Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Per-rousal........."

”Do we ever really understand or master prayer? Yes and no. When we try to pray, sometimes we walk on water, and sometimes we sink like a stone. Sometimes we have a deep sense of God’s reality, and sometimes we cannot even imagine that God exists. Sometimes we would like to stay in our prayer place forever, and sometimes we wonder why we even showed up. Prayer has a huge ebb and flow. But… we can also expect, through the years, an ever deepening intimacy with our God.” – Ron Rolheiser, “Sacred Fire”

At the moment, I’m reading three books at the same time: (1) a collection of WWII reports written by correspondent Ernie Pyle; (2) an attempt by an English Anglican Professor of Divinity to give the “perplexed” man’s philosophical search for God down through the centuries; and (3) the above sequel to “The Holy Longing” which was supposed to answer the questions of future generations as to why we remained committed to both Christ and the Church. Ernie’s is like a devotional, able to be dismissed for a few days without losing his historical record of men in battle. While supplying me with an idea of how many famous men developed their theology, the professor, at least a few times already, spins a C.S. Lewis-like debate on the reality of God’s existence, with little mention of Jesus having eliminated that whole issue, and brings me, on occasion, to a need of relaxing my brain. Thus, last night, not in the mood to climb into another foxhole and fight the Nazis, I picked up “Sacred Fire” again after as much as a three-week abandonment. Some seven chapters into it, the author seemed to have changed horses in midstream, his course failing, in my opinion, to fulfill its original purpose, his words simply repeating religious, pulpit discourse heard before many times during the past four decades. A brain thus dulled, though, can often return to the same source later, refreshed, somewhat renewed, and discover manna overlooked. Prayer, indeed, is communication not always successful in the sense of establishing assured contact between heaven and earth. Such manner of maintaining relationship isn’t always an immediate “stepping through the veil” into an encounter with God. It doesn’t mean our petition is wasted. Nor does it signify our faith was less than sufficient to negotiate entrance into the throne-room. Contact is a matter of His wisdom and our surrender, an act wherein we give reverence, rest on that which He has already established in the depths of our being, and fall into His arms somewhere in our “belly” rather than trying to force a “hook-up” in our head. It is a “follow Me” stumble down the path holding on to the anchor-line…..

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Beachcombing....................."

“Science has discovered that, like any work of literature, the human genome is a text in need of commentary; for what Eliot said of poetry is also true of DNA: All meanings depend on the key of interpretation. What makes us human, and what makes each of us his or her own human, is not simply the genes that we have buried into our base pairs, but how our cells, in dialogue with our environment, feed back to our DNA, changing the way we read ourselves. Life is a dialectic.” – Jonah Lehrer, borrowed from Whiskey River

In the middle of reading a book written by an English Anglican Professor of Divinity, the author’s identity in such terms plus his choice of titles “God: A Guide for the Perplexed” being enough to discourage most Pentecostals from any exploration of it content, I stumbled upon the above quote elsewhere yesterday. Such statement, that the components of our basic physical structure actually communicate with each other, stirred the mental part of me into the deep, the creation, in any form, as much of a mystery as the Creator, all of it, in my opinion, just as worthy as Scripture in so far as divine revelation. Both come from Him and, if merged together through a relationship with the Holy Ghost, the anchor-line keeps us from drifting into outer space. “Dialectic”, I discovered, my ignorance of such term confessed, means “a process of reasoning based on the clash of one idea with its opposite, leading to a resolution of these ideas in the form of a truer or more comprehensive concept”. Jonah Lehrer, himself, that makes him really no one to quote; but it does turn out what he says here has truth to it. Not so much to the extent that this old man’s immediate translation of things imagined possible intelligence at such sublevels of humanity, another world existing within life as we perceive it to be; but most certainly enough “science non-fiction” to give wonder about it all. When I read of a process referred to as “metastasis”, tumor cells and normal cells engaging in conversation with each other, transmitting not merely individual words, but complete sentences, paragraphs, in fact, instruction on how to accomplish cancers deadly mission, it does not take me to some primordial soup, Adam no more than a microscopic amoeba crawling out of a swamp to eventually grow ribs and give birth to woman. It speaks to me only in the sense of reinforcement of that which He has already confirmed in other ways. Searching out the mystery is part of what and who we are, our head trying to determine truth, to better accomplish dominion over that which has been given us; but peace in the midst of it all, assurance that this is not all that there is, remains a “belly” connection, a whole “other’ ocean in which to swim……

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Destination.................."

Stopping at Half-Price Books Tuesday brought me face-to-face with four different books by the particular author I was exploring, none of which being his one discussing “Open Theism”. There, on a table on the aisle end of the shelves, however, lay what appeared to be a brand new volume by Keith Ward (unfamiliar to me), the title “God: A Guide for the Perplexed” catching my curiosity and its price (six bucks) agreeable to my wallet. The jacket blurb defined the writer as a professor of divinity, an English Anglican priest whose work straddles the boundaries between philosophy, religion, and science. That all suggests to me someone wading around in the universal ether, lost in the deep space of where a man can go in this; but, in a hurry to rejoin Beth at Sam’s, I paid the clerk, thinking later, after reading the first few chapters, another container of raspberries put into my wife’s cart might have been a better choice. Starting with early humanity’s belief in divinity defined by totem poles, sacrificial altars, and mythical titans, the theologian, however, also fed me enough hint of Holy Ghost to capture my hope of meeting the Holy Ghost somewhere ahead. For example, he pens in chapter two his own opinion that encountering God in a “tangible” way is an experience, although beyond all human thought and understanding, possible for everyone to attain, albeit temporal and fragmentary. This has long been my own message. Wednesday evening, just as I pulled up in front of the rescue mission, a couple of last minute phone calls revealed to me that Frank and I could possibly be the only two sharing with the men at Fairhaven. Tony declared himself trapped at work, eventually arriving in time to be handed the last ten minutes or so and final prayer; but God, as usual, weaving it all together into one message delivered by three vessels and the Holy Ghost. No thick, heavy witness of His presence was there with us in that room. Each of us spoke within the framework of who we are as individuals. Somehow, though, “baskets, dreams, Lord of the Rings, and a young boy in the temple crying out “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth” became anointed enough to draw a bunch of grizzled, old men around a campfire burning in our midst. No coup counted afterwards. Verification found seed, not just sown, but received by the soil before us in abundance. Drunkards? Dregs of society? How about “people”, people with souls just like you and like me, their lives different from mine only in the circumstances of their journey thus far. Church! We had church last night, about twenty-five of us, our congregation and us made one in Him…..

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"REM.........................."

Didn’t get to bed until late last night and then didn’t sleep well, dreaming about hijacking a train. Where is it that our brain takes us during slumber? For that matter, it might also be put to question where it leads us throughout the day, down through the years, any diagram of our journey through life certainly revealing more of a squiggle than a straight line. “It is not in man that walketh”, the Bible asserts, “to direct his own steps.” Maybe that’s because this amazing computer we hold in our cranium is way beyond our ability to fully grasp? Perhaps it’s like me sitting here at my desk in front of this Dell, able to punch a keyboard and access a few things, but over my head in so far as even beginning to understand much more than Google, e-mail, and basic blogging. Could it be that we were not originally created to operate in this manner, our gray matter not intended to become the sole source of determining what’s in our best interest, but merely designed to be a storage unit? What if this organ was meant to be no more than a tool utilized by, not just some individual spirit determining his or her own circumstances, but a “dual hook-up” wherein our Creator, Himself, is a vital internal piece of the puzzle? I was reading John 3:19-21 yesterday, thinking how so many associate “the light” with the message rather than the Holy Ghost, the mind of Christ abiding in our “belly”, not our head. When we lose that reality, replacing His accessible, tangible input into all that we are and do, what we are left with is the Book, our brain, and a lot of “stinkin thinkin”, making our deeds not so much “wrought” (ordered, shaped, brought about) by God, as they are by our own lack of inviting Him into the next step…….

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Flow........................."

"The laws of nature might dictate that there has to be something. For example, those laws might not allow for empty space as a stable state. But that wouldn't take away the wonder. You'd still have to ask, 'Why are the Laws that way, rather than some other way?' I think we're permanently doomed to that sense of mystery. And I don't think belief in God helps. I've said it before and I'll repeat it. If by 'God' you have something definite in mind - a being that is loving, or jealous or whatever - then you're faced with the question of why God's not another way. And if you don't have anything very definite in mind when you talk about 'God' being behind the existence of the Universe, then why even use the word? So I think religion doesn't help. It's part of the human tragedy: we're faced with a mystery we can't understand."- Jim Holt, borrowed from “Whiskey River”

Just sitting here at my keyboard with a cup of coffee nearly eliminated, the pup curled up on the floor beside me, and my mind pondering life, in general. It’s early morning, my 73rd birthday, and Beth has a doctor’s appointment scheduled for ten-thirty. Neither church service yesterday brought me any real connection with the Holy Ghost, at least in the sense of His presence overflowing in our midst; a statement heard recently on cable news, claiming that the world is in no more trouble than it ever was, sticks in my mind; and today, at the moment, appears to be but one more space on the calendar to dismiss later tonight. Funny how easy it seems for us to merely “drift”, whether caught up in our routine as we have become accustomed to it, or in idleness as it overtakes us, the prospect of holding no obligation whatsoever equally a state developed as we go, one foot in front of the other, ho-hum, ho-hum. It’s who we are. Then, again, “life” doesn’t have to be determined by “things”. You don’t have to just accept what comes to you, be it the other guy’s opinion about humanity’s state of affairs, your own view of the possibilities left to you, or faith delivered to you in another fellow’s sermon. It’s probably safe to assume that the above author has not yet crossed paths with Christ, at least in an encounter that eradicates all doubts in so far as there actually being a Creator who, by virtue of that fact, will always remain more than we fit into a theology. Knowing Him via an internal reestablished Paternal umbilical cord transforms today into an adventure, faith into a reality wherein tomorrow has hope, fear and disappointment into an accessible assurance of peace in the middle of whatever circumstances have been giving you pain. I don’t have to praise it up, sing it up, or work it up in any form or fashion. Thirst is enough to find the flow…….

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Tune-ups......................"

At two o’clock in the morning last night, the old man’s eyes opened and his brain began to wrestle with thoughts. Before Christ, I used to do that every so often worrying over bills or some situation currently in my life. Now it’s more like whatever’s been running through my mind to share with the men at the mission or just something recently read. Whether the source to blame this time was a visit to “Faith Meets World” or not is debatable, but perusing discussion there concerning God’s omniscience did take me into some deep mental water yesterday. “Open Theism”, a belief that the Almighty does not exercise meticulous control of the future, leaving it to possibilities (for Him to solve, I suppose) led to talk about “anthropomorphism”, the Creator possessing human behavior and characteristics. Exploring such chasms on occasion is not beyond my interests, but continually chasing what is unachievable to capture sometimes seems to turn the table around, the stalker now in bondage to his prey. Be that as it may, what would not let me find any return to slumber at the moment was an inner voice repeating over and over again “pick up your cross and follow me”. I would eventually arise two different times, making two separate trips to my living room for paper and pen to write down the following: “Just what do we nail to our OWN cross? Our humanity? Our will? How about our theology? Global Christianity has evolved, down through the centuries, into a multi-flavored body, a name under which the institution, without reality of the resurrection, has become a conglomeration of totem poles wherein deity is defined by us rather than the other way around. It seems, at least, that many of us worship only what we hold in our heads, chapter and verse utilized, but there being little or no life in it, no “belly flow of Divinity” rising up to take us back to the Bible again and again, to shape us as we go. In our midst, the Spirit yet deals with hearts hungry to know His inner connection, speaks to ears open to hear, and gives grace to our stumble down the path; but the question remains: How much of ourselves do we surrender to a daily crucifixion? If the “old man” requires continual need of being hoisted on a tree, aren’t we really talking about the present one as well? Aren’t we talking someone whose “stinkin thinkin” was that which brought him to Calvary in the first place?........

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The Cutting Edge......"

“We shouldn’t act like we (alone) own the truth. I think we need to hold our theology with kind of open eyes. When we limit God, we often do it with the Bible.”… Dave Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye)

As a child, my history holds little in so far as accumulating any religious instruction. Well, at the age of twelve, I did complete catechism classes to become a member of a local inner city Lutheran assembly; but, if such lessons provided any great insight into their particular brand of theology, it evidently went in one ear and out the other. My teenage years experienced only as much encounter with church as was necessary to gain fellowship at their youth roller rink outreach parties; and, for whatever reason, catching my dad at home alone one day, about six months before he died, I asked him if he, himself, believed in God. His one word affirmation, given only after a long pause, was followed by my immediate question as to “why”. His explanation was almost equivalent to “just because”. I would be thirty, with three daughters and about to dissolve my marriage, everything in my life making absolutely no sense, before stepping into a little old-time holiness church, looking for an answer to my mess. Legalism. Pure and simple. Enough “thou-shalt-not”s to make Christ’s Sermon on the Mount pale in comparison. Yet, in the middle of all the religiosity, the reality of a Gospel that proclaims a risen Savior was verified by frequent visitations of the Holy Spirit, indeed, His presence so thick in our midst at times that worship became communal, the whole congregation baptized together in an assurance of grace. Over four decades later, it is yet that personal internal connection that holds me within the faith. The Bible remains a foundational truth, a Book giving me “mystery to explore”, every now and then its verses opening up to me in a different way, truth not written in concrete within its pages, but rather an “umbilical cord anchor-line in my belly” that teaches me as I go. Standing in the shadow of PTL’s history, tattooed, pierced, and with a message that rings different to most, he nonetheless somehow reaches me with such statements. When we pick up the “sword”, rather than surrender it unto the Holy Ghost, indeed, the One who appears to own it according to Ephesians, like Peter, all we accomplish, for the most part, is “severed ears”….