Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning to Be "At One" Ain't Easy, But It's Good

(Sorry this was not posted when it was written, but here it is.)

I just saw this quote I liked at Alaina's desk at YDI: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried,” G.K. Chesterton.

I'm not familiar enough with Mr. Chesterton's ideas to know what he thinks the, "Christian ideal" means, but to Christ it means learning to love others.

Everyone I come in contact with. All the time.

Looks impossible. Maybe I should give up.

Or maybe it's just really hard.

Maybe it takes all that I have. Am I willing to give it? Do I trust that giving my all to obey him is God's best plan for me? Do I live like I believe that he has so much more for me that I cannot even imagine how much?

Sometimes yes.

Sometimes I have lost vision.

Is it God's fault, or mine?

I believe it's mine.

Jesus says, in the parable of the sower (Mark 4 & Luke 8), that the soil (my heart) is responsible for producing a plant (life) that produces good fruit (demonstrated love, kindness, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, etc.).

The seeds are his words: his communication of his heart to me (and you), whether they come through his Son's life example and words, his church, his creation or his Spirit inside us.

The Genesis account of creation shows that this has always been the pattern that God used, when he says, "Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds, according to their kinds, trees bearing fruit with seeds, according to their kinds."

God did not create the trees and plants directly, but caused the land, or soil to do it.

It obeyed! May God grant us all to obey!

Fortunately, He goes on, after the parable of the ground, to compare the kingdom of heaven (the place where he is obeyed) to a mustard seed which starts tiny, and grows up slowly, to give shade and a place to live to others.

Whew, that's a relief! I just have to start now, with what seed God has given me and, "cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance."

I think I can do that, giving myself to the things he says, a little at a time.

Anyway, to the extent that I've done it, things have gotten better.

When I first moved in with my household family here at the church in Rose Creek Village, it was hard to feel like I belonged here. But as my new family and I continued to go after God, and let him deal with us, he provided what we needed to be a family.

By, "what we needed," I mean that, we (especially "I"), did not know how to be together, trust each other, and love each other with the kind of love that only our Father in heaven knows how to provide.

I mean we had to learn, in this context, how to die to ourselves and obey God in the things that produce relationships that can last forever, as we continue to go on following God.

Here is the generosity of God to an undeserving person (me): I have a household and neighborhood of people of all ages of  who love God and who give themselves to give the love of God around them.

My housemates, Ray and Ashley are maybe the hardest working and faithful young couple with which anyone could get to live. They have 2 beautiful young girls who brighten the dreariest day. They are super sweet!

I live with 2 solid brothers, Mitch and Greg who are fun to be with, and a sweet new addition to our house, a great servant and sister, Alaina. (I hope to post pictures of them, soon.)

I live next to some of the best friends and people that anyone could hope to have, and my small group (we called them clans, as in Scotland's extended families, but are looking for a better name, in order to avoid confusion) is awesome and full of awesome people  who are totally awesome!!! (Use of awesome 3 times, intentional.)

I get the joy of eating with each of two of the households on 2 different nights, enjoying great food and greater company!!!

But it doesn't stop there. I have another 150+ friends in the Village, and God keeps extending the boundaries of friends and family into the local area, Memphis, Atlanta, Florida and South America, Mexico and California. (Who knows where it will go and grow from there? Maybe the whole Earth!)(I'm looking forward to meeting our family in Nekuru, Kenya, one day!)

Yes our Father really gives generously to all, without looking to find fault!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Parable

 Hi friends!

This is a story to illustrate something that I've been seeking Our Father's heart on, for awhile now, and I hope it will be helpful to you and others.

Does Anyone Have Ears?
A Parable for Today

One day some airplane mechanics and engineers were hanging out together talking after a long day of developing and improving aircraft. Suddenly, the sky flashed, and sitting there in front of them was a large object that looked like a spaceship right out of a science fiction video.

They were all so startled that, except for a few astonished, unintelligible exclamations, they were speechless.

No one could believe their eyes, and each one was afraid that he was hallucinating. No one would dare admit what they were seeing, for fear that the others were not seeing it, and would question their sanity.

Out from the ship stepped a funny looking person, with a shiny suit and helmet.

Then, Captain Johnson, a female pilot walked up, and said, “Hey, what is this, some kind of joke? Who's this in the Halloween costume, and where'd you get the flying saucer, from a movie warehouse?”

Colonel Marcos, the project commander immediately spoke up. “Captain Johnson, run, get the MP's, quick!”

She started to smile and reply, until she saw the seriousness on the colonel's face, and said, “Okay, Sir, I'll bite, since you insist, but don't think I'm falling for all this.” So she walked briskly away, off to get one of the MP's at the closest guard post.

Meanwhile, the project crew started talking about what they were beginning to believe they might be seeing. "Okay", said George, the chief engineer, "what is this? Have we been drugged or hypnotized? Is this a joke? Who's responsible for this?”

One of the mechanics started laughing, joined by a few others, followed by relieved sighs and more laughs.

Chief Bart, the head mechanic, turning toward Colonel Marcos, said, “Very funny, sir. You really had us going. This is legendary! How did you arrange all this?”

The Colonel looked at him quizzically, and said, “What?”

Bart said, “Bravo, sir! Great show! You almost had me convinced you don't know about it. But you had to be in on it. None of the rest us has the power to arrange something this big, and get away with it on a secure post like this one.”

I didn't...” he started to say, when the guy in the spacesuit made a noise.

Did you say something, buddy?” chimed in Major Jones.

I think he was trying to say something,” said Martin, one of the crew.

Hey, Buddy, you can take that thing off now. It was a great joke, but the gigs up,” interjected Captain Joseph. “You had us for a second, there, but it's time to come clean, and show us who's under there.”

Uh, hey guys, you might want to check this out,” interrupted Jim, an engineer. “I've never seen anything like this before. This is some piece of work.”

What is it?” asked Dave, the flight test engineer.

I don't know what this thing is made of. Is it metal? Plastic?”

Maybe its some new experimental composite?” queried Dave.

Mike, the research engineer, knocking on it, scratching at it, looking bewildered, answered, “It's nothing that I've seen or heard of, and I've done the full tour of Defense, NASA, and all the contractors. If there was something like this, I'd know.”

Then it's not ours?” inquired Captain Joseph.


A sound came from the “spaceman.”

What did he say?” questioned Major Jones.

I think he said, 'cob,'” replied Martin.

Cob? Sounded like, 'comb, to me.”

Why would he say, comb?”

But while they were conversing, the rest of the team had begun bantering about the origin, materials and design, of the “spaceship,” and were discussing whether it could actually fly, and how it might work, so they joined in.

Meanwhile, Captain Johnson returned, with the MP's and tried to get the colonel's instructions, but he was deeply involved in the debate, trying to make sense of it all.

She started to say, “Colonel..,” when she saw the former occupant of the ship beckon.

Come!” he compelled, turning to the open door of the big, shiny object of discussion.

Curious, she followed him into the cockpit. The door closed behind her, and she took the copilot seat, next to the gleaming stranger.

As he strapped himself into the chair, she, out of long habit, followed suit.

He spoke some words that she didn't quite get...

The crew outside, was amazed! Before they knew what was happening, Johnson had followed the guy in the funny suit in, and the door had shut behind him.

FLASH!!! The ship was gone, and they stared, in open-mouthed wonder, unable to take in what had happened.

Although she didn't feel any movement, Johnson knew, somehow, that they were moving. She should be alarmed, she told herself. But all she felt was a calm growing feeling that she had just started on the best adventure of her lifetime...

                                  What's the Point?

While writing a page on Thomas Aquinas (currently awaiting being edited) for Shammah' s Christian History website, I had to write about Aquinas' "doctrine of the atonement," and how it affected John Calvin's, and his followers' teachings on the subject, since they have been a large influence on modern day teachings, among many different denominations.

Argument over this subject, has, ironically, been one of the chief points of intellectual disagreement that Satan has used to keep would-be disciples confused and divided, to the anguish of King Jesus' heart, who said to his disciples, "Here is a new commandment I give you: 'Love each another! Just like I've loved you, that's how you love each other. This is how people will know that you are my followers, that you love each other!'"

"Just like I've loved you!" King Jesus had just spent the last three years of his life demonstrating his love for them: living with them, refusing to leave them while they debated, squabbled, and while they often misconstrued and misunderstood him and his teachings, completely.
But you ask, "Hey John. What does this have to do with atonement? And especially, what in the world does it have to do with your 'parable'?"

Well, I'll tell you. The English word, "atonement" actually, literally means being together, or being "at one." No lie. Look it up online on an etymological dictionary (one that traces the origins of words). Sometimes translated as, "propitiation," or, "reconciliation," the original NT word really means, "uniting two parties as one."

The point is that what King Jesus was trying to do was unite us as one. Like all the mechanics and engineers in the above parable, there are people who are busy arguing over how "atonement," "works," and they are missing the flight of being united with King Jesus.
Why do we have to know how it works? Is it broken? If it were broken, could we fix it?

Can't we just follow Jesus where he is going, and learn along the way?

I love teachings. I love the scriptures, so much that I read them and meditate on them daily. But the goal isn't to be smart or understand the Bible, but to be at one with King Jesus and our Dad.

That means to go after Love, Himself, with everything we are, and everything we have until we are at one, in perfect unity with him. It's so we can be just like Him: loving those He and our Dad has given us to love. Not waiting until they or we are perfect, but loving now, the best we can, and watching Love grow in us.

King Jesus didn't stay long, because we are to be Him, in the earth. Not divided from The Father. Not divided from the Son. Not divided from each other. But like all the best relationships, walking at one, together in love and unity, lest we be left on the ground, astonished, while those that listen and obey fly away with Him.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Way to Experiencing God as Father (Part One)

While this blog might help with the battles in your mind, nothing can ever change you, except God, himself.

"How does that happen?" you might ask.

You become a disciple.

"You mean like Peter, Paul, John, and those guys? They were just a special few guys a long time ago, weren't they?"

Yes, I mean like those guys, and they were special, because they were apostles, which means something like, "official ambassadors".

But that is not what I mean.

The original churches of the Apostles called all the people who came together to give up their former lives to dedicate themselves to giving all to follow Jesus as part of the local community of believers (the local church) "disciples".

"What is a disciple, and how can I become one?" you ask.

Put another way, a disciple is an apprentice.

"A what?"

In the time of Jesus and the early churches, a boy often lived with his father and learned his trade and was his father's apprentice, being given tasks and instructions from his father in order to learn to do the things needed to be a carpenter, stonemason, blacksmith, etc. Other times, the young man might be sent to another master tradesman to learn his trade, and would leave his old home and live with the master, watching, listening, and obeying him in all things.

"How does that apply to me?"

The short answer is that you ask God to help you find him and his will for you, continually seek to learn more, practicing obedience in all things, one at a time.

That means you give up living the way you always have in order to live in The Father's house and become a lifetime apprentice, learning to follow him and do his will in all things.