August 26 Esight, 2009

“It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi [My Husband] And will no longer call Me Baali. [My Lord]” – Hosea 2:16Is there a difference between the relationship of a husband and wife and that which exists between a servant and lord? There should be. Am I saying that we should never refer to God as our “Lord”? No, not at all. Rather, I am simply pointing out that we are intended to be more than just God’s servants: we were made to be His bride (Revelation 21:9).

This week, we are looking at part four of our four-part E-sight series from the presentation Intrinsic or Imposed, found on our Web site. Over the past month, we have looked at how these two paradigms affect our church, our youth, and our evangelism. I want to conclude by taking a quick, common-sense look at what the Intrinsic paradigm means for us, relationally, with God.

I want you to consider the following questions:

1. How fulfilling would it be if you knew someone was with you only because the other option was death?

2. How fulfilling would it be to you if you were with someone because you had to be with him or her or face punishment?

3. Is there a more mature way of relating to God?

4. What did Jesus mean when he said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it . . .” (Luke 9:24)?

We aren’t splitting hairs here. We are simply explaining why many do not experience the fulfillment in their relationship with God that they desire. Religion is notorious for using principles of control over its followers, rather than appealing to the principles of love.

The Imposed paradigm is necessary and needed in the beginning of our walk with God. But as we walk and grow in love, there is a “more excellent way” (2 Corinthians 12:31). As we grow into the Intrinsic paradigm–in which we refrain from certain behaviors because of the intrinsic results of those behaviors or engage in other behaviors because of the positive intrinsic cause and effect of those–we begin to see God completely differently. His love for us becomes the driving force in all our relations to Him. Maturity begins to take place, and fulfillment is left in the wake.

Just something more to ponder.

As we conclude, once again, I wish you God’s best this week.

August 18 Esight, 2009

“. . . godliness is profitable for all things . . .”

—1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

“Sin pays a wage, and the wage is death . . .”

— Romans 6:23 REBWe are in the midst of a four-part E-sight article based on the presentation Intrinsic or Imposed on our website. This week we are looking at part three and considering the different effects of the two paradigms on evangelism in North America.

I want to be very careful from the outset to avoid misunderstanding by stating that I am not saying that evangelism doesn’t work anymore. I am not even saying that the way we have done it for the last 50 years doesn’t work anymore. What I am saying is that the way we have done it is working for a smaller and smaller portion of our society and, if evangelism is to continue to bear good fruit, then we must begin to understand the culture we are living in.

The reasoning of the 1950’s was, “If you can prove that God has told us to do something, then people will make a positive decision in that direction.” However, we need to understand the mindset or paradigm that made that logic work. Most of society at that time was living according to imposed rules, especially religiously imposed rules. People believed certain things or behaved a certain way because failure to do so would mean that God would punish and obedience would mean that God would reward. This is not the case today.

Today, our society is reeling from the emotional abuses to Christianity of the last millennia. Over the last century, we have seen the rise of evolutionary theory, atheism, and agnosticism, relativism, humanism, and deep-seated materialism.

In the modern Western world, the idea that something is right because God says so is found revolting by most. This is because the whole idea of “God” has been abused and this abuse has left many very emotionally damaged souls in its wake. We now live in a very pragmatic world based on the idea of cause and effect. However, the lenses through which the world is viewed are tainted with religious disgust.

This is where I believe we are. If religion tells us something is wrong, we seem to run headlong into it. Even if that behavior is intrinsically harmful, we still will, because we are rebelling against a religion that has hurt us.

Today, to say that something is right or wrong because God says so triggers rebellion at a subconscious level. The world needs to see not what God says is right or wrong, but why something is right or wrong.; in other words, the effects of that behavior.

Today there are many things we believe to be wrong that quite honestly aren’t, and many things that we believe to be okay that are intrinsically self-destructive.

What determines whether something is right or wrong is the chain of events that the behavior sets in motion, resulting in happiness, joy, and life, or misery, suffering, and death.

I often ask audiences of the “un-churched” whether they would be interested in a list of behaviors that would set in motion blessing after blessing in their lives and a list of behaviors that would set in motion pain, misery and heart-ache. The response every time is a resounding YES! (Please see our series Life Unlimited for an example how our beliefs can be set in an intrinsic paradigm evangelistically.)

Our culture is still interested and still listening, but we must meet its inhabitants in the paradigm in which they live. They are no longer interested in living according to imposed consequences, whereby God blesses the obedient and punishes the disobedient. They want to see why things are right or wrong. Remember, God did not sit up in heaven one day and arbitrarily decide what is right or wrong. He saw the potential of some things to bring pain and death, and the potential of others to bring life and joy. Upon this basis, He deemed those things that produce suffering to be wrong and those that produce joy to be holy, just, and good. Something is not right or wrong because God says so. God says so because something is right or wrong.

The why of good or evil is what the world wants, and is waiting, to see.

When we approach our beliefs from this paradigm, the world will listen. We must go to the people where they are, and the Word will, once again, become incarnate.

I wish you God’s best this week.

August 10 Esight, 2009

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father (Galatians 4.1-2).We are in part 2 of a four-part weekly E-sight. This week, I’d like to take a simple look at what the concepts from Intrinsic or Imposed mean for a generation that is missing from many churches today. As parents, we use the imposed to teach the intrinsic. Many times, our children cannot attach a decision to its intrinsic harmful consequences because the results are too far removed. Like the time I was caught smoking as a teenager.

I remember my mother sat me down and said, “You’re not in trouble this time. I know you needed to experiment with this and find out for yourself what this was all about.” But then she became quite serious, “But I’m going to trust that you learned everything you need to know on your first experiment. Because if I ever catch you smoking again, you won’t need to worry about lung cancer. I’ll kill ‘ya.

Now at age 14, that’s exactly what I needed. I couldn’t attach potential lung cancer fifty years later to the decisions I was making then. So my mom had to give me a close-up. She (not the cigarettes) had to become the source of death in order for me to get the connection that if I smoke, I die.

But, understand, although that threat was of a death that would supposedly have been imposed on me for my behavior, its purpose was to teach me about the other death that was really intrinsic to the behavior.

How many of us, as loving parents, have done this kind of thing? We have laid down the law (see 1 Timothy 1:9), and attached to it blessings and cursings (see Deuteronomy 28). Knowing that even that was only temporary (see Galatians 3:19) because we know that there will come a day when they are no longer under our law (see Romans 6:14). Our hope is that by that time, our children have internalized the intrinsic nature of life (see Hebrews 8:8-10), that they will see that although all things are now lawful, not all things are profitable (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The imposed is not bad when used correctly; it is a temporary way to teach what is intrinsically harmful or beneficial.

Now what happens when a child turns 18? Children naturally transition from being under the law of their parents, to being on their own in the world, and from the imposed to the intrinsic. (All of us remember what this was like.) But what happens if an 18-year-old belongs to a church that refuses to understand the intrinsic and relies on the imposed as its basis for behavior? In other words, “Something is wrong because God says so,” or, “We do this because God commanded us to. It’s in the law.” If God had never written, “Thou shalt not murder,” if there were no imposed law, would it still be intrinsically a good idea not to murder?

Between the intrinsic and the imposed, the behavior stays the same but the motivation and reasoning change. If the family of an 18-year-old refuses to relate to them in the intrinsic paradigm but only enforces the imposed, the young person in transition begins to see the church as irrelevant, of no inherent value. The church offers no help during this phase. Imposing the law is good for mom and dad but becomes less meaningful for children as they grow more independent. Grown children abandon such a church in favor of a world where they can learn, even the hard way; often they don’t return to the church until they have children of their own. And why then? Because their children need the imposed and the parents know where to find it for them.

There has never been a more critical time for the church to begin understanding the difference between the intrinsic way of relating to God and the imposed way. A whole generation is missing in many congregations. Many will not return, but many will. I want to be clear; there is nothing wrong with either way of relating to God. One is simply more juvenile and elementary. I pray not only that we understand the two, but that we will begin to relate to God through the intrinsic paradigm as well. A generation depends on it; we will continue to lose them if we don’t.

Next week, we look at what this means for evangelism in a post-modern culture, and in the following week, what it means for our relationship with God.

I wish you God’s best this week.

August 3 Esight, 2009

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11)Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you what has been a truly revolutionary discovery for me, and I believe it will be life changing for you. I will break this presentation into four parts: the first is this week, and in successive weeks, we will give Part 2: How this applies to an entire generation that is missing in our church; Part 3: Why evangelism in North America is failing and the solution; and Part 4: What all this means to us in our heart’s spiritual fulfillment with God Himself.

I also would like to encourage you to listen to the presentation “Intrinsic or Imposed,” found on our Web site at www.renewedheartministries.com/sermons.asp

Let us begin with those words: “intrinsic or imposed.” If a child is running down the sidewalk, you might tell him, “Listen, if you keep on running, I’m going to tan your hide!” Let’s say the child does just that, and you follow through; will there be pain for the child? Yes! But is that pain intrinsic to the activity of running on the sidewalk or have you imposed it upon the child for running on the sidewalk?

Now let’s say the child is running on the sidewalk and you say instead, “Listen, if you keep running on the sidewalk, you might trip and fall and skin your knee.” And let’s say the child continues running, trips, falls, and skins his knee. Is pain involved? Yes! But have you imposed that pain on the child for running on the sidewalk or is that pain intrinsic to the nature of the activity?

I don’t mean to place moral value on either of these two paradigms. I don’t want to say that one is always right and one is always wrong. Either one can be the right response, and either can equally be the wrong response, depending on the context. For example, a five-year-old may need the “imposed” because he doesn’t understand the “intrinsic.” But it would be extremely unhealthy to “spank” a 30-year-old for doing something wrong, even if it’s your kid! So the context itself determines which is right to use.

What concerns me here is that most of us have related to God only within the “imposed” paradigm. In other words we are refraining from certain behaviors because of what we are afraid God will do to us if we do them, rather than from recognizing the intrinsic harm arising from those activities for ourselves and for others.

I saw that once when a dear saint said to me, “Herb! Don’t make God out to be too good! Don’t go around telling people God loves them no matter what they do! They’ll think they can just go out and do anything!” This extreme viewpoint is produced by seeing only the “imposed.” If you have been refraining from something because you’re afraid of what God will do to you as a result, then to hear that God will still love you if you do it may be a little problematic. But the truth is, God truly does love you, no matter what you do! What we fail to understand is that although God loves you no matter what you do, sin DOESN’T, and is still intrinsically harmful.

Understand: something is not wrong because God says so. God says something is wrong because it naturally is! And what makes it wrong? The intrinsic results that follow from the activity.

I believe when God was making this world, He saw the potential things that bring life, joy, and happiness, and He also saw the things that would bring pain, misery, and death. For things that would bring life, joy, and happiness, He said, “Those things are right!” And for the things that bring pain, misery, and death, He said, “Those things are wrong.” Notice that they are wrong because of what they produce intrinsically.

Understanding this would bring a lot of balance within the church. There are many things we say are wrong that, to be honest, flat out aren’t. And many things we say are “OK,” but they are actually very destructive. We have related to God only according to the “imposed” paradigm, and thus even our understanding of right and wrong has been skewed at times.

This is just Part 1. More will follow next week on how this concept has affected an entire generation and how we can turn it around. Afterward, we will discuss what this means for evangelism in a post-modern culture, and finally, we will discover what seeing and understanding these ideas will do for us personally in terms of intimacy and fulfillment in our heart’s relationship with God.

Happy pondering!

I wish you God’s best this week.