Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Noisy Silence

I got back Sunday afternoon from a weekend retreat focusing on silence and solitude. Even though it was extremely quiet, there sure was a lot of noise in my head, as witnessed by this journal entry:

4/22/18  Pacem in Terris

I've been going through several different trains of thought about this whole Silence & Solitude experience.

"No wonder people become monks."  -  This is a great existence for us introverts. Wake up whenever. Sit and stare out the window with a warm beverage in hand. Read, walk, nap...What's not to like?

"I feel like I ought to be DOING something."  -  There is a definite undercurrent of almost guilt; like I should be accomplishing some task. The idea of just "be"-ing is really hard to live out.

"Should I be hearing God's voice?"  -  I guess this is really turning the previous thought around and expecting God to be saying it. I feel like GOD should be doing something.

"What a selfish thing to do."  -  I've specifically absolved myself of all earthly responsibilities and set aside this time to just "hang out" with God. No wonder my first thought was "Cool!"

"Detox is hard work."  -  Getting rid of outer distractions is a cake walk compared to trying to shut off the constant karaoke going on in my brain.

"I need to get better at this."  -  This must not be a one-time event. At least once a year is a bare minimum. Also, getting alone with God doesn't have to involve being in a mini-cabin in the woods. It helps, but it's not a requirement.

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Truth is...I am grateful for the vision of Pacem in Terris Hermitage Retreat Center. They have created an excellent spot for quiet reflexion and personal communion with our living Lord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How to Create More Atheists

There's a short video making the rounds that purports to explain religion in two minutes. It's a clip of Ricky Gervais basically claiming the only reason anyone believes in anything spiritual is because they were taught to believe that way when they were young and impressionable. The take-away instruction is that he thinks no one should be taught anything (beyond "don't touch that fire" or "don't go near the wolf") until they're twenty and that there would be a lot more atheists if we did that.

Let me say a couple things about that.

1. Yes, of course, what we are taught when we are young greatly influences what we believe and how we live when we get older. I freely admit that I WANT to believe in Jesus because of my old-school, follow-the-rules upbringing. But the Truth of early teaching equaling indoctrination applies to everything from language to toiletry habits. It's the way we learn anything worth learning.

2. Not teaching young people about spirituality is, in fact, teaching them something about spirituality. It's teaching them it's not important or it's up for grabs. It's assuming the existence of God is a matter of opinion and somehow less real than being burned by a fire or eaten by a wolf.

Reminds me of a sadness I had more than once in my Youth Ministry Daze. Parents would come to me saying, "My 15-year-old is giving me fits. He's disrespectful. He doesn't want to attend church. Can you help?"

What I always WANTED to say is, "Yes. I can help. Go back in time to when he was 2 and don't let him whine his way out of being in Sunday School. Go back in time to when he was 5 and make sure YOU were always involved in church. Go back in time to when he was 12 and keep him out of the sports team that practiced or competed on Sunday mornings. IT'S TOO LATE NOW, MOM! YOU'VE ALREADY SHOWN HIM WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU."

Truth is...I realize those things I wanted to say only prove the depth of truth about how early instruction is influential to a person's eventual belief system. But since Truth is not a matter of opinion, and rejecting God's love is just as dangerous as jumping into a fire, I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Deja Vu

Apparently in order to keep the song count for the first side of In Another Land at seven, Larry Norman cross-faded two songs, "If God Is My Father" and "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus", and gave the result the single title of "Deja Vu". And it kind of makes sense, because this appearance of "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus" is not its first (It was on the 1972 album, Only Visiting This Planet). It also makes sense to arrange them like this because the content of the first song really does directly lead to the second.

If God is my Father and you are my brother
Then why can't we bother to really reach out and love one another?

Why do we keep on acting the way we do?
The way we treat each other, it just breaks my heart in two

Once we were happy, oh, yes, once in the garden
And then a lie broke the stillness
And our hearts began to harden

And hoping to be wiser, man has reached too far
Sometimes I think that we've advanced
But then I look at where we are
©1976 Beechwood Music Corp.
J. C. Love Publishing Co.

Sippin' whiskey from a paper cup
You drown your sorrows till you can't stand up
Take a look at what you've done to yourself
Why don't you put the bottle back on the shelf?
Yellow fingers from your cigarettes
Your hands are shakin' while your body sweats
Why don't you look into Jesus? He's got the answer.

Now think back to when you were a child,
Your soul was free, your heart ran wild,
Each day was different, and life was a thrill
You knew tomorrow would be better still
But things have changed you're much older now,
If you're unhappy and you don't know how
Why don't you look into Jesus? He's got the answer.

Work all night, sleep all day
You take your money, throw it all away
You say you're gonna be a superstar
But you never hung around enough to find out who you really are

Why don't you look into Jesus? He's got the answer.
©1973 Glenwood Music Corp.
Strawbed Music


Truth is...most of our world's advancements have been technological. What has been the same throughout all history, and should make us feel like "I've been here before", is our need for redemption, restoration, and resurrection. We are worthless, ruined, and dead until we accept the answer God provides in His son, Jesus of Nazareth.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

He is Risen! So What?

This is not your average blog-post-closest-to-Easter kind of post.

While I've been known to talk about the solid evidence for believing that Jesus of Nazareth was killed on a Roman cross about 1,988 years ago but didn't stay dead, this post is not about that.

It's not about that, because there's something more important  -  maybe even something more surprising and earth-shaking  -  that I want to bring to our attention.

Don't misunderstand. I'm not saying the Resurrection didn't happen, and I'm not saying the Resurrection isn't important. I absolutely agree with Paul when he says "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (I Corinthians 15:17-19)

The point I want to make ... the "so what?" of this post's title ... is that Jesus' resurrection needs to have an effect on our lives in the here and now. It wasn't just for Jesus' benefit, and it wasn't just for our eventual existence in heaven for eternity.

We should be living with confidence, power, victory, and the reckless, raging fury called the demonstrated love of God.

Right here.

Right now.

Why? Because "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation — but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Romans 8:9-14)

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Truth is...While the historicity of the Resurrection is absolutely vital to Christianity's existence, you and me walking and talking and loving people in the power that was demonstrated by that empty tomb is absolutely vital to Christianity's continuance.