49. Hebrew Worship: Preparation

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.  Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.  He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”

After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.  Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”  Exodus 19:10-15  NIV

Most of my childhood was spent living in the jungles of Brazil.  We had visitors from the US once every couple of years, on the average.  Hence, they were special.

Plans were usually made months in advance and discussed in detail.  It was a given that the guests would sleep in one of the kids’ bedrooms and the honor of having the guest in “my” room was immense.  The arguments and negotiations were intense, protracted and often high decibel.  The two courts of appeal were bombarded with every form of logic and twisted reasoning.  Manipulation and blandishment exceeded that of a presidential election in terms of a single minded focus on the objective, with no ethics cluttering the process.

After a surfeit of words, adjudication was made.  Instantly thereafter, appeals were furiously launched and prosecuted as though life itself were hanging in the balance.  Eventually, the last appeal was either denied or sustained and the decision was accepted – or maybe just acknowledged and tolerated in the midst of dark grumblings about “next time. . .”

The winner, newly graced with temporary legitimacy, proceeded to make a shambles of all the Fruit of the Spirit, as the losers were reminded of their misfortune directly and indirectly, relentlessly.

And THEN the real work began.  All books were removed from shelves.  Cleaning was voluntarily done on a level we would never have embraced out of mere obedience.  Books were returned to the shelves, newly reorganized along obvious themes, size, and color plus some mysterious algorithm known only to the possessor of the room-to-be-graced-with-a-visitor.

Curtains were washed; screens cleaned; closet downsized so there would be plenty of hangers and drawer space for the guest. It was as though they were going to stay for a decade, not a day.

When all cleaning was done and redone, usually about two months before company came, the serious creativity kicked in as every possible resource in the house and in town was scrutinized through the grid of, “Do you think they might like that?”

No interior decorator endured such equivocating, such indecision or such relentless pursuit of the never-in-human-history-achieved presentation, as my mother dealt with from her kids.  We passionately took our legitimacy crutches to a new level.

And while the proud owner of the designated bedroom was waxing eloquent about his superior achievements to his most unappreciative audience, the rest of the kids were dividing the secondary spoils among them:  one got the bathroom prep, another got to set the table ONE time, someone else had dibs on fixing and serving the dessert and the loser had to settle for carrying a suitcase in from the car.

In retrospect, I wonder what it was like for our guests to be relentlessly stalked by a small tribe of legitimacy-starved teens and preteens, inflicting themselves on the guest at all times.

My point is simply this.  Our culture has streamlined worship to the level of treating God like a Twitter follower, who gets 140 characters from you, mostly missing vowels, leaving it to Him to decode your cryptic intentions.

What would it look like for you to spend three entire days in getting ready for a meeting with the Most High?  What would you do?  How many different aspects of your life could you address in preparation for an event that meant a lot to you?

The reality is that I have never in my adult life spent as much emotional energy focusing on preparation for one meeting with the King, as I did in childhood, preparing for a mere mortal.

Something is quite wrong with this picture.

49.  Hebrew Worship:  Preparation  BYSo SLG Coaching blog

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub



New Wrinkle on Sleep Difficulties

Over the years I have worked with a lot of people who have had difficulty sleeping.  Long term sleep deprivation is a brutal problem which complicates every other aspect of the healing journey.

I have coached people on building a toolkit with a wide variety of tools, since different things work differently for different people.  It is an art form to sleep well, not a simple one-size-fits-all formula.

Against this backdrop, “Sally” has been struggling for about ten years with a wide variety of dynamics.  She has vigorously implemented my ideas, scoured the web for everyone else’s ideas and had some wonderful successes along the way, but has never solved the problem.

One of the intransigent sore spots for years has been getting to bed at night.  She misses glaringly obvious on-ramps to sleep and pays the price for the next 24 hours, because she can’t bring herself to go to bed.  But when she does go to bed, she has been known to lie there for hours, unable to sleep, while desperately needing to sleep.

She spent some time with her counselor rounding up a handful of parts who did not like night time for a bunch of valid reasons.  And she had her deliverance partner scour her whole body looking for Leviathan, and finding/evicting some.  She changed beds, bedrooms and did every sort of land cleansing she could think of.

At the end of the months of focused, excellent work, there was no change.  She pinged me and I agreed to give it a shot, and we got on the phone.

When I asked God to show me what He wanted me to see, the immediate picture was of a four poster bed and a demon in the post by her left shoulder.

I queried her and she had no four poster bed now or that she could remember in childhood.

I queried the demon and he admitted that the bed was from someone else’s house where Sally slept briefly as a child.

The short version was, the demon created this “virtual reality” bed which has followed her around for decades, since childhood.

For starters, we give high honor to Sally’s spirit.  It had very good reasons for not wanting to go to bed at night!

We dispatched the demon who admitted his job was to mess with her sleep.  We asked God to destroy the bed and to disconnect the device in Sally that the demon was using.

This is a new idea to me.  I am not quite sure what the whole dynamic is.  I am guessing that the “virtual reality bed” was designed to be exempt from the house cleansing work Sally did.  In the future, we will amend our land cleansing prayers to extend to all realities, not only ours, but all spiritual realities and dimensions and structures.  See if that works better.

Anyway, I am tossing this very new manna out there, in case it helps someone else on their journey.

Prayers to Break Egyptian Curse

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

From the Hub, in a rush, on a busy day

Shared with permission from Sally



48. Hebrew Worship: The Objective

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Exodus 19:4  NIV

There is quite a difference in the two objectives.

The Hebrews mostly wanted out of the brickyards, but didn’t really want out of Egypt.  They thoughtfully considered God’s promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, but were rather turned off by the fact that the price tag for peace was, as usual, war.

God’s objective was relationship.  He did not bring them out of Egypt to ease the burden of slavery.  He did not bring them out simply to facilitate getting to the Promised Land.  His objective was to bring them to Himself.

For relationship.

It is a challenge to meld vision and relationship in a single life.  Our cultural stereotypes abound with portraits of relational groups, and for the most part, the stereotypes portray the highly relational groups as being less productive.

On the other hand, when we look at our builders, whether in athletics, the marketplace, academia or religious circles, most of the movers and shakers are not overly known for their general love-ability.

There are some exceptions in the entertainment industry, where a few high performing stars are also wonderful humans with many sustained, intimate, peer relationships.  But most of the high dollar artists are legendary for the kinks in their personalities, not their relationships.

Individually there are so many layers to the intimacy vs. builder paradigm.  Some redemptive gifts are more naturally prone to one end of the spectrum or the other.  Design.  So does that mean that Prophets and Givers and Rulers get a pass on God’s expectation of intimacy, just because building comes so easily for them?

Or do Servants, Teachers and Mercy gifts get to drift through life enjoying horizontal or vertical intimacy, while leaving little in terms of a legacy when they go home?

Are the Exhorters the only ones expected to love everyone and God and change the world in a single lifetime?

And what about the impact of your family of origin?  I grew up in the shadow of a formidable warrior/builder.  My dad single handedly planted more churches in Brazil than all the rest of the missionaries from his denomination did in Brazil over 60 years.

I spell formidable as “BILL BURK.”

He understandably left an imprint on the peeps who shared his table three times a day and who went on lots and lots of day trips with him.

His first born trains managers for a chain of restaurants.  A builder of builders.

I am second born.  An obsessive compulsive builder.

The third born has spent the last 35 years leading a high tech team that helps build missiles and satellites.  He builds high speed, extraordinarily competent technical teams.

The fourth born is a pastor effectively building a church in a community that is massively dominated by the Mormon church.  He is effective!

The fifth born is a former missionary, and currently the wife of a church planting pastor.  She is a builder of legacies with 14 kids all her own and counting.

The baby of the family is the only one who has not really gotten traction yet in terms of building.

Admittedly, we are not the most relational family in the world.  Kind of like Dad.

The apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Then there was a couple in the church I used to pastor.  Their 40 year old kids stubbed their toes in what I thought was a minor way, and mom and dad were in the car in a couple of hours, heading a thousand miles away to help the kids.

Talk about a tightly relational family!  I was stunned that a 50 cent problem generated a $5K response from the parents.

I was also dumbfounded that the 40 year old kiddo who was much loved and who loved back couldn’t get traction in life.  Couldn’t build a square out of Legos.

That is our community.  We have every point on the spectrum from the builder Prophets to the intimate Mercies.  We have the latch key kids who learned survival skills on the street and can build more with less but don’t trust anyone, anywhere.  We have the Baby Princess who couldn’t make pancakes for breakfast with a box of mix and a life coach at her elbow but sure loves everyone and everything (well, except for work, anyway).

That is our reality.

And God’s reality is that He wanted Israel to come apart from the (forced) building projects of that OCD Ruler nation call Egypt, to spend time with Him.  To learn intimacy.  To connect with Him as a personalized God, not the distant God of their 400 years-dead ancestors.  And to do that, He ditched the building for the most part.

Let me put it in our vernacular.  Do you realize God put THE ENTIRE NATION on welfare for 40 years?  Deliberately.  They had to dabble a bit to gather manna, and there was a short, two year building project with the Tabernacle, but it only occupied a handful of the labor force.

Forty years of welfare so people could learn to be intimate with God (and maybe each other, although that seems to be stretching it a bit).

Now here is the kicker.  OUT OF THE INTIMACY SEASON came a nation of warriors.  And the lead warrior was Joshua, Mister Mercy Himself, who preferred to abdicate his responsibilities as Moses’ right-hand man and just hang with God at the tent, doing intimacy.

And the ultimate One Man Wrecking Crew, Elijah, was sidelined (on welfare, again) for three years before he unleashed a warring and building project that was historic.

So what?

At the end of the day, there is no algebraic formula for blending our lives with our culture and our gifts.  There are only a vast number of unique journeys.

But . . . we must anchor ourselves in the reality that God holds both objectives equally.  We ARE the Bride of Christ, which is an intensely intimate concept.

And we ARE the sons of God, co-heirs with the King of Kings, participating with Him in bringing every kingdom in the world under His Lordship.

It behooves us to ponder the paradox and the paradigm, and not simply slide into what comes easiest for us.

48.  Hebrew Worship:  The Objective  WYCiB SLG Coaching blog

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

From home, after a weird half week of neither building nor much intimacy