Posted tagged ‘religion’

The Stream

February 26, 2012

There comes a time in the life of an infant when they discover their hands. They are fascinated by these things which move in front of their eyes guided by the impulses from their brains. For most of us that is a defining moment and the fascination can last a lifetime, for some it can be an obsession.

But there is another reality, a reality which is not tied to flesh and bones.

In each of our hearts there is a stream, a stream that comes from our Creator. It can be sensed intuitively, if we are paying close attention. These days we are inundated by lofty interpretations of the stream, made by men and women who have constructed their little worlds (their interpretations) with those fascinating little hands. We sometimes buy into their little worlds, and believe the stories they’ve spun out of thin air, even to the extent of living and dying by their new little world’s rules. These new little worlds are “perfect”, so they say, and they have to be for they were crafted by those fascinating little hands. Besides these craftspersons have such strings of authoritative titles after their names, like Doctor of Divinity, PhD. and so on.

All the while the stream runs unabated, but ignored in the background of our hearts. You see if we would just break away from our fascination with man-made things, the things of the flesh, Jesus would take us down to that stream, and teach us how to swim in it and let it flow through us. A stream which is not made by human hands, a stream which is that little bit of His Spirit which God gives each of us to guide us to Him. If we will walk with Him by the stream, if we let Him teach us how to swim in it and flow with it. The stream will widen and become deeper and break loose and cleanse our hearts. It will introduce us to the real world.

This is how we come to abide in Him, flowing in the stream of His Spirit. This is how we discover the place where we can live and move and have our being in Him.

So the next time you feel that funny tug in your heart which is warning you that something you are beginning to accept is false, walk away from the ridiculous worlds made with hands, and go swimming with the Lord of all.

Our Refuge, His Presence

May 6, 2011

If you are poor, tired, forlorn, and lost there is a place you can go to meet Jesus. It does not depend on your being accepted by a bunch of snooty church folks, you do not have to wear the right clothing, or smell nice. It is a certain and guaranteed thing, because it depends on Jesus alone. Therefore it is not subject to the whims and religious attitudes of men. It is also a place that many have been denied, because the most basic information about it has been obscured for hundreds of years, yielding generations of babies who know a little (or maybe just a lot of academic schlock) about Jesus, but who do not know Him personally (or by means of the Spirit).

 

The place I speak of is the place where Peter was when he was praying in Joppa, (Acts 10:10) and it is where John was when he mentions that he was “in the Spirit” at the beginning of “The Revelation Of John” (Revelation 1), It is where Paul was when he mentions casually that he was taken up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-6).

 

It is as if, when you hear the good news and accept it, you are set down in the outer courts of Solomon’s temple and you tramp around there enjoying all the praise bands and the religious goings on, but to get to the court of the Priests you have to seek the entrance, you have to find the door. Further on to gain access to the temple itself and the Holy of Holies which is your right as a child of the Living God, you have to find the entrance, The entrance in all cases is Jesus, getting to know Him in the most intimate way, is your doorway to these wonderful places. You might say, well this Scriptural evidence is sketchy, yet I am only scratching the surface, there are many examples of this in the New Testament, you just have to look for them, Jesus set the tone in this way of life by spending considerable time, alone with the Father, in prayer.

 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

“19 You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves,” New Century Version

 

Paul said very much the same thing in several places in his epistles, and I would like to suggest to you that for Paul the Temple he once served and the temple God was building in His people were not so different, just far more personal.

 

When you ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-13) God sets up a place in your heart for His presence, a Holy of Holies to which you can retreat to be with Him. I also think that in a slightly different way He is speaking of the same thing when He said “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” Revelation 3:20-22
He encourages us to seek Him, but I believe that He also actively calls us to seek Him.

 

The initiative was God’s from the very beginning, it is our responsibility to respond. To live the life that He has so graciously provided we must walk with Him and dwell in Him. But the flesh resists this simple and beautiful gift which God has placed on our doorsteps. The flesh wants an appearance of Godliness, but please none of that radical stuff!! But sometimes, in it’s contrary way, the flesh makes a religious duty out of being radical. So you can see it all around you in the religious observances that Christians occupy themselves with every day.

 

On the one hand, it is fairly easy to detect an immature approach to the Lord, when others try to convince you to follow their example (and they will!), because the followers of babydom do not have the Spirit to guide them, they only have the book (the Bible) and lacking clarification from the Spirit they cling to whatever interpretation of Scripture they have obsessively, because that is all they have.

 

On the other hand, life in the Spirit is multifaceted, you can walk and talk with Him, listen to Him, and obey Him, He guides you, there are secrets and gifts He will share with you so that you may help people, and He has secrets and gifts for you alone, it is never dull and Scripture will unfold for you in the brilliant light of His Spirit, the very one who wrote it.

 

When you give up your feeble, and failed attempts at controlling your life and place yourself solely in His hands you will find that He is adding to you and augmenting your life beyond anything you ever thought possible.

 

This is our legitimate claim on Jesus, and He is pleased to help us receive it.

But it all starts when we find our refuge in Him, our sanctuary in His Presence.

Social Progress?

April 7, 2011

Social Progress, we talk about it all the time. Yes, I know you might be scratching your head and saying “Now wait no one has approached me and started to talk about that subject”. Ah but they do, whenever someone discusses racism, they may refer to what a non issue slavery is in our culture now, or maybe someone might mention that in Dicken’s time people were hanged for stealing a loaf of bread, or how they used to burn witches at the stake. Yes indeed we talk about social progress all of the time, and usually in a self congratulatory fashion, as in, “oh we are so far past that awful business now”.

 

But are we? We may not keep people in chains now, but a person can be chained to a life of debt and underemployment, and if they try to run away or not fulfill their obligations they face dire consequences, in a different way of course, but I think you can see my point.

 

Have we come so far? When a family can be foreclosed on and thrown out of their home for having the misfortune of a change in the local property values? When a healthy man, even an educated man cannot find a job because he is over forty and might expect to be paid for his experience? Are we expressing that higher social conscience when we say that poor people don’t deserve financial help, or older people should be thrown out in the snow when they cannot pay their bills?

 

Truly Solomon was right when he declared that there is nothing new under the sun. The only difference in modern times is the spin the PR department puts on the unflattering story. People have not changed all that much, they are still proud, avaricious, selfish, and unfeeling about the troubles of others, yes even the troubles they have caused for other people.

 

So if you owe money to a person or a corporation, or if you depend on someone else’s good sense and judgement for your employment, your circumstances could change in an instant, depending on the whims of others. And these examples are just a particle of the storms we could face in our lives.

 

I was meditating on Scripture once, it was the passage in Matthew 13 where Jesus is teaching the people from a boat, and then I found myself in the boat, keeping it steady with the oars as the Lord taught the people. Then He turned to me and said let’s go on across the lake, so I turned the boat and pulled at the oars to move on out. The wind picked up and the waves got higher and I was beginning to struggle with the oars. Jesus told me to scoot over and He sat down on the bench next to me and took up one of the oars. He talked and laughed when the waves threw spray over the bow, wetting us. Suddenly a squall burst over us and we continued pulling hard at the oars for as the waves become more violent you must maintain way or the waves will broach the boat and you will founder. So we kept on and this time Jesus did not rebuke the storm as it struck us, and a right violent squall it was, but He stayed right there beside me pulling at His oar right along with me, and we made it safely through that pitiless squall, we had taken on some water, sloshing around our feet, but in all other respects we were still sea worthy. The sun came out and Jesus rather playfully threw His arm over my shoulders. We were brothers in labor and we had weathered the worst and we laughed at the things in life that would have foundered us, and sent our boat straight to the bottom. Some other things happened too, but when I recall that vision I remember how the Lord threw His arm around me and we laughed, He was preparing me for the storms in my life, because the lesson, of course, is that He is with us and He will see us through even the toughest situations, for you see it was not just my boat, it is His too.

Microcosm

February 13, 2011

I have been on Facebook for some time now and I have begun to notice what an odd microcosm it is, not that it is in any way a faithful representation of the way the wider world is, but there are microclimates that encourage certain mirror images of what is going on in the world. You may be fortunate to fall in with a group of people whom you wholeheartedly agree with or you may find yourself locked into one of those endless and fruitless debates which have been the hallmark of internet exchanges for more than a decade now.

We used to call them flame wars and they are usually precipitated by someone dangling flame bait. All that a person has to do to start something like this is to ridicule a subject which he or she knows someone else holds sacred or dear, and stand back. Often after the gasoline has been thrown on the fire the resulting inferno will burn for days, or at least until all the participants are exhausted. I have seen these things going on long before Facebook ever existed. So now when I see them merrily reproducing with predictable frequency on Facebook. It makes me wonder what is being achieved. All of this energy and righteous indignation, spraying out into the ether, for what?

It reminds me that there are people in this world who actually make a living by spreading disinformation. Have you ever wondered why TV news picks up certain stories to run with? Have you ever noticed when the subjects of a news report are characterized as being crude or backward in those reports? It may not be apparent in the copy of the story, often it is in the video content. Have you ever thought through the sage advice you got from that political analyst?

As a culture we are immersed in media throughout the day, every day. It is so pervasive that we often cannot tell that we are being swayed. We do not understand why we don’t care to be around certain types of people, but we are very certain that we don’t.

Our reasoning faculties are hobbled at an early age through ceaseless bombardment. Are we quite certain of our own tastes and ideas? Or have we surrendered to the barrage of endless input from the endless parade of “authorities” we see in newscasts, and advertisements, that we hear on talk radio, and we read in the press, or even from the sermons we hear?

This world is full of distortions of the truth, if we are to move forward Spiritually, if we are to mature, should we be relying on the things people tell us? Or should we be seeking the One who knows?

Why Do We?

January 15, 2011

Why do we use “crossing the Jordan” as a metaphor for physical death when we can live in the Promised land now (by means of the Spirit)?

Why do we not find fault with a minister whose idea of “being a servant” is to insist on being honored and having authority over us?

Why do we find fault with people who fall down when someone prays for them? Maybe they are more comfortable on the floor.

Why do we read about the Spirit in the Bible, but only think about the flesh?

Why do we tolerate preachers who push us down when they pray for us?

Why do we hold hands and proclaim our unity in the sanctuary, but get into a heated theological debate in the vestibule?

Why do some congregations throw people out when they dance in the aisles? After all, that could be the high point of the service!

Why do we say that we love God and live only for Him, when all of our desires and plans have to do with making our way in this world?

Why do we obsess about sin when Jesus already took care of that? If you are troubled, humble contrition is all that is needed, He is in His office 24/7.

Why do we gather with that same old group of crabby, and/or unnaturally cheerful people each week and call it church?

Why do we feel that the people in a church building are God’s people when the plastic smiles and handshakes are less genuine than Madoff’s hedge fund?

Why do we pass up an opportunity to help someone, so that we might get to church on time?

Why are we so sad at funerals (not counting relatives and close friends who are sad because they will truly miss the deceased) when we say that “he/she is with Jesus now”?

Why oh why do we believe the promises of men which are nearly always empty lies, while we ignore the true promises of God.

Why are we content to live shallow lives when we could be living in the fullness of His Spirit?

If you have done one or two, or more, of these things and understand how inconsistent they are, congratulations you are human.

For that matter if you drew breath and opened your eyes this morning you are human.

We all have needs, to love and to be loved, to be sheltered and fed, but most of all we need God.

Our need for God is apparent when we hunger and thirst for justice, or love, or friendship, or even for a break from the chaos which is this world.

God can bring us peace, love, provision, and companionship, if we will have it.

We can live in Him, in union with Him.

Jesus is the cure for our feckless humanity.

For Those Who Believe In Jesus

December 3, 2010

For those who believe in Jesus.

There are a few things which we must come to grips with in this world.

Jesus is real, Jesus is alive.

There are a lot of people in this world

and yes, even “ministers of the gospel” who do not truly believe it.

But they will not tell you that

because people lie.

You can know that He lives

You can know that this is true.

You can meet Him and you can hear Him,

if you seek Him.

How do we know this? He said, “Seek and Ye shall find”.

The problem with the world is, they are not seeking.

 

There are a few things which we must realize about this world.

There are people who want to own everything in the world.

There are people who want to have all of the power in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly do own everything in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly have all the power of this world.

If there were no God, we the ones without worldly power would be up the creek without a paddle.

Fortunately this is not the case, for our elder Brother and God, Jesus, has all of the real power.

This world is like a dust mote in His hands

and it’s power is like a tiny watch battery compared to the mighty power of the universe of God.

He who made all of the worlds and suns of the universe.

Can unmake this one and not even break a sweat.

He could poof us back into the dust cloud our world was made from,

But He does not do so for our sakes.

There are people among us who know Jesus

There are still people, even among the very wicked who can come to know Him.

There are people whom we are going to meet and lead into a relationship with Him.

Some of them will not seem to be very nice people.

And some of those same people will become closer than family to us.

I am not talking about taking someone to “church”,

I am not talking about taking them to a Christian concert,

I am talking about a face to face encounter with Him.

And their journey will start with your face and end up with His.

 

The time for wicked, worldly ones is limited.

This world will soon pass away.

Our lives in this world will end

but Jesus will not leave us.

So why is it we don’t trust Him, fully,

with everything?

 

So this is the deal, we all need to grow and mature in Jesus,

Don’t ask your pastor about this, don’t call up your favorite TV preacher either,

Go to Jesus. Yes, straight to Him.

It doesn’t take a degree in Theology, to talk to Him.

It doesn’t take a high falutin’ title either.

Just seek Him in your own humble way.

And listen.

He spoke to Abraham, and Moses, and David, and the Prophets,

And He will talk to you too.

He is the only one who really knows what is going on anyway!

I Don’t Have To Shoot You

October 1, 2010

I am a person like you are, I have my quirks and shortcomings, I eat too much of the foods I like, and I will talk too much about myself if you will let me. I am a person who lost his way in a labyrinth of self pity for a time, drunkenly sobbing about my missed opportunities. I am a person who woke up to the reality that no one in this world wanted to help me, spoiled brat that I am. I am hungry at times, I thirst at times, I need sleep and don’t always get enough. In short I am a person who is a lot like you in many ways, and I don’t have to shoot you.

I am also a person who had to deal with rage issues, for a while I wanted so badly to hurt the people who hurt me. I realized that hurting them was not a good solution, in fact it was not a solution at all. Then I climbed out of the deep hole which I had dug for myself, into the bright sunlight of Jesus’ presence. My experience has taught me that if you are headed the wrong way Spiritually I probably won’t be able to talk you out of it. I am not offended by your misdirection and it would be misguided of me to interfere with your (mis)adventure. Some time ago it used to be considered OK to kill someone for not being orthodox in the faith, but I don’t have to do that to you. I remember enough about my journey to understand that you are probably hurting yourself worse than anything I could do to you. I know that one day you will come to a cliff and you will have to decide whether to jump off or not.

I don’t have to shoot you, but you may be in danger of doing it to yourself someday.

If you decide not to jump off that cliff, and you want to talk, give me a call, drop me an e-mail, knock on my door, stop me on the street. I have been in a similar hole, I have stood on a similar cliff. and I backed away from the brink. When I turned away from death I discovered that life had been waiting for me all the time. When you are ready, we’ll talk about it.