Thursday, July 31, 2008

WHAT A DESTRUCTIVE COMBINATION

I hope I am wrong in what I am about to say but I really wonder.

This combination of a "culture stripped of grace" and a culture so trapped in perfomance that demands that we as individuals, and then in regards to our families, that they be nothing short of "braggable," creates I think a rather destructive cocktail.

I think the dysfunction and abuse goes much deeper than is even seen on the surface. But when punishment and judgement is all that awaits those who bring these damaging behaviors to the light...they more often than not just remain in the dark and the "braggable" facade is what is presented...and the pain and hurt continues.

Father we need some help out of this mess.

Say a prayer for Rebecca today....and tomorrow.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MAKES


I have been enjoying (again) reading through a studying on the cross this morning that I read several months back. I was reminded of it in a conversation dealing with whether God the father separated himself (turned his face away) from Jesus the son when Jesus was on the cross. I grew up believing the answer to that question was yes because my understanding had been shaped by the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Let's say my understanding has been set free from that legal-transaction interpretation of what God was doing TO Christ on the cross....and today I see it through an understanding of what God the father was doing while IN the son on the cross. I think it changes everything.

So, I'm posting the link to this study Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor written by Derek Flood

Here is a sample: He is using the term Satisfaction-Doctrine to describe the often taught Penal Substitutionary Atonement doctrine.

"In Satisfaction-Doctrine's system God is seen primarily as "judge", and since a judge must be impartial, and detached, this judicial image was projected onto God and we saw God's kingdom in these legal terms. This is the opposite of the image of God that we see reflected in Jesus. Jesus is not impartial but passionately defends the voiceless and the marginalized; he shows us that God is not distant and detached but here--- Emanuel: "God with us" - close to the broken hearted, deeply caring about us. So the first problem with the Satisfaction-Doctrine is that since it sees life exclusively through a legalistic framework, it takes the love and the relational aspects out of the cross (which are absolutely essential to its understanding) and turns it into a calculated legal transaction. Reason-based rather than revelation-based. Rather than letting the revelation of who Jesus is as revealed in Scripture revolutionize our understanding of who God is, Satisfaction-Doctrine takes a medieval understanding of justice and projects this man-made image onto God."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WARY AMBIVALENCE

The more clearly I see this world system, through the practice of critical thought, the less and less impressed I am. The more and more my heart, mind and soul is healed and opened up by the love of the Creator for that which he has created the harder it becomes for myself to find many things to be proud of as far as what humanity has given us in the mad dash of survival. But here is where we find ourselves called to live everyday. Systemic problems are created by the systems the fallen mind conjures up and I'm just not interested anymore in wasting my time thinking up and fighting for new improved system of any kind...political, economic, social, or religious.

Love is the only thing that can set us free and help us learn to remain free as we live within these oppressive systems that we are surrounded by and yet at the same time not be of them. Help us Lord to do this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

THERE'S SOMETHING ON MY MIND THIS MORNING

I'm learning to live within the trust of Father, Son, and Spirit...I'm just not uptight about it anymore.

"It's all a part of the timing of grace, Mack," Jesus began, "If the universe contained only one human being, timing would be rather simple. But add just one more, and...well, you know the story. Each choice ripples out through time and relationships, bouncing off other choices. And out of what seems to be a huge mess, Papa weaves a magnificent tapestry. Only Papa can work this out, and he does it with...grace."---Willian P Young

"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

Monday, July 28, 2008

WHAT A GREAT QUESTION


TOUGH REALITIES TO TALK ABOUT

As someone mentioned in the comment section on the previous post, these issues of religion and patriotism are difficult things to discuss. Such fear has been placed in all of us with regards to these things taking a critical look at what we've grown up believing usually never is allowed to happen. Not only do we have our own personal fears and strongholds in our minds to get past the culture at large and the religious sub-culture just pummels anyone who dares tread into a place of critical reflection and if that doesn't work in getting the one who is asking questions "back on the farm" marginalizing them usually will succeed because we are relational creatures and being isolated turns out to be to painful. It's still stunning to me that this is the case when history has shown us time and time again that blindly following the Powers turns out to be dangerous practice.

In most cases one who begins to question is automatically accused of siding with the opposition. In some cases this very well could be true...but what if it is not the case? What if it really has to do with dealing with things in an honest way? Why is that seen as a bad thing? One would think that it would be a good thing to face and accept that religion by nature is caught up in a performance/obligation "earn your way" paradigm that just seems to be antithetical to what Jesus accomplished for us...but more often than not this criticism is met with fierce opposition and denial.

Democratic governments seem to have created a dynamic that doesn't exist in other forms of government where people aren't allowed a voice in what government does. What are we to do when we have come to a time when most people I talk to say they are only voting for the lesser of two evils? This is just something that is so difficult for me to understand when it comes to the community of faith. How can someone in good conscience vote for someone who they describe as the lesser of the evil being offered? Why am I looked upon as if I have two heads when I ask someone this? It just leaves me scratching my head. Now I must admit it wasn't that long ago that I was in such a place saying the same things and making the same arguments. I just can't do it anymore in good conscience. And let me be clear here, I'm not attempting to convince anyone of what they should believe. I'm just left wondering what it is that keeps people in fear of asking the questions about things that just don't seem to square with what Jesus said about the Powers that set themselves in opposition to him...the same Powers that seem to be up to the same things today.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

THE MALFORMING EFFECTS OF RELIGION

What a dilemma we find ourselves in, living in a nation that seems stuck in the myth that it was birthed out of something that was pleasing to God that in turn secured his seal of approval on this nation above all others. What will it take for us to face this misnomer so we can begin afresh with a clearer view of Jesus and his message of reconciliation grounded in Jesus not the Americanized version of Jesus that has been so perverted by the blending of the cross and the flag?

Ever since the counter cultural nature of the gospel message has been co-opted by hierarchical institutions, the Way the Truth and the Life has been more difficult to find. It's the nature of the malforming effects of religion. It has a blinding effect because it is often using enough of the right language to keep us fooled but it is still religion non the less. Jesus came to set us free and the human activity of creating systems (which all function as hierarchies) can't survive within an atmosphere of such freedom because they function by fear based conformity, but the religious version is just a "tougher-to-recognize" manifestation of law.

Religion just exacerbates the dilemma humanity is caught in by taking the only liberating message that has been given to us to show us the door into freedom, that has been opened up for us by the work of Jesus, and instead deepens the malformation caused by sin and shame by subverting that liberating message into a list of dos and don'ts. The whole mess seems to create a people that seem less compassionate than a lot of the people that claim they don't even believe in God the creator. That alone should tell us something. My heart's cry is that the tide is turning in America and civil religion will continue to see her malforming influence on society dwindle away.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WHAT'S GOING ON IN REGARDS TO THE SHACK?

For 27 months now this little story has been a part of my life. The personal aspect of it I have talked often about on this blog but today it is somethings else that is on my mind. I am still some what amazed at the tidal wave that has formed around a book that began as a ripple. No big advertising push, no big money, no help from the established publishing world...just a story. But it's not just a story is it?

I love that this book is provoking people. We need provoked.....at least I know I did...do. Actually the last several posts I have made have been about some of the things that have provoked me over the past couple years and just rattled my sense of understanding and the way I had settled into life. It's been startling to say the least. Which brings me to what has been on my mind lately about The Shack. The Shack is the most accessable counter cultural book I have probably ever read which leads me to this question: If that is true, which I think it is, why has it struck such a cord with so many people when most times, most people just flow with the status quo? Here's what I think part of it is and this is an observation I have made over the past several years working in a profession that seems to draw people out in such a way that they tell their hairstylist things they don't tell many other people. It's really true. I'm a low cost dumping ground and I love this job more today than I ever have.

People are worn out, frustrated, sick of the pace, angry, feeling used by everyone, frustrated at the government, the media, feeling pulled by an economic system that demands everything from them and then dumps them when they no longer are of value to the system, and at the end of the day people are just down right freaked out and scared. Then they turn to religion and on their most honest days they know deep in their gut that religion has left them cold and empty and has left them in their anger, frustration, and fear and yet afraid to admit it. This book seems to be giving people the permission to admit it. It's a wonderful thing...honesty about one's self that is.

The Shack addresses all of this and it seems to be doing it through a back door. It's so gentle in it's approach and we who have been battered by the friggin in-your-face-storm that this world system hammers us with are longing for something that is different. This story is different than what is being offered by the world and the religions of the world and yet it is a message that has been here for so long and yet we haven't been able to hear it because of all the noise.

Jesus has always had a way of using the back door and he has always been sensitive to the suffering of people caused by sin and brokenness and the world system that just uses people and the religious system that says it cares but most often seems to not understand Jesus or his father and the message of hope, salvation, redemption and reconciliation. The world and religion hasn't changed any....and neither has Jesus.

I just heard today that The Shack is still increasing in sales at a rate that is confounding those watching. At this point who knows where this is going? I love it that way, the uncontrollable nature of it all. It reminds me of Jesus and the things he said and the things he did and the effect it had on those watching and even more so on those with the courage to say I'm sick of this game and you Jesus seem to have the words of eternal life.

THE SITUATION IN WHICH WE FIND OURSELVES


As I was catching up with the blogs I like to read, Baxter Kruger was the first to have added a new post since last time, as I ran down that list. And he seems to touch on some of the things I have been pondering in my last few posts about truth and reality. Baxter often talks about us needing the prescription changed on our glasses which also reminds me of hearing Paul Young say that we all continue to want our oil changed but unless we have the filter changed along with it we will continue to process things in the same way. I believe this is what Ellul is basically speaking of also in his book The Humiliation of the Word, the book (content) that I have been processing openly here over the past few days, well actually for the past couple years.

So, today I'm going to link to Baxter's blog and let him help out here a little bit since he says it in just a little bit different way. Ellul is certainly diving deeper in his study of why we find ourselves acting as we do in the situation we find ourselves but Baxter draws attention to the problem it creates for us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SOME MORE ON TRUTH

This is from Jacques Ellul taken from his book The Humiliation of the Word.


Now here is the amazing thing: this is a godsend for us. How could we live if our senses advised us that the reality in which we live does not really exist in the final analysis, that it is only a tangle of whirlwinds and illusions? How could I walk if my senses showed me nothing but emptiness in front of me? How could I eat if my senses showed me the utter unreality of what I am eating? Not that everything can be reduced to the impressions of my senses. That is not what I mean. My point is that sight and touch, the senses of certainty, give me the guarantee indispensable for living, concerning a milieu that is strange and foreign to me. My certainty is false as far as exact reality is concerned, but this certainty allows me to live.

Physics or mathematics can teach me many things about reality, but they cannot contradict the unimpeachable evidence of my senses. What do I care about the fact that chemistry can give me the exact formula for the wine I am drinking? That has no effect on the great pleasure I derive from it. (Moreover, when chemists claim to be able to reproduce wine, vanilla, orange extract, etc., on the basis of their exact formulas, the result is always horrible -- at least for those with a sense of taste. In order for me to live, my senses must be right in spite of the scientific analysis of reality

The opposite is just as true. What would become of us if we could grasp truth with unvarying precision and express it without the slightest imperfection or without any uncertainty? What would happen if the means were perfectly adequate for expressing truth? Such a situation would be dreadful and completely unlivable. We would be pinned down once and for all in a butterfly museum. We would be there in all our splendor, unable to move any more, because everything would be said, closed up, and finished: perfect.

We have seen the horror that has resulted in the course of our history every time a person or group has claimed to express truth in its entirety, believing their word to be identical with the truth, or that truth could not be "elsewhere" or "other." This attitude has given legitimacy to all dictatorships, oppressions, falsehoods, and massacres. One person’s word against another’s is the only possible fragile pointer to truth, like a compass quivering in its case. And quite apart from human pretension to have a proud, exclusive corner on truth, even if we could seize truth as it is and transmit it without wasting any of it and without confusion, truth would crush us of its own weight and prevent us from living. In order to live, we need truth to be expressed by the most fragile agent, so that the listener remains free. The uneasiness which enables us to keep going involves knowing that we will never be able to grasp truth in its entirety, or be able to bring our adventure to a close by identifying our life with truth.

Some people, including Christians (I think particularly of my Protestant friends), have the profound conviction that truth is "there." They say, for instance, that "the word of God is expressed in the Bible." Even so, I must be prudent enough to say that this word is conveyed through human language: witnesses who pass it on to other witnesses. And when I hear it, I understand it with my words, my verbal images, and I speak it with my language -- and I am not God, fortunately. If this were not so, human life would be closed. By these statements, I do not reduce the value of revealed truth in the slightest; on the contrary, in this way I respect it and recognize its special dimension and the depth and permanence that make it truth. If I claim to grasp and express it in its entirety, then it is no longer truth.

The connection between Word and Truth is of such a nature that nothing can be known of truth apart from language. This truth establishes itself over the duration of generations (Hebrew toledoth), in the ebb and flow of words, through our fellowship and our misunderstandings. This is where this marvelously human life is located. The most reliable thing speaks to the most uncertain world; my most flexible means expresses what is irrefutable.

ATTEMPTING TO EXPLAIN THAT WHICH IS DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN

Remember I'm just attempting to describe some things I'm thinking differently about these days. I will say though that many of these changes in thinking have been a part of the changes in experience that has happened over the past few years of my life. Where there had been no peace, there is now peace. Where there had been no joy, there is now joy. Where there had been exhaustion and frustration there is now rest and patience. Where there was fear there is now an abiding trust.

It seems that truth expressed in terms like freedom, grace, forgiveness, love, mercy etc. end up making no sense to those governed by reality....and yet they all still exist there and find expression. Yet to those who are still living according to how this realm has shaped them to live---freedom, grace, forgiveness, love, mercy and so on, get twisted along with everything else and end up meaning something other than what they mean...or at least how they find expression. Reality ends up having more of an influence on them then they have on reality. Let me attempt to explain.

All of these truths exist outside of law. This realm we live in is governed by law and people believe it is effective in cleaning up the mess or at least keeping the mess from spiraling out of control, when in actuality law just exacerbates it. And still, this is all people can see as being a possible answer because reality keeps them in a state of fear of everything and everybody.

I've expressed before that I have no reason to believe people in general are even giving any of this much thought. But I am surprised that I lived the majority of my life thinking about and speaking of the message of Jesus and yet continued to miss the profound nature of the truth he was revealing. I've come to attribute that to the fact that the world that surrounds me had control of my heart and mind and my soul. Reality has a way of keeping Sofia (wisdom) standing outside raising her voice to anyone who will listen and yet few do because reality plays games with our senses. For myself religion just complicated it all because reality remained the dominating influence and it put a rather interesting spin on truth.

Killing your enemy some how works along side with loving him as Jesus asked us to do.

Freedom ends up being reduced to something government and the economic systems provides us while Jesus seemed to say they were part of the bondage.

Grace, mercy, and forgiveness end up looking weak and naive when they are the very power of God to set us and the other free.

What I am seeing today tells me that truth being interpreted through the grid of reality (as if they are the same) ends up leaving us with a false sense and understanding of truth. But truth is not changed at all. How we perceive it can't ever change it regardless as to how wrong our perception is. It just dictates how we live. This same dynamic does not apply to reality at all. What I perceive something to be (based upon what I see with my eyes) ends up being my reality whether it is accurate or not. Ask 10 people to describe an event they all watched happen and see how many different explanations you end up with. Our perception of reality is totally based upon our point of reference (the point from which we view it and the mind with which we process it) and that is shaped by many things. And it seems to me that it is this realm of reality that most continue to operate from, hoping against hope that people will see that the side they are standing on is the right side, because they have convinced themselves that what they are seeing is the truth.

What seems to be truth to me these days keeps getting narrowed further and further down to a person and what he accomplished for me and what he invites me to participate with him in. My former complicated life keeps getting simpler and simpler.

Monday, July 21, 2008

TRUTH AND FAITH

When the nature of truth and our relationship with truth is made to be the opposite of what it is, doesn't it end up being problematic for us?

When faith is made out to be the exact opposite of what it is, doesn't that end up creating problems also?

Humans want certainty and absolutes. They want proof and if what they see doesn't confirm what they have heard for themselves or been told by others, they conclude that what they have heard just can't be true. People operating from this paradigm are more governed by what is seen then what is not seen. This creates problems when it comes to Truth and Faith.

When we are governed by what is visible, allowing for mystery, ambiguity and paradox becomes difficult at best and more than likely isn't going to happen. But for those who place their trust and faith in that which cannot be seen they learn to accept mystery, ambiguity and paradox and end up finding rest, peace and joy in that space regardless of what they see. They are able to accept reality for what it is and to see beyond to something much bigger.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

THE RENEWING OF OUR MINDS

I began reading again this week a book I read on-line about 8 months ago. It is a wild read and it deals with something that seems to be so important for us to understand. I've spent a lot of time over the past two years with the writings of Jacques Ellul and Paul Young's book The Shack. Ellul's writings on the surface seems really complicated and I'm sure more difficult to wade through than most people would choose to do. The Shack on the surface is fiction and many people read it through once and find it a pretty easy read and that is pretty accurate. This is confirmed by there being over 2 million copies in cirulation to date.

Both authors are exploring some very monumentally profound things. There have been many people I have talked to that have enjoyed The Shack but I get the feeling at this time at least, that much of it's depth has not yet been noticed? But I trust that it is all a timing thing and an incremental revealing is being set in motion. I hope that is the case because this book is very profound and deep. I see a lot of Ellul in The Shack and I am excited because it makes many of the things he explores in his writings accessible to people that might not ever make the effort to read his works. Ellul might seem complicated but he has a way of simplifying the world and helping us see what freedom in Christ is all about. It's not the complicated impossible thing religion has made it out to be.

The book I am working through again is The Humiliation Of The Word. You can read it online here. I wish I could put into words an explanation that would make sense, but I really don't know how to so that it makes sense. The book deals with the problem we have in knowing truth. The wide spread use of Images has taken root in the world and they work non stop in shaping our minds and they can never be of help when it comes to our pursuit of truth. The book is a study of the difference between reality (which is visual) and truth (which is verbal). Most people often confuse the two, acting as if they are the same thing.

I've been reminded today of the time I spent with Walter Brueggemann, especially his book The Prophetic Imagination, awhile back and how he helped me understand the importance of learning to be able to "think differently" than the way our culture has shaped us to think. You can read about that here. In this case today...to be able to think outside of the images that dominate us and can never be a help in leading us to truth. The images actually stand in the way and they work against the very thing that leads us to truth. The spoken word.

The Truth is of the realm we do not see but we hear it being communicated by words through the Spirit to us directly and through others who have been set free or are in the process of being set free. Images are of the realm of reality, that which we see, and it has nothing to do with Truth...it's just the world that surrounds us.

Words are a means of communication and they can help us understand reality and they can even create reality but the most important function of the word has to do with the domain of truth. Words cross over and are a part of both truth and reality. This cannot be said about the image and it's use. Images only exist in the realm of reality and reality is all images can convey to us. They keep us trapped.

If this is the real situation we find ourselves in it makes the life of faith a difficult one to find unless enough freedom is created so that our minds can be renewed. Religious practice with all it's rites and rituals are of no help to us here because it is of the realm of reality not the realm of truth and even though there is a use of words to communicate (which is how we explore and ask the questions that can lead us to the Truth) the images as Ellul describes, keeps that which is not seen from ever becoming something tangible...in other words, the Ultimate Reality the One who is Wholly Other, never becomes real to us.

Just doing some thinking out loud here this evening.



Saturday, July 19, 2008

FEAR ALL AROUND


I have had a number of experiences this very day that gives me the sense that many people are still governed by the blinding effects of fear more so than they believe in the safety that exists as a reality because of the work Father Son and Spirit have accomplished on our behalf.


"Do not be afraid" speaks to me the reality that there is nothing to fear. Nothing.

FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN HIS STORY AND MORE

Here is a link with several hours of Paul Young the author of The Shack speaking over a 4 day period with a group of people.

Friday, July 18, 2008

THE WILD PLACES











I had this thought yesterday while in a conversation with someone: RELIGION LEAVES US MALFORMED. I don't think that needs any unpacking.


Back when Dan Fogelberg fell asleep to this world I spent a few days traveling down memory lane listening to and watching the endless tributes that fans put together and deposited on You Tube. I was reminded of many things. The first being I fell in love with the acoustic guitar and story telling through his music. Dan certainly had a few too many Lost At Love songs even though they fit the mood of much of my early years...but hey, they worked for him. I guess most of us could relate?

A few days ago I stumbled into Dan's music again and have been reminded of what I think I really connected with when it came to him and his music. It was the Spirit that he was wrestling with. From his first recording Home Free all the way through to his last before he went to be with his savior he sang of the struggle that is life. There were moments like in the song Part of the Plan where Dan expressed doubt with lyrics like this:

There is no eden or
Heavenly gates
That you’re gonna make it to
One day
But all of the answers you seek
Can be found
In the dreams that you dream
On the way.

The recording Souvenirs began with this song and yet meandered along and closed with the hope filled song There Is A Place In The World For A Gambler. Dan always spoke of freeing the Spirit and spent most of his life as an activist fighting injustice and the things that he saw as oppressive to people and their dignity. His heart for the plight of the American Indian and all they had suffered under and continue to suffer under was one such passion, amongst many others in his life.

Now to the thought about religious training leaving people malformed. And this is just one manifestation of it. Why are so many people who are outside the accepted walls of religious practice, but who are on journeys, often wrestling with spiritual things and struggling to make sense of it all, looked upon as being lost souls only deserving of mockings and judgement? My malformation brought on by my religious training left me as one of the mockers for too much of my life living in denial of my own doubts and brokenness. Today I look around me and I see things so differently. Jesus telling the parable of the prodigal son to the Pharisees makes so much sense to me now and I can clearly see that I had become like the malformed older brother mocking the ones like in this story Jesus was saying were closer to freedom...closer to the kingdom of heaven.

Dan Fogelberg and others like him seem to have stayed farther away from the effects of religious malformation than I did. But thanks to God the Father for Jesus our brother, and the reality of this being about a journey and a process of transformation unto freedom and that he never mocks us or judges us nor does he ever give up on us as if we are a lost cause. Aren't you glad?

Listen to Along The Road
Musically this is not one of my favorite Dan songs but the message is appropriate: Don't Lose Heart

And I love this old Spiritual: Wandering Shepherd

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER


Yesterday's simple little post opened up such a wonderful time of thinking and resting for me from some chaotic things that had been attempting to press in and do what they do....drag us from the place of rest and peace and joy that belong to those learning to live in God's presence, regardless as to what is going on around us. The thing that seems to always be at the center of that place of rest, at least for me, is a clearer understanding of this thing of necessity. It's just another way of saying...What is of importance?

When I am at rest in Father Son and Spirit I am so aware of the reality that I am in need of nothing. It also has a way of revealing to us the things we have grabbed that we really don't need. They are extra baggage and they just have a way of weighing us down. In that place of rest, letting them go becomes a much easier choice because rest has a way of helping us see the things of the Spirit set in contrast to the things of the flesh and all the other activities that are creations of the fallen mind.

The first song yesterday spoke to me of living like a gambler when it comes to believing what God has spoken to us and made possible for us through Jesus. When a new space of freedom is being shown us by the Spirit, walking out into it, as an act of faith, feels like a gamble. Well, to the natural mind that is. There is nothing concrete to hold on to. But once we begin to live in an abiding trust of God the Father, taking the gamble becomes much easier. And once we take that step, we come to see it really wasn't risky at all when it comes to the things that matter...we then begin to see that the place we had been occupying can never give us what we long for and are in need of. The only security and peace that exists, exists in the place of learning to abide in them and them in us. That's rest.

The second song, To The Morning, speaks to me of waking up everyday with great anticipation of seeing the unfolding realities of the life lived in the Spirit. Learning to live with open hands, holding everything loosely. The more we have to protect, the less freedom we will experience and then loving becomes impossible. The life in the Spirit has been simplified for me. It's about love and it's about freedom. It's sacrificial not self-serving. And as this reality begins to happen in us the most important question gets answered in a resounding way. To love as Jesus loves is to love as God the Father loves and learning to love like that no longer seems strange. Love guided by grace is not naive or passive even though it seems that way to the fallen mind.....it's the very power of God to transform that which is twisted, broken and enslaved and set it free.

Do we feel like it's a good day to take that gamble?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

HOW I'M FEELING


Just a few moments ago I walked over and picked up my guitar and sat down. Without having given it any thought I just began to play this first song. And all I could say was....yeah, this is how I'm feeling.
And it also turned into a little tribute to a brother of mine.

and......
and...

Monday, July 14, 2008

ALL WE HAVE LEFT IS ALL WE HAVE EVER HAD


We have been distracted and we are in deep trouble. Human depravity mixed to the nth degree with individualism and independence mixed again with the loss of the ability to communicate with each other has brought it all to a screeching halt and it seems we won't even admit it. It's really nothing new and the blindness to it isn't new either. I think the Religions of the world have the majority of this situation hanging around their necks and the one I have been raised in seems to me to be the most confused and problematic.
Judaism and Islam have a non-relational paradigm accept for those in their own tribe. They have no other context to work from other than law and the enforcement of that law they attribute to their god. I understand that. And guess what? They at least love their own better than those in Christianity do. How has the message of Jesus been missed by all of us that say we desire to follow him and then we turn his life and message into another exclusive tribe that sets itself up to compete with all the other religious ideologies and sends out this message which is the same as theirs...Join us or else. And then it marches around to defend itself against all those that disagree.

All we have is what Jesus told us we had and we have so damaged it in our blindness and arrogance, settling for rules and principles and law and our commitment to enforce it on everyone...as if we can. Here's what has been left standing outside, raising her voice for anyone who will listen and respond: It's about a life lived in the love of God the Father and the ability that love gives us to relate to each other in a healthy, non manipulative, non-coercive, sacrificial way.

The only way through this communication brake down and the shattered relationships left in it's wake is by laying our lives down and giving up our demands for everyone to conform to my idea of "Truth".
And don't get me wrong, I am not ignoring that scripture tells us this: Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. I just think we have missed what the Truth is: Jesus and his message of: Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and never forget this one because it is equal...Love your neighbor as yourself. It's obvious the world's religious systems, including Christianity, don't have this at the top of their list. I'm left wondering today if it's at the top of my list? That's my heart's cry and really the only one I have left today. To learn to live moment to moment, loving as I have been loved.

I want to live like it's all that has been laid before me and remember that this is impossible for me to do outside the reconciled mysterious relationship with Father Son and Spirit. It's a life that is totally Other.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

YOU WANT TO HAVE ALL YOU THINK YOU KNOW CHALLENED?


Enter the world of Jacques Ellul.


I just love how this guy has messed with the sneaky fallen human mind that I have lived from most of my life. I am linking to one such writing that just messed with me the first time I read it. It is from his book The Politics of God and The Politics of Man. Today during a conversation on The God Journey Forum I was reminded of this book so I paid it another visit and let's say the Spirit inside me was leaping for joy in the celebration of freedom.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

REVISITING AN ARTICLE SO WORTH REVISTING


It needs no set up. I ran across this in the fall of 06 and it was perfect timing. Reading it again Yesterday was such a joy.


AWAKENED AND ASTONISHED by Richard Rohr




Tuesday, July 08, 2008

FREE WILL

Every morning as we awake from our sleep and begin our day we are making choices....we are exercising our free will. The free will given to us by our creator, just as he did Adam and Eve in the story of the garden. And just as with the original two, the realm we walk in has two trees from which we can choose to live. The One is full of love and relationship and freedom while the other brings about the certainty of dullness...actually death...spiritual and emotional. The One protects our uniqueness and keeps it intact while the other will certainly squeeze us into the mold of conformity based upon a predetermined code...and that code will be different depending upon where we live.

And just as in the garden, we get to choose. And let us never forget that our choices don't determine whether the Creator's presence goes with us or not on our adventure through life, but our choices will play a defining role in how we live and relate to others and to our Creator.


The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has thrust us all into the world of necessity. And that world of necessity and it's lies are constantly attempting to keep us from the place of freedom. The realm of necessity is the product of the tragic shift that happened when creation was broken. But here we are...it's where we find ourselves.

This morning I had two quotes on my mind. Two expression of the reality I am attempting to describe yet so often struggle to put into words to where it makes sense. The first quote speaks of the disasterous results of attempting to live by the rules of the world of necessity. The second quote speaks of living in this realm of necessity but being governed by something other. The Tree of Life to me is a picture of the place we belong and it provides us that which we need to thrive and live as we were created to live. It speaks to me of our home in Father Son and Spirit. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil speaks of this realm of necessity that we wake up in every morning. We can't fully escape it but we can live in freedom. Our choices...the exercise of our free will plays a big part. If it is within the freedom found in the circle of Father Son and Spirit that we choose to abide, things will be much different than if it is from the ridged construct of the world of necessity that we find ourselves in. Control, manipulation, expectations, fear, confromity and so forth are human activities that were birthed in this other realm and they are all an act of violence, per se, against free will. Against freedom. The Spirit is in us to help us live in that freedom.

A big thank you goes out to these two brothers that have helped me think differently enough which in turn created enough of a crack for the Spirit to sneak in through and begin the process of renewing my mind. I hope this is a help to someone else out there.

"When stability (uniformity) is acheived, there is no more harmony." Jacques Ellul

"There is a Wind… that wraps itself around the edges of necessity, tugging and pulling until those boundaries become torn and begin to move to the motion of that which is not visible." Paul Young

Monday, July 07, 2008

A CELEBRATION


I just love early U2 . The sounds were so raw and energetic and different than anything else that was around. I remember hearing I will Follow and Gloria for the first time and they just had that feeling about them that just made you think that U2 was going to be big. They spoke with the wild-eyed-ness of youth which is something we would all probably be better off if we didn't completely lose in adulthood but too often do.

Their exuberance about going out and proclaiming a message about the One that had captured their hearts was tempered a bit when the public wasn't as excited as they were about it and the criticisms of them wearing their hearts on their sleeves quickly followed. What I love about how U2 handled it was that they never pulled back from being out there...in the flowing tide of the world. But as Bono explains, they learned how to draw a fish in the sand...it's there for those that are searching and it's not for those who are not...and that's how it should be. Parables are kinda like that.

This is an early in-your-face song which would have probably been a good recipe for success in CCM but thank you U2 for not going that way. I'll take the fish in the sand.


A Celebration
Shake! Shake!

Don't go I believe in a celebration
I believe you set me free
I believe you can loose this chains
I believe you can dance with me
Dance with me

Shake! Shake! Shake! Shake!

I believe in the third world war
I believe in the atomic bomb
I believe in the powers that be
But they won't overpower me
And, and you can go there too
And, and you can go go go go

Shake! Shake! Shake! Shake!

And we don't have the time
And everything goes 'round and 'round
And we don't have the time
To watch the world go tumbling down

Go! Go!

I believe in the bells of Christ's Church
Ringing for this land
I believe in the cells of Mount Joy
Doesn't understand
And, and you can go there too
And, and you can go go go go

I believe in the walls of Jericho (And you...)
I believe they're coming down (Can go there too)
I belive in this city's children (And you... )
I believe the trumpet's sound (can go go go go)
And you can go there too
And you can go go go go...

I believe in what I'm doing
What am I doing here...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

OVERWHELMED BY HIS LOVE

With every new disarming the Spirit walks us through a new, deeper, wider space of Father's rest opens up for us to move into.

OVER THE RHINE Spark

PERFORMANCE OR FREEDOM


This morning I was reading someones account of their experience and again my heart just broke from the pain expressed and also again screamed for a change. No wonder most of the relationships we all have experienced have been dysfunctional. This person has been in a missions situation for nearly 40 years and she was talking about the pain and hurt that she has gone through and now today is beginning to find some healing from the damage she has suffered while in a performance focused religious system. And yet today she wonders if she is on a path that is okay because it is different than the performance track she has lived most of her life on. ATTENTION: The performance track is a track that exists outside of what living in the circle of Father Son and Spirit is all about.

I really had planned on moving on (but here I am again) from the sad realities created by these harsh performance based environments we all must learn to live in. And let me clarify that.....we can't fully escape this world and the performance demands necessity places on us...but for goodness sakes, we don't have to submit to an environment that is suppose to be a place of freedom but instead is a place of such pain and frustration that ends up creating an even worse kind of bondage. It's a place that has very little to do with love in reality but then places a demand on us to go out and love...as if someone can do so if they aren't free. I can hear Baxter Kruger's words ringing in my ears..."This is sick. This is really sick."

And since those word's from Baxter are ricocheting around in my mind I think I am going to listen to his Perichoresis 101 series again and hear a message of hope, actually the message of The Good News. It's such good news on so many levels but the one that comes to mind while writing this seems to be the most important part of the message of the Good News Jesus proclaimed. We can have healthy loving relationships again once we find the freedom that is ours in our reconciled relationship with Father Son and Spirit. The performance crap that the world is trapped in is not a part of this essential relationship nor is it to be a part of our relationships with each other. Once we really begin to experience this freedom, as we begin to experience the freedom from the demands to perform in a certain way, the people around us who are not yet free and are still operating under the old paradigm just won't have the ability to cause us to question our freedom, and when that happens, I think we will find that we are still able to love them even when they are incapable of loving in return. We will find that we have the ability to live in a way that makes it impossible for them pull us from our place of peace and joy.

Here are the audio messages I spoke of. I have linked to them before but as I head off to listen to them again I thought I would add them here once again also. Listen carefully to the way Baxter speaks of healthy relationship compared to the destructive relationships created by the performance mentality that is a product of the fallen mind. If you care to listen, when you get to this link, scroll to the bottom and you will find 4 messages. I would suggest listening to 2, 3, and 4 first.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

SIDETRACKED


MATTHEW 22: 34-37

And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'
"This is the great and foremost commandment.
"The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
"On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

JOHN 13: 34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
_______________________________________________

I've found myself a bit sad, maybe even angry, over the past couple days when it comes to how the Good News has been so covered up with so much garbage by the religious system that exists in the country I live in. It's difficult even to have a conversation about it because the juggernaut that has been created runs so deep. You add to that a belief, that defending it is an act of defending God, and if you don't, all that awaits you is torment in hell once you die. That's a tough combination to break.
How did it all shift? When did it all shift? Maybe those aren't even the right questions to ask? It just seems to me the most important thing for us as individuals is to realize that the profound counter "world-system-view" message of Jesus has been subverted by a Religious System that defends the Political and Economic Machine that drives the World System and it seems that most can't even fathom the reality of that situation.

This to me seems to be one of the most shocking realities we face. If one decides to take the message of Love layed out in the two passages of scripture I began this post with and speak of the ways this might play out, on the ground in real time for the Church, the most strident opposition will come from the Religious System of our day. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, Jesus ran up against the same thing....didn't he?
Whatever...it's just the feelings I went to bed on last night and when I woke up this morning they were still here.


Friday, July 04, 2008

A NEW IMPROVED RELIGION...I DON'T THINK SO

Did Jesus really come to set up another religion that would trump all the other religions of the world? I just don't think so. I think he came to set people free from those that existed at the time he walked on this earth and then unfortunately another one was built around the things he said and revealed to us. How do people find freedom when the message that has been given has been put into a book that has now taken precedent over the place of the Spirit in people's lives and an institutional system has taken the place of relationship and the message of freedom has been turned into law? It's a tough (almost invisible) shell to even see let alone break through so as to begin to see things differently.

If it was up to us I would say it's not likely to happen. But thank God that the Spirit can't be contained and is still moving about the earth setting in motion the things that can help us break free from all the things that we have erected that actually stand in the way.

HOW ABOUT SOMETHING FUNNY

Laughing is a really wonderful thing.

DO WE WANT TO KNOW...OR ARE WE OKAY WITH OUR PRESENT UNDERSTANDING?


All I know is I don't want to ever get to where being too confident with a present understanding stands in the way of growing in a deeper understanding...or maybe even a moment when I realize I've had something wrong that will now require that I let go of some personal turf and begin to reconsider something and not being able to do so...or that I would let a dangerous confidence close my mind down to the point where seeing something from a different perspective is almost impossible which in turn keeps me stuck longer than necessary.

This is from The Shack during a conversation where Papa is talking to Mack about the nature of freedom.

"Does freedom mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want to do? Or we could talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom. Your family genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness, the quantum stuff that is going on at a subatomic level where only I am the always present observer. Or the intrusion of your soul's sickness that inhibits and blinds you, or the social influences around you, or the habits that have created synaptic bonds and pathways in your brain. And then there's always advertising, propaganda, and paradigms. Inside that confluence of multi-faceted inhibitors," she sighed, "what is freedom really?"


Thursday, July 03, 2008

THE BEAST


Living in the belly of the beast has just taken on such a different feel for myself over the past few years. Experiencing new freedom from it everyday is a wonderful thing indeed. Some of those freedoms are tangible in the sense that they have become reality. It's changing the way I live. Some of those freedoms are still in the phase of just being a freeing on my mind and they have not yet made the move into the realm of on-the-ground-reality. But even that is a new place of freedom because it is producing great hope and I am certain that the day will come when those transitions happens also.

I hate the lie of the Beast. I hate what it does to people. I was with one such person last night and the pain and confusion that I saw in the eyes of the beast's prey just broke my heart. Now granted this person has been a willing participant (even if an unknowing one), which I had been most of my life also, but damage is damage and bondage is bondage and pain is pain. I am not at all promoting here the mindset that creates a scapegoat to blame everything on, but I am bringing attention to something that is so insidious and deceptive and so enticing all at the same time. My emotions last night vacillated between compassion and disgust. Compassion for this precious person who at this moment is trapped and disgust towards the beast and the lies the beast uses to control people.

Here's another painful reality about this particular situation that just makes this even more problematic. This person served the religious system her entire life. At the beginning of her life as a preacher's kid and then as an adult as a preacher's wife. I used to be left wondering why so many of us that had spent so much of our lives in the religious system seemed to be trapped in the same things as most everybody else was that were living out side it. I'm not left wondering about that anymore these days. And this reality I speak of is going to be a most difficult transition in thinking and living for anyone that desires to live in freedom outside the controlling influences of the beast and all it's manifestations.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

THE GIRLS ARE EXCITED

My two youngest and their cousin who is spending the week with them are excited because they just got a phone call from Ashleigh's dad asking them if they wanted to go on a spur of the moment road trip to the biggest rollercoaster park in the US tomorrow. Kids are funny and I love being around all their energy.