Friday, June 29, 2007

DISARMED AGAIN

The only thing we have is God's love.....his grace.....his mercy....his forgiveness. It's the only thing that will un-do the mess humans have created.

It just seems there is not many that believe this?

Society seems stuck in the ditch. Punishment, or the use of the fear of it, seems to be what everyone gravitates too. The world uses the law and it's punitive system in an attempt to control man's propensity to exploit and harm others. I understand that.....it's all the world has to fall back on.

The religious system(yes this includes christianity) uses the same thing as the world. This system turns to law(10 commandments and the laws of the land) in much the same way. Oh yeah, let's not forget the use of the threat of internal burning in hell.

What ever happened to; "It's his kindness that leads us to repentance"?

This is what puzzles me. Why do those who say they trust in Jesus, as The Way unto salvation, and The Hope of the world, seem to lean towards punishment in the same way the world does?

Jesus said the law had not the power to deliver us. The book of Romans is full of this fact and other parts of the NT point to this also. Yet today it seems many in the church still seem to hold tighter to law than they do grace. They pay grace, mercy, and forgiveness lip service, but turn to law as a way to control and modify people's behavior.

When will we understand the law is much like throwing gas on an already blazing fire in many cases? People are suffering under the burden of law already. It's driven many mad and still today drives many to despair and hopelessness. Don't we understand that this is the problem? Hopelessness and despair are already here. People need a way out. Jesus made that way and it was not to give us more punishment or even the threat of it. He removed it. THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS we have to share with the world suffering under the burden of sin and fanned into a blazing fire by the law.

The only message that Jesus gave us, is the message of the cross and the promise of resurrection and new life. It's a message of unconditional love and acceptance. Reconciliation back to God. The message is of grace....mercy.....forgiveness.......not punishment. The threat is removed in the cross and the promise came to life in the resurrection.

We have to believe this before we can live it. Not many today believe this. It is made apparent in their embrace and demands for not only the preaching of the law but their faith in the world's punitive system that is a violation of God's perfect justice. Fear is at the heart of this.....the cross was suppose to remove that fear also.

God is in the process of disarming me.......and I thank him for it...... I am left with the understanding that grace...mercy....forgiveness....and love are the only things that will deliver us from the suffering caused by sin manifested in this hostile world. I long to live everyday as if I really believe it.

When you think about it, it's really all that there is.....EVERYTHING ELSE IS AN ILLUSION because it is IMPOTENT TO DELIVER that which it promises.

Oh, and don't forget......GRACE RARELY EVER MAKES SENSE TO THOSE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE

Monday, June 25, 2007

THE TYRANNY OF LIVING WITH EXPECTATION..... OH BUT THE FREEDOM THAT AWAITS THE ONE THAT LET'S THEM GO

Letting go of ‘expectations’ is soooo risky; it feels like a free fall since our world was held together by that web, but it is in that ‘risk’ that you find a God who does not meet your expectations (thankfully), but loves you and is involved, and in that ‘risk’ is where ‘faith’ grows. Then we begin to live more in the environment of ‘expectancy’, the edgy, free flowing realm of wonder and surprise.

http://www.windrumors.com/index.php/2007/06/24/expectations-responsibilities-a-hard-way-to-live/

TO FORGIVE 70 X 7

This was on my mind this morning and I sat down to write something to post in relation to this statement Jesus gave when asked, How many times we should forgive someone?

A quick word search led me to this article. This article deals with forgiving someone who has committed a horrific crime. This offense is at the far extreme end of human madness and meanness. Thank God most of us haven't had to deal with this one and face the forgiving of someone who has done something so unthinkable.

We humans today seem to face a much bigger problem when it comes to forgiving. We seem to have a difficult time forgiving simple mistakes and weaknesses of each other. It speaks of the harsh environment we have created......that culture we live in that has been stripped of grace.

http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2006/10/19/ESSAY-whyAmishForgive-A.doc.aspx

The act of forgiveness
Is always a mystery
The melting of ice
And the future of history

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising

Linford Detweiler

Thursday, June 21, 2007

LIVING IN A CULTURE STRIPPED OF GRACE

At one moment you experience mushy, shallow sentamentalism, and the next minute you will probably be facing harh punitive confrontation.

What a hostile environment we have created. For goodness gracious, don't dare to think differently than the established order (religious or secular) and that order's mode of thinking to process what is going on around you personally and in the world or you will be met with all kinds of resistance.

What ever happened to being gracious? Everybody has their systems of belief intact and if you say something that cuts against it, look out. Dangerous extreme confidence is very un-becoming when displayed in humans that at best only see through a glass darkly.

My prayer is that we are awakened to it before we destroy each other.

Now for a lighter look at it all, listen to Anne LaMott and how she puts it.

"You can't heal your sick shame filled worried mind with your sick shame filled worried mind.

We are healed by grace.

Where sin abounds grace abounds.

The five rules of human life in America:

1. You should not have anything wrong or different about you.

2. If you do have something wrong or different about you, you should fix it.

3. If you can't fix it you should fake it. Pretend your okay.

4. If you can't fix it or fake it, you should just stay away because it is just too painful for everyone to be around you.

5. If you insist on still coming around you should at least have the decency to be ashamed.

With that being the human experience it is a radical act to just show up and learn to live free."

When it is conformity we are seeking and we use punitive fear based measures to accomplish it, all that is possible is a harsh experience because that culture has been stripped of grace.

I'm adding this link again because IMHO this is just too important to not ponder on a continued regular basis.

http://www.windrumors.com/index.php/2007/06/04/uniformity-and-harmony/

Sunday, June 17, 2007

LIKE I SAID........I LOVE THE POWER IN MUSIC

You've got to see this.

Oh, and by the way.....encourage someone today. Everyone has something of their creator to reflect out into the world around them. I think we would even be surprised as to the power of the hidden gifts that people hold inside because of fear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exyJ2CSfrHo

Friday, June 15, 2007

THE TRUMPET CHILD IS COMING.......


I love good music. It's always great when good new music is released. In August I will be sipping a nice glass of wine listening to such music and thinking of our coming savior.
The Trumpet Child is coming soon.....


I love this album cover art.



OVER THE RHINE is at the top of my listening list.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

OUR IMAGINED UNCERTAIN FUTURE

I've been thinking a lot lately about the destructive nature of fear. Most people live with it. Even the toughest and strongest are effected by it and guided by it....nations and individuals.

Nations and individuals construct systems in an attempt to protect themselves. Belief systems are one such attempt societies and individuals use to bring some "certainty" to life so as to minimize fear, or sometimes even tell others is a way to eliminate it all together. The only problem is it is a lie.

Life is uncertain. Everything beyond this present moment is just an imagined future. Deep down inside we know this is true and it is the very thing that creates our deep fears. We humans are a peculiar bunch. We scramble to cover our bases. We put up what we think are walls that protect us and yet those walls end up being prisons. Most of the time these walls are made up of lies about the things we convince ourselves we are certain about. We want to be safe and secure above all things and we don't feel safe or secure.

Our culture then sweeps in with all it's promises to make us feel that safety and security are possible and it has the ability to deliver it to us. These are some of the biggest lies out there. The truth is, safe and secure only exists in one place and our culture can not take us there. So, we get empty mis-leading promises. Here is where we humans being so peculiar comes into play. All of human history proves that the majority of people continue to turn to the lies of the prevailing culture with the hope of finding safety and security. We turn to money and all it can provide us. We even call the saving of money....securities. We turn to war and law enforcement to punish the "dangerous evil ones" that might harm us. We turn to religion so that our god will crush all who might come to cause us trouble because "our way" is god's way and we know we speak for him above all others. And still we run scared.

Like I said earlier, there is only one place we created beings can find peace and security.......and it is in the life hidden in Christ in God.

This is not found in any religion.....any economic system.....any form of the world's national government systems.....it's not found in the things you own or want to own. These are all empty attempts of independent men and women to produce some sort of certainty out of uncertainty so as to feel secure and in control of our imagined uncertain futures. Because of this, the cycle continues for the masses and fears deepen, anxiety and depression take hold, and all that is left is a very hostile environment for all who come into this world.

That is, except for those learning to be in the world as Jesus was in the world. Fully aware....fully present....fully dependent on his father. As we learn to abide in him, the place inside us all that we have filled with the lies that are so often passed off as certainty and security but have left us in fear, will come down and will be replaced with the ONE who is certain and secure. For those learning this reality, security and peace will become constant traveling companions and fear will find no home with them.

Monday, June 11, 2007

ANOTHER POST FOR TODAY

Here is a link to what I feel is a significant teaching about Power. We all use power and we must face this truth......are we using God's or the world's? I believe this to be one of the most important realities for us to grapple with. The Church has too often just flat out got it wrong.

http://resource.saltlight.org/%02download,134

IS IT FREEDOM YOU POSSESS OR IS IT GREED IN DISGUISE?

You're taking steps that make you feel dizzy
Then you learn to like the way it feels.
You hurt yourself, you hurt your lover
Then you discover
What you thought was freedom is just greed.

from the song; Gone by U2

As we are renewed in our minds and we begin to see things from God's perspective it does create a bit of disorientation. How could it not? We have been so conditioned by this world and the ways it is set up to work. It's like breathing.......you just do it without even thinking about it.

The problem? It runs counter to the ways of God, as clearly seen in the life of Jesus and those that followed him.

But in the environment we find ourselves, where the visible christian church pretty much does most things in the same way as the surrounding culture (and at the same time stands in judgement of that culture)........do we have the courage to step back and re-think it all so we can be a part of a re-turning to God and his dream?

Is that really freedom you are experiencing and fighting to achieve? As God defines it? Or as the world defines it? Or is it greed?

In the pursuit for the things we want and we have been conditioned to believe are important, are we hurting ourselves and those we love? I think that question for those longing to follow Jesus in spirit and truth even needs to be expanded beyond that. Is it hurting our neighbor as God defines neighbor.........is it hurting even those we might "see" or "define" as our enemy?

I agree, these questions if we ask them honestly and get serious about living as if they are important questions, will most certainly make you feel dizzy. We need to be made feel dizzy,because the life of false freedom and greed is nothing but destructive to all of God's creation.

The reality as I see it........living by the world's ways and colluding with it is actually what creates disorientation. We just don't accept the fact and recognize that we are disoriented because it is all we have know. Stepping out of it doesn't actually makes us dizzy as it might seem. What is actually happening is re-orientation back to that which is real.

True Humanity, as God intended, awaits those with the courage to step outside that which is familiar. Do we trust him enough to allow ourselves the courage to imagine something different?

The invitation has not changed. Life in him and his life in us is the gift. Real Freedom awaits those who respond to his invitation.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

DISARMED

The only thing we have is God's love.....his grace.....his mercy....his forgiveness. It's the only thing that will un-do the mess humans have created. I just don't see many that believe this truth.

Society seems stuck in the ditch. Punishment, or the use of the fear of it, seems to be what everyone gravitates too. The world uses the law and it's punitive system in an attempt to control man's propensity to exploit and harm others. I understand that.....it's all the world has to fall back on.

The religious system(yes this includes christianity) uses the same thing as the world. This system turns to law(10 commandments and the laws of the land) in much the same way. Oh yeah, let's not forget the use of the threat of internal burning in hell.

What ever happened to; "It's his kindness that leads us to repentance"?

This is what puzzles me. Why do those who say they trust in Jesus, as The Way unto salvation, and The Hope of the world, seem to lean towards punishment in the same way the world does?

Jesus said the law had not the power to deliver us. The book of Romans is full of this fact and other parts of the NT point to this also. Yet today it seems many in the church still seem to hold tighter to law than they do grace. They pay grace, mercy, and forgiveness lip service, but turn to law as a way to control and modify people's behavior.

When will we understand the law is much like throwing gas on an already blazing fire in many cases? People are suffering under the burden of law already. It's driven many mad and still today drives many to despair and hopelessness. Don't we understand that this is the problem? Hopelessness and despair are already here. People need a way out. Jesus made that way and it was not to give us more punishment or even the threat of it. He removed it. THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS we have to share with the world suffering under the burden of sin and fanned into a blazing fire by the law.

The only message that Jesus gave us, is the message of the cross and the promise of resurrection and new life. It's a message of unconditional love and acceptance. Reconciliation back to God. The message is of grace....mercy.....forgiveness.......not punishment. The threat is removed in the cross and the promise came to life in the resurrection.

We have to believe this before we can live it. Not many today believe this. It is made apparent in their embrace and demands for not only the preaching of the law but their faith in the world's punitive system that is a violation of God's perfect justice. Fear is at the heart of this.....the cross was suppose to remove that fear also.

God has disarmed me, or should I say in the continued process of that.......and I thank him for it......all I am left with is grace...mercy....forgiveness....and love.

When you think about it, it's really all that there is.....EVERYTHING ELSE IS AN ILLUSION because it is IMPOTENT TO DELIVER that which it promises.

Oh, and don't forget......GRACE RARELY EVER MAKES SENSE TO THOSE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE

Friday, June 08, 2007

GRACE RARELY MAKES SENSE TO THOSE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE

It seems I repeat this subject on a regular basis on my blog. It has just been such a transformative thing in my life in all my dealings with people. It seems to touch everything. Let it sink in.

We are living in a day that seems we are surrounded by harshness at every turn. We humans have created a rather tough, brutal environment to live. The question for me after many life changing events, including this quote on JUSTICE, seems to have become; WHAT WILL GIVE?

Exploitation rules the existence of humans. We all must face the fact we play some kind of role in it. When "winning" or at least "being successful" as the world defines it becomes the "prize", everyone loses when it comes to Justice. Stick with me here because I believe we need our understanding of justice re-worked if we are to be a people of grace and forgiveness. If not we will continue to be a people lacking grace, that ends up trusting in law more and more that then just leads to more exploitation.

For the world that runs in fear I can understand that. Fear drives many to exploit others in an attempt to gain that which might deliver a sense of security. The only problem is, exploiting others only leave us more vulnerable and insecure.

For those who proclaim to be following Jesus, running in fear just doesn't make sense? For those who are truly following, Jesus is the power to free us from fear because he is able to ground us in God's love which in turn leads us to trusting him. This is the only place security is found. Some trust in chariots and the sword.....some in other forms of power....some in money......some in law.....some in the things they possess....some in intellect so as to feel superior.....and all of these people are left living and running in fear.

Excepting grace and than learning to extend grace will only happen when we are delivered from fear. Self-preservation is a sign that the cross of Jesus has not been embraced. Self-preservation is absolutely antithetical to the cross of Jesus. Without that which can only be accomplished through the cross we are left trusting in what the world sees as PUNITIVE JUSTICE and then humans must set themselves up as Supreme Justice to administer it. FOR THOSE WHO SEE THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY AND ONLY IN PART....this becomes nothing but dangerous and foolish. Not only does the New Testament scripture tell us this, all of history tells us this.

For those that go this way, there is only one conclusion. They don't trust God and they are not people of grace....mercy.....and forgiveness.


I ran across this quote on Tim Neufeld's blog back last summer.

"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?"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

HARMONY

I wanted to add this blog link because I think it works well with some of the things I have been discussing lately about the difficulties modern society brings to the table for those called to follow Jesus and his way.

It contrasts the difference between uniformity and harmony.

here's is part of it:

"Ellul’s quote is first a statement of fact. If the music is uniform (to keep to the analogy) everyone is playing or singing the same note at the same time, thus there is no harmony. The context of Ellul’s quote is a discussion of how the world systems, be they religious, economic, social, political, educational etc, are coercive with a goal of uniformity. Uniformity is much easier to control, or at least to identify the troublemakers, the outcasts, the losers etc. The Law is all about uniformity, the absorption of individuality into the machine, the focus on performance expectations and standards. And while there is a certain symmetry to uniformity, after a time it is all rather life-less and predictable, both values within systems."

http://www.windrumors.com/index.php/2007/06/04/uniformity-and-harmony/

Sunday, June 03, 2007

THIS PROBLEM WITH POWER?

Jesus addressed this in this way but there are other references that could be used:

Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.
21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left."
22 But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able."
23 He said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father."
24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers.
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26 "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."


This is our brother Jacques Ellul discussing this in his words.

"Note that he makes no distinction or reservation. All national rulers, no matter what the nation or political regime, lord it over their subjects. There can be no political power without tyranny. This is plain and certain for Jesus. When there are rulers and great leaders, there can be no such thing as good political power. Here again power is called into question. Power corrupts. We catch an echo of the verse we quoted above from Ecclesiastes. But we note also that Jesus does not advocate revolt or material conflict with these kings and great ones. He reverses the question, and as so often challenges his interlocutors: "But you.....it must not be the same among you." In other words, don't be so concerned about fighting kings. Let them be. Set up a marginal society which will not be interested in such things, in which there will be no power, authority, or hierarchy. Do not do things as they are usually done in society, which you cannot change. Create another society on another foundation.

We might condemn this attitude, talking of depoliticization. As we shall see, this was in fact the global attitude of Jesus. But we must take note that it is not desocialization. Jesus is not advising us to leave society and go into the desert. His counsel is that we should stay in society and set up in it communities which obey other rules and other laws. This advice rests on the conviction that we cannot change the phenomenon of power. And this is problematic in a sense when we consider what became of the church when it entered the political field and began to play politics. It was immediately corrupted by the relation to power and by the creation of it's own authorities. Finally, of course, one might rightly object that setting up independent communities outside the political power was relatively easy in the days of Jesus but is no longer possible today. This is a real objection but it is hardly enough to convince us that we may engage in politics, which is always a means of conquering others and exercising power over them."

I would love to hear some thoughts on this? Also, I am not here to "defend" this position of Ellul or any other position, but Jesus' statement I cannot deny any longer as being foundational.

I just thought discussing this might be interesting?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

BELIEF AND FAITH

Romans 8:5

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Religious beliefs more often than not, are a list of requirements to meet. Rules to follow. That is all. This is where I think it is so easy for us to be fooled. We in the Christian religion need to take a long hard look and make sure we haven't taken the life Jesus made way for us and turned it into another mere belief system. Because we too often then feel it is our duty to push this belief system on everyone. Spin it however you like but this is a mind set on the flesh.

Faith is something very different. It is a life of much uncertainty because those of faith follow the leading of the spirit of God. Jesus refers to the spirit as being like the wind. You don't know from where it comes or even where it is going. To follow the spirit it seems important to not be too fixed and settled? It's about living in an ever present reliance on God, the certain one. It has to be lived out moment to moment. Doesn't it just make sense that a life in the spirit means that learning to live in the moment is all we have and living out in the future making plans based on our belief system isn't compatible with following someone who is like the wind? A mind set on the spirit is the only way to life.

And where as living with a system of mere beliefs might give you fleeting moments of peace.....Living in that place of faith with a mind set on the spirit, trusting Father, you will find peace to be a constant companion.

Romans 8:5-15
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%208:5-15;&version=49;

Friday, June 01, 2007

THE FOUNDATION

What does Jesus as the only foundation that has been laid mean? It seems to me that it makes knowing Jesus vitally important.

If who we think Jesus is and what we think Jesus is like and what it means to follow him as the way, is all mixed up with a domesticated/ consumerism/materialism/capitalist/democratic/militarised/nationalistic/patriotic understanding, do these things easily fit into the foundation already laid?

If they fit we are cool.........if they don't, well that is another story.

Does this seem to be an important situation to ponder? It just seems very few are willing at this time to even give it much serious thought juxtaposed with Jesus' words in the gospel. If not Jesus' words and the gospel, what else do we have. It just seems to me this would be vitally important to the only foundation that can built on.

One last thought. If Jesus is building his Church, as scripture points out, he will not be building on anything other than that foundation. He makes no mistakes and never compromises. With that being true, I really want to be sure my life is hidden with him.