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Saturday, July 17, 2021

Reflection: Earth Sucks. Or does it? What's this all about anyway? Jesus is coming...!

What can I say? Year 41 is here. 
I don't feel different, just a long list of things that can never happen because those dreams died for various reasons, or, a long list of things I thought I would do or be by now that slip further away with each passing year. 
Yet... maybe I don't want those things anymore anyway. Maybe, I just need to follow God in the desert to a land I know not of. 
I was thinking about Abraham, and how he was rich with cattle, gold, silver, land, servants... And a promise of international impact in subsequent generations. Yet for all his immense wealth, he lived in glorified tents, slaughtered his own dinner, dug Wells for himself, wondered around without ever really settling anywhere. He died a stranger in the land his seed/offspring would later inherit. 
Meanwhile, I typed this from my smart phone, edited it from my back-up laptop, onto a social media app, which I then copied into a Blogger platform, from the comfort of a 3 bedroom, two bath house on a half acre and my girlfriend's house for editing while I worked out of her basement. 
I cooked a dinner I conveniently bought from the store (no hunting or plowing). I made a skillet cookie on my electric stove. 
I sat on a comfortable couch, with a window based air conditioner unit keeping me cool. 
Do I have central air? No. But I have an A/C in every room of the house now. 
I have access to Netflix, Disney+, and I watched the Leverage Redemption, reboot series, for free via IMDB app on my Firestick. My iPad is charging with my Kindle and Logos libraries of hundreds of books. I drove to my girlfriend's house this morning in a car God fixed with help from family and friends who love me. That same drive by camel, I'm sure it's a lot slower. 
*Google Maps says the 16 miles would be 5 hours by foot and 1.5 hours by bicycle; so I'm guessing by camel closer to the walking speed lets say 3 hours.  You can imagine how long it took Abraham to get anywhere if he traveled, and why people never went long distances unless they planned to stay gone. This also paints a portrait of how much it cost Abraham to obey Yahweh and "go to a land you know not of".
The poorest people in the United States of America have access to more than Abraham ever conceived of.
Why? Really, why do we have so much today? 
Jesus communities, full of Abraham's seed, spring up all over Rome and Europe and Asia and North Africa. Within 300 years of Jesus ushering in the multiplied spirit-filled Kingdom of God rule, the Roman Empire succumbed to the power of Jesus communities, and abolished idol worship.
In the *relative* peace that followed, pockets of people had time to think rather than just survive. 
Yes, wars and rumors of wars continued, and still do. But thanks to the relative peace in post-Jesus era, people had time to be creative. While the codex (early bound books) existed before Jesus, it was the early Christians and their mass duplication of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Literature and Letters that led to radical innovation of the codex. Christians improved and enhanced book technologies. Printing presses. Science. And a new age for humanity was born.
Quite literally, all the nations on earth were blessed by the new world that came about with the advent of the Kingdom of God worked out through God's renewed spirit-filled humans. 
The fact I can type on this phone is directly linked to one man in the desert saying yes to God, about 4,000 years ago, give or take.
Earth still sucks. Famine. Droughts. Floods. Earthquakes. Genocides. Wars. Selfishness ranging from massive dictatorships to the guy who cuts you off on the way to work permeates ever aspect of human existence. Murder. Rape. Theft. All issues. People kill their babies and call it birth control. People kill abortion doctors and think they're serving God (they're not). There is evil in the world. Hardship.

These issues, plus some bad Bible reading, led many churches in the last 200 years to say "Who cares, it's all gonna burn anyway". But, it isn't, that's not what the story of the Bible is about.
Maybe, in hindsight, Earth doesn't suck as bad with a longer view in mind. 
God created a good Earth. He created mankind to be co-rulers with him on Earth, and be fruitful, and multiply, and have dominion (rule) and subdue (put things in order). Just stop for a moment to appreciate the rain on a window, breeze in summer, cool water running over your skin on a hot day, swimming, laughing at a comedy, the amazing wonder of a starry night or a ladybug. It is one amazing planet. Despite the horrors above, people overcome. They break free of dictatorships either by escape or overthrow. They find ways to pursue the freedom God birthed in their inner selves from before creation.

What was The Church known for the first three hundred years? 


Churches took care of the community poor, widows, orphans, and those in distress. They taught people to understand and even read Greek so they could have access to the Hebrew scriptures and Apostles' Letters. They were rejected by Jerusalem for believing in a rejected Messiah, and by Rome for calling Jesus Karios instead of Caesar. 

Neverthless, by the 300s AD, Christian communities had survived ever persecution and become so vital to the needs of communities all over the empire that Rome changed its official religion to welcome them into the fold. While that actually became a bad thing for The Church, and we are still feeling its affects today, it proves the power of Jesus Communities over the long haul.

Earth is still broken, and Jesus Communities are still going be the primary agents to put it right. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and its King will only ever grow, it cannot shrink, it is the rock of Daniel 2, cut without human hands, crushing all other kingdoms, and growing without end, it will be proclaimed in every single facet of planet earth, and then Jesus will return for his people.
Right up to the last day, there will be wars and rumors of wars. There will be evil. Some of us may even die for this kingdom. Nevertheless, the kingdom will grow despite it all. Only ever grow. And we've been given a chance to be a part of it. 
The Church holds the power to transform societies, when we stop trying to hold on to political power.
A great awakening has come, the sleeping giant that took over Rome is waking up to her first love. Her first century understanding of what it meant to be a Jesus Community. And the power of that kind of fellowship will be like nothing the world has seen since before 300 AD.
Can you feel the buzz...? The electricity? The Spirit whispers ...
He's coming...
He's coming...
He's coming...
Listen for it... The wind of change is blowing.


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ

Isaac reaped a thousand fold return, so what?

A reflective moment birthed through my recovery from the Pentecostal/Word of Faith movement.

I saw the meme below, laughed, then my smile faded to a sigh. I had just read the story of Isaac earlier the same day.
When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, because the Lord blessed him. Genesis 26:12 NET
It reminded me of some well-intentioned errors we believed in the Word of Faith. While there are some "TV Evangelists" who intentionally misuse the concepts of giving to rob people, most of us (pastors included) really believed in it for our own giving too. Yet, herein lay an example of poor exegesis that brought very little measurable fruit to anyone I ever knew in the Word of Faith movement. What little fruit it did bear was a result of different giving principals that were related but also misused.

The story of Isaac reaping a 100-fold return on seed he sowed was used to show why you should give at church. While giving generously is a common theme in the Bible (Paul talked about it to the Corinthians), and it can be associated with a financially blessed life (indirectly), there is very little scriptural basis for give X, receive Y.

It was taught that the basis for this concept was actually from Jesus, who told Peter (who had walked away from everything) that anyone who left houses, family, etc. for the cause of Jesus would reap a 100-fold return now in this life, and in the life to come. The use of the same term tied the story back to Isaac, so we drew our conclusions.

Some of us took this to mean, "if I give $100 in the offering today, I have a $10,000 check coming in the mail"... Yeah. That never happened. Ever. To anyone I personally knew.

So we took a valid line of thinking (Jesus is referencing Isaac and promising rewards for prioritizing the Kingdom of God over life and family) and extended it too far (that doesn't mean a check is coming).

Most of the so-called basis for this comes from misapplication, poor exegesis, and poor hermeneutics of biblical passages.

1. For starters, Genesis isn't a collection of random historical events, it is a narrative theological history. There is a single-narrative authorial intention (and multiple editors) for all of Genesis and he/she is trying to tell a story with key theological themes. What is the story of Isaac telling us about the human condition? Etc.

2. In terms of his story, Isaac had a very specific situation, and a specific command (do not go to Egypt, stay here). He was following the direct instructions given. He was also living several thousand years before Jesus, so different time and place than 21st Century USA.
3. You're not Isaac. While you are indirectly associated through Jesus, and under the blessing of Abraham as a result, that doesn't mean you get to do verbatim what Isaac did and get the same verbatim result, if it did, you had bettter like planting seed in the deserts of Ancient Canaan. God's not a magic formula. You cannot take anybody's story from the Bible and just usurp it for the same results. You can see what theological points are being made, and what God would have you learn from it.

4. Note: he sowed physical seed, in a physical ground, and reaped physical harvest. If there were any application of this story for your life, giving money into a bucket isn't it. There are themes and patterns for giving, this isn't one of them.

So what can we, legitimately, learn from this story, in light of the themes of scripture?

This story is about a physical action taken in the real world. If anything was to be mimicked, it would be "go write your book, start your business, get your degree and become a teacher..." in the land you are told to plant yourself in. That would be far closer to what Isaac did than putting money in a bucket as if it were a slot machine. But even that is drawing too much from the story, unless you also heard from God to that effect. 

And that is the real "lesson". God blessed them because... he decided to.
God had just disinherited the nations, and was choosing Abraham and his family out of the nations for a specific task. They obeyed, imperfectly. They also failed, often, and God corrected them and stepped in to protect them from their own stupidity (just look at how often Abraham and Isaac lied to the kings they stayed with about their wives). God blessed them, not because they were special or different or had more "faith" than anyone else. God blessed them because Abraham believed Yahweh and took steps to follow him as instructed; and, because God had already decided to "bless" them before Abraham was ever called. 
*If you notice, his father had already started the journey and stopped in Haran. Abraham was technically picking up where Terah had left off, but that's a rabbit trail for another day.

We do; however, see a pattern in scripture. As we learn from Proverbs: when people hear God's voice, and do what he says, things tend to go better for them. And as we learn from Ecclesiastes: That's true, most of the time. Sometimes things don't go well for the righteous, and God will work that out in the eschaton (the end of all things). 

There are no guarantees. God is not a slot machine or a even a stock trading company. Your giving doesn't automatically mean your financial rewards. In fact, that is exactly backwards of God's giving. You give out of a gratitude for all he's done for you (past-tense), not as a way to get a "return on investment". 
Giving in the Bible is almost always out of the produce you have already reaped, and sometimes even out of our lack. There are instances, miracle moments, where giving from lack results in rewards (the widow who gave her last oil and flour to Elijah), but even then the reward is usually survival or rescue not mansions and Mercedes.

The next time someone calls your giving "seed", just smile and nod. If you feel compelled to use an Old Testament phrase, call it your Thanks Offering Unto God. 
Just my two-cents, I could be wrong and often am. 
Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller

Attribute Unknown "Facebook Meme"

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sneak peak: NoHiding.Faith

I'm starting something new. I don't know how much time I'll be giving to it up front, but, long term I feel it will become my main brand. It will be the business card I carry, so to speak. 

No Hiding, if you've been following me, should be an old phrase. It's become such a mantra for me that I would get it tattooed if I wasn't such a woosie. 

But it takes on new depth of meaning with each passing year. It no longer feels one-note, or about one thing. It has become the core essence of what I do. I lean-in to hard things. I do not shrink from adversity. I sit with people in "the suck". 

And now... I've spent years, Fall 2016-Present, going through a very public, raw, and honest deconstruction of my faith. 

I haven't written much this year, school, kids, etc, but I have posted much of it. 

I will keep writing my random musings and thoughts and ideas on the fly right here. My stories as well. And my pre-publish-ready rough draft ideas. 

But, I'm starting NoHiding.Faith to place my more refined, finished, and complete thoughts. I intend to start writing articles that flavor to the more scholarly, but, focus on taking apart tradition from Bible. 

Exploring questions like:

Does the Bible really say that?
Does the Bible really claim that?
What is the "Gospel", really?! 
What does it mean to be a Jesus Follower?
How do we live in healthy community?
How can the field of mental health play a role in an expressed faith?

Basically: If life throws a question, and the Bible might speak to it, we're not going to hide behind religion, we'll punch it head on. 

Who knows, I might even throw out an article about how important it is for husband's to study their wife's orgasms and make them better by studying anatomy. Honestly, it's been a requested article by several wives I know as the topic came up over coffee with friends. 

Articles there will be infrequent but complete, that's the goal. Anything you see there today isn't an actual article, it's a place holder to test the website. But, that's the plan. 

Also, I have a resources page started there with solid biblical scholars and mental health professionals. Check out those links.

I'll keep being in both places. 


Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Next Great Awakening is here...

Just watched Black Widow. Good movie. I think it parallels the church. There are still so many of my friends who think Donald Trump is "God's Anointed" and he's coming back in 2024 to save America. 🙄🤮

How does one get so twisted in their heart and mind as to believe this? Manipulation. Mind control. They've been sold a lie that there's an enemy that is threatening them and they need to defeat this enemy to "Make America Great Again". 

The problem is, it's just not true. Yes. There are forces at work in world which act against us, especially the people of God. Those forces sit behind the powers of this age. I don't have any issue with their being an "enemy", a vary real one. But, our enemy is spiritual powers and dark forces in the heavenly spaces. Flesh and blood is not our enemy. Joe Biden is not your enemy. Your neighbor who voted for Biden is not your enemy. And America... Hear me spiritual Israel... America is not your citizenship. 

The United States of America has been the best civilization in history, for some. And it's been the worst in history for others. It's done wonderful good, and unthinkable evil. 

This is not our final stop, and America doesn't need to be "Great Again". It never really was. It needs to turn to Jesus, one neighborhood at a time, and experience a renewing of the heart. 

It's ironic, as they rolled the gold statue of Donald Trump into a building last year (or was that earlier this year?), that the church didn't even blink. Nebuchadnezzar has issued his challenge, and the church bowed, instead of choosing the furnace. 

It's not their fault, they're all still asleep. Other Christians are not the enemy, any more than the world of lost and hurting (and hurtful) humanity is the enemy. The church has been so busy hunkering down in our silos for decades, that we never stopped to think about "what if we're wrong"? 

We laughed at people who said "millions of years" because we were so sure the Bible taught us the Earth was younger (it doesn't). We turned off our brains and read the text so "literally" that we became illiterate. We don't even know the difference between a poem, a narrative, a metaphor, and a history. 

We weren't always so illiterate. Christianity founded the sciences of the modern era, it developed hospitals, schools, orphanages. The first church taught the people how to read, so they could read and understand the Tanakh, and eventually the compiled Apostlic writings. 

Our live for the poor and needy ran so counterculture to the world, and ran so deep and consistent, that we changed the world. All while being hunted.

We upended the Roman Empire in approximately 350 years, and then... We vanished. Why? Because politics. Political power corrupted the church and made her useless. 

It took from roughly 350 AD to 1500 AD (1,200 years +/-) to wake her back up. We've been asking the wrong questions, making the text out to say things it never claimed, but, at least we were waking up. 

From Luther to Azusa Street, we've experienced wake up moments. 

Now we are on the precipice of another... It's time we lay down our dogmatic narrow (and often incorrect) ways of reading the Bible. 

We must wake up to the deep history of our text, become immersed in the mind of its authors and editors, and begin to hear the narrative they've been trying to whisper to us from its pages. 

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and Jesus its King, is about far more than we ever knew, of a different character than we thought it was, and far more compelling than we ever dreamed. 

The Kingdom of God has been here, moving, growing, seeping into and changing societies, ever since Jesus arrived. We've been so focused on a false gospel of escapism, that we didn't realize how much it actually affects how we live today. 

The King is coming, it's time to wake up, the Bridegroom returns.


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