Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Common Moral Ground?

Last night my local Emergent Cohort group met with local "Free Thinkers" group. I must admit, I wasn't sure what to expect...why would a group of "Proud Atheists" want to meet with any group brought together by theistic beliefs...much less a Judeo-Christian Creator?

I must say that it was interesting and for sure, it was very enlightening. The moral aspect was an area that left me thinking well after I left the meeting. Here are my thoughts about "morals" that have proven to be the most problematic for no certain order.

Atheist have morals. For example, they don't cheat on their spouses at a higher rate than christians. They actually have a lower divorce rate. The female atheist are 3% LESS likely to be sexual addicts or addicted to pornography.
It isn't surprising that atheists have morals. What is disappointing though is the fact that christians too often "build their case" on moral values. We wonder why people don't want to be christians when we think we have such a good moral case. The fact is, we have not proven some moral highroad. If anything we have proven the opposite as most people outside of our faith find us to be rude, closed minded and matters not to me if this is reality or not because the perception of others is important and is reality for them.
I am still thinking about this all and will write more later but it seems to me that the most compelling reason for someone to consider the christian faith is to see or better yet, experience a truly transformed life rather than being taught about a moral code that hasn't proven to be superior to the one they already have.

I can't wait to digest this more.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Last night I was reading a book that I have had for a while but just haven't picked it up yet..."The Solace of Fierce Landscapes". I didn't get to far into it because of its depth and some of the more profound thoughts Belden Lane presents.

I find the idea of individual contemplative apophatic anthropology to be particularly profound. So what does that mean? To me anyway? Here goes...
As a man attempting to live in reaction to the Cross of Jesus as the initiating and foundation of God's best for me...His love mercy and grace, I can't find true identity and purpose in the "building up" of a personal identity that appears to be "Christian". Nor can I find purpose in "right living". Not that lifestyles, choices and attitudes aren't linked to God's transformative power, but they are simply a result of transformation rather than the ways through which we transform.

God's best work is done when I am undone. God does not take over parts within me that are currently occupied...he only invades the empty spaces, the part marked off for him, the areas within that have been burned, cleared and prepared for Him. So establishing anything within myself...even a really good intention, a solid plan or a great self-help model seems antithetical to the work of God. God needs my surrender and submission to work but God never needs my help. To think I can, in any lasting or significant way, pull myself up by my own spiritual bootstraps is insane.

So why is this important? For me it answers the questions I have often asked about how can I have a meaningful spiritual experience one moment and then moments later be focused on sin? How can the highest high in spirituality fade so quickly to the lowest low? Where is the sustainability? Where is consistency? How about growth? I think, with increasing confidence, that these things come from God's efforts of transformation in the areas of life I yield to Him. All of the work is done by Him and it all occurs in His timing and for His glory.

Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

May God receive glory as we seek from Him the things he has hidden. May those things be found in the driest, most arid places of our souls as His cool water of life quenches the thirst within us.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lead Me to Rest, Dear Lord

Each though that floods my mind makes the purpose of my creation cloudy. Each circumstance appears to stand on it's own rather than fitting into a broader picture or a bigger reality. Each action of mine seems at times to stand alone rather than revealing the very things my heart, mind and spirit lack. When fear, regret, guilt, shame and hesitation fill me it isn't of you...but all of these things are about a much deeper need and a much more severe thirst.

Life isn't about doing great things. It isn't about riches and it sure isn't about fame. When I think my efforts and my desires are for anything other than You, I am lying to myself. You have what I need and no one, nothing, no place and no time does. In you and you alone are my needs met, my fears relieved, my guilt salved and my hesitation replaced with boldness and tenacity.

It is all about rest. Life is a struggle and even the best jobs, families, neighborhoods and friendships can bring stress and distraction...but not your rest dear God. Your rest never bleeds us dry, robs our joy or steals our is just all about You, me and rest.

David wanted to rest in the shadow beneath your wings. Moses longed for a land of rest that flowed with milk and honey. You initiated rest and even partook yourself yet I often forget that I should take a "sabbath" and just enjoy you. Your rest can be found as the brilliant oranges and blues and pinks explode from the horizon to signal a new day. Your rest can be found on the brow of a mountain top when the silence is only pierced with the whistle of a brisk evening wind. Your rest floods the silence anticipation of my life...when that exists.

Allow me to cease the opportunities you afford me to rest in you...the real intent and motivation behind every breath I take.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gas, Taxes and Depression

I keep hearing on the news and from various talk shows about how the "Oil Companies" are making too much money while the public suffers. Congress even had the nerve to call the executives of the largest oil companies to Washington D.C. and ask them why gas prices were so high. Apparently the CEO's were much nicer than I would have been after reviewing the facts about who is making money off of gas prices. The CEO's would have been well within their rights to make sure the American Public knows that they are being raped by Washington like the rest of it. They know what we all know...with the Gov't you may win a battle but you will eventually lose the war.

The truth about the $3.41 per gallon I paid this week is as follows:
If the oil companies agreed to not making a profit my 3.41 per gallon would drop to $3.06...a "gigantic" savings of 35 cents.
However, if the government would agree to not charging taxes my $3.41 per gallon gas would drop to $2.06. $1.35 per gallon reduction would mean I could put $31.05 in my pocket with each fillup. Thank you Uncle Sam!!!

So who is robbing us...the big bad oil companies that God-forbid stay in business by making a profit? Or maybe we need to consider that the U.S. Gov't continues to rape us daily.

Lastly, today April 23rd, is Tax Freedom Day...From Jan 1st until today we have all been working to pay taxes. Thank you again Uncle Sam. In 1900 the Tax Freedom Day was January 22 because the Government somehow scraped by only requiring the average citizen to pay 5.9% of their income in taxes...compared to the 30.8% they require today.

How depressing!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American "Idol" sings about The True God? Seriously?

So I am watching the last song of "Idol Gives Back" and someone decided that the remaining 8 contestants would sing "Shout to the Lord". I had to think for a minute because there seemed to be the possibility that I had slipped into some cosmic rabbit hole where a "secular" show was actually singing about God.
Once I realized that indeed they were praising God with this song my mind and heart were flooded with emotions and thoughts. Had someone in control of the program actually linked the work of helping the poor, sick and hungry people of the world to the very work of Jesus? When people are generous, loving and selfless is the automatic reaction to look to heaven? Is this the end of time and every knee is bowing and every tongue is confessing? It was hard to wrap my brain around it.
After the show went off and my emotions calmed a bit I was left with a more convicting and less confusing question. How absolutely banal is my life and the things for which I seek? Of course, the "Jesus Talk" is that I seek him but lets be honest...too often my time, money, energy and contentment are all connected to things far from God. I go to work and spend time earning a salary. I go to the gym to feed my ego...and of course to maintain good physical health...I mean the body is the Temple, right? I work in my yard, build things out of wood, go camping to "rough it" because life really is just too plush at times, no? Banal! Banal! Banal!

Kids die from starvation and I wish they wouldn't but it doesn't appear that I wish they wouldn't enough to spend my money, time and energy to help prevent it. Orphans roam the streets but I offer them no shelter. Doesn't Jesus talk about the "religious" who will say to him something like, "I cast out demons in your name and spoke on your behalf and other really cool religious things" and Jesus will probably be emotional as he is forced to tell them, "I'm sorry, I know you did some things supposedly in my name but I never really knew you". Which not being known by Jesus probably means that they never knew him either right?
I think maybe those people knew church doctrine. Maybe they knew theology to some degree and maybe even they were church leaders...but they just didn't know that the first and last mission for God's people is to love...not in word but in deed.

Maybe the church should in this way be more like American Idol. For all of the talk I hear from the traditional fundamentalists about "Returning God to His Rightful Place in America" I think I would rather hear that the people of God have fed the hungry, befriended the lonely and taken in the lost and homeless...and once that work is well underway, we can pause to sing to God what our lives have already been doing. "SHOUT TO LORD! ALL THE EARTH LET US SING POWER AND MAJESTY, PRAISE TO THE KING".

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Right Answers to the Wrong Questions?

I am increasingly convinced that my answers are fine...and if I am allowed to say so, very well thought out. So what's the problem?

I am afraid that I have been asking the wrong questions and in so doing, my good, right, proper and accepted answers have become increasingly irrelevant.
Do you believe in God? How do you answer that? If you believe in God, which one? Oh, the Judeo-Christian God? Great....I mean, the Catholic God? the Protestant God? Should it be broken down further? Sure...let's go...Do you believe in the God of Calvinism?If so it is only because He predestined you to do so. What about the God of Arminius? The God of Pelagian? Augustine? Luther? Smith? Wesley? Campbell/Stone? Wow, that all gets sticky and probably not at all needed.

Maybe the question should change and maybe the way in which I answer should change...maybe the question is a private one and the answer should be given in the way in which I love and serve others. So what question am I asking now? I can't tell you! It's private but with any luck, you may see it in my actions.