RSS

Tag Archives: Christianity

Ripples and Birthdays

WisdomIn the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. [Genesis 1:1-2]

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,  in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. [Luke 2:4-7]

While I know that technically it is “Christmas Day” as I write, Gentle Reader, for me it is the ending of Christmas Eve for I’ve not yet slept. These several days, I’ve yet been struck with the awesome power of “silence’ and “waiting”. I know there are those who decry the customs and traditions of the Liturgical Year, and the cycle of holidays such as Christmas and Easter in the Christian Church. I realize, with all educated theologians, that the decisions to select the dates we have are more dependent on the incorporation of customs by pagan peoples into Christian practice, than any scriptural seasonal basis. But it has always seemed more to me an apt unification of God’s people, rather than any denial or wrongful compromise.

Paulfg (Just me being curious) speaks often of dropping pebbles and watching the myriad ripples that follow. So much of grace is like that. God, or one who follows Him, drops a pebble, and the Holy Spirit echoes and reverberates among many others like variations on a theme of music. I was recently struck by the rhythmic nature of reality, of the necessity of opposites. In order to know true freedom and choice of good over evil, we MUST of logical necessity, have the capacity to choose evil. In order to know light, we must have the ability to apprehend darkness. For me, limited as I am by my own culture and upbringing, I’m coming to consider this the nature of yin and yang. Even Paul’s ripples have peaks and troughs, a zenith and nadir to define them.

This “silence”, this “fasting”, this preparation for the annual commemoration of the Great Events of the Nativity and the Resurrection that comprise Advent and Lent… these are important, and can do much to enrich our experience of God. Why? Because they are, in and of themselves, some sort of “magic times”? No. Because God takes special note of those who are devout enough to honor these penitential periods, and rewards the faithful with special Brownie Point Blessings? No. Because we have to “purge ourselves of our worldliness and sin”, in order to benefit from these sacred feasts? Well, such exercise may well bear some fruit, yes… but not in such a transactional way, no.

Now, I know you’ve heard this before, but let me say it again. I write from my own experience and subjective perspective. My opinions and conclusions are my own, and if they do not agree with yours I am NOT implying that you are wrong. For you, in your life, your world, your walk with the Lord, these ideas may not fit at all… and if that is the case, please cast them aside without hesitation. But perhaps these reflections will spur a new thought or idea to explore with Him, and that may bring additional grace or blessing. I share to expand our sense of the Possible in the realm of the grace of God.

This night, I’ve been struck with the Ripples of the Nativity. With this transition from Advent into Christmas. From pregnancy to parenthood. I was struck with those TWO texts quoted at the beginning of this post. All of “Not-Yet-Created” waited silently and darkly for “Creation”. The verb there for God “formed” is a word that means “brought forth from nothing at all”. This is not like a conjurer’s trick, the magician who unveils and releases a dove from a handkerchief and his “empty” hand. No, this is vastly more profound. This is God the Father and God the Son and God the Breath of God speaking, extending, and hovering over the expanse of darkness to bring forth… EVERYTHING. Birth!

And then, much later on, we see this scenario play out into our world, our time and space, as the Father sends forth Gabriel and speaks, the Son extends, and the Holy Breath overshadows Mary in her home. Nine months later, according to the rules of biology established in our lives, we have… Birth!

In my own life, this is a night each year when the universe itself holds its collective breath and gazes upon THE miracle of birth. It is God’s glory, God’s act, God’s love, God’s grace. It is entirely and wholly His, and it could well be said that He alone has the right to rejoice in it. But… just as He invited the shepherds and the maji so long ago to take part, to come, to witness, to celebrate… so too, He invites us. Isn’t that wondrous?

But watch this, it gets better! It is not only the celebration of the Birth of Jesus that is going on here.  Jesus said, “you in Me and I in you and together we in the Father.”  John the Apostle calls you a “Child of God”. Paul the Apostle waxes eloquent about “joint-heir with Christ,” including the training and discipline involved. We never see any of these texts grovelling in any sort of “worthless worm theology”, as so often undermines Christians in the name of humility.

The Nativity is not only Jesus’ Birthday… but ours as well. We are here to commemorate a birth… your birth, my birth… as sons and daughters of God… joint heirs… princes and princesses of kingdom… called to do the works of Jesus and greater yet because He is risen to the Father.

God Alone creates something from nothing. God Alone chose to lay down His divinity and become a man like us in all things but sin. God Alone moves the Holy Breath Spirit to dwell within us and among us. Why? Because He chooses to. Because that’s what Love means to Him.

And God Alone could make royalty of you and me. “Holy and Royal Priesthood” is all well and good as long as we speak of it in some vague corporate collective of “The Church”. But people become vastly less comfortable when one points out that means that YOU, are a sacred prince/princess priest/priestess. *I’m* not saying that… Scripture says that.

So… for tonight… let us continue to be silent, waiting, and ready. For, tomorrow, there will be Birth. And there will be a Gift. And the Gift will be an entirely new life… not just a “getting by” life… but a holy and royal life. A life filled with life, love, joy, truth, beauty, goodness, power, authority, and duty. Life that gives itself away and pours itself out for others…

Why? Because that’s what God has chosen to do. Because that’s what Love means to Him.

Happy Birthday, Your Highness.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Advent Devotions, Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Gifts — Contagious

gift-boxesWhen they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”  [1 Samuel 10:10-11]

{Have a look at this chapter (1 Samuel 10), and see this story from verse 1 to verse 12.]

Don Merritt has just completed a terrific series of posts on “Spiritual Gifts”, and I recommend it to all of you Gentle Readers. [The series starts with the post of October 30, titled “Now What?“. Get the whole series in one bite by going to The Life Project and pulling the listing of keyword tag “spiritual gifts“. It is WELL worth the effort, trust me.].

I didn’t comment on his posts for a number of reasons, the foremost of which was that they were so well done there really wasn’t much I felt moved to add. His material was so comprehensive and well organized that I didn’t want to distract anyone (or him) by injecting my sort of “out of the box” commentary. But I did have a number of those thoughts go by, along with flashbacks of the ancient times when these emerged in my own walk.

Between that and some questions that have come up from time to time on the topics of Discernment and hearing the Holy Spirit, there are a few pebbles that I’ve wanted to toss into our pond of spiritual growth and exploration here as their own posts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The question is often asked… “How can I enhance my spiritual growth?”

The answer is often given… “Find and attend a church or place of worship that grows you, where the Holy Spirit seems to be present among the people.”

Such advice is often looked upon as being “marketing”, or “toeing the party line”. But it is far more than that. The other day, I mentioned that to “gather as church” is an effect, a fruit, of an intimate encounter with God… it is not generally a cause. “Piety”… a deep and sincere love for the Divine, on His own terms, not ours, can be nearly palpable, tangible, with certain places or people.

Have you ever walked into a church, or a chapel or old mission, or maybe a cloister… and just wanted to sit there and enjoy the experience? I don’t want to sound “flamingly mystical” or anything, but… I have become convinced over time that people of love, investing themselves into the Word(s) of God, with faith repetitively in a place… seem to leave a residue behind.

Which comes to my point… that “faith”, “love”, “encouragement”, and “giftedness”… all seem to have a major element of “contagion” to them. Investing time, care, focus and love into Truth of God seems to draw that truth forward into our immediate experience. More simply put, Love is a force that has real world effects when applied.

Back in the days when I was a young omniscient minister, I was part of a band of brethren that ministered according to our gifts in the community. I noticed at the time, the strange phenomenon that when I was “functioning in and with the group”, the strength of my gift was much greater, much more precise, much clearer, than when I was alone or working alone. Upon further reflection later in life, I realized that my own development of those gifts… even their emergence to identifiability… had occurred when I was both under the tutelage of a master spiritual director AND was comfortably nestled among a group of brethren determined to grow in our relationship with God, and serving the community.

When I did see this in my middle age, I was struck with that passage from 1 Samuel. I have observed this before, many times. When a collective of faithful (whether a church, a ministry, whatever) are determined, dedicated, and mutually accountable to grow in Christ… and when led by a teacher of wisdom and experience… then spiritual giftedness, grace, and growth of relationship with God… seem to “effervesce” or bubble up like popcorn bursting forth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom Line: Grace, love, and emergence of spiritual gifts are “contagious”, and best nurtured in an environment that includes the energetic encouragement of fellow family members, with the guidance and care of an experienced master mentor.

What do ya’ll think? What have you seen, heard, experienced around any of this?
Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Culture Wars – Christus Victor

BlueRedPillOK, nothing like making the title of this post two “Hot Buttons” of religious/academic debate and dispute… right? Are you thinking you need to don “protective gear” for this one?

No, Gentle Reader. No such thing. We are not going to try to tiptoe through either minefield here today.

All I want to do here is bring up a little different perspective for looking at life as a Kingdom Dweller and Royal Child of God… (which you are), in light of the chaos that seems so often to surround us.

First, let’s go back a moment, to good old Sociology 101 and revisit what a “culture” is.

1 cul·ture

noun \ˈkəl-chər\
: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

Thinking back to those boring social studies classes, “cultures are distinguished and generally defined in terms of their ‘norms’, ‘mores’, and ‘values’, both explicit and implicit.”  What does all this mean in everyday language? Our culture is our mutual expression of society and social (group) life, in a given time and place, among a given people.

That is, culture evolves and emerges from the way in which people live their everyday lives. It’s what so commonly called, “the way we do things around here.” When a newcomer (to town, to a school, to a company, or even a church) asks, “why do we do things THIS way?”, they are likely to hear the response, “because that’s how we ALWAYS do it.” This is an expression of culture. It should go without saying that this is a “symbiotic” relationship. That is, just as it is people who generate the patterns of culture, so too, culture helps form the patterns people’s interactions. Culture is the framework we erect around us, and people as a whole tend to operate within that framework.

Why so much emphasis and focus on this old, boring, freshman year “Humanities” course? Well, because somehow this has become a life-or-death cause célèbre among so many of my loving and beloved Christian brethren.

I have elements I would like to bring before you, then challenge you to take these to your own Prayer Garden, ponder your Rose and His petals, and then “whatever He tells you to do, do that.” K?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4]

11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20 I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” [John 17]

29 His disciples *said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30 Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” [John 16]

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [1 John 5:1-5]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Granted, that’s a LOT of scripture, Gentle Reader. But be comforted, we are not going to analyze it. I have chronicled this to highlight a very specific element addressed both by Jesus and John.

  • What if, just as Jesus distinguished “different arenas” to the Woman at the Well for those who “worship here or there” (culture stuff) versus “those who worship God in spirit and truth” (REAL stuff)? What if Jesus was distinguishing “culture” (the stuff people do among themselves) as “OF the world”, from the spirit/truth reality of what Disciples are to do “IN the world”?
  • Please note the unequivocal statements of both Jesus and John, regarding the “outcome of conflict” between “social forms” and “spirit and truth”. That is: “Jesus HAS OVERCOME the world.” Period. Full Stop.

Well… well… then what does this MEAN? I mean, just look around! Clearly society and the world are in a mess! Clearly our culture is dissolute, driven by greed, fear, sensuality, violence, and anything BUT the “sacredness of others”!

I am not here today to “tell you” what all that means. I’m not really trying to “teach” here this day. But I just want to raise some questions in your mind, heart, and spirit to take to Him, to the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and see if He has Rose petals for you, pearls of great price to place with your own Treasure in your heart.

What if…

  • What if “culture” were like a “stage setting”? A place, a context, in which we live out our lives and play our roles? That Shakespeare made a valuable observation saying, “All the world’s a stage…: [As You Like It, Act 2: Scene 7]?
  • What if, by the sovereignty and will of God, He could choose to place us, set us, into any “culture” of His choice, any time frame or era for us to be born in, among any people or nationality on Earth?
  • What if, when we enter into Him, into His Intimate and Immediate Presence, when He indwells us and we become One with and in Him and the Father… what if in that moment, He translates our dominion, making us no longer “OF the world”, but yet leaving us “IN the world”?
  • What if, neither Jesus nor John were lying, crazy, or “waxing poetic” with hyperbole, when they claimed that Jesus HAS OVERCOME the world? Simply, that “Jesus has won, and defeated the Enemy utterly”?
  • What if “my role”, “my script”, my “task in the Kingdom”, were to be salt and light, to love God with all I am and all I have, to love my neighbor as myself, and to carry Jesus within me (being a vessel for Him) into any and all spaces (dark or light) where broken children need to encounter Him?
  • What if that role never varied, no matter what “stage” I was set upon to perform, or what “props” surrounded me?

Do you see the questions in my mind?

What if, indeed, the Lord has “set us” into the stage and scene of His choice (in that He has all of time and space to choose from), and our “role” is always the same… to bring His Presence into our particular and specific “now”, whatever that happens to be?

What if He is the Grand Director and Producer? What if our job, as actor, is simply to perform? Where He has already fulfilled His own responsibilities to furnish and populate the stage?

What if I were an actor that reads a lot of different plays and I like some better than others, and then I’m hired to play a part in a particular production. When I get to my first performance, I “don’t like” my stage setting, so instead of playing my part, saying my lines, interacting with the other players… instead I start moving furniture around, removing and acquiring new props, and complaining about the stage set? Would I be doing what I was called to do?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I am constantly amazed at churchmen who decry our “culture”. The Early Church flourished as it did in a culture so horrible as nearly to defy imagining. Those were TERRIBLE TIMES. The Temple had their own police to collect their taxes. Slavery was not only tolerated as law of the land, but enforced by religious authority as well. Believers were arrested, beaten, imprisoned, tried, executed, and often tortured for the amusement of onlookers. Frankly, given a choice between being a Believer in 1st Century Rome or Jerusalem, and being a Believer in 21st Century Here… I’m grateful God placed me HERE. (Let’s not romanticize things, please.)

We are incredibly BLESSED to be here, now, if we choose to fulfill our roles. We have vastly more opportunity to do what the First Century Church did, holding all things in common, giving for the needs of others, feeding, clothing, visiting, praying, worshiping, sharing… you NAME it… and no one here will arrest or torture us for it (which is more than can be said of other parts of the world, even now).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I ask…

IS there such a thing, as a MEANINGFUL “Culture War”? Or, are we looking at actors who have lost track of Reality… Who mistake “stage dressing” for the Reality into which Jesus has translated us? Should our task and focus be on changing the “set design”? Or on interacting with all the others on stage to communicate the Message with which we have been sent?

I ask, should ANY Christian, be FIGHTING a Culture War?

Hasn’t Jesus already WON that? Is Christ not the Victor?

Is our task rather, to rescue and heal the broken, battered, wounded, and orphaned CASUALTIES of such a war?

Are we, rather, just marching about the battlefield, killing off all the wounded?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The photo that opens this post is from the movie, The Matrix. It is the pivotal scene where Morpheus offers Neo a choice between taking the Blue Pill or the Red Pill. Take the Blue Pill, and stay in the illusion “OF the world” believing that the stage set is reality itself. Or, take the Red Pill and awaken forever, disconnected forevermore from the fantasy world of Matrix, and thus now able to enter into the Matrix at any point, to help bring freedom to others enslaved.. “IN the world”.

Mountain or Temple? Wrong question… a Matrix Question. Blue Pill.

Spirit and Truth? Right answer… Jesus Answer. Red Pill.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For a very long time, Gentle Reader, I have spent my life and career, like Morpheus, finding sleepers and offering them a choice between Blue Pill and Red Pill. For it is, indeed, a choice. To be so hypnotized, so distracted by the illusion, of the “stage set” that we invest our lives there, our hearts there, our treasure there, our personal sense of worth and identity, there. OR… in the alternative… we can “metanoia”… we can “beyond see”… see beyond the illusion and set dressing of this framework, this culture, this time and place, and find the God who seeks after US to worship Him in spirit and in truth… to invest ourselves THERE, in eternal life, as Jesus has brought it to us.

So there ya go, Gentle Reader. Up to you… *offers you a silver pillbox with two compartments. One is filled with red gel capsules, the other with blue.* Now, do what you will. Take a Blue, if that is more comfortable. In that you are here at all, you probably took a Red long ago. But now you have your very own supply. Feel free to join me in my quest… to find those who know… absolutely KNOW… there’s something MORE than the stage props. But who haven’t quite totally awakened, to get unhooked from the illusion of the Matrix yet.

Let us together carry on with Jesus’ commission and great joyful task… that we Set the Captives Free! Which pill have you chosen?

Grace to thee — Gentle Reader — The Little Monk

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greatest in Kingdom

Disciples18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] 12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” [Matthew 18]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This morning I listened to a wonderful sermon on this passage. The very gifted preacher is a terrific man, husband, father, son, neighbor, servant, and teacher. His sermon “grew me”, “fed me”, “enriched me”. What’s more, like almost everything True that rings of God in my heart and spirit, this sermon prompted “further echoes” and harmonics, as God carried on with grace beyond the words. And I’d like to put some of that extension down here.

That pastor’s message centered on godly parenting. Their church is going through a time of examination and renewal on Christian families, and raising blessed children. This morning’s message looked at some of the duties of parents towards their children in and through Jesus’ word(s) in the passage above.

The Three Points of the Sermon were:

  1. Parents need to provide “humility” for their children
  2. Parents need to provide “protection” for their children
  3. Parents need to provide “stability in relationship with God” for their children.

THERE, is that gifted man’s Rose for today. He embraced it, highlighted it, shared it with his congregation. That is WONDERFUL. That is TRUE. That is TRUTH and straight from the heart of scripture and Jesus’ words and heart. I want to be very clear here about all of that. Those of you who follow this blog very much, understand what I mean about the Lord giving each of us our own Rose, our own view of Him, truth, grace, in the garden of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. Each of us see our own Rose, and can describe the experience of that to others, so that they may enter into their own gardens and look upon their own Rose.

The spotlight this gifted pastor threw onto these reflections, prompted me to look upon my own walk in parenting and reflections on these points and insights. My Rose included his petals… our spotlights twinkled in much the same way. My reflections though, included an additional point I would like to share here. And it is important to me that you, Gentle Reader, not see this as “critique” by any means. Especially if you are a casual, or unaccustomed reader of this blog. I’m going to say something here that is a bit different, a bit additional, to that wonderful sermon… and it is, indeed, intended only as “enhancement”, not “correction”… which would be very out of order for me. OK? Fine then. Here we go.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The pastor read the text (cited and printed above), and began his exposition saying…

“The first thing we need to do for our children, the first gift we need to provide for them, is ‘humility’.”

The pastor pointed out, correctly and accurately, that the first words of Jesus here show the need for the disciples to humble themselves like the child, and that the child must begin from a posture of humility. He then went on to comment on our culture, and the pitfalls of raising youth with the all-too-common sense of entitlement and immunity from correction, accountability, or criticism that we see far too often in these days. It was a well made, well thought out, point.

The pastor spoke of the experience that he and his wife had bringing their children home from the hospital when they were born… that sense of responsibility for another human life… and the overwhelming sense of need of God’s grace and guidance in such an awesome endeavor. As he spoke so movingly, so deeply and sincerely, about his experience in those moments… it threw me back to those parallel moments in my own life and heart, 28 or so years ago…

(* Insert Flashback Here *) My beloved and I stood hand in hand, staring at our three day old daughter sleeping in her infant bed. Wordless… just staring… pulses racing… as the same realization hit us both at the same moment… Conversation (sort of), starts…

“Little Monk? We don’t know what we’re doing…”

“I know.”

“She’s a person! I mean, a real live human being!”

“I know.”

“God has given her to US! I mean, we are supposed to RAISE her. We are her PARENTS! As if we knew what we were doing…”

“I know.”

“Little Monk? How are we supposed to DO that? I mean, God is trusting us with this whole… this… this real… this BABY! This HUMAN! This PERSON! What do we DO? How do we DO this? I mean, we’re gonna mess this UP! Is God crazy? How could He trust us with something so precious as… HER?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Don’t know if you’ve been there, Gentle Reader. In that you’re reading this at all… if you are a parent… you probably remember a moment or two like this. God led us, in the next few hours after that, in some serious “together time” with Him, that I’ll not try to recount, but just summarize here:

  • God had entrusted to us as parents, a sacred child of His… wrapped in His love, whose angel stood ever before His face, having fashioned her down to the smallest atom of her being in His mind and heart. He was TRUSTING us, to “foster” her, to “care for” her, as “stewards” for her life… until she stood on her own before Him.
  • We realized… ACCURATELY… that we, of ourselves, were not up to the task, and hadn’t the slightest clue how to do this.
  • We, in this moment of her brand new life, stood in the “shoes of God” for her. Her very survival depended on our care. WE at the moment, represented GOD in her world. Over time, as she grew, as she formed relationships, ideas, thoughts, awareness, our “godhead” would diminish, and her “hand would transfer” across 18 or so years, as we diminished to “merely human” in stature, and God took over His own identity in and to her.
  • In that… in that period of our “Temporary God Permit” of 18 or so years, WE were responsible for laying down the template, the relationships, the principles, of Truth, Love, Trust, Provision, Authority, Protection… that would pave the way for God to fill those channels with His Own Being in her adult life. Right now, at her birth, our “Divinity” (in her consciousness, her universe) was “total”, nearly “absolute”. At 18, it would be utterly gone. Life from now til then, would be a progress of ours diminishing, as His directly increased as His own relationship in her.

When we saw this, as we prayed and pondered through this, when we fully grasped this and its gravity… we were utterly terrified. We both counseled. Both of us were already painfully aware of the devastation in the lives of sacred people, of parenting that maimed and twisted the souls of children. Both from our own lives and from our work, the prospects of “error” here, terrified us.

In the face of that terror, God led us to:

  • Humbly embrace this realization, that she was a “temporary trust in His Name”, and that of ourselves we didn’t know how to do this.
  • Trust Him in faith, that if we would rely on Him and His Spirit and Word(s) for guidance, He would bless this and bring forth the fruit He intended.
  • Understand, that this is and has ever been His design for family, and that it was the journey together that bore the fruit, not just the arrival at the destination of her adulthood.
  • Realize, with great gratitude, that as long as we truly sought her good in Him, He could and would, “redeem and indemnify” even our frailties and errors… bringing about blessing to her and to us, even if in the limitations of our finite wisdom, we were “incorrect” in one call or another. (In other words, we did not have to “get it all perfect”, in order for Him to bless us and her as if we had.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now, all that may seem like a roundabout way to get to what is a fairly simple and straightforward point, but I wanted you to get the context here, because this point is critical…

My colleague, the pastor there this morning, began his parenting observations from the point of Jesus spoken words… at verse 3. That’s fine, that’s well and good, that’s where his Rose petals led him.

But when we, 28 years ago, prayed SPECIFICALLY before God as to “what does our child need, First and Foremost from us!?” God was extremely clear and detailed. The pastor this morning started with verse 3, saying “children need us to give them humility”. The Lord, with us so long ago, started with verse 2 (a petal earlier on the Rose), saying, “More than anything else, Little Monk, I need you to teach her to TRUST YOU, that she learn she can trust ME.”

Look at verse 2 there for a moment.

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them..”

This is “scripturally unusual”. Jesus seldom EVER “makes a display of others”. PEOPLE tried to do it a time or two, and Jesus does not approve. In Mark 8:22-26, some villagers grabbed a blind man because they wanted to see Jesus do a miracle. The villagers wanted a “show”. Jesus takes the man away, heals him in private (with some difficulty) and tells him to go home without even passing back THROUGH the village. People tear off roofs to get to Jesus, they reach out through crowds to touch His garments, they get friends to carry them there, they climb trees to see Him. All this! But how often do we see Jesus call someone to Him, simply to display them? This may be the only time.

So… put yourself there for a moment. There’s Jesus. There’s the Disciples. There’s a crowd. The Disciples ask their question, “Who’s greatest?” The crowd leans closer to hear this answer. After all… who WOULDN’T want to hear this answer? Now, there’s this little kid there. (Ever notice how often there’s a “little kid there” for Jesus? Anyway…) here’s this little kid. Are his parents there? Dunno. Has he ever seen Jesus before? Dunno. Do his parents believe? Dunno. Is he “friends with Jesus?” do they have some prior relationship we know nothing about? Dunno. Jesus and scripture make no reference to any of that, so let’s use “conservative interpretation” and not assume anything not there. No crutches, eh?

Now, it’s one thing for Jesus to say to a grown man, “Follow Me!” and be followed. But imagine being a little kid, in a crowd of gawkers, with Peter and all the rest of the guys hanging on His every word there, and seeing Jesus… “beckon you”… call you out from the crowd to go stand by Him, after someone has just asked a question like THAT, and the whole crowd hushes to lean in like someone just said, “E. F. Hutton says…”

What would that be like? Would you go? Would I? Would we walk away from our parents, our chores, our lunch, the safety of the crowd, to go stand in THAT spotlight? Wouldja? Would *I*? I dunno.

Well, that little kid did.

(I’d love to know what that child turned into as an adult. I intend to see, when I get to heaven. One of those “To Do” list elements I have… lol.. my “Beyond the Bucket List”.)

That boy trusted Jesus, and fearlessly came when Jesus called.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And THAT is what Jesus said was the FIRST thing, the MOST IMPORTANT thing for us to teach our daughter.

We were to teach her to TRUST us, so that, in time, she could TRUST HIM.

Jesus was extremely clear and specific as to how to do this, and without much discussion, I’ll set some of His rules to us on that here:

  • Trust to His Provision – we were to “meet her needs… always… immediately”. He asked that we trust HIM on this, but that (contrary to LOTS of advice we were given), we were to understand that the only means an infant has initially, to express a need, is to cry. Children do not cry for “no reason”, they NEED something, but unfortunately, they cannot tell us what that is, yet. Jesus challenged us, when we heard her cry, to GET TO HER, and comfort her by touch and voice, assuring her of our presence and our love… IMMEDIATELY, OR WITHIN 60 SECONDS. He assured us, this would bear delightful fruit. (And, of course, He was right. From 6 months old on, we could stop our child from crying with our voices alone… even if we were unavoidably delayed in getting to her directly. She LEARNED, she KNEW, she could trust that we would address her needs once she let us know she had one, and could trust that we would not ignore her or her suffering.)
  • We were never ever to lie to her, deceive her. Always be honest. Now, subject to “age appropriate context”, and with due regard for “privacy” or “what we may choose not to answer or discuss”. “Honesty” is not the same as a “Top Secret Clearance Pass”, or total access to all information.
  • We were never EVER… to Call Her to Us… and then Hurt Her. Not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. There are times in parenting, where one inflicts “hurt” in any of those areas. But, in such moments… WE were to approach HER. Never were we to call her to us, say or imply “Trust Me”, and then betray that trust with pain. If she was in trouble, she would know it, be sent off for “cool down” (both us and her) and THEN we would meet as we went to her, not the reverse.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It is this last rule… the “Call to Trust”… that is the “Petal for Today”. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a mentor, a friend… should you be called to “speak forth in His Name” in whatever role you play at that moment… ask Him if this is a principle He writes in your life and spirit. If so, grace to thee… if not, just cast this aside.

But the single greatest challenge I know in this broken fallen world… (Redeemed already by the Cross… yes… but not yet aware of that Redemption… yet “groans and suffers” for ITS adoption as Paul says (Romans 8:21-23))… The hardest hurdle to surmount for broken children to grasp the rescue and healing of Jesus… is MISTRUST of Him. Fear of Him. Fear that to touch Him will hurt, will bring pain, will bring punishment!

Such heartbreak for Him!! Who can imagine its magnitude!

How wondrous is it for Him, on the other hand, simply to BECKON a child… and have them joyously trust Him and come to His call?

Original sin did not leave us with a trusting nature. Eve did not trust God. That is buried DEEP within our hearts. Parents, pastors, teachers, mentors, friends… WE are the key in healing this “congenital defect” we have inherited in our DNA from Adam and Eve.

Give children humility? Yes! (Most effectively by EXERCISING it… especially TOWARDS them! But that’s for a different post.)

Give children protection? Yes! Stand in the gap for them. Let them know always that you are there to preserve them from harm, even when they are sure you are wrong.

Give children the gift of relationship with God? Yes! Be the exemplar of a Child of God, before the Father, alongside the Firstborn! By all means!

And see that ALL of this rests on a necessary foundation. FIRST there must be “Trust”. Teach that you can be TRUSTED, and that God can as well. Without knowing that your children can trust you… they will not learn “humility”, or “safety”, or “godliness” from you. For they will always reserve something behind a wall of their heart, waiting for “the other shoe to drop”… waiting for the “inevitable betrayal”.

Trust is the hardest thing. And, once attained, it is the most precious thing we could ever have!

Blessings and grace to thee, Gentle Reader. Trust Him! He is Safe! Honest!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Keeping Your Head on Straight — Not a Fable

Drosophila melanogasterOnce upon a time… I used to pull the heads off flies.

Excuses:

  • I was only following orders.
  • I did it for the “greater good”.
  • I was swift, steady, gentle, and merciful
  • They were very small flies, (fruitflies, gnats, no-see-ums, the kind of fly we wipe off the back of our necks on a warm summer evening on the porch).

Drosophila melanogaster – the common fruitfly

Biology pre-med major… lots of bio lab courses… histology… genetics… experimenting with fruit flies. Breeding them. Then, measuring them. Anesthetizing a tube of dozens, sprinkling a few out, grasping one with forceps and placing it (the size of a gnat… a no-see-um) on my slide, separating the head from the body carefully to preserve the salivary glands intact, applying stain and solvent then a cover slip to the glass slide, and putting it under the microscope (that had a grid, and measurement scales on it), to measure and classify the results.

Jesus had brought these memories back to me with crystal clarity. He focused, minutely, on the diligence, the care I would take, my hands… steady and careful, my eyes… obsessed with getting just the accurate count of hairs (or whatever criterion evaluated)… the care to focus perfectly… to standardize my scales properly… then notate my results without error. He reminded me of my intensity to attain perfection in this! (For I was very dedicated, indeed.)

What had brought this memory about? What was Jesus teaching me at the time?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About a week ago… Saturday… I was reviewing some notes on The Lord’s Prayer and Sermon on the Mount. Suddenly these verses stopped me, amplified, and would not let go of me…

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you…” [Matthew 7]

(I’m sure you’ve known such moments from time to time.) And the Lord was present, and intense. Not angry… not at all… just… well, “intense” is the only word I can find. It was clear, He was “teaching”… “renewing”… “transforming”… and I just had to hold still and “hear Him… wait Him out… let Him ‘speak’ into my heart in such a way that He accomplished His purpose”. (I wish I had better words for such moments. They happen seldom, and they are “cosmic” in impact, and I’ve never found the right language to wrap around them, because they are “wordless” moments. All I could do was “wait” and “attend”.)

Don’t “judge”… (And I DO this… all the time… so STOP IT!) That simple!

I mean, really… how simple is that? God said.. “Don’t judge, Little Monk. It’s above your pay grade. It’s not your role. It’s not your right. When you do it, you bring judgment upon yourself! Just… just… DON’T!”

How SIMPLE is that?

And yet… and yet… I’ve done it every day of my life, since I was old enough to… probably about 3 years old or so. At LEAST every day, no doubt every HOUR, sometimes for hours on end! Pride is, and has ever been, my besetting sin. I was raised this way. I was raised “proud”, and “elitist”. I was raised constantly to “keep score”… grades, popularity, wealth, intelligence, social standing, uprightness. Later this translated into piety, dedication, holiness, even servanthood. (How ironic is that? To keep a “pride meter” going on how “humble” you are?! Nonetheless, it can be done, trust me on that!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After ruthlessly showing me my ongoing failure to overcome my sin of judging, Jesus had rolled that “instant replay video” of the “white lab-coated me” before my eyes. Reaching out for my specimens, examining them, measuring them, drawing my conclusions, making my notes.

He likened all of that to “judging”, and said that across my whole life, I had tried to overcome my sin of judging by trying to rid myself of my methodical diligence. I’d tried to learn not to tear apart the bug. Not to stain the glands. Not to mount the slide. Not to measure the outcome. Not to notate the results… I tried to “unlearn diligence”, thinking I was “doing right”. And, He concluded, rather matter-of-factly… I’d failed. My whole life, I had tried to correct this sin this way, and failed. Not utterly… I’d succeeded in muddling the process up to now. He said I’d made some progress… I no longer came up with my “quantitative result”, and I never ever “wrote the results down in my notes” anymore. Good show! But…

But… I had missed His point entirely. “The sin,” Jesus said, “is not in the means you use to measure and evaluate the specimen. The sin, is in believing that you have a ‘specimen to evaluate’ in the first place! Your sin of judgment isn’t in how you treat the fly to measure it. Your sin is in ‘seeing a fly’ and reaching for it at all!

“Don’t you see, Little Monk? Your judging isn’t in ‘HOW you answer the question of another’s worth’. You sin by judging when you think you have the right to ASK the question at all! From that point on, you’ve violated their sacredness, and all the rest is just a matter of degree.

“I’m not telling you just to quit measuring and evaluating everything. I’m telling you to stop even asking the question, even framing the thought, or allowing your mind to reach out to anyone or anything else to ‘evaluate’… beyond simply distinguishing or identifying it, him, or her.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It took me a while, Gentle Reader, even to UNDERSTAND what He was saying. Wondrously, He almost seemed to “still time” for me, for a number of hours to grapple with my own “hardness of heart and head”, until I could SEE, I could HEAR, what He was saying here. When at last I did…

When finally I did… I was horrified. I DID see, I DID hear. And it horrified me. I got it. Now, to make a long story short, having now embraced this conviction, I renounced it, and tried to resolve never to do this again.

But you know what? I failed. For hours I tried… until I realized that it was as if there were “gridlines” in my very eyes. For me to THINK about anyone, anything, ideas, positions, opinions, people… was for me REFLEXIVELY to evaluate them… reach out and grasp them, define their “edges”, and then “measure them” according to my own criteria and judge them, good/bad, like/don’t like, right/wrong, want/don’t want… on and on without pause or reflection. I tried, for several hours I tried… and failed dismally. I could not stop myself.

I wondered why? I asked Him why? Where had I learned this? Why was this so deeply a part of how I even LOOK AT things, let alone think about them? Where did I pick this up, that I could learn to “put it down”? How could I “unlearn” this?

The Lord was gracious enough to respond…

“It is in you from the beginning. It is part of Original Sin. It IS the original sin of Eve. The Serpent posed her a proposition, a different view of God’s will, and she BOUGHT IT. That there was some ‘conceivable good’, some good thing, some advantage available to her and Adam, that was outside of and contrary to, the will of God. She conceived the possibility that God’s mind and words held something less than their utter, and absolute, good. She ‘tested this hypothesis’, and ‘measured’… looking upon the fruit and measuring it against three criteria of her choice… that it was a delight to the eyes, good for food, and desirable to make one wise. She MEASURED, then concluded, decided, and acted.

“Your drive to do this, Little Monk, is a part of your very DNA, your legacy from Adam and Eve.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now… I want to do something unusual here.

I am going to stop. I will offer “my” conclusion to this post tomorrow (Lord, willing). But this was a very VERY “experiential” moment of prayer in my life. I want to invite you, Gentle Reader, to experiment on your own.

No, don’t go pulling the heads off fruitflies, or anything else. But take a few minutes, see if you “judge” as regularly as you see me convicted of here, see if after a few minutes you can “Get it”, as I struggled to do…

It’s not… murder, but anger… not adultery, but lust…. not measuring, but asking… “Sin”, as Jesus would have us avoid it, is not in “what we DO to others”, but how we “LOOK UPON others”. That was a tough, tough realization for me.

Jesus gave me time. Quiet time. To hear, to ponder, to consider His words, to look at scripture, to see those words… before He concluded this episode and lesson for me.

So, I want to give YOU time as well. Consider all this, “look upon Your Rose” with all this, and let the Holy Spirit speak into your own heart. Then come back, and see whether you and I come to the same, or similar places.

This has a happy ending, I assure you. It may surprise you, or it may not, but it’s nothing to shrink away from… truly. No pain here, no guilt, shame… in fact… how Jesus dealt with THAT may actually make you laugh.

Meet you here tomorrow, Good Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’ rise (as my mother used to say)…

Blessings and grace to thee, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Embrace takes Empty Hands

Broke_Chain“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one phrase per post, today we will consider:

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” [Multitude’s Version]

“And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” [Disciples’ Version]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Just a couple quick notes on this, and then examine what the Lord reveals in your own spirit with your own Rose. These two verses are truly different in the places the words differ. For one thing, that “forgive” is again one of those different “magic Greek thingy words”, that is not just a petition or command, but rather a statement of action throughout time, and in range of scope.

There are two notable differences between these two teachings. For one thing, the Multitudes version uses an actual “debt” word that implies a financial obligation. It reads something like “release us from what we owe to others, to the extent that we release others from what they owe us.” The Disciples’ version is nothing like that. First, the word “sin” there is actually “sin”, “falling short-ness”. The “debt” word is debt, yes. But rather than “to the extent that we release” (Multitude text), the Disciples’ form is more directive… “release us from our sins, because we release everyone who owes us.” The phrasing is much more stark… much more framed as “expectation”.

I suspect that this is the first really confrontive challenge any Christian faces in truly embracing Jesus. Here is an essential “requirement” of what Don Merritt has written eloquently on as the “counter-intuitive”. The internal sense of sin, guilt, or shame is one of the deepest sources of pain any of us ever know. Freedom from this pain passes through the mist of “forgiveness”. But Jesus is very clear here, that to experience the release of forgiveness, one must first execute the release of forgiving.

Contemplate your Rose. Savor its aroma. Embrace the freedom Jesus offers, realizing that to embrace Him and His love, our hands must first be empty of the burdens of others’ offenses.

Grace to thee, Gentle Reader.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Who, Then, is Sacred?

Good Sam GlassIf you have read much of this blog, you know that I have come to the conviction that for me, in my conscience, “sin” has acquired a fairly simple definition. It could best be expressed as, “I ‘sin’ when I treat any sacred person or object, as less than sacred.”

Well, today I was riding down the road alongside a colleague, and shared a “strange thing” God showed me yesterday, that I had never noticed before. While reading through the tale of Paul/Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, God stopped me dead in my tracks at the words, “a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ (Acts 22:6b-8)

And I tried to move on, and the Lord stopped me time and again… “No, Little Monk, you missed it… look again.” And so I did, over and over. Until finally the words began to light up for me… “persecuting ME“… I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

It struck me how very strange… how wrong… this seemed. Wait… Jesus was already ascended. Saul never saw Him. Never spoke with Him. Never persecuted Him. Saul was persecuting FOLLOWERS, BELIEVERS… Saul was persecuting what we like to think of as “The Church”, an institution… a corporate entity…

“No,” Jesus replied. He WASN’T… He was persecuting PEOPLE. He THOUGHT he was attacking an institution, a corporation, a movement… he called it ‘The Way’… but he was helping arrest, try, convict, condemn, and execute PEOPLE. He killed them, trying time and time again, to kill ME.”

That was the breathtaking, heart stopping, realization here. “Me”… Jesus… King… Lord… not THEM… not Church… not movement… not follower… not even “precious child”… but “Me”.

If that were true…

If that’s what Jesus really meant in His cry to Saul…

If Jesus meant… JESUS… in Saul’s attacks…

Then… then…

Did that mean that when I offend another… when I attack them… when I injure them… when I belittle, or demean, or judge them… that it is not only THEM I hurt, but JESUS?

This was not a happy thought. I did not like this thought. I sought to push away this thought… and rather than help me with this, Jesus instead just “piled on,” reminding me of Matthew 25:31-46… that whole “Sheep-Goats-Judgment” thing, reminding me, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Do you see it? Do you see it too?

Now, Jesus never EVER whines to or at me. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes from time to rare time, His voice will tend rather to ‘yodel’ with excitement or frustration, when He says something like, “WHY, Little Monk! Why don’t they see, why won’t they hear? I am PERFECTLY clear here… but even YOU are only now starting to see My words, that are and were perfectly clear for centuries. I am NOT being ‘figurative’ or ‘poetic’! I am not exaggerating… I am THERE… IN THEM… and yes, when you wound any, with your actions, attitudes, or words… yes, you wound ME! Any questions?”

“Nossir. No questions. I need to process this for a bit, though, if that’s ok.”

“Sure thing, Little Monk. You process away!”

And so I did. And so I have. It has really brought me to slow up a bit, and consider things with a much more wary eye. It’s rather like being in midst of a trip to the local five and dime soft-goods store, and suddenly finding yourself in the centre of a fine china, porcelain and crystal shoppe. Like suddenly everything around me carried “Fragile, Handle with Care” stickers on them.

So, in part of this processing, I shared today with my friend, my colleague. He immediately got the significance of “Me”, and himself mentioned the parallel of Matthew 25. I felt encouraged. He’s a great man, educated theologian, advanced degrees, senior pastor… deep and beloved brother to me. All that. I told him I was yet sort of “letting this soak”, recovering, letting all the pieces of my “deconstructed theology” and personal ethics, and he was kind, and supportive, and helpful… right up until he said…

“Of course, Little Monk, you realize… the Lord wasn’t saying that about EVERYBODY…”

*THUD*

“What? What do you mean?”

“Well,” he went on, “The Lord doesn’t mean that everybody is sacred… that He is in everybody that way… so it’s not like that offending everybody is always offending Him.”

And he started to discuss the theology of the “saved” versus the “lost”, the Children of God versus others, and so on and so on. I didn’t argue with him… dispute or debate. It is far too old an argument. I’ve been through it too many times. I could say only what Jesus allows me to say on all this…

“I know that John and Paul speak of these things in church composition and leadership and such, but I never see Jesus separate people this way as He walked, lived, served, ministered or socialized. I never see Him treat some people as ‘saved’, others as ‘lost’ (except sometimes when His patience wore too thin at the self-righteous, ultra-religious, and theologians)… I just see Him love, everyone, all the time, and serve them. I don’t see Him treat some people as “saved” or “good” (Nicodemus, the Disciples, small children, Zaccheus, the Centurion, Jairus)… and others as “lost” or “bad” (woman at the well, woman caught in adultery, Gadarene demoniac, 10 Lepers, Man Blind from Birth, man lowered through His roof). I just don’t see it. Nor do I see HIM ever suggesting such divisions in our relationships with people. He loves without boundaries. He seems to command us to love the same way.”

Beyond that, even if such divisions somehow EXIST in Him, *I*… not being the Holy Spirit… do not have privy access to that sacred space between a man and God… I cannot see the secret things of he heart… to know “who is who”.

Therefore, rather than “run the risk of wounding Jesus” in my carelessness or misjudgment… it seems my more prudent path is to treat ALL people as “Sacred”, and let God sort it out. Besides the fact that God fashions all as work of His hands, and upholds all things in and through Himself, by the word of His power… and that strikes me as “fairly sacred” on its own… so… yeah.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, that’s how we left that discussion (yesterday, now… I began this post last night, but I wearied, and went to sleep).

At 2:30 this morning, Jesus shook me awake, with a great sense of “having missed the point”, and brought this post to its rightful close. I was still sleepy, fairly groggy, and He woke me stark, cold, up… with the words:

“Who, then, is Sacred?”

I’d sat up, heard this… blinked a bit to figure out what planet I was on, what timezone, what day… “Huh?” I mumbled, articulately…

“Who, then is SACRED?” He repeated, even more firmly.

I groped for my eyeglasses, looked at my empty coffee cup, realizing my rest had ended for now. And said, as respectfully as I could under the circumstances, “What are You talking about, Lord?”

“That is the question you and your friend got to yesterday. And you didn’t answer it. You SORT OF answered it, but you didn’t get to MY answer of it. It is an Old, old question. It is the defense of all pharisees for treating some people as ‘sacred’ and others as ‘profane’. It is the same as Jews versus Gentiles, free versus slave, man versus woman. It is an OLD question, and has no place in Me. Paul dealt with it… I dealt with it… and now, when you were called to deal with it, you missed the ace… you swung but whiffed. You KNEW, you KNOW, but you didn’t SAY… not cleanly, not clearly…”

(* Well at least I now knew what we were TALKING about, as I made a fresh pot of coffee and stood there with my empty cup looking like Oliver Twist at the gruel pot. “Please, sir… may I have….?” *)

“OK, Lord. I hear you. I’m sorry. Now, what do I need to know. What ought I have said?”

And without further ado, He led me clearly first to articulate the question:

“Who, then, is Sacred?” and He left this echoing and repeating in my mind…

As He transformed it, transmuted it, into: “Who, then, is my Neighbor?”

And brought me HERE:

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And there ended the lesson, with these words:

“Little Monk, the pharisee, lawyer and scribe, who do not comprehend grace, will always seek to excuse their own judgment of others through trying to draw the fine distinction between who are SUBJECT to their judgment, and who is immune. It is a ‘loophole nicety’ that this lawyer tried to ensnare ME with, and you’ve allowed yourself to be tangled by. The answer, as you intuited, but did not see these verses as addressing is simply… ‘looking upon the needy with eyes to judge whether they are worthy of love’ is WRONG. To ASK the question is wrong… far before attempting to answer it. Sacredness… neighborliness… does not lie in the OBJECT of grace, it lies in the SUBJECT.

“The lawyer of Luke’s Gospel thought I would define whether the beaten up man was a neighbor or not. He was utterly shocked to find that God defines “neighbor” in terms of the GIVER of grace, not its recipient. The same holds true for Sacredness. YOU.. You choose… by how you treat others… ALL others… ALL the time… whether sacredness is your priority. You are the neighbor… You are the conduit of grace… You are the holy royal priest of the sacred. The person you serve, is what defines YOU as neighbor, or worshiper in/of the sacred… not the other way around.

“I… Myself… am ALWAYS there in and with them. Even to ask the question, is to have mistaken the answer. Just as for neighbor, so it is for Sacred. Never mistake this any more, OK?”

“Right, Lord. Got it. Sorry, won’t do that again. My bad,”  and I sat drinking my coffee as I let this sink in, and prepared to meet my friend again today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pray for me, Gentle Reader. Still so much to learn. Still making such simple mistakes! Lol. Our Father is so very patient with this frail and slow-witted child! Thanks for walking with me!

Blessings and Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: