Sunday, December 31, 2006

THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS AS THEY MIGHT APPEAR








I wanted to use these pictures to encourage who ever is out there and might find themselves in a place where things don't make any sense. Or even maybe has caused you to think things are actually much different than they really are.

If we are in Christ, we have been made new, whether we feel like it or not. He is here with us always, whether we feel it or not. Sometimes we interpret things one way because of how we feel or even by what we see and we might be dead wrong.
I am learning to trust God and what he has said even when things don't make sense and my feeling or even the visual(what is right in from of me in that moment of life) doesn't add up.

He is always here. Where can we go that he doesn't go with us. Even when we don't seem to be able to reach out and grab hold of him we can trust that he will never leave us or forsake us. Life is messy and hard and painful at times and some times it might seem it is most of the time. It doesn't change the reality of what life in him means.

I'm learning that trust isn't something we choose to do. It is the outcome of KNOWING him and KNOWING I am loved. I also think it works like this, the more I am confident in his love for me the more my eyes are opened to see and know more of him. It opens up into somethings so much better than the rigid confines of the religious mind can ever teach us. I'm finding myself just trusting him more. Whether I see him at that moment or not.
I took these two picture from the same spot across Trillium Lake towards Mt. Hood. One on one day and the other on the next. I was so amazed and stunned that something so big could just be gone from view when I had seen it so clearly before. Mt. Hood was still there behind the fog.
HE IS ALWAYS THERE EVEN WHEN THE FOG OF LIFE'S TRIALS SEEM SO OVERWHELMING.

Monday, December 11, 2006

SOME QUOTES ON THE SUBJECT OF NOT KNOWING WHEN TO SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Wendell Berry on Satisfaction:
[W]e have many commodities but little satisfaction, little sense of the sufficiency of anything. The scarcity of satisfaction makes of our many commodities an infinite series of commodities, the new commodities invariably promising greater satisfaction than the older ones. In fact, the industrial economy's most marketed commodity is satisfaction, and this commodity, which is repeatedly promised, bought, and paid for, is never delivered.
(Quoted by Shannon Jung in Food For Life, Augsburg Fortress, 2004, p. 3.)






Walter Brueggemann on scarcity and abundance
We who are now the richest nation are today's main coveters. We never feel that we have enough; we have to have more and more, and this insatiable desire destroys us. Whether we are liberal or conservative Christians, we must confess that the central problem of our lives is that we are torn apart by the conflict between our attraction to the good news of God's abundance and the power of our belief in scarcity — a belief that makes us greedy, mean and unneighborly. We spend our lives trying to sort out that ambiguity.
(From "The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity", Christian Century, March 24, 1999)






More from Walter Brueggemann:
We live in a world where the gap between scarcity and abundance grows wider every day. Whether at the level of nations or neighborhoods, this widening gap is polarizing people, making each camp more and more suspicious and antagonistic toward the other. But the peculiar thing, at least from a biblical perspective, is that the rich — the ones with the abundance--rely on an ideology of scarcity, while the poor — the ones suffering from scarcity — rely on an ideology of abundance. How can that be? The issue involves whether there is enough to go around — enough food, water, shelter, space. An ideology of scarcity says no, there's not enough, so hold onto what you have. In fact, don't just hold onto it, hoard it. Put aside more than you need, so that if you do need it, it will be there, even if others must do without. An affirmation of abundance says just the opposite: Appearances notwithstanding, there is enough to go around, so long as each of us takes only what we need. In fact, if we are willing to have but not hoard, there will even be more than enough left over. The Bible is about abundance.
(From "Enough Is Enough" - The Other Side , November-December 2001

Monday, December 04, 2006

A POST FROM A FEW MONTHS AGO MOVED UP, ON THE SUBJECT OF JUSTICE

I'm moving this up in light of a conversation I had with some new friends in Springfield this weekend. The conversation just made these thoughts so fresh in my mind and heart again. I read this post when I returned home and wanted to revisit it.

How would you guys, if you can, describe in as few of words, what was Jesus's message to us, as to how to live in this new Kingdom of Heaven that He spoke of as being present with His arrival?

I know we can't possibly with the limitations of our little minds answer that in full. But try to tell me what it looks like to you.

Here is a paradigm shift for me. I read this the other day and it just blew me away. It brought some clarity to me. One of the things I feel Father has brought front and center to me is this idea of JUSTICE. The meaning I have lived with most of my life and with the twist society and even RELIGION puts on it has just confused me. When I heard this a lot of the confusion was cleared up. Justice seems to be about something other than punishment.

This quote is taken from: http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/

"Martens did a masterful job of defining the Hebrew word for justice, mishpat. In western society we have come to understand justice as something we receive (I am a victim, I demand justice) or we dispense (he was convicted and justice was served). But mishpat could best be defined as "honorable relations." Justice is something that we do in relationship with others. It is active not passive. The goal is shalom -- not merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of harmony in relationships. What might a country look like if it practiced this kind of justice?"

That sounds more like what I see Jesus showing us through His life and message. The message of reconciliation and peace make sense in light of this.

Since I first posted this here back in the summer, this whole idea of living justly as God would want me to, has just captivated me. When I started actively thinking about this, it touched every area of my life. It is changing the way I live with everyone around me.

If we desire to live this life in the kingdom of Heaven that is here at hand, I believe living justly is of utmost importance. If justice means "Honorable Relations" the goal is that we learn to live with everyone around us this way. Issues of control and manipulation must go. It should effect the way I live with my wife, my children, co-workers, those that my path crosses everyday, my friends and yes, even those that might want to do me harm. Isn't this the message of Jesus?

I am so grateful this transforming work had begun in me with what this past year has brought. It has helped show me how to live, especially with my children. They are not mine to control and manipulate to get what I want out of them or for them, no matter how good it might look. I'm learning to trust Father with them. He knows how to mold them into what He desires.

I JUST GET TO LOVE THEM, COVER THEM WITH GRACE, AND GUIDE THEM and at the same time, LEARN TO LIVE IN HONORABLE RELATIONS WITH THEM. I believe this is the way of internal transformation, not only for my children but for you and I also. This change is real. Conformity to authority can fool us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MY THREE LOVELY GIRLS


For those who know me you might know a little of our last minute trip to Disney a year ago this week. It was during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Celebration. And I can't think of a better time for us to have been there. I can't think of a place that could have transported us out of the circumstances, even if it was just for a moment, better than Disney World did. We all needed it at that moment.
Due to the circumstances at the time, I'm sure some thought, "What is he doing?" I have this to say; "Grace rarely ever makes sense to those looking in from the outside." This was a grace trip and was worth every bit of what we spent to be there. As Much as Thanksgiving this year brought back memories of a year ago, this whole Holiday Season will be a time of remembrance. And what a year it has been.
When you find yourself in messy times. When you feel so out of control and fear is ready to pounce. Don't ever give up. Grace and love can take the biggest messes and redeem them and work transformations deep inside all involved. I now know that, and so do these three girls and their mom, and if they don't yet....they will some day.

We are all better today because of the Holiday Season a year ago.

This is a statement of faith that came from a quote I found during that painful time as I began to feel a  deep healing work of grace at work inside me. This is still one of my favorite quotes today.
"What may at first seem fragile becomes, instead, a journey toward a rendezvous with grace."
Never give up.

And may you all enjoy the Savior and your family and friends this Holiday Season.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

DEEPER FREEDOMS / INSPIRED LIVING

I'm sitting here on Thanksgiving morning with the smells of rotisserie turkey hanging in the air. I'm looking forward to the time with family and friends today.

I'm also thinking back on the year I have had. Something happened in my family last year on this day that set in motion a most beautiful change. It didn't start out that way though. It was a pain that ripped me from deep inside and has set in motion an incredible transformation. I had no idea how God was going to use what seemed to me to be the scariest thing I had ever faced.

The details of the event are not important. It's funny how I can say that today because on this day last year, all it was about was the details of the event. Like I said, a beautiful change has taken place. One of the big changes could be described as, a big chunk of the law man I was last Thanksgiving I am no longer today. My whole family thanks God for this.

God had begun about 5-6 years ago to reveal to me how grace was the power unto inner change. To see the work of the cross as the ultimate act of radical grace that it really was. Why does it seem there must be acts of violent rumblings in the securities of our lives to bring us to a place of being vulnerable enough for these truths to penetrate? I don't know and today I don't care.

What had happened to me in the days, weeks and months that followed is nothing short of the breaking of a heart shaped by rules and law and the birthing of a heart learning to live grounded in the spirit of love and grace. This year has been about the changing of basically everything. This is not me. I would have not gone here on my own. So many thing about me are absolutely opposite of what they were last year at this time and I feel freer than I ever have.

All I can say is the veil was ripped a little more open and I have seen some wonderful things I had never seen. It had very little or nothing at all to do with myself or anything I had done. All I can think of that I had done, was I accepted the fact that I had come to the end of myself and my ability(or illusion there of) of being able to control myself, my children, my wife and the circumstances of life. It is to this revealing that I attribute most, if not all of the changes of this year. This seems to me to be, the absolute most important truth when it comes to walking in freedom with Christ. If we continue living thinking we must remain in control, God is left on the outside. Freedom will never be a reality if this change doesn't take place. We will continue to live in fear, we will be stressed, frustrated, angry, depressed, and unable to function except out of that fear, stress, frustration and anger.

These are the very things that I have felt the Spirit freeing me from this year. And it feels good. The things that are opening up before my very eyes are wonderful. I am living with expectancy of what is possible like never before. The expectancy of what is possible, is not about me anymore. It is so much bigger. It is about the story God is working out for all of His creation. I am a part of that but it isn't about me. And yet it is in a way also. I referred to it in one of my first posts as a blogger. It is a private dance at first with my savior but it doesn't remain only that. It opens up into a life of sharing my dance with those around me having their own private dance. It is a beautiful thing.

So, I have much to be thankful for today. But as I look back on this past year, the thing I am most thankful for is the deep pain of last Thanksgiving and what it set in motion.

Thanks for dropping by and listening. Hopefully the thinking out loud that goes on here at Faithfully Dangerous is an encouragement and a challenge to those who stop by.

Have a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WORDS FROM DR. KING

I have been making my way slowly through many of Dr. King's letters, speeches and writings this year. It has been an incredible experience. The courage and conviction of this man is inspiring. The poetry in which he spoke and wrote conveyed such a vision for a better world where people treated people with respect and decency. A place where justice was important and available for all. Where poverty and inequality would be crushed because those with the power to do something about it would act because they knew it was the right thing to do. I am also amazed at how timeless his words are. So many of the things he spoke are so relevant today. I could change names, races, or events he spoke about in many of his speeches to present day players and events and they would fit circumstances we are suffering under and struggling with today. It is worth the time to search through his words. When someone is speaking things that are at the heart of the gospel of Christ they are timeless.

I want to share from the book "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr." the epitaph of John Kennedy

"Our nation should do a great deal of soul searching as a result of President Kennedy's assassination. The shot that came from the fifth story building cannot be easily dismissed as the isolated act of a madman. Honesty impels us to look beyond the demented mind that executed this dastardly act. While the question "Who killed President Kennedy?" is important, the question "What killed him?" is more important.

Our late President was assassinated by a morally inclement climate. It is a climate filled with heavy torrents of false accusation, jostling winds of hatred, and raging storms of violence.

It is a climate where men cannot disagree without being disagreeable, and where they express dissent through violence and murder. It is the same climate that murdered Medgar Evers in Mississippi and six innocent Negro children in Birmingham, Alabama.

So in a sense we are all participants in that horrible act that tarnished the image of our nation. By our silence, by our willingness to compromise principle, by our constant attempt to cure the cancer of racial injustice with the Vaseline of gradualism, by our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing, by allowing all these developments we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.

So President Kennedy has something important to say to each of us in his death. He has something to say to every politician who has feed his constituents the stale bread of racism and the spoiled meat of hatred. He has something to say to every clergyman who observed racial evils and remained silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows. He has something to say to the devotees of the extreme right who poured out venomous words against the Supreme Court and the United Nations, and branded everyone a communist with whom they disagree. He has something to say to the misguided philosophy of communism that would teach man that the end justifies the means, and that violence and denial of basic freedom are justifiable methods to achieve the goal of a classless society.

He says to all of us that the virus of hate that seeped into the veins of our nation, if unchecked, will lead inevitably to our moral and spiritual doom.

Thus the epitaph of John Kennedy's life illuminates profound truths that challenge us to set aside our grief of a season and move forward with more determination to rid our nation of the vestiges of racial segregation and discrimination."

"Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil. The greatest way to do that is through love. I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will, and justice."

We would do well to listen to Dr. King on these issues.

Monday, November 13, 2006

ARE WE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE FOR OTHER'S TRANSFORMATION? OR WILL THE CHURCH JUST CONTINUE TO ATTACK?

I took this first part from a post of a few days ago. I wanted to contrast it with some thoughts from "Hope Against Darkness" by Richard Rohr.

We shouldn't be surprised that the Church mirrors perfectly about all the same destructive behaviors that they are screaming at the world outside about. What's worse for the Church is all the while heaping a big dose of judgement on everybody but themselves, the judgement seems to always come back on the one that lives in judgement of others. The end result at this time is this; the church has pretty much became exactly the same.

Richard says this:

"To attack the person out there is usually to simply continue the problem, because he or she is a victim, too. The reason people do evil, why they hate, sin, make mistakes is because somewhere they have been hurt, rejected, excluded or wounded. They just keep passing it on. And the cycle repeats and spreads. Jesus, you could say, came to break and even stop the cycle. Punitive behavior only continues the same old game and, I am afraid, most of the Church itself has yet to understand this. We still think it is about forcing conformity instead of seeking true interior transformation. True transformation always demands that we pay the price for the other's growth. We would rather punish and coerce a response. God is much more patient."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A QUIET DAY



I love this time of year. My home is surrounded by wonderful Japanese Maples that are beautiful from spring until fall. As you can see, it has been a good fall for them show off their brilliant colors. I have had a day full of quiet alone time. My day has been full of reading, praying and thinking. This is a great spot to sit for all these activities. I hope all who happen to stop by here are finding an ever deepening longing to know the One who brings meaning to life even while the storms rage all around.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

THE FALSE SELF/THE TRUE SELF

I've been reading some writtings of a Franciscan Brother over the past week and have been challenged and encouraged. Having the false self exposed is a little bit painful. Even so, I want more. The false self seems to be the one that is first to respond in most situations. Especially with those closest to us. Why is it harder to act graciously with those we see most often? For those of us that are married extending grace seems at times to be difficult at best. At least at first gaze. Defenses seem to go up and the battle for our sacred turf of false self is on.

I have been married long enough now you would think I would have learned that starting out in the True Self would always be better. I am very aware of how much better living in the True Self feels so why don't I start out there all the time?

Here is how Richard Rohr says it:

"The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: "How will this effect me?" or "How does my self-image demand that I react to this?" or "How can I get back in control of this situation?" This leads to an implosion, a self preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and the emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live "undefended" can we immediately stand with and for the other, and for the moment. It takes alot of practice."

In marrage relationships it seems the false self always feels it is it's responsibility to fix the problem. To some, that looks like running from the relationship. They might say, "this is broken already and too painful." To others, fixing it means focusing on the other person's mess. These approaches always strengthen the false self. In the one attacking and the one being attacked. It will always cause deeper hurt for everyone involved.

Unless we can get to the True Self, disfunction will remain disfunction. But when both people involved can find their way to living in their True Self it is a most beautiful thing. That doesn't mean it's not messy. We are all on a journey TOWARDS transformation. It's a process. One thing I am coming to understand is this. We all are disfunctional because there is a mixture of light and dark in us all. If we are loving each other out of the True Self we get to watch the disfunction being unwound in the ones we love. And in that process our disfunction starts to be unwound also.

GRACE MAKES GRACIOUS PEOPLE. Grace is especially for, or should I be as bold to say exclusively for, those suffering from disfunction caused by having lived out of the false self for too long. There is always hope for those struggling with disfunction. If there is not, we are all dead in the water because there is not one of us or no relationship without at least a degree of it. Hope comes by the way of the True Self not the false self. Only when we are learning to abide in God can the True Self win out over the false self.

GRACE MAKES BEAUTY OUT OF UGLY THINGS...........ONLY WHEN WE ARE IN OUR TRUE SELF, (which can only happen if I am abiding in Him)CAN WE LIVE GRACIOUS LIVES

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A song ringing in my head

Walk On U2
And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing....
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on...Stay safe tonight

Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is
I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme…

I don't know if many people come here to this blog. But for those that do, hopefully this song will bring some peace to were you might find yourself on any given day. It does me. I want to learn to live this life, this journey, free of the baggage it brings. Learning to live loved and love is all we have. Most perfectly in Him and then with each other. I read this from a book the other night and it fits here. The book is "Religious Nuts Political Fanatics" by Robert Vagacs, It was very encouraging. Here is a bit from the book.

Yahweh restores feeling to the deadened body and a numb mind. He gives the Wanderer a purpose, a destination, a new name. No longer Wanderer, the new name given is Sojourner. The destination is Home. The journey is long and the secret is to travel light.

WALK ON

Monday, August 07, 2006

Where is the love?

I am posting a link to a blog that asks this question in light of the mid-east conflict. I will say myself I don't know what I can do about all of this. I know love is the only real answer. I know the path of violence will always come full circle some time in the future. I know the innocent life being lost today to war is always a tragedy. I know God's heart breaks watching us humans continue down the same path time after time. I know we in the church are called to be peace makers and the present day church seems all to willing most of the time to accept war as the answer to conflict. I wonder how much of this, even with believers, is mostly guided by our focus being on self preservation? I'm thankful Jesus had that self-preservation stuff already settled within himself when he faced the onslaught that came against him.

when you get to the link scroll down to Where is the love?
http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/

Spark(Bergquist/Detweiler)

It's not the spark that caused the fire
It was the air you breathed that fanned the flame
What you think you'll solve with violence
Will only spread like a disease
Until it all comes 'round again
Was John the only dreamer?
Sleep with one ear close to the ground
And wake up screaming
When we lay our cold weapons down
We'll wake up dreaming
Obsessions with self-preservation
Faded when I threw my fear away
It's not a thing you can imagine
You either lose your fear
Or spend your life with one foot in the grave
Is God the last romantic?
Sleep with one ear close to the ground
And wake up screaming
When we lay our cold weapons down
We'll wake up dreaming
Only love can turn this around
I wake up dreaming
Everything we've lost can be found
We'll wake up dreaming

Saturday, August 05, 2006

THE SCRIPT

"I HAVE BEEN thinking about the ways in which the Bible is a critical alternative to the enmeshments in which we find ourselves in the church and in society. I have not, of course, escaped these enmeshments myself, but in any case I offer a series of 19 theses about the Bible in the church.

1. Everybody has a script. People live their lives by a script that is sometimes explicit but often implicit. That script may be one of the great meta-narratives created by Karl Marx or Adam Smith or it may be an unrecognized tribal mantra like, "My dad always said ..." The practice of the script evokes a self, yields a sense of purpose and provides security. When one engages in psychotherapy, the therapy often has to do with reexamining the script--or completely scuttling the script in favor of a new one, a process that we call conversion.

As the self is organized by a script, so are communities. And leaders of a community are skilled in appealing to that script.

2. We are scripted by a process of nurture, formation and socialization that might go under the rubric of liturgy. Some of the liturgy is intentional work, much of it is incidental; but all of it, especially for the young and especially for the family, involves modeling the way the world "really is." The script is inhaled along with every utterance and every gesture, because the script-bestowing community is engaged in the social construction of a distinct reality. A case in point is the observation of Mark Douglas that regular table prayers of thanksgiving are a primal way in which to challenge the market view of the supply and movement of valuable goods (see his book Confessing Christ in the 21st Century).

3. The dominant script of both selves and communities in our society, for both liberals and conservatives, is the script of therapeutic, technological, consumerist militarism that permeates every dimension of our common life.

* I use the term therapeutic to refer to the assumption that there is a product or a treatment or a process to counteract every ache and pain and discomfort and trouble, so that life may be lived without inconvenience.

* I use the term technological, following Jacques Ellul, to refer to the assumption that everything can be fixed and made right through human ingenuity; there is no issue so complex or so remote that it cannot be solved.

* I say consumerist, because we live in a culture that believes that the whole world and all its resources are available to us without regard to the neighbor, that assumes more is better and that "if you want it, you need it." Thus there is now an advertisement that says: "It is not something you don't need; it is just that you haven't thought of it."

* The militarism that pervades our society exists to protect and maintain the system and to deliver and guarantee all that is needed for therapeutic technological consumerism. This militarism occupies much of the church, much of the national budget and much of the research program of universities.It is difficult to imagine life in our society outside the reach of this script; it is everywhere reiterated and legitimated.

4. This script--enacted through advertising, propaganda and ideology, especially in the several liturgies of television--promises to make us safe and happy. Therapeutic, technological, consumerist militarism pervades our public life and promises us security and immunity from every threat. And if we shall be safe, then we shall be happy, for who could watch the ads for cars and beers and deodorants and give thought to such matters as the trade deficit or homelessness or the residue of anger and insanity left by the war or by destruction of the environment? This script, with its illusion of safety and happiness, invites life in a bubble that is absent of critical reflection.

5. That script has failed. I know this is not the conclusion that all would draw. It is, however, a lesson that is learned by the nations over and over again. It is clear to all but the right-wing radio talk people and the sponsoring neoconservatives that the reach of the American military in global ambition has served only to destabilize and to produce new and deep threats to our society. The charade of a national security state has left us completely vulnerable to the whim of the very enemies that our security posture has itself evoked. A by-product of such attempts at security, moreover, has served in astonishing ways to evoke acrimony in the body politic that makes our democratic decisionmaking processes nearly unworkable.

We are not safe, and we are not happy. The script is guaranteed to produce new depths of insecurity and new waves of unhappiness. And in response to new depths of insecurity and new waves of unhappiness, a greater resolve arises to close the deal according to the script, which produces ever new waves and new depths.

6. Health depends, for society and for its members, on disengaging from and relinquishing the failed script. This is a truth that is exceedingly difficult to utter, and even more difficult to imagine acting upon across the sociopolitical spectrum. And besides that, we are ambivalent about disengaging and relinquishing, because we are indeed well-off, comfortable, and by any standards better off than most of the world can imagine." Walter Brueggemann

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Some food for thought for us parents

I picked up a book this morning I had read last year. "Plan B" by Anne Lamott. I certainly enjoyed "Traveling Mercies" better, but this one has some really good stuff in it also. The chapter titled Adolescence, had this conclusion, "My friend Mark, who works with church youth groups reminded me recently that Sam doesn't need me to correct his feelings. He needs me to listen, to be clear and fair and parental. But most of all he needs me to be alive in a way that makes him feel he will be able to bear adulthood, because he is terrified of death, and that includes growing up to be one of the stressed-out, grey-faced adults he sees rushing around him."

I think that is very good advice.