Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Quick Post To Show I Have Not Abandoned Thee

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? , Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:1-8

You all know I have talked about this passage before, and I have become more convinced than ever that the unjust judge is the natural, fallen, conscious mind.  Prayer is not about persuading God to see things our way.  It can’t be.  That makes no sense.  Why would the God who is all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful take the advice of a deeply flawed, often deluded and very limited creature?  The argument is that our Father loves us so much that He wants us to plead with Him just so He gets to hear our voice or that He is so kind and loving that He won’t give us what we need until we beg Him.  There are all kinds of ways people try to explain the importance of prayer, and there is some validity to a lot of the theories. 

One of the reasons Pentecostals believe that we speak in tongues is that it is a “prayer language” bypassing the conscious mind.  We are speaking to God directly from our spirit by the Holy Spirit Himself.  When Paul is talking about spiritual gifts in First Corinthians 12-14, he says that he “speaks in tongues” more than anyone and that he prayed “with his spirit” and also “with his mind”.  If he prayed only in the spirit, his spirit was edified but his mind remained “unfruitful”. 

Prayer is meant not to enlighten God but to enlighten us.  As we seek God our spirit becomes more dominant and, rather than being held in thrall by the conscious mind – which is, in turn, often a puppet of the subconscious – the mind begins to conform to the spirit and be illuminated by the light of the Divine.  Persistence, importune prayer renews the mind to the point that we are able to ask in accordance with the will of God. 

The unjust judge “who neither feared God not respected man” eventually acknowledges that which is right and good and lawful.  He decrees and enforces the will of the Lord.   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. -- Hebrews 11:9-10

We are not going to make the world a better place.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that we already have access to and may inhabit a better world.  We may call it the kingdom of God or the city of God, but it is real and present through Christ who is the Door.

I ran across a good word a couple of times recently:  supersensible.  The natural world is sensible. The supernatural is not nonsense but supersensible.  It reminds me of Lewis describing MacDonald as "canny" in The Great Divorce.

I am truly from Missouri.  I was raised to be canny by canny people.  We talked supernatural stuff, and we believed that Jesus and His disciples did miraculous things, but we believed, as well, that those times had passed.  When we heard of uncanny events or occurrences, we attributed them to coincidence, something that hadn't been explained yet, or someone's "wild imagination".

I believe that there is a reality, truer -- so to speak -- than the temporal, material cosmos wherein dwelleth meat and where in meat we dwell.  I believe in something beyond the reach of my five senses -- the supernatural.  If there is a supernatural, how do we make contact with it?  Is there a super-sense that allows us to sense the supersensible?

It might be imagination, or something like what we normally think of as imagination.  It would not be "wild" imagination, ungoverned or governed by the old feral, Adamic nature.  It would be disciplined or -- perhaps better -- tuned by and to truth.

Prayer, communion, study, meditation, contemplation, mystic imagination, all these are means of connecting to and establishing citizenship in the City which Abraham sought.  That is the world in which I am interested.  As long as I am on this side of the dirt, I will be in contact with the world that so many seem to believe is the only one.   I will be in this world, but I do not have to be of this world.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Speaking of Laws

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations -- "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used) -- according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. -- Colossians 2:20-23

People wonder why there seems to be so much infidelity, perversion, and corruption in Christian ministry.  The answer is:   I can learn to behave, but I can't learn to be good.

Most of the time, we encounter Christians who have learned to behave, to live outwardly to please their friends, fellow church members, and their families.  We can fool people, even our spouse.  We can't fool ourselves.  We are hounded by the fact that we are not authentic, that we are living as "actors on the stage of life, playing a role of that which you are not".  That is what the word we translate as "hypocrite" means when Jesus uses it in places like Matthew 23.

Faith doesn't just move mountains.  It changes us from phony actors into children of God.  When we believe the truth in the innermost parts of our being, we will live according to that truth.  That will keep us -- most of the time -- from acting without love toward our brothers and sisters.

I may not act the way you want me to act, but I will always act in accordance with what I truly believe in my heart.  If I act wickedly and contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, it is because I do not believe in the truth of the gospel.  I will say that, yes, of course, I believe Jesus lived and died for my sins.  I have memorized the Nicene Creed, and so on.  But if I really believed it, I would act upon it.

Suppose I am back in the deep woods some place south of Pulltite.  I know I am south of Pulltite, and I have a compass, and I really want to get to Pulltite.  Easy, then, I just follow that compass needle north.  Now, as it happens, I start out after dark, and I have a light that I keep on the compass.  The only way I am going to get where I'm going is to keep that compass pointed north.

I walk for an hour or two, and there's no sign of Pulltite.  Could I have passed this thriving metropolis in the dark?  Suppose I get to thinking that maybe I wasn't south at all but more east.  Maybe I start thinking the compass is faulty.

If I believe I was south, and I believe the compass is right, I will keep going.  If I don't, I will give up or just start wandering around in the dark.  What I believe is going to determine where I go and what I do.

It is the same way living the Christian life.  Pay no attention to everybody else's experience or what the world says.  The truth is that you and I do not know what anyone else truly believes.  If they could admit it to themselves, most Christians seriously doubt their compass.  Yes, it was Daddy's compass; it was Mama's compass, but times change.  It may not work with all these magnets and electromagnetic waves and GPS.

You are going to, in the end, live by what you believe.  If my works aren't right, I don't really believe my compass.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Law to Ban Laws

I’m for a law to ban laws.
We’ve already got so many
It’s hard to keep track of where it’s at
And know if I’ve broken any.
Too often what’s right ain’t legal
And what’s legal too often ain’t right.
Tryin’ and tryin’ to walk the fine line
Could keep a feller up all night.

Through history most ever’thing bad’s been done
Had a law made it legal first.
So breakin’ the law was better
And obeyin’ the law was the worst.

Now that don’t make sense to a simple man
And if I was to make a bet
I’d say them that want to run things
Will make it more confusin’ yet.
For a man who fears foulin’ the law
Ain’t gonna strike no sparks
Lest he be grabbed out of his bed
And hauled away in the dark.

It wouldn’t be the first time such has happened
And if ye think it cain’t happen here
Find ya an old history book
That ain’t been re-writ this year.

Laws like weeds keep spreadin’
Chokin’ out all that is good
And doin’ good’s called evil
And evil is that that ye should.

The laws that’s writ fer lawyers
Would cover acres of land
But the laws that make us decent
Can be writ on the palm of a hand.

So I think we should repeal ‘em all
We could go from scratch again
Instead of thousands of thousands
We could start with, maybe ten.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Looking Out

Trust in him at all time, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us – Psalm 62:8

I am least likely to trust in God when things are going along splendidly.  It is easy to trust in God when all other hope is gone, when we have no other options.  

Trust in God first, second, and last.

Trust God when you are bitter, when you are snakebit, when you are well and able, when it all comes together, and when it all falls apart. 

Pour out your heart to God when it is filled with praise, when it is filled with joy or sorrow or hate or love, when it overflows with bitterness and cursing or gratitude and blessing. 

The world was different before the Cross, but I remember it.  I remember my life before the Cross.  God was a dread presence if I remembered Him at all for I was estranged and alienated, filled with animosity and rebellion.  But I saw Christ crucified, the wrath of God upon Him, in my place.  I saw, too, the risen Christ, and the ascended Christ, and I knew that I need no more suffer fear and foreboding in telling God my troubles, expressing my doubts, dismay, and anger, or confessing my faults, failures, and weaknesses.
And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by (Exodus 33:21-22).

When you picture “cleft of the rock” it is a rather womb-like image.  God is our Father, but Wisdom is feminine, and the Way has that aspect of mystery as well.  Moses had asked to see God’s glory.  To see God full on destroys our existence as material creatures.  He always has to be behind us, as we are sheltered in Him.  Looking out, we may, however, see what lingers of His having come by in the great spiral path we are on.