The Earth Was Never Flat

chapter three

The Earth Was Never Flat

 

Once Upon a Time…

At the end of the 19th century the German pharmaceutical company, Bayer, prescribed “non-addictive” heroin for coughs. Around the same time, you could purchase Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup to help ease your teething child’s discomfort – it only contained 65 mgs of pure morphine.

Once upon a time there was a commonly held belief on the earth that heroin was good for coughs and morphine good for teething babies…

Circa. 570-495 B.C the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras proved the earth was a sphere, thus challenging a common misconception at the time that the earth was flat.

In 1543 Nicholas Copernicus debunked the commonly held belief that the earth was at the center of the universe. And in 1609 Galileo used the invention of the telescope to prove Copernicus correct, the earth revolved around the sun.

In 1917 Einstein’s theory of a static universe was debunked by Edwin Hubble, inventor of the Hubble telescope. Edwin discovered the earth is actually ever expanding.

Once upon a time there was a commonly held belief that the earth was flat, at the center of the universe, and finite…

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The Earth Isn’t Flat

Imagine you’ve traveled back in time in your DeLorean time machine. You know, the car from the movie, Back to The Future.

There was Doc Brown, and terrorists, and plutonium and it was all very exciting. But you didn’t go back to November 5, 1955…no, you traveled much further, way before the early breakthroughs in medicinal heroin and morphine, way before telescopes and Greek philosophers, all the way back to when the earth was flat.

You arrived in a field and, after sufficiently hiding your time machine, you began to explore your new surroundings. You came across two fellas at the edge of the sea in passionate debate. They were surrounded by a large crowd of people.

You joined the crowd just as the first guy points to the vast expanse of sea and beyond and says with great conviction, “10,000 miles, that’s where the earth ends!” The other guy is adamant it’s at least twice that distance. There seems to be support for both arguments from those in the crowd, heads nodding and fingers wagging.

Back and forth, the men debate with genuine spirit and intellect, each argument more impassioned than the last. And with each assertion, those listening became more convinced.

You whisper playfully to a young man standing next to you, “What keeps us from falling off the edge?” The young man responds excitedly, “Elephants!” That makes you laugh so loud that one of the fellas takes notice.

He sees you standing there, in your Marty McFly vest, looking amused. You didn’t mean to look amused, it’s just, well, you have both pieced together the premise behind their debate, and, elephants?

 “You! Yes, I am talking to you my strangely dressed newcomer friend. What do you believe; does the world end in 10,000 miles or 20?”

It’s a tricky thing to be asked to settle a conflict in which both participants are arguing from a flawed premise; especially if it’s a premise that all have agreed upon, a premise upon which, to some extent, their daily lives have been constructed.

But you, being a person who values truth, and, having actually seen photos of the earth in all its roundness, decide to tell them what you know. In a respectful tone, you say, “Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have the whole story, you’re operating on a flawed assumption. You see, the earth isn’t flat, it never has been, it just seems that way…”

 

It Just Seems That Way

Jesus found Himself in this figurative position.

Actually, many still believed the earth was flat when Jesus walked upon it, so, Jesus found Himself in this literal position as well. But He decided to leave the revelation of a round earth to Galileo and his friends. He had bigger fish to fry.

Sovereign control was introduced to humanity when it slithered into the Garden of Eden ages ago. It was the story told by Satan to the first Adam. And Adam bought it. He ate from the wrong tree. It distorted Adam’s perspective on God, it imprisoned him to an inferior reality, a narrative of control; suddenly he was naked, ashamed and desperately afraid.

The lie of sovereign control birthed a world confined to human understanding; a world defined by human reasoning, “a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (1) And it produced a world ruled by fear, a perspective that led to finite flat earth conclusions.

The devastating reality of this control narrative forced the first Adam out of the garden and into the wilderness where he passed the lie down the generations. It became intrinsic in every human experience, a violent reality on earth, a fractured lens through which humanity perceived, a mindset that dominated humankind, a paradigm of brokenness, a wilderness of human reasoning; the earth was flat and everyone agreed.

 Except, as we know, the earth isn’t flat, and it never has been. It just seems that way.

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Then Jesus was born into this broken narrative, a world ruled completely by an ideology of sovereign control. And He revealed and redeemed a truer narrative. God was never about control. The earth was never flat, not even once.

Jesus, the second Adam, revealed powerfully the whole story, sovereign love. And in so doing, He exposed and declared war on the devastation of sovereign control.

 

The Devastation of Sovereign Control

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5  

The ideology behind the lie Satan presented to Eve, and later Adam, was God is in control. And they bought it. They believed God was withholding some part of Himself. They believed some aspect of His nature was controlling. And by agreeing with this perversion of love, they enslaved humanity to the devastation of the control narrative.

Every horror in history, every fruit of sin, every sickness, every groaning of the earth, every insecurity, desperation and shame, every struggle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, (2) can be traced back to the moment Adam and Eve bought into the lie that the sovereignty of God had something to do with control.

Control… it’s the very first lie the snake used to describe God. It exposed Adam and Eve’s nakedness. It was the introduction of fear, condemnation, and shame, the origin of sin and death, the birthplace of every religious thought and action thereafter.

Control…it masquerades in the religious rhetoric of holiness. Its wars are holy, its politics, its inquisitions, its crusades, its genocide, its prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, its abuse – all painted with the brush of fanatic righteousness.

Control…it’s ego dressed up in virtue. It demands compliance; women must know their place, children must know their place, slaves, everyone must know their place.

Control…it’s a bully who’s been bullied. It’s a vicious cycle of condemnation masquerading as justice. Its victims become disciples.

Control…it’s the preacher frothing at the mouth about hell, and gays and gun rights. It’s hate speech framed as pious obedience. It’s the church standing up for what it’s against while marginalizing all who Jesus embraced.

Control…it’s the voice of social media mouthing off about tolerance while normalizing depravity. It’s the doctrine of whatever feels good. It sexualizes everyone for its own amusement. It saves the whales while rationalizing abortion.

Control…it’s the ethos of a fallen world, the lens through which most see, the context by which multitudes measure success, value, respect, and significance. It promises we don’t have to live afraid, desperate, helpless, exposed; that we don’t have to be its victims. Except…

Control makes everyone its victim.

Deep down we know control is a mirage. We know it’s a perversion of the truth; it’s counterfeit to the life we were designed for – to experience love and to become love. But to the extent we don’t recognize or understand the power and authority of sovereign Love, is the extent to which we find ourselves clamoring for it: control of our God, control of our destinies, our jobs, our finances, our relationships, the line at Starbucks, the House, the Senate, the Mexican border, Russia.

Control is the lie driving a wedge into our relationship with God. It’s a lie about God and a lie about us. If believed, it will demand to own our every breath, our every thought, our every moment. But it always leads to the same place – shame, condemnation, fear, death and slavery.

Control… it makes fearful slaves, and it never empowers sons or daughters.

Control… it’s ugly, unkind and selfish. It’s counter to all God is and yet it is still the word most often used to describe Him.

Control… we box God into a broken paradigm, a fallen narrative, a flawed premise, a lie spawned by the enemy of our soul, and then, when everything goes to hell, we, in our human reasoning, call it sovereignty and either blame Him for the brokenness or conclude He isn’t as good or powerful as we thought.

This control narrative is an institution unto itself, a ruler by which human understanding has measured everything since the fall of the first Adam. The control narrative has dominated our thinking; it’s become the pursuit of every religious, political and social institution on the planet, including the institution of Christianity.

A god in sovereign control is the devil’s kingdom, and believing his lie leads us into the wilderness of our existence.

But it was never true; the earth was never flat, it just seems that way. Then, some two thousand years ago, the second Adam, Jesus, walked into this wilderness and declared war on the lie of sovereign control.

 

The Wilderness

Just before Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil,” (3) His Father publically introduced the whole story.

 “This is my Son, whom I love. With Him I am well pleased.” (4)

“This is my son” - He is fully God and fully man. He is perfect.

“Whom I love” - He is living as the measureless revelation of sovereign love. He has all authority, the power of heaven at His back. He has come to destroy the control narrative.

“With Him I am well pleased” - He has all my pleasure; He is sure in my affection and He will establish my redeemed narrative on earth as it is in Heaven.

Then, Jesus, in the Father, led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, went into the wilderness to throw down the gauntlet.

You’ve seen the movie… two vast armies gathered, a valley between them. They are faced off against each other, ready to crush their enemy. But before a drop of blood spills, the leaders of both armies ride their horses into the valley to meet. Under a white flag, they look each other in the eye and make their demands. “Surrender now and I will give you a position in my kingdom.”

We’ve all seen that movie. But this showdown in the Judean desert was different in two very significant ways. First, it took 40 days for Satan to get the nerve to show his face. Second, Jesus wasn’t offering surrender. 

Finally, punch-drunk by arrogance, Satan tries to capitalize on Jesus’ physically weakened state. He attempts to persuade sovereign Love to submit to the devastating narrative of sovereign control.

Three times Satan essentially pleads, “Acknowledge my control narrative and I’ll put you in control of it. Endorse the devastation of my control paradigm and I’ll give you my perversion of freedom by making you its dictator. Agree the earth is flat and I’ll seat you over every pointless finite argument regarding where it ends.”

Control, is Satan’s blindness. Control is the only narrative the devil knows, it’s his theology, the only context by which he interacts with God and humanity. Therefore, he doesn’t have the ability to comprehend the truth that sets free. You see, Satan’s perversion of freedom is to be in control of others.

The fact is, that perverse perspective of freedom seeks to infiltrate every institution on the planet…

Because control is the only narrative Satan knows, he assumed Jesus came to earth to gain it. That’s why, in the wilderness, he attempts to manipulate Jesus with promises of control. What he can’t see is that Jesus came to expose the broken paradigm of control and reveal true freedom, the power, and authority of sovereign love.

Jesus was fully man. He experienced all the emotions we feel. Physically weak and emotionally vulnerable, He was truly tempted in the wilderness. But Jesus was also fully God, and He knew the whole story.

Three times, Jesus essentially says, “I am my Father’s Son and there will be no quarter given, no clemency, no opportunity for surrender! I have come to destroy you and, along with you, the damning devastation of the control narrative!”

Jesus made it clear, there would be no opportunity for retreat; the end of Satan’s reign of fear through control was upon him.

At no time had the earth been flat!

 

Time Travel Continued…

Meanwhile, back to our time-travel voyage…

The fella that had asked for your thoughts seems intrigued. “What do you mean the earth isn’t flat?”

Suddenly you’re a little overwhelmed. You’re not a scientist; you have no idea how to explain it (note - if you are a scientist, just ignore that last sentence… come to think on it, go ahead and ignore the next few as well).

“So, imagine the earth is like a big ball spinning on an axis, oh and it’s in outer space.” You pull out your smartphone so Google can help you make your point, but of course you have Sprint and there’s no signal. You’re forced to use your words like you’re a Baby-Boomer.

“So, this spinning ball, in outer space? Well, it’s also orbiting around a bigger ball, the sun!” You point with confidence to the sun, hoping its existence will help prove your point.

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“What keeps us from falling off?” One of the fellas asks quizzically. He seems uncomfortably intrigued.

The young man next to you asks hopefully, “Elephants?”

You are about to attempt an explanation of gravity when you are struck with two very valid concerns. First, you don’t know how gravity works; second, you suddenly remember Doc’s words, something about not “unraveling the very fabric of the space-time continuum.”

The whole crowd is still waiting for an answer and it dawns on you that it’s going to take way more than a vague memory of your 7th-grade science class to convince them the earth isn’t flat. It will require something of grand proportions, a greater revelation, to change their flat-earth thinking.

 

Sovereign Love

Having won the desert showdown, Jesus left the wilderness on a mission, His face set like flint. (5) He lived in our finite world controlled by measurements; a world dominated by fear, and He revealed a measureless, infinite perfect love that casts out all fear. (6)

He walked among the flat-earthers and revealed the whole story, sovereign love! Everywhere sovereign love walked, the ugly lie of sovereign control was exposed and its power destroyed!

Sovereign Love destroyed every control; He healed blind eyes, cleansed lepers, fed the hungry, clothed the poor, raises the dead!

Sovereign Love decimated the destruction of a theology of control by setting captives free. He transformed, sinners to saints, and slaves to sons and daughters. He restored and redeemed the worst of life’s tragedies and He healed the most broken of life's sorrows.

Then sovereign Love experienced the ultimate control, death. And He revealed sovereign love was more powerful than death by rising from the grave.

And upon His resurrection, He won our freedom, redeemed our narrative and gave us access to a His perspective - the earth wasn’t flat.

Not only was a battle won, the war was won. Sovereign love was victorious!

 

How Do We Win in The End?

“If God is not in control, how does He win in the end? He has to be in control to win.” My friend said with a force that bordered panic. He was uncomfortable by what I had just suggested.

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We sat in a local bakery, my coffee was cold; I hadn’t taken a sip for fifteen minutes. I’d been sharing both about the devastation of sovereign control and the goodness of sovereign love. I concluded by suggesting that maybe control wasn’t the best way to describe God.

“How do we win in the end?” I repeated, “What if that’s the wrong question? What if the earth was never flat, it just seems that way?”

“What do you mean?” he asked understandably confused. I hadn’t told him about our time travel adventures and the two fellas on the beach. 

“What if the premise behind your question is wrong? What if believing God is in control is like believing the earth is flat? It seems right from our perspective. It seems a necessity if God is to win in the end. But what if there is another way to win, a better way. A way that doesn’t complicate God’s goodness or compromise His love?”

I could see my friend was still very uncomfortable. I shrugged and smiled, “It’s just a thought.”

I let it go. But I could have kept on.

What if the sovereignty of God wasn’t about control, but was defined truly and perfectly through love? What if sovereign Love has already won because that’s the nature of love? What if sovereign Love never loses, He simply redeems the past and transforms the future?

What if God was never in control; it just seems that way.

Then, what if Jesus did something of such grand proportions, something so powerful, that our flat-earth perception and thinking could be forever changed? What if He lived, died and rose so we could be free and empowered, so we could see and experience a truer paradigm, the whole story, sovereign love?

What if the very real war we are waging, a war that is evident in so many aspects of daily life, a war marked by disappointment and sorrow, sin and death, sickness, doubt and shame, is a war against the devastating lie of sovereign control.

And what if this war has already been won?

I would like to suggest that sovereign control is flat earth thinking, it’s an institution unto itself, a broken paradigm, a ruler by which so many have measured everything since the fall of Adam. This devastating narrative has dominated humanities thoughts and perceptions for far too long!

Jesus redeemed our true narrative, He redefined His sovereignty as perfect Love. He restored us to our original relationship before the fall, and He empowered trust and set us free so we could live confidently victorious.

The earth is not flat, it just seems that way.

This article was excerpted from Jason's new book, God Is (Not) In Control.  


Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters, fathers and mothers,  to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.

The Great Sledding Adventure

The Great Sledding Adventure

By Aimee Perry

“Tell us a story mom, about when you were little.” Both girls sat on the bed, wanting to hear something wild. The problem was, I’d already told them all the wild stories I could remember. I looked around the room and spotted the October calendar. It was featuring a beautiful Alaskan wolf, running through the snow–and there it was…a memory, a story of my childhood, they hadn’t heard yet. Little did I know that this night, this story, would birth something in me that would change the course of my life forever.

And so the story began….

It was freezing that winter in Ontario. There was much snow, much more than a typical winter for Canada. The plows would come through and push it to the side of the road making snow walls. It was piled so high, even higher than my dad, who led the way. We were heading to “The Hill”, dragging our sled behind us. Mom was at home making hot chocolate for our return, after the great adventure of flying. That’s what it felt like anyway. The power of gravity is no match for a human. But going down that hill, you almost forgot you were grounded. In my mind, we were Kings who conquered “The Hill” flying through blizzards and dragons, and we wouldn’t be stopped.

When we got to the hill, we slowly tread upward. It was my least favorite part, but the reward was coming. Other kids were to our left and right, all climbing for the same purpose…to fly. Without fail, friendships that would bud on the way up, would be sealed by the time we reached the bottom. Something about the journey down the hill together, bonded us. We were “The Kings of the Castle.” And everyone else were “The Dirty Rascals”.

The second and third time down, we all started getting creative. What if we all piled on one sled and rode to victory together? We were onto something you know? What if…what if we could all stay on the sled all the way down. We had to try. After all, we were Kings.

latham-jenkins-circ-biz-sledding.jpg

Jason, my oldest brother would want the front, of course. He was a natural leader. He wanted to feel that death-defying view from upfront. Behind him, Joel (my younger brother) would jump in. Joel was the co-captain, by default. Jason wasn’t going to give up that spot unless Dad made him. 🙂 I might have thought I wanted a turn at the front, if I hadn’t of seen Jason’s face at the bottom of hill. His chapped cheeks, and blistered lips looked unattractive, painful even. No, I liked being somewhere in the middle. It was fun, and if felt safer.

(That says a lot about me eh?  To be honest, I don’t like what it says. At this moment, I will not digress on a tangent though. I’ll save that for another day and continue…)

It didn’t matter how many times Jason and Joel would lead us down the hill on our little sled, piled-high with kids, we could never all make it down together. Inevitably,  when you looked back at hill from the bottom, you’d see bodies strung all over it. It looked like a crime scene with sounds of groaning. If it weren’t for the break-out of laughter and some brave child saying, “Let’s try again,” there may have been a few more tears in my memories. It hurt getting thrown off that sled. Snow isn’t as soft as you might think.

Jason would always get the blame. The leader always does. Isn’t that harsh? Could he have taken a turn more carefully? Should he have slowed down in that one part of the hill, instead of whizzing through it? May be he should have, but he had a vision you know? Vision is a powerful motivator. He wanted to reach the bottom. That was the point right? Did he care that the others couldn’t hold on through the chaos-filled ride? I’m guessing the thrill of gravity along with the vision of reaching the destination, was compelling enough to temporarily forget about the others. After all, he was a young leader at that time. Today, He is my hero, and l would follow him down any ol’ hill! ...

I left the girls room feeling my Father-God continuing to press me with this story. I was sitting alone, thumbing through the memory again, when I heard an audible voice.  It startled me and I immediately looked up thinking I would see someone talking to me. I didn’t see Him, but I felt His presence so tangibly. I grabbed my pen to write down His words, word for word.

“Don’t ever sacrifice my beloved for the sake of a cause.”

There it was… He was teaching me something vital.  He wanted me to grasp this so I would be able to lead thousands upon thousands of people into His presence, without losing even one child. I saw the people. Tears sprung to my eyes. With the words He gave, came so many pictures, I couldn’t possibly recount them all.

The Revelation– If I get to the bottom of the hill, and half my friends are gone, I better never justify it. I can come up with stories that validate pushing one-off with blame or justify the loss of another for the sake of the destination, but reaching the destination isn’t worth it if we don't steward what God brings as He would steward it. 

The “cause” of cleaning my house or writing this blog isn’t justifiable if I tell my kids harshly to leave me alone, so I can get “more important” work done. Even salvation, which is so important to God, is not more-so than the hearts of those already saved. Isn’t that crazy?  

I’ve seen people justify terrible behavior, abusive behavior toward family, friends and fellow helpers, because of a move of God. Let me say this: the reasons to do so won’t hold up inside His Love, not when I do it and not when you do it. His purity will burn those excuses all up. Thank God for that. He is good and He is also fiercely protective over His beloved.

God was telling me something vital for my life. He was giving me wings to steady me through a “fear-of-man” turbulent time. He was honoring me to hold a sacred piece of His heart, and encouraging me to speak on behalf of that piece.

That’s scary. Remember, I liked the middle of the sled, but He was calling me up, into a greater level of stewardship, and thus leadership. Here, I couldn’t be afraid. I might get blistered, bloody and chapped, but it was worth it…for the sake of His heart. I saw the piece and it scars me still with beauty.

He desires me to stay connected with those on my sled, every single one. He desires for me to slow down on turns, and even stop on the hill, defy the power and thrill of gravity itself, if needed.  He desires me to provide the kind of care that supersedes the cause. He is telling me even now, “THIS IS the cause.”

He wants me to see the Kingdom on earth in its fullness, while I’m alive. I do believe, if I heed this council, and become this word, I will be able to look back on my life and see we all have arrived together,  safe and sound. We would then get to celebrate together. I can’t even imagine the beauty and joy, the unity and holiness of such a moment.

Have you ever went on a roller coaster with someone, or traveled the world with a friend? I have had these opportunities. Remember the joy of the shared experience? Remember reliving every twist and turn of the adventure? It grows more fun with every telling.

The greatest sound in my home, is my two girls staying up late laughing and talking in their beds, or the life on the intimacy between my husband and I. The most painful sound in my home are times of disunity, arguing and connection loss.

I’m pretty sure, the Father feels the same way. May we never justify the loss of His beloved, (loss of connection) for any cause. It just isn’t worth it! In the end, Love is the only thing that remains.

 

 Aimee Perry is a children's author and song-writer. She and her husband, along with their two daughters, reside in Birmingham AL. There, they create original composition and scores for film and TV, with their company, Tradewind Studios. To learn more about Aimee Perry and her books, visit www.aimeeperry.com. To learn more about Tradewind Studios, visit www.tradewindstudios.com 

 

The Zebra

chapter six

THE ZEBRA
 

The Zebra

I was recently at a service where the speaker told a fable. It went something like this.

There were four fellas; they each wore different-colored glasses, red, blue, yellow and green. They stood at the edge of a field; in the distance was a zebra. They were each asked to describe the color of the zebra.

As one would expect, the guy with the red glasses saw a red and black zebra; the guy with the blue glasses, blue and black. So, it went, yellow, and green, each seeing the zebra through their lenses, in their respective colors.

The speaker then presented a question to us, “Who is correct regarding the true color of the zebra?” He paused long enough for me to have the thought, “Zebras are white and black.”

But that wasn’t the question.

“Who knows the true color of the zebra?” the speaker asked again and then he answered.

“The zebra.”

What the Hell?

I remember the first time I read about how David won a battle against the Moabites and after the battle he made them (the Moabites) lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.” Samuel 81:2

When I finished reading this I literally said out loud, “What the hell?”

Seriously, what the hell?

This story is just a paragraph in the many chapters of David’s incredible life. It’s a seemingly insignificant footnote, unless you were a Moabite, then it’s a story of horrifying slaughter. And oddly, the author apparently didn’t feel the need to enlighten us as to how David came to this seemingly random approach to flirting with genocide.

This cold-blooded brutality, this almost casual annihilation of entire people groups; it’s everywhere in the Old Testament. And what’s most disconcerting, as often as not, God seems to be credited as the primary instigator.

Moses writes about it a good deal. In fact, he’s the guy who “penned” the famous story of Noah. You know, the story where God seems keen on killing everyone.

“The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Genesis 5:6-8

What the hell?

The Old Testament is littered with stories like this one. Stories where humanity is depraved, and God is angry, and destruction is imminent, and then often realized.

Then, to the wonder and eternal gratitude of all of us, Jesus is introduced into the narrative. And with His arrival, God’s thoughts about us suddenly seem to change.

In the Old Testament, "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die." (1) And yet, in the New Testament, when a woman, caught in adultery, is thrown at Jesus feet, He says, “neither do I condemn you” (2) and He forgives her.

In the Old Testament, God “hates all who do wrong.” (3) In the New Testament, He fellowshipped with sinners. He dined with them, laughed and cried with them, He delivered, healed and saved them. I can’t think of any stories where He killed them. I don’t think it happened even once.

So yeah, I’m not the first person to notice that the God of the Old Testament seems to be very different from the God Jesus revealed in the New. The disparity is enough to make one think God was either seriously manic for a long time, or He is fickle, changing like the wind. But then we read Malachi 3:6, “I the Lord do not change…”

And so, we’re left with the question, “if God didn’t change, what did?”

Perspective

2000 years ago, Jesus walked the earth and for the first time we saw God as He truly was. And God was way different than we thought. He wasn’t a controlling deity disappointed by our stumbling. He didn’t seem outraged by our brokenness, by our sin. He wasn’t in a bad mood. He wasn’t angry, at least not in the vengeful way the writers of the Old Testament seemed to portray Him. He didn’t smite anyone, didn’t even seem to want to.

Yes, He strongly addressed lack of faith. Yes, He challenged all humanity to wholehearted surrender. And yes, one time He even used a whip to drive the money lenders out of the temple grounds. But there were no deaths, not even a report of injury - just hurt pride.

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus did get angry.

But when Jesus was angry, it was with the religious leaders; the self-righteous who sought control like the drug it is; the self-serving who used the theology of control to oppress others; those who shamed and condemned in His name; those who wielded control like a sword. Yet, while He used some strong language when confronting or describing them, “brood of vipers,” “blind guides,” “fools” and “hypocrites,” (4) even then, He never once followed it up with a killing spree.

Jesus never once had people put down in the dirt, divided into thirds, and then had two out of every three slaughtered where they lay.

The stories of God and mass killings seem to be missing from the four Gospels; the four books in which God is most clearly revealed. Oddly, the clearest revelation of God, the perfect picture of sovereignty, seems to be missing the angry, murderous, destructive bent.

And no one seemed to understand.

Jesus lived absolutely counter to religious culture, He turned the world upside down. The last were first, the poor were rich, the meek inherited the earth, the weak became strong, sinners were loved, prostitutes forgiven, and willful prodigals greeted with a kiss – none of it made sense.

Jesus, revealing God for who He truly is, walked as the perfect expression of sovereign love. And everyone was baffled by it.

I would like to propose that the reason no one could truly comprehend was because all humanity wore colored glasses.

They saw everything, including Jesus, through the lens of sovereign control. It’s not surprising - control had been the prevailing perspective since the fall.

Even Jesus disciples, those who had never once witnessed Jesus do anything that smacks remotely of genocide, were wearing shades.

 “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He (Jesus) was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and said…

“What the hell?”

I’m not being trite, nor trying to offend. I believe hell is a pretty accurate word to expose the spirit behind the disciple’s thinking…

“…But He turned and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’” (5)

If you want the clearest understanding regarding God’s heart for humanity, this scripture is a good place to start. In fact, it’s the point of this entire chapter.

Long ago, I made Jesus, sovereign love, my hermeneutic, my “methodology of interpretation,” (6) the lens through which my entire theology is defined. But the disciples hadn’t gotten there yet…

Jesus essentially says to his hell fire disciples, “Fellas, your theology is really messed up, your lenses are colored, your perspective of who I am is horribly flawed! For nearly three years you have witnessed me save, heal, deliver, forgive, redeem, restore and empower. Never once did I use fire and brimstone. Guys, the spirit behind your desire to see destruction reigned down is in direct opposition to everything I have been revealing. Seriously, the control lens through which you perceive me is from the pit of hell.”

Then Jesus continued to perfectly reveal sovereign Love and His dealings with humanity by journeying on to the cross and to resurrection life.

And He completely changed the way we could know what God looked and acted like. No longer did we have to interpret Him through a theology of control, now we could know Him through the revelation of love.

Jesus is the lens.

He revealed a truer narrative and with it humanity gained access to the whole story. We can truly see God, from Old Testament through the New. We can truly discover sovereignty, we can truly trust Him, we can truly be free.

My point, it wasn’t God that changed from Old Testament to New, it was our perspective. Or more accurately, our perspective can change, if we chose to make Jesus, sovereign love, the lens, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” (7)

You see, until Jesus, we had bits and pieces of the story, God inspired fragments. The Old Testament writers revealed God like the zebra in a field. Some said, “He is red with black stripes.” Some said, “He is blue; still others said yellow and green.” Then God walked among us in the flesh and revealed Himself perfectly.

“Who knows the true color of the zebra?”

Jesus.

I believe Jesus is the whole story. He is the lens through which I can truly know God. And He is the lens through which I read the Old Testament.

For me, interpreting the Old Testament outside the revelation of Jesus is to completely miss the point. It’s foolish. It would be like watching the first pre-season game of the Buffalo Bills and then buying tickets to watch them play in the Super Bowl.

I am convinced that Jesus is the lens by which we interpret the Old Testament and the New. And I have discovered that when I read through the lens of sovereign love, suddenly a story about a flood that wipes out nearly all of humanity doesn’t make me desperate or insecure.

It has always been God’s heart that none would perish. (8)

Always...

God Inspired and Moses Interpreted

Moses is the fella credited to have most likely written what would have already been the age-old story of Noah; a story that had been orally passed down from generation to generation.

Moses was one hundred percent inspired of God when he wrote the first five books regarding the relationship between God and man. And what Moses wrote was an absolutely true story. But I would like to suggest it was not the whole story. Moses didn’t have the whole story yet; he wasn’t looking at God and man through the perfect lens of sovereign love; the lens revealed in Jesus life, death and resurrection. 

Therefore, while Moses’ perspective was fully inspired of God, was powerful and good, I would like to propose it was not definitive; it was not complete.

When it comes to Noah’s story, God inspired and Moses interpreted the inspiration. And I would like to suggest that Moses had a theology, a context, a paradigm, a narrative, a lens – sovereign control.

In the sovereign control narrative of Moses’ day, it was determined that if you touched a leper you were made unclean. (9) In the sovereign love narrative, Jesus revealed the whole story. When He touched a leper, the leper was made clean. (10)

In the control perspective of Moses’ day, punishment was the language of God. Moses captured this well when He wrote on God’s behalf “…I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created.”

However, Jesus revealed the whole story, a truer perspective, the language of forgiveness and redemption, when He said, “…for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

Here’s what I am trying to convey, Moses saw the zebra in a field, he described it truly through the lens he had, sovereign control. He described it truly but not definitively, not completely. He captured the problem but not the solution, he wrote down the story, but it wasn’t the whole story. 

Then Jesus came and gave us perfect 20/20 vision regarding what God was like, sovereign love. And Jesus also made it clear how to read the whole Bible.

“You study the scriptures because you think in them is eternal life but they testify of me.” (11)

Jesus wasn’t talking about the New Testament; it hadn’t been written yet. He was specifically addressing how to interpret the Old Testament. His point was that scripture wasn’t the answer, it pointed to the answer. And He was also making it clear, He was that answer.

Jesus is “the word made flesh” (12) He is the interpretation.

Scripture tells a story, scripture paints a picture of a zebra in a field, it describes what the zebra is like.

But who truly knows the color of a zebra?

The Zebra.

I believe every word of the Bible is inspired of God. God inspired and men wrote it down.  But the Bible is not a part of the Trinity. The Bible isn’t God, it reveals Him. And we all have a God lens. And that lens determines everything.

What If…

What if we read the story of Noah through the interpretation of Jesus? What if we applied God’s heart not “to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” to that epic tale? Is it possible we might see it differently?

What if the depravity of sin was so devastating in Noah’s day that humanity and innocence was being consumed? What if every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (13) What if the earth “was corrupt” and “full of violence?” (14) What if, like Paul notes in Romans 8, “all creation” groaned under the weight of sin and death? (15)

What if this groaning of a broken and fallen earth erupted in the form of an all-consuming flood? What if God, in His saving mercy, gave humanity a 120-year warning by sending a message to the one man on the planet who was living in such a way that he could hear it.

What if, for the next 120 years, Noah built an ark by God’s instruction, grace and provision? What if the feat was an act of faith like none seen before on the planet? What if the construction was supernaturally ahead of its time in design and engineering?

What if the people lived in the shadow of this magnificent testimony of God’s desire to save them for 120 years and yet not one person repented, not one heart softened?

And what if the people would have humbled themselves and prayed, and sought His face, and turned from their wicked ways? Is it possible He would have forgiven their sin and healed their land? (16)

What if God, who was perfectly revealed in Jesus, does not change? What if it has never been His heart “to destroy men’s lives,” and it has always been His heart “to save them,” even during the time of Noah’s flood?

Floods

Noah’s story is incredible. He lived faithfully obedient in the context of sovereign control. But I want to highlight the difference between Noah’s navigation of a flood and how we have been set free to navigate a flood today.

I want to suggest that the clarity of our perception determines everything.

Noah’s lens on God was not definitive, He did not have the revelation of Christ, a redeemed perspective, the whole story. For Noah, God was sovereignly in control and in a control narrative, the flood was perceived as God’s wrathful punishment of a horrendously sinful people. It was something to be survived.

            What does a man of faith in a control narrative do when an angry God desires to destroy everything with a flood? He faithfully and obediently works night and day on his salvation with one fearful eye always searching the sky; he builds a boat and prays he survives the coming destruction.

I know many believers who serve a God in control; a God they perceive as angry and wrathful; a God who seeks to punish sin with destruction. They work day and night on their salvation. They live fearfully, one eye always searching the sky for signs of humanities impending doom. Their prayer life consists of desperate pleas for a stay of execution. They seek to survive.

Please understand, I am not suggesting Noah got it wrong, in the narrative of his day, he knocked it out of the park! But I am suggesting that if we, today, perceive God through the same control lens Noah did, we will live in the same narrative.

Have you ever wondered why we have a Christian sub-culture in America?

I would like to suggest it’s because much of the church still interprets God and man through the lens of sovereign control. Therefore, when it gets darker in the world, Christians don’t get brighter; no, they build a sub-culture; they become survivors, looking for a way to navigate the coming flood.

But I would like to suggest that if a flood where prophesied today, building an ark to survive it would be counter to the gospel of Jesus.

We have the whole story! “…for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

Christians aren’t called to fear floods; we aren’t even called to survive them. We are called to live like Jesus; to release His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to overcome, to break through, to live as expressions of sovereign love.

We have the whole story and in Christ, we can live in such a powerfully surrendered way that floods must bend the knee.

In the revelation of sovereign love, we have been commissioned to reveal salvation to all we encounter, to bring light to every dark place. We are called to release hope to the hopeless, redemption to the prodigal, salvation, transformation and life to every dead, broken and hurting place. We are invited to live confident and sure as powerful expressions of His sovereign love that none would perish.

We are living in the whole story. If we are willing to walk away from the ideology of sovereign control and make Jesus, sovereign love, our lens, our hermeneutic, our methodology for interpretation, we will become a church that doesn’t fear floods. Instead, floods will fear us.

Please get this, we aren’t here to call down fire! Nor are we here to build a Christian sub-culture in which we might survive – a boat for the world-ending flood. “On earth as it is in heaven,” (17) that’s why we are here. “Even greater works shall you do.” (18) That’s what Jesus revealed and promised.

A Greater Revelation

Noah couldn’t do something outside his theology. But more to the point, neither can we.

Sovereign control is the narrowest lens through which to know God. It’s salvation through works. It takes the least amount of faith and doesn’t take into account God’s eternal and sovereign love.

To describe God as sovereignly in control is an earthbound perspective; it doesn’t include heaven’s perspective. It is finite thinking dictated by the fear of coming floods. A God in control is human reasoning. While it may seem to be an accurate assessment of our experience, while it may appear true from where we are standing, it’s not the truth that sets us free.

Sovereign control is not in God’s nature; it’s in man’s perception. It only works outside the revelation of perfect love and the context of eternity.

We need a better perspective, a greater revelation.

Who Knows the True Color of the Zebra?

There are some profound similarities between Noah and Jesus. Both were righteous men. Both walked in radical obedience. Both lived a powerful faith. Both were mocked and persecuted for their trust in God, and both lived in such a powerful way as to establish a future, a new world for the generations to come.

But their approach to life and ministry and the world around them couldn’t have been more different. Why? Because their theology was vastly different.

Noah’s theology was control. Noah faithfully obeyed and he and his family survived. It’s a good story, a true story.

Jesus’ theology was love. Jesus faithfully obeyed and he laid down His life, He died. And then Jesus rose and in His resurrection purchased salvation for all. It’s a better story, the whole story.

In Noah’s narrative, a handful of people survived. In Jesus narrative, all men can be saved.

Which narrative do you want to live in?

Survival is what we get with a theology of control; resurrection life is what we get with a theology of love.

I am not suggesting the Bible lessons learned from Noah’s faith aren’t truly life changing. It’s the word of God; it’s true.

I am suggesting Noah’s lens was not definitive or complete regarding the nature of God.

And I’m suggesting there is one way by which to truly read the whole Bible and one way to truly know God…

The speaker then presented the question to us, “Who is correct regarding the true color of the zebra?” He paused long enough for me to have the thought, “Zebras are white and black.”

But that wasn’t the question.

“Who knows the true color of the zebra,” the speaker asked again and then he answered. “The zebra.”

Jesus is the Zebra.

He is sovereign love. He is the whole story. When the Bible is interpreted through Jesus, when our perspective comes into alignment with His, we join in the whole story and we begin to live sure in the power of our salvation, in the power of resurrection life!


Jason Clark is an author, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters, fathers and mothers,  to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.

Perspective for the Sake of Relationship - Authors Note

God Is (Not) In Control
The Whole Story Is Better Than You Think

AUTHOR’S NOTE

This book is about perspective for the sake of relationship.

While the subject is the sovereignty of God, this is not a theological textbook written to prove or defend some thought about God. I have simply written to reveal what I am discovering in my personal relationship with God.

Yes, like all of us, I am a theologian. But I am not a systematic theologian with letters in front of his name, I am a relational theologian; a son, a husband, a father, a brother, a friend - I am loved and I love.

In this book, I have not written about Gods sovereignty through a rigid systematic lens. I have written through the lens of relationship. I don’t approach God through disciplines, ethics and the dogma of religious thought; I approach God as an adored son of my Father, a beloved brother of Jesus, an intimate friend of Holy Spirit.

And it’s all about family.

I am convinced family is the Kingdom Jesus talked about, the Kingdom He lived from, the Kingdom He revealed, the Kingdom He taught us to pray for and instructed us to establish here on earth as it is in heaven.

And you are a part of that family.

While I understand this books premise may cause many to feel tension, please know it’s my great desire that every word reveals my love affair with Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that you might be encouraged in your own love affair. It’s my great hope that you might grow deeper in a trusting intimate relationship with God.

Last, the sovereignty of God is an infinite revelation. I am but a child with a finite tongue. There is nothing I submit as absolutely definitive in this book except, God is love, His love is always good, and we exist to grow sure.

I pray this book encourages you to grow sure.

God Bless
Jason Clark

Jason's book, God Is (Not) In Control, The whole Story Is Better Than You Think, releases May 1st.


Jason Clark is an author, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters, fathers and mothers,  to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.

A Measureless Invitation

This article is taken from Jason's forthcoming book,

GOD IS (NOT) IN CONTROL, The Whole Story Is Better Than You Think

"…Control is a word that defines a great deal in the finite understanding of earth. It is a word that can be used for good. It can make us feel safe and secure.

Jason is in control of the car,” is a good thing.

Of course, truly, Jason is not in control of the car unless he is first in control of himself. But more on that later.

The concept of control makes sense on earth. But I am not writing about the math of earth. This book is about the measureless revelation of heaven. While control is the vocabulary of our finite physical story, this book is an invitation to the whole story – sovereign love.

You see, control is a finite word in a finite language among thousands of finite languages. But Love is a Person, an infinite revelation.

Control will end, but Love has no beginning and no end, Love has always been and will always be. 

Control is a perspective, it articulates measurement. It can’t be applied to a measureless revelation. God is love. Love is immeasurable.

Jesus was the unraveling revelation of another way of thinking and perceiving. He was a re-introduction to our native tongue. He made it possible for us to be re-born so we might re-discover. When Jesus walked the earth, He redeemed our narrative so we could once again live in the finite from the infinite. At this exact moment, we are actually seated in Christ at the right hand of the Father.

So please understand, when I write, “God is not in control,” I am addressing a finite perspective with an infinite revelation. And the good news is, in Christ, it’s possible for us to discover this revelation. You see, the infinite lives inside of us!

While God placed us in a world defined by measurements, He breathed His Spirit, the measureless revelation of love, into us. So, while we live in the insecurities of this earth, we have been invited to live from the confidence of heaven.

I understand that the idea of a God in control can make us feel secure when we live in a fallen world defined by measurements. But it’s just not true. God is not in control, it’s infinitely better than that, God is love. And He is continually inviting us into this measureless revelation so we might live like Jesus, secure, on earth as it is in heaven.

At the end of the day, I am not trying to convince you that the concept of control doesn’t hold some merit here on earth. But this book isn’t about math, it’s about love, it’s about trust and intimacy. It's an invitation into a measureless revelation...


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Jason Clark is an author, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters, fathers and mothers,  to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.

Imagine with Jason Clark - Episode One // Anthony Skinner

The Skinner's have been great friends to the Clark's for many years. I was introduced to Anthony's music on my first trip to Bethel Church is Redding CA 11 years ago. He quickly became one of my favorites.

I remember the first time he and the whole Skinner family visited us. It happened after he reached out to me through Twitter of all things. We we were blessed to host his family and we've grown to become good friends. Many years ago I wrote about that first visit in a blog.

Anthony is also a hero. He lives loved, confident in our Fathers affection. He is an artist sure in his Fathers pleasure and therefore he lives sure. Anthony is a hero to many, encouraging, empowering and imparting insight and grace. 

He came to visit us recently. He taught and played at our home church, Newsong. He stayed with us, we told stories, laughed, and of course, drank coffee. On one such occasion, I turned on some camera's...

Imagine with Jason Clark - Episode One // Anthony Skinner

Imagine with Jason Clark is an interview-based web series. The guiding purpose is to reveal the always-good transforming love of God.

Episodes 1-6 will release Oct - Dec & feature: Anthony Skinner, Pastor Mahesh Chavda, Mark Appleyard, Dr Jonathan Welton, Trisha Frost & Joel Clark.

Anthony is a Singer, Songwriter, Artist, Worship Leader, and Producer, who has received awards by Billboard and SESAC, and has a gold certified #1 radio hit for the song “Your Love Never Fails”. He is a top 25 CCLI songwriter, and a composer on CeCe Winans’ Grammy Award winning album “Thy Kingdom Come”.

For more information on Anthony you can go to www.anthonyskinner.com

Thanks to Seth Snider for the use of his song My Angel in the title sequence! My Angel is from Seth's forthcoming album Pitch Black Pines.

Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. 

Seven Reasons Why I Don't Belong to a Political Party

So many in our nation today feel disenfranchised. So many are like orphans searching for a family, a place to belong. And in this particular season, so many have found it in a political party or persona.

But those of us who have said yes to God, we joined a family. Orphans no longer, we found our place of belonging in Christ. We are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven he said, “I pray that you are one…(John 17:21)” It was His last will and testament that we would discover what it is to be family.

We are not disenfranchised, we are becoming one.

In this highly charged political season of us and them, we must not find our belonging in a political party or persona. Otherwise, we become lost.

Sons and daughters don’t belong to a political party; they belong to the family of God. This truth sets us free to vote our conscience; it also empowers us to let others vote theirs. And we don’t have to agree because it's way better than that, we are family.

We are never meant to get our sense of belonging from a political party and here is seven reasons why…

1 - A political party says, “You belong because you agree with me.”
     The family of God says, “You belong because we are family.”   

2 - A political party says, “I will bully, shame or manipulate you into voting the party line."                    The family of God says, “I will empower and trust you to vote your conscience”

3 - A political party says, "I will pressure you to minimize your party’s sin as the lesser of two evils for the greater good."
      The family of God says, “I will encourage you to confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

4 - A political party says, “I will pressure you to justify or defend unrighteousness and ignorance.”         The family of God says, “I will challenge you to stand for righteousness by speaking the truth in love....” (Eph 4:15)

5 - A political party says, “Regarding how we communicate with one another, the ends justifies the means     
      The family of God says, 
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph 4:2)

6 - A political party says, “I will leverage tragedy to manipulate voters.”
      The family of God says, "I will weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15)

7 - A political party says, “God has one perspective; mine.”
      The family of God says, “God has one perspective; love.” (1 John 4:8)

I don’t belong to a political party; I belong to a family. And so do you.
 

Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. 

 

Eggos and Juice Boxes - Living Powerfully Generous

Years ago, while Ethan was eating breakfast and over a mouthful of waffles, he informed me in a serious tone that he didn’t want to have kids when he grew up. I could tell my seven-year-old had given it some deep thought.

“No kids? But you love kids,” I said.

“Yes, I do, but I don’t want any.” He seemed sure.

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t want to have to share my Eggos,” he said matter-of-factly. Then he paused, thought further, and then said, “Or my juice boxes.”

“I hear you, man,” I said commiserating. “Your mom makes me share too!” He nodded his agreement.

Later I told Karen about Ethan’s deliberations and we had a good laugh. And we can laugh; we know our son and he is a giver. Sometimes he needs to be reminded of this fact, but I have watched him and my girls live generously, and they have learned living generously from the same place I have—their brave hearted mother.

Karen is the most giving person I know. She truly amazes me on a daily basis. She spends time just thinking about what she can do that will bless the kids, myself, our family, friends, and even strangers. When she meets people, she starts dreaming of ways to bless them.

When I asked her years ago how she knows what everyone wants for their birthdays, she said, “It’s easy, babe. I listen when they tell me.”

It’s not that people give her a verbal wish list for what they want. What she was saying is that she listens with a generous heart. When people talk, she hears what stirs them, and because she has positioned her heart to give, she is able to discern what would most bless those around her. And, according to her, it’s pretty simple—everyone can do it.

But even though Karen describes giving as simple, I know from watching her that her giving often goes beyond comfortable—Karen gives courageously. I have witnessed firsthand as she meets someone’s need while having the same need herself. Between the two of us, Karen tends to recognize need first, and because of her, we are able to give even when it’s a stretch. Without Karen, I would miss out on some of these opportunities. She is courageous. She believes. She is brave. I want to be more like her.

Being brave hearted in giving is an attribute of God and is something He is always developing in His people, both the boys who want all the Eggos and the girls who would give you the last one off their plate. He is always inviting us to experience the world through the generosity of His heart. His desire for us is to see and hear the world around us through His eyes and ears. What’s really amazing is that as we begin to experience the world this way, we are able to discern the needs and the heart desires of those around us. And we are able to give with authority from the measureless generosity of heaven, which is the same way Jesus gave…

Jesus gave generously in the authority of His promise and it often looked miraculous. When there was little food He gave generously, in power and authority, by multiplying it. When there was sickness He gave generously, in power and authority, by healing the person. When there was sin He gave generously, in power and authority, by forgiving it. There is a generosity discovered in the Promise Giver that gives us power and authority to miraculously meet the need.

I am not an expert, but by faith, I am finding my way. I am absolutely positive that what Jesus experienced is available to us today. “Greater works,” He said. Can you imagine a generosity that looks like greater works?

Brave hearted giving is how we battle against the evils of this world. Partnering with God and giving from our promise is the most powerful thing we will ever do with our lives. Giving is what saved the world, it’s what set people free. Jesus has invited us to join Him.

Generous giving is our birthright. It’s a partnership with our Father’s heart. It always further aligns our affections with His. I am learning how to live powerfully through daily and monthly decisions to give.

I am learning how to share my Eggos—Ethan too. I am learning how to live for my kids, my family, my neighbors, and this world. I am learning to be brave hearted, like Karen. I want to live powerfully generous, with my time and our finances. I want to be found faithful. And I want to leave that legacy to my kids as well.

I want to live powerfully generous, with my time, finances and revelation. I want to be found faithful. And I want to leave that legacy to my kids as well…

This was excepted from Jason’s book, Untamed.

Jason Clark is an author, speaker, and director of A Family Story. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s book Prone To Love is available now.

Loving God Doesn't Make You Right - Put Your Sword Away!

Put Your Sword Away! "I don’t understand" races through Peters mind over and over and over.

Shaking and disoriented, Peter breaths heavy. There’s blood on the ground, it’s spattered across Jesus robe. Peter can taste the iron saltiness of it on his lips. He stands, frantic with desperation, over a mutilated piece of flesh. Angry tears blur his vision, he grits his teeth as he moves to strike the man again.

“Put your sword away!” Jesus demands.

Peter barely recognizes his lord and friends voice. Everything is falling apart. The night is full with panic and horror.

Jesus speaks again.

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

It felt like a slap across the face; everything Peter believed, being sifted like wheat.

Peter watched as Jesus leaned over the man he'd just struck with his sword. The man had fallen to his knees and now clutched the right side of his head; blood running between his fingers and down his arm.

Jesus “touched the mans ear and healed him.”

Peter had seen this so many times, Jesus kindness, His goodness, His healing, His sovereign love.

“I don’t understand” races through Peter's mind again as Jesus, the man he loved, the man he followed with all his strength, the man he had just given his life for, reprimanded him, “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

“I don’t understand,” tormented Peter as he followed the prisoner Jesus is into the temple grounds.

“I don’t understand” ravaged his heart as he denied that he knew the man he loved, once, twice, three times.

“I don’t understand” dismantled him, as he caught Jesus eye from across the courtyard.

“I don’t understand” sifted him like wheat as he fled the temple.

“And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Just hour’s earlier Peter thought he understood. “Lord I’m ready to go with you to prison or death.”

Just hours earlier Peter believed that Jesus kingdom on earth would need swords and men willing to use them. It would require sacrifice, the wiliness to die for Jesus, and also, the willingness to kill for Jesus.

The sovereign control narrative perverts everything, even our passionate love of God! It manipulates love into a desperate defense of our broken ideology.

We see it evidenced throughout history, well meaning Christians committed to murder in order to defend their idea of God.

The mindset is alive today. Open up Facebook and you’ll see it, well meaning Christians attacking others to defend their idea of God.

It’s everywhere, well meaning Christians preaching from church pulpits, political platforms, across the web, across the airwaves, attacking a person or organization in order to defend their idea of God.

Well meaning Christians destroying families and friendships and derailing great moves of God; well meaning Christians manipulating scripture to develop cult like devotion to the desperate defense of ideologies absolutely contrary to the revelation of Jesus.

Please get this, Peter didn’t defend Jesus, he defended his belief about Jesus. Peter believed that, if the kingdom was to be established on earth as it is in heaven, at some point Jesus must assume control. Except, Jesus never once modeled this.

If your understanding leads to anxiety, you don’t understand. Put your sword away!

If your love of God leads you to act out of fear, you need a greater revelation of His love. Put your sword away!

If you feel you must attack someone in order to defend your thoughts about God, it’s a good sign your thoughts about God are wrong. Put your sword away!

If you find yourself desperate and insecure on Gods behalf, you don’t have the whole story. Put your sword away!

Desperation is not a sign of spiritual maturity, it’s a sign we’re still journeying into His goodness, our minds still being renewed; it’s a sign we are still growing sure in sovereign love.

After the resurrection, Jesus met Peter on a beach and three times restored him with the question, “Do you love?”

“Lord you know” Peter answered.

Lord you know. That’s the answer God trusts.

This interaction wasn’t about whether Peter loved Jesus; that was never in question. This interaction was about where Peter would put His faith. Would it be in his understanding, in his love for God, or would it be in Gods sovereign love for him.

In the garden, Peter attempted murder because of his zealous love for Jesus. It nearly killed him. Our faith can never be in our love for God.

In the garden, Peter attempted murder in defense of what he knew. It nearly destroyed him. Our faith can never be in what we know.

In the garden, Peter attempted murder to help Jesus assume control. It led to bitter sorrow. Our faith can never be in sovereign control.

Our faith must be in the sovereignty of His love.

And when it is, we can be trusted with a sword.

"Feed my sheep…"

This is excerpted from Jason's forthcoming book, The Whole Story.

Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new books, Prone To Love Untamed, are available where books are sold.

The Whole Story - Jesus, Control and a Unicorn

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The Hidden Things Were Being Made Plain “I see it! It’s a dolphin!” My college roommate Doug was acting like he had just discovered a cure for Ebola.

“Sure, I see it too. I said sarcastically. “It’s riding a motorcycle while eating a hotdog”

“No, serious!” he said. “It’s a dolphin in the ocean. Can’t you see it?”

Then another of my college friends erupted, “I see a pirate on a ship!” He was standing just a few feet away looking at one of the other computer-generated pieces of “art.” There were twenty or so pieces on display in the room.

“This one is the Terminator!” a third friend exclaimed with what seemed to be sincere wonder.

I thought they were playing a joke on me, making it up. All I could see was a repetitive digital mess of shapes and colors. Every poster size presentation looked like Max Headroom had attempted Jackson Pollock.

And much like a Jackson Pollock, each piece in this public art gallery, was obscurely titled. One tiled jumble of dots and triangles was labeled, The Dolphin, another, A Pirate on a Ship, and then of course, Terminator. The image I was looking at was apparently a, Unicorn and a Rainbow.

I played along, “This unicorn is clearly representing humanities internal obsession with the illusion that is our external reality,”

Doug joined me. “You seriously can’t see it?” He asked incredulously.

“Whatever,” I scoffed, but I was starting to think the fellas actually saw something I couldn’t see.

Then Doug, ever the helpful friend, patiently began to describe how there was a 3D image hidden in the repetitive design of neon squiggles and squares. He began to coach me.

“If you unfocus your eyes, the image will suddenly appear.”

I tried to unfocus, which isn’t even a word. It didn’t work.

Doug kept encouraging me while the other guys threw out random instructions between their outbursts of amazement. They seemed to see each new 3D image with greater ease.

“Squint your eyes… wow, it’s a space ship flying over the moon.”

“Spin around, it helps if you’re dizzy... cool, Darth Vader!”

“Just stare at your nose while keeping the picture in front of you… that doesn’t look like Pocahontas!”

I stood in front of that stupid picture of a unicorn and a rainbow for thirty minutes. Doug stuck with me for at least ten until he lost patience, “Just unfocus!”

“Unfocus? How does one do that?!” I thought, and also, “How do you know what Pocahontas looks like?”

The guys eventually moved on to whatever else that art gallery offered. But I stood there, a stubborn, dizzy, cross-eyed idiot trying to will a mythical creature to magically appear.

Eventually the fellas got bored and let me know they were going to leave without me if I didn’t join them at the car. I left dejected.

Over the next few years, 3D hidden art became an American experience. I couldn’t go into a bookstore without one of those picture books mocking me with my absurd inability to see 3D images hidden in a sea of monotonous digital striations.

Stupid unicorn.

Then one day at a Barnes and Nobles, while my new bride Karen stood beside me obnoxiously exclaiming every 3 seconds, “I see it, A Bird on a Wire”, or “oh, that one is fun, it’s Daffy Duck…” I saw it! That blessed beast, the legendary unicorn!

The image was titled Lady Liberty, and suddenly she exploded off the page in all her glorious wonder. Then, just as quick, she was gone. Just dots and shapes again.

I didn’t move. I willed myself calm, I waited, “come on out” I coaxed. I didn’t want to spook her. Something began to shift; I could feel my eyes adjusting, seeing in a way they never had before. “Easy now, careful” I encouraged.

And then, there she was again. Clear and indisputable and brilliant!

I didn’t take my eyes off the page. I didn’t move. I wouldn’t risk it lest my eyes revert to their old way of seeing. I wasn’t going to give her opportunity to hide again. I stood in awe.

After some time, with a small measure of confidence and excitement building, I cautiously flipped to the next page. New neurons and synapsis’ started firing; it was all there, The Dolphin, The Pirate, Darth Vader…

“He’s right, that looks nothing like Pocahontas!”

I devoured picture after picture, then book after book, hidden 3D images realizing before my eyes, each quicker than the last. I couldn’t see enough of them!

I had broken the code, I had shifted my lens, I had entered a new paradigm, I was living in a new narrative, the mysteries were being revealed, the hidden things were being made plain…

The Whole Story

Years ago I stopped reading the whole Bible. You read correctly. For about a two-year period, I only read the gospels. Well, that’s not fully true, occasionally I would brave my way into Psalms and Proverbs, but otherwise, I strictly and stubbornly stayed away from every book of the Bible except Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

I had discovered the unicorn and I wasn’t going to take my eyes off it.

I had caught a glimpse of something hidden in plain sight. I could feel the eyes of my heart adjusting, seeing in a way they never had before. I couldn’t afford to look away, not even for a moment. I wouldn’t risk it lest my eyes revert to their old way of seeing and I lose sight of this glorious revelation – Jesus. I was seeing Him in such powerful ways.

I cautiously flipped the pages; excitement building, new neurons and synapsis’ firing…

I remember my first picture bible; I was 5 and so proud to have my very own. My dad read the whole book to me over the following months.

I still have my One Year Bible; I read the whole of it when I was 13.

When I was 18 I went to Bible College where I studied the whole bible.

I love the whole bible, every page. I will continue to grow in my knowledge and love of it. But when I intentionally stopped reading the whole bible for those two years, I did so for a reason. I had some unlearning to do.

Unlearning is a lot like unfocusing, except unlearning is actually a word.

During those two years, I was not denying the whole bible; I was resetting my lens. I had seen the unicorn. I had discovered my core conviction, my whole theology - God is love, and His love is always good and He looked like Jesus!

Jesus is the clearest way to know what Love looks like, acts like, sounds like, dreams like, teaches like, interacts with Father like, walks in the Holy Spirit like…

Jesus is perfect theology - the clearest and truest way to know what God is like.

You see, most of my life I developed whole thoughts about who God was by reading my whole Bible. By that I mean, for too long I had allowed Job’s to carry as much weight as Jesus’. I don't do that anymore.

I am not suggesting God can’t be discovered in Job, but Job is the question, Jesus is the answer.

And Jesus is the whole answer. Jesus is the whole truth. Jesus is the whole perfect revelation of God. Jesus is what the whole Bible is about. Jesus is what everything before points to and what everything after is built upon. Jesus is the beginning, the end, everything in between and everything after. Jesus is the whole story – His, yours and mine.

During those two years in the gospels, I saw Jesus. And I couldn’t look away. Not for a second. He is wholly beautiful, wholly kind, wholly loving. During those two years when I wouldn’t read the whole bible, Jesus was making me whole.

I began seeing in a way I never had before. My old eyes, old thought patterns, old understanding of God, were being renewed. I began seeing life in a new way. I discovered a better language, a truer paradigm. The mysteries were being revealed; the hidden things were being made plain. God is love and His love is always good!

And He looks like Jesus. And I fixed my eyes on Him and only Him as the Author and Perfecter of my faith, the whole story.

The revelation of Jesus as the whole story began shifting my narrative, my foundational approach to our relationship, to every relationship, to every circumstance and to how I would eventually read the whole bible.

Jesus is my lens, my true narrative. His perfect love is my conviction. His goodness is my faith. Every question I have, every relationship or circumstance, every scripture, including the tension Job represents, is measured against the measureless revelation of Jesus.

I have discovered the unicorn. Jesus is the whole gospel, the whole story.

And just so, I have discovered the lens by which to know the sovereignty of God...

Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Untamed is available now.

I Don't Know...

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Shortly after my book Prone To Love released I came across a review. The reviewer was an earnest believer who graciously but systematically challenged many of my core thoughts regarding the perfection of Gods always-good love. The review was thorough, the disagreement thoughtful, surgical and, because of the reviewers sincerity and the fact that scripture supported each challenge, convincing. As I read it I felt anxious. Not because the reviewer disagreed, I don’t need agreement. It was how the reviewer used scripture to methodically undermine the truths I had written. I felt a heavy obligation to systematically respond to each question raised. There was one problem, I wasn’t sure I had the answers.

The next time I sat down to write, instead of further developing the book I was working on, a book about sovereign love, a book that releases later this year, I began to develop a rebuttal.

I opened a new Word Doc on my MacBook. But after only ten minutes of writing I was uneasy. If I responded to each scripture reference, I would be at it for days, maybe even weeks; and after all that, I wasn’t sure I would be able to deliver convincing answers.

Then I heard God laughing.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“I’m trying to get answers to the scriptures used in that review.” I responded.

“Any luck?” He asked.

“Not yet, and it’s a little overwhelming.” I responded.

“Well, whatever you do, don’t make them up.”

I smiled. “Father, You are so good. I love You.”

“I love you.” He replied.

Then I slid my little MacBook navigation arrow up to the left corner of my new Word Doc. I clicked the dark grey dot, which triggered the on screen prompt, “Do you want to save the changes you made to this document?”

“Don’t Save,” I clicked, smiling again, all anxiety gone. Then I went back to writing what I had been invited to write, I leaned into His pleasure.

My Fathers gracious interruption had done two things. First, He identified the source of my anxiety. I had started defending instead of revealing. Many years earlier I had come to the freeing realization that God doesn’t want, nor need, to be defended, but He loves to be revealed.

And I love to reveal Him. It’s my great joy to seek after and reveal His perfect love nature; to discover wisdom that I might have answers to the questions. Thats why I love Proverbs 4:7

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” 

Wisdom, it’s both a gift and mandate. And we have been both invited and instructed to seek after it until we have understanding. And this world needs men and women who have wisdom and understanding - who have the answers. This world needs leaders confident in His always-good love nature.

As believers, it’s not just our joy to discover the answers, it’s our honor to reveal them. And as Christians, we have all felt the cultural pressure, the expectation to provide the answers - all of them, even when we don’t yet know.

That’s why I believe this next phrase is so important.

I don’t know…

As I mentioned, my Fathers gracious interruption of my brief attempt to write a rebuttal had done two things. The second, He empowered me to live in the tension of not knowing. He removed from me the anxious striving to have all the answers and in so doing, He invited me into the process of wisdom and understanding.

I don’t know… is the humble gift we offer to the One who wants nothing more than to reveal Himself more fully to us. I don't know frees and then empowers us to discover.

You can't fill a glass that's already full. My point, greater revelation is only available to those who don't have it. The willingness to not have an answer is what positions us for THE answer.  A humble "I don't know" will lead us into wisdom and understanding quicker than knowing ever will.

I don't know is the invitation to discover His goodness in greater measure. Because, while there is plenty I don't know, there is one thing I am absolutely positive about, God is good.

I don’t know but God is good. That phrase has been one of our family and ministry motto’s for years. It’s a faith statement that has served us well.

The first half of that statement is extremely powerful only because we believe the second half with absolute conviction. We have made it our position on everything.

Why did we experience a miscarriage, I don’t know, but God is good.

Why did we lose our business, I don’t know, but God is good.

Why are we not experiencing breakthrough? I don’t know but God is good.

Why are we being persecuted for loving the lost, choosing honor, seeking His presence, revealing family, hoping where there is no hope, giving beyond comfortable, choosing life, living wildly faithful...

I don’t know, but God is good is the grace that empowers us to live between the tension of not knowing and His invitation to know, to get wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom is the gift given to those who are willing to embrace both mystery and revelation. Understanding is discovered by those willing to live in the tension of not knowing while believing He is good. The answers are imparted to those who have made intimacy the answer.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

The good news is, He really wants to tell us the answers! He really wants to give us wisdom and understanding.

I recently stumbled across that contrary review - the one that had briefly caused such anxiety. You know what’s funny; I can answer the questions now. In fact, I was surprised to realize I had unknowingly answered many of them in my forthcoming book.

I am convinced the gospel is easy, He loves us, and we grow sure. Just so, I am convinced ministry is easy, we are loved, we believe it, and we reveal His love.

I don’t know... but God is good and that’s more than enough.

May you grow sure in His pleasure!

Jason Clark is an author, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Untamed is available now.

The Promise

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This is an excerpt from my new book Untamed, A Fools Guide to Surrendered Faith. 

The PromisePeter is one of my favorite fellas from the Bible. I can often find my story in his. He was a favorite of Jesus as well. Peter often gets a bad rap for his impulsive, headstrong, and occasional disastrous conclusions, but I love him for his ardent and fierce trust. I love him because he wasn’t afraid to risk, to try, even if he got it wrong.

I imagine him as that confident kid in high school you wanted to hang out with, at least until the cops came. He was the cool kid who drove the muscle car way too fast; it was awesome until he crashed it into a tree stump while doing donuts in the Johnson’s field. He was the fearless kid who jumped off the sixty-foot cliff edge into the reservoir while all the girls watched. It was exhilarating until he hit the rocks on the way down, broke his leg, and spent the rest of the summer on crutches.

Peter was a pioneer, a revolutionary, and wasn’t afraid to go first. He let everyone else know it could be done, albeit, better and with more style. Peter encouraged and empowered following generations into believing.

There is this one story where Peter shows us the way into our future through his own radical discovery of his. He found his promise in the discovery of the Promise Giver, and in so doing showed us the keys to discover ours.

Jesus, walking one day with His disciples, asked a question, “Who do you say I am?” And Peter rushed in, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded to Peter, “You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God Himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am” (Matt. 16:17 MSG).

Now here’s the deal: everywhere Jesus went, every breath He ever took, every smile and tear, everything He did, every word He spoke, was meant to do one thing—reveal God as Father. Jesus told the disciples continually that He came to show us the Father. He said, “If you really know Me, you will know My Father as well” (John 14:7), and “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” (John 14:11). So I imagine Jesus was thrilled with Peter’s statement as it was directly from Father God.

Peter looked at Jesus and met the Father. He got it!

After Jesus let Peter know where his revelation came from, He continued with a personal enlightening message from the Father: “And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together My church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out” (Matt. 16:18-19 MSG).

Can you imagine this scene? Peter, while describing Jesus, meets Father God and is then given his promise. Peter discovered his promise through the discovery of the Promise Giver. But Jesus wasn’t finished:

"And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven" (Matthew 16:19 MSG).

These verses absolutely astound me. Not only is Peter given his promise in the form of his identity, but he is then given his promise in the form of his inheritance as a son of God. It was as if Jesus were saying, “Peter, as you keep your eyes on Me, you will discover there are no barriers, no measureable limits to My promises—all impossibilities become possibilities. When you keep your eyes on Me, you won’t live chasing an ever elusive promise, you will live smack in the middle it. When you see Me, you can see your true self, and all the promises I have given you. And these promises will powerfully transform you, the lives around you, and the lives to come.”

This story tells us that if we want to know who we are, if we want to know what we are called to do, if we want to know what we have access to, if we want to know and live smack in the middle of our promise, then we must keep our eyes on the Promise Giver. One revelation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit brings more clarity regarding call, promise, identity, destiny, power, and authority than a lifetime of anything else, including Bible study and good messages—“You didn’t get this from a book or teachers…”

I’m not suggesting Bible study and good messages aren’t valuable, I’m simply noting they should always lead to Jesus and reveal the Father. It’s an encounter with God that reveals our promise and releases the keys to personal and then worldwide transformation.

Peter had many more bumbling adventures after he received his promise from the Father. He continued to display what getting it wrong looked like. However, he also continued to believe and trust, and he kept his eyes on Jesus and a yes in his heart. Along the way his vision of Jesus became clearer and he continued to be transformed.

Many years after Jesus had risen and ascended, “people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by” (Acts 5:15). Peter’s shadow had authority to heal. The same Peter who got it wrong so many times before discovered a believing that led to a personal transformation that ended up changing the world.

I haven’t always fully known what my promise looks like, I haven’t always been able to describe it, but I am learning, and I think it’s a little like “God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven” (Matt. 16:19 MSG).

I am discovering that if I’m willing to surrender—my heart for His—I get to engage and experience all His heart offers. I think that’s what untamed living is all about—coalescing my promise with His purpose, His love.

I believe we all have a one-of-a-kind promise from God: His Kingdom of heaven birthed within us. This promise is unique to every individual, is discovered in a revelation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and lives in our hearts. And His promises are greater than anything we could ask for or even imagine. His promises are invitations to believe, step out, risk, trust, and fail; to discover Jesus, be transformed, and walk in the authority of heaven.

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus is still asking us this question today. It’s an extended hand to take an untamed adventure, to live a world-changing faith. And it sounds different for all of us. For me it came in the question, “Do you trust Me?” or “Well…are you coming?”...

This is an excerpt from my new book Untamed, A Fools Guide to Surrendered Faith.

Jason Clark is an author, singer/songwriter, speaker and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Untamed is available now.