Thursday, June 18, 2009

Transmillennial 2009 - One Woman's Experience

(We sent this out to family and friends ... and received quite a wide variety of responses. The vast majority were positive, encouraging, and there were even a few "Wow, me too" confessions. A few negative responses also were returned ... I would rather be judged and rejected for who I am ... than for what others imagine about me. I can bless and release them ... appreciating what they've given to my life!)

Mark and I attended our second Transmillennial conference this past week, put on by Presence International - the topic this year was "The One Inclusive God." We went, not fully knowing what to expect, as we are no longer just "UR" focused, or "Fulfillment" focused ... but we've embraced those concepts and then-some. The Spirit continues to lead us into all truth, as we can bear it.

For some of you, this will be "news" ... this will even feel like we're "outting" ourselves. Perhaps we are. We've never been ones to hide who we are, and what we believe. We feel free to share how God has been leading us, the past 5 years, what He's been showing us, and the joy that our relationship with Him is bringing us. Some of you have been part of this journey, and some others of you share it with us. We want to live with the integrity of being who we are, honestly and transparently. And, of course, we always welcome conversation.

The conference was held at Indian Hills church, in North Little Rock, Arkansas ... the pastor, Dick King, has long believed that all are saved ... and his beliefs have grown on from that point. Obviously, he's been much maligned, and has lost most of his church ... about 100 or so are still with him (this is the same story for Carlton Pearson in Oklahoma). It was a stretch for us to be in the land of humidity (in June!), and more so to be back in a church, LOL! But this group of people is a beyond-rare group ... for them, I willingly endured both the swelter and the sanctuary!

Presence International is a ministry that has long believed that all is fulfilled ... that Jesus returned (albeit differently than the traditional view would have it) in 70AD, with the end of the (old covenant) age. Eventually they came to see that if all is fulfilled, then God is all in all, and that means all are saved (this shocked many, and some left). It's gone beyond that understanding, into "what does it mean then to be in this covenant, wherein all is fulfilled and all are saved?" Rather than being stuck in the past, or fixated on the future, they're about living in the NOW, wherein we connect with God, who said be still and know that He is God - within us, not "out there, somewhere."

Further, if the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world -- then as far as God's concerned, it was always done. We were always reconciled to God. Further ... what if our "story" - the way we read Scripture - is based on blindness, shame and fear, rather than on truth and love? What if we never were separated from God (and really, how would any of us escape Omnipresence?). What if mercy has always triumphed over judgment? What if we always were One with Him (and with each other), only our perspective, based on the lies that we believed (both individually and collectively), *kept* us from seeing reality from God's point of view? What if Jesus came, not so much to accomplish something new, but to show us a live-demonstration of what had always been done...?

What if our comprehension of God was incomplete, murky, and based on pagan beliefs in the OT, rather than on truth? What if we didn't comprehend God until Jesus showed us the Father? What if we STILL missed the point, even then?

The conference this year, Transmillennial 2009, was entitled, "The One Inclusive God". While there were numerous break-out sessions (wonderful ones, from Mike Morrell, Frank Spencer, Micah Redding, Rob Hunter, Willie Cripps, and others), I'll share the highlights from the keynote speakers.

Tim King, CEO of Presence, opened with the video I previously shared ... then went on to talk about some various aspects of religion (this will come from my notes) ... he mentioned that Jesus on the cross didn't feature in artwork until the 10th century -- prior to that, the Resurrection was the feature of artwork, which signified restoration in heaven and earth. The forced conversions of Saxons to Christianity, by Charlemagne, led to depictions of a tortured Christ on the cross ... as the people were experiencing pain, it showed up in their art.

Then, religion vs. science ... once upon a time, Geocentrism (the doctrine that the earth was the center of the universe) prevailed -- going contrary to that belief was punishable by death. But when it was proven wrong by science (& the church finally caught up with reality), everything changed! We're discovering yet-more new things, due to science ... science is now telling us that there is but One Source of all things (in both the micro and macro directions). Once again, the church and science are at odds ... once again, the tradition of man nullifies truth ... and once again, religion will be the last to catch on to reality.

Our classic philosophical theism says:
- "God is separate from the world, but somehow present."
- "God can only be understood as Trinity."
- "We are separate from God."

But Panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism, which says that everything is a god), says that God is all IN all, as well as beyond all.

Much of our religious misunderstandings can be traced back to Augustine, who claimed that there was a rupture in the order of the universe ... that humanity fell, moved from God, and needs to be redeemed. But, what if the whole model is as wrong as geocentricism was...? (What if Augustine, and others in church history, really, really needed Prozac..?)

What if we were never separate from God in the first place? What if we didn't "fall", but progressed from an infantile-spiritual state, into a more mature state, wherein we learn from our choices, and the consequences that follow? What if our shame and fear caused us to have an errant point of view? And, what if our point of view has given us the experience we've since had? What if we could change our perspective, and thus change our experience, and thus the world (as a man thinks in his own heart, so is he)...?

Here are the highlights of Kevin Beck's discussion:

The assumption of Presence, is that everyone belongs -- no one is excluded. That this is the very heart of God.

But our insides are reflected in our outsides ... and religion is a catalyst for brokenness (separation and isolation). In fact, the Bible can be read as a Rorschach test (inkblots) ... it can tell me what's inside of me. Does the way I read the Bible lead me to inclusion or exclusion? How I read it, how I respond, reveals my heart...

Here's what's left out of the traditional Christian "good news" story:
- Most of humanity (they go to hell)
- My own integrity (I have to ignore it)
- My own intuition (I'm not to trust it)
- Science (must ignore the very evidence God has given)
- Political views (there's only one right way to see things)
- Awareness of cultural diversity (the folks who aren't like me are "them" - separate)

However, by all accounts, religion is decreasing, while spirituality is increasing.

The teaching of original sin leads to a sense of defectiveness ... we then need institutional rules and rituals .. we strive to be approved of by God ... we sense separation ... we feel exclusion towards others ... and we generally feel bad about humanity (including ourselves).

Here's how exclusion functions:
- It fights reality (we're all One)
- It fosters fear (making fear more powerful than Love)
- It's judgmental
- It holds out for a magical solution ("rapture", Jesus' *soon* return)
- It seeks to offer escape (withdraw from the world into a religious ghetto)

Doug King (Tim's brother; Max King's son) shared on the Ego vs. the True Self:

On one side we have Ego/Self/Knowledge of Good & Evil/External Events.
On the other side, we have Presence/Love/Peace.
See these as overlapping circles ... and the overlapping section (where they join) would be the Mind.

When Jesus was on the cross ... THEN, with His arms spread open wide, He drew all men to Himself (and I keep in mind that from God's perspective, this occurred from the foundation of the world).

I have an ego, but it's not my enemy ... it's a gift from God, to help me to know who I am not, so that I can know who I really am. It gives me context (just as I cannot know hot without the context of cold; I cannot know good without the context of evil ... it's all on a spectrum). I can accept my ego, because "it knows not what it does." It's within me, but my ego is not really me (think of Paul's letter about the carnal nature).

What I AM, is love, peace, joy, kindness, reconciliation, gentleness, etc...

When I'm facing a decision that could go "either way," I can ask myself, "What do I WANT?" The real me, within, where spirit and Spirit are One, will show me my purpose -- my purpose is IN me. I do not have to go "out there, somewhere," and find it.

When I hear a voice within me, I can ask myself, "What voice is this? Ego or Spirit? Who said that?" (of course, this is best not done in the middle of Walmart!)

In every situation, I get to declare, by my choices, who I AM -- I don't have to know the "how" of it (how a thing works out). It's the ego that demands to know how -- it was the ego that led Sarah to bring Hagar to Abraham, to "help" God out ... the Spirit knows to wait and trust ... to continue to BE who I AM, no matter the appearances of circumstances (I'm not to judge by appearances).

I can apply this to real life .. for instance, when others hurt me, that's NOT who they really are ... that's their ego lashing out. And every attack is a cry for help. The real me can meet the real them, and call them forth... for we are One.

Kevin Beck shared about change (which is inevitable):

We think: Change = Bad; Permanence = Good.

Here's the story we tell ourselves (as Christians):
- God made perfection
- We blew it - we fell (we thwarted the plan of God)
- We "should get back" to that garden-perfection
- We're messed-up (we have messed-upedness)
- We must reclaim a utopia
- Life now doesn't matter - tread water and await evacuation

Here's another story:
- God created infancy
- We grew through choices/consequences (the process of learning)
- We had a wrong perspective (based on shame/fear/separation)
- We can awaken to truth and reality (God's perspective)
- We can have our minds renewed
- We have an unlimited future & endless creative choices
- How we live now *matters*
- Our now is based on our perspective
- We are either consciously or UNconsciously creating our own life and future

A breakdown (a shattering of old paradigms) isn't necessarily a "curse" -- it can be a blessing in disguise ... a new life-ordering.

One new life-ordering can be called "Loveonomics" - Here are the indicators:
- Inclusion (vs. exclusion)
- Inter-connectedness (vs. independence)
- Cooperation (vs. competition)
- Spirit (vs. religion)
- Integration (vs. separation)
- Community (vs. individualization/ghetto)
- Always Learning (vs. staking a claim and defending it)
- Process (vs. arrival/stagnation)
- Creation (vs. defending tradition)

Science shows us that life thrives in an environment that's rich in diversity - creativity is spawned in diversity. Uniformity, on the other hand, breeds stagnation. God grants us the freedom to be who we are - and to allow others the same freedom.

EVERYTHING reflects God! He's far too fast to be shown in any one of us alone ... and we can resist the notion to say, "you are different - therefore I judge you as bad."

Within the system of myself, I can practice self-inclusion ... embracing even my ego. In fact, the degree to which I reject/exclude parts of myself, is the same degree that I will reject/exclude others.

Religious people need the fear of hell ... while spiritual people have been to hell and back.

Enlightenment isn't being better-than -- it's having a lighter burden.

The hard currency of Loveonomics is welcome and compassion.

"Go confidently i the direction of your dreams - live the life you've imagined."
(Henry Thoreau)

Then, Tim King wrapped it up with "The Mythology of Hell":

"If your concept of God is false, and the more devoted you are to it, the more devastated you'll be." (Tim King)

He then went on to quote Jonathan Edwards, in his infamous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon (that supposedly sparked a revival ... my thought is that it sparked mass hysteria and panic):

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours... once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God as to any regard to your welfare; God will have no other use to put you to but only to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel but only to be filled full of wrath: God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that ’tis said he will only laugh and mock

An awful hush fell over the room ... Mark spoke out, "That is not God!" Once we know Him, we know what's not Him, and we cannot be fooled by the errant beliefs of others.

How unlike the words of Simeon, allowed to live long enough to see the infant Christ - he who declared that the salvation would be for all people. How unlike the words of the angels who announced Jesus' birth - saying that it was good news for *all* mankind.

How could God require that we forgive our enemies, but then refuse to do so Himself? Hell is never (not once) mentioned in the entire Old Testament (though countless temporal punishments are laid out in detail - did God "forget" the much more atrocious eternal punishment..?).

Jesus didn't create, nor condone, the concept of hell ... the Pharisees were the only ones who bought into the concept -- they used it (borrowed from pagan mythologies) to try to manipulate the people into good behavior. The Christian concept of hell mirrors the teachings of the Pharisees, rather than catching the concept of Jesus' usage of hell against the Pharisees themselves.

The mythologies continue ... even adherents to Universal Reconciliation assume that Jesus' point was to save everyone from hell eventually ... but the truth is we are saved from sin here and now. More adventures in missing the point...!

My own take-aways from the Transmillennial 2009 conference:

- It was rather fun and freeing to get to pretend to be *normal* for a week...! ;)

- What I love about this group of folks, is that everyone really is included -- no one's ideas are ridiculed - no one is looked down upon ... everyone has something to share ... conversations are the point, rather than conversions.

- It is expected that we only have an emerging picture of truth ... that there is yet-more to come, that God knows how to lead us into all truth, and that He is indeed doing it.

- Everyone is accepted as they are ... no sense of shame is extended. Everyone belongs... no one is left out.

- This is a brilliant bunch, including members of Mensa -- and yet, no arrogance.

- Materials and information is freely shared ...

- People are invested in making a real difference in the lives of others (all others), whether it's through material means, political means, socio-economic means, spiritual means ... since God's Presence is here, everywhere, in everything, everything is holy unto the Lord. No sacred/secular divide, no us/them divide. Nothing wherein God is not. So, reach out, use what you have, share what you can, connect.

Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow ... by recognizing a whole in the world today.

Mark - what did you want to add to what I've shared here...?

Shalom, Dena

(Mark, my main squeeze and adventure-partner, now chimes in)


That's like asking the victims of Jonestown to share about floods after hearing Noah talk for a couple of hours!!!

And, that's not fair - you've got all the stinkin' notes!!!

Actually, it's pretty amazing to be around a group like this in general, and some of these people in particular. There is such a sense of inclusiveness among these people, even if you don't agree with them or them with you. They know that (to steal Dena's comment) that Unity does not require Unanimity. These people take your comment "there is no us and them, there's only us" to the max and back. They realize that life is a journey and that heaven is a state of being not a destination. And that, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. As I go through life, more to the point, as God continues to strip away things that I once believed - without necessarily replacing that belief with a new one, my list of absolutes, the things that I know for sure, gets shorter and shorter. And, because of His work in me, I am learning to be more at peace with living in the ambiguity of life (Paul Young's comment). All of the "leaders" that were there said this in one way or another.

Of course many, if not most, of these people have been shunned, or worse, by those that call themselves Christians. It is really sad to see how ugly they can be if they don't agree with you, or if you try to get them to see beyond their respective noses. The longer I am out of organized religion (Christianity) the easier it is to realize that Jesus did not come to establish a new religion; He came to model relationship with the Father and with others.

Presence does not focus on getting others to join their group. They want to take this new and unfolding understanding from God and make an impact on this earth. Presence is about living NOW not awaiting something in the future.

Blessings upon blessings!!

Mark I. Brehm

(Back to Dena)

Presence is currently undergoing a MAJOR over-haul, both internally and on their website. The website itself will be under construction until next summer, but the forum can still be accessed, for those who wish to explore: (another website for exploring the salvation of all, and the fulfillment of all prophecy is this one: ).

Presence is having an online Zone meeting on June 25th ... if you're so led, you can join the live conversation (both mics and texting work) -- we'll be there! Let me know if you're interested, and I'll be happy to pass along the link.

Mark and I are excited to be connected with this group, with this vision. We've let them know that we want to be involved, however we may be of use, and we're ready to dive in (& they've promised to take us up on it, LOL!). Our personal gifts, and talents, and passions are aligned with them, and we've rarely felt so "at home" as with them. Our emerging beliefs are very much on the same page, and there's a beautiful sense of "margin" ... room for everyone to grow uniquely, even while staying in spiritual unity.

Here's my final take-away:

God is love, and God is good. Everything that can take root within that paradigm either already has or yet will. Conversely, any and all ideologies that yield a God who is less than 100% love and 100% good, simply don’t merit my time or attention.

Shalom, Dena


dena said...

LOL - I didn't mean to say that "God is too fast", but "God is too VAST"...!

Well, He's pretty fast, too.

But still.

cynthia said...

Wow! Those are great notes!

All of this resonates in my spirit. Looking forward to making some time to learn more. I am captivated ... this seems like the culmination of my strong belief in grace and peace.


dena said...

Cynthia -

If you're so led, you can explore more of what Presence International is about (though they're in the midst of a huge transition, from the inside-out - to better fit with what the Spirit is showing us all). (the discussion forum is still in operation during the transition-time, and is a wealth of insight!)

Shalom, Dena

Josiah Redding said...

Great recap of the conference Dena/Mark! :-)

And this really resonates with me:
"... Any and all ideologies that yield a God who is less than 100% love and 100% good, simply don’t merit my time or attention."

Understanding that God truly is love in an infinite way, eliminates any real possibility of going back to any other way of seeing the world. That old world of hate is lost to me, and I don't miss it.

The whole Love + Hell = God equation simply doesn't add up.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences! Love you guys,

dena said...

Josiah! Good to see you here! I'm honored (this guy is in my favorite band!)!

I affirm all that you said -- I don't miss the old world/old think (same thing!) either.

"I have decided to follow Jesus ... though none go with me, still I will follow ... no turning back, no turning back."

(LOVE that hymn, and the story behind it -- may have to blog on that!)

Hey - y'all should turn that hymn into a rocking new song...!

Could become the Presence anthem, LOL!

Shalom, Dena