Thursday, November 29, 2007

LOOKING BACK AND LAUGHING

I was reminded today of a video someone shared with me earlier this year that almost made me fall out of my chair with laughter. It had been a long time since I had seen it and it certainly, at that time took on a totally different meaning for me.

For all of my friends that hang out here you all are familiar with the undoing God set in motion and walked me through last year. This video reminded me of that time and how pathetic I was while in the midst of it and fighting to hang onto my old life. I never once thought about leaving but I think you will get the general idea when you see the clip. I'm so glad Papa had his way with me and I let go of the things(mostly a belief system) that stood in the way.

If you find yourself in a frustrating, disorienting, coming undone time, this video might not be funny to you in the same way it is for me. But I can promise you, when you get through it, having let go of the things that stand in the way of a dynamic loving, trusting relationship with God, you will look back and laugh. Well, at least I do when I look back on how big of a jerk I was.

The Jerk

WHAT A CHALLENGE IT IS

Being a people of grace, living in a harsh world governed by law and conformity, administered through all kinds of fear based systems of control certainly creates some challenges. It can be very costly. But whoever said this road was easy?

I've seen enough and it all becomes clearer and clearer everyday.

The road of going with the flow of the world's so called wisdom has always been a dead ender. But this is where we are to live and we are to live in it and not attempt to escape it. We are to be people of love and grace in the middle of it. Jesus' wisdom seemed to point to something on the lines of ; Live wide awake to the ways of the world and do not be fooled by the schemes and lies. We are also governed by necessity as we live here though. We need food, shelter and clothing, but let us not forget that Jesus said his father knows we need these things and he will provide. One of the things I am awakening to is, to the degree I have attempted to live beyond that necessity and grabbed for more things, the world's claws have penetrated deeper into me. Turning from that place that had become all too familiar, has begun to open up some WIDE SPACES. Spaces of freedom. In that wide open space the world loses it's grip on us.

The world's methods are not friendly to the ways of God. It does not understand grace. Every so often you might see grace attempt to peek through, but as quickly as it appeared it disappears again. Don't be surprised and don't be alarmed. The one we are following knows the world's game and he overcame. If we stick with him and keep our eyes open to our life hidden in him, in that place.....grace has already won and is set in place. It's the only place freedom can be found.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

LEARNING TO LIKE THE WAY IT FEELS

This is a continuation from the Vertigo post. I'm really not in a place of vertigo at this present time. Sometime last year that feeling began to lift from me and I began to get my footing again. It was just footing on different ground than I had ever stood before. I will describe it as a place where I began to embrace uncertainty and began to accept ambiguity. I've never felt more secure. Quite a paradox don't you think?

I have no idea what awaits me around the next corner....but I am certain God will be with me. It's all I am certain about. And it is enough for me in this new place. Tomorrow I might be feeling a bit of vertigo again but I don't spend much time thinking about tomorrow any more. What is in front of me right here, right now, is all there is and that is enough to concern myself with.

I'm learning to like the way this feels because I am learning that this is the only place Jesus is. We had a wonderful time at work today in conversation with a number of people. I must end this post right now because we are going to watch Amie dance. I wonder what awaits us there? We will see.

Monday, November 26, 2007

VERTIGO

I can feel....Your love is teaching me how to kneel

Transition can feel so disorienting and confusing. Too often this transition is aborted because we have been told that God is not a God of confusion. It's actually so tragic that people who think they are helping are often actually standing in the way.
I find it quite interesting that a rock band seems to "get it" and understand these things in a way many religious people don't. I guess when you spend the majority of your time out there where life happens in all it's complexity you learn these things as opposed to the sterile confines of that contrived environment where god is a god of order and absolutes and a belief system that tells you if you are confused it is the enemy.

When we begin to see more clearly the life of alienation/independence that we attempted to live and all it's illusions of security and certainty and we begin the walk out of that, you can bet there is going to be some shaking of the ground we stand on. As we begin to see it for what it is, we come face to face with our freedom to choose. To stay where we have been, the place a familiarity might seem safe....but who wants to settle for that if it is just an illusion?

What we are being offered is freedom. As we walk out of the prisons we have been living in, into that freedom, expect to feel a little bit of Vertigo.

A MANIFESTATION OF LIVING WITH EXPECTANCY IS LIVING GRACIOUSLY WITH OTHERS

I've been overwhelmed with God and his graciousness this morning. I shared the comment below from a brother's blog with a friend this morning to encourage them and it set in motion in me many tears of longing for us all. I long for us all to be able to extend grace to each other instead of expectations and demands to "do better". THIS HARSH WORLD PLACES ENOUGH DEMANDS ON PEOPLE. And don't miss that I said it is a longing I have.....this isn't something we can work up and produce ourselves. It's Father's love and acceptance that changes us...nothing else.

Here's what Paul shared on his blog.

“It is my opinion that a person brings everything they have at any moment. Sometimes it is a real mixed bag, fears and turmoil, denial and lies, theological acuteness or inaccuracy, embarrassment…whatever…but at that moment in time, it is everything they have. We are not talking about what a person could potentially bring, if they understood their identity clearly, if the wisdom that others have deposited would simply be tapped, if they could only draw upon the resources of their relationship with Father…we are talking about what they ‘do’ bring…and in their guilt or hiding or wonder or laughter…in that moment they bring everything they have. I also find that when you extend a person grace and allow for space for them to bring what they have, sometimes you will watch as they begin to look inside themselves to see if there isn’t more…and then…sometimes…you get surprised!”

Friday, November 23, 2007

PEOPLE THAT MAKE ME THINK...IN DIFFERENT WAYS

I am exercising my freedom to break from the guidelines of The Thinking Blogger Award that Joy has honored me with. You can find her here. Along with saying the things I write make her think, she said that I had been instrumental in music being brought back into her life. That in and of itself in my book is something that brings me great joy. As you all know, music is important to me and to think Joy is listening and enjoying music again makes my spirit sing.

The reason I wanted to break from the guidelines is because I wanted to use this opportunity to mention a number of people that have been so instrumental in the challenging thinking that has been a part of a wonderful change in my life. Instead of having to just pick 5 of you to give the award to (not that there is anything wrong with that) I just wanted to put all the names out there and encourage you all to check them out. They have all been mentioned here before.

My blog friends: Rob, Sue, Rich, Rick, Joy, Cynthia, Trish, Tina, and Jennifer you all have been an important part of this past two years of major transition in my life. I'm truly just a shadow of who I was three years ago. 18 years after Father began the process of unraveling the performance/obligation/conformity/fear based religion I had known all my life, something happened in me. You all walked through that with me. Your encouragement I have so appreciated and you all have played a role in this transformation with father. Don't ever doubt that you all have the Spirit living and moving in you and the impact your love and grace has on people is huge.

As to some other brothers and a sister (authors) that have at times gently and sometimes not so gently (Brueggemann) pulled rugs out from under me, I am so humbled at their love for God and their desire to help others to see better. Maybe it is that they help clear things out of the way that stand in the way of us seeing God more clearly? I would have to say that is what they did for me.

Jacques Ellul
Walter Brueggemann
Brian McLaren
Richard Rohr
NT Wright
Stanley Hauerwas
Mike Yaconelli
and Anne Lamott

And I save these three for last.

Wayne Jacobsen
Brad Cummings
and Paul Young

Wayne has been a friend for many years now and the role he played as he walked with me through the darkest most scary period of my life I am so grateful for. His help to me during that time when everything was coming undone in my life and no one else really understood, encouraged me to keep pressing through. His book He Loves Me and The Jake book were very instrumental in changing the way I approached God and seeing better how he desired to relate to me.

Paul came into my life through Wayne and an unpublished manuscript, at the time Jesus had begun to show me a way through the confusion and fear, to a place of freedom I had longed for. To say the shields were down and I was vulnerable when I sat down to read The Shack is the understatement of my life. I stood undone and exposed....with no defense....and at the same time was so acutely aware I didn't need one...I was being loved instead. I had never felt so loved and accepted and safe and I am still overwhelmed with that same feeling a year and a half later. This is all about grace and none of us can add anything to that. My email exchanges with Paul have been some of the most challenging and encouraging and paradigm shifting encounters I have ever had. He has so gently and lovingly pulled many rugs out from under me and in so doing, a new deeper, wider place of freedom would open up in front of me to wander into with Jesus. I look forward to sitting down with Paul soon. *of which I did in March of 08* I want to give him a big hug and sit and talk about Papa, Jesus and Sarayu....and let's not forget Sophia, and I want to hear more of Paul's life story and how the wastefulness of God's grace has been setting him free and healing his pain. Papa is doing amazing things through him and his story and The Shack, a book that was written for his children and is now spreading around the globe. His blog is one of the most thought provoking blogs out there...well, in my estimation. Thank you Paul

And Brad, who I get to listen in on every Friday chatting with Wayne on the God Journey Podcast. These two guys have had some wonderfully encouraging, challenging conversations since they began doing it back in '05'. I am going to California in January to spend a weekend with Wayne and Sara and I hope to get to meet Brad when I am out there. *of which I did in Feb. of 08* That could be a hoot hanging with Wayne and Brad for an afternoon. *of which it was* We will see.

So Joy, I know this isn't passing along The Thinking Blogger Award, but it is how I felt comfortable doing it. All of you that I have mentioned make me think and I am grateful to you all and thank Father for allowing me to get to know you all. One day we will raise a glass...all of us together...count on it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ANY ELLUL

I have been so stretched and challenged and have had many rugs pulled out from under me...gently...while reading Jacques Ellul's book and articles. I have come to love this process the Spirit seems to be walking me through. Off balance is good....being maladjusted to the things of the world and the way the world functions is good also.

I am so grateful on this Thanksgiving Day for having been challenged on a regular basis so graciously by someone like Ellul and a few other friends of mine. It's a good thing.

The Life and Works of Jacques Ellul

Monday, November 19, 2007

SUNRISE OF YOUR SMILE

I've just been in the mood for sharing songs that have been important to me. I am so glad this is the song my three girls heard so often while I was tucking them into bed the first several years of their lives. They grew up with me singing this song to them. It is so beautiful and you will hear Michael sing of many things that Father was finally able to get at in me that still resided inside me during those years when I was singing this song to the girls. Blindspots are interesting things to say the least.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL712w2OUPM

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ARE WE TRYING TO REMOVE THE MYSTERY?

How many times do people that have some type of a Christian concept of God (shaped by fear/performance/obligation based religion) come upon a moment in their life that they are standing at a door way that would lead them into an exciting, transforming adventure with God and they turn away?

I think this happens all the time.

One of the things that I see that causes people to turn away, is confusion and disorientation. UNCERTAINTY. When the freedom of God comes close to disentangle us from that which we are bound by (often things we have become comfortable and familiar with) it can be rather confusing and disorienting to say the least. But the people I speak of have had some very controlling fear based things ingrained in them. How many times have we heard that God is not a God of confusion?

I agree....he is not confused at all. But when his wisdom and his ways invade our space (shaped by alienation) you can be darn well sure that some confusion and disorientation is going to be experienced. Every time the Spirit moves to make a correction inside us to set another place inside us free, it turns our comfortable and definable understanding UPSIDE DOWN. That will create some confusion. If we want to walk with and follow Jesus into more and more places of freedom....be prepared to be confused and disoriented at times.

Once we learn to trust the one we are following, this confusion and disorientation begins to subside. As the life shaped by the attempts at living independently...alienated from God begins to die, and new life/free life.....who we truly are in him begins to rise up and walk. This is a walk of faith.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

From The Message: Hebrews 11:1

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

I love these thoughts by Richard Rohr. This is from an NPR interview. It was in December of last year that I ran across this. What a couple years of being Utterly Humbled By Mystery it has turned out to be.

"I believe in mystery and multiplicity. To religious believers this may sound almost pagan. But I don't think so. My very belief and experience of a loving and endlessly creative God has led me to trust in both.
I've had the good fortune of teaching and preaching across much of the globe, while also struggling to make sense of my experience in my own tiny world. This life journey has led me to love mystery and not feel the need to change it or make it un-mysterious. This has put me at odds with many other believers I know who seem to need explanations for everything.

Religious belief has made me comfortable with ambiguity. "Hints and guesses," as T.S. Eliot would say. I often spend the season of Lent in a hermitage, where I live alone for the whole 40 days. The more I am alone with the Alone, the more I surrender to ambivalence, to happy contradictions and seeming inconsistencies in myself and almost everything else, including God. Paradoxes don't scare me anymore.
When I was young, I couldn't tolerate such ambiguity. My education had trained me to have a lust for answers and explanations. Now, at age 63, it's all quite different. I no longer believe this is a quid pro quo universe -- I've counseled too many prisoners, worked with too many failed marriages, faced my own dilemmas too many times and been loved gratuitously after too many failures.

Whenever I think there's a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite.

People who have really met the Holy are always humble. It's the people who don't know who usually pretend that they do. People who've had any genuine spiritual experience always know they don't know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind. It is a litmus test for authentic God experience, and is -- quite sadly -- absent from much of our religious conversation today. My belief and comfort is in the depths of Mystery, which should be the very task of religion."


SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT IT

When God incarnate was walking the earth he was not a Christian. Do you think he would be today if he came in the flesh to visit us again?

And then think about this.....he is here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

AMAZED

Everyday I am amazed by the stories God is inviting me to look in on. Weeping with a client as I am trying to make them look good while cutting their hair can be tricky. But hey.....I feel privileged to be let in on this.

I let go of the life I had been clinging onto so tightly, as if it was what I was suppose to do and I found out I hadn't been living at all. I am past asking why it took me so long..... I'm finding Papa's timing is perfect.

I love where I am at and I am at peace. On average I see 10 clients a day. Everyone of them leads to a conversation. Since this transformation, it has become impossible to think of them as clients. They are friends. I can't think of anything I would rather be doing and unless Father suggests to me that he has something else for me to do and as long as he gives me the health to do it........I'm a Hairstylist. Tell me your stories, I have time to listen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

HAVE WE MISSED THE POINT BY MAKING MORALITY SO MUCH OF THE FOCUS?

It just seems to me that when the visible expression of the community that professes to represent God in the culture takes on the mantle of Moral Policeman it's just another adventure in missing the point?

This is from the book The Ethics of Freedom by Jacques Ellul.

"We have to take seriously the morals of our century. In so doing, of course, we alienate freedom. To take current morals seriously may well be the price we have to pay if the society in which we find ourselves is to continue. All the same, we have to see clearly at this point, for the alienation entailed may well be the most serious act to which we can assist, and there is no place for frivolity here. If it is not absolutely necessary to obey these morals for the sake of love, or witness, or the support of the weak, then we should stand aloof and not only dispute them but actually act outside the body of this established morality."

Today so much energy is spent in attempting to get people who don't even believe in the good news to obey these moral and ethical codes. It is a lost cause and an adventure in seriously missing the point. People are powerless to do it. That includes even all of us that have accepted the message of the kingdom of God as being reality.....except for the reality of the life of God in us. How did we ever come to a place of thinking that enforcing a 'way of living' on people who don't Know the Way would be effective and helpful to anyone? Or is this approach helpful for something? It does at times help keep society from being really 'out of control' messy. But is that what the message of the kingdom of God is about? Or is it about addressing the condition of alienation?

I think this approach exposes that we are more interested in hanging onto a life Jesus says we need to lose in order to find the real deal.

The mess caused by immorality and lawlessness is to expose this condition of alienation. For those that are being set free from the bondage of this alienation and in turn finding freedom through life in the Spirit they become the alternative reality of the only thing that is real and free. People living in this freedom, being embraced by the love of God, will find themselves being disentangled from the effects caused by their years spent in the bondage of alienation.

They will be people of overwhelming compassion and understanding towards those still trapped. They won't be able to live any other way because they will remember clearly that it wasn't long ago that they were trapped in the same destructive behavior. But for the grace and love of God....no one has the courage or the understanding of how to walk out of that prison.

We only become people of love and grace when we know, by (seeing and hearing) the living word of God.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE

I've been thinking about the dynamics created in all our lives through this exercise of choice. WOW, just think about it. We can not avoid it. Even those people that seem to be paralyzed in fear and rarely make a decision, are still involved in choosing. Everything we do sets something in motion....ripples begin to spread out in all directions.

As I mentioned the other day in GOD GIVES US THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART, I think this is what everything hinges on. I know that sounds simplistic but is it not true?

When Jesus was tempted, what was it about? It was about choice was it not? Back in the garden with Adam and Eve wasn't it about choice? Through out the recorded history of God's dealings with Israel we see the same things play out. God in his love and grace allows his people to freely choose. The story of the prodigal son paints the same scenario for us. A father and the wastefulness of his grace and love to let his boys choose to follow the desires of their hearts.

Why does he do this? I think it is about freedom. God's wild freedom.

If he doesn't let us choose, we are not free in any way, shape, or form. But this freedom to choose doesn't lead necessarily to the freedom he desires for us. All it is about is the freedom to pursue the things that we desire. Choice is never really free. We are conditioned by many forces that shape our choices. This is where man/woman find them selves. It's a loveless place.

But our wonderful father is at work in it all. The desires of our hearts lead us to dry places. The valley of despair leads us to the doorway of hope.

"Therefore, I will allure her I will lead her to the wilderness and I will speak to her heart. There I will give her a vineyard I will give the valley of Achor (suffering) as a gate of hope. [Like] when she was a virgin Like the day she went up out of the land of Egypt," (Hosea 2:16-17).

"When that day comes Says the Lord. You will call me 'my husband' You will no longer call me 'my lord (Baal).' I will remove every name of Baal From her mouth You are not to recite that name," (Hosea 2:18-19).

Father's love is the only thing that redeems the mess caused by our freedom to choose. Man's politics (kings)...man's religion (self effort towards making himself/herself right with God, based on a belief system)...man's economies (all the world has to offer) has always been the valley of troubles.

The valley of trouble is about bringing us to the end of the misplaced hope in the things that fill our heart. Until that happens we really can't see the doorway that is hope. Father's love in all it's freedom. It's all that matters. When we are captured by Him, all our heart's desires will be transformed. We'll choose him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY KENNETH?

I will spare you the REM video for this song because it's a stretch to make it applicable to what I am thinking, other than the strange story of Dan Rather being mugged in Central Park by a crazy guy asking Dan for the frequency codes the news media was using to control him.

Every time I think of this song I think of the difficulty we all have in communicating. I find myself often wanting to say: What's the frequency Kenneth?....but I am sure all that would get me is strange looks and I don't know that it would help me or the other in communicating?

I read a book a few weeks ago written by Jacques Ellul called The Humiliation of The Word and it deals with the difficulty we find ourselves in when it comes to language and our attempts to use it. One of the things he points out is that we have become a people that have been so shaped by Images. It has really sparked some thinking in me as to how images do have a way of shutting down thinking. To understand the spoken word it takes time and effort. To understand a picture like we are so governed by due to tv, magazines, movies, books as so on, it takes little or no thought at all. We see an image and we think we know what is going on.

Having been so shaped by images, even when we hear the spoken word, pictures begin to run none stop in our head, ( if they had ever stopped in the first place) and this makes 'listening' to the other most difficult if not impossible. But even beyond that, this unbroken stream of images that runs in our brains none stop make understanding the word most difficult.

This creates much difficulty for us when the only thing true that exists is the Word that proceeds from God's mouth. It becomes even more complicated for us now when we have been so shaped to live by what we see (images, pictures, and the visible world) when living a life of faith is living by what we don't see.

I want to learn to communicate in a better way. But even if I am capable of accomplishing that, the minute I say it or write it, it enters the realm of interpretation and the images it brings to life in the listener's mind. At that point we begin the adventure of slogging through the mixed frequencies all over again.

Confusing?

WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN.......AND GRABBING FOR WHAT HE HAS NOT GIVEN

Is what God has given us anymore complicated than....(1) Him self in all his wonder, God our father, Jesus our brother and the Spirit.....(2) each other....(3) his beautiful creation....and (4) the freedom to choose?

Just thinking on these things this morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

HE GIVES US THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART

I've been thinking for awhile now of this concept that is thrown around so often in religious circles. And where it has led me is a little bit different than I have ever thought about it before. This idea of God giving us the desires of our hearts used to just confuse me. We Americans I think have a really difficult time with it due to all the 'things' we have to desire and the wealth to attain it. A friend of mine the other day on another forum used the phrase "an adventure in missing the point" and I think that works pretty well here also?

If God gives us the desires of our heart, is it always good? I think it is. I think it is in the free choice God gave us, all this plays out. He gives us the freedom to pursue what we desire. Israel with their freedom of choice asked God for kings and religion(and many other things) because they were afraid and wanted to be like the other nations. We seem to still be somewhat stuck with the fall out from those choices even though he has clearly displayed that they were not what he had desired for us . Too many hearts still sink and suffer under the weight and despair caused by placing our trust in those things.

The struggles today seem to still be pretty similar and God continues to give us the desires of our hearts expressed through our use of the freedom to choose. But one might ask, Why does he give us things that hurt us if he is such a loving God? I would then ask, Do you really want to be free? Or do you want him making all your choices for you through a predetermined arrangement so that no trouble comes into your life caused by your choices or by the choices of the other people around you?

Let's not be confused here, everything God gives us is for our good and because he loves us. And let's not confuse what it is he is giving us with what we are getting through our choosing.

This loving Father lets us choose. Isn't the point of that freedom to lead us all back to him where life is found? Trusting in worldly kings has been proven to be a dead end road and a bad choice, but there was a purpose in it all. Having Moses go meet with God because they were too afraid to and in turn accepted mediators and a religion that would just be an exhausting exercise in futility was another dead end road and a bad choice, but a good purpose was accomplished through it also. And today we continue to exercise that freedom of choice and we get to live with all the things our choices and the choices of others opens up to us. See, like I said earlier, freedom of choice is a good thing. If life in God is the only place real life and freedom is found and if what Jesus said is true about his yoke being easy and his burden being light these should be pretty good indicators for us as to where we are in this journey.

If we are exhausted and weighted down by the things and circumstances our choices have created in our lives we shouldn't be discouraged and shouldn't beat our selves up too much over it. Isn't this the point of it all? That we would come to the end of our self-effort and give up the futile attempt to live a life of independence? If this is where we find ourselves, let's give ourselves a break. I think we have good reason to rejoice.

MATTHEW 5 from the Message

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.



Friday, November 09, 2007

OVERJOYED

I was reading my friend Sue's blog Discombobula tonight and as I was responding to her recent post I was reminded of the song Right Here Right Now by Jesus Jones. You can watch it here.

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

I know I have spoken of it here many times but the change in my everyday experience has been drastically transformed over the past couple years. Living with expectancy, flowing from a place of trusting God even when I have no idea what he is doing has begun to reshape me and change everything.

This world had shaped me to expect many things. I don't know where this concept came from but I know it is just disastrous if we want to live in peace and joy and free of fear. That way of living is about control, manipulation and conformity. The world (whichever world system we have been born into) tells us to conform to the game that they are providing for us to play and things will go well for us. It is a lie. It goes well for some and not so well for others. But the outcome for all is the same....more fear and no rest.

I had been one of the lucky ones. Well, that is as the world defines it. I'm a white male and I am an American for starters and that means I'm pretty close to the top of the heap to begin with. I was born in a middle class family that gave me a good start. I've done well. But I came to see it as really being empty.

I'm siting here tonight by myself thinking of my family that has gone out tonight in many different direction. My oldest daughter is on the highway making a drive an hour and half away for the first time with another female friend riding along with her. I'm not freaking out with worry. My youngest is heading to the same place as my oldest, but she is on a bus with a large group of kids. I'm not freaking out with worry. My middle daughter is out running with someone else and I really don't know exactly what she is doing. I'm not freaking out with worry. My wife is at work taking care of patients that can't take care of themselves. I am amazed at her sacrifice doing what she does.

I'm not living in a dream world. I know everything could change in a moment. That is just how it is in this world of uncertainty. Our lives are very fragile. But learning that reality has been a part of this transition Jesus is helping me to make in my life. It's strange to think that Peace and Joy and Freedom from fear have become much more a reality just from accepting the reality that I am not in control and never have been.

The world's game had led me to believe the exact opposite. So I worked that game hard and it never delivered anything that put me at rest. It just exacerbated the things I wanted to be rid of. The world can have it's game. I am learning to live in it more in line to what Jesus has taught me. I see what it is and I see through it's lie. My heart is no longer longing for what it has to offer. The kingdom of heaven is where my heart and head long to be. Right Here Right Now....there is no other place I want to be.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

WHEN WE THINK WE KNOW

"Kent, you have no idea what I'm doing right now." God

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A LITTLE MORE ON THE CHOICE BETWEEN THINGS AND RELATIONSHIPS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyK7iXVhLEs


It will take a miracle to get me out to the shopping mall
All I want for Christmas is you.


After posting this morning about relational living I was driving to work and put Over The Rhine's Snow Angels Christmas CD in. I listen to it all year long regularly because it is so beautiful. All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue is the first song on the CD. The line I posted above has always stood out to me as my heart cry from the first time I heard the song last December. It speaks of what our hearts are longing for. All we really need is God and as we begin to understand and experience that, I think all the other things that we have used to numb the pain (the blues) will begin to fall away from us. And then we will begin to notice something else that we long for and has been in front of us all along. People to embrace and to be embraced by. Our spouse, our children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and the others that are alone in this world, having been rejected for whatever reason. The possibilities are endless.


There is another song on this CD that works so well with these thoughts that I have used on this blog before from the song Here It Is. You can find the words to that song here. http://nthegarden.blogspot.com/2007/10/here-it-is.html

I told Julie, that's my wife, the other day that I was so looking forward to the first snow fall here in St. Louis this winter. She and I are going to get in the car and take a drive through the country with the snow falling and Snow Angels playing on the stereo. Hopefully at night with the headlights lighting our way through the gently falling snow. There is another song on the CD called I Want To Get Snowed In With You. That sounds like fun also.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season with those people that are most important to you. Make it so Father.

RELATIONAL LIVING vs ALL THE THINGS THIS WORLD PLACES ABOVE IT

I've been thinking about this for awhile now. It's actually a big part of the journey I have been on for awhile. Because of this, 'Other Things' are losing their grip on me and in turn, relationships are becoming much healthier.

Once I began to see the other things for what they are, my desire for them just began to look silly. Father didn't rip these things out of my hands. He's not like that. He continued to let me know the choice was mine to make. It was more about what I wanted. Did I want peace and joy or did I want to continuing living the life this world and all it's things produced in me?

To say the choice began to become clear to me is an understatement. I wanted peace and joy and rest. I knew enough to know that these are only found in him. As I continue to walk on this new path with Father, the 'other things' continue to lose their hold on me. I'm breathing much better these days.

I had heard about this pearl of great price my entire life. Knowing about him is not the same thing as Knowing him. I'm finding out that trying to hold on to that other life had so clouded my ability to see. What I am seeing makes letting go of everything else so worth it.

Keep inviting me into new places Father, out of the old places that are nothing but bondage.

Monday, November 05, 2007

PHOTO ALBUM

If anyone cares to check out some of the photos I have taken I have put a link to my photo album under Favorite Sites.

You will find pictures of our Disney trip that was a part of getting our family back to a healthy place. There are some of my garden, some from my trip to Oregon during the spring of 06 and a few from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

THE COMPLEXITY OUR INDEPENDENCE BRINGS TO LIFE

This is a continuation of the theme of becoming more child like again, believe it or not.

Technique: The systematic procedure by which a complex or scientific task is accomplished.

This is taken from Technique and the Opening Chapters of Genesis by Jacques Ellul. I will add a link at the end where it can be read in it's entirety.

"We have seen why technique was impossible in Eden, but the fall brings about a radical break ‑the universum which had been created has been shattered. Adam is no longer in direct communion with God: he hides. The break between them is complete. Starting from this break between God and man, all other breaks follow ‑Adam and Eve separate. (Adam accuses his wife‑what greater break?) They are no longer one, but two. Man and the animals separate. (Eve accuses the serpent.) They learn fear and shame. "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked" (Genesis 3:7). That is to say, precisely, that the relationship among the elements of creation is completely upset. Instead of unity and communion, there is now an "I" and a "You.” There is the gaze of the Other, which is the gaze of a stranger imposed on me. Now I am under the scrutiny of the gaze of the Other, which is a look without love and without understanding and welcome, but only coldly perspicacious. (Here it is‑science, which discerns the objective reality of things and which sees that I am "other.” This observation now transforms everything into an object, and the other has become an object for me.) The mirror of creation is shattered. The universum is broken, and therefore it is necessary to have means‑means for holding the pieces together, means for establishing new relations in a world without relations.

Now it is necessary to have mediators and intermediaries because of the distance that has been established between God and man, between people, and between man and matter. There is no more immediate contact. Everything has become mediated. In particular, in his relationship with God, man is going to institute religion, which is both a screen between the two and, at the same time, a way of approach. Thus we have the sacrifices of Abel and Cain. Then, in his relationship with nature, man creates technique. At this point, we are thrown into the world of means and into their multiplication without end, without any checks. Indeed, we have to grasp that the proliferation of means characterizing our age is not a sort of progress whose roots reach back into the situation of Adam and Eden. Technical proliferation is necessary precisely because that situation no longer exists!

Thus Adam finds himself in a relationship of struggle, and rules by this means, that is, his technique, which cannot be an instrument of love but of domination.

Similarly, the world has become hostile with its powers of aggression which it hides from man‑wild animals, beginning with the serpent. Man now has to protect himself from everything that attacks him, and thus other means become necessary ‑weapons, for example. (Why should one limit techniques to tools? Weapons are the sign of a technique at least as early as tools!) More importantly, once again, he has to resort to the whole of technique. A qualified expert in these matters has been able to write that technique is a "protective envelope which man wraps around himself" (Leroi‑Gourhan[8]). And it is true that technique is a collection of means for protection at least as much as it is the means of domination. In both cases, however, what characterizes the instrument is its efficiency. The only thing that denotes technique is its efficiency. That is to say, it is an absolutely new preoccupation which comes about in a world which denies and attacks, but a preoccupation which would have been incomprehensible in the garden of Eden.

Now Adam has to succeed in. . . . But what would success mean in a world of thanksgiving, of gift? Thus it is that Adam has now been placed in a truly new situation. He knows necessity, a few aspects of which have just been recalled. Previously, Adam had lived in freedom, and his work was freedom, play, child‑like. He was free to be himself in front of his Creator who was his Father. He was free from all constraint, all obligation. He knew only this freedom, with its complement of respect for the will of God, respect within a free love and a free dialogue. There was no law, but an order‑the very order of the freedom of God. From the moment when Adam separated himself from God, when his freedom was no longer love but the choice between two possibilities, from that moment Adam moved from the realm of freedom into the realm of necessity. (As for us, we no longer know anything but the freedom which is always the choice between two possibilities, and we characterize freedom by the possibility of choice; but let us not forget that this is nothing but freedom in the world of the fall and gravity and death.) When he no longer lives in the communion of love with God, then he lives in the order of law. Now he knows only duty. Now he knows that an implacable order governs his destiny, and that his universe is one where everything falls‑that his universe is truly one of gravity, of care, of the fall.

Everything is now governed necessarily. Fatality becomes a sign of his life and he is subject to an interplay of laws on every level‑physical and moral, biological and sociological‑ each of which is only a facet of the same necessity. In this universe of necessity, to which he must yield, man learns to use necessity, to be crafty with it or turn it against itself. He learns to know and calculate the laws of nature for the modification of his own condition. By submitting to these laws, he is able to rule them ‑ It is in discerning them as necessity that he is able to live in the middle of them and to subsist as a man who, in the depth of his heart, still keeps alive the memory of and aspiration for freedom.

When we write this, however, we have done no more than describe the process of technique, itself guided by science‑the means of submitting to necessity by yielding to it. But in a world where there was no necessity, what would this mean? Thus, no matter what attitude one takes toward technique, it can only be perceived as a phenomenon of the fall; it has nothing to do with the order of creation; it by no means results from the vocation of Adam desired by God. It is necessarily of the situation of the fallen Adam.

And now it remains for me to beg the reader not to have me say what I did not say! I did not say that technique is a fruit of sin. I did not say that technique is contrary to the will of God. I did not say that technique in itself is evil. I said only that technique is not a prolongation of the Edenic creation that it is not a compliance of man to a vocation which was given to him by God, that it is not the fruit of the first nature of Adam. It is the product of the situation in which sin has put man; it is inscribed exclusively in the fallen world; it is uniquely part of this fallen world; it is a product of necessity and not of human freedom."

http://www.jesusradicals.com/library/ellul/various/technogenesis.html

Saturday, November 03, 2007

LEARNING TO WALK UNAFRAID

This morning I woke up with some words from a friend and brother that fit into my post from last night about Walking Unafraid. These words are so profound. They also make me think of the story of Jesus and Nicodemus.

The adult world of complexity is being unraveled in my life by a growing trust in my Father who has always acted towards me in a way that proves that he can be trusted. It was the lies (complexities) of the adult world that had stolen this trust from me and left fear in it's place. There is nothing to fear. He wants to move us back to a place of trust and free us from the fear.

"but when it comes to relationship, I find that Jesus seems to enjoy the 'simplicity' of the child, rather than the complexity of the adult.

It seems that the world takes children and makes adults out of them, and then the Spirit enters these adults lives with the intent of making children of them again. A healthy child lives in the present, not the past and the future is hardly considered. A healthy child doesn't know (yet) that they are valued based on some standard of performance.

(The world system does have a 'grace period' for children, but even that seems to be getting shorter and shorter). A healthy child does not keep destructive secrets. A healthy child lives in wonder and fun and creativity.

The world comes and crushes the child into it's pre-set molds of performance and piles complexity upon complexity. Then when we as intelligent and sophisticated adults come to the reality of the Spirit we want to bring to it all the same ways of thinking that we have now been trained into. But a child? How complex is conversation, is sharing, is loving, is having fun, is being with someone, is trusting, is not being ashamed, is receiving forgiveness and asking for it, is moving on from mistakes, is laughing and dancing.

The realm of independence 'is' the realm of performance 'is' the realm of complexity."

Friday, November 02, 2007

WALK UNAFRAID

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgJ0_etureo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGeq5v7L3WM Live Version

Walk Unafraid

As the sun comes up, as the moon goes down
These heavy notions creep around
It makes me think, long ago
I was brought into this life a little lamb
A little lamb
Courageous, stumbling
Fearless was my middle name.
But somewhere there I lost my way
Everyone walks the same
Expecting me to step
The narrow path they've laid
They claim to

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me high.

Say "keep within the boundaries if you want to play."
Say "contradiction only makes it harder."
How can I be
What I want To be?
When all I want to do is strip away
These stilled constraints
And crush this charade
Shred this sad masquerade
I don't need no persuading
I'll trip, fall, pick myself up and

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me high.

If I have a bag of rocks to carry as I go
I just want to hold my head up high
I don't care what I have to step over
I'm prepared to look you in the eye
Look me in the eye
And if you see familiarity
Then celebrate the contradiction
Help me when I fall to

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me high.

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me high.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

THE TYRANNY OF EXPECTATIONS

I went to bed last night and have woke up this morning with a phone conversation I had last night with a dear friend on my mind. I could so totally relate to how they were feeling on a basic level. Uniquely different situations, but very similar feelings of frustration and exhaustion. I think it effects us all. These thoughts are not anything other than myself expressing some of the things that have come to the surface in my life having to do with these things most people I know struggle with.

I think most of us can accept the reality that much of the beating we feel we are suffering under arises from unmet expectations. Many things we desire to happen and feel we need or are entitled to just don't work out the way we had planned or hoped for. We live in a society that exacerbates this problem and actually sets us up for it. This is a big part of the script of the land of plenty and we are sold this idea by a steady, unbroken stream of voices. We are shaped to expect and demand many things. It effects us deeply when it comes to materials desires and how we want to live our lives within those desires and it also effects all of our relationships. Every last one of them. It was a shocking yet wonderfully liberating day when I realized that the expectations I had placed on my relationships with others reached to the very top. I had huge expectations of God and what I wanted him to do for me.

Not only did it end up being a shocking realization for me, it actually turned out to be a funny moment of sorts. But it had been a very painful frustrating period of time that had preceded the funny moment. The funny moment was when I saw the absurdity of how I had lived my life. The fact that God wasn't playing my game and that I had spent so much time thinking he should have been just sounded funny to me.

I know that when we are still in the middle of such situations of frustration, hurt, hopelessness and exhaustion it's not funny at all, and I am not laughing. This is serious stuff. I share some of my experience though in hope of transferring some of that hope and encouragement to others that are still trapped in the pain caused by the beating the world and it's ways cause us all.

I have never lived more free from the tyranny caused by the life of expectations I had lived. I've never lived more free to be able to see the hope that is waiting to be found living a life of expectancy. To begin the day with the excitement of a child, "Father, what are we doing today?" As I write that I'm left shaking my head still in stunned disbelief. Father had been here all along loving me and those around me. I just couldn't see it through the fog caused by all my expectations. That leads me to believe that freedom is closer than we all might think?

It's already right there inside us.