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3 x S = 42

Have you ever wanted “The Answer”?Cosmic Twist

“What answer?” you reply.

THE Answer. You know… THE ANSWER.  Like the Answer to The Question. The Great Question. The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

For those of us who are Douglas Adams fans, we know how he dealt with the Question and the Answer… thus:

 

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Well, this has never entirely satisfied me, though I applaud Adams’ willingness to take on the subject. Libraries for centuries untold have been filled with the efforts of sages to solve the Mystery of Life. And, while my conclusions may well differ from Sage Adams here, I must say that a lot of my cogitation shares some strong commonalities.

So, here and now, I’d like to submit my own, subjective, non-scientific, anecdotal, take-it-or-leave-it-as-you-please, contribution to…

The Answer… to Life, the Universe, and Everything…

It is… 3 x S (Read as: “Three times S”)

[Consistent with the style of Adams, we will first describe the Answer, and then consider… What is the Question?]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S1 = “Superabundance”

The First “S” is “superabundance”, the provision for needs vastly beyond the degree of need. Quantity, quality, diversity… so overwhelming that the result is not merely satiation and satisfaction, but actual delight. Take the Garden of Eden, for example… all the foods available there, all the grains, grasses, fruits, vegetables. The delight and companionship of animals of every description. The mist of the morning, the clarity of the stars, the cool of the evening, the wonder of the sun and moon. Or Psalm 23, being led beside the still waters, sitting at a prepared table, being comforted.

This is to be free of need, and free of greed.

Could it be that the very first requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be free of need?

S2 = “Safety”

The Second “S” is “safety”, the protection from or absence of anything that could threaten or cause harm. Was there anything unknown in Eden to be afraid of at the start? It has never ceased to amaze me that God set man to nurture and tend the Garden (often super-interpreted to mean “God sent man off to WORK, first of all!”… but… what was the “work”? He was assigned to do two things… tend/serve/nurture… and protect/hedge about. But, what did Adam need to DO? Mist rose in the morning to water all, the soil was rich with the vibrancy of pure primal life, there were as yet no “weeds” or “bad plants”, nor any pests or predator bugs or animals. A Garden initially arranged and landscaped by God wouldn’t require a lot of transplanting and corrective design. All that “sweat of brow” and “thorns and thistles” thing came AFTER the fall.

This is to be free of threat, and free of fear.

Could it be that the second requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be utterly safe and free of fear?

S3 = “Significance”

The third “S” is “significance”, the sense that one is meaningful, important, and treasured to at least one other person. In the Garden, there was first… Adam. Adam and God, there they were. Made in God’s image, male and female, Adam and Eve created in God’s own image. Given free reign of the Garden. Able to eat of all but one tree. Naming each animal as presented by God. Called forth to walk with Him in the cool of the evening. Important to God, you think? Significant? Treasured? Or as in Psalm 23, sitting down at a table prepared for man by the Lord in the presence of enemies? Head anointed with oil? Cup running over? To dwell in God’s house forever?

This is to be acknowledged, important, treasured. This is to be free of the all too common fear that we and our lives are meaningless, that we are but cattle in a herd, a nameless cipher among a crowd of equally insignificant parts.

Could it be that the third requirement of true “Happiness”… of “Wholeness”… is to be utterly significant and treasured?

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As I pondered these potential “Answers”, and began to focus on the “Question”, I realized that this is a bigger answer than I can even define. This seems to hold true on every scale, in every application. Countries, races, kingdoms, empires go to war over a lack in one or another of these. Wars and genocides happen when a people gathers strength in order to meet what they consider a “need”, or a “threat”, or the hunger for “prestige”. States go to civil war for what seem to be the same reasons. Families feud, political parties wrangle, and individuals fight, maneuver, argue over these same perceived places of emptiness.

What to do? How do we promote joy, happiness, peace… “Wholeness” and Love?

Each of us have our own piece of Kingdom, our own relationships, our own sphere of influence. Whether this is community, home, workplace, church, or even one relationship at a time…

We know we are to “Love”, but that often breaks down at the “How do we do that?”

What if we try these three…

That every encounter be nurturing, meeting what need stands before us in the moment? Often the need is just some time and attention. Perhaps it is a meal, or a cool drink of water, or a gentle touch, or hug. (Obvious professional cautions apply, depending on the nature of the relationship.) Sometimes, the need is just silent presence.

That every encounter be safe, free of fear? Not just fear of physical harm or danger, but fear of being made to feel bad. Fear of being judged. Fear of being shamed or made to feel small or wrong. What if in each moment, someone felt their burdens lightened in your presence, rather than made heavier?

That every encounter be important and significant? That in the moments of interaction, the other person, group, party, were treasured as relationship to you? As if they were treasured by God Almighty? What if no one were an “interruption” or an “annoyance” or a “burden”, but rather they were a blessing to you as you are meant to be to them?

What’s the question, then?

What if the question is, “How has God always intended us to relate to one another?”  What does it take to live a blessed joyful life? The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything…

And, how do we bring this about in our homes, our days, and our churches?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3 x S = 42?

Maybe so. I just ponder these things now and again…

Grace to you, Gentle Reader! Bless! — The Little Monk

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What is Sin… Really?

accountability pageYou see this article on “Accountability”, and read this Inventory List for Conscience. It helps you know how and when you’ve “sinned” so you can get forgiveness for it. And your heart responds that there’s value to this, it isn’t “bad”… but somehow you feel it hasn’t quite hit the mark.

USCCB You do more research, you find a Catholic treatment for the Examination of Conscience, and you look it over. Again, not that it’s “bad”, but it just doesn’t seem to scratch the itch in your spirit as you ponder the questions of living in righteousness, versus committing sin. Somehow, virtue and sin don’t seem so cumbersome, so convoluted.

You decide to teach on this topic, and so you begin…

Sin… righteousness… love… peace… one day you are sitting and pondering, studying, working on a lesson or a sermon, and you find yourself grieving, praying, seeking how effectively to communicate something you see in your heart as so simple… You lean back, your brow furrows, your eyes close for a moment…

And suddenly, you no longer seem to be at your desk… You realize that God has heard your heart and your prayers, and He is going to teach you something, show you something, to help you understand and teach…

You find yourself standing out in a large empty space, dim but not utterly dark, neutral neither warm nor cold, with just a sense of vastness, not fearful or threatening. There in the distance you see light on the horizon and you choose to walk towards it. Startled with surprise, you find that each step moves you very far, as if your will moves you forward by thought, not physics.

As you approach closer to the light that a moment before was on the horizon, you realize that you are about to look upon the Father… God… the Almighty over All. Somehow, you know you are at the very Beginning, the Before the Beginning. This, is the Void, the Formless Void, and God (in whatever form and manner you perceive Him/Her) is smiling in welcome at your arrival. Amazingly, when He smiles, He smiles all over… His eyes, His hands, His heart… all welcomes you, and you stand just steps away from Him, unsure of whether to look up or down, to bow or to stand.

He takes your hand, raises your chin, smiles, and simply says, “Behold…”

He turns towards the Void around Him, extends His arms, and the radiance from His heart moves outwards reaching to touch all around Him. You realize, you are watching Creation. As you stand there, awestruck, you know that matter and energy have come into Being.

With another sweeping gesture, His arms raise again, and with a pulsing motion forms take shape all around you, near and far. You see planets, stars, sand, rocks, the forms of grass, trees, even animals. But all seems still.

“Now watch…” He says with a smile, as He turns to you, then back to His work.

You see a richer glow begin at His heart, as it flows upwards and outwards through His arms and fingers. You know, without knowing how you know, that He has just brought forth Life… and you see all these living things now begin to move.

Then, in a way you cannot describe, you see Him touching all of this… Everything… all at the same moment, and you realize that He is loving, He is feeding, He is upholding… All that is. All that He has created. That all of this is from Him, part of Him, has come from Him and is yet Him and His.

He turns to you again, and says… “Here is the best part…”

Again He faces His creation and the glow from His heart moves out through both His hands and His lips as He sings forth music unspeakable. Now there appear… “children”… is the word that goes through your mind. You hear Him sing, “My Children”. And you see that He is singing forth everyone, everywhere, everywhen. The beauty of it all leaves you breathless.

He turns to you again, reaches forth, and puts His hand on your chest.

You are filled with warmth, as a glow lights you up and flows outwards from your heart through every part of your being. You can feel and see that this warmth, this glow, are extending themselves from your heart outwards to your hands, and upwards to your tongue and lips.

You feel moved, without knowing why, and you embrace Him… God… the Father… the Lord of All. Fear doesn’t even enter your mind, though you’d never have imagined doing such a thing before. And He returns the embrace, kisses you on the top of the head, and you are filled with a fullness of love, safety, and nurturance such as you have never known before. You realize, for the first time all the way through you, that He is truly, utterly, and only Good… and you never need doubt, never need ever but to trust Him completely forevermore.

He directs your gaze to the world we know. And He bids you observe His children, their hearts, hands, and lips.

As you look at the world, you see people. Myriads of people… good, bad, young… old… confident, frightened, hurting, healing… You see all kinds of people, doing all the kinds of things people do.

You see some people with dim hearts, laying hands on other people who glow a bit, and where they touch their hands glow as the object of their touch grows dimmer. The heart of the takers has a reddish dim glow, while children start with brilliant white and gold.

Here and there you see clusters of brilliance, often among whom are hearts that reach out with pulsing connection with this heart of God alongside you. You see that God continues to touch, to nurture, to maintain all His children, all these people. But there are vast differences among individuals how they respond to His touch.

Some people welcome, embrace, and reach towards it. Others simply receive it without response or seeming to notice Him. While still others, those with the dimmest glow, seek to avoid His touch and His love and life (for you realize these all are one in Him).

But as you watch longer, you see that everyone, even the most golden or brilliant, have moments when their hearts flash red, and they touch others with a dimming effect. And much touching seems not to have impact. And some touching, brings light to others and eases their way.

“What am I seeing, Father? (or Lord?)” you ask.

“You are seeing the answer to your questions, My child. Righteousness, sin, virtue, love, life… all of it. It is as simple as ‘relationship’… with Me, with others, with yourself. I, and Only I, give life through love. That is all I do, always. And life only comes through love. But children of free will as you are, you may choose at any given moment to GIVE life through loving another and giving from Me through your heart, your hands, your words… to love another and so give them life. Or, you may choose to TAKE life from another, deprive, neglect, injure, or wound another… diminishing their life, feeding upon them, to love yourself.

“It is quite simple, but very difficult to put in words. Nothing living stands still. Life requires consumption. I Alone am the source of life. I alone can feed you with love, life, and being. When you feed from Me, (I once expressed this as ‘eat My body’), I can fill you utterly and beyond. Water that you never thirst again, bread that you never die. To let Me fill you, and then to pass along such love, such life, such abundance to those around you through your heart… this is love, this is righteousness, this is virtue.

“But to choose instead to feed on others, to love the self at the expense of others, is to deprive them of life. This is to consume others for the sake of the self. Whether materially, or emotionally… to feed the ego by belittling others and making them smaller, is no less a taking of their life as to wound them physically. This is predation. This is vampirism. This… is sin.

“Not only is it wrong, for it takes life from another. It is also ineffective. You cannot truly live on ‘second hand life’. Only I Alone can give full life through love. To steal the life of another will never fill or sustain a person. It can barely maintain them. Eventually, such predation leaves only the empty shell of a life.

“Sin leaves you empty and hungry, no matter how much you grasp or take. Like ’empty calories’, there is no real life to it. The hunger gnaws, and will continue to do so until real life, real love, real Light is found.

“So there you are, Blessed child. To give life to others through love of them and Me, is righteousness. To take life from others for love of yourself, without Me, is sin. Any questions?”

You shake your head, a bit bewildered. This really is quite simple. He hugs you again, kisses you atop the head, and your eyes open…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You are again seated at your desk wondering how in the world you can ever find the words to explain this.

Then you remember, Jesus said,Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” [Matthew 15:17-20]

And you get it… everything is sacred. It is ALL held together in His hands, His heart, His love. To treat anything, especially ANYONE… as less than sacred… to fail to love anything or anyone that He died to redeem in the greatness of His love… Yeah, that’s just not OK. You get it now. Righteousness is treating sacred things that He loves as precious. Not to do so… well, yeah, that’s sin. And we do it, because sometimes we choose to… but still He breathes us, He touches us, He loves us… and thus, He lives us.

“Ain’t that somethin’?”  you ponder, silently…

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Compromising Purity – Adulteration

by yin yang Source:http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/clean_simplicity_refreshing_19096_o.jpg

by yin yang Source

Intimacy with God… with self… with others.

We speak here of “Purity” and “Adulteration”, and a reader might think, “Ah… I know EXACTLY what we’re talking about here! This will be about S-E-X! Mwah hah haa!”

But no. That’s not what this is really about. Let’s deal with this bogey in the very beginning.

Adulteration (from which, indeed, we get the word “adultery”) is NOT simply about sex. It’s about “watering down”, it’s about “weakening”, it’s about “rendering impotent”.

“Oooo”, one might say. “Now we’re talking about ‘impotence’. This just keeps getting better and better.”

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I’ve struggled with how to draft this post, because I feel like I see these “connections” among concepts that are just so clear and simple… and I want to share them with you, Gentle Reader… but I do NOT want to stand in, or even LOOK like I’m standing in, the position of telling you what to think, what to believe, what to be convicted by. That is SO the realm of the Holy Spirit… and you, your mind, heart, convictions… are such a sacred place. I don’t want to just seem like I’m traipsing through your conscience in hobnail religious boots, telling you, “You gotta believe this, or ELSE!!!”

So, I’ve struggled. How do I share, communicate, this lovely picture of connections with you… without the implication that if you don’t see things the same way, you are out of order?

The best I can offer to meet my concerns is simply to say what I’ve just said. To be open and transparent about all this with you, and if these words ring true to you… your heart, your spirit, your reading of scripture and your experience of the presence and ministry of Christ… then great! Feel free to use them in whatever way suits. If these words don’t fit, don’t hesitate to lay them aside.

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There is this simplicity, this joyful and wondrous secret of “how” we enhance our intimacy of relationship with God… that Jesus shares in His opening ministry volley of Sermon on the Mount. And it’s when He discusses, of all things, “Adultery!”

And for centuries since, as all about us in religious circles today, just as people doubtless did the day He spoke… we focus on legalisms and criteria (“annulment” versus “divorce”… how do we interpret “husband of one wife”… or “is a divorced pastor now disqualified to serve”… etc.). In all of this, we rather miss the mark. We can easily miss His point entirely.

Jesus BEGINS with discussion of legalism, yes. But He then elevates the discourse to an entirely new level, as He progresses from “qualifications” to “relationship”.

“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart... It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” [Matthew 5:27-28;31-32]

What I would point out here is simply that while Jesus indeed makes reference to sexual immorality as a legitimate reason for divorce, the crux of His teaching here on adultery is the relationship of a husband and wife. His focus is not on carnal faithlessness, but relational betrayal of trust. For Jesus, the issue of adultery is vastly bigger than “sex, drugs, rock-and-roll” as is so often oversimplified.

Does carnal infidelity constitute a form of adultery? Certainly.

But my point here is that “adultery”, as it relates to purity as an aspect of our intimacy with God, is an overarching issue of “trust” in “love”… vastly more encompassing than sexual promiscuity.

For many posts, many months actually, I’ve been struck by the reality that we trust only insofar as we love, and we can truly love only insofar as we trust. If our trust of another is limited or conditional, so will be our love. I’ve come to realize that herein lies the “love limiter” for most people in their relationship with God. Multitudes of believers “love God with all their heart, mind, and strength” insofar as they are able… But that “ability”, their capacity in their “all”, is bounded and limited by the extent to which they can truly trust Him… Him or anyone else in their lives.

It is very hard to learn to trust. Many of us never achieve the skill in this lifetime. Therefore, our capacity to love God utterly is compromised from the front, by our incapacity to trust anyone utterly… even Him.

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Could it be that Jesus addresses this here?

Could it be that He references the deep trust relationship that should exist between a husband and wife here?

Could it be that for Him, “adultery” weakens and waters down the foundation of trust itself in relationship? And in that denaturing, compromises the capacity to love at all?

I pose the possibility that the hallmark of “purity” is “trust”, and that trust paves the road of love. There are two means for undermining the trust of purity and love. One is betrayal, to receive and accept the trust of another, claim to fulfill the expectations of the other, and then intentionally fail to meet them. The other, less visible form of adulteration, is simply to refuse to dare to trust.

It’s a rather passive-aggressive situation.

We can adulterate love, violate purity, either by actively betraying the trust OF another… or by passively denying trust TO another. In both cases, we personally maintain the integrity of our own control, our own management, and our own defenses intact. We need not trust the other, we need not trust God, we need not risk… or so we think.

We think such defensiveness keeps us safe, keeps us strong, keeps us protected.

On the contrary… this form of adultery, this isolationism, simply keeps us from connecting. It can “feel” safer… like being wrapped up in cotton wool, or bubble wrap. But it simply keeps us cut off, apart, and alienated from others, from self, from God.

It does not strengthen, it weakens. It cuts off from light, from nurturance, from love.

When we invest our sense of safety, our passionate desire, our sense of “what-we’ve-absolutely-GOT-to-have-to-be-OK” into someone or something else that is not “right” for us… we weaken and water down our own capacity to love and be loved. The most frequent example used is that of the marital covenant… but “adultery”… the inappropriate investment of personal security and passion, can be applied to work, career, community esteem, money, education, anything.

Jesus focuses on the “relationship” with some “object” of our passion that will define us. His teaching here is much broader than just His legalistic example of “pornographic lust”… He speaks of the investment of the heart itself. As so often Jesus does, He starts with the simple and concrete, and elevates the dialogue to the simple and relational.

So… the question I am left with, the challenge I hear in my own heart, is…

Is there anything beyond the gracious gifts that God grants to me, that I look upon with the passionate desire and belief that without THAT (other, unpossessed) thing (object, person, position)… my life is just not worth living?

Such a view will weaken me, weaken my grace, water down my love and my capacity to love. When I do this, I am failing to trust… trust God, trust self, trust others who bless and grace my life. When I do this, I shall find myself hungry and wanting, because I have rendered my own pure nurturance from grace into something lesser and weaker.

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Enjoy, in utter purity, the grace and blessings God showers upon us. Do not betray their trust in us… nor reject relationship with them out of mistrust of God or His grace.

God is incredibly faithful and effective in spontaneous provision, and sometimes, reaching for the blessings we wrongly think we need, can weaken the blessing we actually have.

If none of this makes sense, I apologize. This idea is very hard to wrap words around. Your comments are more than welcome.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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Learning Curve… “I think, therefore…”

Awakening Greetings, Gentle Reader!

I am utterly delighted to announce that the Challenge, the Puzzle I posed yesterday… was solved by none other than Paulfg of Just me being curious.

I had given the hint that it seemed that Adam would have immediately “known” only two things upon opening his eyes… regardless of whether he yet had any “language” with which to characterize or articulate such knowledge. But Paul, in his solution, shows us that there is a third as well… Here is the question, and Paul’s response…

Question: Before anything else happens in the Garden, before there is even speech, just consider this question, “What did Adam… what COULD Adam… know in those first moments when he opened his eyes?”

Paul’s Response:

Thought it might have to have some boring “criteria” 🙂

I sit here imagining. And imagining. Stripping back as much of the “stuff” we all accumulate as I can. And repeat. And repeat. And keep repeating. Until all I ma left with is this:

I am.
We are.

Wow… takes my breath away, Gentle Reader. Never seen anyone do this “on demand” this way… And in recognizing the truth of Paul’s response I added that he has shown me that my hint of “two” truths is inadequate… clearly, there are “three”.

The Truths I had in mind, when Adam opened his eyes and beheld the Face of God in the First Instant of Human Time, were the realizations:

“I am.” and “You are.”

But Paul is absolutely right… there is also… “WE are.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what, eh? Why is any of this important? Is this just a little game of silly buggers, the sort of thing the Apostle Paul in Corinth called “futile speculations” trying to show off our own wisdom and sophistication? Just so much (blech!) “philosophical stuff”?

Erm, no. No, it’s not.

In fact, just as I’ve been typing this I was struck with an intriguing thought.

What can we KNOW, ASSUREDLY about Adam? Well, simply that… he “wasn’t”, then God fashioned him, then Adam “was”. As God breathed life into/onto him, he became “man”.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. [Genesis 1:26-31]

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [Genesis 2:7-9]

What has just struck me in all this was that God “created” through “Word(s)” Some imagery portrays creation through God “speaking”. Some others have posed a creation scenario wherein God “sings”. I love all of that. All things were created through Jesus, the Word of God… and He upholds all things by the word of His power. This is, indeed, a great “mystery”. I have no idea HOW any of this happens, I simply believe THAT it happens (present, as well as past tense), because Scripture says so.

But the thought that struck me was that, as Paulfg so rightly points out, Adam may not have had any command of language at birth. The first “voice” he could have heard was that of God. Now, I fully realize that we cannot say that God did not infuse tremendous knowledge, including language, into Adam upon his awakening… but simply we cannot declare this to be so, as Scripture never addresses this.

(We seldom consider the question… we simply assume all kinds of knowledge for Adam, based on our own human experience. But unlike us, Adam was a bit “feral”. Nature only, no nurture at all but for God Himself. No family, no culture, no language, no “accent”, no “school” or “peer groups”. None of those wondrous background elements that so go without saying in our own lives, who provide information, knowledge, and personality development. We can’t assume any of that.)

Was everything Silent, as he opened his eyes? It may be that birds were singing, frogs croaking, crickets chirping and such… but Adam’s creation was in the “Uttermost West” (as one author puts it), and all the Garden stuff was “east” of this birth site. Or… was there perhaps music? Did the very universe “hum” in this time, as the Music of the Celestial Spheres played out? Did God hum an incredible melody, as His penultimate creation drew his first breaths? Who can say? But wondrous to consider, is it not?

Nonetheless, the point here is that… language and descriptors or not… Adam’s very first realization has to have been simply that he, Adam, WAS… he existed… he was aware and a person. And, looking upon God, comes the immediate recognition that “God is”… that… “You Are”. And with that, as Paul points out, a “new” concept, a “new word” comes into being…. “WE”… that WE ARE. “Relationship” is now a reality in human existence and experience.

Here is the critical truth, the point of this entire exercise.

Even before man is completely formed into the Image of God… before the creation of Eve… (“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”)… even before God completes the creation of Man/Woman fully in His/Their Image, Adam’s consciousness recognizes Self, Other, and Relationship.

He may not have known anything else yet… Clearly he didn’t realize much ABOUT God yet… he was simple, naked, unaffected by subtleties. He knew nothing of needs, yet. Did he know fear? Unlikely… we learn fear from negative experiences in our history, and Adam has had none yet.

So… there’s the foundation course of stones in the human experience. The ultimate “knowledge” of solo man… “I am”, “God is (You are)”, and “We are”.

So… here’s the next question, the next layer, the next challenge.

“What does Adam then FEEL?” What does he need?

We have to infer this from God’s actions that follow the birth.

Again, Gentle Reader, trust me… this truly has a point. We’re not just batting philosophical baseballs into the firmament. See what you think.

More to come… Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Language of God

spiral-galaxy-ngc1300-nasa-1600This post poses a thought. It’s one of those things that just goes,  “Click!” one day, as you’re praying/studying… something falls into place… with sort of an, “Of course!” feel to it… But, it’s really hard to put into words that would make sense to describe.

I offer this thought here for your perusal, your consideration, your comment. I do NOT present it as being “True to the exclusion of all other understandings or perspectives,” so if you don’t agree, think nothing of it. Feel free to cast it aside.

But…

This thought follows from “Christmas Trees and Solar Flares“, from the indivisible, unparsable nature of God as “I AM”. That “I AM”, is not only God’s Name, but also His Nature… “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One.” [Deuteronomy 6:4].

I was reading through John 10, as Don Merritt was teaching on the Gospel of John. I was arrested by the following verses, in Jesus’ teaching about His being the Good Shepherd.

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it downI on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. [John 10:17-18]

I was arrested here. Alarm bells seemed to go off at the word “commandment”. Why? I wasn’t sure. But we see the Lord speak very carefully and clearly, repeating His key concepts, not to be misunderstood, that He will lay down His life by His own choice and His own authority. He speaks of sovereignty, of power, of His right to do this. But THEN, in the very next verse, His concluding verse of this thought, He says, “This COMMANDMENT I received from My Father.”

WHAT?

Now, I realize the obvious implication that in verse 17, He is making clear that no PERSON on earth… not the Sanhedrin, not Caiaphas, not Pilate, has the authority to take His life unless He Himself lays it down. But even so… this juxtaposition of “the authority and autonomy of Jesus”, laid alongside the “trump”, the “overarching authority of the Father”, exerted as a “commandment” to JESUS… jarred me somehow.

It wasn’t a sense that this was WRONG, exactly. No, the truth was there… it fit. But It was the “flavor” of the word “commandment” that just didn’t seem consistent with the heart of the Father in and around His relationship with Jesus, His Son. It was the “hard edges” of the word. The “starkness” of the imperative case. It just… well…. sort of went “clang” in my spiritual ear.

So, (as described in A Really Nifty Tool) I ran the word “ἐντολή (entolē)” to explore this “command” of the Father. As described in the earlier post there, the word is used in some form in the New Testament 67 times. Prayerfully exploring all the “flavors and nuances” of use, it seemed this word is used primarily to reflect the phrase, “utterance of God”… (or someone, “said”). Some of the referents are to what we would consider “Ten Commandments” and “the Law”, and the Spirit seemed to lead to consider these last. “Set them aside for the moment…” seemed the instruction.

Now, again, bear in mind there’s no irreverence here at all… but it’s almost as if God “calmly speaks Truth”, not in a monotone… but in a steady tone of grace, of love, of instruction… and we… man… “interpret” that tone according to whatever posture we hold at the time. Certainly we see this phenomenon among interpreters, translators, of the Bible. Moods and the emotional connotation of one version or another can differ widely according to era, culture, and denomination.

I’m thinking that, just as congregants so often “hear a sermon” according to their need, and what the Holy Spirit writes upon their heart… regardless of what the Holy Spirit had in our own  hearts when we crafted or delivered the message… Just as Scripture continues, time after time, to reveal new truths and insights to the mind and heart of God each and every time we read it, depending on where we find ourselves emotionally and spiritually in those moments… We are subjective creatures, creatures of consciousness. We interpret input according to our own perspective.

Jesus knows that and knew that, and we see Him speak accordingly many times in the Gospels. His discourses carry layers of meaning, according to the attitude and posture of the hearer.

So… what if God the Father… speaks/sings/loves/thinks/creates as the Constant I Am… and His language is simply… “Is-Ness”? For Him to “declare” anything at all… is for that simply “to be”. We may perceive that utterance, that declaration, as whatever we, in our own spirit, need it to be for His purposes of grace?

I started to wonder if when God speaks… He is simply revealing Himself? Always. If, when He speaks, He is opening Himself, teaching, communing with man?

Now… with this new “softened” perspective, Jesus suggested I look again at all those “commandment” verses, including those with reference to “the Law”.

And it was amazing. Suddenly, it seemed as if I could hear God just “teaching”, “instructing” on “how life works”! It was astonishing, amazing!

It’s hard to put this feeling into words. But for many MANY years, I saw “commandments” (whether “Do this!”, or “Don’t do that!”) as being “lines in the sand” drawn by God. He would “command” unpleasant stuff, or “forbid” attractive stuff… just as a “loyalty litmus test” of some sort. As if He commanded Adam and Eve not to eat fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil… simply to “test” them, because He knew that fruit was attractive, appealing, and tasty, and He wanted to see how strong the resolve of our ArchParents!

I remember an incredible day, many years ago, when (having always held this “loyalty check” view), God asked me what difference it would make if He WEREN’T this “model of a mean parent”? What if… His words to Adam and Eve were a well-intentioned WARNING. He said all that could be said at the time… Don’t eat the fruit there, death will result. A simple message. He cares for their needs after that.

It was astonishing to me, turned everything upside down. So… then… what about His “curses” to Adam and Eve when He expels them? What about the expulsion itself?

Again, what if we ascribe only love and benevolence to God? Not pique, temper, or retribution? Well, then we’d have to reinterpret His words, with a different, a loving, heart. Is there any problem with that? No, not really… the words change TONE, and therefore meaning, but they don’t change His words at all. Bearing in mind that particularly now, at the very beginning of the world, Adam and Eve know very little about “how everything is wired”, or “how things will work”. What if God is not being vindictive and petty, but simply explaining that because of what they had set in motion, and the nature of Creation as fashioned by God’s word and power, certain results had been set into motion?

What if all that utterance, in Genesis 3 from 16 through 19, is “statement of the case”? What if, rather  than a vindictive and arbitrary expression of temper  and pique, God’s words are statement (a grieving statement at that), pronouncing the simple Truth of what Adam and Eve had now set into motion? All authority and power, all the dynamic of this situation, are indeed vested in God. He alone, motivates all that is. But the “trajectory” of this arrow of time, has now been deflected from God’s original blessed will, into zones of shadow and “less than the blessed” of its original design.

What if… far from “cursing” them, He was “warning” them, “preparing” them, “blessing” them, for the tribulations to come?

The possibility totally blew my mind. Suddenly, I started looking at the WHOLE Bible, as though it represented the God revealed by Jesus. I could readily see everything God ever did and ever said, once MY heart was changed from “mistrusting His agenda” as petty or vindictive… and realized it is ALL Jesus’ heart. Rejoicing in compassion, grace, forgiveness… grieving with the unavoidable playing out of the Laws of Creation when man stacks the dominoes against ourselves.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, there’s the thought…

It began as the discomfort of realizing that the word “command” implies both a threat (of punishment if a command is disobeyed), and the attachment of authority and force to one of two or more alternative choices. I could not imagine ANY circumstance wherein, after clearly defining and insisting upon His own authority and autonomy on the disposition of His own life, Jesus would then immediately follow that declaration with its utter negation in the next verse, by the word “command”. Since clearly Jesus isn’t wrong, and cannot be so… then the flaw in the understanding has to come from my interpretation of the Scriptural word used… the Greek word “ἐντολή (entolē)”. Once the homework was done, an entirely new layer of God’s heart seemed to open.

God… as I AM… speaks “Is-Ness” into Creation always. This is an ongoing, wondrous, revelation of Himself, Creation, and our relationships with Him, Creation, and one another. God’s utterances are not arbitrary or spontaneous. He speaks the IS, speaks Existence, only and always. And all of it… ALL… is redemptive, good, loving towards humanity. This, is as HE speaks.

However, how we HEAR… what we perceive as and when we sense Him speaking, will depend on our own subjective posture in that moment and circumstance. We may hear Him as “commanding”, or “threatening”, or “punishing”, or “warning”, or “comforting”, or “illuminating”, or “rejoicing”. He is always Revealing… but what we perceive will vary by our own attitude, need, and focus in those circumstances.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This thought makes many things go, “Click! Aha!” for me…

But I am not so arrogant as to think that it must necessarily do so for you, or that if you utterly reject this as inconsistent with Scripture and your convictions, that you are wrong.  Not at all. And it’s my desire to be very gentle in presenting this thought, along with my interest in any comment or thoughts you may have.

What do you think?

More to come. This all has interesting prayer implications we will look at

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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