FINAL Essay – MA Theology: Practical Theology

This is my final essay for GGG!!. A few years ago, actually a year before I started Global Grace Seminary, the Lord breathed three words into my spirit… Empower My people! Empower means to give power to someone to make them stronger and more confident especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. Synonyms for it are… unshackle, unyoke, unfetter, unchain, set free, and give liberty to!! Too many people, both believers and unbelievers, are shackled to the religious lies of man having a sin nature, separation from God, and striving harder to be more like Christ, or be more blessed, gain more favor, promotion, etcetera. When I started taking this MA program in Theology I got so many mixed reactions from people. Mostly them thinking I must be so much smarter or spiritual than them. I always assure them that nothing could be further from the truth!! I took the Theology courses, not to become a theologian, but to be able to explain and teach theological truths simply and without the need to sit with a dictionary to look up big theological words that you don’t understand…. To make it practical! What I learned in these courses (including all of the BIG theological words that I had to look up in the dictionary!) is information that every day believers (those who don’t go to Seminary) AND unbelievers need to know… but it needs to be simple and plain in a way that we (myself included) can walk in the awareness of these truths. 

To empower His people (ALL mankind – NOT just church goers!!) requires an understanding of Kingdom leadership. A leader is a shepherd of God’s people (again – ALL mankind – NOT just “the saved”). Psalm 78:72, tells us how David shepherded the people as the king of Israel, saying, “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” On the literal level in this verse we are told that David shepherded them with integrity of heart. Integrity is defined in our dictionaries as honest and upright.  And he guided them with the skillfulness of his hands, in other words he led them well. It was because of the integrity of his heart that he had the ability to lead them well (skillfulness of hands). That is great to know, and if that’s all we ever learned from that verse it’s amazing… to lead people with a heart of integrity above all and out of that will flow skillfulness or the ability to lead well. 

But what I love about the Hebrew language is the layers and layers of meaning in each word, each letter, each verse, etcetera.  Those rich meanings will help us to lead people better. It will show us the depth of what integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands looks like from a spiritual understanding. So, what else can we pull from this verse that will help us to lead. 

The word shepherd in Hebrew is ra’ah meaning to pasture, tend or graze. It’s also translated as friend in Judges 14:20. That tells me that the word shepherd involves having relationship with those you are shepherding. The root of the word is companion. 

David did this with integrity of heart. The word integrity is tom in Hebrew meaning completeness, FULL, perfection, simplicity, upright (another word for righteousness). The root of the word is tamam meaning to be complete or FINISHED! The ancient root of this word tamam is WHOLE!! Anyone who knows me know that my absolute favorite words are  FINISHED and WHOLE!! Literally in the Hebrew this says v’yarim (and he shepherded them) k’tom (as or like FINISHED or WHOLE!). As leaders we shepherd the people, we lead them into an understanding, an awareness that ALL is FINISHED and they are completely WHOLE! That is the most important part of leading (shepherding)… shepherding them according to the integrity of his heart, leading them to the understanding or awareness of FINISHED and WHOLE in every area of their life! 

Then David says, “and by the skillfulness of his hands, he guided them.” The word by can also be translated in or with. Skillfullness is tebunah, it is a Hebrew noun not an adjective. It isn’t describing how David uses his hands but rather it is the thing by which he guided the people… tebunah or understanding. The root of the word is discernment, it also means to separate mentally. What does it mean to separate mentally? To guide or lead not by what is seen, but what is unseen… to separate mentally is to not depend on the mind of reasoning, or natural understanding but rather the mind of Christ. To understand and discern spiritually… that which can’t be seen with our natural eyes. It is leading with the understanding, the discernment (skillfulness) to see and understand we are FINISHED, WHOLE (the integrity of the heart). 

The word for hands in this verse is not the word yod which means power or authority and to bless. It is the word kaph which means open palm as in the ability to carry something. And the root is kaphaph menaing bowed down. I see a picture here of David’s will bowed down to the will of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)…. his will aligned to Their will. This alignment of will, of purpose, of LOVE enabled him to carry skillfulness to guide the people, with the understanding of discerning things in the spirit…. Seeing beyond the natural. Seeing with the eyes of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, David guided the people. 

The word for guide is nachah in Hebrew meaning lead or guide. It is by implication to transport. The ancient root of the word is rest. It is a guided journey to a place of rest. A place of IT IS FINISHED. A place of VERY GOOD. A place of the awareness of our co-seatedness IN Christ. 

Verse 70 says that God chose David. He chose him to be king, to shepherd and guide His people. Why? Because God knew that he would shepherd his people like THE Shepherd and he would guide them like THE Guide. He would have ONE heart for the people… His heart. 1 Samuel 13:14 tells us that God sought a man after His own heart and appointed him (David) as ruler over His people. David was not “kingly” in appearance. When Samuel proclaimed Saul king of Israel, he declared, “Do you see whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” Saul looked like a king! But three chapters later, Saul’s kingdom is over! Saul was a self-serving king/leader. Saul’s heart was not after God… it was not aligned with His will, His purposes, His LOVE. He didn’t see what God saw. He saw and ruled from the flesh… the realm of self, his kingdom was a natural minded kingdom. 

God said that he was a man after His own heart. David was a worshipper. He had an intimate relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He knew the heart of God and would reflect His love and goodness to the people. David definitely had his share of moral failures but in Acts 13 we read that David served his generation well. He served the purposes of God. Another word for serve is minister. He ministered God’s purposes to his generation. He ministered God’s counsel, wisdom, decrees, and resolved plan to his generation. In other words, he allowed the Shepherd to shepherd through him and He allowed the Guide to guide the people through him. As leaders, we understand that we minister to the people God’s heart, His plan and purpose from the beginning for them. Understanding that As He is so are we in this world.

In Psalm 23 we have a beautiful description of THE Good Shepherd. David shows us the heart of the Shepherd in leading His people… a picture of how we are to lead. This was the heart of God David reflected to the people. And it needs to be the heart of God that we reflect to the people, teaching them this is who He is and who we are IN Him. The first thing we see in verse 1 is that the Lord IS our Shepherd… we see the IS-ness of the Shepherd. The IS-ness of the One who has protected us and provided for us in His FINISHED work is EVER present in our lives… the IS-ness and NOW-ness of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) IN us, AS us, and living life THROUGH us.  And the result of that is NO want in our lifeIt literally says I will not want. It’s an imperfect verb… I not only have NO want right now, I will NEVER have any want! We have zero lack IN Him. Every need we could ever have has been provided IN Him. 

Verse 2 says He makes me lie down in green pastures, and beside the still waters He leads me. REST! Makes me lie down is a hiphil verb in Hebrew meaning to cause. He causes me to be in a state of rest. It’s His doing. Our very position co-seated is a position of rest. That was His doing… He seated us with Him (co-seated). Our position is always a position of rest…. We can never unseat ourselves! It might seem like it when we’re walking in the flesh, but even then we ARE still co-seated with Him. That verse has three words to speak of rest… makes me lie down, still, He leads me. Three words for rest! Three is a number that means resurrection, divine completeness and perfection. FINISHED is a place or state of rest! FINISHED is our co-seatedness! 

Verse 3 says, He restores my soul, He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake. He restores my soul, my nephesh, my WHOLE being. The ancient root of nephesh is the WHOLE of a person, including the body, mind, emotion, character, and inner parts. Restores is shuv meaning to turn back or return. The ancient root of the word carries within it the idea of REST. The Hebrew says He is making me recline on waters of resting places. He is conducting me! It is Him IN me, AS me, flowing beautifully, effortlessly THROUGH me… conducting me like a beautiful symphony of grace! 

What does our soul turn back to? The Mirror Bible translates this verse as my soul remembers who I am. We remember who we have always been! Sons made in the image and likeness of God IN Christ from before time began. Our souls were restored 2,000 years ago! And Holy Spirit continues to lead us in that awareness… He leads us in paths of righteousness. How? He shows us who we are IN Him. Psalm 17:15 says, “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding Your form.” Beholding God’s face in Jesus (our righteousness) as in a mirror, awakens us to our true likeness! Psalm 34:5 says, “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.” The Mirror Bible translates that verse as Look him in the face – you’ll glisten with God. You’ll gleam, your face will scream, “GOD!” We are image and likeness… sons reflecting the face of our Father. Righteousness is from the root dike meaning two parties finding likeness. 

Holy Spirit leads us in the paths of righteousness… the paths of our image and likeness of God. The word paths here is magalah meaning entrenchment or track. Those paths have already been walked by the Son… we are simply led through the entrenchment, the track He created with His walk. Not by walking AS He walked… but His walking AS us. Holy Spirit leads us on the paths that God the Son walked AS us sons in the image and likeness of God. There is NO path He walked that you haven’t also walked, that isn’t part of your history! His life was your life, His obedience was your obedience, His death was your death, His burial was your burial, His resurrection was your resurrection, His ascension was your ascension, and His seatedness IS your seatedness! These are truths the shepherd leads the people in… this is shepherding and guiding! 

Verse 4 says, Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Notice it doesn’t say you walk through death… it says a shadow of death. The word is tsalmaveth in Hebrew and means a deep shadow, or death like shadow. Death has been DEFEATED and so there is no death to walk through. It is appointed to a man to die once – we did that when we died with Jesus! And truth be told we don’t have any shadows of death to walk through either, EXCEPT in our thinking. We have to separate in our understanding Old Covenant thinking from New Covenant thinking. In Luke 1:79 it mentions shadow of death and says that it was the place those in the Old Covenant lived… in darkness and in the shadow of death. Shadow means hover. Death hovered over them. Adam introduced sin into the world and because of that death reigned, and so people lived in darkness and in the shadow of death until Jesus came and redeemed mankind! Hebrews 2:15 says that He freed those who lived all their lives held in slavery to the fear of death. That happened 2,000 years ago… there is no need to walk in the valley of the shadow of death. We have no fear of death… it doesn’t hover over us. We are FREE, we are IMMORTAL, we are DEATH-LESS! A good shepherd, a good leader ministers that to the people. 

He goes on in verse 4 to say, for You are with me Your rod and your staff they comfort me! Again… the IS-ness and NOW-ness of God in our lives. He is not just with us… He is IN us! We are ONE. His life IS my life… and I have no fear of evil or the shadow of death. He IS our sustenance and our rest (staff). His scepter is righteousness! Unless a king extended the royal scepter to someone, death ensued. In Exodus the people were told not to approach the mountain (Mt. Sinai – God’s presence) without permission or else they would be put to death (Exodus 19:12). David understood that he could go into God’s presence ANY TIME because he understood that the Eternal King’s scepter extended to mankind was righteousness!  We have more than a scepter of righteousness extended to us… we HAVE His righteousness! We ARE His righteousness! 

Verse 5 says He has prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup runneth over! This is a verse of victory! David is vindicated and shown to be the one whom the Lord loves and delights to honor, while his enemies are powerless or put to shame.  The table that has been prepared… speaking of abundance and bounty…. It is in front of us and at the same time in the presence of our enemies. It sounds the same except that in the presence of is neged which means against. It is a confrontational stance… against the enemies. 

In front of or before me is NEVER in a confrontational manner. It is in plain sight before me… right in front of me! I can’t miss it if I just look. In front is l’panim meaning to faces. I can’t miss it if I look to the Faces… the faces of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that I am face to face with IN Christ. It is there, face to face with them, looking into Their faces of Love, that I can see the victory, the abundance of what has been prepared for me in the FINISHED work of Christ… what has been prepared from before time began! This table is an eternal table in the presence of (in a confrontation stance, against) the enemies. We’ve read these verses and rejoiced that God was going to bless in the presence of our enemies – those who persecute us, come against us, speak ill of us, etc. But that can’t be right. Jesus said we are ALL ONE in Him. How can we be one with each other and enemies? I mean I get that we can think of someone as an enemy. But this verse says that God prepares a table in the presence of our enemies, or against our enemies. 

So, who are the enemies? Well in verse 19 of this same Psalm (78) we read, Yes, they spoke against God: They said, Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? Before that it says they sinned against Him, they rebelled against Him, and they tested Him. They sinned against Him. This word is chata meaning to miss or go wrong. The Hebrew letters for chata are chet which is a picture of a fence and can mean separated or to be cut off; tet which means good or goodness; and aleph which means strong leader, head of the family, and can mean God the Father. The ancient root of the word was cord. Cords were used to measure the distance between two points by placing knots incrementally. The knots were then counted. This meaning of a cord of measurement between two points and the Hebrew letters of chet reveals that sin was mankind missing the goal of ONENESS, of sonship, of original design as image and likeness as God. They were walking through life feeling separated from God the Father and His goodness in their life. Counting knots speaks of a counting off system of DOING to get closer to God. This was an enemy that God blessed us in the presence of, or in the midst of – mankind thinking they were ever separated from God OR His goodness!

They rebelled against Him. Rebelled is marah meaning bitterness. A synonym of bitterness is hostility. Colossians 1:21 says that once we (mankind before the cross) were alienated (separated) and hostile towards God in our minds. Romans 8:7 says that the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God. It is mind rooted in the sensory realm.  It is mind at odds with God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says that the natural man, the carnal man (this man who walked in the mind of the flesh) cannot accept or welcome the things of the Spirit of God. In verse 19 of Psalm 78 they said Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? They couldn’t accept or welcome the goodness of God, the victory of God. For us today, that enemy is not being able in our thinking to accept and welcome completely the FINISHED work of Christ in our lives. 

They tested God. In their alienated and hostile minds they couldn’t see who God was and who they were IN Him. They tested Him, asking Him for food of their fancy. The word asked is shaal meaning inquire, beg or demand. The word fancy is nephesh meaning soul, or whole being. They were not satisfied with what He had given them. They were demanding for what they thought they needed, or rather lacked. They didn’t trust God, but rather believed that He was withholding from them. Sounds familiar. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they believed the lie that they were lacking from God, that He had withheld from them ALL of Him. That they were not already just like Him… image and likeness. In the wilderness these children of Israel are accusing God of withholding and being unable abundantly provide for them in the wilderness. They wanted the provision of their own choices, what they felt was what they needed. 

These were the enemies…. Mindsets of separation from God, not being able to accept or welcome the eternal (spiritual) plan of God, believing the idea of lack and demanding that God give to us what WE think we need. Basically the enemies of living life from the sense realm, with a mind that is unable to live life as sons made in the image and likeness of God and unable to experience the ONENESS that He created us to live in. BUT in the midst of that… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! And in those beautiful words IT IS FINISHED, He prepared a table before us in the presence of our enemies. And at this revelation of the goodness of God, and of the bountiful table of FINISHED that Christ prepared for us to enjoy, is the voice of rejoicing: You anoint my head with oil, my cup runneth over!! 

But anoint my head with oil is a mistranslation. The word for anoint in Hebrew is mashach it is used every time someone is anointed with oil. The word used in this verse is dashen meaning to fatten, to make healthy, or make fresh. Oil wasn’t just for anointing in the way we understand it today, it was also used for healing. Shepherds would pour oil onto their sheep’s heads to keep them free from infection. No wonder the psalmist rejoiced after seeing the prepared or FINISHED table that the Lord had made for us! He healed our minds! He made our minds healthy, free of infectious and diseased mindsets… restoring in us His mind, the mind of Christ, the Spirit mind!! 

At the thought of a healed mind our cups run over! I am filled, satiated, overflowing! I have ALL I need IN Him! My mind is healed to be able to understand that it is Him IN me, AS me and He overflows THROUGH my life to all those I come in contact with.  A healed mind! A mind that has been healed of everything that ever hindered us or blinded us to who God (Father, Son, and Spirit) are and who we are as sons. Jesus absorbed ALL that hindered man and it died when He died. ALL sin (the mistaken identity, the missing the mark of our original design) was taken away (removed) from the world! And ALL death COMPLETELY defeated… and that included sickness, disease, physical death, poverty, lack, etcetera. ALL that had traduced man, was absorbed by Jesus in His death. He absorbed our mistaken identity, our sense of separation – He became sin! And then in His resurrection, He awakened us to the truth that God never left man in that death state that he thought he was in. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. That word surely can also be translated ONLY. ONLY goodness and mercy will follow me ALL the days of my life! Goodness is tov and means functional or functioning within its intended design or purpose. Its ancient root means the house is surrounded by grace, beauty, love, health, and prosperity. YOU are His house! Mercy is chesed which is His eternal covenant of LOVE, it is His unwillingness to ever let mankind go!!! ALL of this… grace, beauty, love, health, prosperity, goodness, His unwillingness to let me go… ALL will not only follow me but they will pursue me and chase me down! They will run after me ALL the days of my life! This is the picture of a FINISHED life! 

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  ONENESS!! Eternal ONENESS! Living life in the perichoresis of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Forever, perpetually WITHOUT end, enjoying life in Their shared life, love and fellowship! Forever part of Their divine dance of LOVE! No wonder the Psalm ends on that… what else is there? Just the beautiful indivisible union of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and ALL mankind! Oh my it’s almost too much to take in! That’s where I just simply stop and close my eyes and breathe in… and in that breathing in I know that He is causing that awareness of ONENESS to go deeper and deeper still! 

This is the picture of a leader, a minister in the New Covenant of Grace. Paul said in Galatians 4:19 that he would labor until Christ was formed in them. He would continue to labor until the FULL realization of Christ was formed within in them. Colossians 1:28 says Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Mirror Bible says it like this, “This is the essence and focus of our message; we awaken everyone’s mind, instructing every individual by bringing them into full understanding [flawless clarity] in order that we may prove (present) everyone perfect in Christ.” Our job as shepherds, as leaders, is present every man perfect or FINISHED in Christ Jesus. Who are we presenting them to? Themselves!

Leaders lead in love. And as love grows in our understanding, it expands our grace conversation. We’ve limited grace in the church today, feeling the need to balance it with justice and judgment. But Paul wasn’t afraid to use the term hyper grace! And we shouldn’t be afraid to use it either. Hyper grace isn’t a doctrine God IS hyper Grace! He is exceeding, abundant, over the top, MUCH MORE than you can imagine, offensive to our sensibilities GRACE! People (both believers and unbelievers) are needing this message of hyper grace, of FINISHED, WHOLENESS in every area of life. What we’ve been taught in mainstream Christian churches isn’t working. People are still walking in sickness, disease, poverty, lack, fear, etcetera even though Jesus took away the sin of the world. Remove the cause (sin) and the effect (which is death) is automatically removed. There is no reason people should be walking in sickness and disease or any other effect of death today… we have NO association with it. We have been completely redeemed. The problem is we are not preaching or teaching a FINISHED message…. Leading people in who they are IN Christ and how to live out of that state of being. How to live from their co-seatedness IN Christ. 

ALL mankind resurrected IN Christ COMPLETELY FREE from the bondage of sin and death and all of its effects. Free to walk in our renewed minds which is the mind of Christ or the Spirit mind. The Mirror Bible tells us we are to ponder the truth about ourselves, as it is displayed in Christ. And we are to begin our pondering, with our co-seatedness! Because that’s our position! We live life here on earth from that position – co-seated with Him in heavenly places! We are FILLED to the FULLNESS of God in every part of our being! There is no part of us that is not God FILLED! We can’t be any more FULL of God than we already are! There is nothing more we can do to be closer to Him than we already are – ONE!! Our job as leaders is to go forth teaching that to ALL people! Theology is the study of the nature of God. And practical is concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas. This is practical theology – God (Father, Son, and Spirit) IN us, AS us, and beautifully, effortlessly, uniquely, flowing THROUGH us. It is not a theory, it is absolute wonderful truth lived out daily! 

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