Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tis the Season!

In his recent blog entry, Steve Bell commented:
I certainly resonate with Randy's concern, but the inherent tension is precisely the point. Exactly what kind of King is it who, volunteering obscurity, condescends (with passion) to walk among the lowly, sharing their burdens and humiliations, and ultimately bearing them away in his own death?  What kind of kingdom is it where the lofty are brought down and the lowly lifted up? It is a rather odd, counterintuitive sort of kingly glory is it not ? – the sort  that can only be found perhaps in "the delightful deceits of fables."  But I'll take those deceits any day over the relentlessly measured, flat, atomized facts of a pitiless universe. Facts and Truth are not always the same thing.
And so… I will contribute a song alongside  Malcolm's sonnet because I truly love, believe and trust this story. 
As usual, Steve's comments sparked my own thinking.  Rather than pour all this into his blog, I'll post it here - 
" the inherent tension is precisely the point. Exactly what kind of King is it who, volunteering obscurity, condescends (with passion) to walk among the lowly,"
  Unhappily, this tension seems to be largely lost today in so many ways.  We pay lip service to service, and humility and the manger, then move on to demand that the surrounding society kowtow to our demands for "keeping Christmas," (Don"t shop from merchants who don't greet you correctly!  Keep Christ in Christmas by getting up into anyone's grill who dares use the greeting Happy Holidays... etc..)  We toss a few extra bucks at a charity to get that warm glow of reassurance that we are "good people," then elbow our way into the Boxing Day Sales lineup to get the latest large screen tv (Man, they had such good deals last year -- I'll show you mine if you show me yours!! - yes I am chief among sinners in all these areas much of the time)...  So, I have become very leery of the Power and Glory-Loving 'stuff' as well.  It plays way too easily to my human weaknesses for being On Top.
Facts and Truth are not always the same thing. ... I truly love, believe and trust this story.
 Here's where critics of faith and gospel get it wrong, as do people of faith as well when we fear the attacks of the former.  They/we think that if the historicity of the events is cast into doubt, then the faith is destroyed.  They fail to understand that the power of the events is not in the facts or historicity, but in the ephemeral meanings interwoven throughout!  The power of story is the story.  The idea. The concept. The belief that Truth is Ultimately Good.  That Truth is ultimately sentient, loving and concerned about all of us all around - and we should be too.  These concepts and beliefs change lives, give hope, produce freedom.  And ultimately peace.  On all levels.
Joy to the World!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jesus Mixed the Mud

John 9:14 (AMP)
Now it was on the Sabbath day that Jesus mixed the mud and opened the man's eyes.
I've often wondered why Jesus resorted to this mixing of mud to heal a man's sight. Jesus cures others without using devices like this. Verse 19 makes the point that it happened on the Sabbath and I think this is an important clue.
Jesus seems to be adding emphasis to the fact that he is "doing work" on the Sabbath. As usual, it is Jesus who decides precisely when and how he will challenge the religious powers who are withholding God's blessings rather than extending them to the people in need.
It seems to work, judging from the reaction in verse 16.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Doctrines or Love?

We can choose to center
our relationship
With God
On correct doctrines, or love

If we focus on correct doctrines
We will see nothing but our differences
And we will become a church
Of divisions, rancor and even hate

If however, we focus on love
We will become a unified church
That will change the world
For good.

Friday, April 6, 2012

By His Stripes

Friday thoughts on crucifixion, wrath and justice...

It is human hatred, violence, and sinfulness
That is purged by Jesus' stripes.
God 'forsakes' Jesus into the hands of man! - 
"Do to him as you will... break him if you can..."

This is not a need for vengeance by God
Nor the blood lust of God being appeased
But rather the sinful bloodlust of humans
Which is finally satiated. *

Walking on water was the easier part
Taking darkness out of every heart
Into His own this is alone
Keeping vigil  (Lyric by Jim Croegaert)
So Jesus dies with "father forgive them" on his lips
Defeating Satan in that instance.

Had Satan managed to turn God's love for us,
Away from us, through Jesus Christ
Then we humans would have ceased to exist and 
Satan would have won his quest to destroy us.**

So Satan cries out (ala Mel Gibson's movie) in defeat! not victory....
And human bloodlust is absorbed into the heart of God.
And God prevails in that Jesus loves us unto death!
And our story goes on.... our future is secured.

note* - We see and experience this human blood lust in every human cry for justice that looks more like revenge.  I spit out angry thoughts against someone who offends me.  And I would in my moment of justifiable, self-righteous rage vent emotional damage towards that person, because I am a sinner.  Yet even I have some limits.  For example, if someone offended me by cutting me off in traffic, and then suddenly a vigilante appeared and began acting out my anger in physical violence upon the offender, I would very quickly become shocked and horrified and intervene to stop the beating.  "Too much! Too much!" I would cry. ... Even my blood lust over most offences, can be satiated.

Yet there is an even greater cry for justice caused by even more horrendous crimes.  This is expressed in a song by Steve Bell: Somebody's Gotta Pay For This, wherein he describes his own dream of vengeance against the men who violated a young girl... but as Steve says, "No one (human being) has enough to lose to pay for all these crimes."  And then Steve encounters Jesus hanging on a cross and is told "Kill him!"  The idea being that Jesus alone has "enough to lose - a perfect sinless life" to pay for all the crimes of humanity -  and so Steve's bloodlust is gone, replaced only by a deep sadness - (sadness for his own broken state and the brokenness of all humanity...)

In the crucifixion, Jesus takes this ultimate punishment symbolically upon himself for every human crime, and says to us - "I took that beating for that person - now you can feel vindicated by me - and move on to forgive him and seek his well-being, rather than his destruction.

note** - Satan must know he can't destroy God but still he does seek to thwart him. Satan hates the human race.  Why?  Is it because he knows that we will one day rule over him and all angels? ... Was this the realization that turned Lucifer against God?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Highlight and Note

Silence is the only language spacious enough to include everything and to keep us from slipping back into dualistic judgments and divisive words.

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr

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From: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

"In the second half of life, people have less power to infatuate you, but they also have much less power to control you or hurt you. It is the freedom of the second half not to need. Both the ecstatic mirroring of my youth and the mature and honest mirroring of my adulthood have held up what I needed to see and could see at the time; they have prepared me for the fully compassionate and Divine Mirror, who has always shown me to myself in times and ways that I could handle and enjoy.

I fell many times relationally, professionally, emotionally, and physically in my life, but there was always a trampoline..."

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

When blogs over lap...

(Sometimes my faith-related blog can't help but intertwine with my aviation-related one. Today's such a day ...)

This video is an especially good reminder that computers do not fly aircraft. Computers can of course, be used to guide an aircraft along a pre-programmed pathway that was selected and authorized by a human being, provided the computer's progress is continually monitored and corrected by a human being. But computers do not fly.

No computer built today can instantly reassess it's three dimensional situation and quickly make the appropriate corrections to a flight path and adjust to the demands of changing conditions, just by "looking out the window."

Computers are unable to continually assess the thousands of different questions that a pilot works through routinely on every flight, such as: "How much turbulence will there be? How much ice will there be in those clouds? What is that snow squall doing as it sweeps across the runway? Just how bad will the traction be during the landing and taxi into the terminal?" - to mention only a very few.

No computer can rapidly absorb thousands of bits of information from myriad sources and then assess the situational changes occurring each moment, adding in the lessons gleaned from previous experience and training which was oft-times adapted from unrelated events, then take the appropriate action.

As wonderful as they are, no silicone-based computer can match the abilities of a well-trained, well-motivated "carbon-based-unit" called a pilot. Most importantly of all, only human-pilots actually care whether they live or die!

I pass this video along as a reminder of just how awesome human beings are to have invented such great tools as Airbuses and computers, and to use them so creatively...

And maybe, just maybe, as we wonder at the amazing things humans are able to create, we'll pause to wonder - who created us?

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Psalm 6:1 (NLT)
O Lord, don't rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage.

The image of God rebuking us in anger is common in the Old Testament. This has caused people to think of the OT God as an "angry old man," and we can have difficulty reconciling that image with Jesus who began his ministry with these words: (Matthew 12:20)

"He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. ... "

I think we have to keep in mind that Jesus read these words from the book of Isaiah. They express the heart of the "old testament" god just as surely as they represent the heart of Jesus.

When attributing an angry temperament to God, I suspect we are reading our own failings and shortcomings into Him. Keep in mind that it was the people at Mt. Sinai who were afraid to go near to the mountain to meet with God, and so demanded a mediator.

This tells me that our dysfunctional relationship with God has always been related to our reluctance to trust Him, let down our fences and draw closer.

Thank God he never gives up. The phantasmagorical events woven through the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, demonstrate just how far God is willing to go to cross this gulf that we've created between us and Him.

We can read this sixth Psalm knowing that indeed... "The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer" (has answered) "my prayer."

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Trouble With Psalms

Psalm 5:10 (NLT)
Drive them away because of their many sins,[ ] for they have rebelled against you.

Some of the worst attitudes and confused points of view that sometimes arise in Christians are expressed in this Psalm. That's the trouble with Psalms. When followers of Jesus read these ancient songs and poems, without fully appreciating the great reversals Christ made to our view of who is a sinner, and who is righteous, and who our real enemies are, then we are apt to absorb this Old Covenant attitude of "us" vs. "them," and forget how high Jesus raised the bar. We should always keep in mind the Beatitudes, and the fact that in the New Covenant there is no difference between "us" and "them." In Jesus' teaching we are all sinners in need of a saviour. And in that realization we are also saved, by Grace, through Faith in the one and only God who is able to remedy our hopeless situation. We're all in this together. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

O God who declares me innocent...

The earliest Christians taught that Jesus was the Christ, using the OT scriptures, which are replete with prophecies about Messiah (Hebrew)/ Christ (Greek). It's fascinating how many messianic references are obvious only after Jesus' ministry and crucifixion/resurrection.

This opening verse of Psalms 4 is like that. Imagine the "aha!" moment Jesus' disciples must have experienced, when they read Ps.4:1 after the puzzling events they had experienced...

Psalm 4:1 (NLT) Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent. ...

After Jesus' resurrection, this verse, this entire Psalm, suddenly gains deeper meaning in light of the extraordinary means by which God now declares us "innocent."

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