Friday, December 28, 2012

Notes from the fall term - Kris Vallotton

From Kris Vallotton: 

  • Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will steal your future.
  • Many of us have been living under the wrong name. We live under a name that God hasn’t given us. When you were little, you knew you were born to rock. It takes 12 years of religion to convince you that being a loser is somehow good. When you understand who you are and whose you are, the battle is over.
  • We're not "sinners saved by grace." When you were saved by grace you became a saint. When you receive Jesus, you receive a new name. You take on His name. You become a saint. [Romans 8] You can’t be a sinner and a saint at the same time. You're a brand new creation.
  • You naturally want to reproduce who you think you are. If your house is a dump, I might put my feet on your coffee table when I come over. But I like my house and I take my shoes off when I'm home. And so will you because when you come over you don't see me putting my feet up on my coffee table. 
  • I tell you how to treat me by the way I treat me. Whenever someone puts you somewhere that is better than you think of yourself, you’ll reduce the environment to what you believe about yourself. Example: Putting homeless in public housing which then becomes the worst ghettos. Or putting a prince (Joseph) in prison.
  • It’s not in your nature to sin. You don’t have to sin. [1 John 1] We all came to Christ as sinners. But He didn’t just forgive you, He changed you. We start out as sinners. You can’t forget that. You didn’t make yourself a saint, He did. And if you sin (not when you sin, because sin isn't normal for a Christian, although there are lots of things that are common but not normal) you're already forgiven. [1 John 3]
  • You are not your temptation. You are not identified by your worst day. Condemnation says, “you lied, you’re a liar.” Condemnation tries to convince you that your action is your identity. 
  • You will always reproduce who you think you are. Be imitators of God. Spend your whole life trying to become more like God.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More class notes - Mary and the Christ child

Bernie Ooley, one of the BSSM bible teachers

I took this longer set of notes from a class taught by our bible prof, Bernie Ooley. She's one of our favorites.

We've now read almost all of the New Testament. Each week one of our bible teachers expounds on a particular book or passage. I found this teaching in my notes from October. 

Like Mary in Luke, we have to learn to ponder things in our heart so that when tough times come we still have the promise of God and we're not trying to force things ahead of God’s plan. Mary was a woman of expectancy. She had no grid for what she heard - it was a new thing. If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.

God loves to use the least likely because then He gets the glory. God will use our education, background, experience but that’s not what qualifies us. [2 Chronicles 16:9]

No word of God is void of power. A word of God has the power to come to pass if it’s just received. If we approach the word of God with our own set of traditions we’re just as bad as Pharisees - we make His word null and void with no effect.

When we get a prophetic word (a promise from God) external circumstances don’t always change overnight. In fact, they begin to look 180 degrees opposite. You’re believing for doors open for your destiny and everything slams shut. The sower sows the word and immediately the weeds come up. So if you’ve received a promise and the opposite happens, you’re right on track.

First thing Mary did is carry the secret in promise. And when she went to someone, she went to someone who would understand - Elizabeth. Don’t tell everyone everything. Entrust the sacred gift by only going to people who have earned the right to speak into our lives. The favor of God opens doors and starts wars, because people don’t understand and get jealous.

        - Bernie Ooley

Friday, December 21, 2012

Notes from the fall term - #1

This fall, Anne and I have heard teaching from Bill Johnson, Beni Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Bernie Ooley, Dann Farrelly, Chris Overstreet, and others. Some of the speakers whisper, others bounce across the stage. All of them are passionate followers of Jesus who want to see revival around the world.

We usually get three or four hours of teaching each day. At points over the past four months I've felt like I was on the receiving end of a dump-truck's worth of revelation. It's going to take at least a week or two of downtime over Christmas to wrap my mind around everything that's happened. As a start, we're going to sift through our notes from the fall term and share some gems.

Here's the first batch:

You aren’t what you think you are. (No one has a perfect perspective of who they are). You aren’t what others think you are. You become what you think others think you are. As John Maxwell says, “You become what you think the most important person in your life thinks you are.” It’s really important what you think God thinks of you. [And God loves you - see John 3:16 and all of 1 John].    - Kris Vallotton

Our culture values concept over experience. You can go to business college and get taught by people who have never run a business. But what a person teaches he must be able to produce. If you can’t, then let people know you’re still in process. We have so much teaching in the church that has no experience to back it up. Jesus’ words became Spirit and things happened. Find all the places where doing and teaching are in the same phrase, like in Acts 1. Teaching concepts is important but it's supposed to lead to experience. Many people fall short of divine encounter because they are satisfied with good theology. Any revelation that doesn’t bring me into a divine encounter only makes me more religious.   - Bill Johnson

Salvation means not only forgiveness of sin but deliverance from torment and healing from disease. When someone is healed, it’s an expression of the Kingdom. Jesus illustrated what a man could do completely free of sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I’m forgiven of sin, so all that’s left is empowerment.    - BJ

Faith doesn’t come from striving, it comes from surrendering. Authority comes from the commission, power comes from the encounter.    - BJ

Faith isn’t blind, it sees the situation from a better pair of eyes. The bible is to be not only revelatory but relevant.   - Bernie Ooley

How we see God partly determines what we get from Him. If we think He's harsh, we’ll live in fear. When we don’t see Father God as always good, we misinterpret life. Matthew 7 - “Did I not cast out demons...” How can someone have power and authority and God says I didn’t even know you? They live life out of a religious mindset - they didn’t have intimacy. Everything they were doing was motivated out of trying to get something - to be famous or seen.

John 15:15. We need a servant heart with a friend’s mentality. So many have a servant heart with a slave mentality. Action doesn’t mean godlines. You can’t change your heart, but if you change what you believe it will change your heart.     - Mark Brookes

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I’ve never had someone hold my hand like that. She wasn’t going to let go. And all I could do was mourn with this poor, desperate, broken woman.

It was my son Cam who pulled me over to room 14 at the rundown motel in downtown Redding. The woman’s partner made a plea for help in the parking lot while standing in line for a warm meal on the drizzly Saturday morning. Cam was moved by his sadness. I was busy elsewhere and missed the conversation but my strong, gentle, compassionate son wouldn’t let it drop.

“We’ve got to find this lady in room 14,” he said.

“I wish we knew where she is,” I said, hoping he would drop it.

You see, I’m getting comfortable talking to, loving and even hugging the homeless and other folks who gather in the motel’s parking lot each Saturday morning. The folding tables and chairs we set up for the community feast are one of six sites run by Bethel church in Redding. 

Finishing up at our community feast in downtown Redding on Saturday
But crossing into someone’s room felt like an invasion of privacy -- an act of familiarity and trust in a world where nothing is familiar and I don’t know who is trustworthy.

“It’s right there Dad. That room over there.”

Oh. The one with the number 14 on it. Perfect.

I knocked tentatively. The door opened a crack and then swung wide. A shroud of cigarette smoke billowed out. The room was dark except for the glare from the television. Plastic bins and cardboard boxes filled the room. The floor was covered in wood shavings and cigarette wrappers.

The man Cam met in the lineup invited us in. A woman sat on the bed. A third man, covered in tattoos, lay on a makeshift cot laid across plastic bins. He didn’t get up.

Another woman from our team joined us and sat down on the beside the woman. I knelt down beside her. The sick woman grabbed my hand and pulled it up to the crook of her neck. She squeezed.

Her hair was matted. Her color pale. Hopelessness felt thicker than the smoke.

So we prayed. Her body was broken. Her spirit was buried under immeasurable pain. Only heaven knows what tragedies she has faced.

I felt God telling me she used to swim as a little kid. She loved the freedom in the water. Floating. Limbs moving freely in any direction. Weightless.

“You loved swimming, as a kid.” She started to sob.

“God loves you. He wants you to feel that freedom again.”

And that’s all I could do. Pray and soothe, my friend gently stroking her hair, speaking words of life over her. Her heartache was so heavy.

This past week at school we’ve been learning about joy -- that Jesus didn’t just muscle through the hard times, keeping calm, carrying on. As it says in Hebrews 12, even while hanging on the cross Jesus chose to see heaven and choose joy. Joy gives us heaven’s perspective. Jesus told us in John 15 that He wants us to be completely filled with joy... Always.

All I could do that morning was hold that desperate woman’s hand and plead before God on her behalf. All the evil inflicted on her, all the bad breaks, all the emptiness swirled around me. I couldn’t see hope.

Where does joy come in? How do I bring heaven into that room?

Don't get me wrong. I’m not going to choose to be blind or stupid. Only a fool wouldn’t see the pain and suffering and misery in the world. And there's room in faith for sadness. Jesus wept when his friend died. I hope I always hold hands, pray, and recognize people’s pain. I’m still going to offer a hot meal, a helping hand and I’m going to bring light into darkness.

But just because there’s hopelessness all around doesn’t mean that’s what we have to dwell on. People around us know sadness. They don’t need help finding their pain. They don’t need me to join them in their pit of misery. What people need is joy even in suffering. People want heaven.

I’m going to choose joy.

             - Andrew

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Eating fruit from the right tree

I made a deal with myself recently. Actually it's more like a rule. It's this: I'm not allowed to judge myself. 

Usually, judging myself is in the form of this phrase: "What's wrong with me?"

Often, my thinking goes something like this: "I'm one of the most blessed people I know. I have a wonderful family. I have incredible friends. I'm healthy. I'm living out a dream. I get to be in one of the most special places on the planet. Why don't I feel awesome all the time? Why do I do or say stupid things? Why do I think self-defeating thoughts? Why do I make dumb choices about how I spend my time? Why aren't I the person I want to be yet? What's wrong with me?"

What I'm seeing more and more, though, is that "what's wrong with me?" question, the judgements I make toward myself, are part of a destructive mindset. It's a mindset that says God expects a certain kind of song and dance from me in exchange for blessing. It's a mindset that assumes God only loves me when I feel good about myself. It's an insidious attitude that wants to live well, do well, relate well and look good in order to feel I deserve God's love.

But God isn't like that. He's a God who made babies. And babies cry. Babies can't do anything for themselves. Babies are adorable even though they're messy and chubby and needy. We don't judge babies for making mistakes when they're learning to walk or talk or eat.

He's a God who made plants come from seeds. From sowing to harvest, there's a long process involving sun and rain and care and nurture and pruning.

He loves process. He created process. He loves my process, even when I don't feel awesome. He's in charge of my process of being and becoming. He's transforming my mind and healing my brokenness from many years of trying so hard to live up to my own standards and what I perceive others' standards to be.

In the Garden of Eden, there were two trees. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other was the tree of life. Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree. Since then, along with our sin and rebellion, we've been obsessed with judging ourselves and others to be good or evil. It's a miserable business.

What God actually wanted for us is the tree of life. The Bible starts with that tree and ends with it in Revelation 22, where the tree brings healing to the nations. Instead of causing us to be obsessed with knowing and judging good and evil -- the essence of religion -- the tree of life offers us freedom from all that through Jesus' breathtaking act of hanging on a tree.

So from now on, I choose not to judge myself. I choose to surrender to the process of being transformed from one degree of glory to the next. I choose to believe in the pleasure God takes in the process. I choose the tree of life.

- Anne

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Giant trees and wild surf - Eureka and Fortuna, CA

Fortuna and Eureka from Andrew Douglas on Vimeo.

Declaration of Dependance

I'm an oldest child; I like to blaze trails. I like to do things by myself. Don't even suggest that it would be better to do something together, because I want to do it on my terms, in my timing. 

I've been told I have a gift of apostleship. It's the gift that drives missionaries, church planters and entrepreneurs. An apostle isn't satisfied with the here and now; she wants to create new venues and expressions, visit new places and bring new aspects of the Kingdom of God to communities. New relationships excite me. I like meeting new people and hearing their stories. I love considering what God has in store for me and others. 

But the dark side of the apostle/oldest child combination is independence. And independence is just code for "I don't need anyone." And that's actually a lie. 

A few weeks ago, when our group at school visited a ropes course, it was a wake-up call to dependence. I expected it to be like the ropes course at camp: everyone stands at the bottom and watches while the person on the rope displays their awesomeness at overcoming fear and getting across. Imagine my dismay when our ropes instructor, Larry, took our group of eight to the top and told us that we had to get across the course - all connected. I admit I was not thinking very nice things about Larry.

But what I expected and what happened were two very different things. It was actually being a team that got us across the course. Many times, our collective strength and balance kept us up there when one of us would have fallen. There were times when I clung to others, practically eyeball-to-eyeball, and every straining muscle in my body was grateful that I wasn't up there alone. 

Also, I noticed that it was way more fun and pressure-free to do the course as a team. It completely freed us of performance issues. 

A few months ago, I gave a second-year student a ride home from the church. She asked me how it was going so far. "Honestly?" I said, "Being here is a dream come true and I thought I'd be ecstatic all the time. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed." She laughed and said, "Don't worry, I felt that way last year too. But it's okay to feel like that. It's important to be vulnerable, because to be vulnerable is to be brave." That has proven prophetic. 

Recently we had a speaker who talked about dependence being our only job. She said Jesus told us we're branches and He's the vine. And the only job a branch has is to be dependent on the vine and just hang there, receiving nutrients. It doesn't create leaves or fruit on its own. In fact, it can only bear fruit if it learns to be dependent. 

Okay, I'm sensing a theme in all of this. When I talked about my independence with an older friend here, she nodded and said gravely, "Yes, God asked me to repent of that myself a few years ago." Repent? Really? It's actually a sin? 

So I did. I told God that I don't want to try to do things on my own any more. I told Him I need Him, and that I need Andrew, family and friends. I know it might take some time for me to learn to live that out, and that change may be gradual, but my Jesus is patient with me.