Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Problem of History

   As far as I can tell, the clock question; a.k.a. the "problem of history", has been one of the biggest reasons that young people wander from the faith. That is, they wander after they go "get educated". The "world" teaches that the cosmos is something in the neighbor hood of 15 to 20 (is it?) billion years old. Meanwhile, the Bible certainly seems to teach a "young earth", the last estimate I've heard is under 10,000 years? For most people, this appears to be a slam dunk; in favor of the worldling's view point. Bishop Ussher, whoever he was, set an absolute date of 4004 B.C. for the origin of Earth. To the unbelieving, this sort of thing blows apart any credence in scripture.
   Realistically, do we guess that I am about to "solve" this problem? My estimate is that I won't solve much of anything here today. But, rather, I would like to drop a few comment-bombs on the problem of history, as I see it.
   The unbelieving world, is not satisfied with merely resetting the clock to read 19,000,000,000; rather than 6018, as to the age of the universe. Their entire cosmology shifts reality from a reality of intent, design, and creation (by Divine speech), to a random accident, involving "eternal matter" which just happened. I mean; that such "matter, 'just' happened!" Here, chance-plus-time, equals "reality", but there remains no way to account for the "stuff" upon which said "chance" operates! The clock question then; is the small part of the dispute! If we believers asserted that it took mother 48 minutes, at 350 degrees to bake a pie, and the opposition "proved" that mother did not exist, and that pies (in general) "tend to form"...over millions of minutes, the quantity of minutes which we disagree over, is the lessor aspect of the feud. Where pies come from, how they are formed, and why (in the first place) they are built, form the lion's share of the dispute. The cooking time, (supposing that both agree that "cooked pie" is the topic) is the one part that they do agree upon, in that; both sides "buy" the idea that time was indeed "somehow" involved.
   In the Luke version of the gospel, Jesus gets baptized by John. There is a voice from heaven, to the effect "My Son! 'the Beloved', You are He." And directly upon the heels of this episode, comes a litany, an historical recitation of the ancestors of Joseph, all the way back to Adam. And however correctly Ussher built his time line, the least significant aspect is the count! Is it 4004 B.C., or is it a thousand years forward or backward from then? It doesn't matter, because the unbelievers are not even trying to see WHY this Adam-to (the second)- Adam list even exists. In the shortest version I am capable of, it is that we "believe-unto-knowing", whereas our opponents SAY that they advocate "knowing-unto-believing", which cannot actually  be the case. They lie about the structure of knowing, and (incidentally) are insane.
   For instance, they have concluded that you can use a yardstick as a clock. Dig so many feet, and you (by definition!), are looking at x-million year old deposits. Or peek in a telescope, and you are looking "backward in time" x-multiple billions of years. The worldling insists that we must buy his clock before we can talk about anything else. Whereas, we are saying (in effect) that measurements of duration, ought not be confused with declarations of purpose, or of meaning. In essence, the "20 billion year old" universe doesn't "mean" one damned thing...except "weird and pointless stuff happens sometimes, or at minimum, did so once". When you drop a cup of coffee, and it splatters all over the place, it "means" that you are clumsy. But if no "you" exists, and "only-coffee-splatters" (the self-existent, and self-splattering kind), then meaning itself becomes a form of trivial pursuit amongst statisticians, at the very best. If the mother of all black holes, one day went (unaccountably) the "other direction", and began expanding rather than collapsing, who cares? All that it CAN "mean" is, that any damned thing can happen. A fluke, a bomb set by nobody, a pointless, empty accident formats the very basis of existence? So what? Anything proceeding out of such a freak occurrence, including you reading this pointless empty essay, can never "jump-start-later," or "begin-within-the-framework" "have" meaning. You, yourself, and all the other clutter inside your pointless head...are the erratic and random results of a mindless train wreck. You cannot begin to posit "meaning"...just because you'd like to, or because your silly ape-brain "demands" such.
   But we say otherwise. The "offensive" part of the Luke narrative, isn't the clock function directing us back to Adam, it is the Voice from above! That Voice is saying, publicly, historically and actually, that This One, it is The One, (the Only One!) which we have been waiting-for since the beginning. He is The One who makes sense of reality! He is the loyal Interpreter, and the only Meaningful interpretation. We humans are not "equal", One Son, outshines us all-combined! In this disagreement then,"mere faith" is being contrasted (unfavorably) with SCIENCE, or REASON. See? They have their own "voice from heaven", but in this case; it is just them playing at their ventriloquist act again.
   The reality isn't "Science versus Religion" at all and it never was. It is Hubble versus St. Augustine, it is Faraday versus John Calvin. It is the voice of human authorities...squabbling with each other. But what did we expect anyhow? At bottom, it is the voice of Moses, Paul, and the other writers of the Bible, versus the HUMAN authors of "science-ism", or is it "progress-ism"? The real difference is that our authorities come out into the sunshine, reveal their names, credentials, and make their case. The opposition, hides. Hiding behind what "Science" has declared to be (for this week) the one, "infallible" truth. It's just that the truth keeps shifting around, and we are told not to notice, (it is forbidden). "Science" decrees that the universe "must" be x-billion years old. But the OLD "science" declared it ("infallibly"-also, at that time) to be x-million, and prior to that? doesn't matter! Because the "authorities" will never come out into the open, they themselves are both anonymous, and "infallible"? There is nobody, in person to talk to!
   Here is an example of such stuff. At 18 billion light years distant, we observe the remotest galaxies our telescopes can view. So wait, at minus 18 B years, this thing was in two places? It was way way way "out there", and simultaneously at the center of a "hot big-bang"? How could it be at both ends of an explosion at the same time? So I fired a bullet. It's maximum range was four miles. In the same moment that it was leaving the shell casing, it was also in the target yonder...and I'm the one lecturing you, about "reason" and the need for "scientific measurements" over here?
   We are the ones stating that history (and therefore our own lives), have to "mean something". We have been altogether too lax in allowing the opposition to borrow (steal) the concepts of meaning, hope and life. They have no right to use "meaning". If every fact; ever, is a stupid, pointless fluke, resulting from a mere happenstance, then we are the ones agreeing with the Bible, and saying that, "such cannot, it may-not,... be"! The infidels have no license or right to use the word "hope" either. Such a thought suggests a finale, which coheres with a fond ambition, or perhaps a return to a home (wherein you are welcomed). Unbelief has no room for such." A pointless explosion occurred", and that is ALL that can be ever said! Moreover, "life" itself, that animation of dead matter, that set of "apparently intentional" movements of plants and animals, is such; that the very LAST thing which could be stated about it, is that it has "meaning". Just like the pointless get-go of a bomb, (for no reason) going off, the first squiggles of cellular motion can have no meaning...ever. And it cannot matter how far this process proceeds. Suicide then, is entirely rational, both individual, and corporate. Life is meaningless, what are we hanging around this dump for anyhow? Let's both blow our brains first. No Sir! We agree with Paul, Moses, and Jesus. His active and intentional Creation began things, and there will be an end. Justice will be done!...By Him, in Person. The difference between the two views is...mainly; Us! There didn't used to be a thing called "the bride". God made us, for His own purposes, and for friendship with Him. Us (?) joined to the brightest, strongest, best...ever...He Himself!
   The problem of history, is that unless, and until, you either acknowledge your Maker, (or blatantly steal from Him), history is itself only a testament to parasites, and you are one of them, and even knowing that is pointless! These nasty bugs (you, I mean) flourished briefly (and for no apparent reason), upon a falling brick. So what? It began, and it ended. The parasites are no more. Get over it, why even bother to mention them? The problem of history is that if we do not "allow Him back in", then there is no room left for human understanding...of anything!
   We are NOT in a position to negotiate over here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fireball XL5

   Yesterday, Sadie invited me over to lunch. Her, and the hubster Mike, were hosting the college kids after church. Some type of retreat or meeting had sent a slug of the kids to parts unknown, and Sadie believed that they would (in effect) have too much food, unless I came to help devour it. I gave her one of my "non-answers", which promise nothing, and then thought better of it; and went on over.
   Killer lunch! "Lunchzilla", perhaps best describes here. Anyhow, later on; Mike and Steve were on the back porch. We three were banging gums, and thinking about the past. I made a comment; something like: "Isn't it weird (to you) that some of our earliest memories are of watching TV? As a little guy, I recall sitting and watching Felix the Cat (what a jerk he was!), Huckleberry Hound, and was it...'Fireball XL500?' You know, it's not even clear to me, that there really was such a show like that...Is that a memory, or did I make that up?". Next thing I know, Mike has his smart phone out; and was googling the fireball thing. He nailed it in about 27 seconds, and the next thing I knew, the theme song of the show was on. I was stunned.
   I hadn't heard that (dumb) song in over 50 years? Wow, what a blast from the past there. We went inside to watch a few out-takes from the show. 1962 is the year, so I'm (at that time) 3 or 4? It (apparently) was a huge impact on the young mind of little Mike (me). It is a kind of marionette drama, very simple "special effects", and pretty shallow plot lines, and yet, and yet...
   Fireball XL5 was the greatest show ever, bar a 3 year old boy. It made such an impact, that some vestige of it, is still with me; and I'm well on my way to being an old man! This Fireball XL5 type of thinking, it's a fairly modern one. Think of Star Trek, or think of well written sci-fi. We get some sort of "dominion" reaching to the stars, a type of "federation", or an "empire-of-man", stretching out, with Earth at it's center. As a tyke, I was simply smitten by such enormities.
   When I became older, I pretty much gave up on the empire-of-man idea, for the excellent reason that man is a bunghole. Think of the way the natives here in the Americas were treated by the Europeans. If this is how man treats man, do we really wish to see how he would treat somebody he deems to be "a bug", or an "animal"? Man the creature, is a vile, mean spirited, disgusting thing, and then there are the unbelievers to consider!
   I began to think that the vast gulf between stars, was a good thing, so that man would simply be unable to go war upon, and destroy his neighbors. Think of it as a friendly desert, a wholesome quarantine. But this type of thinking was from before becoming a Christian. Nowadays, I am coming back (somewhat) to my youthful zeal, at the notion of flight to the stars.
   Perhaps one of the strangest texts in the Bible is in the Apocalypse of John. This is not a quote, but the idea is that in the new creation, there will be no moon, or sun. The drift here, is that such lights will (then) be unnecessary, since God Himself will be our light. But is the scripture proposing no heavenly bodies at all?
   How could that be? How could the prior creation prove to be more excellent and grand than the latter? Nah, there almost has to be stars, in that new world. Otherwise, you look up,...and see nothing? How did the new creation end up so dinky? So anyhow, the point of this essay, is to (once again) suggest an Earth-based kingdom, radiating out to the other worlds, no matter how far! Who will need spaceships then? We will be able to fly! And so, we go to find other races. Why? To tell them the gospel story, and how God; the Almighty, became for our good, and His glory...a Man!
    This message, sweeping across the galaxy, then across our local super-cluster of galaxies, so ever onward! God and Man have sat down! God and Man (in Christ at least) are One! Acceleration was invented, so as to carry news swiftly..just ask little boys, see how they run?
   I have told friends here in Las Cruces that I expect to go in search of that 3000 pound ground sloth, with the I.Q. of Isaac Newton, which I have guessed might well exist. That brainy sloth would know of God, and of the angels. If he is sharp, the Trinity might even be on his brain-page. But he will never see this coming...the Almighty,...that "hillbilly, nobody, carpenter"! If that new life (then) isn't about eager-ness, "boyness" in some way, who would want to go in any case?

Nighty Night

   The "can't sleep blues", what a weird way to spend a night. You know the program; exhausted, and needing sleep? Guess what, you can't get any! Your mind is all lit up, ready to solve any problem...except for one; the one about how to get to sleep!
   One sees pictures sometimes of big outdoor cookouts. The big side of beef on a "spit" (who cooks this way anyhow?), slowly rotating over an open fire. The "can't sleep blues", features the beef! Spin this way, twist around that-a-way; flop over, and finally it comes to you; "I think I'm wasting my time, this is stupid, why not just get up and read or something?". The whole brainwave about going to bed was to "do" about four things (and, no; one of them was not sex), and those four, (so far) are remaining undone.
   As I see it, while in bed, we are trying to:
1. Sleep, as in, to unconsciously "float", to surrender self directed control...we trust!
2. Rest, as in, rest muscles, drain lymph, filter blood...we refresh!
3. Dream, as in, to view scenes or interact with characters...we seek directionality!
4. Zone, as in, to transition between states in a hypnagogic trance-like capacity...we drift through mist!
   For at least a year now, I have "seen" the need for the first three. You can rest, but not sleep, or you can get some sleep, and still not arise rested! Further, if we do not dream, such a lack begins to seriously disorder the mind. Only in the past month or so, has the hypnagogic state appeared to also be necessary. In some ways, it's the most interesting one of the batch.
   That transitional phase, we not quite asleep, nor fully awake, begin to "see". Flitting, partial "pictures", fractured partial images, which keep morphing. Is that a face? Look, the face is changing; now it's ...a wolf? But it's not like we actually have the time to recite, and notate these, they are swift! And, if you begin to comment on what is "there", they just go away, the zone lifts, and we are back again to full wakefulness. The images go-away, until the next time you are "about" to enter into sleep by first entering the zone..
   To me, the hypnagogic is "misty", it's a foggy-brain. That zone-state is a bit like our world. Was it Pascal who said: "There is enough light to see, and enough dark to hide-in"? Ours is a type of twilight-world then, a mid-way, neither fully lit, nor completely dark. The zone then must be entered, or you will not get to sleep. Who talks about the zone?
   Meanwhile, the dream state has (in fact) too much written about it. Everybody and his little sister is just dying to talk about dreams, and their significance. It seems silly then to me to have to mention it, but has anybody else noticed that (basically), dreams are about sight? If humans are consistently "about" anything, then it is (I believe) pattern recognition. We are constantly "sampling" our world. How to "get resolution" on a problem? How, or when does "the big picture" come into focus? Can we, by searching find the pattern, by which to understand things? Dream lives "here".Think of our ancestors without man-made lights, is that shape a bush or a bear? In dream, we are "saying" with visual metaphor, with picture-pun, that we "see the solution" to the vexing problems of life.
   As for the reality of "getting some rest", is it really so surprising that just reclining for 25 minutes during the day can so recharge you? System recharged, body and mind refreshed, although we expect it, we are consistently surprised by how well it works? Weirder yet, very few of us ever (in our lives) learn how to intentionally rest, so to bring on this body strength, at will.
   Finally, we think of sleep per se. "Good sleep" includes all four factors, and I'm guessing that this list is probably incomplete. Maybe there are five or seven factors of "good sleep", I wouldn't know. But, in thinking this over some, the quote (which I shall proceed to mangle), "Our souls are restless, until they come to rest in Thee" keeps coming to mind. Was it Augustine who said that? Whoever it was, think of motors. An AC motor can be used as a doorstop, a paperweight, or a weapon; but it will never be used properly, until we juice it with 110 volts, and then it purrs! Function, properly executed, signals design at origin. Sleep, our sleep; "points at Somebody".
    Consider finally with me then, sleep. He owns it, it is a "memory, a hint, a whisper" directing us back to the Mighty Maker. The hypnagogic entrance portal is "our world". Some light, some dark; we get fog, everything out of focus. Shapes drifting by, we are to "relax" into rest-ful sleep, and we simultaneously hold back, asking;"Is it safe?". Ultimately, He judges us for our words, our acts, and our hearts. Were we the ones "hiding" in the fog? Or were we using that light (what little there was) to better orient ourselves or others toward our true home? He judges the intentions of the heart! He owns the zone, in that (really), we await Him. He is the One emerging out of the fuzzy background, for us to thus recognize the One Face we have always longed for.
   As for "dream", Ziggy Freud aside, the "picture" we are trying to grasp, the diagram which will make sense of things, as the "big picture". This just so happens to be His strong suit (from our perspective at least). Sweeping across the age, He "directs" reality, writes the script of the play, writes the revues, and is the protagonist/lead Actor to boot! The solution we are trying to understand (the picture of order and coherence?), the  fix for our confusion, anger, and sadness, when "seen;" is a depiction of Him!
   The "rest" that we feel that we just must have some, is a picture itself. The Biblical ideas of rest, sleep, and death, these are an appointment which we do (indeed) keep. We recline, and we rise again, we "go down and go up". The truth of being refreshed and energized is a dim whisper of that coming fully-jazzed, rip-roaring glorious gladness his folk shall be known for. It itself, that vital, heart-driven triumph, is prefigured, here and now, by what we deem to be "refreshment". Which brings us to sleep proper
   In my opinion, the Bible could be summed up with a bumper sticker reading; "Yeah, but do you trust Me?". To sleep, is to release, to drift un-directed, and vulnerable. The verb "to fall" is the usual way to say things. While falling, (during the downward trip), the very last thing you do is "control! Ultimately, and really, we are to emerge from our bunkers, lay down our weapons, and surrender to our Captor, "to control" is not our word, to apply to life, it is His.
   So, we surrender and He promptly puts us "to death"! We go to sleep, and in our helpless drifting, entrust our souls to Him, our Dad! We "go down" in weakness, all weak and small, arising anew; awakened into immortality, light and power. This is His show, and He's the star. At the bottom of it all, He (in Person) is the solution for our sad hearts. He the one carrying us in the "dead" state, yet safe, secure, and guided. How (after all) do we go about guiding a passive, uncommunicative, numb and unaware lamb? Uh, you pick the little fellow up, and flop him across your shoulders, so to safely walk the rascal home...Pssst, this is where you come in!
   Sleep deep, dream well, emerge from the mists, so to arise renewed, it is His gift to you.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Mike Wave

   We, it appears to me, tend to propagate a wavefront, and this is not necessarily a good thing; wavefronts in general, I mean. For instance, as an aside, have you ever taken a good look at that "cheese-food" guck that comes in slices? Okay, it is wrong for "cheese" to be shiny, start there. Far worse though, you should not be able to propagate a wave front through the junk, like you would in shaking the dust off of a throw rug. But, back to our topic; we (personally) kick up a wave, and others can clearly recognize it. You, yourself only get glimpses of the thing, and that; only intermittently.
   Is it that we are trying to purposely fool ourselves or others, when we deny our wavefront? You know the recipe here:" You always (or Never) say thanks, or you are so sloppy (or such a clean freak) it just drives me nuts!". At first, we would like to rebut, or correct the charges, but with some reflection and time, we usually have to admit that, "they do have a point".
   Later, we begin (if you are like me) to think "Did I really imagine that the Mike-wave was "over"? Did I actually believe that "that was then", and so, the "old me" is just history (which we can safely forget)? Though there is nothing convincing about such estimates of ourselves, we favor them and duly repeat them.
   We try to affix a confidence,(that just doesn't belong); one that says, "I'm over it", without admitting the distortion factor involved. Looking at yourself, small faults appear large, and huge blunders appear miniscule. And, let's not forget (again) the blindspots we bear. We bear with us, those "failures" which we will never mention to others, but if we did, nobody would care! Then, there are those deeply irritating serial flaws in us, which we ourselves never even notice! One guy I know for instance; is incapable of ever saying "thank you". It drives me nuts. Another guy was mad at me for ten years because I made up a nick-name for him, and never called him by his given name. I never knew that this bothered him...for a decade?
   So, was it Socrates who said "know thyself"? What is this guy, some kind of comedian? This "advice" is guaranteed to blow up in your face. We keep getting "anti-results" (have you noticed), "small is big", and so "awful is invisible", so, is it then, "important is moot"? Does this futility bomb of ours thereby prescribe that we quit trying to analyze the wavefront which we generate? Don't be absurd!
   Like a race of amnesiacs, we are all-about finding out "who we are". Numerology, handwriting, pop-psyche tests, heck, half of what we do is to help us recall who we are, and what the "wave-in question"...for ME is. So, the Mike w.i.q. is founded (I think) upon "whack". Don't ask me what exactly "whack" is, because I don't know, but it is safe to say that I am clearly "out of it." The world (and myself) are deeply flawed; really out of whack! Actually, that is unreasonably optimistic, the truth is; that I am really, really, really out of the "w" thing.
   We, in the "West", I mean western civilization, not west of Memphis, have trained-up in "guilt". Especially, for us white folk, this is a good summary. Like a teeter-totter, when one goes up, the other goes down. To gather "guilt", is to forget "shame"...but we ordinarily forget that too!
   For instance; in the Mike w.i.q., the contrast runs something like: "Guilt? Sure! Sign me up! I'm as guilty as the day is long. I eat that stuff for breakfast!..." but as for the corresponding shame quotient? Enter the sound of crickets. The Mike w.i.q. goes off-line here. We get this scratchy silence, and droopy shoulders? All that slouching and foot dragging is very unbecoming of me!
   As a severely damaged soul, and a fundamentally flawed human, my shameful errors just do not appear to halt. This fabulous series of blunders, faux-pas', insertions of foot-in-mouth, forgetting, over-stepping, and speaking like a complete jack-ass, appear (at least) to be an infinite set! Yet, "oddly", do I ever recall that this is "me", the "real me" we mean here? Almost never, or perhaps; "Briefly, and soon to be forgotten again!".
   The net result of the fiasco which I carry within, is dual. If guilt draws me "in", then shame drives me "out". By this, we infer that the Mike w.i.q. "strategy" is indeed, simple! "Distance" proves to be the key-word in this system. Please do not misunderstand (again!), by "distance;" we do not mean that anyone anywhere (including myself) is ever "aided". Heck, who thinks of stuff like that? Rather, by "distance", we refuse to (further)...harm! Was it the Hippocratic oath which says "First, do no harm"? If so, then my "hypocritical oath" reads similarly and it goes: "If the "best" I do, is produce crap...I could at-least do that across the street!". The Mike w.i.q. comes on-line, right about "here".
   Not to sound like an excessively misogynistic goof, but the entire "romantic" gig ,with them zany fem-bots just made no sense to me. "Why so?"; you adroitly ask. Isn't it obvious? The Mike w.i.q. generates a shame-distance. So logic demands that if I in fact did care for the other's best interests, then I would refuse to handicap them with the weight of folly, blather, and (apparently) endless garbage I produce! Duh? Ergo: "To 'care', is to 'drive-off'...for the other's good!". Double-duh?
   Honestly, I've been pretty much mystified, most of my life, just about "here". That is to say, the stunning clarity I (appear to) possess precisely "here"; (upon this topic), has never been ratified as "sane", or verified as "obvious" anybody else!? How weird is that? This poses the question; "Am I insane?". I certainly don't "feel" insane, but isn't that just like a lunatic to say things like that? Beats me! This just proves the point of this essay! We are really bad at estimating ourselves.
   But let's just pretend that I am unhinged for a moment. If that were so, wouldn't such a thing provide  even more reason to defend others by generating distance from them? So, if I am nuts, I'm being quite rational about it all!
   Maintaining distance is not "fun", but it's not intended to be. What was intended; was a scheme to limit damage to others, and so if it works properly, then any consequent "pain" in my life, is a moot point. And see? I have never understood "love"...otherwise.  I mean, I am unable to "fix" myself, but I AM able to not-destroy you with me! What is that; chopped liver over here? If I carried some horrid contagious disease, would it be more "loving" to mingle, and rub elbows, or go to the desert? If women just basically make me angry, confused, and prone to all sorts of hurtful talk, does "drawing close" or "putting distance between" BETTER typify concern for the other's welfare? Triple duh?
   It is this stunning obviousness, just about right here, which has for most of my life befuddled me. Am I the only air-breathing carbon unit in the cosmos...who has a pair of eyes in his head? If, (and since!) I "refuse-to- harm", why is that never considered "loving"? I just do not "get" this, and frankly, very likely never shall. There is no "guarantee" that you will; "in time, mature". Time does not "heal all wounds", they just fester! You must actively forgive. The shape of the Mike w.i.q., is a "question-mark".
   Sometimes, it just makes me want to fly away. Maybe outer space is less crowded? Maybe, out there I wouldn't be so destructive? I don't know. It seems to me that you cannot out run who you are. By the time you get to the "new-there", your crap has already showed up! But, if we can't out-run the wavefront we propagate, maybe we could ride it? Like a surfer on the wave of the century, we weave a path of destruction, but why couldn't we ride that path away from others! You can't quit being you, but you could AT LEAST do it "over-there"! Why is this sort of thing not-loving?
   It is either that, or face being re-built, re-booted, from the ground up! What if I'm right, and the "old-me" cannot be "fixed"? Then, that would imply at minimum; a new creation wouldn't it? He says: "Behold, I make all things new"! Even my sad, stupid, sorry heart? Yes! In fact it starts there!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Long Haul

   My old Dad isn't doing so good. Healthwise, do I mean? Is he in physical distress? I don't think so, it's more an attitude thing, a soul out of whack. Here's a question, "How do you make yourself want...what you do not want?". What if a guy is just At almost 92, Pop is in the unenviable position of having more endurance and perseverance (physically) than he wants to have!
   Do you recall "the Prudential"? That outfit has a logo, it is an upthrust mountain. As a kid I thought it might be a poorly rendered depiction of the Sandias, outside Albuquerque. Think of a massive ground fault, the upthrust is all raggedy on the one side, and a gradual slope on the other. For today's essay, we could call the two sides of the mountain the "endure" logo.
   Perseverance, endurance, patience, or whatever the correct name of the critter is; it yet retains two sides. So, we pass through trial, we survive a furnace of troubles, we endure fierce temptation. Think of that as the steep side of our logo. It's the hard part. While in the struggle, we "hope to emerge" victorious. But our blind spot here is in thinking that once passed through, it's all easy from there.
   Meanwhile, back in reality land, it is the gradual, the "easy" side of the thing; which kills us. I mean; when was the last time you had a severe crisis going on? Compare that to the constant drip, the long, long series of "little" frustrations and irritants. The "easy" side of the hill is harder! It is in mastering the repetitive, but not insurmountable headaches, which show forth true endurance. They say "It builds character", when they mean that it is a pain in the ass. You will face few (if any) raging wild animals in life, and thousands of bug-bites, it's like that.
   We in the church have dropped the ball right here. We, (or at least I), have confused "tough-ness" with endurance, and such yields an endurance MINUS gospel. Our tenacious refusal to "be quitters" might be admirable...but is it so very apostolic?
   You see, if perseverance (or any other thing) be sheared off from it's gospel moorings, so to run as an independent "good", then it thereby ceases to be good! If anything, even life itself, be considered "in and of itself", it can no longer stand. The center will not hold, the thing cannot support it's own weight.
   Newsflash, this just in! Nothing, nothing at all, was created "in and of" itself. Such a pose is always a false premise. File in memory...
   Consider the suicide, or the would-be one at least. He, like my old Dad; is not afraid to say the truth, and Christians are (by-in-large) afraid to say: "Life is NOT worth living!". Does that shock you? Get over it.  We believers simply refuse to "go there", and insofar as this gutlessness typifies us, we deserve not being heard. Long slope, or ragged edge, neither side of the hill works, as long as we refuse to acknowledge that the never ending cascade of futility, stupidity and pain "of and in" themselves outweighs life! Life, conceived alone, cannot bear the freight. And no amount of "Concern, or involvement in the relationship (gag!)" CAN shift the balance.
   Life does not become "worth living" because we want it to, nor can we force it to be so. Until the Mighty Maker enters the equation, nothing CAN be worth anything. The suicide, and my old Dad are correct, as far as they go, they just don't go far enough.
   The "flavor", the "aroma" of the gospel, is the Man (Christ Jesus) being pulled out of a miserable and horrible death. Until God meddles, death, darkness, and misery is the reality. Outside Him, the bad guys win! The "truth' of suicide, is that life "of itself" is CORRECTLY seen as pointless. The lie of suicide, which even the dying cannot admit, is that nothing, nobody, and nowhere (life itself included) exists "of itself". Reality "by itself" can have no "meaning", but such a reality does not exist. He Who Is, built, maintains, and interprets that which is. There is no "impersonal and abstract" reality.
   He-Himself, the builder of quanta, up-through and including the designer of galaxies, owns everything. He invented "life", (and gave it as THE gift) is jealous over it, having built then "bought back" all of it!
   In this light, endurance in us, whether it "build character" or not; is moot as an issue. But insofar as we do endure, such endurance guides us PAST life, to Him (In Person), and only then, it "can (begin to) count for something". We pass through pain, not to find "meaning in life", but to meet He Who Is...meaning! We do not endure in order to "find hope". That is insane. Yet hoping (the verb) IN Him, we are surprised that the struggle wasn't worse than it proved to be. He is the target for our hearts, and "everything else" is thrown in as a freebie.
   The old hymn's line: "Life is worth the living, just because He lives" is good. I might rephrase somewhat and say; "Life is worth the living, simply because Some-one OUTSIDE "life-itself", yet operant-within-it...lives!".
   Nothing could, nothing ever will "hold" meaning. the Suicide is correct. But rather, we would add, that about two seconds after you cap yourself, you will realize how wrong, (as in; completely wrong!) that this assessment is! Meaning doesn't inhere "in" stuff. No, it is whispered, hinted-at, and glimpsed briefly THROUGH stuff. All things "testify" to Him, to He standing ever "outside," and working inside them.
   So, we do endure, and it doesn't much matter if the logo of the Prudential is there or not. We endure outrage and tragedy, and we endure flea bites and hiccups. All of it, for Another's sake, by Another's power, unto Another's glory. We endure nothing...alone. Nothing was built "in or of itself" and nothing was intended to be interpreted that way. He who made ears hears. And He who made hands...holds them. Endurance isn't so much "tough-ness", as it is holding hands at alarmingly long range.
   He holds us in His heart, by looking down at His punctured hands. And so, we "hold on for dear life"!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wrap Up

   I would like to spend a few minutes describing this year's Christmas present (at least, as I understand the thing!). All the wrappings and bows are already either stored or tossed by now, and the "what did you get" question, seems to last hardly any longer. The paper disappears after an hour or two, and the description of the gift soon thereafter.
   We just have so much "stuff"! MORE stuff...isn't memorable. But, what if, what you got was a tool, as a gift; by which you may bisect thoughts, and properly rearrange the priorities of life, now that's memorable! What if, with this tool, you could see to the "bottom" of things, and in a moment, (correctly!) decide if an idea "mattered" to you, or not? Interesting Christmas present eh?
   For me, my Christmas present this year was a wonderful "fit". It, like garb-well-chosen, looks good on me, and definitely is NOT going to the "returns" counter. It fits! No top-hats, nor polka-dot bermuda shorts neon "Atlantic City" neckties for me.
   Recently, while discussing "pessimists" in Sunday school, I said; "Pessimists don't regard themselves as 'pessimistic', but rather; WE think of OURSELVES as realists!". In another conversation, not long ago, I said; "There is no guarantee that a person, by virtue of sheer age, will ever, in this world, MATURE". The idea here, being that one surely "can" go to the grave, an immature-ass, it happens all the time!
   With such "gloom" as the sizing feature, my present "fits"! None of those horrid happy-faces for me pal. The sign reading "SMILE" conspicuous by it's absence. I would describe the gift as "an interpretive grid", but that may not be helpful.
   So, let's step back: "Big Picture time". The Almighty has been "offended", the Author of Reality has been mocked, spit-upon, beaten beyond recognition, and called "bad names". His Honor (you see?), His magnificent Glory (you dig?), has been man-handled-wrongly! This unwholesome "trend" (down here) most certainly shall end. It is THE certainty. He...Personally shall see to it, that good order, decency and respect is maintained. It IS the certainty. He has sworn Himself to it.
   Time out for a little O.T. story. One day, Elisha is going down the road. "Sons of Belial" (creeps and thugs) begin mocking him: "Hey, what-up Baldy?, Get it on old man!"...and other such unsafe comments are offered. He summons a bear. She destroys them. It is a bit like that, this "interpretive grid" we discuss, but much; much larger.
   It's like those signs, "Forget the dog, beware of owner!". In this case, forget the bear...Beware of her Maker! A day of woe, dread, desolation and trampling...and then it goes downhill from there? It is a day of darkness, and mind wrecking terror shall sweep His enemies before Him. This is the plumb-line, and here we find the certainty. The day inescapable, the day unsurvivable, nobody sneaks out on this one! Divine (Uncreated) Fury...leaves nothing "undone" in breaking the rebellion down here.
   Hey! This does my heart good! For years now, I've been right-about-here. As long as the insane treason of the enemy ENDS, as long as the foe (and all his slaves) are permanently shattered, and as long as the honor, prestige, might and goodness of the Maker be duly admitted...who cares about anything else? My (personal) salvation, has never been "the point" along these lines.
   To be honest here, I see the Church's fixation over "who saved, or, of how-many saved" as a weird kind of trivia. The burning issue is: "CAN we trust Him, or not? do the right thing?". Does it matter more to you personally, that His honor has been impugned, or is the trivia quiz about your (personal) future what ACTUALLY matters? Is your escape more crucial than His dignity? Fess up.
   See? To fixate upon "Me, and my salvation", proposes that you are to hit some threshold of expertise, or (deep) confidence of assurance, before you become "a good witness". We witness to His glory. Full stop, the testimony ain't about you! That kind of thinking yields the absurd reduction, that you must have assurance of salvation, prior to owning it! It would be like an employer being unwilling to hire, until AFTER you have experience. How do you get experience, before you have it?
   No sir. However "round-about" the gift may seem (to us), there is no "direct" way in. You are not admitted to the banquet on your own. You are allowed in, for Another's sake under Another's care, to Another's glory. So then, since we are pained at rotten man's bad treatment of the true King, and outraged at the intolerable dishonor done Him (here), we believe that this must, this shall, be rectified! It is THE certainty. Since (then) we believe such stuff, we INFER that we are among the "elect", in that; "the natural man" has zero interest here!
   The new interpretive grid then, has three outputs. 1. The enemies are broken beyond ANY repair...ever. 2. The friends (children really) are repaired beyond any need for further repair...ever. 3. This "scenery", this "stage" upon which this drama plays out, is forgotten, and a new theatre opens! That new realm is the home of the right, the true and the good. He lives there!
   The message of gospel isn't some quantitative measure of "how much" love (by the gallon?) He has. If it is about love, it is that Almighty love between Father and Son...and you (the outsider) being invited into that eternal, tumultuous fountain. Like a super-nova (but bright!), a regular tempest and earth-quake ( but wild!) is the love between Father and Son. What we need is that we be invited-in "somehow", and that we be sheltered from that overwhelming brilliance which is His.That shelter, the "true ark", in that coming "flood" (of fire!) is the Body and the Blood. Calvary, the empty tomb, the empty hillside (as he ascends), everything in all reality pivots right here! He, the One shelter, against the coming unsurvivable blow. This shelter was designed and built by the Triune God, for His Honor, and "only incidentally", our good. To His praise; and "accidentally' for our benefit. That is the way to see things, our new grid works!
   We keep on trying to build some expert level of "relational" skills. Better to spend time putting on your life-vest, and listening to the orders of the Captain. The interpretive grid is declaring that He brings a message of welcome, a message of gladness, of victory, and that the best is yet to come! He is the Interpreter, and He the interpreted. That interpretation is life, peace, goodness, For Him, By Him, Unto Him, evermore.
   Merry Christmas!...late.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weird Gospel Stuff

   Gosh, I do hope I'm not the only person of whom it is true, but can you recall a single person (ever?) admitting to it? The "it" in question here might best fall under "S", for sanctification...
   So, let's break out the gospel knife and we nicely divide things under three headings, justification, sanctification and glorification. With the knife, we keep getting threes. The prayer (for instance) goes:
"Grant us bread" - life - Father - glory
"Forgive us" - authority - Son - judgement
"As we also forgive" - truth - Spirit - holiness
These are not the only ones, we keep on getting threes, but frequently we can identify something like "the living principle", "the lawful-righteous", and the holy-mysterious".
   Now, the gospel story goes that a transaction occurred. You are LEGALLY reckoned as-if (not only) "not guilty", but positively righteous (!?) before the true God. Clearly, clearly, we are to see this as a "gift", or more accurately, THE gift. That comprises the justification one-third. Further, you are re-oriented, and rooted down in a new hope of a future, in which a new body, power, glory, light, eternal gladness (for starters) are "the new normal". So then, the glorification third is duly noted. The problem area though, is in the here and now. The sanctification (of Me?) is a pretty slender topic...better "double space" that one (at minimum)!
   Books should have front and back covers, plus some pages of text inside! The "front cover" of the gift given, works nicely with the "rear one" of an unthinkably "happily ever after". It's just that the text in the middle is some mighty thin gruel...So, I have "been made" (reckoned) righteous, AND find that I most certainly am-not so (in practice)! Or viewed from the other end, I am being re-built, such that I shall (one day) be ABLE to tolerate His stunning presence...and at this moment would collapse like a snowflake in a furnace before Him....So, I am "righteous" (but not), and "resurrected" (but not), and worst of all, "holy". but SERIOUSLY not!
   We live in-between. This book with no pages ( which is me), this in-between-ness itself, has an element to it, which I think is real, but have never heard other believers comment upon. Rather like gonads?
   Think with me of the angel hefting his sword at the (now closed) gate at Eden. "You ain't getting past me!". Said angel is the personal guarantor, he is "filling" the job. In reality, Jesus is that Guy, the one, who (in Person), "sees to it". Sees to what? Uh, this case, "holiness", a.k.a. "sanctification". Somewhere in the Bible we hear "His Spirit will not contend with man...forever". We infer thereby that sure-as-shootin,' He will be contending today! But see? There is nothing on that page! I don't "have" any "holiness"!
   Go back and re-read the words of Jesus. Heck, throw in Paul for that matter. With a view then to "sanc" (in this life) don't their expectations of us seem to be a tad high-ish? "Be perfect", "be at peace with ALL men", "them that hear my words, and DO them, they are my brothers"? Not to try and nit-pick here, but WHO are we talking TO? "Perfection"??? Really? Uh excuse me, can I talk to one of those "perfect" guys for a minute? Are those the ones who have hit "angelic" status? Maybe they could tell me how it's done, you know; show me the ropes? I mean, who (precisely) are we kidding here? And isn't it just a bit odd that He (of all Persons) appears to be "out to lunch" right here? Why is He "unaware" of what a raging, total, and complete FAILURE I am at EVERYTHING I do? And the one hardest thing of ALL (holiness); He glibly assumes that I shall be a roaring success at here? Now, that is some weird gospel stuff. How come Christians never mention this? Who are we keeping the secret from?
   I mean, who EXACTLY is He talking to, with this "be-perfect" jazz? And isn't it peculiar that I; who have failed at every human endeavor, am to "succeed" at the only (truly) impossible one? Why is this?
   Or what of that loathsome business of "Love the LORD your God, with ALL your heart, mind, soul, strength"? Not to be excessively rude here, but if I told others that I was doing that, I couldn't fool a baby! Infants would see the lie! And you are instructing me to lie to the Almighty about it? Hmmm, sounds like a brainwave there, I wonder, just how easy is He to fool anyhow? Newsflash, I have never; under any circumstance, ever "loved" anything (or anyone) with even one of my (vaunted) capacities, much less, all four of them; far, far less, all four directed toward "on-high"... I mean, "I'm just saying here". If I have never; with all my heart, loved (say) a potato, what are the "odds" of me correctly applying said "love" to Mr. Potato's Mighty Maker? In brief, I HAVE a track record, and have never yet gotten even the EASY part right!
   Like the angel with the sword, you cannot get past me! Why do Christians never mention this? It is I who am the enforcer? Who knew? Justification, that legal decision before "the bench", that declaration of righteousness says just about zip about any inherent ability  in me after that decision. So, AFTER being declared righteous, we are clearly KNOWN to (still) be not-good-enough! Deal with it.
   See it this way, the O,T. people were known as "Wrestles-with-God", and old "Isra-El" himself "confronted" El, and would NOT "let Him go"! The english speaking church might say it this way, "It was a scene". An argument, a shouting match, a row, it all seems so blasted undignified! And then I'm shouting at the Most High? Gosh, is that even safe? We will pretend at meek and mild submission every day, while in that same hour just refuse to wrestle?
   Wrestling, puts us in the unlikely position of preaching gospel... to Him? Gee, you'd think He would know it already...
   Such preaching sounds a bit like this in my life. "Take your "requirements" Pal, take your "standards and morals" while You are at it, take your "perfection, purity of heart, self-control," and every OTHER worthwhile thing, and just chalk 'em up! Okay? The answers are: "No, no, no, and no." I do not, I have not, and I will not "qualify" on the grounds of my "perfection". If You (Sir?) are "waiting" for me (of all people!) to "straighten up and fly right" ain't gonna happen! Just keep waiting. You dig?
    I don't why I'm having to explain this to You, but listen to me! If, for ANY reason, ANY REASON AT ALL, the mercy of Your Son "fails", or the care of Your Son "collapses", if that solitary lifeline fails, I fail! If He isn't "enough", then I don't HAVE "enough". Deal with it. There is no "plan B", especially one in which I (of all people!) start generating (for some unknown reason) "perfection" over here!
   I am the one. I guarantee it. I refuse (categorically) to attempt to blow smoke up the butt of the Almighty, and start in with some song and dance about "my holiness". My book has covers, but NO text! I have not loved You with all my big left much less so, my entire being? Like the angel at the doorway, You ain't getting past me!
   "We contend mightily (with Him?) for the faith?". How weird is that? And how come nobody mentions arguments with Him as the main thing in life anyhow? What's up with that? You know, for some people, an argument is the only time they can be honest, I'm like that I guess. He knows. He knows. It's a good thing I never married!
   I suppose I could preen and pose and pretend that I really Have loved Him. But you couldn't fool a baby with that crap. As the son of chaos and filth, the doer of failure and shame, I (of all people) have to be the one who personally guarantees that "He ALONE is right"? How did that happen? I mean, He is telling Me (?) to "be perfect", and I have to shout at Him, "No dice, You've got the wrong gringo! You're thinking of Jesus, not me!" Why does He require these reminders?
   So, we shout "He alone is holy!" We shout that...AT Him? Gosh, you'd think He would have known that already?


Johnny One Note

   Re-reading these C.P.E. s, a feature thereof emerges. We observe a kind of perspective in these essays. In thinking it over some, and to "find out" if I agree with my own bias, it appears that a "Johnny One Note" grasp of things IS "me". Who knew?
  Old guys easily get in a groove (or rut) in which their commentary on things is "set". There is a great line in "The Silver Chair", in which Puddleglum, in speaking to an "earthman," gets frustrated. The little guy has a dreary refrain; something along the lines of "...and few return to the sunlit lands". Puddleglum, sick to death at hearing it yet again says: "Well, I can clearly see that you are a chap of one idea".
   We prefer (I think) to see ourselves as decidedly NOT single-minded. We'd like the descriptions "eclectic, sophisticated", you know? "open-minded"! Now others, (especially old white men), now those other people might well be "set in their ways", oh; let's say "narrow, parochial, and that bad brain stuff. "They" may be chaps of one idea, but NEVER us! We are way too "sophisticated" for one thing.
   The problem area here, is that this device bites itself in the butt. This mono-mania for "non-narrowness" can (very) easily become the NEW "One Note" in our lives. In "escaping" one-note-ism per se, we establish it! It is the sort of trap we build when in the flight from "absolutes," we embrace "relativity". If everything (indeed) is "relative," then such an assessment can only be "relatively true". It soon, to be outmoded as "quaint" we gather? The premise "there are no absolutes" is a violation of itself, in that it is to be taken as a true; and absolutely-so, assertion!
   My idea then is that our minds are "haunted" by "one-idea", and we simultaneously fear it, in us! The reason it is not trusted is that most of it's manifestations are one-idea, all about me! We have all met those, for whom "Me, and my power", or "Me, and my accomplishments/glory" send listeners running! If the central idea of my life is "me", then I have lost my audience in the telling. The thing is biting itself in the butt, it is the luggage our parents carried out of Eden, and it is heavy and awkward to move around.
   The abuse of a thing is never a sufficient argument to outlaw it's proper use. If one-idea-ism is the pattern we keep generating, and me-ism is it's (flawed) product, such is not necessarily invalidating the one idea. If the Sun is the center of the solar system then (apparently), the Earth is not! But because the Earth is not central, to void "centrality" itself thereby, is an error. If the "Sun" is Christ, and the "Earth" is the church, then we would EXPECT a "One Note" theme to appear in that community. It is (now) "Him, and His power, Him and His accomplishments/glory". And we could end this C.P.E. right here! But, you're not getting off that easy...oh, and by the way that stands for "crazy-pants-essay". Clever, no?
   Each, as individuals, each in our time, our life, each in our weakness; formats a unique "reflective surface", to the true "Sunlight", which is Lord Christ. So, (maybe) in your life it's all about patience? In her life (over there), it's all about security, and welcome? Each of us then, playing our part in the symphony, brings and plays our own "chap of one idea" note. And far from being tired and passe', now baptized, now resurrected, now transformed, it proves to be the "true me", and that "me" is all-about Him!
  Think of Paul or Peter. How about Luke and John? Each with their own gifts, strengths, and blindspots bring the one-note entrusted to them into the orchestra He directs...We really do not expect Paul to sound like the others, nor do we await him to endorse "non-narrowness" as a kind of unqualified "good".
   To the best of my ability then (which is small), hear the "One-Note" in my life! It has been there for years, and I can't make it go-away, in any case, so let's hear it Bub.
   Basically, it's a riff on the "indecent" meekness of Jesus. You know the material: "When your foe slaps you on one cheek, turn to him the other. When the enemy demands your coat, volunteer your umbrella to go with!". Okay, I made up the umbrella part.
   As a boy, I just never "got" how such talk could be thought of as "loving". If you (actually) cared for others, wouldn't you HELP them stop-being jackasses? Isn't "good;" that (moral?) effort that HALTs evil? So, in my book, when the enemy slaps you on the right cheek, blow his freaking kneecap off...he won't do THAT again! When your foe forces you to carry his junk one mile, set it on fire, and run away! Maybe, next timer he will carry his own? I just want to be part of the cure here!
    The "Johnny One Note" theme of my life has been to assess the blatantly "bad advice" of Jesus Christ. What possible motive could be driving this? It's clear that He's not nuts, so; what is He saying? For most of my life, I simply rejected the "love" angle here. If "love" over-rides dignity, justice, truth, and honor, then isn't it (in fact) just another criminally negligent form of irresponsible self-promotion? But, how does that kind of assessment describe Him? I simply ran from the "Jesus is such a fabulously nice guy, that it would be ever-so-marvy if we were all just like Him" school of thought.
   It sounded to me that Jesus the nice-guy-wimp, Jesus-the-effeminate-loser, would do well to grow a backbone. His "ethics" meant only more guilt, and guilty of being insufficiently gutless? Like I needed that? Who COULD care about such drivel?
   No sir! The Bible speaks of Him as LORD (commander) of "hosts" (heavenly armies). One angel, in one night, whacks 180k bad eggs? Sign me up! And He, Captain of HOSTS of such fierce warriors? Wow, my kinda guy. Moses sings "Our God is a Man of War!". I tell ya, you have GOT to love this stuff!
   So, the johnny-one-note-ism of my life has been to reconcile the "terrible advice" of that Warrior King, to the reality OF same. To my thinking, the only working solution, is to couch the "bad advice" in light of that coming WORSE day!...Saved from sin? Sure, why not? Saved from evil? Okay, I'm with you. Saved from ourselves? Yawn, this is getting squishy. See? The message is, He is saving us...from Him! That (coming) devastation is so total, so unendurably bad; that even He blanches! The result is a kind of garbage dump for souls, one that is ON FIRE? Drastic steps, from His end ARE being taken! Pssst, this is where the gospel story comes in. All that stuff about the one sacrifice, Him TAKING that wrath-coming....
   If we refugees of the garden know nothing, we KNOW "what goes around comes around". There SHALL be an evening of the score, all debts shall be repaid. Evil just cannot go on forever unchallenged, and unmolested. We know this in our guts, we "know it" in our bones. And right "here", in the face of evil, instead of cursing in return; instead of threats, the King (God Bless Him!) brings His "awful advice"!
   THAT DAY, in which the little red wagon called "reality" is burned down, (and it's wheels blown off), that day, a mind-blowing fiesta of pain, shame, dread and catastrophe AT HIS hand,  that day I would not "wish" upon my worst (human) enemy! The powerful signal, that I am refusing to "throw down" with these blind men is the strongest message we can send! Everything "in us" calls for revenge! That is the one-note smuggled out of the garden, the one-note contraband we refuse to mention. And only the dire threat of His (horrendous) return, (which is the context for the "terrible advice" in question) can smoke out our smuggled one-note.
   As such, we say (with actions) as "loudly" as we can; "I am not the threat. Life is not the threat. Death is not the threat, Jesus, the Nazarene! He's the problem: He IS the threat! And through the human motive of FEAR, He is dragging to safety, a (human) "host". Fishing is a matter of well thrown nets. Fish are dragged in, and not-frequently asked their opinion...
   Do you see? Until they are given eyes to see the actual threat to their well being, they MUST mistake you as the threat. They MUST mistake the world or death as the threat. And so, their un-aided view MUST be a johnny-one-note about "my-glory". But that is what the fall was all about. He is shearing us off from our slave masters, the devils. Those guys are hammered toast (on-fire!), they have zero hope. But the human slave can be sheared-off, and turned, before it's too late. The brief version then is "We are on the clock, and almost out of time". Zeal then, "is okay". "A chap of one idea" is allowable, even welcome!
   My chap of one idea...idea is then: His motive for how to treat evil men is "loving"; yes. But it is first a love between Father and Son, in which dreadful oaths are uttered to guarantee the human "host's" future. He is (thus) advising us to treat them as those "deaf and blind". Filled only with themselves, filled only with the "glory" they generate, they are (technically) insane, in that by their "wisdom," they are cut off from reality! The "bad advice", the insanity, (as I viewed it) of returning blessing for cursing, of praying for those wronging you is a LAST DITCH effort to (at all costs) "get through" to evil men. If you cannot hear my words, observe my actions, and even you (!) will be able to understand that; "I am NOT your enemy, the world is NOT your enemy, death is NOT your enemy. Your enemy, IS your Maker! His judgement, (when it does come) shall be swift, sure, and terrible to behold, but most importantly for you...unsurvivable!
   We are "loving them", but not because they are "lovable". Face it, they are not even mildly so. Yet it is their very ugliness which testifies that they have not-yet faced Him. And that means there may yet be hope for them! Our only hope as men is that "somehow" we die before we die. He alone is sufficient for this. The one note is His, paid for, free and clear, it's His and has become, by gift, ours too! Love (His) is more powerful than death!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What I failed to read

   Do you read the newspapers? How about magazines? If the answer is no, don't feel bad, nobody else does either! All that stuff is "old school" now, and we must nowadays inquire as to your "alternative media input" (or is it through-put?). Social media,? Blogosphere? Tweeting? We witness a regular deluge of available data, a tsunami of words. Data over networks, featuring devices I'd rather not think about just now. Pad versus reader (or is it tablet?), phones which do 117 different things, one of which is placing calls.
   I (for one) have been left in the dust by "progress", and from here; a perspective is forming. The "media bias" gripe is what drives much of the growth here in my opinion. Back in the bad old days, there were three (or four?) national networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS. Originally, the bias toward local versus national, began to generate, local-network news shows, featured just after the national broadcast. The cries for "balance, fairness, and (above all) relevance!", drove viewers to alternate sources...and nowadays, that is about all we do have.
   So then, the cry "bias"!...was wrongly thought to be solvable by an innovation called "un-bias". Hogwash. The overall move "downward" from for-profit news organizations, to (supposedly) "non-profit" news individuals, has not yet ended "bias"...has it? Blogs, tweets, and "likes" are not found to be especially "balanced", are they? Would we even be able to recognize "balance"? Isn't the b-word, those reports which line-up with, and agree...with me? "Balance"..compared to what precisely?
   We think of "bias" as a function of left-right. And no, I am not going to discuss the French revolution here. But that beginning point of the modern left-right polar idea was founded in opposition to a monarchy. So, if asked, "Do you (Mike L) "favor" the right or the left?". I'm pretty certain the reply would be: "Long live the King!". Or to rephrase, when in a polar trap, look for the "forgotten" third option.
   In our scramble for up-to-the-millisecond "relevant" reporting of "late breaking news", do we EVER hear, "This just in; The Almighty is heading toward Earth, with a whopper-doodle war hammer; sources say He is severely irate!"...details at eleven?
   Here we are, standing on God's green Earth, breathing God's clean air, living the days He has allotted to us, covered by the blood of His only Begotten, and none, (not even one?) "news" story can admit that He even exists? Gee, is this some kind of "bias"? How come we never hear about that bias? The "news" breathlessly announces today's trivia, and is unable (and unwilling) to note that the present chaos, the stupid misery of the moment, was decreed from an infinitely deep/remote past. That topic will simply never arise, and it will not do so with prejudice!
   So, the more we expose ourselves to futile (and ungodly) chatter, the more we "tend" to forget certain crucial things. From the newspapers (my speed), to the latest, greatest decentralized private publication, the entire spectrum of "news" is all on one side of the aisle. As such, it reads this way, "Dear Mr., please Ms. peruser of 'stories', do NOT notice, NEVER see, that in this "report" HIS-story is always and everywhere (it must be!) 'forgotten'. " He declares plainly to have Personally built, supported, bought back, and to (one day soon) demolish ...Earth? This testimony is not "missing', it is censored!
   Keep on repeating "There is no Almighty, there is no Almighty", until your guilt goes away. Is that it? If you close your eyes, and cross your fingers maybe you can make the sun go away while you're at it?
   No-sir! Our "news-agencies" are all about crisis. Global warming!...well except for the present cooling trend. Drought!...except for the "unusual" flooding that is. It's all about crisis! The financial boondoggles of fools-in-suits, the sex-ca-pades of perverts sans zippers, it's up-to the nanosecond "reporting"...of the fall at Eden? Yet the One True Crisis, the One Desperate Situation...Him coming, armed for war(!)...and nary a peep?
   At the very minimum, we discuss criminal negligence, and I would include "profoundly boneheaded". Yet, this portrait of man, "majoring on the minor", "absentmindedly forgetful of the actual priority" while steadfastly attending to pointless trivia...that is "accurate reporting". What the "news" is plainly unable to state, is: "Our idiotic attempts to "ignore" Him; reveal US! We the frauds, we the nincompoops, we the criminally stupid...that IS "fair and unbiased reporting"! The truly unbiased report states that the God-with-war-hammer is...Already dealt-with. There is a shelter in that coming day, because the judgement is history! There is a safe place, the wrath is passed...Is there ANY "reporting" there, except for scripture...and me?
   The great love that the Father has for the Son...THAT is OUR hope. Welcomed then into a royal feast, welcomed with "Another", for "Another's" sake...any reporting?
   You are not welcomed because of who YOU are. Who cares about that? No Sir! One loyal Son, One sane Man, One righteous Man, One! Your union to-and-with Him IS your life, and because of that link, your life is now indestructible! Any "reporting" there?
   He calls His Own out of the grave, He (and they) personally kick down the doors of the tomb, clothed now in light, gladness, and immortality...any "reporting" there?
   The "left" is all in a lather to drive the U.S. off a cliff...whereas the "right" favors "the five year plan"... When we hear the True report, this left/right thing proves to be but rumors and propaganda. We have come to agree with the One True Witness, we agree and correctly predict the shattering of all His foes!

Pajama Man

   Apparently, I have not been keeping up with the fashion police. Out shopping for groceries, a guy begins to notice odd things. Excuse me, but when did it become "okay" to go out in public (in the middle of the day) wearing pajamas? And, those little "scuffies", (or bedroom slippers), those now qualify as "shoes"? Since when? Has it been two years since we spotted our first adult so garbed? Little kids; well, we could (perhaps) make an exception there...I suppose.
   I'm curious now. Is it just "too hard" to put on clothes before the noon hour? What cultural dynamic is behind me getting up, and finding it too great a challenge to put on pants before going out? Sure, it would be one thing to see a housewife in her nightgown step outdoors to pick the newspaper off the lawn. It would not be utterly bizarre to see a guy come out in the EARLY morning,wearing pj's, open the car door, find something, and go back in. Call me "narrow," but I would consider it peculiar to see the same guy; twelve hours later, wearing the same duds at the PTA meeting...I'm funny that way.
   So, what is going on here? I'm making this up as fast as I can, but we do notice that there is an age bias here. These are the late-twenty-somethings, up to the mid thirties? I am not seeing teenagers so attired, nor the AARP crowd. I believe the cultural marker is "the slacker generation"? It's that same bunch of folks who appear (at least) to believe that tattoos actually enhance one's appearance? Hey, you got a tat on your face! (You look so much better now?)...I mean, do you even know of somebody between 27 and 38 who is NOT tattooed? There may be a few...somewhere.
   Next item to note is that, to my knowledge, the pajama theory is a lower-half issue. Pajamas; (last time I checked) are a two piece affair. A "shirt" and "pants" are the norm. For kids, a one piece thing (with "feet"!) likely still exists, but that is a moot point in this discussion. So, do the work here, and imagine with me. I got up, decided to go shopping, and thought briefly about how to dress today. It was "too much" to change out the pj pants, way too complex to ditch the scuffies; but it did make sense to put on a normal (human style)
shirt, and over that, a jacket? Why did this prove true?
    The final point of inference I draw here, is that the "Mom" quotient appears to be receding here. If a news reporter rushed up to our shopper, and said (with cameras rolling) "Excuse me, but is your mother aware that you are in the produce department dressed for bed?." We might expect the microphone shoved in the face, plus the bright lights, the big camera, etc., would yield a "death by embarrassment". But with this group, I have my doubts. This is the same committee which "failed to launch" on the whole mom/dad schmeer in the first place. These are the ones who bring their own children back to their (childhood) home, and have the nerve to ask their own parents to raise their own children! Apparently, what Mom thinks of my attire, child-rearing "skills", and amount of embedded ink in my skin isn't exactly "crash priority" with this crowd.
   Do I speak in grotesque caricature? Of course. Am I prejudiced-against a whole swath of human-kind? Sure, why not? Hey, I can afford to, it's what old guys do!
   Here then, is my quasi-philosophical spin on the huge societal "issue" of "slackers" unwilling to dress in public. The gospel places a "value" upon "modesty", and (run for the hills!) "chastity". This content has failed to launch, the next-gen did NOT "get" these values. The ethic of (impersonal?) "hooking-up", the wearing of provocative (sexually) clothes, this stuff appears to (at least) nullify Mom's teachings. Those are "old school", those are dated, old (and thereby untrue?) thus to be ignored. What is never admitted here is that chastity and modesty as virtues, are fruits of the Spirit, and it is also (and incidentally) true that Moms (historically) have bought into same. Newsflash to slackers! Your mother did NOT invent decency...but if she was any good at "mom-ism", she likely voted for it.
   What then is the gospel of modesty? The young gals I note, are wearing absurdly tight jeans. From their testimony, they are worn for "comfort". If I object, and venture the idea that wearing something "looser" would be a kind-hearted thing to do, they are mystified. See? If you hang up raw meat in front of a hungry dog, he can be trained not to go after it, but to do so, for the fun of watching the dog's discomfort, would be cruel. And instead of admitting my point, I am accused of being the one with a "dirty mind." Gee, thanks little sis, I needed that!". What an excellent reason to avoid you like the plague!
   I see in the warmer months, girls wearing shorts so short, that if they were shorter, she would be wearing a necktie! But when I tell them to put on some clothes, (or ask it), I'm the one who is wrong? As a guy, you will never "win". Deal with it. Yet what is forgotten is modesty. From the gospel view, modesty is akin to kindness, and understanding of other's weaknesses.
   If you KNEW somebody had barely escaped drunkenness as a life style, would it be okay to tempt them with vodka and scotch, just to watch them squirm? And if that one has battled suicide for decades, do you ask them to "store" your handgun? If likewise, they escaped by the skin of the teeth becoming a sexual predator, do you wag your girl-parts in his face...just for fun? Modesty says; "I know you, and your weaknesses. I refuse to shun you, and LIKEWISE promise not to try to trip you." Is being friendly just too much work? Modesty is the neighborly thing, the human thing to do.
   Far deeper than all this chaos, the God (the Son) of scripture, also "covers" Himself. Our human modesty, is based upon the reality. To "disclose" to "show" the self is a kind of privilege, based upon oaths sworn to the death! Reality is covenantal. He "shows" Himself, and He hides Himself. The gift of modesty can begin to make guesses as to why He is doing that. The "opposite" of hiding is revealing. But the revealing we are interested in, is PRIOR to that day. The eternal love between the Father and the Son, NOBODY has "a right" to enjoy...unless they are called-into such an extravagant "banquet". Modesty signals the most powerful thing in the universe... love, mixed with respect for "Another". It is the welcome to the one not-like me, the treasuring of the un-likeness!
   He is not like us. He is holy! Yet He valued us enough, to not cause us to stumble! If it would be easy to seduce a man into sexual error, by a mere woman, it ought be infinitely easier, if the high King had so desired. He, on purpose, did not do so. The Modest God!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sustain Me

   We keep hearing the word "unsustainable" in political discussions, having to do with federal spending. Have you noticed? So then, a kind of unfocused, generalized "warning" is the backdrop here? It sort-of sounds like: "If present trends continue"...or perhaps, "Are we headed toward becoming another Greece?".
   Occasionally, some brave soul will say something like; "Until we get a handle on entitlements, we are dealing with fringe issues". The shape of the discussion then is a "choose up", and you are to determine which "side you are on". Are you "for" budgetary responsibility, or are you "for" compassion? Do you desire to "soak the rich", or to "rein in waste"? Can you tell which "side" I am on? Just look at the way the question is put!
   Now, there is a "sneaky" aspect to all this. The gospel is not "the same" as moral imperatives, of the cultural variety. Nor is the gospel identical with any political movement. From a strictly "moralist" point of view, either "responsibility" or "compassion" CAN hold the "high ground," least in our ruined crazy hearts. Recall that our call is to be "in", but not "of" the world. And if "politics" isn't "the world", I don't know what could be.
   I'm saying this; "Being on-time, in-budget, and 'sensible' about spending, as one-half of the dispute, is NOT 'the answer'". The problem here is simple, in that it is a "righteousness" that we ARE capable of. Thus, by definition, it is not the real righteousness. Likewise with the other camp, except that their man-made righteousness is even LESS in-line with the King, in that it authorizes state sponsored theft! But the point is, the "answer" is not some melding or blending of two bad options. It has never been finding the "balance" of more of this knife, and less of that gun, as a corporate worship of "compromise," until one get's it "right".
   We spend all our time right "here". Cite the experts, give examples, prove the other guy wrong...and "win" the day? Who cares? This wall-to-wall discussion, this hysterical false front is just WAY too much talk! The fact is; nations, kingdoms and empires rise and fall. Or would it be more precise to say that they rise, and are Judged? See? There comes in time, a verdict, a decision. Governments do not merely "fall". They are judged, and thrust down! And the church fails precisely here.
   The church really ought be over "here", not over "there", doing talking-points in favor of thrift, or of it's opposite, governmental largesse. The endless hyper-talking, the 24/7 "news-cycle" is a mask, and a cover for the fear, that (perhaps?) The Judge has already reached a verdict on the U.S. of A.!
   The church, as a "mouth in the world" is doing a pretty crappy job. Unwilling to speak that assessment, she instead is hooked by delusions of power, money, and fame. The Biblical word "You have been weighed in the balance, and found wanting", is not the type of "word" she is willing to bring. No. Rather, let us talk of miracles, money, love and privilege. The only "word" she knows is of mercy...while we discuss it's opposite?
   In my opinion, the word of mercy and friendship is TO His "elect," that holy-nation of aliens and strangers who sojourn in this world. So there is the political "nation", and the spiritual one. To think of the two as one, courts error. Yet, just listen to how Christians speak. Often, they discuss "our nation" (by which they mean the U.S.). Newsflash, OUR "nation" is that glad-glorious throng gathered across the age and from ALL the nations. Indeed, OUR "nation" is none other than "believing Israel", into which we mere gentiles have been grafted. Our "worry", all the "concern", and "prayers-over" the U.S. proves to be fretting over "another" nation. And THAT nation has been weighed in the balance, etc.,.
   Christians would really rather not discuss this, because it could lead to a wild-eyed, a cultic, an heretical deviation. So, it's better to sin by being dull and sleepy?
   No "land" CAN expect blessing if she murders her children. No "land" CAN find help if she mocks marriage, loves lies and embraces folly. No "land" CAN flourish if she seeks after mediums, listens to demons, dabbles in sorcery and embraces gambling. Such a "land" throws away hope as she deals unjustly, crushing the poor. It's stuff like THIS the prophets were announcing. They asked "Are you...stronger than God?. Yet the church NEVER asks "is the U.S. stronger than God?", why the silence?
   The thing which was "America," is being swept away by powerful tides indeed. It is being replaced by something "new"...and far worse. This is the message of gospel, for in it we find that OUR fate lay not in America's fate. We have been "separated" from that Judgement, in that; "Another" took upon Himself, that due us! " Except, you repent, you shall ALL  be swept away" is how LORD Jesus put it.
   Here is where the church is forgetful. Due-to, in-light-of Judgement, we seek mercy. It is a mercy-instead, not an abstract endorsement of wealth and power as our "right".
   So, the U.S. is being swept away. We should think of it in the past-tense. No revival of 18th century gentleman farmers, plus free mason inspired deism is going to "save" here. It was an experiment to determine whether humans CAN govern themselves... the experiment failed when we realized we can vote raises to ourselves! It's about that "complex".
   The point here hasn't changed a bit. In light of, because of, this very pattern; we, the new "nation" across the age, and around the world, ARE shifting our loyalty (and hopes), away from the old, and to the ever-green new. The gospel was made for times like these! The sheer "unsustainability"  of the work of our hands, preaches an eternality of the work of His hands.
   He changes not, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spiritual Energy

   Have you ever met anyone that others might deem to be of the "spiritual" kind? In the modern day, go-go footrace mentality in which we live, it is a pretty rare thing. To be honest, I don't even like the word "spiritual", and unless we discuss coal or oil, the word "energy" seems a tad suspect too. Really, don't both of these sound new-agey to you? You know the drill, pretty soon somebody mentions "vibrations", or worse; an up-down schema of so-called "higher-type "attunement". And in case you didn't notice, all that guck is to inform you that you are thereby "lower", or shall we say "un-attuned"? It's that, or some other blasted thing. Who could care?
   So, generally I just don't use certain phrases, unless I intend to mock them, that is!
   Maybe it was Chesterton, it's hard to recall, but whoever it was; observed that Buddha is this fat-happy guy who; eyes-closed, gazes inward. Meanwhile, "the Thinker" (as a statue), examines (with a terrible clarity) what is "out-there". It is "in-here", versus "out-there", two spiritualites and east meets west.
   Now, we could go further. The detachment of the self, (the unnaturally calm) contrasts with the agony of the Cross. The excruciating pain, the amplification of the "now" into the "nearly unending", these format the "feel", these release the "aroma" of the west.
   Think with me here. Haven't you also noted that those deemed "spiritual" often pray (publically at least) as-if on the verge of falling asleep? All that chatter about "vibrations and energy" has an oddly stilling and dulling final result; don't you agree? Can the "vibrated" summon the power to dig a ditch? Will the "energized" bore us all to tears?
   If we were thinking in terms of drugs, we'd first imagine THC, with it's "mellow" and slowed-down stilling effects. Next, we'd recall massive doses of B-vitamins, caffeine, plus exercise. Sleepy-dopey, versus engaged-stoked (to the gills). Which is the true-er "spiritual", which the really "energized"? Recall with me, that while upon the Cross, the LORD refused wine-vinegar. There's a thought.
   In brief, does our "spirituality" make us intent upon avoiding pain while we dwell in our personal-private "happy-place"? Is it about avoiding pain, eluding confrontation, escaping trouble or grief? See? When  we meet a homeless sad person, we just want to give them a buck, and NOT hear their story. Or, at least I do.
   The true spiritual-energy is life-energy. But we live in a world of darkness and death. "Spirituality" then, is going to either cause us to flee and ignore ugliness, or...embrace and feel it. Now, the way I see it, nobody would (or could) WANT to feel pain in order to grow. So, we would be forced, so to do; for the sake of "Another". The true spiritual then would a kind of suffering/love...but we kinda knew that?
   I (personally) know very nearly nothing about this.
   I've spent the majority of my life fleeing pain, and then complaining (loudly) that the "Landlord" ought not ALLOW such goings on. Don't you see? It's His fault! That's what I've been doing with my brain...
   True spirituality doesn't mean you become "smooth". But in our splotchy, fragmented selves, we experience LIFE, with all it's "flavors", and promise before-hand not to "spit it out" in disgust! The spiritual, energized man has ceased being disgusted with his Maker. Such a man no-longer "looks down" on Him!
   The truly scary thing here is: Lord God...allowed it! He "went down", so low, low enough that even we could (now) see Him! Despised, rejected, spit upon, that's Him. Buck naked, flogged in public, beaten beyond recognition, is God-The-Son. He felt every blow, tasted the bitter rejection and abandonment of this horror-show; in it, PRAYING-FOR (?) His foes? Truly spiritual, He in agony reveals the true energy.
   His gaze? Fierce and outward, calling aloud; "Why...have You forsaken?". Yet, He proved loyal. He, embracing death with eyes wide open...blazes the trail of life!
   The "spiritual" is a "joined" thing. He with, He in, He over, He during, He through us. Since death entered the world, we just want out! I can't continue to look at this ugliness any more. I've done my time. Let me out; show me the door! The man of energized spirit...endures pain, yes; feels pain, that "Another" be honored, and that the gathered IN, before it's too late.
   There are more important things than comfort, and stronger things than death. I hate to break it to you, but there are also worse things than being "forced" to live in this world! Job said "Yea, though He slay me, I shall yet praise Him". Our modern version is the inverse, (or perverse). Ours goes: "Yea, though he cause me to live...I will yet praise Him".
   Wide awake, we bend the knee before Him, pleading with Him, for THEIR lives, we ask for energy, spirit, and hope. It's a hope purchased with blood, it's the only kind worth having. It's dreadful...and good.

The Other Sixteen

   Young people prefer to discuss "love." As for me; "like" is where it's at! This time of year, we hear lots (too much really) about "love" and hardly a peep about what's real, a.k.a., "like"! When youngsters are challenged to say what they love-about someone or something, the response is often lame: "Well, there is just so much! I can't begin to count the ways!". Uh, sure you can, if you really wanted to. Hint: start with "one", proceed directly to "two", and what-not, you get the drift here. And whether it is finding reasons for giving thanks to a person, or "what-I-love-about-X", the counting of the ways does not normally even begin. Why so? Can you tell me?
   You CAN begin (at least) to count-the-ways. Uh, do so? As an arbitrary beginning, I propose here that to (in fact) "like" another person, you MUST (so say I) enumerate at minimum, seventeen "things" you like-about them...Can you go that high? Well, I could TRY (at least). Let us thence proceed.
   "I like you". That is NOT enough, be specific!
1. Your smile is crooked, but not badly. As an individual then (I infer) you are NOT trying "to be the ideal"...smiler. Ditch the ideal! I like that about you.
2. Your willingness to say "shocking" things (privately) is a fun way to communicate. It suggests a love of the "authentic" or "real", and this love (in you) rises above the (all the time) "acceptable". This, I like!
3. As we stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, looking out at things together, your viewpoint is similar-enough to mine to be understandable, and perversely odd enough to remain interesting. You make me think! Good stuff.
4. You can be remarkably gentle (at times), and when I am not being that way, you refrain from throwing a "righteous" fit. You listen! How deeply weird of you! But me? I like.
5. You steadily keep drawing me "back". Back where? Back to good-sense, back to the "big-picture", and back to what REALLY counts. I've got to like that about you. You remain a "good-force", moving me off my rabbit-trails (to nowhere).
6. You make me laugh, not by being "funny", but by being observant! And better yet, you don't get mad when I start laughing thusly...what's NOT to like?
7. The creative streak in you basically scares me, in that it causes me to wonder "how best to treat you?". Should I use kid gloves? But, you just snort (!), and make "nothing" of your beautiful creations. You remain a genius and keep people like me around?
8. Pointing my crazy heart back (again) to the true King, when I slip (back) into crazy-pants land, you refuse to hold it against me that I appear (at least) unable to consistently recall our One human hope! This, I've got to admire.
9. You know all (or most at least) of my deep flaws as a person, and aren't constantly trying to "fix" me. Thank you, this; the art of being a true friend.
10. You tell me interesting things about your childhood. That can be fun!
11. You consistently refuse to talk about pets as-if they were people!
12. You are not a fussy eater, and will only talk about your "diet" if someone is silly enough to ask! Now, THAT; I do like!
13. You think children are "cute, adorable, fun, funny, precious" and such stuff, yet studiously avoid discussing how-best to raise them! This means you are liking-first, before expecting-next. I like.
14. You (too) are a "book person". Believe me, this counts!
15. "Money, Fame, Power" is NOT "where it's at" for you. This gives me hope!
16. I do not recall you and I ever yelling at each other. That's got to be a good thing.
17. My thinking is often;"To defend you-from-me (and my serial bad traits) 'makes sense' in my sad heart". And you (oddly) refuse to use that against me!
   See? That wasn't so hard. Love, whatever it finally proves to be (and supposing somebody cared enough to find out?) can never out-flank "like". We would do well  to employ some "like" among one least it's REAL!
   Love? A roller coaster (lots of screaming). Like? A walk-together remembering funny stories. Love? To "be worked-at", like another full-time job? Like? The refreshing visit with old friends who refuse to comment on your expanding girth, and grey hair (or lack thereof).
   See? Like is solid! It's the sound of loyalty, of KEEPING secrets for somebody else. It is the sound of dogs barking, children playing, rivers gurgling...hey, it's the sound of life! We do not well-know what our souls "are" or "do'. But, by our souls, we rejoice, we embrace, we fly! Okay, maybe the latter requires a kite? Cut me some slack.
   Love will break your heart. Uh, gee, WHY would you WANT that?... I mean is "like" so despicable, is it so weak that we can't like each other? Because I'll tell you, the one thing I best-like in you is that I hear a whisper, an echo, a hint of Another voice. We could call it the voice of truth (or of sanity for that matter), but really, it's His voice, breaking-in to reality, through you!
   As a broken vessel, (a shard really), of a broken image-which-was, you YET reflect Him. Oh sure, it's just a wee-bit...for now. But it's real, and we together await the re-forged image-which-shall-be. So then, He's the TRUE friend, and you, in your out-of-focus way, are little bit like Him. Oh, and it's increasing! Did we mention that? I like how you you are growing up to be just like Him, the only real friend any of us ever had...
   See? you CAN begin to count the ways.   

The Long Shot, Short Shot

   This week's powerball is (frankly) absurd. Somewhere betwixt one half and two thirds of...a BILLION bucks? So, naturally, I bought three myself! The advertised "odds" are one-in-one hundred and seventy five million? So, if we build a roulette wheel with that amount of slots, how big is the wheel? At one-half inch wide slots, plus one eighth inch wide dividers, between them, I make it; a wheel of just about five hundred and fifty miles in diameter!
   New Mexico is (I think) the fifth largest state in the union, area-wise. Our wheel is bigger. You have MUCH better "odds" of being struck by lightning, or viewing (in person) a UFO. You have much, much better "odds" of dying in a traffic accident, or for that matter; meeting a movie star on the street...
   So then, there clearly are things which will not happen, and likewise; there are things which likely shall not, but might-possibly. Further, we find a class of things which probably shall occur, and finally those which most certainly shall (death and taxes!). We are really not very good at distinguishing these variant classes in our OWN lives.
   Now, I can see them clearly in your life, and (we guess), you can see them in mine. But, "me-in-mine" yields some fairly shabby results. What ARE the "odds" of you-dying? Well, just shootin' from the hip here, I'd estimate those as "one-in-one". Oh sure, Elijah, Enoch, and (if you are Roman Catholic) Mary didn't croak...but you? Trust me bub, Elijah, you ain't! And sure, LORD Christ could return, and you could be one who dodges the bullet that way. But even then, such a transition from "our-now", to "that-then", is at least as traumatic as death itself...
   Yet, there remains a "deeper", a more certain (than death) "odds". In fact, it really could format (in our minds, at least) THE certainty (itself)...but, in our brains, remains barely noticed! Here, a strange silence prevails. We find lot's of jabber here, and swirling around the topic, plenty of commentary. The subject itself? Nearly total, dead silence...
   It's deeply weird, perhaps a bit like "enchantment" over in the fairy tale department? The entire palace falls magically asleep!...Contrast the absurdly low "odds" of you becoming a (fractional) billionaire, (which we warmly embrace) with the wildly certain "odds" of the I AM WHO IS (the Almighty) returning to earth, to war, trample and destroy. The rock-solid certainty...we can barely remember! The unthinkably bad "hair day", "Uncreated, and in Person? The public demolition of all His foes?". This stuff formats THE certainty, far more certain than even your own personal death!
   Oddly, the bookies in Vegas do not appear to be taking bets on THE "sure thing". Okay? The bad-hair day to end all such days, announced long-ago by the prophets...think of a tornado SO bad; that you get thousands of minutes of warning. What then of the advance "advice" to flee the wrath-coming...thousands of YEARS ahead of that (great and terrible!) day?
   That there is one bad, bad, BAD day we've got to consider...And we could (if we'd like) couch the very gospel of Christ Jesus right here. Even God, appalled at the destruction of that awful day, formats an escape, ONE door out!
   Recall at the beginning, back in the garden, "Mother of the living" is surgically removed from "Red's" side. So then, suitably enough, at the end of days, the "red-life" (blood) of the True Adam proves to be the ONE shield, and "she" is hidden-back in His side.
   In Noah's day, the only shelter was the ark. In Moses' time, is was the blood upon doorposts. Symbols and "types" of the Real "safe-place" can help explain, yet without a man, our picture remains incomplete.
   Consider Sampson. With one mighty pull, he brings down the house, crushing his foes and himself. The One who Sampson is pointing-to with his life and death, emerges alive (!) out of the wreckage. One loyal Son, One righteous Man, One true witness, and One survivor of that devastation (to come) from on high. All other heads "roll". No survivors..not one! Except, except for that "tiny" flock, shielded under the body of the true-Sampson, found alive, at Calvary! It's gospel I tell ya!
   He (Himself) is our only real "problem", and likewise, He our sole solution.
   We hear in the word, "Yo Abe, give me a headcount on the stars. Then go number the grains of sand. When you get that number, so shall your offspring be counted"... Abe trusted. The whole number SHALL be brought in.
   This formats the NEW certainty! the One...Survivor, has "already" survived! It is THE "sure-thing"! By-Him, Through-Him, Unto-Him, be ALL things, but from our side, it's mainly "Thanks"!
   Start there.

The Problem of Evil

   I'm not so sure I "get" the idea (correctly), but my version of it (however skewed) runs thisaway: "Hey, let's insult God!". For all the philosophical smoke and mirrors deployed, the "problem" in question is an assessment of NOT looking at Him!
   See? This big, bad, cold, ugly, mean world, and let's not forget the rotten, hard, cruel me...these (and more) format the "problem". But insofar as we look at it in this fashion, we are criticizing "Somebody"; by refusing to look AT Him! So, as an editorial comment, we guess that any sentence prefaced with "If God..." is highly suspect (at best), and actually ought be stricken from the record.
   Thus, as the mess is normally viewed..."If God exists, and if God is all-good, and if God is COULD the world/me syndrome exist? I mean here; use your logic! An all-powerful "God" (IF He existed) COULD surely fix things...couldn't He? And, an all-good God surely WOULD (if He existed, that is) WANT to do so...wouldn't He?". Do you sense the pollution here? This corruption is how the "problem" is normally posed.
   So, anyhow back at the races, since the world (and me) continues to exist in all it's steamy pain-darkness, then either: A. God is not all-powerful and CAN'T fix things; or, B. God is not all-good, and (frankly) doesn't CARE to fix things! "Coincidentally", in either case; I'm right and He's wrong! This is the "slope", (the bias) we normally employ in dealing with the "problem"...
   Anyhow, do you think this is a fair representation of the problem of evil? I think so, but am not certain. As a ten year old, I was dazzled by the "bold-face", the sheer audacity of such thought. As a fifty-four year old?...Uhm, not so much. It just sounds way too convenient..."me right, Him wrong"...who could have guessed that?
   The standard "answer" to the problem works out to be a slap upside the head. In english, it might read "Who in blue-blazes do you think YOU are (to talk that way)?". And, it is a fair-enough response, but side-steps the issue. Instead of answering the question, it simply nullifies the validity of the asking...which normally might translate: "In reality, I don't know!...and simultaneously, am afraid to say-so". Or, what about, "I am really uncomfortable discussing this, and also would like to take this opportunity to get angry at you!"?
   Okay, sure; you can get the postponement gig too. That tends: "There are MANY things we can't fully know (down here), but shall better-know-then-up-there"; head trip. This all being founded upon the short-life, long-eternity valuation. Ergo, purchase your fire insurance NOW, and read the fine print of the policy THEN...
   There is one other "answer" to the problem which I generally ignore, in that; it's insane. Essentially, the clean line, the boundary between good and evil gets badly smudged. God (in this model) it appears, can (and does) do really crappy things, and it's okay, BECAUSE...from the l-o-n-g view, good can come out of evil! Therefore, maybe evil isn't what it seems to be? Thanks pal, and don't forget to flush your brain down the toilet on the way out...
   As to my "answer" to the problem, I'm pretty sure I've never heard other people mention. Is that a good thing? Anyhow, I call it "sphere sovereignty" or in plumber-speak, "gifts given, STAY given!' Think of your imaginary seven year old son. In the back yard, you stake out "his" plot. You tell him, "You can make a sand-box, a garden (which I'd prefer you do), you can dig a hole, or make a hill...anything YOU'D like!". Further, you mutter to the kid, "You make, of YOUR gift, what you would like, and if it turns into a stinking's YOUR stinking mess. I am NOT "cleaning up" after you". That is; you will not clean-up after the rascal until the day you sell the house, move-out, and bulldoze the back-yard. This, in brief, is my view.
   In a nutshell, that is how I "see". The famines? Man-made, by-in-large. Wars? Man-made. Rape, pillage and destruction? You guessed it. And even earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes are at least "connected" to man, in-that Adam was to have been a planet-steward. Sure, he went badly off the rails, but my point here is that the "world" was "waiting" for us to tell it "what to do", and  nowadays; as a fellow rebel tells us! But nevertheless, "world" REMAINS in Adam's (thus our) set-aside "plot". The gift is NEVER "ungiven", even when the recipient becomes intoxicated, insane, or dead!
   Part B here is that; somehow (don't ask me!), his infernal lowliness, (the devil) "inherited" Adam's stewardship over the planet. So then, OUR (my) criticism of the way things a critique of the King, is about the WRONG king! All that jazz about him being either not-all-good, or not-all-powerful is a CORRECT assessment of that fallen "king". We do not normally notice.
   Finally, "somehow" LORD Christ has "re-inherited" the HUMAN stewardship of the planet. Covenantally then, a blood-oath, a killing, a crushing was REQUIRED...and He agreed! The new begun, in-that He rose, Personally kicking down the door to the tomb. Now, "in-Christ", we find that it is He who "trusts", He who "believes-in"...YOU? Who knew? Our Champion, combines the two (which would tear us apart) into a new-whole. He survives to tell of it.