Thursday, January 31, 2008

MAKING GOD IN OUR IMAGE

Oh how often do we hear this tossed around by the fundamentalist "defenders of truth"?

This comes up often in my mind and seems to always set in motion some wonderful things to think about. It happened this morning after reading through a dialog on Amazon.com which involved a few folks who have expressed great concern with the book The Shack. And don't misunderstand me, I have no problem with people expressing a critical view of the book and it's content or any book for that matter. I think the conversation can be very helpful.

These days I'm left scratching my head trying to understand how the religions of the world hold to a view of God that seems to resemble how alienated humanity, men and women, act toward each other (exclusive, full of rage, longing to make others pay dearly for their mistakes...unforgiving, violent, and selective based upon what serves our desires best, and the list goes on.....) and can't see that maybe that is the height of humanity making God in our own image. Think about it. It just seems to me that the religious fundamentalists of the world have created a god that looks pretty much like they do.

And when others stand up and say "Wait a minute" and they present a God that is committed to reconciling back unto himself that which is lost because he loves them...REALLY LOVES THEM, the "defenders of truth" accuse those folks of attempting to make God in their own image.

Here's why that seems to be twisted to me these days. I can toss a stone into the air while standing in the crowd made up of humanity and pretty much be assured of hitting many people who more closely resemble the god of religious fundamentalism and sadly would be hard pressed to hit someone that acts like the God represented in the book The Shack.

So I'm left with this question. What would a god made in our image really look like? If we really make him in our image he really wouldn't be loving and full of grace and mercy now would he?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DOWNSHIFTING AND RETHINKING THINGS IS HARD TO DO


These words from Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament Theologian, came rushing back to me today after a couple conversations with some friends. I'm sure on some level it sounded like I was speaking a foreign language. To set the mind free is a very difficult thing indeed but that is not our job, that is the work of the Spirit.

Here is what it felt like I ran up against today.

Brueggemann speaks of the culture and the hold it has on us and it is this mindset that has been shaped by the surrounding culture that he refers to as the royal consciousness.
"We also are children of royal consciousness. All of us, in one way or another, have deep commitments to it. So the first question is: How can we have enough freedom to imagine and articulate a real historical newness in our situation? That is not to ask, as Israel's prophets ever asked, if this freedom is realistic or politically practical or economically viable. To begin with such questions is to concede everything to the royal consciousness even before we begin.

We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought."

It makes me think of Jesus and how he was always saying things that challenged the hearers that had become stuck in their thinking which had in turn determined how they lived. Where I am stuck, my prayer is to get unstuck and to awaken so as to never get stuck back into ways of thinking that distract me from the things that matter.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WHAT DO YOU WANT?...WHAT DO YOU WANT?...WHAT DO YOU WANT?


"Not surprisingly, Ellul has continued to magnify the place of prayer, contending that as we pray God fashions a genuine future for humankind; indeed, God's future is the only future, all other "futures" being but a dressed-up repetition of the Fall."


That was taken from this piece describing a little about Jacques Ellul's life. I am so grateful for having ran across this brother's work. I can't think of anyone that I have read that has come close to helping me understand, in a much clearer way, the effects of the world that surrounds us and it's powers, more than Ellul. And the timing of my introduction to him was so perfect thanks to God and to another very influential dear brother.

I am also so humbled by how God has been so Faithfully Dangerous in answering the prayers that began to form in me several years ago and even more specifically at the beginning of 05 and through the beginning of 06. I have found out that he loves to answer these prayers in what turns out to be very surprising and sometimes shocking ways. Much of this blog, especially in the beginning, turns out to have really been prayers. Here's an example. Much of the past year this blog has still been prayers but also the outworking of many of the ways Father has been answering those prayers by turning me around from the lies I had allowed to control me.

I can't even listen to U2 anymore and not think of Ellul. I am convinced that U2's work during the 90's had been influenced by him. Bono and Edge are avid readers of theologians and philosophers and Ellul is from France where they have spent much of their life. The song Zooropa is full of Ellul like thinking about the world and the mess humans continue to make and wrongly call progress. This video works pretty well with the song.

Hopefully by mentioning Jacques Ellul around here often, others might be encouraged to pick up some of his books and check them out. I still have a pretty long list of his books I want to work through myself. Here is how he expresses what he hopes others find by reading his books.
"Perhaps through my words or my writing, someone met this saviour, the only one, the unique one, beside whom all human projects are childishness; then, if this has happened, I will be fulfilled, and for that, glory to God alone".

Monday, January 28, 2008

THE GRIP OF GRACE


The life hidden with Christ in God could be described as reorientation. Nothing remains the same.

Over the past several days I've just been writing down the things that have been stirring in my head and heart. This evening is a few more of these thoughts about freedom from fear. The realization that we are perfectly secure when our lives are hidden with Christ in God has the power change everything. Here is a major reorientation. This has nothing to do with God putting a shield around me and protecting me from the possibility of suffering harm caused by living in this fallen world. I see today that every moment is gift. Every moment I have and every moment of those around me.

Everything about the life I had been busy building before was about trying to secure safety in this world and it is a futile exercise that leaves us exhausted and and even more consumed by fear. Interesting isn't it? The very thing we are left attempting to accomplish while living independently and focused on self preservation actually reinforces the thing we are attempting to rid ourselves of. Reorientation is just that...a reorientation. It's safe to say that everything is probably opposite of what we naturally think. Endless paradox.

The peace that passes all understanding is a peace that doesn't make sense. Just like grace rarely ever makes sense to those looking in from the outside. But then again to those being captured by our Father and his love for us it makes perfect sense.


THE ABSURDITY OF FEAR


How amazing it is when one stops doing all the things they have always done out of fear of what will happen if they give up the game of fighting for their own agendas based on what they think is right.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

LOVE OR FEAR...IT'S ONE OR THE OTHER


Fear leads people to do crazy things. Fear ends up causing us to think that taking up power and using it against others makes sense. It's the mistaken notion the world attempts to live by. It's kinda like suicide beginning to make sense to someone who has lost hope. It twists and destroys everything it touches as long as one remains trapped in it. Every relationship we enter will be unhealthy if we continue to operate from a place of fear.

Love is the only thing that can break fear's hold on us. It's an invitation that requires a response on our part...and in the end it is his love for us that makes that response possible.

U2 video Yahweh

Saturday, January 26, 2008

BANKRUPTCY


I've been thinking a lot lately about the parables Jesus shared describing the kingdom of heaven. The contrast we see in the parable of the prodigal son, between a life lived apart from the Father and the life lived in the security of the love of the Father, creates in me a secure peace and a longing all at the same time.
The longing is for people to see that conformity is the exact opposite of freedom. God's not looking for people to conform and submit to him because they are afraid of him or even to earn something from him. Religion has made this mistake over and over from day one.
The freedom God gives us, to choose our own path, has a way of exposing the bankruptcy of any attempt to live outside of the life he created us for...To live secure in his love for us and to enjoy the unfathomable depth of that love.
Coming to understand this grace and love that he has for us all is what begins to break down the shame and guilt and fear that keep us from going home. Religion is not home and it leaves us as bankrupt as what looks like out right rebellion. Though like the older brother who stayed on the farm, religion fakes people out and keeps them stuck living in denial of their bankruptcy. It's just a shame/guilt and fear management system seeking conformity to rules. Jesus when telling this story actually told the religious folk standing around that day that those they had determined were rebellious were actually closer to the kingdom them they were. That seems to me to be what this parable was about.

Friday, January 25, 2008

MORE ON THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM

In the moment when the presence of the kingdom becomes so real to us, enduring the disorientation, confusion, and pain caused by jumping from the speeding train we have been living on actually begins to make sense.

REST IN HIM

Moment by moment, refusing to run out ahead, is where rest will be found. Our life hidden with Christ in God is about staying in the reality of the moment. The presence of his kingdom will begin to be revealed. It's something we need not chase after in a frantic way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

THE PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM


I ran across these quotes of Jacques Ellul from his book The Presence of the Kingdom this morning on another blog while doing a search for Ellul quotes. They seemed to fit with the last two posts I have made here. This happens to be one of his books I have not read. This particular blogger said that when he reads Ellul he is always so challenged, excited and filled with awe. Maybe my time spent reading his writings over the past years or so is partly responsible for the "Good News" of the kingdom of heaven, in reality, beginning to sound and feel like much better news than I had ever known or experienced before? Maybe it has been a big part of reshaping the way I am seeing things and also helped expose and helped me understand the dead end road I had been on and why...the same road most of humanity is stuck on, the only difference being mine was disguised by christian lingo and religious obligation and performance? The way of the world, is the way of the world...the way of the kingdom, is the way of the kingdom. One is like a seed that has been planted in the other but they are not even remotely the same. The presence of the kingdom is wholly other. Seeing it as such and accepting that seems to have a way of humbling us and bringing to us a perspective that leaves us with nothing but Jesus to desire and to lean on, which in turn opens our eyes to the value of all humans. Enemy and friend.


“…the Christian must not act in exactly the same way as everyone else. He has a part to play in this world which no one else can possibly fulfill. He is not asked to look at the various movements which men have started, choose those which seem ‘good,’ and then support them. He is not asked to give his blessing to any particular human enterprise, nor to support the decisions of man.”

“…it is essential that Christians should be very careful not to be wolves in the spiritual sense - that is, people who try to dominate others. Christians must accept domination of other people, and offer the daily sacrifice of their lives…”


“Another solution…consists in the desire to ‘moralize’ or ‘Christianize’ the actions of the world. ‘If the State were Christian, how agreeable it would be to depend upon it; then let us make a Christian State, etc.’ People who take this line aim at having a kind of Christian conception of things: they want to have ‘good’ institutions, ‘good’ morals; they want to know what is ‘the good’ in every situation, and thus to gloss over the actual situation of our present world, covering it up with an ethical glaze - ‘Colorwash the devil in gold, dress him up in white, and perhaps he will become an angel!’”

“…we must give up the idea that we can decrease our sin by our virtues…At the same time, if we take this situation of the Christian seriously, we must refuse to further the disintegrating tendency in the world. We must not say to ourselves, ‘We can’t do anything about it!”

“We are free, because at every moment in our lives we are both judged and pardoned, and are consequently placed in a new situation, free from fatalism, and from the bondage of sinful habits.”

“When we speak of the preservation of the world, immediately we envisage participation in the actions which the world thinks are best for it. The world chooses its own methods, draws up its own plan of action…and people often think that if Christians are to help to preserve the world they ought to join in these movements…Thus when everyone was shocked by the demonic character of the Nazi regime, war was presented as a crusade. The world took up arms; Christians took up the same arms, and fought in exactly the same way as the others against these demonic forces.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

(DIS)ILLUSIONED


I have been having a lot of fun in conversations with this word. It's amazing that the majority of the population sees it as a negative thing to be disillusioned. When I then ask them why anyone would want to live their life in illusions it usually always leads to some very interesting conversations. Having illusions dissed suddenly seems to become a good thing to think about.


I was asked this by a client today; Who are you going to vote for? and it led us into a conversation about a major illusion that was exposed in my life a couple years ago...The nature of Power. I came to see clearly how I had lived trusting in worldly power (Caesar's power) and how it seemed to stand in the way of the wonder of the power of the cross in my life. The account of Jesus standing before Pilate began such a transforming experience in my life. What a telling moment in the history of humankind and by in large the organized religious system of Christendom since the time of Constantine has missed it and accepted the illusion (lie) instead. Organized religion became the legitimizing voice of Empire, governed by Caesar's power, the very power Jesus stood in silence before, because he never lived in any illusions and he trusted his Father.


I wonder if there were any that day that believed Jesus' assessment of who held the real power? Especially seeing how that day ended. Illusions created by what we see or what we think we see can be very hard to overcome. I guess that is why most people end up accepting them as being reality? But a couple of years ago I began to see through the illusion created by the power used by the world system to manipulate and control me and I began to take back the misplaced trust I had in it. The world leaders of our day are as wrong as Pilate was while he stood questioning Jesus.


These thoughts were a part of the conversation that followed my clients question to me today about who I was going to vote for. From the things she shared with me I got the sense that some illusions were beginning to come down in her life also. She also left with some book titles of Jacques Ellul that she asked me to write down for her. It's going to be interesting to talk to her again when I see her in a few weeks and hear if any more illusions have been dissed. Maybe she will be another one who will join me in this journey of being GRATEFULLY DISILLUSIONED?
By the way, you can order the shirts here

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CONTINUING OBSERVATIONS

These were the first news headlines I saw this morning:

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama accused each other of repeatedly and deliberately distorting the truth for political gain Monday night in a highly personal, finger-wagging debate.

All I have to say is: IMAGINE THAT. It's just funny that while accusing the other they can't see that it applies to them also. I can't find one person running for elected office in our government that this doesn't apply to.

And as Americans we have had it drilled into us that to be "good" "responsible" Americans we have to participate in the political process by voting. I say....to be an honest person who desires better, how can I participate in this circus?

If honest representation is really important to us, I think the responsible course of action is to never vote for another politician who at best thinks, the ends justifies the means, or at worst, is just someone who doesn't care about the truth and is caught up in the trap created by the hunger for power and influence.

For myself, this will be the 2nd election that I will be sitting out of since I turned voting age. I cannot imagine participating again by voting if this is what I am offered as choices, unless I clearly hear within my spirit, that still small voice encouraging me to do so. I'M NOT HEARING THAT VOICE. I have found freedom from being manipulated by others using the "good citizen" argument. It's manipulative/controlling BS.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'M BACK HOME

That is Wayne and Steve together on the tee and Dan by himself. No pictures of me.





I just arrived home from my trip with Dan out to California to visit Wayne and Sara. We had a wonderful time. Golf was fun but very rough. The Santa Ana winds just about blew us away. Never the less the golf was fun.


It had been a few years ago that Sara had made the trip with Wayne to stay with us here in St. Louis, so it was good to see her again.


Friday afternoon Brad came by after we had finished with golf and we had the intention of recording a podcast together. The four of us were sitting around the kitchen table having a wonderful conversation and every time Wayne suggested that we move into his office so we could record it we just kinda shrugged our shoulders and kept talking. It was great getting to meet Brad. There was plenty of laughter along with some sharing of our stories that afternoon. Good stuff.


I always have a great time with Wayne discussing our relationships with Father and those he is joining us together with. We had some good conversations about politics and power the how fear seems to be exploited more than ever in people through politics and religion. Advice, don't put any trust in politicians or the system that they operate within. That's good advice on any day....not to mention how it is even more relevant during an election season. (there will be more blogging to come on this in the next few days)


Oh.....I can't resist sharing a little of it right now. All humanity has outside of Jesus is law. Be it expressed in civil law or religious law. It will never set anyone free. It will never bring us together. I want to live free and I want to live in relationship. I place no trust in our political system or religious system. Jesus and only in Jesus is security found.


It's good to visit friends in warm and sunny places like California. It's good to visit them even if they reside in cold cloudy places. It's always good to be back home with my wife whom I love more than I can express with words. And to see my three lovely daughters again just lets me know I am right were I am suppose to be once again. HOME.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

OFF TO CALIFORNIA


It will be quiet around here for several days as I head off to California to hang with some good friends. One last day at work and then off to catch a flight early in the morning. Golf was the excuse to go but it is time spent with two wonderful brothers that will make three days of golf and a day of playoff football something to remember.


Our friend Dan from KC was able to get us on Trump National Golf Club (pictured above) as guests at a price lower than most people play weekend golf at their local clubs. This will be a treat and really makes this a golf trip beyond the usual. It all should be a lot of fun. Wayne had told Dan that he would wear a pink skirt if he was able to get us on Trump as guests for free. When he heard it would be $50.00 he said: "That is a much better price than free would have been." I agree. I don't think I want to see Wayne in a pink skirt.


Back late on Monday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

JESUS WASN'T A CHRISTIAN.....DO YOU STILL WANT TO BE?


Here's a taste:
"Ellul's basic thesis is that the Kingdom Jesus inaugurated with his life, death and resurrection has been subverted -- converted into its opposite, in fact -- in the religion of Christendom. This happened primarily because leaders in the 4th and 5th century decided to give into the temptation that Jesus resisted (Lk 4:5-7) -- namely, acquiring political power (thus, submitting to the devil's authority). Christianity thus was co-opted by "the powers." A movement that was in its very essence non-conformist became a religion of conformity. Indeed, Christianity has historically usually been a defender of the status quo ("conservative")."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

GOD'S MYSTERIOUS WAYS


Over the past two days I have had several moments where the thought of attempting to tell this story here on my blog has popped up only for me to put it down. But here I am now attempting to do just that. Maybe it will help someone? It's just a bit of a story of how God used a personal trip to Oregon and The Shack in ways I couldn't possibly have been aware of at the time.
This all began stirring in me as I was re-reading Chapter 2 The Gathering Darkness yesterday. It took me back to the trip I made to Oregon in the spring of 2005. As I was reading the story again, a few of the places mentioned in the book were places I had visited on that trip. I had driven through Gresham where the author lives, while on my way from Portland to the little town of Sandy where I would spend the next 4 days. This was during the time William P Young had just begun to type this story into his computer. Shortly after he finishes the book he ends up sending it to my friend Wayne, after someone told him that they thought the story needed to be published. Wayne would then send the manuscript to me as an attachment to an email 8 months later, during the height of a darkness that had began to gather while I was in Oregon. All of it still to this day has such a feeling of connectedness for me.

I know there have been some that have been a bit annoyed by what they have felt was a hyper focus on this book. I've never felt that myself but maybe it was just because of how this whole story has played out in my life? But for me I see God in it all, working out a purpose in my life and my family, and the ripples created by it all continue to this days to spread out and touch others.
I will never forget the trip to Oregon. Or the two phone calls from my wife while I was there, as fear began to grow in her heart and mind about a relationship that had just begun right before I left on this trip and would continue to spiral out of control for the remainder of that year. I'll never forget the trip one day with my friend Don who lives in Sandy. We saw that day the breath-taking views of the Columbia River Gorge and many waterfalls including Multnomah Falls. We drove on remote mountain roads with deep ruts, roads that were only wide enough for one vehicle to pass. We explored deep into the dark forests of the Oregon mountains that day. I even remember seeing a couple old abandoned shacks while making our way around the mountain. On that day they meant nothing to me, but that would soon change.
8 months later, back at home, during a time when my world had been turned upside down, a story that takes place in the deep forests of Oregon in a shack near where I had been, shows up in my inbox. This is why much of what I have describe over the past couple years has had a lot of references to The Shack. It came to me as I was in the middle of living out some pretty dark fears of being a father of three beautiful girls and the dangers they face living in this world. So I too faced many fears as I walked along side Mack, as we walked along side Papa, Jesus and Sarayu. I began to see things through a prism of love instead of prism of fear. A prism of grace and mercy and forgiveness instead of a prism of guilt and shame and judgement. I began to accept things as they are and stopped living in denial thinking I could control it all and that I was suppose to. I began to find a space where fears began to be pushed away and trust in God began to grow. Not some cheap empty exercises in saying that I trusted him...but the tangible manifestations of real trust rising up from inside me.
I had come to the end of my ability to make it work and to hold it all together in that moment in my life and saw clearly I could not carry it all any longer, nor did I want to even attempt to. It was the scariest thing I had ever faced. And out of that mess, everything I had ever wanted began to emerge and to this very day continues to grow.
But at that time, especially at the beginning of it all, I had no clue what was going on and I say that to maybe give some hope to others who find themselves in a time when things feel like they are falling apart. Maybe they are...maybe it is God that has sneaked up on you and is at work to set you free from things that are standing in the way? He does work in mysterious ways and more often than not we might not ever see coming...what is coming. I think it is all about him inviting us into something new. To step away from the old ways of thinking and responding. You are the object of his affection, don't think for a minute that he is not at work in you and in the circumstance you find yourself today.
It turns out that in our moments of deepest pain and confusion, if we don't run from them but we face them, many wonderful things can happen and surprise us. It also becomes apparent that most of us have been shaped to do the very opposite of what is needed. I remember so often in the past, hearing Christians around me blaming moments like these on things we were always encouraged to run from or to "fix". It all turns out to be horrible advice. Father, Son, and Spirit are here to help us walk through it so we can find freedom from our own great sadness and from paralyzing fears that so often hold us captive.

Friday, January 11, 2008

HIDING BEHIND THE EGO AND TOUGH EXTERIOR


I have met many people over the past couple years that seem to have set sail from places of familiarity to find something real...something beyond what they were experiencing. To say these uncharted waters can be a rough ride is an understatement to be sure.
What has been so amazing to me is how things begin to look so differently as one begins to emerge from the place created by denial on one hand and over exaggerations of confidence on the other.
Fear and shame seem to be two of the most difficult and destructive things one must face . I have come to believe that denial and excessive exaggerations of confidence are expressions grounded in fear and shame and lack of trust. They are manifested in many different ways in our lives. We have been duped into believing they are necessary barriers we must construct around ourselves for protection. They actually become prisons and places where acts of denial masquerade as reality.
Grace is the power of God to break through these barriers and God is always at work to accomplish this in us and those around us. But most of us are fighters and until the fight is gone the bars of the prison stand in place keeping us from the thing we all long for. The peace that passes all understanding.
I say, let us set sail for home and put off the fear that binds us and keeps us trapped in a cycle of fight or flight. I have a feeling we will find that many of the people we have been in a struggle with are longing for the very same thing.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

THE UNFOLDING PURPOSES OF GOD


ANOTHER DAILY REMINDER
Don't be surprised by what he will use to set you free.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

FEAR IS A TERRIBLE PRISM FROM WHICH TO VIEW THE WORLD


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?"


It seems that fear and the difficulties it causes the human race, collectively and individually, continues to pop up on my radar screen...daily. It's a good reminder for me. When we are living out of fear everything will be skewed. Attempting to walk through life seeing everything in front of us and inside us through this prism of fear will keep us trapped in destructive cycles. It is a hindrance to walking in the freedom of God and extending love to the people in front of us and beyond.


I find myself in a place where I hear a constant unbroken whisper of...DO NOT BE AFRAID. It feels so much like a renewing of my mind that has been at work in me pushing out and drowning out the ridiculous voices that used to govern my every moment. It's really amazing when I think about how twisted around things had been due to living in the future and the past which in turn kept me trapped in fear every moment. These days I'm learning to live in the moment and coming to realize the fears were usually flowing from the thoughts of an imagined future shaped by a past lived in fear. Father's love for me and the security found from being at home with him again continues to shine a light into those dark places, revealing that in most cases the fears really were more shadow than anything real. If we can find freedom from living in the unreal/imagined futures through finding healing so that we can leave behind the regrets and pains of the past, living in the moment is the only place there is left to live...and Jesus is there in that place waiting for us. Vision begins to clear up as we live in the moment with him because the distortions created by the prism of fear begin to be refined. We begin to see things for what they really are and come to realize that running back into the darkness no longer makes any sense.

Monday, January 07, 2008

LONGING FOR A BEAUTIFUL CHANGE

I'm writing this post due in part to a chain of events that have happened beginning last Friday and continuing to this day. One being Wayne Jacobsen mentioning first on his blog and then on the God Journey Podcast about the horrific situation in Kenya. Just another horrific display of God deprived hearts, souls, and minds creating such suffering that no one should have to experience. Wayne has provided a way for those who feel so led to reach out and help some of our brothers and sisters in their time of need. The cycle violence that touches everyone that is alive in this world is one of those things where I long to see a beautiful change happen. I'm so past ready for things to be set right.

Another place I long to see this happen hits closer to home and seems to also affect us all. I long to see broken and struggling relationships healed. Parents and children, siblings, spouses, friends and neighbors experiencing a beautiful change that ends the strife that continues the cycle of hurt and damage...the type of hurt and damage that led us to the broken/dark places to begin with.

I want to lay down the weapons (of which there are many) that we have all become so accustomed to use against others in an attempt to protect ourselves. It's an illusion and it protects no one. We continue to hurt ourselves as we hurt others.

And like the post the other day, this post is not directed at anyone. These events have a way of causing me to look at myself and take ownership of the choices I make that stand in the way of this beautiful change I long to see. I just think there are some Spirit groanings going on inside me today? And when that happens, the contrast between the dream of God for us all, and the hope that dream has birthed in me, stands in stark contrast up against the black backdrop created by the hunger for power and dominance (and getting our way) that this world suffers under.

And as Wayne ended an email exchange with me today I end this post here.......Maranatha! Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

CRAZY WEATHER




It's January for goodness sakes and this is the second day in a row of the temps. being in the 70's. January used to be the coldest month of our winter season. It's got me thinking of spring. Taking walks through my garden and places like the Missouri Botanical Garden with all the newness of spring isn't that far off. Yesterday and today the smell of spring is in the air......and it is winter. Go figure. And no, it doesn't look like this around here right now but it won't be long until it does.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

YOU LITTLE SCREW UP




Forgive me for the title of this post and let me say up front it is not directed at anyone. I actually wish I could remove it from every one's memory of the times it was said about them or when they feel it about themself and also keep it from ever being planted in another mind.

It seems funny to me the things God uses to teach us more and more of his character and how he feels about us as we live and breathe and move throughout our lives. We have a puppy in our home these days and have now since the spring. He is about 10 months old at this time and I have to fight the notion within myself that he should have his shit together by now. God is teaching me so many things through this puppy about accepting people where they are at. I know this all might sound strange but it's like I can see in his eyes the desire to get it together and please us all, but he knows he keeps messing up. And at the same time I see this little animal that is one of God's creatures and he is so precious. He is always so exited to see people and he always wants to be with us wherever we are in the house. As I am writing this he is sitting next to me whining because he wants to get upstairs to where my 12 year old is with some of her friends. But remember, he doesn't have his shit together yet so he is confined to the main floor and can't be upstairs running free.

Here is another strange way I have felt God teaching me through this dog. Every time I feel the urge to "go off" on him because of a mess he has just made or because I can't get him to do what I want him to do I hear these words.....He's bringing at this moment all he has Kent. Today I really believe that and yet I still have to stop myself at times from "going off" on him. In reality this little pup has learned so much since the day we brought him home with us. Isn't that what it is all about? Learning as he grows.

I'm learning Tucker isn't a screw up. He's a little dog that has been domesticated and forced to live in a way that isn't natural to animals. And he does not find himself in any different situation then we humans find ourselves in. We have been shaped and are in the process of being shaped by something that is not natural to us, that is unless we are resisting it and allowing God to (re)shape us. The surrounding culture only knows conformity to a way of living governed by the knowledge of good and evil. That is where the notion "You Little Screw up" comes from. This kind of thinking is so destructive and paralyzing. Father is using many things to set me free to new ways of thinking and seeing, one of them being this cute little puppy named Tucker.

When you feel the urge to think such a thing about yourself or of someone else, remember this way of thinking comes to us by way of the fruit of the knowelge of good and evil. The tree of life teaches us to process things differently and helps us learn to accept things and people as they really are. People are bringing all that they have to bring at every moment. I think God wants us to learn to give them a break and let them know they are special and loved.
The top picture is Tucker's first day in our home and the second one is of him taken today.

Friday, January 04, 2008

ANOTHER ELLUL QUOTE




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non-metaphysical steven dropped a response on my blog regarding an Ellul quote I had posted and when I linked over to his blog I found this quote:

"The biblical God lets us make our own history, and goes with us on the more or less unheard-of adventures we concoct." --Jacques Ellul

I think that says it all when it comes to the freedom God gives us all to choose. Now mind you, what I am seeing these days is that this ability to choose doesn't mean we are free, it just means we get to make our own choices.

Freedom comes as our lives are being reconciled back into a dependent relationship with God. Any choosing outside of that relationship does not make us free.....but this wonderful God is still committed to go with us wherever we choose to go. He sticks with us, loving us regardless, and in that love and acceptance woos us out of the messes we make attempting to do it independently on our own.

I am so glad there have been many people who have done some difficult work translating these writings of Ellul's so to preserve them for future generations of seekers. I just love that quote.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

CASTLES TALL


Castles tall
I built them all
But I dream that I'm trapped in
the basement.


Just something to think about.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW


It is Tuesday morning, the first day of 2008 and I wake up this morning and like many mornings a song begins in my head and heart. A song from an artist that was one of my favorites beginning in my teenage years. His song Longer was sang at mine and my wife's wedding. Over the years I stopped listening to Dan Fogelberg for who knows what reasons. Hey, things come and go in life many times without us even recognising they are gone or not seeing a new thing coming. They disappear and appear out of nowhere. I used to hate that, but today I'm learning to live at peace with it. It's a part of learning to live with expectancy, in the moment, and like the picture above, the answers often don't become clear until after they happen or in the moment. And here is a thought...is there really two roads (or more) to choose from or is it more about awakening and staying awake and not being dragged around by fears and the cares and worries of the world?

So, the song Nether Lands began playing for me this morning sort of out of nowhere, accept for the fact that Dan popped up on my radar screen last week at the news of him falling asleep to this world after having battled advanced prostate cancer since 2004. These are some of the last lyrics Dan Fogelberg wrote down and put to music.

The Lord in His wisdom, the Lord in His grace
Has given to man a redeemer
To save us from sin and to show us the light
That shines on this first Christmas morning
And will shine ever each Christmas morning

This is one of those "not ever seeing it coming" post entries on my blog. The fact that I begin the year with a song is not surprising at all. But to begin the new year with someone who's music traveled with me for many years and then for the past 10-15 years had disappeared from my life is a bit surprising this morning, but this song is so beautiful and puts into words the road of life that I have come to know.

I pray that we all find, in newer deeper ways, the life hidden with Christ in God and the freedom...peace....joy and REST that we all so long for.


Nether Lands

High on this mountain
The clouds down below
I`m feeling so strong and alive
From this rocky perch
I`ll continue to search
For the wind
And the snow
And the sky
I want a lover
I want some friends
And I want to live in the sun
And I want to do all the things that I
never have done.
Sunny bright mornings
And pale moonlit nights
Keep me from feeling alone
Now, I`m learning to fly
And this freedom is like
Nothing that I`ve ever known
I`ve seen the bottom
And I`ve been on top
But mostly I`ve lived in between
And where do you go
When you get to the end of
your dream?
Off in the nether lands
I heard a sound
Like the beating of heavenly wings
And deep in my brain
I can hear a refrain
Of my soul as she rises and sings
Anthems to glory and
Anthems to love and
Hymns filled with early delight
Like the songs that the darkness
Composes to worship the Light.
Once in a vision
I came on some woods
And stood at a fork in the road
My choices were clear
Yet I froze with the fear
Of not knowing which way to go
One road was simple
Acceptance of life
The other road offered sweet peace
When I made my decision
My vision became my release
.
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It's been a morning of listening to Dan's music on youtube. I'm reminded of why I loved his music so much. Here is one more.