Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hollering At Hillsides (date unknown)

  There exists a truly dumb pop song from back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The title is something like "Kung Fu Fighting" by that renowned artist, Carl Somebody-or-Another. The song does for music, what cotton candy does for health food. Unfortunately, the sticky feature of spun sugar is all too likely a comparison, and once such "music" is filed in the parietal lobe (or where ever such things reside), the sucker is very difficult to evict. It is kind of like "Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead!" from Oz, once in; it is nearly unremovable. Likewise, those T V or radio advertisements you so strongly dislike, are also nearly unforgettable. And one of the recurring themes in these essays is a glue-like statement, by Mr. Faithful You Know Who. It involves faith, it uses mountain imagery, and frankly I find it flatly ludicrous. Ludicrous, and also just about impossible to eject out of the brain.
  As a boy growing up in Albuquerque, the scenery to the east of the city is the Sandia (Watermelon) Mountains. And no, watermelons do not grow there. Large granite shields face the city, and as a short vato; I truly loved those mighty chunks of rock. Is it multi-millions of tons we view, or more than that perhaps? These champions of sturdiness, are rooted downward and inward to much more solid rock below. A direct strike by an atomic bomb would not remove them. Damage and scar them yes; remove them no. With this in mind then, set aside this reading for a moment and conduct an experiment or two will you?
  Take a penny or a nickel, and find a flat smooth surface. Carefully balance your coin on edge, and without puffing any air upon it, nor shifting the table it rests upon, talk to it. Yes, I said talk to it! Say, "Fall over sideways", and repeat your efforts until you find success. Uhm, that didn't work? Well maybe the coin was a tad hefty after all, try this instead. Find a cotton ball, and remove a tiny pinch of it and set it beside the stubborn coin. Talk to the cotton. Repeat after me; "Move 1/8th of an inch south.", until the little rascal begins scooting all over the table. . .  Call me when that begins, will ya?
  Now, after you get really really good at knocking over coins, and hoisting fluff, try next talking to the megatons of granite rooted into bedrock, east of Albuquerque and hoss them monsters over somewhere into the mid Pacific for me, will ya? And when that big splash occurs, we might (then) first affirm that you possess "small faith". Does this make any sense at all for you? 
  And like Kung Fu Fighting, I can neither enjoy the thought, nor rid myself of it. "If you had faith (and apparently, I don't then?) as small as a mustard seed, you'd say to the granite Watermelons, 'Be tossed 3200 miles', and they would obey". Uh, sure Pal. Huh? Uhm, not to appear crass or such Sir, but is your mind working . . . at all?
  Which (prey tell) of the mightiest arch-angels (ever) has done likewise, and just precisely; when was that? Which of the holiest of all the saints (or any congregation of them for that matter), once carried out this big splash rock toss? I'd ask; "If nobody could, nobody has, and none shall, whom exactly qualifies as "the faithful" here, which we are discussing?". Furthermore, this big splash (did we mention the resulting tsunami?) is the beginning point, the entry level to faith? And not to appear blasphemous or anything, just when did God; the Almighty Son Himself; even ever do any such thing? I'm just curious.
  We end up with a category called "the believing" which is a null set. By this "standard of faith" then (no person performing it ever), none thereby "have faith", am I reading this right? And that being the case, remind me again (I'm so forgetful!) why we are talking about this? 
  Further, this is a core teaching to "good news" you say? Well, the way I read this message, the central axiom apparently is that I don't have what it takes to please the Almighty, if by pleasing; we mean "belief" as defined. In short, by this standard I'm just not good enough (and I heartily agree!), but how does this qualify as either news, or good? I don't get it, and likely never shall. Carl, how does that song go again?
  Now the paragraphs above are the normal brain furniture and clutter I have to ordinarily navigate, concerning the mountain faith thing. Or in simpler terms yet, the topic just does not file, and I usually do my best to generally ignore it. As a recurring theme over the years, I have attempted to deal with the teaching in a variety of ways, but uniformly those have been to deduce some "principle", or to infer some "truth" out of it, but not obviously in it. Such like truths perhaps point back to the cross, or highlight the glory of God?
  The short version of such efforts, is that I (like most believers); am still "reading into" the Kings' words some "secret message", rather than reading the message itself. And for all I know (not much), this type of reading between the lines; rather than reading of the lines, might well be the best we can do? But why or how the chucking megatons of rock is being applied, eludes me. So then, having not the faith as a grain of mustard seed (with nary a hillock pitched), I muddle on as best as I can.
  On a somewhat related note, it appears that I am not alone. Having viewed a couple of those christiany type faith movies lately (you know; the ones critics hate so strongly?), "faith" as a topic is pretty unfocused. We get a television type crisis, which the viewer is quite confident shall be resolved somehow in the next 37 minutes or so. The mention of Jesus, of the cross, and of forgiveness just sort of hangs there, from the believers' work belt as this odd multi-tool. It hammers every nail, trowels every slab, and plumbs every wall, and remains mainly undefined and invisible.
  In those movies, faith is much more like magic, plus a heavy dose of providence. It remains a very very remarkable set of coincidences running rapid fire, mixed in with a society of which about 8% of the population appears to work for a living. The norm is a gang of folks who enjoying life, having leisure, money and whatnot are yet dissatisfied. So everybody has tons of free time to sit around practicing on coin knocking, and fluff tossing until they get good at it, and uniformly they all do so?
  Faith ends up an undefined but desirable activity which though impossible, isn't beyond the reach of anybody? What? The enormously powerful lever which makes the thing go, is something called "free choice". Though the lever is never quite explained, nor just how one goes about freely choosing to launch mountains is discussed, plainly faith is stated to be "a choice"; and that is all. No wonder I'm a Calvinist eh?
  Todays' brainwave then, is to pretend. Let us imagine for a moment that we do not have to sift through twenty centuries worth of blather and muddleheaded nonsense in order to hear the King as He speaks. Nor do we need to sift amid the nonsense I have arrived at in the above section of this C.P.E., in order to drop for the next fifteen minutes, any conclusions previously heard or arrived at, on the topic. We are free to listen, free to understand the Man!
  The scene is Him heading into Jerusalem, but this is the day after. The day after what? And there is one, just one day, upon which the comments rotate. Preachers call it "The triumphal entry" in which the city seems to (for once!) acknowledge her rightful Sovereign.
  He comes cruising in on a baby donkey! It is the inverse, the upside down of an Alexander on a war stallion, it is the flip side to a Caesar upon a golden chariot, and it was predicted. The town is going wild! He goes to where? To hobknob with royalty over at Herods' house, or to rally the movement down at the town square? Nope, He goes into the temple, and as a one man gang, evicts forcibly the money changers, and the profiteers selling live animals.
  See? It was a racket they had going on. The yearly return to Jerusalem for animal sacrifice, and the feasting was in the Law of Moses. But face it, who is going to drive a herd of animals overland a hundred miles in the desert? So, people would bring money instead, and buy the sacrifice, and the grub for the feast in J-town. Guess what, the price just went up. Guess what again, not everybody is using minted coins, and the "fees and surcharges" for exchanging bullion or raw silver just this week went through the roof.
  Paying nine dollars for a burrito at the state fair is actually a good deal, in comparison to what was going on then. Because, surprise surprise this whole crooked enterprise also was (partly) so costly because the temple authorities were getting a big cut of the action! He pees in their collective Post Toasties, and singlehandedly shuts the money factory down. The crowd goes wild!
  So, it's the day after that, and at breakfast time, Him not wanting a nine dollar burrito, or a seven dollar corndog, He hunts up the nearest fig tree. It is not yet bearing fruit, so He curses it to death. Sounds kinda extreme to me, but that is what happened. The 12 take a picture and post it on Instagram. His comment about mountains and seeds is the response to them being stunned by the ex-tree, recently become firewood. The "fig tree" The King is searching for fruit upon, is barren, and is to be removed . . . soon!
  So, in this context then, the "mountain" (God's dwelling place) is to be demolished! Remember poor old Jeremiah? All of that "unpatriotic" talk of his about how the forever covenant was being broken, and thereby how those planted "forever" in the land would be swept away to captivity? Hey, where is his love for the flag? Or think of the talk of our King, when He was in the temple? It's future rubble, it is all coming down! "Not one stone left atop another!", He unpatriotically asserts.
  For us Americans to hear this type of thing, we would need a God loving, flag waving, patriot to suddenly start talking about this "land of the free" becoming a radioactive parking lot for the Chinese in the future. This America lover, this admirer of the exceptional (and greatest!) nation, predicting the land becoming some kind of third world dump, is the idea. The champion of the constitution, and quoter of "our founders" suddenly found selling condo rentals in Somalia and Bangladesh, as more desirable places to live? It is intended as a shock.
  The mountain pitched into the sea, is the unthinkable! Israel was forced to think; "Isn't God on our side? Aren't we the special people? Hey, even He lives here, its' gotta be a special place!". The seed to mountain thing is along those lines, and is clearly a "Hell No!" type of answer.
  As for the tiny seed, clearly the King elsewhere links the mustard seed right back to Daniels' prophecy of a "world king" (Nebuchanezzar then) as a tree growing up, in which the birds shelter. Instead of some sequoia, or mighty oak, it is a garden herb! The True World King is a Gardener! The "tiny and insignificant thing" is "planted", and kingdoms fall, mountains are torn from their roots, traditions perish, whole nations tumble.
  One low born rabble rouser, one penniless trouble maker is bumped off, and the entire course of history shifts? Yes, and amen!
  Faith is here, not over in coincidence, magic, or choice. "Believe this, and something happens in you", that is the drift of the message. The missing key here, is participation (I mean ours), in this epic uproar.
  To speak to (as that rat L.B.J. used to say) "my fellow Americans" for a moment, faith is not about "restoring standards". Faith is not about holding dear our history, nor "being concerned" (whatever that means) about our future. When we say things like; "I am concerned for our nation", that is faithless drivel, stop it!
  Our true nation is believing Israel, that remnant into which we have generously been joined as aliens and strangers. And that nation can never die! Start there.
  And not to wax too lurid, the rightful Judgement against all un-right ought be visited upon the powerful, the haughty, and the wicked. If, for instance; my personal guess that the dollar is about to go the way of the Dodo, we participate! His folk, bold, glad and fearless! Is that us, cowering behind our I.R.A.s, and stockpiles of guns and food? His people, denouncing high treason against the True King, where ever and when ever it occurs, do we suddenly get all forgetful about the murder of millions of babies when it is personally convienent?
  Our "tiny seeds" of participation in the kingdoms of this world, becoming The Kingdom of our God, and of His Christ . . . are accepted! They are welcomed, they are allowed to become pivotal, and significant!
  The calamity of 70 A.D. in Israel is intended to point forward in time. No earthly empire, no merely human tradition, no "way of life" is permanent, they are all Johnny come lately, flash in the pan, affairs. And as He pitches them all into the round file of history, He is pleased to use the "insignificant and low", He employs the "nobodies and losers" as they join hands in that mighty good dance, to rock the world to its' foundations.
  Faith as a topic, this hollering at hillsides; we might illustrate as follows. A 50 million ton train is roaring down the tracks. Four engines and a hundred-plus cars, all derailed . . by one loose spike in the tracks? Or perhaps, that mighty big train being altered in its' course by one controller pushing one button, to shift the tracks? Huge results come from small changes, and the hour by hour attitudes and choices we make, have enormous repercussions at the end of things.
  Or think of a busy commercial airport, jumbo jets, airbus giants all being "told what to do" by that one guy out there in the orange jumpsuit with the flashlight? With a flick of a wrist, and a nod of a head, thousand ton aircraft taxi about, just as he says? The enormity of results is surprisingly linked to the tinyness of cause, this we believe.
  It is the cumulative effect of "the little things" which make the world, either for better or for worse. As we go along in life, we remember that, and participate! So yes, choice is involved, but nobody of themselves "chooses" to resurrect himself out of death, and into life. Yet, as living men, we (now freed!) choose freely life, or more appropriately, The Living One!
  The tiny calamities, those puny nations and half baked empires tumbling, all point forward, to a world, nay, a reality (!) crumbling. The day is coming. The King is coming! To be found a traitor in that hour, we wish upon no man, for the sheer terror of it.
  Now, lets' talk about the cross! Away from this kind of context, finding forgiveness means nothing. Being saved is a null set. If there are no consequences, then if I like my sin, there is no reason to flee it. What if I don't care if I am forgiven, and frankly refuse to lay down my revenge, what then? The Tsunami from on high hits one day, and it is unsurvivable, that's what.
  The tidal wave has a name, talk to Him. Trust Him when He says He has you covered. Like Bush 2, we are freed thus to say, "Bring it on!".
  That is what hollering at hillsides is about, in this plumbers' estimation. Our saying "Amen, come Lord Jesus" could trigger a global financial meltdown? Hey, why not, bigger mountains have been flung by smaller seeds than that! And He is the One giving the courage to ride that wild wave! Yep, that's faith for ya.

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