Monday, March 31, 2008

THRILLING ENCOUNTER




As many of you who stop by here regularly will know by now, Walter Brueggemann has been an influential voice in my life during the transition I have walked through over the past couple years. I was at the airport today waiting for my mother-in-law who I was there to pick up and who walks by but Old Testament Theologian Walter Brueggemann.

I said "Excuse me sir, are you Walter Brueggemann? He stopped and said, "Yes I am, who would you be?" We stood there for about 10 minutes talking and it was such a trip for me to get to thank him personally for the help he has been to me through his writings. As he walked away he thanked me for taking the time to stop him and talk. I'm still grinning. And I am growing more accepting of the orientation...disorientation...re-orientation concept that Walter introduced me to as being a normal cycle of life with a Father whom operates with such wild freedom.

TOUGH


I'm always amazed how early these beauties emerge from the earth in what seems to be an act of defiance. They are tough. I also love their simple beauty. No big bright splash of flamboyant color screaming here. Often they go unnoticed to the untrained eye. They are what they are...they are Hellebore and they don't try to be anything else.
I think there is a lesson in there for us humans to learn to live by also.




Sunday, March 30, 2008

SMALL TRANSFORMATIONS




Even when you don't think or feel like things are happening be assured that they are. Some people around here are still complaining that it feels like winter. Perceptions can be deceiving.


In this situation the temperatures have warmed enough to move the trees from winter storage back in the corner of the garage and fence so my favorite sitting area can begin to take shape again. There are many more changes still to come in this area.









STUNTED GROWTH





I have had this tree for about 8 years and it has been grown in this wooden box for most of that time. I love how the branching of this tree twists and turns and how densely packed the buds are along the branches. It is just now beginning to leaf out and in a couple weeks most of the branching will disappear under a dense layer of green leaves closely stacked one on another as seen in the first photo. It's such a unique looking tree.
Growing trees in boxes reduces the rate of growth significantly and for a gardener with limited space and a love for trees that works pretty well. But it is not natural and it's a highly controlled environment that then requires many more steps and proceedures to keep it alive and healthy...that is to a degree. If this tree was in the ground where it's roots could function in the way they were designed to function this same tree would probably be 6-8 ft. tall after 8 years compared to the 3 ft. it has reached in this box.
People aren't any different. Box them in with a limited vision of what they have been created for and the same stunted growth will occur. Allow them the same freedom their Creator has given them and you might just be surprised what happens.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

HAVE I MENTIONED BEFORE THAT I LOVE SPRING?



I think I will be taking some time from this point and on at least in the Spring and early summer posting pics of some of the treasures, like these two Japanese Maples from my garden.
I filled about 10 yard waste bags with leaves and fallen branches this afternoon and the visible difference is already amazing and there are only a few things up and blooming at this time. Everyday now will usher in amazing changes...beautiful changes and maybe even a nasty hail storm that could strip every beautiful plant and tree bare. I've seen it happen and I have no control over that. I used to fret so much about the possibility of such disasters as hail, late frosts and freezes, Japanese Beatles and others pests like rabbits, deer, voles and chipmunks but today I don't. I have seen the absurdity of such worry and fretting. Last year was a perfect example during our 3 day freeze event after everything was in full growth mode. Yards all over the community looked as if ghosts were standing guard with trees and plants covered with sheets and many other types of coverings in an attempt to protect tender new growth. 3 years ago my yard would have looked the same and I would have still awakened the next morning and the next two that followed and had to deal with plants that had been frozen so hard that no frantic attempts to protect would have stopped the destruction. The two trees pictured above didn't look like they do in these pictures and all I could do was pull off the leaves that had turned to mush and say...maybe next year? I will see in a couple weeks if this year will bring out their awesome beauty...and so I wait. I'm enjoying this process so much more these days just accepting it for what it is. I'm just a temporary caregiver/groundskeeper in this amazing natural creation that I have such an appreciation for. This is it's gig and it is much bigger than I am.

Friday, March 28, 2008

CHURCH-GOERS FOR HIRE

This is fun and interesting and possibly........oh well, I'm not going to say it. I will say that I love what this guy is saying. He has the most listened to "Christian" talk radio program in Canada. Paul Young is scheduled to join him on his program in a couple weeks. It could be a lot of fun.

Watch it here
Drew Marshall

If you enjoyed that here is a 2 part interview I think is worth watching

#1

#2

JUST A THOUGHT

Does anyone really know what God is specifically doing at any given moment in any situation whether it be in a person's personal life or in the larger world? That is.....beyond the work of redemption?

I think everything I know at this point in my life screams a resounding....NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

But the cool thing is, I'm coming to a place of trust in Him that I can say that I am okay with that. I think I will leave being God to Him.

Is this a fitting video?

HALLELUJAH

I think so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

THE END OF RELIGION


Since I read this quote it has sent many things running through my head. This post is just a few of those things that have come to mind over the past couple days. God in Christ came to make a way for his people out of dead end religions that never had the ability to set anyone free: "When sinful, broken, hurting people are pleasantly surprised at how accepting we are, and religious people are outraged at how accepting we are, there is a good chance we're starting to live like Jesus." -- Bruxy Cavey, in The End of Religion

Religion sets up a paradigm that demands a focus on morality and ethics. Our performance. I heard it once said like this; "When are you going to give up the mistaken notion that Christianity is about a system of ethics?" DO GOOD, GET GOOD, DO BAD, GET BAD. I think that is a quote from the book So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore.

And then this: "Sometimes in an effort to remind people of the cost of the cross, we withhold grace until we are sure they understand their sin. But it is in giving of our grace that we remind people that they need to go to Jesus to find their own. People understand their sin without our help. It's grace they need help in understanding."

Grace is what begins the process of transformation in ourselves and others. Law, moral codes and ethics leave people in a place of fear or superiority by keeping our focus on the flesh and the mind set on the flesh is not a good thing...it's death. It's a dead end loop of performance in an attempt to earn something that is already ours. It makes me think of this that Paul said to the Galatians.

Galatians 3
Faith Brings Righteousness

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
4 Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?
5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?


Faith and union with Father, Son, and Spirit is about ceasing from our works...entering Father's rest and being set free indeed. Religion sometimes might use this language but the reality of it seems to remain something unattainable for most and keeps in place the competition. As long as others can be found that are worse off than we are we can feel better about ourselves.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UNCERTAINTY


Nothing has been what I'd guessed so far.

Unforeseen, this most sweet, beautiful change.
-------------------------------------
from Beautiful Change by The Innocence Mission

Monday, March 24, 2008

TRUTH AND REALITY


This is part of a post I wrote last night (actually early in the morning at 2:30 having once again been awakened and not able to get back to sleep for the second night in a row) and submitted on another forum in a discussion about the difference between Truth and Reality but thought I would add it here also. Maybe someone can use it?

I know many of you are familiar with some of my story and I think much of it speaks to what I was stuck in...the difficulty that's brought on by this battle between Truth and Reality. I couldn't "see" Truth due to being governed by that which is seen...Reality. I found out that to find freedom, or to find Truth, demanded that I step outside the reality that I was being controlled by. Faith for the first time in my life began to be birthed in that new place, faith being the evidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen. Or at least that's how I would explain it today.

Here is something taken from an article I found on the web that you might find interesting reading? It's linked below this excerpt.

"In most of these situations something good and necessary has been either corrupted or blown up out of proportion, so that it dominates what it should be subject to. Such lack of proportion involves the dialectic between reality and truth, in the case of images and language. Our attention has focused on the tangible to such an extent that we no longer consider truth to carry any serious weight.

Reality deals with fixed things not open to discussion, things which one can only observe. It forces us to conform. Truth, like the word, is infinitely open-ended and invites reflection, response, relationship, and dialogue. Reality refuses to allow us the distance necessary so that we can be critical of what we are considering. In modern society we tend to accept truth only if it bears on reality -- specifically scientific reality -- which has become our ultimate truth.

In the same vein, we tend to believe words only if they have some visual evidence supporting them. Whatever cannot be expressed through images seems to us to have no genuine importance, or even existence."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

AHHHHH...SHE'S BACK HOME


My senior went on a cruise this past week through Central America with three friends and the parents of one of the girls. Believe it or not Dad did not have one moment of fear or worry about her being gone. I think I have let go and believe it or not, as good as this relationship has always been, it has never felt more healthy.

But goodness gracious I missed my daughter/friend. It's good to have her home and I am so glad she was able to have this exerience.

THE LOVE THAT HEALS


I woke up around 4:00am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep so I ended up here at the computer. The house is quiet while everyone else is drifting away in their dreams. I hope they are peaceful dream. It seems these days many people are having a difficult time finding peace.


While checking up on The Shack forum I was reminded of a blog post from WindRumors so I linked over there to read it. I have it linked at the end of this post if anyone is interested in reading it...or like myself, for many of you, that would be "reading it again" but it is worth it.

It reminded me of this post I made yesterday and how I had allowed for a moment, my sense of obligation to rob me. All was not lost though. It turns out there was a purpose and a lesson being worked out in that also. In no way had hopelessness set in on me but what had happened for a time was, I began to take on something much bigger than I need to take on. It's not my job to change other people's minds about things. I'm just called to live and if that act of living helps move someone from where they are to somewhere else so they might find more freedom that is wonderful, but I don't have to attempt to make it happen. I certainly don't want to move back into a place of violating others by attempting to pull them from where they are to where I might think they need to be. It's easier than we think to end up back in a place like that instead of loving and serving them.

I ran into Truth again this morning, He had actually never left and it was all brought back into focus. Just live and love and serve and then live and love and serve some more. I can't change the world but when I live outside the confines of what might socially seem "safe" and "right" to the tribe (ways of thinking) I was born in, it might just be the thing that changes someone so that they can see past what seems "safe" and "right" to the tribe they grew up in. Who knows where the ripples of those encounters might reach?

Here is portion taken from Wllie's blog:

"I understand! It’s not about the actual elements of the story. It is really about the Truth…that is what truly matters. It is not about me meeting the Good Samaritan, it is about me meeting the Truth."

"Exactly!" And now I am dancing inside and I too understand in a way I had not before. "The kindness of God has no boundaries; not social, not religious, not political. The choices made by the Samaritan are contrary to all the hate and prejudice so much a part of the world we live in."

"In fact," now he jumps in, "the Samaritan was the only truly free man in the story. No one else is free. And Jesus calls him the ‘Good’ Samaritan because he is exhibiting the very life of the only Good One, who we know is only God."

Now the tears are flowing and I am wiping my own off my face.

"You know what this means?" His face is full of light. "It can be me. I can be the Good Samaritan. I can be the one who is free. I don’t have to do what my hurt and pain tell me. It can be me that acts with the goodness of God…me!"

FICTION-TRUTH-REALITY-AND-ALL-THAT-STUFF

Saturday, March 22, 2008

THE ONE WE NEED THE MOST


Video
Over The Rhine

The last time I saw Jesus
I was drinking bloody mary’s in the South
In a barroom in New Orleans
Rinsin’ out the bad taste in my mouth

She wore a dark and faded blazer
With a little of the lining hanging out
When the jukebox played Miss Dorothy Moore
I knew that it was him without a doubt

I said the road is my redeemer
I never know just what on earth I’ll find
In the faces of a stranger
In the dark and weary corners of a mind

She said, The last highway is only
As far away as you are from yourself
And no matter just how bad it gets
It does no good to blame somebody else
Ain’t it crazy
What’s revealed when you’re not looking all that close
Ain’t it crazy
How we put to death the ones we need the most

I know I’m not a martyr
I’ve never died for anyone but me
The last frontier is only
The stranger in the mirror that I see

But when I least expect it
Here and there I see my savior’s face
He’s still my favorite loser
Falling for the entire human race

TO REMAIN STUCK OR TO BREAK FREE


I had such an emotional morning at work today. I was asked a few different times from clients if everything was okay. In one way I knew things weren't okay, I was very sad and very troubled and in another way I felt more alive personally then ever and so keenly aware of it. The emotion that was stirring right under the surface threatening to burst like a dam was due to a longing I have. It's a burden for others that are stuck. We all have these things...some more than others...but this morning I was acutely aware of how most people don't want to take an honest look into themselves. It's just easier to hold your familiar ground and demand that everyone else move. Everyone I talked to this morning fell into this category.

In the midst of all of these conversations this morning something a friend shared with me awhile back also continued to reverberate through my mind. It was the other thing that threatened to sweep me away in emotion. This is what I am longing to see for others that are trapped (STUCK) in fear...to see them move outside that space that might be familiar and feels safe and right but in reality it is a prison and is a big part of perpetuating the fear and suspicion many hold towards others.

Although every human being is a universe within their very being...
some hardly dare explore outside the bare house they grew up in.
A few travel to the edge of their inner town,
fewer still to other cities.
But is rare to find one that has lifted from the ground
to set sail for places undiscovered.
Fly high...

This morning's conversations were about race relations in our country. But this is just one example. Do we dare look beyond what we presently think and believe or will we stay within the house we grew up in?

Friday, March 21, 2008

SIN AND THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY IT COMES WITH MANY DIFFERENT FACES


SOME MORE FROM HOPE AGAINST DARKNESS


"To attack the person out there is usually to simply continue the problem, because he or she is a victim, too. The reason people do evil, why they hate, sin, make mistakes is because somewhere they have been hurt, rejected, excluded or wounded. They just keep passing it on. And the cycle repeats and spreads. Jesus, you could say, came to break and even stop the cycle. Punitive behavior only continues the same old game and, I am afraid, most of the Church itself has yet to understand this. We still think it is about forcing conformity instead of seeking true interior transformation. True transformation always demands that we pay the price for the other's growth. We would rather punish and coerce a response. God is much more patient." Richard Rohr
I know that God is much more patient...I see that in the incarnation and the grace that broke into my world and is at work changing me. How can I not extend that to others?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ARE YOU SICK OF THE BIBLE BEING USED AS A WEAPON?


I am.


How much more damage and suffering has been added on top of the damage and suffering that is already here? Unfortunately too much.

Several conversations that have been going on for a few days now, led me to grab Jacques Ellul's book Anarchy and Christianity from my book shelf tonight. Humans for some reason love LAW...I don't get it. I really don't get it. But at the same time I do. People are afraid. God, as described by Jesus, is a Father and he is Wholly Other. HE LOVES US LIKE NO OTHER. That's Wholly Other.

I've grown so tired of people using the bible as a proof text and letting fear be their guide when all fear was for was to get our attention. LAW LEAVES US IN A PLACE OF FEAR ...THAT IS ALL. IF PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR how the hell can fear remain a part of our relationship with the One Jesus referred to as Father? If he is an abusive schizophrenic father that vacillates between being pissed off enough to smash us at one moment and threatening us and then telling us to refer to him as Abba (Papa) the next he is not Wholly Other. There have been a lot of those fathers that exist in this broken world.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that people who read the bible text and see a god that is to be feared have not met perfect love yet. I read the text much differently today and I see a Father who loves us more than we can even fathom revealed there. I think the writers were the ones that vacillated because they had not yet been completely set free either and the most repeated statement in the text had not yet penetrated the depths of their fears. DO NOT BE AFRAID.

I know better of our Father and it changes everything.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ANOTHER WASHOUT HERE IN ST. LOUIS...BUT DON'T LOSE HOPE




It so interesting (funny) how impatient people are. Two days of rain and people are complaining already like it has been raining for a year or something. I told a few folks today I must have been a duck in a previous life...two days in and I am still loving it. Anyway, it is what it is. I was talking to adults today, you would think by now having gone through years of the process of weather they would realize THIS TOO SHALL PASS. But it seems to be something most people are stuck in attempting to fight it. I think it has to do with living in the illusion that we are in control or can gain control by an act of will...or in this case complaining. Who knows?
Now that is the crazy behavior weather can bring out in people, but what about the seasons in life when the Spirit has gone to work on something in us, the process of setting us free from something that keeps us from living in the reality of who we really are? Do we rest in those moments or do we complain and scramble about thinking that we can change it all and hurry up the process by an act of will or complaint? Not that any of that stuff keeps the Spirit from accomplishing and finishing the work that has been set in motion, but it does have the potential of making us look rather silly at times...(Remember me and The Jerk clip?) Who knows, maybe it is just the way it is with most of us but I want to believe not. I think as we come to know God's character and his goodness that is extended towards us for our healing and we come to know our identity in Him and that the process brings forth some really sweet fruit, we can begin to rest in the process of the on going transformation. It doesn't mean that it is easy but the pain might be lessened and the length of time required might be shortened if we stopped fighting the one that has come to save us from drowning in the storm.

"Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusion. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it in his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it."-- Eugene Peterson.

Monday, March 17, 2008

THERE IS ALWAYS A PURPOSE


We are having a lovely rainy spring day here in St. Louis MO and I do love it. I love all the sounds. I love the smells. And I love what it brings with it. Beneath the surface of the ground many things are happening. Many things that will bring forth something beautiful. As sure as the sun rises and sets and in the stillness of the night the moon takes it's place, we are certain that these beautiful changes that are stirring will burst forth.

I'm feeling some thunder rolling in my life at present time. It's been with me my entire adult life and I wait patiently for the wider spaces of freedom that are still out there (or maybe more accurately still inside me) to be found. It's something I cannot escape as long as I live in this world but over the past few years I have been enjoying the fruits of some incremental changes that have happened in me with regards to this.

It's one of those things that affects and touches every area of every ones life. I think that when it comes to family life it is one of the most difficult things for people to come together on and unfortunately most settle for the usual power and control structures which in far too many situations ends up destroying relationships. What happened a couple years ago began to change the way I had always approached it in my life. It is through those changes that I feel freer today from the destructive patterns that had previously been a part of me.

Money is a part of our lives we cannot separate ourselves from but we can live free of it's power. I'm freer today personally than I have ever been in my life. "Things" have no seductive power over me anymore. Unfortuately though, the control that the economic systems holds over myself and my family is an issue. But I sense the days where it dictates to us what we must do have peaked and freedom in this area will continue to become more and more a reality as we walk on moment by moment. That became more possible once I began to see the lie of "financial security" for what it was.

All of this fits right into the middle of everything that has been going on in my life for the past few years. It is a part of the effects of power and control on our lives and how we live with others, I think especially with us who have been raised and shaped by the script of the western world. It is such a corrupting lie. Success just means something so totally different to me these days. Money is what it is and only what it is...a necessity. But it has nothing to do with the freedom for which Christ set us free. A good case could be made that it actually is something that stands in the way of that freedom. Not money in and of itself...but how we "see" it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

THE PASSING OF TIME SOMETIMES HAS A WAY OF SHINING A DIFFERENT LIGHT ON THINGS

My daughter asked me today if I knew who the artist is that was singing the song she was listening to. It was Sinead O'Connor. Turns out that this was the second time she had popped up in conversation in as many days. I had just had a discussion with a client the day before when her name came to mind. My client is Catholic and had brought up the controlling manipulation a growing number of Catholics she knows are feeling coming from the hierarchy of their religious system. She brought up the sexual abuse scandal that for years this same hierarchy chose to ignore. It reminded me of Sinead's Saturday Night Live performance that ended up trashing her career. Did the religious system destroy her in an attempt to hide their secret? From what I have always understood, on that very night she was protesting the ongoing refusals of the Catholic Church in her country to face this nightmare of child abuse that was going on and more than likely other problems that arise from systems that attempt to control others through the use of power and fear.

You can watch it here.

***Here is something from Sinead today. This is beautiful***

Friday, March 14, 2008

WHAT'S ON GOD'S IPOD? EVERYTHING

God is particularly fond of these two.
I am also and their music has been such an inspiration to me over the past several years. Here is a link to a 5 part interview with Linford and Karin of Over The Rhine.

ATTEMPT TO LIVE IN ABSOLUTES AND CERTAINTIES IF YOU MUST

I choose to live humbled by the mystery of it all.

Whether it is pictures of galaxies taken by the Hubble Telescope or even the more complicated human, the only created being in which Father Son and Spirit have come to dwell within, mystery just seems to be something we need to get used to.

JOB 38 video















Thursday, March 13, 2008

HOPE AGAINST DARKNESS


A friend just returned to me my copy of Richard Rohr's book Hope Against Darkness and I picked it up today and this is the first thing I read.


"People say they do not want to give way on important moral issues, but far too often they don't want to give way on the ego's need to be right, superior and in control."


Later he says this:


" Who of you can say with total certitude that you know you're doing God's will? I don't any day of my life, and it's very unsatisfying. That's what it means to "bear the mystery," to hang with Jesus on the horns of the human dilemma, to agree to find God in a clearly imperfect world. We would much sooner have certitudes, we would much sooner have order and control and know who the good guys are and the bad guys are. We don't want to hang in this ambiguous, compromised place with Jesus. Most would prefer dogma and perfectly objective morality to biblical faith any day. Certitude allows you to predict and control outcomes, and justify rewards and punishments. That's not all bad. The trouble is that it is not the message that shouts from the cross."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

RESTING AND WATCHING IT ALL UNFOLD


I'm just back home from having dropped my friend Paul Young off at the airport for his trip back home to his family. What a wonderful time myself and my family have had the past few days having him hang with us and with some of my friends. On Monday two other friends, Dan and John from Kansas City came and joined us, and the conversations whether around the dinner table sharing a meal or in the living room sharing the things we are all learning about this wonderful Father we all share, the time was so rich. Having Paul meld into my family and immediately feel so much like he belonged here was another one of those experiences that demonstrated the deep connection we all have with each other. I was so blessed sitting back watching him interact with my three daughters and how they were so drawn to him. He so quickly picked up on the uniqueness of each one of them and their characters and built them up with such love and care. I could see all three of them beaming with such confidence and encouragement from the moment he began to interact with them.


Last night another couple (long time friends of ours) opened their home up for us and a group of our friends. 6 hours passed so quickly and yet at the same time was filled with such deep sharing of relationship and conversation about the character of God and our misconceptions about him and our identity and misconceptions about that as well. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by these friends and to be living so aware of the presence of Father, Son and Spirit being a part of this circle. Whether it is just me, or my family, or in the company of friends, they are here. They don't have to be invited and it has come to sound so odd for me when I hear people ask for them to "come and join us". The reality is...they never leave us.


Paul shared something with me that just so expresses what I felt these last few days as I sat among friends and what has over the past couple years continued to grow as a reality in my life and I sense is growing in many other people I know. I can't remember who he said he heard this from but it is so beautiful and full of the life we all have been invited into. Unity and Diversity in the Community of The Trinity. There is no better way of describing what this is all about. And I couldn't have been more full of joy and peace than I was over the past few days resting within the family (community) that is being joined together through Father, Son and Spirit. It really is a beautiful wondrous thing.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

RELIGION AND CHRIST'S FREEDOM JUST DON'T MIX

The painful part of the process of walking into Christ's freedom just seems impossible to avoid. Law is suppose to expose our inability to perform well enough to ever feel at peace, but the Christian religion so often immediately steps in and offers a new set of performances and often the process of internal transformation is aborted and then the illusion of freedom Ellul often speaks of fills the void.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

THE FEAR OF FREEDOM




Freedom always confronts the individual with painful contradictions and with responsibilities that he must exercise in the face of choices and risks. The individual never likes that; he much prefers a necessary, inevitable, clear course: in this way at least no time is lost in deliberation, and there is no binding responsibility. The individual is always ready to submit to necessity, as long as freedom's vocabulary is preserved, so that he can equate his servile obedience with the glorious exercise of a free, personal choice.

I picked up Jacques Ellul's book The Ethics of Freedom again this afternoon and was skimming it to ponder some of his thoughts along with some of the things I have been thinking about. I am convinced that freedom really does scare most people and I think Ellul in his comment above describes the condition most live in. Most talk about freedom, all the while they are not free at all.

Religion shapes people to say...."Tell me what to do...define a list for me and I will do it"...and then we live in fear of wandering outside those boundries unsure of what will happen to us if we do. This is law and can never produce freedom. Conformity and rebellion are just the opposite sides of the same coin and there is no freedom to be found there. But as you will read below Ellul describes religious conformity to be the most dangerous because it produces the strongest illusion. Jesus in his telling of the prodigal son story was saying the same thing.

"Innumerable works of sociology are based on the uncritical and undemonstrated and irrational assumption of human freedom. The incurable tendency should warn us that of all the factors in human life freedom needs the most cautious handling and is the most illusory.

This is the more true because, as we have seen, man does not want to live as free man. He fears freedom but wants to say that he is free. Freedom in Christ comes under this rules too. Since the illusion of freedom constantly recurs, Christians as men continually interpret the feeblest conformity as Christian freedom, but are unable to see it in and of themselves. Indeed they are the first to fall victim to the illusion just because they know that there is a liberating love of God.

When the non-Christian accepts the illusion of being free he has no firm basis for this and so his belief is fragile and can easily be overturned. But Christians have the assurance that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Obeying human nature they quickly change this solid reference into intolerable vanity. Their fall is even greater. Since freedom leads them to this illusion shared by all, they are more effectively alienated than before they knew they were freed, for their alienation rests now on the conviction that they are free in Christ and it is thus a perversion of freedom. They are also doubly alienated, falling back under the common determinations and yet imagining that they are free in Christ. Confusion of the freedom given by God with a freedom native to man; confusion of the act of grace with nature, brings them under the bondage of an illusion of freedom."

Friday, March 07, 2008

THE AUTHOR OF THE SHACK ON THE 700 CLUB

Here is a link where you can watch an interview with Paul Young on the 700 club that was aired today March 7th. You can watch it here

I put this interview up just in case my friend Linda pops in here. She seemed to be left with many concerns about Paul and the message of the book after she read it. Hearing him explain some of the process of this book being written will at least introduce her to him in a little more personal way.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

CONTROLLING OTHERS


Aida got me to thinking this morning about our propensity to be caught up in the cycle of exercising control over others and most of the time I think people live unaware of that being what they are actually doing. Or even worse, and this unfortunately is the case for many...believing this is actually helpful to people. This picture popped up in a story on the web this morning and seemed to fit so well. This is a boss using controlling behavior with an employee. I understand why this is the norm in our society in the business world, but it also is a great example of how this way of attempting to move people to do what we want them to do might be beneficial to keep a system running but is not helpful in building healthy, loving relationships.
I don't have much hope in the business world or any of the systems we are surrounded by changing their methods. Conformity through the use of fear, shame and guilt seems to be the accepted norm. But I have great hope for individuals who are being set free through reconciled relationships with Father, being freed from fear and all the ways fear has twisted us. Now these people I can see living free of the dysfunction caused by sin, shame, guilt and fear, and learning to love, serve and sacrifice for others instead of attempting to control and manipulate them to get what we want and what we have determined is "good" for them.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

IN RESPOSE TO A CONVERSATION I HAD TODAY


Here is a link to Wayne Jacobsen's blog where he addresses the question: Is The Shack heresy?


Today I had a dear client I have known for several years, express some concern, I'm assuming for me, after she had read the book. I actually really enjoyed the conversation we had today. Anyway, my trust in Father has grown so much and I really do feel perfectly secure in Him. I told her that I know the people involved with this story and I could without hesitation assure her that there is no New Age plot that any of these men would be promoting. It's not up to me though whether she accepts that defense of these brothers I have come to love and so appreciate? I know she pops in here from time to time so I decided to link to Wayne's response so she could read if it she happens to stop by here again.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

AT THIS MOMENT I THINK THE ROBINS HAVE THE BETTER GIG




Having just returned to the warm
interior of my home after
pushing the snow from the driveway...

I'm thinking that sitting in the tree
with the robins would be easier? I'm not sure though?
That's a lot of snow to move.
Now back to just enjoying it all.

WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AT TIMES






















It began snowing around 9am this morning and by 11:30 there was close to 5" on the ground. We have close to 8" now and it is 1:oo. It's suppose to snow until late afternoon and at this rate who knows how much will be on the ground.


I do love snow and I do love how it has a way of shutting things down for awhile. That is unless you are stuck in a car or in an airport....but I am not. I'm at home now, 4 hours earlier because my afternoon appointments cancelled. The drive home was exhilarating to say the least. I called my friend Dan to share the experience with him because I knew it would make him so thankful that he was in KC where it is sunny today.
I love conifers under any condition, but conifers in the snow have such a surreal feel about them. I would love to take a walk today through the Missouri Botanical Garden's Japanese Garden and snap some pictures of the majestic Japanese Black Pines that have been carefully trained into sculptures.
A day like today really does cause me to stand in awe...just like a cool spring or fall day under clear blue skies would. I love it.
Now snap out of it Kent and go shovel the driveway.

Monday, March 03, 2008

GOOD FRIENDS...BEAUTIFUL SITE







The time spent on the Golf Journey as Dan calls it was such a wonderful time. Dan set up a link with some of the pictures he snapped so I decided to share a couple of them.
Playing Trump National was certainly a treat and I can't think of two brothers I would have rather been with. That's me, the little guy in the middle. Wayne is on the left and Dan is on the right.
Dan and another friend are heading here to my home in St. Louis from Kansas City next monday while another friend is here from out of town for a few days. I'm looking forward to the three days with friends talking about the journey and sharing a little of it with each other.

Rob, we still have to get a golf trip planned with you this summer. We'll talk.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

LIVING IN AN AREA WHERE STORM FRONTS COLLIDE



It was in the upper 70s today. I washed my truck and was drenched in sweat. Now we have had a winter weather watch issued for our area tomorrow and Tuesday. Sleet, freezing rain, changing over to snow. A possible 6 + inces by storms end.

It will more than likely be this way now until at least the first of April or so. Back and forth. It always makes for a pretty sight though. I'm really okay with winter here in the midwest, it is our hot humid summers I could do without. But Spring and Fall are so wonderfully delightful except for the ever looming threat of tornadoes that happens around here as the tension between Winter and
Spring heat up.

MY DAUGHTER'S MUSIC SITE




Okay, I have mentioned my girls here before, that's not new. I have posted information about my oldest daughter's acceptance into Dance School for the fall.

Here is a little from my 14 yr. old. As you will see, she has a passion for music. She began to teach herself guitar back in August last year. She's taking lessons now. The recordings are rough having been done by other 12-14 yr. olds on a cheap digital camera. I still find it fun to watch and listen to. It's fun as a parent watching them and their friends enjoy their teenage years.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?











Here are a few pictures of my garden when it has been cared for. A related story follows.

























I heard the question in the title of this post echo through the house many many times while I was in the process of developing my garden and the following years as I spent much time in it unwinding. It didn't matter if it was actually working in it or resting in one of the sitting areas, all the time spent there felt like a beautiful way to unwind. The answer my wife would receive and that I would hear though the open windows seemed to always be the same as one of my three daughters would respond to their mom's query. He is in the garden. After awhile of hearing that, I actually changed my email address to nthegarden to reflect this echo that became such a common occurrence.


Turns out that within the enjoyment I found in this passion and love I had to create and to get my hands dirty, there was a bit of escapism. I also knew that contained within my wonderful wife's question was a great deal of frustration. We both were stuck.

For the past two growing seasons the garden has been a bit left on her own. Not completely forgotten in any stretch of the imagination but to the point that last year I heard my wife express this several times. It's sad that you haven't taken care of your garden like you used to.

I'm so amazed at the transformation process my family has been immersed in now for many many years. Most of it turns out to have been very very painful. 18 years to be specific, and during those years, being able to see through the pain, frustration and exhaustion, so as to see all the wonderful beautiful things we all were surrounded by was difficult at at times. All of us are in the process of being healed and our relationships are healthier than ever and we continue to move into a deeper realization of this truth.

The garden is still a mess at this time more so than ever, but underneath, it's beauty remains, and it longs for a tender touch of a caring gardener...or gardeners. My wife told me the other day that she wanted to spend time in the garden this year with me taking care of it. I think there is another garden coming to life? I know there is, I've been watching it happen over the past two years right before my eyes. I blogged awhile back about gardens being depictions of our lives. You can read it here.
Our relationships are becoming healthier than ever due to some caring hands. Papa, Jesus and Sarayu have been making themselves very real over these past two years and nothing compares to their caring hands. But as they have been at work healing my family, I see the transformation that is taking place and some other hands are being transformed to reflect the care we are experiencing from the three of them. I worked so hard for so long to make all of this happen and just added to the already existing mess. Self-effort has a way of doing this. Through it all I have come to recognise another providential act of God. The frustration, exhaustion, anger, and pain turns out to have been a wonderful thing, it was the end of the insanely twisted self-effort that I had convinced myself was a good thing. The end of that way of living has been beneficial to us all.