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Pulling the Heads Off Flies — Part II

Drosophila melanogasterAll righty then…

When last we left our intrepid padawan, Little Monk sat, frustrated and convicted… of “judging others”, by the very act of LOOKING AT THEM! *sigh*..

Best efforts not withstanding, conviction notwithstanding, repentance notwithstanding, even the Lord’s good will and undivided attention notwithstanding… try as I might to pass even one single hour without “judging” anyone or anything… I failed.

I’d asked the Lord to do me the kindness of “buzzing me”, making clear to me and my conscience, when I “looked upon another with measurement”, or “judged” another, and He was kind enough to honor my request. This resulted in hours of His gentle reminders, somewhere from 4 to 6 times an hour, over three or so hours.

The result? Sheer frustration!

After three hours of sheer frustration, I felt so deeply angry at myself, defeated, and futile. I felt weak, helpless, ashamed… totally aggravated… and the ultimate irony. The Lord said, “Little Monk, you’re doing it to YOURSELF now, and I won’t allow that either! Stop it!”

AARRGGHH!!! And in utter rage and futility I flopped down on my couch and said, “I give up! I can’t do it! I hear this, I see this, I know what You want… I am WILLING… in fact, I now passionately WANT to be free of this sin. But it seems WIRED in me. I have no idea how to learn ‘not to see this way’. I give up!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To which, Jesus simply said, “Good! Stay that way, because you cannot fix this, but *I* can. Just hold still, and let Me transform. YOU needed to ‘renew’… you needed to see this, understand this, and renounce this. But YOU cannot fix it. It is beyond your ability. I must transform this in you and your heart. Like any sin, I can take it away… you cannot remove it by your own strength. But I needed to let you try. Now, sit back, be patient with yourself, and give Me some time to work. I have this now.”

So things are. He is working. I don’t know how and won’t try to describe it. But I’m learning, slowly, simply to “gaze, then bless” rather than “gaze, then measure”. It will take time, I know. It’s kind of like feeling a tightness in your chest gradually relaxing.

Well, you can understand, I know… What am I saying really? What’s the affirmation?

I’m saying, “Gosh… I judge others. That’s wrong, that’s sin. I need to stop. Jesus says ‘don’t judge lest ye be judged.’ And I’ve been convicted of this, and repented it.

How has Jesus responded to that?

I, of myself, cannot correct my tendency to fail here, my innate vulnerability is too strong. However, Jesus having brought my attention to His word(s) on this (Matthew 7), and my having surrendered in submission of will to His authority on this (Romans 12:1), my focus and willingness to allow this Truth to “soak into” my mind and rewire my very consciousness (Romans 12:2). opens the way for Jesus Himself to “transform” me.

I’ve found that THAT transformation is (always) beyond my own skill, power, or authority… However, the Lord Himself really needs me to “get out of His way” when He determines to rewire such a thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… how has this all turned out? Simple… slowly…

I THOUGHT I needed to try some bizarre “custody of the eyes”… that the Lord somehow wanted me to “stop looking” at others with a discerning eye. But, rather… that’s not how it’s been working out…

What has been happening is interesting… I yet look upon others as my mind, heart, or spirit flow in their direction. BUT, rather than my “spiritual hand” extending outwards towards them with my “measurement forceps or calipers” within my fingers… my hand extends outwards towards them, extended flat in benediction and blessing.

This has not been so through an act of my own will, but rather it has been so of its own accord, and I’ve seemed “prompted to observe” the difference between the “now” and the “before”.

So, here’s just an “experiential observation” offered to you for your own “spiritual experimentation”, but I’ve had this happen to me a few times before in my life. It’s like Jesus offering me “training wheels” for a time, as I develop a new way of thinking, perceiving, or behaving. When this becomes “muscle memory”, and its own reliable discipline, no doubt I shall be held accountable for maintaining it… but right now, this is sheer grace gift.

I’d love to hear of any parallel learning you have known in your own walk, Gentle Readers. This isn’t so much “teaching”, as a simple “report along the way of the journey”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jesus concluded with this:

“God Himself wrote with His own hand, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.’ on the walls of Babylon. Only God can say such a thing. YOU cannot. So, stop doing it, saying it, thinking it, or even feeling it. It is simply and totally My job, not yours… above your pay grade. K?”

I nodded, happily… realizing that I am His child who doesn’t have to carry that responsibility. And He pats me on the head. “Good.”

Pray for me, always! Please! And grace to thee!

 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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No Thorns at All

shekinah“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]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“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 11:2b-4]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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:

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Multitude’s Version]

This phrase is unique, in that it appears only in the Multitude’s Version. Not going to make much comment on this but to ask, doesn’t this make sense to you? When you walk, day after day… 1000 days plus, alongside Jesus Himself… do you need to be taught this phrase as part of your instruction in prayer? ‘Nuff said.

Second, there are “brackets” around this phrase because it serves as a “doxology”, a statement of dogma, an affirmation common to congregate prayer. Some manuscripts include these verses, and some do not. The discussions and debate among experts on the “historicity” of these words, for me, is not a strong enough reason to omit them here. I have no doubt whatever, that Jesus intends this truth to be affirmed to those who pray. So… working under the assumption that this is the right place for these words… that Jesus truly intends the Multitudes to conclude their prayer experience with this Truth, this awareness.

Now, as we watch The Father “pull this Kingdom over”, (* for once, WITHOUT any of us in the back being in trouble *) and our vehicle pulls over into the car park, we all disembark to stretch our legs and seat ourselves at a lovely little Tea Garden. The air is calm and quiet, the service prompt and courteous, the company congenial, and the surroundings are a delight.

Each of us, silently, draw forth our Roses and just gaze at their splendor. As servers bring coffeepots, teapots, cups, saucers and spoons, they also bring along bud vases, placing one before each of us. We place our Roses there, as yet we feel no pressure to speak. We just enjoy the moment, enjoy one another’s company, sip, sniff, savor, gaze, and Adore.

A breeze seems to spring up from nowhere and everywhere at once… not disturbing, not disruptive, but fresh and powerful, lifting all the Roses up at the same moment, assembling all of them in our midst as a giant Bouquet. The Bouquet turns gently, slowly, levitated above our heads in the center of our group, and all we can do is stare in rapt awe at the Beauty of it.

We know Who is holding our flowers, our Roses… and the Bouquet begins to glow with their own inner beauty, brighter and brighter until we are amazed that we can even bear to look upon these blooms. We hear, as from within the Bouquet, and yet in our own minds and hearts…

“Thine is the Kingdom…

“Thine is the Power…

“Thine is the Glory…

“Always…

“Amen”

The Bouquet, glowing with the radiance of the sun, seems to replicate and separate, dimming once again to manageable levels, and each of us watch as a bouquet drifts down before us. All the roses of each person’s bouquet, then merge back into the singular Rose each of us held, as that Rose rests again, back in its bud vase, even more beautiful than it began.

We each realize, the Kingdom is His, not ours, and that is good. The Power is His, not ours, and that is very good. And glory… glory isn’t an attainment, or heroism, or even recognition… “Glory” is Light. Pure Light. We each realize that all that Glory is His, and He has invested it in this Rose, in Our Rose… “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”

There is nothing more to say, as we each look about and smile. Almost in unison, we simply and quietly say, “Amen”… and continue to sip our cuppas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This concludes our mini-journey tour of “The Lord’s Prayer”. Thank you for traveling with us. Please continue to enjoy your Roses.

 
 

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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

 

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When One plus One equals One

Human Torch1“The journey continues. Another blackboard. Another piece of chalk. And the thought that Love is not enough. My biggest hugest bestest Love will always be too small for God. The Love of God is just way too big for my little brain.” [Paulfg, “Shouldn’t discipling be beautiful?“]

Paul put his finger on a spot that “itched” my whole life long. One of those things you want to scratch, you want to satisfy, for years and years and seem like you can never quite reach.

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” [John 17]

But HOW? How do *I*… little, finite, human, not-too-bright… *I*… ever expect or hope to KNOW GOD? Are we KIDDING? And yet, this is “eternal life”, that we know is what Jesus came to bring us. Jesus is not a liar. He is not crazy. He does not “wax poetic” or exaggerate in an excess of hyperbole and passion. He means, and meant, what He said.

So… this bothered me… a lot… for a really long time… like 50 years or so.

But then, one day, Jesus fixed this. Well, Jesus, and Our Father, and the Holy Spirit fixed this. So I thought I may as well put it down here, that perhaps others draw something from this. Also, to thank Paul for effectively expressing the “question” well enough to allow me to pose one expression of an “answer”.

28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. [Hebrews 12]

Imagine, for just one moment, that you stood in front of God, and everything was fine, friendly, loving, relaxed… just fine. But, for some reason, He appears in the form of a vast, incredible Fire! Not just physically large, but magnificent. Now, suppose you stood before Him, in His image, your own childlike size, but you were also fire. The Holy Spirit not only blazed IN you, but THROUGH you, such that (if you can imagine this), you yourself were a “person of fire” (maybe picture Johnny Storm of the Fantastic 4, if this helps?)

And all you can see… all around you… is just the Void… and you… and Magnificent God. And He is HUGE. Beyond huge, He is infinite… and you… are NOT. You, are just, you.

Now, suppose He stretches forth His hand, His finger, towards you… and says, in His gentlest voice, “Touch Me!”

And you don’t really know what to do. This is confusing. But He is quiet, He is smiling. He encourages you, saying, “Just stretch out your finger, and touch it to My finger.”

So you do that, you stretch out your finger towards Him and His. And you can feel the warmth of Him, the love of Him, and they are overwhelming. But you feel the warmth of you, the love of you, and you know this will not be painful, but you can’t conceive of what it WILL be. Nonetheless, you stretch forth your finger, watching as they slowly come together.

And then, there is but One. One fire. Like a match flame touched to a bonfire… where does the match flame go? The two are merged into One, but where does one begin and the Other end? Where are the boundaries when two flames merge?

There are no thoughts anymore, no boundaries, no questions, no answers, no ideas, no fears. There is only… the One… as the two have become One. You in Him, Him in you, no lines, no boundaries.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Later, can you describe that? Did you “contain” that? Did you “comprehend” that? Can you even meaningfully EXPRESS that? Um… no.

And yet, there it was. It happened. And you will never be the same. And you will never again worry about “containing” the Infinite. Because you will realize, when you ENTER the infinite… “containment” no longer has any meaning at all.

Yes, you always take that Flame back with you… and you will never worry about “how will this fit?” again.

Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
7 Comments

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

 

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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

 

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You Know I Love “Rules”…. Not!

This began as a comment in response to Following the “Rules”, posted this morning by Don Merritt on Life Reference. It grew into its own post, though it starts as a note to Don. I hope it edifies.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Rules”… one of MY favorite subjects, as you probably know. Fought them all my life, ultimately had to have rules grounded in the sovereignty and obedience to God. Only comparatively recently has He managed to show me their “positive” side… the “grace” involved in “Rules” and keeping them.

What’s “wrong” with Rules? Exactly what you have so beautifully observed… (1) lots of rules are touted as “scriptural”, despite the fact that scripture specifically decries them. (Romans 14, “not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man…”, “sabbath made for man, not man for sabbath”, etc. etc. (2) we mistake “righteousness”, scripturally defined as life in faith, as being behavior according to rule keeping. (3) We love to “keep score” because we can then proudly point to our “Report Cards” and say, “Look! Look how well I’m doing, how many rules I keep. I don’t… kill, steal, lie, cheat, injure people, I go to church, tithe… ” etc. etc. We love score keeping, and comparing our “A’s” to the “C’s” of other kids.

My heart rejected that long ago, when the Lord made abundantly clear to me that the only “Report Card” to which I was entitled to pay the LEAST attention was my own. From the time I was a kid, God set the simple and singular Rule in my life, to “obey my conscience”. That was reinforced again later in my training with the One Rule. I whined, countless times, both as a kid and later as an adult, about how “unfair” God was in this. “Why, Lord, do you require THIS standard of me… when… when… well, just LOOK! LOOK at THEM!!! What about THEM?? This isn’t FAIR!!” (ever been there?) And Jesus’ consistent response that, “Nope. I’m not fair! Aren’t you glad? ‘Grace’ isn’t anything LIKE ‘fair’. Now how you behave is between you and Me. How THEY behave is between THEM and Me. End of discussion.”

But FINALLY, really in just the past couple of years, God has been able to make some progress with me understanding the affirmative and positive value to rules. It is not that “God loves us more when we keep the rules, and loves us less when we don’t.” It has nothing to do with Him, with what I call “His side of the equation… He loves us, totally, infinitely, all the time.” But rather, when we honor “conscience” and “walk in the light, just as He is in the light”… we experience peace, joy, beauty, truth, love… all the elements and fruits of eternal life. When we defy conscience, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we experience all the discomforts of walking in darkness.

You recently did a great series of posts dealing with the “intuitive” versus “counter-intuitive”. Some of us may use different terms, but I can admit in my own life that there are times when “I WANT something that I know is not right, or good for me”. I have a “natural” inclination, from time to time, to satisfy some desire, some appetite, that may not treat others as sacred… or treat myself as sacred. To yield in that desire may give me a short-term payoff, but later leaves me empty. Scripture speaks of things that melt like honey in the mouth, but then leave bitterness in the stomach.

What God FINALLY let me figure out about the “value” of “Rules”, was when I realized that I live a disciplined life, I “follow rules” without codifying them, and at times across my life I’ve been “subject to codes” to which I subscribed voluntarily and intentionally, not by passive cultural inheritance or because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

God showed me two simple things about all this:

(1) In order to have the “freedom” to respond comfortably to urgings of the Holy Spirit in conscience, I need to be able to say “yes” to Him, and “no” to appetites contrary to His leadership. The more “free” I am, the more “indifferent” to “intuitive appetite”, the more “comfortable” I am in obedience. Like an ice skater, gliding smoothly from point to point, rather than trying to run zig-zag among orange cones touching flags.

(2) “Rules” give me an “external framework” for exercising my own free will to direct my attention and behaviors. Rules are like “training wheels”, that allow me to acquire skill and control over my vehicle, myself, without succumbing to gravity or other balance challenges I’m not yet skilled enough to overcome.

(3) Once I learn not to “kick against the traces” in a disciplined life framed in a voluntary covenant of rules, I can develop the self-control needed to respond to the much more subtle promptings of Spirit. In time, the need for “Rules” falls away. as desire moves into focus with God’s will in and of itself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom Line: I figured out that “learning to follow the Rules” (like coloring inside the lines), has eventually allowed me to develop the interior self control to “say ‘no’ to myself, or ‘yes’ to conscience’ regardless of momentary passing desire or gratification. The point is not to learn to color inside the lines for its own sake, but to learn to control the crayon… eventually to master the skill to create true Art.

Gentle Reader, I hope this post makes sense. But “Rules” were never my favorite things in Kingdom, and it really took me a very long time to see their value. FINALLY, I did… but only when I came to understand them as a “means to an end”, NOT an “end to themselves”.

Blessings and grace to thee! The Little Monk!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Oneing

    Tree of Life at Gua Tewet (10,000 year old cave painting, Borneo, Indonesia)

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The Perennial Tradition

Oneing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms of the world can only be overcome by a unitive consciousness at every level: personal, relational, social, political, cultural, in interreligious dialogue, and spirituality in general. This is the unique and central job of healthy religion (re-ligio = to re-ligament!). A transformed person unites all within himself or herself, so they can then do the same in the outer world.

My favorite Christian mystic, Lady Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), used the Old English term “oneing” to describe what happens between God and the soul. As Julian put it, “By myself I am nothing at all, but in general, I am in the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life of all people exists” (Showings, 9). She also says, “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person” (65), and “In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are one person” (51).

This is the perennial tradition. Our job is not to discover it, but only to retrieve what has been discovered—and enjoyed—again and again, in the mystics and saints of all religions.

As Jesus put it in his great final prayer: “I pray that all may be one” (John 17:21).

Adapted from Oneing, “The Perennial Tradition,”  Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 12, 14

Gateway to Silence:
That all may be one

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…

GodThrone“SANCTUS, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis”

HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What is God’s Name?

We are taking a short journey into the past, looking at how Jesus taught people to pray. No one who has ever walked the earth is more qualified to teach this lesson. Here is a prayer that, as Christians, we learn from our earliest years. Many of us recite it daily as The Lord’s Prayer. Many of us hear and recite it weekly as part of our order of worship. I venture to guess, ALL of us, here reading, KNOW it.

But for several weeks, in my own life, the Lord has returned me to this… this… Marvel. This “Singularity” in the cosmos. He has placed it on a pedestal, like a precious stone in a museum, and shone a brilliant light upon it, bringing me to focus upon these few and simple lines as being one of the most extraordinary gifts He has ever granted to man. It has become like a Rose in the garden of my spirit, slowly, gradually, and beautifully unfolding before me. And I have invited you, Gentle Reader, to find this Rose anew… Your Rose… anew in your own garden, and examine yours as I examine mine.

He granted this Gift, the Lord’s Prayer, in two different forms to us. One rendering was for the Multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. This form has more words to it, more of a “setting to the gem”.

“Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘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]

The other rendering was the direct response to His Disciples request that He “teach them to pray”. This second form is more stark, fewer words, more directive, less explanatory. Why should He waste words on explanations and commentary, when there He was, 24/7, DEMONSTRATING the context for them?

“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]

In our little process of Lectio Divina here, slow and prayerful reading, allowing time and silence for the Spirit to speak and teach, we will only highlight one phrase. This phrase appears in both versions, and thus it is a “critical instruction” of Jesus teaching on prayer, not a matter of amplification or commentary truth.

“Hallowed be Your name.”

Jesus has just “named God” for His listeners, telling us “how to address Holy God”, and there is no way around the fact that the shock must have been beyond imagining. The Name of God was considered SO sacred, SO holy, that it was not to be spoken or written. It was written in “code” only, a four letter acronym of what God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush. It was spoken only as “The Lord”. Even in English, in English Bibles, the custom has remained of translating this notation simply as “The Lord”, rather than “Yahweh” (pronunciation of YHWH, the Tetragrammaton acronym of “I AM WHO AM”.)

Like pronouncing the name of “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter stories, and the insistence of most of referring to him only as “The Dark Lord”… even to pronounce these syllables was to invite destruction and wrath.

And then here’s Jesus saying, of all things, “when you speak to Almighty God, you address Him as ‘Dad’, as you would in your home…” Somehow I just see multitudes of listeners standing or sitting there blinking in utter shock, trying even to process the words!

But He goes on, immediately with, “Hallowed be Your Name”…

As earlier, as I sense His leadership throughout this little trip, Gentle Reader, I am NOT going to detail all the nooks and crannies these words have carried me to in spirit. I leave you and the Holy Spirit to explore on your own.

But here’s just a thought or two, a question or two. “Hallowed… Holy… Name of God…” But for myself, for so many years, I could only see “Holy” as an adjective, or an adverb. It was a modifier. It gave some quality, some description, to a noun. The Noun was meaningful and central, the adjective just helpful and descriptive. Hmm? So… “God’s Name has a holy and sacred quality or nature.” Right? That’s what Jesus was saying here, right?

Well, yes. That is very true. But many years later, one day, He challenged… “What if those weren’t just ‘adjective’, but Noun?” That is, what if Jesus was saying that God’s NAME…. was “HOLY”… like “I AM WHO AM”… or “LOVE”… or “FATHER”… or any of the other names we know of God? And what if ALL names, this one included, are all Infinitely Equal and Correct and Expressive of God? That is… God = Love, Love = God, God = Holy, Holy = God, Love = Holy, Holy = Love, and so on? Really gave me pause for quite a while. That was one thought.

The other thought, or question I would leave with you… “What if ‘Father/Dad = Holy”? What if that all encompassing, protective, providing, nurturing, raising-up-a-prince-or-princess-of-Kingdom Love… is ‘Holy’?” What if it is part of the essence of God’s very Holiness, that He loves us as His children? What if it is His love for Children that empowers His essence as Father, and Father is His Holy Name? That probably makes no semantic sense, and I’ll just stop there.

Just see where your Rose unfolds now for you. And I rejoice in that, wherever it leads and whatever it looks like.

Grace to thee, beloved brother or sister. — The Little Monk

 
 

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“Our Father”… How Beautiful the Feet…

DisciplesWe are making a short journey into the past. We have two destinations. One, a hillside where a new, but highly noted miraculous itinerant Preacher, Jesus of Nazareth, has attracted multitudes of people to hear what He has to teach. Two, another hillside in a quiet moment, where a small band of disciples, learners, have asked this amazing Man to do something He seems extraordinarily qualified to accomplish. They ask Him a question. In both places, in both times, this Teacher gives short simple instructions, on what is a huge cosmic task.

The question Jesus answers, volunteering the information to the Multitudes, and in specific answer to His disciples, the Cosmic Question, is…

“How do we, mere humans, ‘pray’ to Almighty God?”

Jesus, this Man of God, going everywhere healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out demons, amazing both crowds and scholars with His understanding of the scriptures, opens His instructions with words that astonish more than anything else they could imagine…

The Tetragrammaton… the word “Yahweh”… that this keyboard cannot type, the Four Letters of “I AM WHO AM”… SO Holy… SO Sacred… the phrase is never written or spoken, merely written as an acronym, and spoken as “The Lord”… THAT GOD… THAT NAME…

Jesus instructs the Multitudes to address THAT God as,

“Our… Father…”

“Our”… yours, mine, his, hers, theirs, them, us, all… “Our”…

“Father”… source, ancestor, progenitor, creator, provider, lover, protector…

Consistent with this whole exercise, I am not going to expand on those words here. I am not going to try to wrap words around the echoes, the song, the harmonies, the height, breadth, depth, of those words in my own garden, my own soul. But I invite you to do so. Hold your Rose in your own hands for a bit of time, gaze on its beauty, savor its fragrance, and let it sing into your own heart. Just, at first, these two words… “Our”… “FATHER!” And imagine how astonishing, how amazing, such words would sound in the ears of those hearers on that Sermon Mount… and, frankly… how astonishing such words are at all!

The only note I would add, once you have savored your Rose for a little space, is to see that when the Disciples asked Jesus to teach THEM to pray, He just taught them to address God as “Father”, and He did not have to instruct them as to the “Our” (the relationships surrounding the Father), or “who is in heaven” to clarify that He spoke indeed of Almighty God, Yahweh (as He chose to unmistakeably define Him for the Multitudes, lest there be any misunderstanding).

To the crowds? “Address God, the Almighty, as ‘Our Father'”

To the Disciples? “Address God as ‘Father'”

In fact, the form of address Jesus chose there was a ‘familiar’ form, the kind used inside the home, in and of family. More akin to “Daddy” in colloquial English, than the much more formal “Father”, in our current typical usage.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What would it be like to go home, as a spiritual child, a Child of God, see the Father sitting in His favorite chair, and start to speak with Him, simply saying… “Dad?” or “Daddy?” or “Papa?” or whatever familiar, yet respectful, form of address was in use in your family?

Enjoy your Rose, Gentle Reader.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Would you like Commentary with that?

BibleIt happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “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.’”

Then He said to them, Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” [Luke 11:1-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday, we spoke of the Lord’s Prayer. We spoke of a Rose, a gorgeous Rose, unfolding slowly… gradually… beautifully. We are about a small, short journey of only 7 lines or so, in a process called (in some traditions) “Lectio Divina”. It does not matter whether one has ever heard the term… it is simply a “prayerful reading” process, a “reading while listening intently” for the motions and whispers of the Holy Spirit. This is intensely PERSONAL, so that “my Rose” is not “your Rose” and can never be such. Yours, as painted by the Spirit, will be lovely… every bit as lovely as mine, but its contours may be different.

Yesterday, rather than yet focusing on the Rose itself, we looked at the garden where it nestles. The garden for this wondrous Rose was, before His arrival, a terrible place. Like the nightmarish thorns, thistles, bracken hedging the Castle of Sleeping Beauty of fable… people saw themselves as “chained”, “in bondage”, claimed as His own by a dangerous and terrifying God. People had to worship in just the right way, live in just the right way, follow the Law in just the right way, or risk destruction by His wrath. The very first experience of God, a boy’s presentation to God, shed the boy’s blood and scarred him forever. This, was part of The Covenant.

This was the garden in which God’s Rose bloomed. This was the background against which the Lord Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords… revealed the heart of God to people God had transformed from those who “were no people”, and now “were His Chosen People”, into His children… through unfolding the Lord’s Prayer. This was the stage upon which Jesus threw Light upon our Relationship with God, as “Our Father”.

But there was a second revelation of the Lord’s Prayer. There was a Second Stage, a Second Act. Jesus blossomed a Second Rose, and it differed a bit. For this morning I would like to compare these two Roses, again not to dissect or analyze, but simply to marvel at the differences God designed into the Two Roses in my garden. Then, I will invite you to look at the ones He has for you, that you see what He lights up for you, your own mind, your own heart, your own spirit.

To the Multitudes on the Sermon Mount, Jesus said:

“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 [e]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]

But to the DISCIPLES… to those who had left everything to follow this itinerant Preacher hither and yon… to those who ate with Him, walked with Him, slept with Him, suffered heat or cold with Him, who watched His miracles, heard His teaching 24/7, listened to Him laugh or weep… and beyond all else… watched Him go apart from time to time, just to be with His Father in prayer…

THEY, after watching Him go apart to pray, upon His return… asked Him to teach THEM to pray that way. John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray. Our parents, our Sunday School teachers, our priests, pastors, and ministers teach us how to pray. I myself, spend my career and life, in a very real sense… “teaching prayer” to those I serve. So, imagine if you will, what it would be like… what would it FEEL like, to be in private, in seclusion, just those of you really surrendered and dedicated to Jesus… “just us’ns” so to speak… and as Jesus Himself, just having returned from prayer as the Son of Holy God… to ask HIM to teach us to pray.

How surprising was it? How… disappointing, maybe? What would be going through our little “dedicated, sanctified, surrendered… we are special” disciple minds, for Jesus simply to answer:

“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 11:2-4]

WHAT??!! But that’s the SAME THING isn’t it? Isn’t that the same teaching Jesus gave the MASSES at Sermon on the Mount? If we were the disciples, wouldn’t we be surprised? Shocked? Perhaps a bit “put out”? Wouldn’t we be muttering amongst ourselves, “here we are… roughing it out here wandering village to town, crossing the sea in a fishing boat, healing the sick, casting out demons, preachers OURSELVES?? And there, after coming down the hillside from communing with the GREAT I AM, Yahweh HIMSELF, Jesus only tells us the same thing He said to those mere… PEOPLE??!!” (And if you don’t think the disciples struggled with these issues of pride and special favor amongst themselves, you’ve missed a lot of the narrative of the Gospels, lol.) I don’t know if these thoughts would cross YOUR mind, Gentle Reader… but I myself struggle enough with pride and arrogance, that I’m honest enough to say that they may cross mine.

But if they did, I would be wrong, deeply wrong. The prayers are NOT the same, but they have a subtle difference. The difference is completely understandable, through the difference of their contexts, their stage settings. Jesus DID respond to the “status difference” in these two sets of instructions. But the difference is not one that appeals to pride, but rather to discipline and maturity.

We will look at the “lines of the prayer” as this little mini-journey moves forward, but for right now I just want to point towards the simple, and subtle differences between these instructions.

The Lord’s Prayer, as taught in Sermon on the Mount, includes “commentary”. It includes words that condition, describe, expand upon, or amplify, the main action of each line. If you take a few moments in your next Bible Study time, and just write out the Sermon on the Mount version… and then on the right hand side of the paper, write out the Disciples’ version… you will see that the “differing words” or the “extra words” in the Sermon on the Mount, are all “clarification”.

I could go on now, in some detail line by line… but I do not have unction to do so. You, Gentle Reader, are a capable Bible scholar. You are led of the Spirit. You are engaged in the express enterprise of deepening your walk and experience of “hearing”, “sensing the leadership of”, or “being taught by” the Holy Spirit Himself. You may be the pastor of, or a teacher in, a church of your own. You most definitely are in love with Jesus, and listening to Him with the ears of your heart. I know this, or you would not be here.

So, I leave this with you now, Gentle Reader. I simply note, Jesus has to add “amplification” and “explanatory notes” to His instructions on how to pray, for those who do NOT walk with Him consistently. For those who DO so, He does not consider that “padding” necessary. Like any great Teacher, Master, His expectations of the Disciples are higher than for the Multitudes. They are expected to know, and understand, what is “left out” in the Luke instructions…

Why does He expect them to know what He does not say? Because He is RIGHT THERE with them, walking with them, sweating with them… SHOWING THEM the truth of the words He leaves out.

His question to me… and you can see if it speaks to you… but His question to me on all this, was, “Little Monk? Which is YOUR prayer today? The one for the Multitudes? Or the one for My Friends?” And, do I WALK the truth, the reality, He reveals here?

We’ll look more at these Roses… I promise. Grace to thee, Gentle Reader!

 

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