Recognition

We all want it. We want for others to countenance who we are, our value, our accomplishments. And on its face that is deserved, it is right. Not the inflated flattery that the word “affirmation” has come to have as a connotation. Real and discerning acknowledgment.

There are many people, who because of semantics, or because of skewed perspective, accuse God as being “needy” or demanding that we somehow give undeserved acknowledgment. Worship is the acknowledgment of somethings worth, its right recognition by others. It is just and due. To verbalize praise of a God who has created the earth in all its beauty and magnificence, who has given us life, and sustained it without demanding any diminishment of our freedom of will, is nothing short of amazing – a source of such great astonishment that I have no serviceable word for it.

If God desires honor and praise from us… it is nothing more or less than just acknowledgment and due recognition.

We do not desire to live without due recognition ourselves, we bristle at being treated as nonentities, … so who is to denounce God concerning this?

It’s All God Stuff

People love, and need, to compartmentalize their time, interests, and efforts. It is how we make sense of things. But sometimes the compartments disguise reality, or the true nature of things. Take the way we schedule ourselves. I’m the worst when it comes to this… there is homeschool, housework,yard, computer, church…. stuff. Sometimes one gets the lionshare of whatever resource I can throw at it, only to be pushed out of the way by nagging (sometimes screaming) demands to take care of something else. Somewhere in there I try to fit priorities on the God, others, and me levels. I have to confess I don’t believe I’ve done a very good job at parceling out myself with all these compartments and priorities.

But one thing that is finally getting through to me is that it is all “God stuff”. That everything in my life does matter to God, and that I … and everything about me… belongs to God. Because I made that decision some thirty or more years ago. I decided to trade the shamble of my life and personality for the life of God’s choosing. Even though I still managed to make a shamble of much of that! Yet, it isn’t too late to turn the day, and every day over to God for His call on all this stuff of life, first. First, before I take over and filter it and layer it, to ask the Father God what He has in mind for me, today. To stop arguing with Him, stop defining who I am, stop wrestling with what I want and how I am going to get it. And find out what the Father wants today.

That is how Jesus lived.

It both places the trivial in perspective, and lifts up the overlooked important details. In this, size does not matter. Sometimes our big, important goals are trivial in the eternal view, and sometimes our overlooked details are things that make all the difference. so how are we to know? How to discern the important from the waste of time? Let God have all the stuff, it belongs to Him anyway… and let His spirit, His words, and His principles apply to the day, and the schedules… and the goals.

Why should I be so harried about whether something gets done or whether I receive notice, or an number of things that fuel my efforts? Instead my focus on my relationship with the Father God, with the image of Christ in others, and in each task giving glory to God is going to insure proper attention to relationship which is always most important for humankind. And it will give the attempt at excellence to be given to those things of most value.

This type of thought process always returns my memory to a little tome I read so long ago, ‘Practicing the Presence of God‘ by Brother Lawrence. we can find God throughout all of our day, if we will practice looking for Him and recognizing Him.

It is a simple thing really, to recognize that it is all God stuff.

What Brand Are You?

Reposted from May 3, 2004 @ 8:25

I finished that book by Fisher-Roffer awhile back,Make a Name for Yourself: Eight Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success, but I keep thinking about it. Because it is mainly about marketing oneself, it brought forth many of the conflicts between the demands of the Kingdom of God and the demands of this world’s system, the Cosmos.

I guess what I found most useful was the idea of having one’s packaging consistent with one’s message. How the different areas of expression should have the central message at heart. We ought to have a congruency and continuity of purpose. Fisher-Roffer just put it into business terms.

But it got me thinking about what God desires to see in our “Brands” and came up with one scriptural concept. For Him, there is only one thing that sets His own apart from the rest. It is a spiritual mark of the Spirit, and it reads:

God Is True

John 3

He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

That’s it. God is True. But the consistency and congruency of our lives in expressing that will have profound impact on every part of our lives. And that is what faith is really about , isn’t it? Believing the truth of God and acting on that truth. It will express differently through individuals, but it will be one cohesive message. One recognizable brand, in feeling and in purpose.

Lot’s of times people can see that, but get mixed up about how that works out in life. They mistake homogenization for consistency of message, when one aspect of God is that He creates unique individuals. That must be expressed to express His truth properly. Another mistake is to feel that there must be rigidity of purpose, and deny the living creativeness of God. To think that the box has one shape and one look…or that there is a box at all, when in actuality it is service and corporate diversification.

The whole analogy is in danger if you see the Body of Christ as the Business Entity of Christ…. because just in case you get too caught up in such delusion ( quite common) there is always the famous action of Jesus in the Temple:

“It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,'[21:13 Isaiah 56:7] but you have made it a “den of thieves.”‘[ Jeremiah 7:11]

We make it a den of thieves when we get mixed up about our purpose, and our “Brand Name” and take on that of this world which merchandises everything it can without thought of value. In the world’s eyes it is all a bowl of pottage… and nothing matters but the next meal.

It remains we can publish something quite different and quite wonderful if we get the message right. Let’s pull together the components of getting the message clear and projecting the good news into our world. How do you identify your part in that? What are your gifts and your unique identifying factors ? God does have a banner, -His banner over us is love- He does have identifying characteristics that He wishes us to reflect.

On Passing Along the Brand Legacy

One final thing that stood out to me from reading this book, “Making A Name For Yourself”, was an entry under the topic of ‘mentoring’. It dovetails with the idea on a Father’s Blessing:

Robin Fisher-Roffer

“The ideal mentor has made it through many of those principal barriers we’ve discussed, and can show you around them. A mentor will build you up, counsel you, open doors for you, and help you assemble the skills you need to strengthen your brand and succeed. A mentor will speak up for you, put a good word in for you, but mainly teach you the ropes. Learning from a mentor is like learning at the foot of a master. Of all the truly successful people I know, I can’t think of anybody who hasn’t attributed at least part of his/her success to a mentor. Many people have more than one in their lives, and I’m no exception.

My dad was my first mentor.

Passion Week – Easter Sunday

“Passion” is a big buzzword now, especially on the internet and in marketing. I don’t know if most people are prepared to be passionate in our culture today. I know it seems I am conflating the meaning of Christ’s Passion, but let’s look at these things for a little while.

If the word passion connotes anything in the English language it is certainly intensity. Intensity in focus and in emotion, and that relates to all uses of our concept of passion. In the sense of Easter week it follows the height of Palm Sunday’s celebration of Christ on Earth through the sorrowful depths of the Crucifixion to the triumph of the Resurrection. That probably plays on every emotion a person might have, in some way, Joy and Jealousy, Love and Betrayal, Injustice and Fear, Relief and Sorrow… to just name the most obvious.

I’m not sure our emotionally medicated, mind distracting, self-absorbed society is ready for such passion. We love the idea of being sold-out for causes, wholeheartedly given to lifestyles, immersed in our job or interest, and so we talk about passion, but rarely live it. And those who do give themselves in such a way are “too much”, too restrictive, and too narrow for those who simply love the lip service of living a passionate life.

The old idea of “the Passion”, the one kept alive in churches with traditional rituals that center on such things, is from the Latin term for “suffering”. When you are passionate about art or gardening, or music, the idea of suffering for it is divorced from the contemporary viewpoint. We want our passions pain-free. We want our religion pain-free, or at least contained in its symbolic church boxes. But the kind of love that God showed the world was one of such intense suffering for it that whether in sight of it or removed by unbelief and centuries… we turn our faces from it. It is too painful to even glimpse for more than a second’s flash of revelation.

And yet that is what Easter week calls to us, the would-be disciples of Christ, those desiring to be loved and cared for by the Great Shepherd, those who want justice in the world, and healing for their wounds. “Look at the cross”. Any of all the possible sufferings that mankind is subject to cries out for a release. And in return, Easter calls us to view the incredible cost of suffering that lifting such a weight demanded. The release is there, and cost a terrible, terrible price. We are struck at the enormity and how impossible a debt we had incurred. We have to face the pain that we inflicted.

Our love of passion evaporates when its true visage is revealed.
Continue reading Passion Week – Easter Sunday

More Thoughts About God

Continuing thoughts from the “About God” post.

You might want to read my thoughts on Deist ideas, “My Remarks To a Deist“. Many such posts I’ve written have been inspired by discussions which took place on internet forums in times past. Atheist Forums, Jewish Forums, Christian Forums, even forums for Ex-witches, Pagans, and other types of Online discussion platforms.

Those remarks to a self-professed Deist hold some of my thinking on why the Bible is a part of understanding and knowing God, but I think the biggest accusation that may be leveled against the thinking of both Agnostics and Deists is the quote from Elie Wiesel, and here it is again:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference…..And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference -Elie Wiesel”

If God just sets things in motion… and then leaves everything to its own devices, that is not loving. No more than a parent who brings forth a child, and then just leaves it lying on its own on the ground… That indifference guarantees that life does not flourish.

If God doesn’t care whether you interact with Him or not, then that is not love, it is indifference of epic proportions. Like a parent who ignores a child and cares nothing of its worth or relationship, perhaps taking care of the basic necessities, but no more. That is stultifying, life suffocating, indifference.

So if we believe that God cares, loves, gives life, and fathers… then we ought to intuit that He wants to have relationship and nurture His creation, His children.

Some of what I’ve said in the remarks to a Deist:

This would be my answer to all who hold liberal reconstructionist ideas on the Word of God. Let’s call it what it is: calling God a liar …. and then look to what this means for them: that they know nothing of God and cannot. It doesn’t matter, to that person, whether there is a God or not.

If scriptures cannot be trusted to give instruction of who God is and what He is like…. then what? What else is capable of standing the test of of time and culture? One would be left groping as a blind man. And that is what happens to many their whole lives through.

If there weren’t light the darkness would not hold such horror. And it is a horror to not have the life that light gives… everything would wither and die.

There are just not many answers to the big questions of Truth, Existence, and Meaning. Apathy is not an answer. It is giving up. It is the worst form of death, a slow withering death.

But we are left with this: we cannot prove God to anyone. We cannot prove that answer, because we are not given that. What we are given is faith, and faith will prove -against all odds- the truth in reality. We cannot prove that God’s Word is true in the past… we may only prove that it is true in the present and that requires faith for seeing it to the outcome on the continuum. I believe this is one reason He is described as the Living God.

There are no other choices. God is True or He is not.

Perhaps that is why John 3:33 says:
“He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true.”


Rules

But let’s talk a bit about what people do with this black and white, watershed forming, pinnacle of decision.
We don’t get to weasel out of deciding whether we judge God to be true or not, but then there are those who try to back-door God’s truth. And these are the people who make up rules… and those who love to have rulesheets to follow to excuse any real relationship to God… or for that matter to each other.

I would never say rules aren’t good, or that that they are bad. Like many things with man’s mark upon them, they are useful tools. That is, until they become weapons.

Rules have a God-given role. Real rules are what we call “law” and a succinct description given by St. Paul is as follows:

Galatians 3:24-26
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Rules have defined lines, which are for training purposes only. Eventually you want to grow up and have mastery enough to produce something of worth. A life worth living. You don’t love by the rules, Love is the rule, the only one that remains in force.

But one of the helpful things about rules that are found in the Law of the Bible is that they use history and principle to define what love is and is not.

And that is no small undertaking.

======
This is how I find out whether my idea of love, or of God, is healthy or not. I have had lots of very unhealthy ideas in my life, some which I foisted on others as well as myself. My views of myself, of God, of others, of motivations, of values, all have required ongoing adjustments, and some of the corrections were so painful that if I had to do it over again I think I would have taken any effort possible to have avoided the mistakes in those areas of life. I don’t have Pollyanna ideas that this is “what makes me what I am today” – I could have done without those parts. People around me could have done without them. But we don’t change our past history, we only learn from it… and try to give a better form to the future one.

This will wind up this part of the conversation…but you are more than welcome to continue it in the comments.

About God

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference…..And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference

Elie Wiesel said that. If you aren’t sure of who he is, Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor who came to terms with the horrible things that happened to him and those around him at the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. And that quote says something that God wants us to understand about Him. I say God, because he also said some of the same in the teachings of the Bible. But we aren’t ready for that statement yet. Let me backtrack a bit. As usual in this sort of conversation I want to talk about us, because we understand ourselves somewhat more than we understand God.

First, A little About Us and this Conversation

Several things led here for me. Two are fairly recent, with input from two young women at very different places in their lives. One is just starting out, not yet out of High School, but questioning the things she was taught about God, Christianity, and though not calling it by name, Truth. The other is moving into that strange time of life as one approaches one’s thirties, a retrospective, an analysis of what one’s family of origin, teachings of the Church, and personal faith has actually returned in terms of that search for Truth. I capitalize it, because this sort of truth is the metaphysical, the elusive, great all encompassing sort of truth we seek in the final answers of who God is. Some give up on that, but not usually before they have spent some time in the search. So most of us have some experience with that.

I am not sure I am talking to either of them so much as to myself, because it is that underlying impetus that has always been a part of me, to know God, that occupies so much of my mental, and physical efforts. And that quest has been in company with many who are or have been atheists, or materialists, or religionists. The three are not so far apart as you might imagine. Much of what I have encountered and embraced has been “about God” and that is the core of this post, because you rarely come to know God unless you know something “about” God. Not that the information must all come from teachers,preachers, or tomes. Nature has plenty of puzzle pieces, enough to give us an inkling, but also enough information to make us dangerous. That is kind of a joke, but I’m going to let it stand with its grain of truth.

OK, about us. We learn that as little children we have a hard time seeing the world apart from ourselves, and in some ways, especially spiritual ways, I don’t think we manage to get very far from that subjectivity. We think “others” are like ourselves, and spend a lot of painful history finding out how much competition there is in the “selves” walking around. Not wanting to spend too much time on this, but how far are we –really– from two and three year old children? Just better quality masks.

Whether agreed on that, one thing that is quite clear anytime you talk to people about God is how sure they are that God is how they feel(in their own minds) He is. Or He is like what they are familiar with- or what they need Him to be. Invariably it starts with us. I can see one thing in which that is as it should be. We are individual persons, with our own personalities and characteristics, and our own experience of events and others, and all the rest of it that makes up our lives as sentient beings.

That ought to illumine us about something. If we have personal individuality and personalities, then a Creator God ( and all others are too small and inconsequential to bother with), at least has that much. And if God has His own personality and character, then it can not only be a possibility to be known, but it is also “other” than us. We don’t get to say we automatically can know who God is and accurately know things about Him…. not without His relating to us in some way.

Not anymore than someone would presume to know us, without relating to us and allowing us to express ourselves to them.

Now is the time to look at that beginning quote. Much of what we revolve around, indeed if you believe certain thinkers like Rollo May or ( as in the book I’m re-reading right now,Scott Peck) or even the Beatles, all that we center on.


So here is what I am going to say about all this:

We can’t possibly know anything about God, without Him revealing those things about Himself. He is very “other” than us, and we can’t project our emotions or thoughts on Him with any sort of accuracy. There are things we can presume, in the way the Bible puts it:

Psalm 94:9
He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?

If we are beings, we can see that God is a being. More of a logical sequence than a projection.

The truth of Wiesel’s statement about indifference as the opposite of life and love, both aspects of God, finds correlation in Revelation 3:16
“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

What Type of Conclusions, Then?

One of the universals, and there are very few, is the response of all living things to love. God states that He is love, and that would all make sense. Jesus stated that He is life, so again, you can see the tandem existence of life and love, the only remaining problem with this becoming the definition of what love looks like. While that isn’t small in philosophical efforts to define, the 1 Corinthians 13 definition is not only sufficiently challenging, but realistically practical enough to merit consideration. And more than that, real attempts to live by it.

Thus far, though I haven’t said anything earth shaking or ground breaking. We can all pretty much reside peacefully on that page: God is loving, He is lifegiving, He cares.

Where the division often comes is in the validity of the information which more specifically outlines things about God.

Like the Bible.
But that is for you to chew on for awhile. Let me think more about where I’m going with these thoughts. In the meantime, I invite you to please express how you see this discussion going, or where you have gone with it yourself. Or just wait until we take it up again…. probably after I repost things that might add to the conversation.

I’m probably going to meander around this landscape for awhile.

A New Time, A New Season

Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you – you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned outside.
~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn


excerpt from Critical Mass
by Mario Murillo:

America is spiritually dying because God has sales reps and not channels of His glory. We feverishly do the right things, almost as a bribe to postpone the needed pouring out of ourselves as a living sacrifice. Again we must no longer see the bad things as barriers to revival, but the seemingly good. We can’t dole out precious ointment to the poor in doses that don’t cure them or honor God. We must be poured out on God! Spiritual awakening means that the faithful become fiery, the decent become dynamic, and the acceptable become excellent. But, most of all, we become disgusted with our evil, and totally dissatisfied with our good. We realise that now is the time to pull out all the stops. No program is sacred, no worthy project is worth enough. None of the ointment can be spared. It is revival or death!


Jesus spoke a parable to the spiritually numb: you know how to discern the weather by looking at the color of the sky, but you don’t know how to discern the times you live in.

Perhaps we are all caught up with our busy lives, or maybe we are worried about the economy and how to make ends meet, or the clamors of war, or the talking heads constantly warning us about global flu epidemics, all of which have some form of importance or another …whatever the reason… we are distracted from considering the realities around us that have eternal significance.

I don’t think that I have ever, previously, experienced such a time of competition for faith in the Lord, and of choosing to believe His words over the contradictions of situations and other voices with other messages as I am now experiencing. I know only one antidote: “Be still, and know that I AM God”.

This year I fasted regularly between the beginning of Lent and Easter. Maybe by telling the world this I lose what gain it might have given me, I don’t know, but it gave me insight to how much further there is to go and how much more I need to apply myself to God’s way and truth. It opened my eyes a bit to His power. I also faced greater interference and opposition spiritually than before… or maybe was made more aware. I can’t say which, but I can say that I’ve awakened to the need to pursue God in a determined way, and to see Him bring the deliverance that is needed for people and situations. Bribes don’t work with God, procrastinations don’t work with a certain future, and we must see this. It is time to set the watches to the right time, and give heart wholeheartedly to what is before us.

I pray we have the heart of Jesus, who saw the glory. He saw the glory, and despised the shame and the trial of the cross. He loved the one and the other was nothing to be esteemed in His sight. The one life was everything, and all else had no value. I pray we have that sort of heart and that sort of vision.