Monday, December 31, 2007

THIS HAS BEEN REVISED AS A END OF THE YEAR SUMMARY OF SORTS........POWER IS AN ENEMY TO FREEDOM

These quotes are taken from the essay I posted yesterday.

"Freedom can be obtained only when we strive for it; no power can give freedom to people. Challenging power is the only way to make freedom a reality. Freedom exists if the negation of political power is strong enough and the people refuse to be taken in by the idea that freedom will surely come tomorrow, if only...No, there is no tomorrow. Freedom exists today or not at all. When we shake the edifice we produce a crack, a gap in the structure, in which a human being can briefly find his freedom, which is always threatened. In order to bring this bit of play into the system, however, we must bring to it radical, total refusal. Any concession to power enables the totality of power to rush in to the small space we have opened." Jacques Ellul

"It is truly a fight...against a power that can be changed only by means which are the opposite of it's own. Jesus overcame the powers---of the state, the authorities, the rulers, the law, etc.---not by being more powerful than they but by surrendering himself even unto death." Jacques Ellul

I've had a word in my mind for a couple years now that I feel was dropped there by the spirit. MALFORMED. Just about everything (if not everything) we are told and sold by the world that surrounds us works against living free. So, it is to these things I feel the Spirit is teaching me to live malformed. You know what.....it feels so right. When I began to consider what this really meant a couple years ago it was very frightening and I couldn't help but think I had lost my mind. For awhile I couldn't help but think: What if I am wrong? It was scary because it touched such very serious things. One being security. As with many things I began to see, it would spread out like a spider web. Security touched every area of my life. Every area.

As I continued to walk out in this new way of looking at things it began to open up into something I could put my hands on, figuratively speaking. The simplicity of it all began to come into focus. Not the ease of walking it out...but as I began to see the tangled mess for what it is, being able to live differently started looking possible. I'm finding out that it is.

Security ended up being about power. My personal attempts to control things in my daily life and then all the other areas and people I looked to, to provide layer upon layer of more security. From me personally on up to the nation I live in and then on out to God. It was when God began to expose the absolute impotence of the things I was putting my trust in, that I began to understand the world's whopper lie about power. It's really not power at all. Jesus stripped the cloak off of that lie in everything he did and in the end left them exposed for all to see. The powers still stand exposed if we have the courage to really look at it for what it is.

Ellul in the quotes above uses the words "strive" and "challenge" when speaking of our responsibility when it comes to walking in freedom. I might describe it differently than he does but I get his point. The powers control us as long as we let them and there is no reason to submit to them. It comes down to; What do we believe? Or better said; Who do we believe?

When I posted the quotes from Ellul I wasn't thinking about this being the last day of the year, but as I began to think about that and a way of closing out this year here on my blog....Faithfully Dangerous....these thoughts started to emerge. To summarize what has been going on in my world, I can't think of a better way of bringing an end to blogging in 2007 than to share these thoughts with you. This is what has been going on in my life and this is what all the talk about God's love for us has been pointing towards for me. It's been about exposing the powers...the lie that keeps us from walking out from under their control so we can take up our freedom and follow Jesus.

There is one power, Jesus and the cross, and it looked like weakness. And it always chooses to die instead of resorting to other forms of power. Fear leads us to believe the false powers of the world and place our trust in them. PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT THAT FEAR. We are all loved perfectly and Father with his perfect love is speaking to us all these words. Do not be afraid.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

LIBERATED FROM......AND FREED UNTO

"We merely point out that absence of alternatives to "law and order, or anarchy" is precisely the enslavement of humanity to the "knowledge of good and evil" describe in the Bible. We are concerned in this essay to demonstrate that the Biblical narrative insists on a "third' way beyond law, beyond morality, beyond chaos."

This is taken from an essay that I have linked here. Matthew Patillo writes this using many of the writings of Rene Girard and Jacques Ellul to make his case. It is well worth the time. It's not that long.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

BAIT AND SWITCH.....FAKE OUT


Have we not been told that individualism is one of the foundational elements of Western Democracies?........And yet the system we are told we must function within sucks our uniqueness out of us and forces us to conform. Play by the accepted script. Is this allowing us to be individuals.....or making us something other? All without us even being aware of it.


Our so called individualism is so often linked with the idea of our independence. But if individualism is a farce, is the independence we are told we possess a farce also? And for us who desire to be free.....to live free as God has created us to live, is independence something we should desire any way?


I thought it was the grabbing of independence and the rejection of the life of dependence on God that began this mess in the first place?


Humanity seems to be confused. Blind guides seems to apply here. And religion just seems to cover up the confusion with more smoke and mirrors.

Friday, December 28, 2007

LEARNING TO DEAL WITH CONFLICT

In an email conversation with my friend Sue this morning John Lennon came up because we had been talking about The Beatles. We had also been talking about Over The Rhine and I mentioned that their song Spark was inspired by memories of John, but more profoundly by the gentle healer from Galilee.

You will see me post this from the song on this blog often and I bring it up often in conversations because it has been so helpful to me to think about. "It's not the spark that caused the fire, it was the air you breathed that fanned the flame."

The fire was already burning when you and I came into this world. We did not start it. But the way we live in this world does have an effect on that fire. Is the way we are living with others fanning the flames or assisting in helping put them out? This has so transformed my thinking when it comes to personal relationships, face to face interactions with my spouse, my children, my friends and with strangers. It has also helped (re)shape my view of the world when it comes to political, economic, and religious systems and the effects they have on people here at home and abroad. I began to see so clearly that I had been fanning the flames.

Love is the only thing that will turn this around and fear keeps us in the game of perpetuating the destruction created by the fire. When God's love frees us from fear and we give up the self-preservation mode that has governed our lives we then become people who can help put out fires.

Don't miss this wonderful interview.

***
The Stuff of Staying Together***

Spark
Over The Rhine

It's not the spark that caused the fire
It was the air you breathed that fanned the flame
What you think you'll solve with violence
Will only spread like a disease
Until it all comes 'round again
Was John the only dreamer?

Sleep with one ear close to the ground
And wake up screaming
When we lay our cold weapons down
We'll wake up dreaming

Obsessions with self-preservation
Faded when I threw my fear away
It's not a thing you can imagine
You either lose your fear

Or spend your life with one foot in the grave
Is God the last romantic?

Sleep with one ear close to the ground
And wake up screaming
When we lay our cold weapons down
We'll wake up dreaming

Only love can turn this around
I wake up dreaming
Everything we've lost can be found
We'll wake up dreaming

Thursday, December 27, 2007

THE PAINFUL PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION


I was sitting around tonight after talking to a friend and a song came to mind and after listening to it another came to mind. The first song has tremendously deep special meaning to me. The live version of Etcetera Whatever from OTR's Live From Nowhere vol.1 is IMHO one of the best musical performances ever. But this song Nobody Number One came to mind as I was thinking about how painful and difficult a process it is when God is at work, moving us from the prisons we have constructed, into the freedom he longs for us to live in. To come home in a sense. This song played a part in digging up many things in my heart, soul and mind during one such period in my life a couple years ago. Actually, I was in the midst of it two years ago to this very time.

I cried many tears and released many groanings with this song playing. And then after a time the reason for the tears began to change and the groanings turned into an easier breathing than I had ever known. I began to breathe for the very first time.

The pain, the tears, the groanings are all worth it. The former way of attempting to numb the pain or to keep the pain away is a part of the prison we need freed from. We must face it and embrace it and walk through it. Freedom is on the other side.


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

DO WE REALLY WANT TO SEE THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE?

In a conversation this morning, myself and a friend began talking about a situation her niece finds herself in. She is about to deliver a baby and there are reasons to believe that there might be some serious problems with the child. This led us into a discussion about living in a way where we accept things as they are and the fact that they are out of our control, or a life of denial, fears, unrealistic expectations and wild imaginations....and still not being in control but working hard acting as if we can or should be.

This to me is another one of those paradoxes. Something that is actually opposite from how we have been shaped to think and then attempt to live.

Accepting things for what they are is a doorway into deeper freedom. When in contrast, attempting to convince ourselves we are in control and that worrying and living in fear of things will somehow make those things work out the way we desire. It's really absurd and yet most people live out of the second scenario.

What is it that keeps people from seeing this reality? Or even wanting to see it and live in it? Most people's eyes roll back white and glaze over if you mention something like this to them. They don't even want to consider it. It reminds me of Cypher in the movie The Matrix. He actually chose to be plugged back into the lie even though he knew it wasn't real. He didn't care. I think that also speaks of the necessity of continually picking up our freedom once we have found it in an area of our life. If we don't, being awake becomes burdensome and we will gravitate back to the lies and illusions in an attempt to find some comfort. The lies and illusions are so powerful because we have been so shaped to trust in the things seen, instead of the things not seen.

Accepting things for what they are is a part of freedom. Realizing we can't control the things we fear, but in reality they are controlling us, seems to be another important step. And when our paradigms begin to shift and our orientation begins to come back into line with the way God designed it all, we will see that not only is fear absurd, there really isn't anything to fear. Accepting things for what they are has a way of opening this up for us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

FREEDOM vs LIES

I had no plans on posting anything today, Christmas Day, because there wasn't anything really stirring inside me to share...but as I was reading I ran across something that changed that. I've lost count of the times now that I have read The Shack but today I began to work my way through it again. Every time I read it something else jumps out at me. This morning it was something that has so become a part of a new perspective and awareness I'm learning to live in...an everyday adventure in learning to not allow the external world and all it's distractions to pull me from the presence of God and the full life to be found there.

To think of all the lies that used to govern my life and keep me from accepting things for being what they are (both the things of God and the things of this world) leaves me stunned. It's not difficult anymore to understand why I had been so frustrated and worn out. A gratefulness and a deep sense of peace and joy has displaced that exhausting way of attempting to live. That old way of living turns out to be one of the biggest lies. Attempting to live independently (all the while having convinced myself I was relying on God) and then always scrambling to keep it all together.

This new paradigm has begun to change everything. One of the changes is learning that the world and it's system runs the opposite direction when compared to the life hidden with Christ in God. It knows not the way of freedom. Yet it promises us freedom and most live their lives having been duped by this false expression. There are signs all around pointing to something else that is real....people often feel it and sense it...but to break through the lies and illusions takes much courage and the only courage that is helpful in this endeavor is trust. Trust in Father, Son, and Spirit. These thoughts arose this morning as I read this in The Shack.

"There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly release you from expectations, performance, demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the near by city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry."

Freedom is possible for those who have eyes to see and the courage to accept things for what they are. Illusions are illusions. Lies are lies. Freedom is freedom. The world and the way it functions is set against this freedom. But we don't have to let it control us.

Monday, December 24, 2007

SOMETHING FUN

During the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas I receive many nice gifts and Christmas tips from clients. Extra over their regular generosity. It's really stunning.

So this morning while running through the Starbucks drive up I had reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the gift cards. As I was handing it to the gentleman waiting on me he informed me that mine was already taken care of. I said "What?" He then told me the gentleman that was in the car in front of me had paid for mine while paying for his.

Kinda cool. I drove home with a big smile on my face. Not because of the free venti latte but because of the act of random kindness in giving. Someone else will be surprised and get a free coffee when they make a trip to Starbucks because it will be fun passing the gift along to someone else.

What a life it can be when we are free from the thinking that keeps us trapped in the mindset of ME ME ME or at least ME FIRST and we begin to prefer the other first. It seems like we would all end up feeling preferred and valuable. And we are and as we begin to "know" that, as we rest in the arms of our loving gracious father, we will be able to help others see that they are preferred and valuable also.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

AWAKE AND ALIVE

It's Alright
Ellery........................you can listen to the song by going to their site and clicking on music and then clicking on the media player.

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

CHORUS:
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

I just finished reading tonight The Ethics Of Freedom by Jacques Ellul. I took my time with this book, because I sensed from the beginning when I started it, that this was a deeply important journey for me to walk along side this brother for a time. Jacques learned some wonderful things concerning freedom and how this world works against the freedom Jesus has opened up for us. Since I began this book, one of his longest, I have also fit in reading 5 or 6 other books of his. I'm sure they will be books I revisit from time to time.

I posted the song lyrics because it came to mind as I was finishing the last pages of the book. The first line of the song speaks to me of the illusions I chased most of my life. The song speaks of external voices that constantly feed us lies about what life is about. These lies grow and become a way of thinking...a way of thinking that keeps us from accepting things for what they really are. The illusions become so familiar and deep, we continue on completely unaware that we aren't even living. The thought of slowing down and living in the moment so as to watch it all unfold, feels so unnatural and unwise, most rarely even give it a second thought.

If we live anywhere other than right here, right now, we are living in the land of borrowed trouble. In that place, to protect ourselves and those we love, we are left working hard to figure out and control things that cannot be figured out and controlled. But in turn, that way of living emboldens us to such a degree we are left attempting to live by absolutes and we miss the One who is True and Absolute. But in missing Him the trouble we find ourselves in create many sorrows. When enough crap gets stored up, these sorrows have a way of exposing all the crap. There is a wonderful unfolding that is going on even in this painful process. Too often blaming others preoccupies us here and we can miss what we are in need of seeing. Until we come to understand that the others really have nothing to do with what is going on in us, we usually remain stuck. It's really just a way of diverting the attention somewhere else.

Unless we are set free and learn to abide in him, the well will remain empty. But when freedom comes and the well is continually being filled, external circumstances just aren't a big issue anymore. Whether dark seas or grey clouds we begin to learn that we can make it. Peace and Joy become realities. We begin to see that there is a song to sing and always has been, we had just been afraid to face things and accept them for what they are. Telling our stories has a way of pushing out the darkness. We need safe places to tell our stories. It has been the keeping of secrets, the fear of facing our pain and the facing of the fears them self that has actually made breaking free just one more thing to fear.

God's grace turns our painful stories into songs worth singing...worth living. Do we dare believe it and risk trusting him? Time will tell. Father is very patient and is pursuing us with his love. Learning to stay put in the moment, in his presence, is where his voice is calling us to remain. Freedom awaits us all there.

Why is it that men and women say they passionately desire freedom but in the end reject the grace, the gateway into that freedom and instead gravitate to a way which in the end just leaves them exhausted and empty? I suppose that answer will be different for everyone. But for those that give up the game....after awhile will find themselves saying that they have never felt more alive. It's a promise Father has made to us.

NEW TERRITORY

This is a first. I was out and about just awhile ago (getting Ice cream for myself and my 12 yr old and making a trip through Starbucks) and realized something. It is 3 days before Christmas and I have not had one moment of stress and frustration over the Christmas craze that always descends on people. The heavier traffic on the roads and elsewhere just hasn't been able to get at me. In actuality I haven't even been aware of it. Living in the moment has a way of disarming the stress that I had always lived in due to always having been in a hurry. I find myself in no hurry anymore.


When we realise the moment is all we have and is all that exists, rushing to the next moment (future) just has no place anymore. If you find yourself doing that it might be an indication that you are not living in the moment. And also, please take this post as a friendly reminder and only that, because there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.


We journey on fellow travelers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WATCHING PEOPLE COME UNDONE

To find your life you must lose it. No one said it would be easy and it is certainly not. To watch people begin to hang on more tightly and fight really doesn't surprise me anymore. Transition is hard and very costly. The sooner people see that the things that they are fighting to hang onto are the very things that are enslaving them the sooner the process will be completed. This is about life....real life...easy yoke and light burden kinda stuff.

I was reminded of this video again today. I know someone walking around at this time with their pants down around their ankles and fighting for what they want, unaware of the reality that when our hands, hearts, and minds are full of crap, there is no room left in our hands, hearts and minds for that which really is important and that which we are really deep down inside longing for. I sense the dam is about to break?

THIS IS ALL I NEED

Saturday, December 15, 2007

USING GOD'S NAME

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." Blaise Pascal

"Sinners and saints, priests and kings
Are we just using God for our own gain
What’s in a name
Open your eyes" Karin Bergquist

It's interesting how often I find myself not believing in the god that is so often spoken of in the world today. The way he is presented and spoke of makes Him look, sound, and act very closely to that which we see in alienated humanity. Sometimes even worse. What I thought I knew and what I had lived much of my life believing about the person Jesus referred to as father has been taken a part. It feels really good today.

We are more loved than we can even begin to fathom. Why do so many live with such fear of the one that chose to step into the mess we have made through our freedom of choice, to speak such wonderful words like "Don't be afraid?" If God is love and that love is unconditional, patient, and kind, why have we made him out to be a highly unpredictable character who more closely resembles earthly fathers...and mothers?

The character Jesus describes as the father in the parable of the prodigal son just doesn't seem to me to fit into the image so often presented by the world's religions. Jesus used several other familiar images to paint other pictures for us that seem to be as different also.

If Love is patient, and love is kind. If it does not envy or boast, and it is not proud. If it is not rude, self-seeking, easily angered, and if it keeps no record of wrongs. And if Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth and it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres, why do we make God something other than this?

I know we humans struggle with loving this way, but for goodness gracious let us stop speaking of and thinking of our father in ways that presents him to the world as someone he is not.

HE LOVES US and if he did so even in our state of alienation before Jesus' death and resurrection that changed everything....how much more so is his grace and love poured out and extended to us all? I know better of my father than how I hear him so often spoken about today and I am learning to live in that love and I am finding there is no room for fear in this place. Prefect love casts out all fear.

Thank you father.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SHE'S GOING TO COLLEGE


That's Amie on the left and her friend Caitlin






Well my daughter just received today her letter of acceptance into the dance program at Webster University. She had anxiously awaited word from them after auditioning almost 2 weeks ago. She has worked very hard to get here and I couldn't be more proud of her. She has now been dancing for 13 years and to think of that little girl at 4 years old going to her first dance class is just hard to believe. Dance has been a very stabilizing activity in her life and to think that I will have the opportunity to continue to watch her grow on in this beautiful expression of art brings such joy to me. Not to mention that she chose to stay in town so she would be close to her family. More surprise yet to come.........maybe MADCO?

Now to figure out how to pay for this$$$$$$$$$

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JACQUES ELLUL QUOTES


"In the modern world, the most dangerous form of determinism is the technological phenomenon. It is not a question of getting rid of it, but, by an act of freedom, of transcending it. How is this to be done? I do not yet know. That is why this book is an appeal to the individual's sense of responsibility. The first step in the quest, the first act of freedom, is to become aware of the necessity. The very fact that man can see, measure, and analyze the determinisms that press on him mean that he can face them and, by so doing, act as a free man. If man were to say: "These are not necessities; I am free because of technique, or despite technique," this would prove that he is totally determined. However, by grasping the real nature of the technological phenomenon, and the extent to which it is robbing him of freedom, he confronts the blind mechanisms as a conscious being. At the beginning of this foreword I stated that this book has a purpose. That purpose is to arouse the reader to an awareness of technological necessity and what it means. It is a call to the sleeper to awake."

"What we are witnessing at the moment is a rearrangement of the world in an intermediate stage; the change is not in the use of a natural force but in the application of technique to all spheres of life."

"Human life as a whole is not inundated by technique. It has room for activities that are not rationally or systematically ordered. But the collision between spontaneous activities and technique is catastrophic for the spontaneous activities."

"In sum, thought and reflection have been rendered thoroughly pointless by the circumstances in which modern men and women live and act."

Friday, December 07, 2007

BABY SLOW DOWN

My friend Sue posted something on her blog today that brought a song to mind. A very special song for me. I know, you all are saying, Is there a song that isn't special to you? Well, out of the ones I listen to.....not really.

The story is way to personal for me to share here openly but hopefully this video and blog post will speak something of value to you.

I was in the midst of a place of deep fear the very day this video was released. I had been awaiting it's release having heard the news that U2 was preparing to release a video for their song Original of the Species. This song is beautiful and the message, from the first time I heard it, spoke something so deep and challenging to me. It spoke to me personally about slowing down and finding my way home to my father and the place where my heart is (to find him and in turn to find the authentic me). And it also spoke to me about my oldest daughter and her adolescent girl friends and the pull this world has on them to grow up too fast. The timing felt supernatural and it was.

I clicked play to view this video, and in that place of pain and fear I found myself, the Spirit of God began to flow over me and drown me in emotion. It was the beginning of a change in living with this awareness of the ever present presence of God. I've been overwhelmed ever since. Through all of that and much more I have became a much better father and friend to all these adolescent girls that hang out here at my house. My three daughters and all their friends. They need stable examples and they need us to be their friends, to love them and encourage them to slow down and live aware as they walk through the morass that is this suffering confused world.

I have some beautiful young ladies in my life that I am so enjoying getting to be a part of their lives as they grow up. Father has richly blessed me.

ORIGINAL OF THE SPECIES

GRACE ONCE AGAIN

Here is another interview with Paul Young talking about the One who makes freedom possible and he goes deeper into describing some of the encounter Mack had at the shack with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu. This is really good. IT IS INTERVIEW #2

Here is a video to go along with the story told in The Shack. This is about grace.

GRACE

Thursday, December 06, 2007

FACING OUR FEARS

I was talking to a client tonight and at one point I asked her if the challenges she has faced since this time last year had changed her? She answered with tears in her eyes but very confidently, "Yes, most definitely. And I mean for the better. All of this turns out to be a blessing." It was this time last year that she came into the salon shortly after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Today she is doing well and cancer free. The other thing she has faced is the sudden loss of her mom just a couple months ago. She said to me that she had faced two of her greatest fears and had come through them and today she's just not as afraid anymore.

I can relate to her. When I came face to face with the reality that one of my children might not survive the battle they found themselves in the middle of, it tends to get your attention. WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL. What a relief that was when I began to understand that one. The majority of people just can't fathom how coming to understand that we are not in control can be a relief or a good thing. But it is. A sense of control is one of the strongest illusions we conjure up while attempting to live independently. In our fear, we do everything to convince ourselves that we can keep bad things from happening to ourselves and those we love. That game will leave us exhausted, frustrated, and angry.

From The Shack:

"THE DARKNESS HIDES THE TRUE SIZE OF FEARS AND LIES AND REGRETS....THE TRUTH IS THEY ARE MORE SHADOW THAN REALITY, SO THEY SEEM BIGGER IN THE DARK. WHEN THE LIGHT SHINES INTO THE PLACES THEY LIVE, YOU START TO SEE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE."

"But why do we keep all that crap inside?" Mack asked.

"Because you believe it is safer there. And, sometimes, when you're a kid trying to survive, it really is safer there. Then you grow up on the outside, but on the inside you're still that kid in the dark cave surrounded by monsters, and out of habit you keep adding to your collection. We collect things we value, you know?"

Mack then asks how that can change for someone trapped in the dark like he is.

Jesus continues....

"Most often pretty slowly. Remember you can't do it alone. Some folks try with all kinds of coping mechanisms and mental games. But the monsters are still there, just waiting for a chance to come out."

"So what do I do now?"

Jesus goes on to tell him to continue on....learning to live loved.

Being open to take a good look at the reality of our situation is a good place to start. My client came to face to face with the reality that she was not in control of her health or the health of those she loves, and those fears were revealed to be mostly shadow. They don't hold her down like they used to.

I came to understand the same things about myself and the ones I love and fear began to lose it's grip on me also. That really was what seems to be the beginning point for me. My knew found understanding didn't mean that hurtful scary things weren't going to happen, it just helped push me to the one from whom my security comes. He has been through it all and suffered greatly and overcame. Being home again has continued to loosen the grip of many things on my heart. The words "Do not be afraid" don't frustrate me anymore, they feel like living water and they ring so true. We have nothing to fear.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF THE SHACK


I wanted to link to this video interview where Paul talks about how it all began and the crazy amazing ride it has become. Part 2 and 3 of the interview has some great conversation around the pain of life, Jesus, living in the moment and the illusion of control.


Monday, December 03, 2007

BEWARE OF THE "SLIPPERY SLOPE"....HUH?


How many times is this favorite religious saying marched out when someone begins to question what they have been taught or the status quo? It is a powerful control mechanism when added to the other favorite fear mechanism of....eternity in hell.


Well, guess what? Many of the accepted answers of systematic approaches to theology and following Jesus just don't work for me anymore and actually never did. And this "Slippery Slop" saying just kept me in the land of smiling denial and silly hoop jumping and acrobatics to make it all fit. And the other funny thing is, it still never fit even on my best days.


Someone warned me the other day of the slippery slop I was on....and they did it with great concern. Oooooh!!!!!!! One of the cool things for me was that I wasn't phased by it at all. No sweating, no internal turmoil, no doubts and discombobulations...none of that type stuff. See, the way I see it and am experiencing it these days is, God is bigger than my questions and his love and grace is more powerful than my ability, in my limited vision, to maybe get it wrong at times. Oh......but how God has expanded in my life and my trust in him has grown while living on this slippery slope.


I'll take the slippery slope when compared to the smiling denial/hoop jumping/acrobatics/to make it all fit, of my past. Many of those that hold to and use the slippery slope analogy do have one thing right....Jesus is not safe...that is, he's not safe when it comes to the neatly packaged understanding of ourselves, our lives, and our systematic approaches to his/our Father. He'll take all that apart if we have the courage to be real about it all. But in him we can find security.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

THE SHACK.....IS IT REAL?

To answer the question in the title, all I can say is it played a big part in the change that happened in me.

As I sat in the quiet this morning before the house came alive with my wife and daughters running about, I was thinking about the things that are important to me. This past two years have so drastically changed what I care about. Today it's like driving in a car and watching out through the rear view mirror as things that had been a part of who I had always been become smaller and smaller. Some things are now just memories and I can't even see them anymore.

Some things when I think back on them, beliefs mostly, just make me shake my head in stunning disbelief. They have been revealed as having been prisons and the accompanying emotions and reactions that traveled with them were chains that I had dragged around all my life. These prisons and these chains go unnoticed while we are held captive by them and the smothering, crushing effects caused by them leave us fighting to stay alive. So we are led to believe. It's strange isn't it, how upside down things are in that place? We spend our days thinking we are fighting to stay alive when actually there is no life there to begin with.

There actually is no life there and there never has been. But the pain we feel is real and the frustration is so suffocating at times we wonder how we will get to the next moment. So we are left fighting because that is all we know to do and we feel that if we don't, we will be swallowed by that pain. So we are left doing what we can do. We attempt to control everything in the environment we find ourselves.

There is a moment in The Shack when Mack has a nightmare. He catches a glimpse of Missy in the darkness and she turns and runs away screaming, and the harder Mack tries to pull himself out of the mud so he can go help her, he continues to be sucked in deeper. If prisoners that are bound by chains attempt to fight to free themselves from those chains they cause more damage to themselves. But the natural impulse is still to fight. I know this all to well. I was a fighter. But one day the exhaustion had worn me down and I gave up the fight. I would have never made that choice had Jesus' presence not become real enough to me to cause me to trust him enough to save me from something I could not save myself from. I am so amazed looking back on it all and being able to see how he had been there with me through it all. I just hadn't ever trusted him.

I don't know what happened first, whether his love engulfed me before I gave up the fight, or if as I gave up the fight his love began to become real to me? All I know today is his love is real and it changes everything. It is his tangible presence and his overwhelming love that continues to cause the things in my rear view mirror to grow smaller and smaller. One of the big changes is seeing how relationships are all that really matter. But until the most vital one, the one with God, is in the process of being restored, we unfortuantely are left hurting those we are in relationship with. "Things" just don't matter to me like they used to. Beliefs and principles, and thinking I "know" the answers, and fighting for my rights just aren't as important to me as people are. I want to learn to live in a way that helps people find freedom from prisons and chains that hold them in the smothering emotions caused by our alienation/self-effort. Papa's love , his grace and his affection towards us is the key to the prison door and the lock that holds the chains in place. It is not our job to free people....that is what Jesus does through the Spirit. We have the privilege of extending love and grace, his love and grace, to those that are overwhelmed by the things that have hold of them and the paralyzing fear that is ever present.

There is hope. I Know. The smothering emotions that had consumed me are gone or are in the process of going. On one hand I want to say don't give up and at the same time I want to say....give in. We can't extricate our selves from the prison by self effort. That just causes the mud to suck us in deeper and often we drag those around us in with us. Most other people are fighting their own deal and that is enough for them. All that is left to do is give into his love.

I want to share some of the story Willie uses to close out his telling of Mack's encounter at the shack. It also touches on the question I asked in the title of this post. These words ring true to what this story has been to me also.

" So the question I am faced with as I pen these words is how to end a tale like this? Perhaps I can do that best by telling you a little about how it affected me. As I stated in the forward, Mack's story changed me. I don't think that there is one aspect of my life, especially my relationships, that hasn't been touched deeply and altered in ways that truly matter. Do I think that it is true? I want all of it to be true. Perhaps if some of it is not actually true in one sense, it is still true nonetheless---if you know what I mean? I guess you and Sarayu will have to figure that one out."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

LOVE IS THE ENEMY OF MISERY

As I was listening to the U2 song Mercy (new video) this evening, the line Love is the enemy of misery stood out to me and I was reminded of one of the earliest conversations I had with my friend Paul Young and something he said to me. Here is what he said.

"The actions of self giving, of love, of sacrifice, of dying are the true 'violations' of this world system."

All the world system has to give is misery. Even when someone is "successful" playing the game, they are being oppressed by the system. Love doesn't care about the game or the goodies offered to those who play the game. Father's affection and attention is directed towards that which he loves. It is you and I. From the poorest to the riches, the oppressed and the oppressor, the religionist and the secularist, friend and enemy, and the young who have a life that awaits them and the old that are nearing their time of falling asleep to this world, these are the objects of his affection. If self-giving, love, sacrifice and dying are the true violations of the system that is eating alive those who God loves....I think I want to be a part of those violations.

HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS

Sue has put up a post I wanted to link to and encourage everyone to check out. You can find it here.

This U2 video came to mind as I read Sue's post.

U2 Please