Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Temperature Check..................."

As someone who expresses his personal perspectives here on various matters, I freely admit to having, at least a few times along the way, gotten “over emotional” concerning the subject in question. More than once, after investing much time into an attempt to speak without anger owning the finished product, my conscience still wasn’t happy with the final results and peace required dismissing it all via the “delete” option. There’s a thin line there somewhere when it becomes much too emotional, one’s head holding no reins over their heart, and their heart in a heated separation from His wisdom. It’s called “being human”. Then, again, what about the displeasure unleashed by Jesus on the moneychangers in the temple? The whole dogma of His having been “100% God; 100% man” rests on the claim of His having never dismissed the Father’s will to chase the earthly side of such merger. Surely there is a “righteous wrath” and more so than just Paul’s admonition in Ephesians for us to not “let the sun go down” on where our inability to stay calm has taken us. As believers, we need a better answer to the problem than relying on His grace to forgive us again and again once we’ve abandoned all restraint and ran amok; and, beyond the sad state of “taking God’s mercy for granted”, it yet should be said, as well, that when we show ourselves to be no more than the fellow yelling at us on the other side of any disagreement, we just become what they are. All of our demands for submission unto “our” Gospel is merely one more religious hypocrite attempting to force all others to adopt his point of view, void of the Holy Ghost and all witness of “Christ in me”. Being “soldiers of the Cross” doesn’t equate to our arrogantly charging the world around us, but to standing our ground against a demonic enemy opposing His having already conquered the grave. Victory is not in me “thumping the Book”, but in me being a surrendered vessel through which He might come forth, a “light in the darkness”, a fountain of “living water” that brings assurance of His promise unto all…..

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Digestion......................."

“The appropriate response to the Gospel proclamation is to rethink everything in the light of the risen and ascended Christ and live accordingly” – Brian Zahnd

After discovering last week that the goal of our Wednesday night class goal is actually reading through the entire Bible in 120 days, not 90, I recomputed my pace to have me about a month ahead of schedule. If that sounds like boasting, let me confess to speed-eating much of it thus far, as the Old Testament, in particular, is filled with repeated genealogies, endless legalities regarding early Jewish rituals, and account after account of backslidden kings assassinated by someone looking to inherit the throne. In my opinion, every believer needs to take the journey at a slow pace a few times; but the Book, in its entirety, was never meant to hold us prisoner by some requirement to memorize all the history therein. That’s not to say, having accomplished a perusal of it pages, one can let it gather dust on the coffee table. Assignment completed. The Word is a vital part of authoritative truth, human error on our part corrected by the Spirit as we go if we keep ourselves open to His reins on our heart. It’s like finding buried treasure in your own backyard, not so much like a bag of gold able to be instantly converted to financial asset, but more like truth that yet needs the next step down the path to determine just how much your thinking has distorted the picture. It’s like reading in Zechariah and one minute he is prophesying unto those of his own generation and, the next, his words reach far into the future, speaking to me of a day to come. Scripture is able to penetrate a man’s heart as well as his head, stir the waters and heal the soul. It is a medicine that, once received, continues to minister to us beyond a physical connection if the Great Physician is known through a personal, inner connected restored in Christ. Holiness isn’t the “old, old story” inked on paper pages. He is a Reality who abides within me……

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Locomotion..........................."

Our visit to the Youth Detention Center Sunday morning found just Tony and me risking the weather to make the trip. Reports of snow and icy roads discouraged the ladies; and I can’t say I blame them. A drive around my immediate area convinced me it was safe, at least at the moment; but, depending on what television station one chose, conflicting reports made it appear possible that returning home might not be under similar conditions. As it turned out, we ministered to about twenty young adults and, while the temperatures never did give us much relief, the sun at least supplied us enough warmth to avoid all else. In truth, for an old man who retired last June for the third time, neither winter nor much of anything else has slowed this old man down for too long. The church school is beginning to utilize me more, the possibility there for a potential vacancy lasting several weeks. The rescue mission is just a monthly event, but part of my schedule. Watching my grandsons play basketball has another week or so chalked out on my calendar; and, with our granddaughter being a regular overnight guest, she keeps me busy with hunger runs to White Castle’s or Wendy’s, drama practice or shopping with her grandmother. Fill in any gaps with a good book, a crossword puzzle, or merely my thoughts set loose on paper. Henri Nouwen, in “Reaching Out”, speaks of prayer as a gift, describing it as “God’s breathing in us, by which we become part of the intimacy of His inner life and, by which, we are born anew.” He goes on to say that “We cannot plan, organize, or manipulate God; but without a careful discipline, we cannot receive Him either.” I believe such premise. “Merger” is a matter accomplished at that point when the heart is first surrendered to Christ. An inner well is restored to which we may return again and again. Communion, though, is not a sacrament we dictate, but an affair maintained in our daily existence, one wherein our thirst and hunger to know Him keeps encounter just around the corner where all we need do is surrender ourselves unto His grace. In the middle of “life”, there can His peace, His promise, and His presence waiting for us in the next step……

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Zipadee Doodah................."

This morning’s visit to Veteran’s went well, providing the blood I surrendered doesn’t lead to some future phone-call revealing problems undetected thus far. The scales were kind, showing me five pounds lighter than my last weigh-in; and the doctor surprisingly agreed with me that no blood pressure medicine is needed. My over-all mood while driving out afterwards to the church school was a bit jubilant. Upon discovering that the kids that I tutor in the elementary level were about to celebrate a belated Valentine’s Day party, I opted to use the time to make a few orbits around the gymnasium running track, wasting ninety minutes on a round trip, home and back, just didn’t seem wise. At three, the bell rang and my granddaughter met with me to spend a few days, plans already in the wind with Mamaw for a shopping spree. Basketball with the grandsons tonight. They asked me earlier, as part of that examination, if I ever struggle with depression. My answer, given with a smile was: “No; church keeps me on cloud nine!” Such attendance does not guarantee anything, of course; but witness shared without an anointing requires a bit of wisdom. Bull horns and loud, passionate Biblical rebukes, in my opinion, only sow seeds of offense. Enthusiastic and repetitive “gush” tends to signal one’s lack of depth, another fanatic following a temporary high, even though the heart might be well-intentioned. The years have taught me to be “open” with my faith, unashamed of who He is and what He has brought into my life, “instant in season” as Paul put it, looking to know the reality of His presence in the moment, a connection established, and then to relax in His flow as He ministers unto whosoever is “plugged in”. Every day is a new day. Every day is a different day. I am a vessel under construction, even after all these years. He is eternal and changes not……

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Busy, busy...................."

In my little corner of the world winter has finally conquered us, at least until my son-in-law is able to reach us with his tractor plow. Four to six inches of snow isn’t all that much, but the county, while willing to take our taxes, doesn’t extend help to this neighborhood; and, with a possible additional layer before the day is over, life beyond this house is out of reach for the moment. Henri Nouwen wrote that “When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch, or no record to play, we are brought so close to seeing the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are made so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again with the game that makes us believe everything is fine after all.” I don’t know that “loneliness” is what this old man seeks to escape, but I do admit to a continual craving to be occupied with “something”. This spirit wasn’t meant idle in some state of hibernation. Dreams, it seems to me, ought to tell us that, during slumber, something inside us is rebelling against suspended animation. An Adyashanti quote over at “Whiskey River” states that “Nobody told us that what we are is a point of awareness, or pure spirit. We’re taught rather to identify with our name, our birth date, the next thought that we have, and with all the memories our mind collects about the past.” I don’t tend to chase gurus and San Francisco Buddhists whose theology points to our “inner self” somehow being able to conquer its own problems, but do believe there is a nugget of truth within such thinking. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon declares that, within all of us, God has placed “eternity”. King James says “the world”; and the Greek roots of the word suggests its best definition is “time beyond our comprehension” or as the verse, itself, continues, “so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” We may well envision ourselves with a slice of existence, a past already determined and a future yet to be discovered, but all we really possess is this moment, this breath of air taken into our lungs, a reality around us to be filtered through our brain, and a chance to know Him in the mystery of it all. Rest is required. Physically, we cannot make it otherwise. The river, however, ceases not its flow; and life, real “life” is anchored in Him, not something else encountered along the way. He holds my hopes, my curiosity, my devotion, my next position be it in summer’s heat or February’s freeze……

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Thaw..........................."

While northern Kentucky has not yet even come close to the depth of snow accumulation that others have known, we have experienced about six inches this week thus far and awoke this morning to a minus seventeen temperature holding us captive. To be reminded by the good chaplain at the helm of “Monk”, then, that we are entering into the Easter season was a dose of sunshine to an old man who is, at the moment, seated in his recliner, in front of an electric fireplace heater and under a warm woolen blanket. His definition of Lent, however, that it is not a matter of “getting better”, but about “dying until we’re dead” gave me pause. I was reminded of a Henri Nouwen quote that suggests: “Learning to weep, learning to keep vigil, learning to wait for the dawn: perhaps this is what it means to be human.” We visited the men at the rescue mission last night, speaking to faces both young and hold, some reflecting no thought at all for present circumstances, others with more of the journey behind them giving image to having covered enough distance to at least consider the trek, a few with witness of an inner warmth in the furnace providing promise for whatever lies ahead. Life is hard; it can be cruel; and the biggest mystery of all is not so much all that comes unto us in the transition, but “me, myself, in how I meet it in the next step. Theology can assist us if we realize that, in and of itself, it is no “set-in-cement” solution to the problem. Indeed, when I hear our President declare that “no religion is responsible for terrorism”, in my opinion he gives evidence of his own dogma falls short of “truth, and nothing but the truth”. “Religion”, in its various forms, has proven, along the way, to be a disease capable of massacring all those who disagree with its doctrinal demands. God, however, is medicine for a man’s soul, strength for a man’s spirit, resurrection for a man’s heart, and reins for a man’s inability to direct his own path. The question is only whether we, as individuals, recognize that it is not our lungs pumping in oxygen that brings meaning to our existence, but our surrender of our existence unto He who holds it in His hands. His breath melts a cold heart and speaks of Spring……

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Anointing...................."

Rob, a friend of mine over at "Faith Meets World", was prompted to write a nice Valentine's Day post illuminating the apostle John's declaration that God "is" love. In Psalms, however, we are told to "extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name Jah", an appellation expanded unto Moses there at the burning bush as "Jehovah", or "I am that I am"; and it would seem that, while we can examine the Creator through individual filters, we can never capture Him completely with just one particular, individual word. He simple "is"; and, as such, sits beyond our understanding, our ability to approach by any means other than reverence on our part. We find communion with Him through Christ. We can step into His presence via merger with He whom Christ has returned unto us. God, through Christ, and Christ alone, is tangible and accessible! Why, then, is it that men shun the light, preferring darkness? Why is it that some, even in claiming to know Him, yet "neglect so great salvation"? Can it be that we are content with defining Him in our own terms, doctrinal totems an easier means of establishing our own righteousness without having to face His? We walk within such boundaries as have been taught us, by such beliefs that the journey has thus far instilled into our thinking; and this old man has become convinced that "enlightenment" was never ours to bestow upon others via linguistic means in and of themselves. The Holy Ghost, Christ "in" us, is the promise given; and either that resurrected renewed reality comes forth in our daily life, witnessing somehow unto whosoever shares whatever moment with us, or all there really is... is just "me" stumbling down the path.......