Tuesday 8 February 2011

Keeping it Real ! How we lost spontaneity and how God has restored it

how spontaneity and suffering go together
Posted on February 4, 2011 by Brian Leslie Coatney
These 5 posts of Brian's on the subject of the spontaneous life are posted together here.

Look at the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve lived covered with glory day after day. God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day. There we find Adam, there we find Eve, and there we find the Lord. His clay pots are covered with the glory of the Lord, in Paradise, naming things, deciding things. Adam might get up in the morning and say, “What do we want to do today, Eve?” She says, “Let’s squeeze some fruits, make some nectar, and then name some more animals today. Let’s check on those flowers. Hey, I’ll race you!” “Yeah, whatever” he says.
They knew the presence of the Lord with them continually. Think of what it’s like when you get a moment or an hour or a day or a week of anointing—total ecstasy—and think what it would be like to never know anything else. Adam and Eve had never known anything but ecstasy. Imagine someone going to them in a time machine from the future, saying, “You don’t know the hell people are going to go through because of your choice (but it was our choice too Paul tells us in Romans 5).
You don’t know the ecstasy you live in.” They’d say, “Ecstasy? What ecstasy?” They didn’t know. Total anointing and covering and glory all the time were all they knew. What would we do to have that on an experiential level? We do have it, but with suffering too, for now.

Yes, even with suffering, now that the lie has been exposed and the Cross given to expunge it, it’s fun to know that I can drive on the spiritual Autobahn of life knowing His keeping. If He wants me to slow down, He’ll slow me down. If He wants me to go right, He will lead right. He keeps me from going into a ditch. I am a sheep, you know, and sheep aren’t smart. I don’t claim to be smart. I taught special education for a year on an emergency certificate. It’s not really my field, but I’m glad I did it, and I love the kids; but you know, we’re all special ed. to God. Even Einstein is special ed. to God. God could say to Albert, “Albert, you know a lot, but do you know what I know? I can name all the stars; can you?”

Back to suffering though, the devil hates our freedom and seeks to entice us to discontent like he did with Job. Job didn’t have a Romans 8 to interpret life by when the devil covertly introduced thoughts like this: “Do you really think that God has your best interests at heart? There’s something you don’t know about the Lord. He holds out on you. He builds you up (as the song goes) just to let you down.”

The enemy always thinks one way. Job almost fell
for it when he started to think, “Ah, I see, milk and honey and friendship with You, God, when all along You knew You were going to pull everything out from under me and shoot Your poison arrows into me, “You watcher of men” (7:20). You’re just watching for the right moment.” That’s what Job thought: “You’re just setting me up.”

Before I saw this ploy, I lived depressed and angry. Suffering defeated me. When I saw the goodness of God, even in suffering, I sprang to resurrection life. Problems do not go away, but faith leads us to see through them to know that God is meaning them for good, for us, and for others. We stop murmuring “Why me?” and get on with excitement about how God is using suffering to bring fruit.

I tell this to Bible studies, especially at the jail—well, not especially at the jail, for people there are no different than they are any place else, but their problems more obviously expose them. One inmate saw Mimi and me and said, “Are you doing church tonight?” I answered, “No, it’s not our night.” He replied, “We like it when y’all come.”

This reminded me of a story I heard thirty years ago in the Navy in a training curriculum about listening skills. A group of patients once told their psychiatrist, “Doctor we like you,” to which the doctor asked, “Why?” The patients said, “Because you’re just like us.” That explains why the people in the jail like me really; they realize I could wear orange. I did get arrested one time.

When people see glory in an ordinary person who has suffered like they have, they receive hope. The world isn’t made up of regular people and a few spiritual giants who have an innate edge over others in coping with life. As Mimi has said countless times, “Were all in the same boat.”

To see that is to arrive home.

how our first parents lost our spontaneity
Posted on February 5, 2011 by Brian Leslie Coatney
What a great party in Eden. Every party has its danger from a spoiler, and this one did too. In comes the serpent. The devil never really changes, does he? He’s going to convince Adam and Eve that they don’t really have things so good. He’s going to convince them that they don’t have the total truth. “You’re not knowers,” he will say. “Knowers? What’s a knower? Opposites? What are those? Well, there is something we can’t do, and we’ve wondered about that.”

“Oh, what might that be?”

“Well, who are you anyway?”

“I’m just a serpent—just one of the creatures here. Command me as you will; I’m just here to serve.”

“OK, we have wondered why there’s this tree we’re not supposed to eat of.”

“Well, you don’t know? You don’t know?”

“No, frankly we don’t.”

At this point, the devil doesn’t say, “You need to go back and ask.” The devil doesn’t want you to ask. He operates from, “Let me tell you,” stirring up a little discontent.

“Well you see, the Lord knows. You think He’s really got your best interests at heart; you think things are pretty good. But there’s something you don’t know about the Lord. He holds out on you.” The enemy always thinks one way.

So Adam and Eve think, ”Gee, it would be great to be like God. Wow, what’s all this about being a pot and He being we and everything expressing God: We wonder what it would be like to just be ourselves?”

Well, the devil liked that: “Yeah, that’s it; just be yourselves. Take control; be all you can be (in the worst sense).”

They went for it; we know the story. Some things, however, cannot change: a pot is always a pot—it’s made for one thing, to contain, and God made them to contain Him. Scientists say that nature abhors a vacuum. Therefore, once they turned away from the Lord as their glory, their covering, and their indweller, well, who was going to come into the pot? That pot could not sit empty could it? God did not make it to sit empty, and, therefore, it possesses no power to live in a self-operating or self-sustaining way.

So two things happen: Satan comes in to the pot, and then Satan hides the fact that he came into the pot. The devil fuels only one way of thinking: “You can do what you want to do. You are you, and you are you only. You must get your way regardless of whomever you have run over or barge through. Everything is all about you”—a total ME-consciousness!

That’s the loneliest, most anxious, fear-filled, lust-driven condition possible. After they fell, they experienced this. So what could Adam and Eve do to cover over their choice and get out of the terrible loneliness, fear, and dissatisfaction that filled them and began to drive them?

They turned to activity, meaning performance—anything that would mask or block out what now went on in their center, a terrible condition similar to what we find in the beginning of Genesis: a state without form—a void with chaos and darkness.

So what was God to do? Did He know the Fall would occur? Well of course. Had He already made a plan for when it happened? Yes, He had. Was He surprised—taken off guard? No, He wasn’t.

Did the Fall change His plan about having fun and living in pots as us? No, it didn’t. It meant, however, that the cost of bringing it about soared—through the roof—because the plan would need the Cross. But that was okay because that’s who He is anyway. He didn’t have to change and become the Cross. He already was; but He would now have to manifest the Cross in order to bring about the plan—the fun plan—for Him and for us.

A problem loomed, though, because these Satan-filled pots resisted the idea of anything being wrong with them. “Something wrong with me? No, no, it’s not me! I’m fine!” Never mind the turmoil boiling in a rage underneath such resistant protest.

How would God get across to these Satan-filled pots some inkling of their true condition? This I will examine in the next part, titled “how God restored our lost spontaneity.”

how God restored our lost spontaneity
Posted on February 6, 2011 by Brian Leslie Coatney

A problem loomed after the Fall because humans now resisted the idea of anything being wrong with them. “Something wrong with me? No, no, it’s not me! I’m fine!” How would God get across to Satan-filled pots some inkling of their true condition?

He had that planned already in a three-letter word: L-A-W. But law can never be preeminent, and so God gave the promise first, since He knew that law could never work. So before the law, He gave the promise, beginning with the promise to Adam and Eve of the messiah. He also gave promise to Abraham and the patriarchs; they knew about the promise. Because of the Fall, however, humans do not cling to God’s promises until finished with the idea of self improvement by law-keeping.

God, therefore, gives the Law. Mired up in deception at first, we think that He gives the Law so we will keep it. He gives the Law, and we think that we’ll keep all or some of it –at least enough to get a passing grade, or maybe He’ll grade on the curve. So here’s our conversation with God.

“Well, I know I didn’t get the laws all right.”

“Well, you didn’t even get 90 percent right.”

“Whuh, whuh,” we say.

“You didn’t even get 80 percent right.”

“Whuh, whuh.”

“You didn’t even get 70 percent: as a matter of fact, you didn’t even get any of it right! You just think you did!”

“Well that’s kinda harsh,” we think.

What conditions us, however, is the Law. Now, God never EVER thought we could keep that Law. He never thought we had a chance to keep that Law. He’s laughing His head off and has been continually over what non-Christians and Christians alike think about the Law.

He’s laughing, thinking, “They think they can keep it! They don’t. Pshaw. Let’s pour it on, commandment after commandment, even though they never seem to wear down. And to get them to admit that they broke it, ohmygosh, is to start a war!” But that’s really the way He went about to do it: He gave the Law.

This is how God convinces us of our need so that He can save us, so that He can have fun with the ones that believe. We battle the law, and God means us to because the law awakens us from our self-satisfied view of ourselves. Romans 5:20 shockingly says that The Law came in that the transgression might ¼ what? It came in that the transgression might increase—abound.

I say, “God will never tell you that you can keep the Law. He’ll give you the Law; He will command you to do it; but He will never tell you that you can do it.” If somebody’s telling you that you can do it, that person is deceived. Only two voices matter that speak about what we do with the law. God would never say, “You can keep it.” The devil will say, “You can.” So when Christians get on themselves or get on other people about trying to be like Christ, I’m sorry, who is it really talking?

When we can identify these speakers, we’re close. We can see why part of God’s plan, part of the fun plan, which He already knew from the beginning, included pulling sin out by the roots, and He already knew how He would get the devil out of the pot and put Himself in. So how would He do that? How would He get a pot that doesn’t sin, that will be a divine pot – that will be the second member of the Trinity in pot form?

He had to crucify the pot by making Christ become, on the Cross, the pot with the devil in it—which is you and I—Adam— the first Adam. This is why Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:21, “He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin.” He had to have a pot that would be who we were—fallen. He had to have someone who would be that pot—be the fallen pot. That’s who Christ was on the cross; He was the fallen pot: He was Adam and everyone born of Adam; that’s who He was on the Cross.

Christ poured out His precious blood for the forgiveness of sins. Crucifying the devil in the pot is what got the devil out of the pot, because God and the devil both want to live in a human body. Something fascinates any spirit about living in human flesh: God wants to do it; the devil wants to do it. Heaven wants to do it; hell wants to do it. It’s cool to be human. It’s all right! If God and the devil both want to occupy your body and live through you and be you, and yet you still know that you’re you, that speaks of an incredible plan.

It is an incredible plan. We get to be free sons again because of Christ’s total work on the Cross. Spontaneity is back in its right form. Yippee!

the theological core of our lost spontaneityPosted on February 7, 2011 by Brian Leslie Coatney

Let’s look at the past and what happened when our first parents lost our spontaneity. Romans 5:12-19 says that when Adam sinned, we sinned. The text doesn’t say that when Adam sinned we were affected by it. Rather, when Adam sinned, we sinned. How can it be that what he did, we did? That doesn’t seem fair, does it? We would like to say, “Well, he did that; I wasn’t there; I wouldn’t have done that!” Sure. But what he did, we did.

Think about this, though: the whole plan of salvation hangs on the Last Adam doing something that, when He did it, it was also we doing it: “I am crucified with Christ.” We didn’t hang on a cross 2,000 years ago, but Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ.” Therefore, when He died I did die. So what He did I did.

The reasoning in Romans 5 means that what Adam did we did—but then, much more, what Christ did we did. When Adam fell, we fell; when Christ was crucified, we were crucified. So in the Bible’s thinking, you don’t have to be born later and do a separate individual act to have done it. The person that you’re in is your utmost forefather—when he acted, you acted. And the new head of your family line—when He acted, you acted.

But we don’t know at first that the problem isn’t only sins—s-i-n-s—; the problem is also sin. In the book of Romans, Paul starts out—up to the middle of Chapter 5—dealing with sins and then turns his attention to sin, for sins are the products and sin is the producer. Both must get exposed.

Therefore, the thought behind Romans 5:20 is this: “In case you don’t know, in case you haven’t grasped God’s plan, He means—He means—for sin to abound.” Does He like sin? No. But He’s for sinning in this sense:”I am for people to sin as much as it takes to expose it: grasshoppers, rabbits, mountains of it, continents of it, oceans. Let there be sin and more sin.”

We can’t imagine God saying that. But if by no other means will we see the problem, then let the sin begin! Let it flood, because it’s already there anyway. Yes, it’s already there. What happens is that the ugly, humiliating exposure of sin starts to occur, but let it abound. God’s thought is, “Let them try. Let them try more. Let them try more.”

Thankfully, in case you’re hitting the panic button, where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. Now, some would think—“ALL RIGHT! Yeah, sin! I kinda still like that sin. It’s still fun! All right! I’ve got a fresh gust in my sail for the sin-livin’ because of the grace aboundin’ in the sin-livin’! So get with the sin.”

The Lord hears this mentality and thinks, “You don’t really hate it yet. You don’t really hate it yet—more law,” like a doctor writes a prescription: “Hmmm, still loves sin? More law. More law. We’ll see who’s standing at the end. We’ll see who holds out the longest. You love sin? More law. More law. Where’s that prescription pad? More sheets. More sheets!”

Finally, after so much sinning, some say, “I’m weary of this, bone tired; who will deliver me?” At this point, the focus turns to the producer, for if I can’t stop producing sins, maybe there’s a producer behind them that needs shutting down. Indeed. And once we get to the producer level, the solution is easy.

The new birth is far more than accepting the forgiveness of sins, divine as that is: the new birth means that I accepted God’s gift of His freedom so that I could make a new and informed choice to be of the Last Adam instead of the first Adam.

Now I can see how it is that I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live.

the theological core of restored spontaneity
Posted on February 8, 2011 by Brian Leslie Coatney

I believed John 3:16 as a boy, and I knew about sins a little bit—s-i-n-s—plural—a little bit, but really not very much. I didn’t really worry about whether I sinned or not because, “I’ve got a Savior—so what if I do sin?” But as time goes by, this cavalier attitude about sin starts to weigh one down because sin gets pretty depressing. Self-for-self living is hell. Being angry and taking things out on other people, or abusing people and substances, or always being upset and in turmoil, or trying to get your way—even trying to get your Bible-way—is hell. It just frankly is depressing.

Depression has its good aspects. God uses it. A depressed person might find an invitation from the Holy Spirit attractive and consider deeper solutions offered in the scriptures. One might even say, “Yes, I need to think about this sin thing. I want more than a Savior to forgive my sins; I need deliverance from the inner toll of continuing in sins—the depression and deep frustration.”

But the problem mounts in typical fashion when the more one pursues this, the worse the self appears. One might even think, “I’m not anything like what this book says.” We didn’t know at first that the problem isn’t only sins—s-i-n-s—; the problem is also sin. In the book of Romans, Paul starts out—up to the middle of Chapter 5—dealing with sins and then turns his attention to sin, for sins are the products and sin is the producer. And wonderful as grace and forgiveness are, who wants to keep living a defeated life?

But listen to Paul: “Do you not know that you are dead to sin?” What? What? I remember reading Romans 6 when I was at the University of North Carolina—a pretty good school. I learned my calculus and my Shakespeare and my history and my Pericles. One day I read Romans 6 about being dead to sin, and I thought, “That can’t be right. That’s not right, because I can still sin; and if I can still sin, I’m not dead to sin.” I closed the book. Like I said, I was about twenty-two before life really got desperate for me.

What does Paul mean, “dead to sin?” We need to know what that means. He says, “Or do you not know?” Think back; if the problem originated with the devil getting into the pot, then the solution includes getting the devil out of the pot, right? Devil in—devil out. If he’s in there, God must get him out. Now we didn’t know that. We thought about law, commandments, particular sins—acts, deeds—all well and good. But as you know, when you cut down a plant, until you get the whole thing out, including the roots, everything grows back.

Therefore, to recapture the human body and us as persons, Christ, apart from doing any sin, becomes sin. Romans 6 tells this story. We won’t go verse by verse. Sylvia Pearce nicknamed this point “the body death of Christ.” So I call it “the body death of Christ.” It sounds good to me. But when she first started talking about “the body death of Christ,” I thought, “What is this ‘body death of Christ?’

What is the significance of the body? Body? What about the body?” Then I saw that this is what the Bible says, what Norman says, and what Sylvia’s teaching emphasizes—”the body death of Christ.” Dan Stone used to say that the wine in the communion is for our sins, but people don’t know what the bread is for. Here’s the answer!

The mystery behind the bread starts with the devil in the pot on the cross and ends with Christ in us. But if you go up to somebody in your church and say, “We just had communion today; you just had the bread: do you know that was the devil in the pot on the cross? —2 Cor. 5:21—’He was made to be sin,’” the listener might freak out. Talking about things like that can cause some horrified looks in your direction.

Frankly, I feel depressed sometimes around other Christians, but I once lived the same way they do—trying. But once you get out of that, you want to say, “Brother, brother, let me tell you that life doesn’t have to be that hard.” God’s plan is really pretty simple. Self-improvement is the big lie. The self doesn’t need to improve; it needs to die and get resurrected as a new creature in which Christ Himself does the living as us.

So when the body of Christ died, the devil lost a body to live in. Christ’s body went into the ground. Now we’re dead to sin,

but what else are we dead to if the body stays in the ground? We’re dead to everything: a dead body won’t sin, but a dead body doesn’t live either.

Death cuts us off from the sin spirit alright, but for us to live as Christ’s body in His resurrection, we must know that we rose with Him in His resurrection. Forty days later came the ascension. I’m secretly taking flying lessons myself. If that power can raise me from the grave, that power can teach me to fly too. And we’re already seated in the heavenlies, we learn in Ephesians 1. So if we’re up that high, life on earth is plenty of suffering, with its mortality; but more than that, life is spontaneous praise at how God keeps us from sin and manifests His heavenly life in our mortal bodies.

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