Thursday, January 29, 2009

Next Question

I realized years ago that there are various expressions of Christ which are authentic before God, and yet in our understanding appear ... somewhat a kilter with each other. Is that a fair statement? I am naive enough to believe that these various expressions all boil down to two unlike perspectives on the same idea, which is the view of Truth. Yet, I do not call either view a false view of Truth.

(I am not suggesting this dichotomy involves other belief systems which are actually in opposition to the revelation of the living God, the Father and Creator of the Universe, come to earth as the Son, Jesus Christ, and upon whom all the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit stands.)

However, if that first line seems a fair and true statement, then it begs the question, "Why is this so?" and a corollary question, "Should Christians attempt to remove these boundaries?" Is ecumenism among all Christian beliefs needed?

My next post will explore my position on these questions. In the mean time, what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Viola Quote

Here's some food for thought. The following is quoting Frank Viola in Reimagining Church. pp 128-9:

"The indwelling life of Jesus Christ is the only requirement for the unity of the Spirit. And amazingly, we Christians can detect that shared Spirit whenever we meet one another. There's an instant sense of kinship that testifies that we have the same Father.

Certainly, those who have been born of the Spirit will live in a way that is consistent with this fact. Yet they may not be clear on many spiritual things. Their personality may conflict with ours. Their worship style may be distasteful to us. They may be immature and have struggles in areas that we've surpassed. They may be painfully eccentric. Their understanding of the Bible may be poverty stricken. They may make mistakes that they regret. And they just might hold to some false ideas. Yet the fact that Christ dwells in them obligates us to accept them as family members. Not only 'in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth'(1 John 2:18 NKJV)."

What are your thoughts along these lines?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Winter's Ramble

Thursday, January 16
6:03 AM
-0.4 degrees F

The first step on our back deck reports with a rifle-loud crack. Exiting through the sliding glass door is necessary as the front door knob is frozen in locked position.

The hatch-back of the car opens but doesn't want to re-latch at this temperature and takes three yanks down before the rear of the vehicle is secure and I need not worry my school books will scatter on the highway. The engine of the car hesitates only a little before firing, for which I am grateful and the warm-up begins. Returning to the house, the front door must be by-passed again. The lock will not give entry even with a key. Ahhh, January in the South, mountain-style!

I spoon freshly ground coffee and dispense filtered water into the coffee maker so that my wife may rise and walk into the kitchen and simply press the start button to have her morning coffee, the last of my routines before leaving for work. This school day will turn out to be only two hours and forty-five minutes long. We are starting late due to some icing on the roads and snow showers in the western part of the county close schools just after lunch. Over the next several days, the temperature moderates slightly and by yesterday, Sunday, a snow-maker system of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico collides with the cold air tethered to every peak and entrenched in every valley for forty miles. There are two inches of snow on the ground this MLK Day and four to six more are forecast before this all ends on Wednesday morning.

This January is a little unusual from recent winters. These are the coldest temperatures we have had this decade. A two day snow event has been uncommon, as well. Twenty-five years ago, foot snows over several days were experienced more than once in a winter. In February of 1984, we had one night that hit minus twenty-four degrees! I couldn't get the farm house we lived in warmer than sixty degrees even though the wood stove roared with a heat that hurt my hands when adding more wood...and I added wood every thirty minutes or so. I remember burning nearly a half cord of wood in three days. That one storm left two feet of snow behind. But since the beginning of this new millennium, the winters are "mild." They have also been relatively dry.

This January is unusual in the context of the current ten year period as the last week has been bitterly cold, and yet it is comforting. It's a throw-back to another time period, familiar but seemingly lost. How easily my feelings identify a remembrance fondly and connect past to present -- well, the minus 24 degrees is more freakish a memory than a fond one, I suppose; I am remembering winters with deep snows and temperatures that are "normal" as a pleasant experience here. I'll not argue man is causing the change, but I think global climate change, even if just cyclical, is evident. This winter is perhaps more "normal" but it doesn't produce any hope for me that climate change is reversing.

I barely remember another January, nearly fifty years ago. An inauguration was occurring which was making everyone excited over the hope and promise of what would come with the new president. Kennedy like Obama was young and charismatic with stirring oratorical skills. How easily our country in collective soulishness indulges in hope for change. The excitement on the TV is palpable. Is Obama such a complete change for Washington, that authentic reform will be embraced inside the DC belt-line? Does his ascension to power, a stunning and welcome capstone to fifty years of social change, mark the end of the curse on our nation that slavery sliced into our national psyche like cuts by a whip thrashed on a bare back? The scars are rendered a bit less painful perhaps.

...ummmm, forgive my pragmatism, but there will be no real change even if Obama fixes every national economic, social, and political ill. No matter how much we might want to hope, this man is not our spiritual state. We are still fallen and the curse of sin is still upon the earth. Greed is the name of the game in this world system, and the US government/economy is a cornerstone of that world system.

I watch the falling snow and marvel at the wonder of the beauty of the earth. Yet, I know in spirit not to be fooled by any promises of change. Only Jesus on the throne in New Jerusalem will mark a time when mankind is free from the curse of which slavery was but a symptom.

Friday, January 16, 2009

...will write soon

I appreciate all those who check here daily, often over a week's time, or just occasionally. Thanks to you all. The past two weeks have been out of sync dictating other uses of my time and focus than posting here.

My seven week old grandson spent two nights in the hospital and a cold with recurring headache has hampered me. When I'm not doing chores or helping with the baby, I've been sleeping. (Well, I did just sit around watching All the President's Men from the 70's with Hoffman and Redford on Tuesday afternoon. I could have written then instead, but didn't.)

I plan on a post over the weekend. Check back next week!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Soul is Guided by Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord is the answer to the soul's angst. He is the light that orders our emotions into strong and healthy places and our intellects with wisdom.

The division between soul and spirit is, in my understanding, that the soul is our personal state and spirit is what we take on in terms of direction, like a three masted schooner (soul) when the sails are filled by a prevailing wind (spirit).

Another metaphor: I can get into my car at night. I know how to drive it. It is in good working order. Turning the key, applying pressure to the gas pedal and steering are all available to me. I can engage the car in the darkness. I now must determine where the road is, where the turns are that achieve my destination, and I must avoid other vehicles along the way in addition to pursuing my goal. If I fail to turn on the headlights, my journey will be rough even dangerous. I will most likely get lost, if I manage to stay on the road and out of the way of others. This is me in my soul. Flip the switch to provide myself headlights, and the journey becomes successful.

Real life: A doctor's office and pharmacy mis-communicate. It is late afternoon and a prescription needed for a sick infant is unavailable for filling by closing time for the pharmacy. No other avenue of gaining the needed medicine is available. This means another night for the child at the vagaries of a painful condition that might have been easily remedied. Passing through this "street" of circumstances, do I drive darkly with my emotions filled with worry and my mind involved in preparing blistering complaint speeches for the doctor's office and pharmacy clerks by morning; or do I give myself to the work of caring for the child peacefully, giving praise to the Father for grace in the midst of this? Morning comes. Do I have angry speeches (the dark street) or pleasant and encouraging words (the lighted way) for the personnel I contact once business hours ensue?

Living by the spirit is living in a light that is not from within myself. The spirit which I experience is not really a part of my make-up within the soul. It is a spiritual functioning of the soul by an essence the Father has both designed and provided. Or so it seems to me in the Wild Wood.