Tuesday, July 31, 2007

LISTEN TO AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF THE SHACK

This story is touching so many lives already. I am getting phone calls on a regular basis thanking me for suggesting this book to them. If you haven't read it yet, you might want to give it a read?

http://www.ptm.org/young/

Monday, July 30, 2007

FREEDOM IN CHRIST

Some more from The Ethics of Freedom by Jacques Ellul

"As we have seen, freedom in Christ is not just a spiritual freedom. It is a full freedom. Hence it has a material aspect. It is restricted and assaulted when man is not free materially, socially, and politically. Freedom in Christ means, then, that we are not to submit to a dictatorial or authoritarian political regime, no matter what may be it's orientation, intention, or theoretical basis. From this stand point it makes no difference whether the dictator is of the right or the left, whether he is trying to protect capitalism or to save the proletariat, whether he is defending colonialism or trying to destroy imperialism. A dictatorship is always a dictatorship and we become the slaves of men in submitting to it. We amputate thereby the freedom that is given in Christ. If it is Christians who try to set up such a dictatorship, they are using freedom in Christ to make men slaves, and in so doing they themselves destroy freedom.

This applies equally to the totality of the socio-economic structures that oppress men. Along these lines it seems to me that the "good" realities are more dangerous than the "bad." For enslaving men by violence, imprisonment, and torture is certainly a terrible thing, but it does at least provoke reaction against it. Enslaving men by gentle and laudable institutions and intentions is in the long run a far greater threat. I have in mind means of enslavement like work, occupation, specialization, family, country, justice, culture, progress, intelligence, or science. Each of these values is both an inevitable and indispensable element for man and also an occasion of enslavement. The two aspects cannot be separated."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

TO FIND YOUR LIFE...YOU MUST LOSE IT. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Colossians 2:20-23
20If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,
21"Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"
22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
23These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

I ran across this as I was reading The Ethics of Freedom by Jacques Ellul.

"How difficult and intolerable this is---being dead with Christ. Having no further part in the fasts, pleasures, powers, libertinage, independence, and exaltation of the world, being dead to all that---how can we put up with it? If the death were a physiological one there would be no problem, for there would be no more participation. If the death were a spiritual one, there would be no problem, only confusion. But being dead with Christ from the essences, rudiments, and foundations of the world still leaves us alive in the world, participating, co-existing, the same even while we are different. The impossible thing is living out this death. It is so impossible that soon many Christians saw only one solution---the monastery. Living out this death is the very thing man tries avoid by creating a morality in order that he may live, whether it be according to the fellowship of Christ, inspiration, principles, and so forth, but in any case not as one who has gone through death."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

ANNE LAMOTT ON GRACE

I was thinking about some of the conversations I have had with so many people over the past few months...really over the past year. Some are experiencing life and freedom like never before. Yet they still face trials and hardships. Grace doesn't transport us out of the things of life.....it carries us through. It keeps us afloat when we feel like the things we are facing might pull us under.

It made me think of something I read in Grace (Eventually)...the newest book from the author mentioned above.

Here is Anne describing how she sees grace working.

This follows her story of how in their new home, she had to get creative to get her son to sleep in his new room. She let him sleep on the floor in her room to begin with and then every night he would move his sleeping bag a little closer to his own room.....very tentatively....and some nights he would have to move a step back towards her room until he finally made it.

"That's me trying to make any progress at all with family, in work, relationships, self-image: scootch, scootch, stall, scootch, stall, catastrophic reversal; bog, bog, scootch. I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things; also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark.

I suppose if we were snatched out of the mess, you'd miss the lesson; the lesson is the slog. I grew up thinking the lessons should be more like the von Trapp children: more marionettes, more dirndls and harmonies. But no: it's slog, bog, scootch."

Grace helps us breathe and rest in knowing that we have someone with us that can sympathize with all we might be facing......and as we learn to trust him we stop fighting. And in the giving up the fight to make all the external things right in our own eyes he changes us and sets us free.

IMPATIENCE IS AN ENEMY

This is one of the things I see that our culture so stirs in us all and it robs us of life, peace and joy. We miss so much due to our tendency to run from things that are a struggle.......but at the moment of choosing to run we miss the fact that we always find different struggles in the new place we have just run to.

I think we need to learn to embrace these struggles and pains that are a part of our lives due to the fact that we have been part of the creation of a pretty hostile environment. But the good news tells us that there is a song of joy and peace to sing in the midst of it all. Do we live like we believe that?

Here is a song that speaks so beautifully to this reality. You can listen to it at this link. Just click on the music player to hear the song It's Alright

http://ellerymusic.com/music.htm

It's Alright
Tasha Golden

Remember how we chased it like shadows
Life was the ocean; we wanted to swim
Looking back now, it’s just how the path goes
They tell you it’s over; you never begin

We don’t give ourselves time - the way that we used to
To watch it all happen, unfolding in sighs
You’d think we were blind, the things we can see through
The things we look past when emboldened inside

But it’s alright now, it’s alright
The ghosts of our glories are gray-bearded guides
The sound of our sorrows has stirred us inside
(But) I think maybe I’ve never felt more alive

I asked you just once if you thought we could be found
You never did tell me; but I think I know now
Whatever ship comes, by dark sea or gray cloud
As long as the well’s deep, we make it somehow

CHORUS

I don’t know how to make peace or find it
We’re most of us stories we’re scared to explain
But what if there’s sound, somewhere caught behind this
A song we can sing while we’re lying awake

CHORUS

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

AFTER A MENTION OF THIS POST FROM A FRIEND I THOUGHT I WOULD MOVE IT UP AGAIN

This Over The Rhine song is mine and my wife's personal song. The first time I heard it I thought of her and then of myself and my frail attempts at loving her and encouraging her. See, she has on and off now for the 20 years we have been married battled depression and fear.

The good news.....after Father was successful at getting me out of the way (trying to "fix" her) he is breaking those chains and setting her free. It has been so much fun to watch.

I know, music is very subjective. What is beautiful music for some is not for others. I understand that. That's how it goes with art. Over The Rhine is very special to me on many different levels. The most important one being, their music and their story has been a tool used in the hand of my savior to refine and challenge me to be honest with myself and to grow.

I've listened to music all my life and since beginning to listen them, I have been stopped so many times by passersby, asking me who I am listening too. There is something so special about Karin's voice and the passion with which she sings and something special about the lyrics and the music and artistry of her husband Linford.

The two of them I'm certain have put together another beautiful collection of songs on The Trumpet Child for all who care to listen. The song, I Don't Want to Waste Your Time is about their desire to make music that touches the listener in a deep way.

As Linford says......"It's quiet music that demands to be played loud." So turn up the volume........I will certainly be doing that. I might just have to pour me a glass of wine also?

Etcetera Whatever

Don’t speak.
Words come out your eyes.
You’re wet with this nightmare.
Like thorns you hold these secrets to your breast,
your slender fingers closing into fists.

Trace your bruise
like a guilty streak.
Hold the pain.
You’re a connoisseur.
You think you have no other gift to give,
but we have so much left to live.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)

I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.

So come on now,
I can almost see
that place on a distant shore.
And courage is a weapon we must use
to find some life you can’t refuse.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)

I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.

All that I can see is your eyes.
Close your eyes.
Close your eyes.

I don't know, but maybe that will encourage someone out there who is struggling in their marriage. Let me just say, it's so worth hanging on and working hard in learning how to love the other.

Don't lose hope.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

OBSTICLES IN THE WAY

Well there are many obstacles that stand in the way of healthy relationships, as long as they remain in place it will always lead to unhealthy community.

I've been very aware of how suspicion leads to mistrust and when these exist healthy relationship is just impossible. Assumptions we hold about people don't make what we convince ourselves is true about them actually true. Assumptions create walls that separate us and make it impossible to embrace each other.

Why do we do this to others? I think it is because of fear. Usually from what I have observed it happens when one or more find themselves in disagreement with another person or group. Which then brings me to the next question and observation. Why do we think we all have to agree on everything and see everything exactly the same? I think it is because of the fear most people live in daily.

Let me share something a friend said to me about this the other day in a conversation.

"There is no risk in conversations of agreement; just the smooth ride on a road with no curves, turns or bumps, no jostling, no mistakes. There is a degree of certainty in conversations of agreement; you have a sense about where you stand and you stand not alone. The presence of another, in fact, justifies where you stand, and supports you along with your sense of value. In the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, everyone joins together to embrace the certainty afforded by agreement, only to have it challenged and destroyed by a child who told the truth. If he had been an adult, at best he would have been accused of having an agenda, of trying to overthrow the kingdom, or being a rebel...or crucified. "

I think we are afraid to actually believe differently than those around us. I think it begins when we are children. Say something different than what the majority think and you are laughed at and made fun of. Powerful messages are sent to us beginning when we are children. When we experience exclusion for the first time and then a second time and so on......we begin to say to ourselves, "Having a thought that is different than the status quo is just too painful." Fear now has it's way with us. Our personal prisons begin to form around us at this point. Some of them are erected by others but most of them are built by ourselves. They are built on lies and assumptions and they create an illusion....an alternative existance not grounded in fact.

This fear continues to grow as we grow because we begin to see that the world is full of people that are as afraid as we are. The world that we live in seems to be very unpredictable. This unpredictability leads us to attempt to control the things that we are afraid of. In this case I am speaking of today, it is relationships with people who think differently than we might think. I'm going to let my friend add something here again by way of the conversation he and I was having.

"Lies are the bars of the cage we construct to erect the illusion of certainty.

In any conversation, there is the potential that we will run up against such bars, such lies, and we must remember to continue to abide in the One who can take down bars in such a way as to leave the prisoner intact, but free "...the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to...". For those who have lived years inside the confinement of such a prison, freedom in any form can be terrifying and the messenger of freedom considered the enemy."

Because of this reality that is created by these personal prisons we have erected, relationships rarely ever go deep. They must remain superficial because if someone gets too close and they happen to "see" things differently then we do, we feel threatened and vulnerable. We then feel out of control. To get beyond this, we need to realize that this control is one of the illusion. We can't control that which is uncontrollable. All we can do is expel that which we disagree with. This is where one of our relational problems begin. If we can't get the one that "believes" differently than we do, or "sees" things differently than we do, to "see" it our way.......we exclude them from our life. Or at least make them feel uncomfortable or convince them that they are not free to express their feelings and thoughts.

These expectation we place on others distort every relationship we are in. Actually when this is how we operate.....we have no healthy relationships. We are prisoners to the tyranny of expectations of agreement.

Jesus said: The world will know you are my disciples because of the love you have for one another.

Where there are expectation of conformity of thought......there is no love or harmony.

I have posted this before and I am sure it will not be the last time you see it here on this blog because I believe it is so important for us to understand. The world has no clue as to how to do this due to the polarization caused by our need for conformity of thought and belief. For the Christian.....the one who desires to follow Jesus.....this must change. We need to learn to listen without being threatened by alternative thought. We will be hard pressed to find any more of an alternative thought then that of the God we say we trust in.

We need to learn to listen!!!!!!!!

NT Wright's advice seems to be great advice when we run up against statements that challenge our present understanding.

"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."

Friday, July 20, 2007

NOTHING IS INNOCENT NOW

http://overtherhine.com/

Click on the link above and go to the record player and you can listen to the song Nothing Is Innocent Now. What it speaks to me is the problem worldly power leaves us in. Followed by the song The Trumpet Child that puts it all into proper perspective for me. It is a restored relationship with God made possible by the trumpet child that is the power that changes everything. The way I see it.....everything must change when it comes to our embrace of worldly power or the state of alienation just continues. The foolishness of the cross is the only power that can bring about real change.

Nothing Is Innocent

We’d wake the dead
With voices in our head
We’ve gotten used to ignoring the truth

We close our eyes
And breathe and eat the lies
That tell us we’re so much better than you

Silence is loud
Humility is so proud
Nothing is innocent now

All the king’s men
Will serve scrambled eggs again
When white-washed walls come crashing down

We’ll blink and nod
And say, How odd
And wonder why old friends don’t come around

Silence is loud
Humility is so proud
Nothing is innocent now

The acid rain
We fear the pain
Will blister and burn the skin

But what is more
The fear we bore
Will eat us alive from within

Silence is loud
Humility is so proud
Nothing is innocent now

For you and me
In the land of the free
Is anything innocent now?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WORDLY POWER IS A DEAD END STREET

I wanted to pursue this quote from Ellul a bit more.

"No matter what may be its form or level, it inevitably tends to enhance itself and to initiate a movement towards centralization. No political power will ever reduce itself or accomplish decentralization. There is a law that power will grow without limit. The only recognized limit is fact. Power will always go as far as it possibly can geographically or judicially. It ceases to expand only when it comes up against an obstacle that is more powerful than itself. Power is under the necessity of becoming absolute and totalitarian. This depends neither on the men who wield it nor on the ideology nor on the circumstances. Political power would not be power if this were not so."

I had several conversations today that revolved around the idea of power. For myself they all ended up in the same place. POWER CONTINUES TO GROW UNTIL IT COMES UP AGAINST A STRONG POWER.

Doesn't this make the whole idea of Conservative political ideology an oxymoron? This recent Republican administration certainly confirms Ellul's point. But I have a pretty good idea about what is going to happen. The "true" conservatives will say that Bush wasn't and isn't a "true" conservative and that is why the governments centralized power continued to grow under this administration. Whether one of these representatives of the "true" conservative movement wins this next Presidential election or not, at some point they will again be in charge and those trusting in worldly power limiting itself will once again be disappointed. I am convinced of this. Worldly power will never choose to limit itself and empower something other than itself.

This statement: Power is under the necessity of becoming absolute and totalitarian, is in my estimation proving itself to be true also. I had a handful of conversation with folks today that are so willing to give up more democratic freedoms in exchange for our government "protecting" us. If the government could protect us that might make sense? Maybe? But that can not guarantee us the protection they promise. That is a big uncertainty. But I am coming to a place that I can guarantee you this......our government's power will continue to grow, regardless of what party is in power, until she faces a power from the outside that is more powerful.

I chose to weigh this out in terms of government but this applies to any situation when it is worldly power at work. It effects our economic....political....and religious institutions. It effects personal relationships from marriage...to parent/ child...and all other friendships.

The sad thing about all this is that very few people recognize or at least live like they believe that this worldly power was publicly displayed as defeated a long time ago by the greatest and only power that chose willingly to actually limit itself. It's something to think about.......

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

THE TRUE SELF vs THE FALSE SELF

"On my better days, when I am "open, undefended, and immediately present," I can sometimes begin with a contemplative mind and heart. Often I can get there later and even end there, but it is usually a second gaze. The True Self seems to always be ridden and blinded by the defensive needs of the false self. It is an hour-by-hour battle, at least for me. I can see why all spiritual traditions insist on daily prayer, in fact, morning, midday, evening, and before-we-go-to-bed prayer too. Otherwise, I can assume that I am back on cruise control of small and personal self-interest, the pitiable and fragile "richard" self.

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 can not 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 emotions of the other. Only after God had taught us to live "undefended" can we immediately stand with and for the other, and for the moment. It takes a lot of practice."
Richard Rohr

Monday, July 16, 2007

YOU GET TO CHOOSE.......IS THERE A GOD OF ALL CREATION OR NOT?

HOLDING THE TENSIONS--------KINGDOM PARADOX

a quote from Gerald May’s book The Wisdom of Wilderness?

God Save me from coping
God help me to join, not separate
Help me to be with and in, not apart from
Show me the way of savoring, not controlling
Dear God, Hear my prayer
Make me forever cope-less

"We were never taught to stop, to savor, and to hold our feelings of fear, anger, grief or loneliness. We were taught to get rid of our pain before we learned its lessons. Maybe that’s why wisdom is hard to find in our culture." Richard Rohr

from the song Nobody Number One
by Over The Rhine

And though we love to numb the pain
We come to learn that it’s in vain
Pain is our mother
She makes us recognize each other

RADICAL GRACE

Awakened and Astonished — Part I
by Richard Rohr, OFM


The corruption of the best is the worst.—Latin proverb


These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it . . . so I am going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, and stand them on their ears.—Isaiah 29:14, Eugene Peterson translation


A recent study on altruism is supposed to have shown that people affiliated with religion are statistically no less nor more loving than people who call themselves unbelievers. In fact, they are often more egocentric, and only a very small percentage is genuinely or heroically altruistic. If true, this is surely disappointing and humiliating for religion, although I must say that it largely matches my own observations. Some of the most naturally generous people I have ever known have been secularized Jews. And they don’t even believe in an afterlife system of reward and punishment! We really have to look at this.


I have often thought that Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Scheler were at least partially right in what they called ressentiment. They felt that people could not just be morally pressured or legally commanded to love and not to hate, or they would end up in a double bind of simultaneous promotion and resistance. Hating, after all, gives real focus to our ego structure, and loving first feels like loss and surrender of structure. Nietzsche and Scheler felt that believers might love now and then, but like sullen children, they would often do it with an underlying resentment for being forced to do it! They would have one foot on the accelerator of life and another on the brake, trying to perform and yet deeply resisting being commanded at the same time. (I think that is exactly what Paul is trying to point out when he teaches the utter insufficiency of the “the Law” to liberate us (Romans, chapters 2– 7). Information is not the same as transformation. Compliance is not the same as conversion, yet they both become the common substitutes.



You can read the rest of the article at these links

Part one:http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/resources/rg/2006/03_Jul-Sep/astonished1.php

Part two:http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/resources/rg/2006/04_Oct-Dec/astonished2.php

Saturday, July 14, 2007

WHAT FREEDOM IS NOT

"Traditionally all ethical situations are reduced to that of choice. Moral problems arise when the individual has to choose. We have already stated in the Introduction that this does not seem to be correct and we have thus dealt with the argument that Adam before the fall was already in a moral situation since God himself put him in a situation in which he had to choose. Nevertheless, we must return to this question of choice as we begin to portray freedom as the climate and condition of the whole of the Christian life. For here again we come up against the notion that freedom consists in making choices. We are free when several orientations or objects are before us and we can choose one of them without constraint. This is the most formal and simplistic concept of freedom. We are free in a democracy because we can elect one of several politicians (manifesting this freedom in the ballot) or opt for one of the many policies (manifesting this freedom in our opinions). We think that information is free if various sources are available, if we can choose between various newspapers representing different points of view.

In reality this concept of freedom is very superficial. For our choice is never free. We are conditioned by a number of factors that cause us to elect this or that representative, to sign this or that manifesto, to buys this or that newspaper. The man who always chooses is alienated man, man subject to many necessities. Hence his choice is not a choice of freedom. For it is not he who chooses. The choice is made by his cultural setting, his upbringing, his environment, and the various psychological manipulations to which he is subject. In this regard we need to probe much deeper than Marx did in his criticism of formal democracy. It is not just a matter of the capitalist context of class conflict. It is not just that bourgeois democracy offers only a freedom to choose exploitation of the people. We are not dealing merely with external and authoritarian determinations. The determination is inward. Publicity, propaganda, psychotechnics, and human relations determine our choices with increasing rigor. Even the multiplicity of sources of information, although it is a fact, is an illusion, for it has to be multiplicity for someone, and who of us has sufficient freedom of mind or detachment to read newspapers of all hues and to believe that each is right up to a point and that their contradictory reports are of equal worth? Indeed, if we did find a man who would be so little committed as to be able to do this, we should at once say that such a man is not free, since an attitude of pure indifference is not freedom. Yet we are so invincibly convinced that if the possibility of choice (however unreal) does not exist in politics and information, then we are slaves and freedom has vanished from the earth.

Serious evaluation of such a view is needed if we are to see that an artificial choice is not freedom. Is, then, the absence of such a possibility of choice freedom? Not at all. But to admit this absence is at least honest. It faces reality. It does not allow man to live in a dream of freedom and an illusion of power. The reader should not infer, of course, that I am advocating a totalitarian rather than a democratic form of government, or a single source of information. This is not in the least my intention. All that I want to do is to show (1) that even if all the objective conditions of freedom were present man would not exercise this freedom and (2) that the situation of choice is not the ethical situation par excellence because, concretely, choices are illusory and the dice are loaded."

taken from The Ethics of Freedom

MORE ON FREEDOM

"On the one side, however we have the work of constraint, while on the other we have the fruit of freedom." Jacques Ellul

Thursday, July 12, 2007

CHRISTAIN PRINCIPLES AND IDEAS VS FAITH THROUGH A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EVER PRESENT JESUS

A friend told me that reading Ellul's writings was like slogging through wet cement, but for the one who does it, he will find many diamonds. I'm finding this to be very true......very thought provoking and challenging to how I have lived within the matrix.

"A given system may, from the standpoint of its philosophy or intentions, seem to conform to Christian ideas.

But we should already be on guard because there are not many ideas in Christianity: faith and knowledge are based on real events and situations that are closely related to man; they have nothing to do with ideas, principles, and so forth."

"The texts are therefore never a "solution." To the contrary,
they get us started on a journey, and the only answer we can hope to find is the one we ourselves give by our lives as we proceed on that journey.

This absence of systematic conclusions destroys every attempt to base an ideological or ethical system on Scripture. We must resign ourselves to this."

This is taken from Money and Power
http://www.jesusradicals.com/library/ellul/money/money.pdf

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ANYBODY ENJOYING POLITICS OR TRUSTING IT THESE DAYS?

Why is anyone surprised anymore by corruption in our government? The Conservative/Republican sector was so appalled at the rate of government expansion, corruption and the rich and powerful covering for the rich and powerful when the Liberal/Democrats had control. So how does that same sector feel today after the Republicans took control of Congress in 94 and the White House in 2000?

We shouldn't be surprised and if we are, how much longer will we be?

Here are some thoughts on political power from the book The Ethics of Freedom by Jacques Ellul.

"No matter what may be its form or level, it inevitably tends to enhance itself and to initiate a movement towards centralization. No political power will ever reduce itself or accomplish decentralization. There is a law that power will grow without limit. The only recognized limit is fact. Power will always go as far as it possibly can geographically or judicially. It ceases to expand only when it comes up against an obstacle that is more powerful than itself. Power is under the necessity of becoming absolute and totalitarian. This depends neither on the men who wield it nor on the ideology nor on the circumstances. Political power would not be power if this were not so."

Monday, July 09, 2007

DON'T BE SO QUICK IN PUSHING THIS THOUGHT ASIDE

"Religion is the heart of a world without heart and the spirit of an age without spirit, but this means that it is the final and most total deception, for in this world without heart or spirit it gives to man the illusion of heart and spirit, preventing him from perceiving the truth, ie. the inhumanity of the world and thus substituting an illusory consolation for a real examination of the situation." Jacques Ellul

NT Wright's advice seems to be great advice when we run up against statements that challenge our present understanding.

"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."

MORE FROM THE BOOK I'M WORKING THROUGH

"It is when man proclaims his own freedom that he is most firmly rivited to his beloved chains." Jacques Ellul

Sunday, July 08, 2007

FREEDOM

Just like the air we breathe without thinking about it, we embrace "freedom" when spoken of in terms of economics, political governance, and religion, when none of these can ever really set us free or embody freedom. Even the talk of freedom in these terms ends up creating a devastating scenario for us all.

Our alienation from our creator and all the things that we grab that he has not given become harder for us to recognize.

Just like the Israelites asking for a king so they could be like the other nations, ended up giving themselves over to others for the things that can only be found in God. After awhile they so easily forgot that God had told them that this was not what he had planned for them. It was devastating than and it is devastating now.

Things that are actually burdens no longer seem like burdens. They run so quietly within us we don't even recognize the danger of it all. We even justify them away and think they actually make rational sense. This condition continues at that point to deepen our alienation and we live unaware of what is happening because the effects of the blending of religion, politics, and economics make us feel better. But better is not free.

This is a little from The Ethics of Freedom:

"Since all social forces make a bid for totality and try to become totalitarian, they all necessarily take on a spiritual meaning and value. The thing does not remain a thing. It has to have a value. It has to be invested with justice and authority. It has to represent meaning in a world without meaning. It can not in effect be universal unless it ceases to be itself in order to be more than itself by taking on spiritual significance. The state has to be more than an administrative and political mechanism. It has to represent God on earth. Technology has to be more than the assembly of means to achieve utilitarian results. It has to be the privileged expression of man's demiurgic vocation. Money has to be more than a useful instrument for measuring value. It has to be mammon---an idol which satisfies all human needs. We have here a development which is by no means accidental or accessory. It can be observed as a general rule, so that we are justified in speaking of a kind of internal necessity."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I'M GOING A BIT PERSONAL HERE

This Over The Rhine song is mine and my wife's personal song. The first time I heard it I thought of her and then of myself and my frail attempts at loving her and encouraging her. See, she has on and off now for the 20 years we have been married battled depression and fear.

The good news.....after Father was successful at getting me out of the way (trying to "fix" her) he is breaking those chains and setting her free. It has been so much fun to watch.

I know, music is very subjective. What is beautiful music for some is not for others. I understand that. That's how it goes with art. Over The Rhine is very special to me on many different levels. The most important one being, their music and their story has been a tool used in the hand of my savior to refine and challenge me to be honest with myself and to grow. I've listened to music all my life and since beginning to listen them, I have been stopped so many times by passersby, asking me who I am listening too. There is something so special about Karin's voice and the passion with which she sings and something special about the lyrics and the music and artistry of her husband Linford.

The two of them I'm certain have put together another beautiful collection of songs on The Trumpet Child for all who care to listen. The song, I Don't Want to Waste Your Time is about their desire to make music that touches the listener in a deep way.

As Linford says......"It's quiet music that demands to be played loud." So turn up the volume........I will certainly be doing that. I might just have to pour me a glass of wine also?

Etcetera Whatever

Don’t speak.
Words come out your eyes.
You’re wet with this nightmare.
Like thorns you hold these secrets to your breast,
your slender fingers closing into fists.

Trace your bruise
like a guilty streak.
Hold the pain.
You’re a connoisseur.

You think you have no other gift to give,
but we have so much left to live.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)

I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.

So come on now,
I can almost see
that place on a distant shore.

And courage is a weapon we must use
to find some life you can’t refuse.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)

I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
‘cause we’re gonna be alright.

All that I can see is your eyes.
Close your eyes.
Close your eyes.

I don't know, but maybe that will encourage someone out there who is struggling in their marriage. Let me just say, it's so worth hanging on and working hard in learning how to love the other. Don't lose hope.

FOR WHOEVER MIGHT BE FREE TOMORROW NIGHT AND INTERESTED

Hear Over The Rhine's newest songs Sunday July 8th
at 8pm Eastern 7pm Central

Go to http://www.overtherhine.com/ for details

Friday, July 06, 2007

JACQUES ELLUL

I feel like I am beginning a journey of sorts. Actually it is a continuation of one. A 510 page work of Jacques Ellul entitled The Ethics of Freedom. In the introduction I find something that tells me to pay close attention. It hits at the heart of something the Spirit has continued to bring up in my life. Where and how or if power fits into the life of one who is following Jesus.

"Is there any point either in remembering to what degree the church has been an opponent of freedom? That it should be this might be incredible and yet there is nothing more alien to theology and ecclesiastical organization than freedom, whether it be that which is acquired in Christ, or that which Christians bear on behalf of all, or that which Christians should ask for others. In fact, whether the church has been in a position of power, it has regarded freedom as an enemy. This raises incidentally one of the themes which will crop up again and again, namely, the incompatibility between freedom and power."

A SEASON OF REFLECTION CAN BRING SOME WONDERFUL PERSPECTIVE

Nothing has been what I'd guessed so far.Unforeseen, this most sweet, beautiful change.

From the song Beautiful Change by The Innocence Mission

Thursday, July 05, 2007

TO REALLY LISTEN TO QUESTIONS......

"Belief provides answers to people's questions while faith never does. People believe so as to find assurance, a solution, an answer to their questions to fashion for themselves a system of beliefs. Faith (biblical faith) is completely different. The purpose of revelation is not to supply us with explanations, but to get us to listen to questions."

Jacques Ellul

You can read the entire article here:
http://www.christinyou.net/pages/faithbelief.html

GETTING DOWN DEEP TO THE REAL STUFF

Last spring when there was some major deconstruction going on in my life, this song constantly kept me aware of the "why" and the "how" staying with the deconstruction Father was at work to accomplish in me was important. It became a song of challenge and hope and believe it or not comfort. It continues even to this day.

Nobody Number One
Over The Rhine


I’m afraid I’ve lost the piece of me
I need the most you see
This puzzle is really just about the need
To be somebody

I’m afraid I’m not all that you see
All along the coast of me
I’m camouflaged, a desert mirage
A nobody

But you came so close and I assumed
You were looking
For the piece of yourself that’s lost
It is the hiding place inside everybody

And though we love to numb the pain
We come to learn that it’s in vain
Pain is our mother
She makes us recognize each other

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry

Sometimes I feel so all alone
Here in this city I call my home
They say, Hey, you’re one of us
Funny, I should feel so anonymous
But I’m drawn to you
And that still small voice is talking too
And that’s the voice that so seldom can get through

You can’t put no bandaid on this cancer
Like a twenty-dollar bill
For a topless dancer
You need questions
Forget about the answers
Do you really wanna die this way

That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘fore we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry
Cuz we’re just too young to die

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'M OVERWHELMED BY GOD'S LOVE

http://youtube.com/watch?v=L9JHlWAlarA

Drunkard's Prayer
Over The Rhine

You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey
From time to time

You're the hunger
On my bones
All the nights
I sleep alone

Sweet intoxication
When your words
Wash over me

Whether or not
Your lips move
You speak to me

Like an ocean
Without waves
You're the movement
That I crave

And in that motion
I long to drown
And be lost not to be found

You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey
From time to time

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

THE TRUMPET CHILD IS COMING

In terms of The Trumpet Child’s themes, Detweiler says, “On this project, I think we returned to the quintessential stuff that’s always interested us in our writing: spirituality, sexuality, living vividly, challenging the status quo and subtly taking power away from those who have too much and transferring it to people who have too little.”



The Trumpet Child

The trumpet child will blow his horn

Will blast the sky till it’s reborn

With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace

He will surprise the human race

The trumpet he will use to blow

Is being fashioned out of fire

The mouthpiece is a glowing coal

The bell a burst of wild desire

The trumpet child will riff on love

Thelonious notes from up above

He’ll improvise a kingdom come

Accompanied by a different drum

The trumpet child will banquet here

Until the lost are truly found

A thousand days, a thousand years

Nobody knows for sure how long

The rich forget about their gold

The meek and mild are strangely bold

A lion lies beside a lamb

And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand

The trumpet child will lift a glass

His bride now leaning in at last

His final aim to fill with joy

The earth that man all but destroyed
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view a live proformance of The Trumpet Child here
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You can pre-order the CD here: http://www.overtherhine.com/index.php

Sunday, July 01, 2007

MY EXPERIENCE AT THE SHACK

I received in an e mail earlier this week and it has inspired me to read this book again. My weekend is planned now.....as I began to read this morning I ran across a line that has been one of my constant traveling companions from the time I first read it while walking through a painful family experience last spring. I use it often.

"GRACE RARELY MAKES SENSE FOR THOSE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE."

The thought that precedes this in the book is this:

"I suppose since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing."

I have had a few of those relationships this past year that have so helped in the healing I had needed for so long. The author of this book being one of them. The words and stories in this book and his words to me personally have been like dipping my feet into a cool gentle flowing stream on a hot and humid Midwest summer day. Thank you Paul.

Those other friends I speak of, if you are reading this, you know who you are, and I cherish every moment I have with you all. My prayer and my hope is that we all are so captured by the love and the freedom that our awesome Father has for us and longs for us to walk in.

If you haven't read this book or if you have and didn't like it, don't sweat it......Father is bigger than words on the pages of a book....even the Bible. But let us not forget that great stories written by those that have touched him and even more importantly been touched by him, can reveal something of him and his love that we might not see on our own. With that being said, if you are so moved to read The Shack or the Bible or any other story written by someone who is experiencing a wonderful relationship with Father, you might just be surprised by who you find there?