Friday, May 22, 2015

"Instant in Season................"

Just before Tony closed in final prayer at the rescue mission Wednesday evening, I encouraged the men to learn that such petition was better accomplished in their belly, not their head. Christ emphasized the need for us to be “born-again”, declaring it impossible for us to “see” (understand) or even “enter into” the “kingdom of God” without such event, that latter destination of which He spoke not referring to heaven, but this present relationship we might know with our Creator right now. “Living water” is a promise purchased through Calvary’s redemption and confirmed by a resurrection restoring a life-line within the innermost depths of those who take their thirst unto Him. We do not teach this truth enough, in my opinion, the Church at large still trying to span a gulf reconnected by Jesus over two thousand years ago. Indeed, as we were helping clear the room of chairs and tables afterwards, one young fellow approached me with a question. “How do I do that?” he inquired, patting the hair on his head with one hand and rubbing stomach with another; “How do I get it from here to there?” Now “the shoe was on the other foot”. How do I explain to him in a few minutes the simplicity of “surrender”? Fancy words are not demanded in approaching Divinity. One need only be honest and speak with the heart. We are not in control. He is; and “stepping through the veil” has to be with His permission, not an act of our own arrogance. It is, in fact, much like the old iced-tea commercial where the man, having sipped such refreshment, simply falls backwards into the pool. There is a “fear” the first time, for relinquishing all that we are, trusting Him to catch us, is just part of the journey; but, once encountered, assurance for the next visit is gained, a door opened unto us whenever we humble ourselves to know His presence. Whether we swim in the deep or the shallow end is an individual experience depending on His wisdom and our humanity. Nonetheless, it is the Covenant as extended unto us and far too few, it seems to me, take advantage of its benefits. It is what separates us from all else out there, marking Christianity a reality, not a religion. It establishes faith in Him, saving us from possessing nothing more than faith in faith…….

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Schooling...................."

”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 just the genes 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, and borrowed from “Whiskey River”

When I first stepped into “Old-time Holiness” and Christ stepped into me, experiencing the sense of God’s presence was expressed in the same manner as observed in others who attended our church meetings. Freedom was permitted for “howsoever the Spirit moved an individual”. Humanity still being humanity, what occurred there within the sanctuary was definitely “encounter”, but not always met with wisdom. Life is a lesson to be learned. Being “born-again”, in many ways, means starting all over; and the “classroom” is bigger than any denominational attachment we make in following Him. Then, again, so is a man’s ego anywhere it is found within the process. Thus, for me at least, while the exterior has changed over these more than four decades since my original entry point, the interior, that connection wherein “two are made one”, remains the same and is vital to my salvation. This is a work yet “under construction”. My participation within the Body no longer involves any title. My attendance is not as enthusiastic as it once was. Four day “revivals” do not get my attention no matter what celebrity speaker fills the pulpit. In the middle of all the mystery, however, all of the evolution that finds me now sitting on the sidelines, observing from afar, what continues to keep me here is the witness of His Holy Ghost moving in its midst. Watching five of my six grandchildren swimming in His anointing feeds my soul. If their individual theology is being shaped by a modern version of the Gospel rejected by this old man, it is that which overflows their vessel which gives me assurance that He has their anchor-line. The definition of “dialectic”, by the way, is: “a process of reasoning based on a clash of one idea with its opposite leading to a resolution of these ideas in the form of a truer or more comprehensive concept”. If God has their heart and they give Him their reins, divine tutoring never ceases and I can surrender to that all my hopes for their future…….

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Kenosis............................"

Visiting “Whiskey River” this morning, I stepped into one of those deep wells of thought so often entertained any more. My days, for the most part, are my own. The clock doesn’t hold me with too many obligations. The subject matter under observation has held me captive in one way or another for over seventy-three years and, under another name, equates to no more than my own existence. Time. There are those who have likened it unto a river, assigning it flow and asserting it impossible for us, therefore, to step into its depths in the same place twice. If that’s true, however, it seems to me only logical to question in which direction is it going? The analogy, as stated, would appear to have us moving upstream, heading somewhere, paddling against the onrush, destination eternity. Then, again, why not the reverse of that scenario, some of us simply drifting with its force, letting each day take us where it will, some of us trying to resist by any means whatsoever, and others in an attempt to at least extract some meaning to the journey. My own conclusion to the whole matter long ago dismissed all external velocity. Infinity, from any perspective, just “is”. It is man, himself, who passes through it within his own allotted segment, his path determined as he so chooses, the tick of the clock his own invention. The real mystery is: Having eyes to see, why do we miss what is right before us? Having ears to hear, why do we ignore so much of what is spoken unto us? We blink. We sort out the noise. We create life on our own terms until reality hits us right in the face. The world around us is factual, but what we possess of it is only this moment, this breath; and any “gears” orchestrating movement, physical, spiritual, or otherwise, are within us. All that changes in the end is dimensional location, mortality swapped for immortality, time no longer dictating an aging process to a body now free from its tenacious grip…….

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Geometry................................."

Point: Take a sharp pencil and reach out anywhere to touch any one of infinitesimal lines invisibly running to and fro, here and there, north and south, east and west, and wherever you “mark the spot”, you have a “point”. Not a dot, or at least not speaking in correct mathematical terms. Not a decimal. That requires numbers on either side to give it such identity. Insignificant? Perhaps; unless you, or I, or anyone else, for that matter, happens to be that particular introduction of existing in this life. Then, suddenly, it depends upon perspective. The further one moves away from it, its reality disappears. The closer one delves into its depths, it’s also easy to drown in the totality of what we failed to know at first glance. Continue to place other points around it, elbow-to-elbow, armpit-to-armpit, and before too long its meaning has been absorbed by all else that’s out there. Does it have meaning? Purpose? Whatever attachment it holds with others, whatever self-satisfaction is found within its own existence, if there is no “point within the point” where definition is established by a higher Source, a person is left with nothing more than their own reasoning, their own defense, their own humanity as it has come to them down through the years. We need “connection”; we need “anchorage”; and, in achieving it, we are told in Scripture that we must to surrender unto it all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, putting all our strength into such effort, for even in knowing Him, we remain wobbly in our walk. A point. Not in our head, but in our “belly”. Out of it flows living water, life for those who thirst, manna for those who are hungry, assurance for those who seek an answer to the enigma…….

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Retail...................."

I drove about seventy-five miles yesterday afternoon to meet my grandson, the one whose whole life has held such distance between us that, while my heart is no less connected with him, knowing him in who and what he is has been a whole different relationship than what’s been possible with the five who all have grown up “in my back yard”. With two years of college now behind him, questions about his faith are surfacing and his mother suggested a talk with me. We met at Walmart, grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Subway, and motored together to a nearby church where an outdoor pavilion gave us quiet space. I expected “Why not Buddha?” He gave me merely interrogatives (and some good thinking of his own) about fundamentals, inquiries about the Cross, what made us “sinners”, and a concern about his own stumble down the path, healthy investigation every believer ought to make somewhere along the way. Truthfully, in my own opinion, that latter is an exercise that needs to remain “open discussion” in a prayer closet on a regular basis. Just north of us, Cincinnati not only boasts of its own amusement park, but positioned there, in the same neighborhood, is an “auto-mall”, a huge section of ground home to multiple new car businesses, any and every brand all in one place competing for your dollar. It came to me the other day, one of those mental images that frequently pass through this old man’s mind, that today’s Church is much the same. In our area, at least, within a ten-mile radius Christianity gives choice in so far as style of worship, dogmatic beliefs, congregational fellowship and outreach, the only thing commonly claimed being “the product they are trying to sell”. How many people, though, “thump the tires”, read the manual, and check out the consumer reports before signing on the dotted line? Most are content with a salvation validated by the membership contract and are willing to let eternity determine truth at a later date. I want confirmation now, in my “belly”, not my head. I want that for my family. I want that for whosoever has ears to hear. Not forced. Not demanded by thumping my Bible. Either this is real or it is no more than religious ritual. Either His “flow”, or “no go”. He “sells” Himself if this old flawed vessel will but remember that fact…….

Friday, May 15, 2015

"Nametags................"

In the course of our Wednesday evening Bible study, for whatever reason, our teacher asked ME to define “absolute truth” for him. My immediate response was to suggest someone else might be a better choice for such task. No; the die had been cast. “Black and white!” I blurted, trying to comply without taking the class into my own theology and, at the same time, knowing such answer would be utilized to emphasize that which I don’t believe. It was; and yet, void of any Spiritual anointing to debate such issue, this old man saw no point in forcing my opinion upon the others. People have to take their own journey in this, learn their own lesson in a stumble down the path. For me, though, there is only one correct definition for “absolute truth”. Christ claimed that label long ago and, for much too long, the Church has tried to replace Him with the Book! That’s not to say one can’t find Him within chapter and verse; but it does demand that, in confessing their faith in the word, Christian must also admit to the possibility of error since, if for no other reason, our humanity is involved in processing that which is written therein; and that, alone, ought to make it always a work “under construction”. Our understanding ought to be continually re-examined in both a prayer closet and the next step. It is He whom I follow, a resurrected reality who always allows me freedom in this, final accountability more a matter of how I lived my faith, not so much how well I managed to reduce it to an Algebraic formula: baptism by immersion plus attending and tithing equals entrance through the Pearly Gates. Scripture reminds me of my own individual sins, points me to Christ, and tells me to make myself a vessel through which He might reach others. It’s that simple…….

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Pogo........................"

In the original “Alice in Wonderland”, the main character encounters Humpty Dumpty who, in conversation with her, uses the word “glory”. When she informs him that she doesn’t understand its meaning, he scornfully replies “Of course you don’t, not until I tell you, for every word I speak means exactly what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less!” She observes that “The question is whether you can make words mean different things”; and he, unhindered in his vanity, simply states that “The question is only who is to be master. That’s all.”… I’m about halfway through my perusal of Alan E. Lewis’s “Between Cross and Resurrection”. Thus far it has mostly been like a “schematic” of historical Christianity’s putting divinity under a microscope and dissecting Trinity in an attempt to dissolve all the mystery. Not yet expressing his own personal theology, the author quotes Barth, Moltmann, Hegel, Jensen, Rahner, and Martin Luther, just to name a few prestigious names of those who, from the very beginning of this, have forged various images out of chapter and verse. They frame God in terms that suggest Him possessing an “eternal longing to become a man and to make of every man a god out of grace.” They describe Him as “being in becoming”, a deity experiencing metamorphosis, passing through eternity with us and evolving as He goes. Like the Jews, who took the Law and turned it into religion, so too has the Church complicated “Christ in me”, debating its simplicity until Christianity now comes in seventeen flavors, including several counterfeit imitations. While I applaud a need for believers to study their Bible, to investigate their salvation as they go, yet wisdom dictates our goal be forged out of a recognition of our humanity being part of the process. There is no doctrinal box of dogma big enough, strong enough correct enough, to completely hold Him captive; and pursuit ought to be more about a thirst to know His reality in our life than about some desire to label His parts…….