Friday, 29 July 2016

Spiritual sociology and the zombie apocalypse

Have you ever sat in a hectic mall and people watched? It’s akin to bird watching, yet you observe the immensity in diversity of the crowds before you. They hurry to and fro in their busy lives; each with a distinctive personality and outward projection. It’s amazing how alive and invigorated they all seem, with family and friends tying them together with unseen bounds. And yet, what we perceive is not an accurate depiction of the reality before us. If life were representative of a movie, we could speculate that the world around us is an ongoing drama, perhaps with comical elements and some adventure. The cast of characters around us are each the protagonists in their own personal unfolding story lines. Such `life’ is observed within the narrative; People living and being people. I am nothing more than a simple bird watcher, a movie goer, and I sit in a dark theatre and enjoy the intrigue of this movie of life on the screen of my retina. Yet because I sit in the dark, I fail to see the reality just beyond the theatre doors: The bigger world beyond my darkened perception. God’s Word allows us to glimpse the outside world: the real world. And to see that those around us, who are like us, are not well. That something is dreadfully amiss, and that humanity is terminally ill.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Grieved in Gomorrah

Christian Allegory - The lost seeking salve in sin.


Jeremiah 8:18-9:6

Sometimes I feel like Lot walking in Gomorrah (Genesis 13:12).

I meander down the sidewalk along my neighbourhood street. I see a man standing in front of a telephone pole. His eye is black and swollen. And he walks into the pole, again and again. His nose starts to bleed. I pause in disbelief: Such an odd site. He refuses to walk around it. Perhaps he doesn’t know he can?

“Friend, you can walk around the poll. Come over here, to the sidewalk.”

He pauses and looks at me and then smiles. A tooth falls out of his mouth. He tells me I’m a fool. And he resumes his preferred path of striking his face into the pole: over and over again.

Why does he do this? I contemplate it, but it is beyond me. I cannot understand why he does this. I step towards him and look closely at his face. Tears stream down his cheeks, mixing with blood and pain.

“How long have you been here?” I ask

He doesn’t remember anymore. He doesn’t remember when he first met the pole.

I grab his arm, and pull him towards the sidewalk. And he screams at me and strikes my face with his open hand. I release his arm and he walks back to the pole, and resumes his bloody insanity.

What is wrong with you? What is wrong with this place? I do not belong here. I turn and walk to a field to gather my thoughts. I see somebody lying face down in the grass. I run to them to see if they are alright. They are dead. Others walk by, but no one cares. No one looks. Some step over the body. Others walk around it. A couple pause to point and laugh and then move on.

I am unsure what to do. I just stand there. A lady stops beside me and looks at the grass. She leans over and picks up a colorful mushroom and plops it into her mouth. As she chews on it she grows ill. She swallows and picks another and eats it as well. Her legs weaken and she falls to her knees. She reaches for another and I call to her to stop.

“Those are killing you!”

She looks at me, her eyes as vaporous as smoke.

“What do you know?”

And she eats another. She coughs and heaves blood from her mouth. I turn to her and fall on my knees beside her, pleading,

“Please, stop eating those mushrooms! They’re killing you!”

She smiles and eats another, and falls over in the grass. She lies beside the other body as still as stone. I weep. She is just a stranger, but I weep. I stand and decide I should go home. This place saddens me. And as I think these thoughts, two others stop to eat the mushrooms …


Don't eat the mushrooms friends ... "I came so they might have life, a great full life" (John 10:10 NLV)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

taming the tongue




Ohhh, the tongue, my nemesis:  like a lion tamer i need to contend with it: 
"If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless" (James 1:26 NLT).
Ouch, that hurt ... and yet, 
"No one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8 NLT). 
"And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself" (James 3:6 NLT).
So how can i control the uncontrollable?  With God's help, that's how.  
"The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things" (John 14:26 NKJV).
Ohhh again, the Holy Spirit will help tame my nemesis, and produce the characteristics in me to accomplish this.
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)". 
Yes, and as such, 
"My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long (Psalm 35:28)". 
And for those times I stumble and my tongue does fumble... there is grace.  I pray tomorrow, I don't need as much grace as I did today.

Flyleaf: "I'm so sick, Infected with where I live". - The Christian's Conundrum.

Flyleaf expresses our sinful sorry state with their song, “I am so sick”.

Exalting oneself above God precipitated the fall of mankind, and our created order. Questioning His judgment is to replace Him with yourself: to exalt yourself above your Creator. The prideful position that dropped Satan from the heavens likewise dropped mankind from Eden. And we landed in a world of thorns and death. Tainted flesh: Adam’s legacy lives on in his children. We desire to exercise our wills above His own. We trade happiness for sorrow and have done so millennium upon millenniums.

How to crawl out of this hole? As the Flyleaf song sings:
"I'm so sick, Infected with where I live" 
 ... the allures of the flesh (of this world) are ever before us and within us. As Paul voiced this tension,
"Who will save me from this body of death (Romans 7:24)?". 
The Flyleaf song sings of sexual tension, but the lures are many. How does one resist the want of carnality, the hunger of iniquity? How does one deflect the attraction of the flesh?  And we hear Paul’s reply,
"Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ my Lord (Romans 7:25)."
Dwell not on the thoughts of the flesh, on the desires for sinful satisfaction. Dwell on and with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We are prone to stray thoughts. These we must contend with in till the Lord’s return. Yet we should not allow them to covet. We must not fixate them within our minds and entertain them in our hearts. This is a conscience act. A stray thought is a spark in the mind and easily snuffed. But if we capture that thought, and dwell upon it, and nurse it into a fire, it will grow. Carnal thoughts are kindling to fires that will burn your life. When kindling comes along, discard it. Likewise, dwelling on the things of God is a conscience act, to be nurtured and perfected.
"I will break into your thoughts with what's written on my heart
I will break, break"
We must take ownership of our thoughts and break out from this cycle of death and decay. We must serve God with our mind and soul, we must serve God with our flesh. And when we do so, we will shed our chains of iniquity and progress on the road of sanctification. The road that leads to Paradise.


Friday, 1 July 2016

Do what is necessary



If you're like me, you sometimes feel like you're dragging your Christian feet.  Many times I ponder, what am I supposed to do? What is God's direction for my life? How am I to serve Him and engage the world around me?  I think many times, I simply overthink it.  Instead of analyzing how I'm supposed to change the world on some momentous scale, I need to simply be obedient in my neighborhood.

I'm not Mother Teresa, yet perhaps i can buy a burger for a homeless man on the street.

I'm not Billy Graham, yet perhaps I can share my faith with someone close by.

God can use you, to move mountains, even if only in the life of one person.

born again - the metamorphosis of sanctification

 

from a worm (a creature designed and desiring to eat .. a gut with legs)
comes the realization, the touch of God, 
of birth, of beauty with the power to fly, 
of metamorphosis, of being born again and at one within the sky .. next to God.
it is the path we all take from the dirt to the clouds.
thank God for the chrysalis, that changes the worm,
thank God for the Christ, that changes the soul into something beautiful.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Finding the black and white in the grey.

If only one could roll his eyes back, inside his sockets, and look within himself. Sure, we can be introspective, and contemplate our inner workings, our heart’s desire, and our soul’s ambitions. But this mechanism is also intimately tied to and thus swayed by our brains faulty conjectures and mistaken self-image. What is a good man? What is a good woman? What is your criterion for the evaluation? How do you measure yourself in light of that criterion?  Our feeble flesh is alive with justifications to assure us that our worldly interactions, our inner thoughts, our spoken words are not indicative of who we truly are. So how do we see ourselves honestly? How do we find that honest voice within ourselves? And use it to better ourselves?

We are amalgamations; Blending’s of flesh and spirit that are part of an ongoing interaction with the visible and invisible world around us. It exerts a pull on us, as we likewise exert a pull on it. The gravity of the situation, however, is such that the fallen worlds pull would overpower ours. It is simply bigger. Its influence is beyond our capacity to resist. We are specks of sand on a beach, and the tide throws us where it pleases. We are small and seemingly insignificant: fuzz in the breeze.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Evil and Augustine

Introduction:
Within the confines of the Augustinian philosophy we find a possible solution to an age old philosophical labyrinth:  what is evil?  Augustine grappled with this problem throughout much of his early adult life.  While struggling with his personal iniquity he embraced the Manichean's philosophy.  Later, upon further investigation he developed a Monistic theory that had Platonic roots at its base.  The pinnacle of Augustine's explanation of evil is described in terms of privation and perspective, it is from these seeds that evil could be rationally understood.  This paper will endeavour to trace Augustine's conception of evil from a flimsy philosophical foundation to a sturdy one. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Hints and warnings – God’s voice through others

It’s interesting how God can jar you from your stupor and remind you that He is shaping events.  We know that He’s involved in our daily circumstance, yet I am awe stricken upon the reception of direct communication.  This month two of His children had the privilege to rattle my moorings with spoken words; Rattled by the blessed acknowledgement that He chose to include me in on an aspect of His itinerary.  The first was a sister that needed a spiritual hug. As we have all had the disprivilege of meandering through the `valley of the shadow of death’, she was currently trudging through this tired old path. I offered her my usual encouragement and direction by pointing her towards the holy mount. Yet she startled me by telling me God had revealed to her that I would be her “mentor”. This has never occurred to me before. God had told her I would disciple her. There’s something beautiful about that, and yet subtly terrifying: To be entrusted with a task, revealed through the Spirit’s good pleasure. It should not be taken lightly. And I pray I do not get in the way of accomplishing what God’s intentions are.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

God’s eyes: Tale of two souls

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)
Imagine how different this world would appear, if we saw it with the Lord’s eyes. Yet our eyes are corrupted by an iniquitous infection that twists this reality. Despite the spiritual decay that lambasts our souls and stigmatizes our retina, the Lord has sent His Helper to His children. The significance of this will always be understated, for it is impossible to overstate this miracle: that the God of all would commune with us. And despite our fragile fleshen forms, He wishes to fill us with His love, and teach us to see as He sees. This is our lot, until we are brand-new and have our cataracts removed. As such, I lean on and glean on His guidance, and occasionally I catch glimpses of His honor amongst us in His children: as I see with fleshy eyes and a tainted spirit, slightly corrected by His holy lens.
I perceived two people, one devoured by shadows and the other emitting God's light; I wish to compare and contrast these dissimilar souls, both of which I met this week. They are like opposite poles on a magnet that repel one another in lifestyle and outlook. I don’t believe I have met two more divergent individuals. Both of them are struggling with life setbacks, one more of his own making, and the other by nature of her birthplace. On the one hand a man of superficial outward strength, and on the other, a woman of veiled inward strength. It is interesting how two people encumbered in a similar happenstance would react so differently to the world around them: One with anger whose desire is for himself, and the other with love whose desire is for others. Equally interesting is how the fallen world would measure them, if it happened to share a moment in their company.

Friday, 6 May 2016

My Sinful Old Shirt

"I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7: 21-25)
I have an old tee-shirt. When I first received it, it wasn’t particularly comfy. Yet over the years, with hundreds upon hundreds of washes, its threading began to decay.  It became thinner, softer, almost silky … analogous to a woman’s nylons. It feels like a satin epidermal layer on top of my skin. It actually seems to breathe, is exceptional on an hot summer day, and almost transparent at parts.  Most shirts are thrown out long before this, yet this one, for whatever reason, has managed to survive.  Lately, it has started to develop some holes, and some seams have formed bumps and runs. It doesn’t look as good as it once did, and is now only worn on exceptionally hot days in the back yard.  It takes years to make a shirt like this, and I do not wish to end this relationship, this engagement, with it. Women may roll their eyes and contemplate male insanity, yet I love my old worn out tee-shirt.  If you have such a shirt, you know that your mother, girlfriend, or wife will hate it. So find a good place to store it, so it doesn’t mysteriously disappear one day.

Sometimes I wonder if sin is like my favorite old tee-shirt. That there are particular vices that we have contended with for so long, that we have actually become complacent with them. A familiarity has set in with it, not so much a pulling temptation, but perhaps a simple act of habit, or boredom.  You have worn it for so long, and are so comfy with it, that you now accept it, and almost enjoy its comfort. If I wear my ugly, hole ridden shirt enough, I become desensitized to seeing it in a mirror.  Could some sinful vice, which should have been thrown out long ago, have morphed into a comfy soother. Does sin cling to you like a comfortable shirt? Truly Paul speaks the truth:  "What a wretched man I am" to hold onto something which should have been thrown out long ago. Throw that metaphorical old shirt out, and cover yourself with the blood of the Lamb. It feels far better and looks great.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

An inconsistency in evolutionary logic …

Scenario 1

NASA launches a manned spacecraft to Mars.  It safely lands on the Martian landscape, and the astronauts exit the ship.  Upon exploration, they find, hidden in a wide crevice, what appears to be something resembling an horse drawn carriage.  Four twelve spoked wheels, a nice spring suspension, a robust frame held together with nails, and a canopy and a seat.  The entire construct is painted a royal yellow with some form of inscription on the side. 

What would the scientists conclude from this discovery?  It’s evident that something intelligent made this buggy, no one would be so dimwitted to suggest otherwise.  The discovery would be applauded as unshakable evidence that life exists on Mars:  Intelligent life (aliens) capable of constructing crude vehicles.  Something as complex as a carriage demands a carriage maker. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Men, ya know you're out of shape when ...


The Metrosexual Church

Men … have you ever been sucked into the Church estrogen zone? I really try hard to stay clear of any metrosexually orientated churches … which nowadays is becoming increasingly difficult to do. But last week, like a left cross with painted finger nails, I was struck and dropped to the floor. Now for those confused with what I’m talking about, a metrosexual church is a church that seemingly has a preferential style that caters to a more feminine inclination. As such, it engages in activities that can alienate men and make them feel uncomfortable. This is one of the reasons why there are a disproportionately larger number of women that attend church nowadays. Many masculine guys have been pushed out of the assemblies ... not purposefully, but unintentionally.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

How demons shape our world - Tale of 2 World Religions

First, let us learn how to recognize what a demon possession looks like:
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.  (Mark 9:17-26 NLT)

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Men are pigs – advice for women wallowing for courtship


Whitney Houston once asked, how will you know if he really loves you?  There are millions upon millions of single ladies out there, musing about the pairing possibilities in their general proximity. This is not unique to the human condition, but is ingrained within much of the Animalia Kingdom. Their eyes are peeled for the magnificent, and at times odd, courtship rituals that the opposite sex will use to entice them.  These displays assure the female that the male is strong, beautiful, capable of supporting a family, and healthy.  Sexual dimorphism is the reality and starting point for the continuation of humanity.  And it creates a wondrous sexual tension, a magnetism, perhaps an animal magnetism, to draw these anatomically divergent creatures together.

Plato recognized this tension in his theory of forms.  He contemplated that there was only one “formal” reality for humanity: and that the male and female sexes, were infact two different halves of that form.  Meaning, that men and women were akin to puzzles, and only find completion when they come together in a marital arrangement.  This was the only form, as far as I am aware of, that required two pieces to find completion, or wholeness.  I say this not because I’m a Platonist or that I believe you need to be married to he whole, heaven forbid, but to illustrate the “formal” beauty and purity seen in this relationship.  Paul was actually quite fond of the single lifestyle (1 Corinthians 7:8).  But even the pre-Christian ancient Greeks recognized the importance of this union.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Dark Spirits - A black hole trying to take your light

We decided to meet at a coffee shop.  Two strangers brought together by a flyer I posted around town.  A week prior, I had made a flyer inviting people who have questions about God to phone me.  It also invited those suffering from depression to seek me out.  I try things, and if they don’t work, I try other things.  Occasionally, by God’s grace, He elects to use me for some small task.  This was one of those days.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Prosperity doctrine – a graceful elixir, going to the highest bidder

The idea that holiness equates to monetary gain is not new.  It has enjoyed a resurgence over the last generation in the outskirts of some Christian circles: encompassing different forms, yet maintaining a familiarity in message.  I say this not to diminish these believers, for many undoubtfully have a “rich” relationship with the Lord (forgive the pun).  The Bible is a big book, and takes a concerted amount of effort to understand … lifetimes of effort.  As you read it to gain understanding for some query you had, you will find answers, and also more questions based on your greater understanding.  This leads you to dig deeper, perpetuating a cycle of ever increasing theological maturity:  weaning you from the spiritual milk and giving you some doctrinal beef jerky to chew on.  Your curiosity of superficial epidermal inquiry will gradually entice you to dissect deeper, and explore wider, until you find yourself at the bone of the matter, studying the marrow.  While admittedly there are some charlatan preachers amongst us, these are not representative of their congregants in the pews.  And it’s usually not difficult to help the confused scratch through the surface of the subject to see the furuncle a particular teaching can generate.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Dr. Seuss' Prolife Lesson?

Dr. Seuss books are a lot of fun to read.  My favorite is `Horton Hears a Who’.  The cartoon of this classic is superb.    What is particularly striking about this story is how it accurately portrays the prolife struggle to protect the unborn.  Within the storyline we see a friendly elephant, named Horton, make a profound discovery.  He picks a flower and is about to discard it when he hears a voice emanating from it.  No, the flower is not talking, but there exists life upon it that is.  A tiny person called a `Who' lives on the flower.  The Who is too small to be seen by the unaided eye.  In fact, there is an entire city of Whos inhabiting the flower.  They are defenseless and if discarded would likely perish.  Horton is amazed that such tiny beings inhabit the flower and shares his discovery and its implications with his friends.  He wishes to protect the Whos.  This is a profound finding: one that signifies a parting from the previous status quo of his society, to a new obligation to protect the previously unknown Whos.  It makes the viewer wonder how many other flowers have Who cities:  With Who fathers, Who mothers, and Who children inhabiting them.  And how many Whos had been unknowingly eradicated by ignorance.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Listen ... I bring Good News

Whether you're broken or whole, this video is balm for your soul.

See a child enjoy life with her Creator:  a life abundant and a life of joy.  Yet, as she grows older a myriad of influences intercepts this relationship and interferes with it.  We see her lured away by the world and seeking to belong in it.  Amorous men, the allure of mammon, frivolous parties, popularity, drunkenness and addiction ... empty living.  Her self worth was shaped by her Creator's perception:  she was beautiful. Now lost, her worth is defined by the depraved world around her ... she doesn't know how important she is anymore, she feels worthless, empty, alone. 

But watch the Father, the Son, the Husband call for her.  He loves her oh-so dearly.  If only she would return to Him, He would give her joy.  Broken, despondent, suicidal, the dominoes are in place and the evil one comes - the man-in-black - the father of lies - and schemes to kill the Master's beloved creation.  "You are worthless" he/it tells her.  Two narratives are presented in her life: one from the giver of Truth, and the other from the father or lies.  Seek the Truth and it will set you free.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Strive for the Father and He will strive for you.  Call Him, seek Him, demand Him in your life.  He is all that matters.  A treasure of endless worth.

What joy to see her return to her first Love, her true Love, her only Love.  She claws and fights to return to Him, while the world claws and fights to stop her ... and suddenly, by turning to Jesus, she is blanketed by His impenetrable embrace and finds peace - true ... lasting ... joyous ... peace.  She is loved and remembers she is beautiful:  a child of God in her heavenly Father's embrace.  Praise God!!

(if video doesn't load, use link to view:  https://youtu.be/g8vL3cN1fRc)

video

(if video doesn't load, use link to view:  https://youtu.be/g8vL3cN1fRc)

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (NLT: Matthew 11:28)

Lifehouse's Everything Drama