bill who loved helping people. He was especially drawn to war veterans who often turned to alcohol in an effort to drown the emotional pain and guilt that plagued their every waking moment. His love and compassion for the people he worked with won him a place in their hearts. He had a way of mixing encouragement with exhortation that helped them to accept the truth about themselves and find hope to move forward with their lives. Bill was a natural evangelist. Not a few came to know Jesus and the transforming power of his love.

Thing about Bill was he’d often disappear for days at a time, and I’d have to get in my car and hunt him down. He was an alcoholic, and sometimes his behavior was just too much for his wife to bear. Home was not always a good environment for the three children, either. After one such episode, I found Bill in a bar, head bowed in shame. When I sat beside him, he looked me in the eye and asked if I would have a drink with him. I agreed, we had a beer together and I took him home. Somehow that small token of acceptance and companionship touched his heart. Bill stayed dry for awhile after that, but the pattern never ended. A couple years passed and Bill & family moved to another area.

Several years later my wife and I left the Bay Area and planted a church in the Sacramento region. As the congregation grew, Mark stood out as the most generous and outreaching of all the members. He was a natural evangelist – and an alcoholic. New converts would give testimony to the example his life was to them, and how their lives had changed as a result of his unconditional love and acceptance.

A few months ago someone who was still in touch with Bill contacted me to let me know that he had passed away. There were a lot of people in the church building where the memorial service was being held. I could tell by the pastor’s sermon that Bill’s troubles had never ended. Neither had his love stopped. One after one, veterans who had found Christ through their relationship with Bill and ones who hadn’t yet, stood up and shared about the sacrificial love Bill demonstrated that had changed their lives. His wife and adult children all shared as well. No one sugar coated Bill’s problems, but it was clear that, through all his faults, it was the good fruit that remained.

Maybe folks like Bill and Mark are in our lives to remind us that love covers a multitude of sins. I must admit I spent most of my life judging people’s worth based on how “pure” a life they lived. Sure, I appreciated the contributions made by people like Bill and Mark and even had a genuine love and compassion for them. But though I’d never admit it to anyone, I thought of them as being a couple rungs down the ladder from those who lived an “upright” life. And secretly, I brushed off my sense of conviction that they were more giving and caring than I was.

Paul asked the Roman Christians this question: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

In the final analysis, love wins.

David Fredrickson

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Childlike or Childish?

My grandson is one year old and, for the record, the best looking, cutest, most intelligent, and sweetest little guy ever born. Ok, now that I’ve got thousands of parents and grandparents who are ready to back up their disagreement with pictures, I’ll get on with my blog. Anyway, he’s one year old now and into everything. Yesterday he climbed out of his little pool, grabbed the garden hose and marched stark naked toward the faucet while I recorded him on video.

Of course he wasn’t the slightest bit self conscious. He hadn’t worked out a plan before he climbed out of the pool, nor had he worried about whether he was strong enough to turn on the faucet. His curiosity distracted him along the way, and his eyes were bright with anticipation. When he had to step off the patio slab and onto uneven ground, he reached for my hand and moved on with perfect confidence. He was on an adventure, and all was right with the world.

Jesus said that unless one becomes as a little child, he can’t enter the kingdom of heaven.
A few of the loveable traits I observe in my grandson are sweet innocence, spontaneity, curiosity and simple trust. If you’re like me, you probably come up short in comparison.
Part of the reason is that we all still have tendencies common to the old nature. Another factor for many is the part religion has played. It robs us of our innocence by using the stolen knowledge of good and evil to make judges of ourselves and others. We’re told we need to accumulate knowledge taught by men or get permission from a spiritual authority before we can “minister,” so stepping out in spontaneous response to the Spirit is not an option. We are exhorted not to question certain “sacred” doctrines, so our desire to explore new areas is quenched. As for simple trust, it doesn’t come easy when the religious formulas for success fail.

In fact innocence, spontaneity, curiosity and uneducated trust are considered by religious teaching to be childish traits. Yet the very opposite is true. Playing church by making up the rules is childish. Playing big man, little man is childish. Insisting that we’re the ones that have it right is childish. Arguing over doctrines is childish. Pretending we’re somebody else on Sunday mornings, bragging about “our” church and making jokes about the church down the road are all games that untaught children play.

A person who has grown in love, on the other hand, is childlike. Love has overcome the knowledge of good and evil, restoring us to child-like innocence. Love always trusts. Love seeks out the truth and rejoices when it’s discovered. Love is spontaneous because it is unconditional and therefore does not pause to consider the worthiness of its object.
Bottom line, love has forgotten what it doesn’t need to know and restores us to the child-like innocence, curiosity, spontaneity and simple trust we had before the fall.

David Fredrickson

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