I. General Description: A life unplugged describes a life that is unplugged from the world and plugged into the Spirit. Many of us go part of the way, some go a little deeper, but Christ asks us to go all the way. What does this look like in a post-modern world? This book is a journey into what our lives can look like if we completely “sell-out” to living the way the Bible asks us to live. This book is not about religion, this book is not about some new way to approach the spiritual life, this book is describing what can take place in a human life if that person takes the entire message of Christ and puts it to the test. The results are nothing less than supernatural and amazing…I am living proof.
This book is broken into three parts:
- Part One: My Life Unplugged: A brief testimony of my personal journey or ME
- Part Two: A Life Unplugged: Teachings on the spiritual life or YOU
- Part Three: Our Lives Unplugged: Exhortation to embrace fellowship or THE CHURCH
B. Part One is broken into 7 chronological chapters.
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
C. Part Two is broken into 10 chapters as listed below:
- 1. God Unplugged: The God of our Misunderstanding
- 2. The Gospel Unplugged: The Good News vs. Another Religion
- 3. The Kingdom of God Unplugged: Etchings of the Infinite
- 4. Salvation Unplugged: The Process of Intimacy
- 5. Sanctification Unplugged: An Intimate Love Affair
- 6. Faith Unplugged: “I Believe, help my unbelief”
- 7. Discipline Unplugged: It’s in God’s Hands; He just put it in yours
- 8. Love Unplugged: To Know Him is to Love Him
- 9. Prayer and Worship Unplugged: In His Presence
- 10. The Bible Unplugged: More Than Words
C. Part Three is broken into 3 chapters as listed below:
- 1. The Church Unplugged: God’s Definition of the Church
- 2. Religion Unplugged: Our Definition of the Church
- 3. Fellowship Unplugged: Redefining the Church
At the end of this post, you can click on “Chapter One” to easily move forward into the book.
A Life Unplugged
I must confess that I always end up going through the back door of life. What do I mean? I mean, most of my life I will discover something on my own and then read about it later. This in some ways gives validity to my testimony, but in other ways causes the eyebrows of some to rise in skepticism. All I can say is that it is what it is. I cannot claim to be a theologian, although I have pored through many a textbook on theology. I cannot claim to have attended a seminary, although I feel I have been through seminary sometimes. I cannot claim to have been trained in Biblical studies, although I know the Bible like one knows their best friend. I am, in many ways, self-taught; but even so, I have been mentored under a plethora of teachers and had deep, intimate conversations with very educated, accredited, and committed men of God. Nevertheless, I seem to experience something or receive revelation first and then seek out what the experience actually was or the exact nature of the revelation. This is backwards for most, but not for all. I am sure there will be people out there that will criticize what I am about to share with you. And you know what? I could really care less! I have learned through the school of hard knocks that if you worry too much about your critics, then you won’t accomplish much in your life. So with God as my witness, I am assuring you the reader, that everything I am about to share with you is from my experience, from my listening to God’s voice, and then researching after the fact in Scripture and in volumes of scholastic works of theology and Christian literature. To just come out and say something and not provide at least some backing of those statements is folly to say the least. In many ways, this edifies me; although, it takes a great deal of time and effort to cover one’s bases as it were. Let me give you a quick example of what I’m talking about.
Years ago I attended a one-hour workshop on the value and art of listening, and in the middle of the presentation, I had an epiphany. Now the epiphany was slightly related to the subject matter, but not at all concerned with the specifics of the discussion. While the teacher was explaining how important it is to learn the art of listening, the Spirit began to teach me on a whole different plain. The revelation was this: Truth is like a diamond. The diamond is suspended in a room at eye-level with people sitting all around it. The diamond is beautiful and perfect and multi-faceted. My perspective of the diamond is different from anyone else’s perspective. The distinct refraction of light coupled with my specific facet, gives me a unique perspective of the diamond of truth. The other people are sitting in different positions. They see a different facet and bending of the light from their perspective. But we are all looking at the same diamond! So is my perspective better or worse than the other perspectives? If I can’t listen to someone describe their perspective, won’t I be missing out on knowing more of the truth? The ultimate version of truth is to get as many perspectives as possible to construct an aggregate truth. The coalescing of perspectives is the key. So many times, we think we know it all, and we miss out on the fact that if we would be “quick to listen and slow to speak” as James, Jesus’ brother, teaches us, we would have a more complete version of truth! Isn’t that lovely?
I was so amazed at the revelation that the Spirit gave me that I scribbled it out on a piece of paper before it left me (note to anyone wanting to grow spiritually: keep a notebook handy at all times!). Later I meditated on the epiphany and sought in prayer for more revelation. It was magnificent what I was shown. I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, thanks Holy Spirit. I’m so special! This is ground-breaking stuff.” Years later, while reading about medieval Christian mystics in my preparation to write an article, I ran across the same concept by a woman mystic. I mean it was word for word what I had written down! And then later still, I read about another great Christian thinker who wrote the same thing about truth. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that the Spirit teaches everyone willing to learn, and almost all of what I thought to be original was simply a revelation that had been spoken previously. So the negative for me was this: I’m not so special as to get “inside information”; the positive side for me was this: I’m not so special as to get “inside information”. You see, it is edifying to know that the Spirit speaks to others in the same way and thus builds a revelatory foundation. It makes you feel at one moment a little disappointed and in the next moment quite relieved that you aren’t losing your mind! On the other hand, I have had very educated men get really upset that I knew things they had to study for years to attain. They didn’t consider the fact that I had studied for years, just not in a formal classroom.
Here is another example that many can relate to: when you read the Bible with the Holy Spirit as your Teacher (whether you know the Spirit is functioning in this capacity or not), a piece of Scripture will stand out and come alive with meaning. After time has passed, you can be reading the same exact verse and get a completely different meaning. I have known of this phenomenon almost all of my adult life but didn’t know it was called the hermeneutical spiral. Because I didn’t know the name of the phenomenon, does that make it any less valuable? One last example: while reading the New Testament, I noticed some themes that didn’t seem to mesh. Some verses spoke of predestination and others spoke of choice. So which is it? I knew something was going on but didn’t know this debate in the form of Calvinism versus Arminianism. Here is a case of what is defined as “divine tension”. Somewhere along the way, I realized that either/or is better replaced by both/and. Now how can this be so? Getting past the not knowing is part of the spiritual life. If you want concrete answers, then it is best to stick with questions like, “What is your favorite color?” Because no matter where you go in the universe of academia: science, mathematics, theology, or intellectual spirituality; you will run into questions with no concrete answers! Think of the nature of light: Light should be one thing (wave) or another (photon), but ironically is both! It is part of God’s signature and in many ways, His way of proving the principles spoke of in Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways”, says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts”.
And again in the New Testament, we read of just how inadequate are our logical constructs of reason. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 says,
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
Did you catch that? Futile. So attempting to contemplate spiritual concepts with your intellect is an exercise in futility. In contrast to reasoning your way into understanding, God provides a better way! Notice what the same letter to the Corinthians says as precursor to the above citation. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says,
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Almost every human being I know that quotes this verse leaves out the punch line! Let us not take verses out of context even if we don’t quite understand them. A note to all who read this: STOP taking verses out of context! The passage continues. Verses 10 to 12 say,
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may know the things freely given to us by God.
In other words, what we can’t understand with our intellect and what can’t be understood by our own effort, can be understood by our spirit if our spirit is in communion with His Holy Spirit. That is astounding. That is what makes me jump out of bed every morning, and that is what every Christian has deposited in their heart. How many of us exercise our right to access the mysteries of God, and how many of us only know of this as a latent power that we don’t understand? I discovered, or rather the Lord revealed, that power hidden inside of me. And this is where 99.9999% of my inspiration comes from. Don’t be jealous! The Spirit is calling you to this adventure as well. I am just reporting back to you what I have learned thus far; and maybe that will motivate you to search the untold riches awaiting your willingness to unplug from the false reality and its lies and plug into the Spirit.
So my life has been lived by coming in the back door or what I like to call, “stumbling into eternity”. Call it flawed, call it backward, call it crazy, it makes no difference to me. The results end up being the same. Whether one reads it in a book and then experiences it, or whether you experience it first and then read about it makes no difference. You end up in the same place. Let us look at it this way. There are two ways to learn how to sail: you can read and take classes on how to sail, or you can take your boat out and learn on the fly. You can study all about sailing and understand all of the ins and outs, or you can just figure it out by yourself. The former method probably is more efficient and wise, but the latter method will make you a little more intimate with your boat. The downside to learning in theory is that one is tempted to think they know how to sail, but until you are on the boat and actually experiencing the art of sailing, you really aren’t a sailor. The beauty of the Holy Spirit is that He is a “hands on” teacher; He is available to all who would seek Him. The magnificence of the spiritual life is that it is accessible to all! Whether you are an Aborigine living in a remote village or whether you are an intellectual living in a downtown metropolis, the Spirit will meet you where you are. Now don’t get me wrong, we all need teachers to at least get us started, but even without an available teacher, the Teacher will find a way. Notice what is recorded in 1 John 2:20 and 28,
But you have an anointing (baptized in the Holy Spirit) from the Holy One, and you know all things…But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (Parenthetical added)
What are we to make of this verse? As I will elaborate in Part Three of this book, we really do need teachers and pastors; we really do need one another because Christianity is a group sport! I will clarify this later, but suffice it to say, the most important part of the spiritual life is your personal and intimate journey with the Holy Spirit. It is a really bad idea to lean on another’s understanding or experience. Many folks completely depend on their teachers, ignoring the primary mandate of learning from the Teacher. One is to complement the other; one without the other is begging for trouble. In fact, I am trying to make a point and a case for the absolute necessity of a personal journey with the Spirit. Will others help you along the way? Yes. Will others help you understand the Way? Yes. This book in and of itself is a testimony of understanding and an invitation to “take the plunge”! If you will allow me, I will be one of your teachers. The network of spiritual knowledge and wisdom is meant to be shared and accessed by all those seeking the narrow way. But if you do not have a solid foundation of Scripture and, like the Bereans, test all things through the light of the Scripture, and if you do not have an intense relationship with the Spirit, then you can be misled. Don’t drink the punch or sit around waiting for the mother-ship!
I have to admit that I love good teaching and seek it out like a dog after bacon! But I would also have to admit that some of the most profound revelation I have had has come directly from the Holy Spirit when I least expected it. If I told you that while listening to the band “Mercy Me” and vacuuming the den carpet that I had an incredible revelation, you would think I was nuts. So I won’t tell you that! And if I told you that I had experienced the presence of God while driving to a soccer game, you would think I had been smoking “rabbit tobacco” (in southern dialect, pronounced RAY-beet ta-BAY-kee). So I won’t tell you that either! The way the Spirit weaves His tapestry of wisdom and revelation is as varied as each individual, and regardless of the strange ways in which He speaks, the experiences from person to person are actually more similar than different. I just know someone out there is like, “Yeah, yeah! God spoke to me while vacuuming too!” I’m just sure of it. Modern skeptics surely think that people like me are destined to be wearing a straight jacket and hanging out in a padded room, but there’s a verse for that. You hear the phrase in modern society, “There’s an app for that”; well, I parrot the same idea when I say, “There’s a verse for that.” So in order to make myself feel better, I will quote yet another verse in 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says,
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
So I can rest in assurance that much of what I will speak will indeed sound peculiar, foolish, and down-right unnatural, but alas, that is the nature of these things. These things are not natural; they are supernatural. We are a peculiar people (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)!
The Bible warns Christians to be careful as teachers, and I do not want to lead anyone astray. James 3:1 says,
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
I wanted to write this book years ago, but decided (based on the above cited warning) that I had better check, double-check, and re-check before disseminating any teaching. You know the time is right when you cannot hold it in any longer. Any writer will tell you that writing is like giving birth! The idea is planted as a seed of sorts, the idea germinates with time (the timing can be quirky), the idea takes on shape, the idea then takes on a life of its own, and eventually you just want the darn thing out of you! Without sounding pious and elitist, I have to admit that I totally understand where Jeremiah was coming from when he penned the Spirit-inspired verse recorded in Jeremiah 20:9 which says,
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore of His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
So after many years of gestation and “holding it back”, I am giving birth to this baby. Now I don’t want to sound defensive, but the revelation about the kingdom of God that the Spirit has given me is very radical. So as I go, I must back it up with Scripture and also give you some theology along the way. Because I am stumbling into eternity and because I have been destined to always enter the house through the back door, I owe it to you to give some validity to the revelation outside of my own experience. Otherwise, I might just have to check myself into an asylum. You can come visit me on the weekends after supper…just don’t mess with my orange jello!
Click to move on to Chapter One