Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tempest in a coffee cup

It started when a certain coffee shop chain decided not to feature an obviously Christmas-y decorated cup for the holiday season like every other coffee shop chain.  The most vocal outrage came from .... Christians.  First they bought the coffee and wrote Merry Christmas on the cups (ummm, doesn't that put MORE money in the chain's account?) and then there were calls to boycott ... and the debate raged hot and heavy on social media .... and so on, until everyone was (and is) sick of it. 

Oh come ON.

Photo "Homeless Man" courtesy of
Mantas Ruzveltas at
Of all the things to crusade for, this is what gets attention? A paper coffee cup?  How about the homeless in your neighbourhood?  How about the teenage girls who don't think they have any other option but to get an abortion when they get pregnant? How about the co-worker who is so lonely that he is considering suicide - how much would it cost to sit with him over a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie once in a while? or smile and say hello to him by name in the corridor?  How about the neighbour who needs his grass cut but can't afford to repair his lawnmower? How about you use your imagination to see how many ways you can do some good for someone else?  Who freaking CARES what your coffee cup has printed (or not printed) on it

I absolutely detest confrontation.  But I am so steamed about this small example of self-righteousness that I want to confront people who argue and judge over things that just don't matter. They don't!  It doesn't matter whether Joe Blow politician does or believes something you don't agree with.  It doesn't matter if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.  It doesn't!  

Stop trying to Christianize everything!  It doesn't matter whether the preacher wears a tie.  It doesn't matter whether people believe in the big bang theory.   News flash: there are a lot of good-hearted people who aren't Christians. And they (and others who aren't quite so nice) are watching us, watching how we act and react.  And they have concluded that we're a pretty pathetic bunch.  

And they're right. As a group, in Western society, we really are.  A lot of us see demons in dishrags, angels in the shape of birds, and we can't even enjoy a simple pleasure like a sunset without turning it into an opportunity to beat people over the head with creationism. Here's another news flash: that doesn't "win souls." That makes people want to avoid us - and not because we're being persecuted for righteousness' sake.  It's because we're weird. And not in a good way, but in a space-cadet, whacked-out way!!

The truth is, we don't live in a Christian society.  We live in a secular society. So did the early Christians.  You didn't see them carrying placards and staging demonstrations against the blood sport at the Coliseum.  You didn't see them writing their emperor to have the taxes lifted.  You didn't see them going around judging people either.  What you saw was them loving people, being good to people.  You saw them enjoying life, being happy, and being generous.  

Christians are real people in a real relationship with a real Person.  And that Person is really into being good to people (ALL people), loving them, bringing them joy, no matter where on the journey they are.  He went to the limit and beyond to rescue the whole world... to show us His love. 

Put that in your coffee cup and drink it.  Live THAT out in real love and compassion, without trying to one-up someone else or prove a point.  I dare you.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Summer Fall Winter Spring

In a temperate climate (one with four seasons), we take summer for granted. Where I live, it lasts a relatively short time - full of hot and humid days, hot and humid nights, broken only by rain ranging from gentle to torrential. In the fall, the temperatures begin to descend, the humidity gradually departs accompanied by still more rain, the migratory birds leave in groups, and the plants prepare for hibernation.  In the winter, which (here) lasts the longest of all of the seasons, the temperatures plummet and rain falls in the form of snow - sometimes little, sometimes much - and most people (and animals) hole up until it passes. And in the spring, which starts later than the calendar says it does, temperatures creep upward, the snow and ice melt, birds return, and there is a hint (growing ever stronger) of fresh green grass as the stiff ground yields under our feet.

Throughout the seasons stand the deciduous trees - graceful or gnarled, tall or squat, their beauty is unsurpassed. They are the first to signal the changes in season - in summer, their seeds have fallen and their leaf colour deepens, and their canopies grow large and shade those who wish to seek the shade; in fall, they produce less chlorophyll and their hidden colours emerge before the leaves dry out and fall; in winter, they patiently wait, sap frozen in a state of suspended animation, and long before the first blade of grass, the sap starts to flow and their branches are pregnant with new life.  

Photo "Autumn Gold" provided by
Simon Howden at www.freedigitalphotos.net
So like the stages of life.  It seems that in our prime, when we are flourishing and thriving, we provide automatic shelter for those who need help - until they don't anymore, and our little ones, the ones we protected for so long, fly away.  Then, the colours of our life emerge as we stop trying to rely on ourselves and just relax and let go - the beauty is indescribable and yet, we are so often unaware of it.  Eventually, the moment comes when we let go completely, and fly away ourselves.  What is left behind is a cold reality for those left behind - the grief of winter, where nothing moves except the frigid winds of loneliness and despair.  Sometimes, all that can be hoped for is to endure - endure until the spring comes ... for it always comes, even though the winter seems the longest. 

And then comes the shift in the wind, the warming of the earth, the imperceptible lengthening of the days.  And it is the trees - bless them, they have not died as it appeared - which burgeon with hope, and in the very spot vacated by the leaves that departed months ago, new shoots form, unseen except for the swelling promise: buds from which will eventually burst new leaves and seeds for the next generation. 

Photo "Maple Seeds" courtesy of
Carlos Porto at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Those who have died have flown, and in fact, nourish the new growth of those who come after - a never-ending cycle of birth, growth, life, maturity, death, grief, and rebirth, - all showing us that it is not an end when circumstances change.  There is only change.  Though change is hard to endure, it is one of the unchanging things about life.

The sap still lives; the sun still gives light and (though it does not seem so in winter) warmth to sustain us.  And in the very spot where once there was loss, there will be that spark of life, even though it might look like it is dead and hopeless now.  There is hope.  Life is eternal.  The container, the manifestation of life may disappear, but it does not mean that life ceases to exist.  It only means that it has changed form.  And someday too, we will join in the dance and learn for ourselves what it is to change form, to fly away and in so doing, nurture those yet to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Light in darkness

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about John chapter one, and more specifically about the references in the first few verses to Light and darkness. It says in that chapter that the Light shines in the darkness.  Now, to me, in my human understanding, that means that the darkness exists but that when the Light shines, the darkness flees.  That's not what the passage says. It says that the Light shines IN the darkness, ... and that the darkness (does not flee, but) does not comprehend the Light. 

Whoa. That takes a person aback, doesn't it?  It doesn't make sense to us because we go into a dark room, we turn on a light, and the darkness goes away - that's what darkness is, isn't it? the absence of Light?  

Not here in this passage. John is talking about a kind of darkness that it doesn't matter how bright the light, it does NOT go away, nor does the darkness have any concept of Light.  Well, what kind of darkness cannot understand Light?  

There is only one answer that is possible: blindness.  

Suddenly all makes sense.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, "... because you say, 'We see,' your blindness remains." (John 9:41) 

And herein lies the darkness, dear friends.  The darkness consists of insisting that everything is fine, actually believing that it is so, while all the while stumbling around in darkness, in blindness, not even aware that there is so much more: so much more freedom, so much more love, so much more Life than we ever thought possible. Yet all the while, blazing white Light is all around, piercing through everything, illuminating Life all around us, shooting rainbows and moonlight in our paths, and yet unseen by the blind who will not see. 

The darkest of all blindness is the one in which the blind one has convinced himself that he can see.  It is religion, religious ritual and self-righteousness, hypocrisy and wallowing in fear that God will take out His big cudgel and squash us like bugs. But ... God is not like that.  That's why Jesus came!! The Word says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself..." (2 Cor. 5:19).  

And Jesus stands and proclaims that the Spirit of God is upon Him to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18).  In reality, those who are blind in the way that John 1 reveals are poor, and captive, and oppressed - by virtue of their own -- OUR own -- blindness!  Jesus came to prove God's love to us in a way we could understand, and we killed Him for it in our darkness - our lack of comprehension.  But when we first turn to Him and ask Him to remove our blindness, He does - and we can see the Love that was there all along, and the Light that has brightened our path if we but knew it! This Light is transformative, redemptive, and irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). 

Photo "Sun In The Sky" courtesy of graur razvan at
When we are in darkness, in blindness, we can do absolutely nothing to rid ourselves of this sad state; HE is the only One who opens blind eyes.  We only ask.  He does it - He does it because He wants to do it, and has been waiting for us to ask Him!  

This makes salvation and even faith itself (Eph. 2:8d) something that He does on our behalf, and rightly so - because if we could, we would boast about how much we did, how much we believed.  It is HIS faith!!  Galatians 2:20 says in the original Greek, "...and the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."  Not IN, but OF.  That means that it is JESUS' faith and we can have confidence in His faith because it does NOT waver!! 

Can we see how much this frees us to live in happy gratitude?  Can we? The pressure is off! the love of God is unconditional, the grace of God is free, and the faith of Jesus in His Father is rock-solid! Hahahahahahahaha!! What glorious liberty!  what amazing love!  how bright the Light is!!  How delirious the joy that comes from total and complete acceptance in the Beloved One! 

Can I make it any more plain? This is GOOD news!! This is what the apostles were ready to die for!  No adding to it; that only takes away from it!  No reservations - that leads to bondage!  Pray God that He will open our eyes to see the wonder of His full, free, intense, passionate, scandalous love for us!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Live Free or Die

"It was for freedom that Christ has set us free..." (Eph 5:1)

Following tourists on the road is something that is not unknown where I live. Tourism is big business, especially in the summer, but now all year round, we get visitors from all over Canada and the United States. One thing that we do to pass the time is try to guess where the tourists are from by the colour and pattern on their license plates, before we are close enough to read the location  - and once we get closer, we read the motto under the location name.  One of my favourite license plates is from Vermont, USA. Its motto is "LIVE FREE OR DIE"... a reference to the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.  

I've been thinking a fair bit about that motto. I guess that all my life, I've been heading toward that kind of desperation -- that I would rather die than not live free (in other words, death before bondage). Mind you, it takes one whole whack of bondage to get that fed up with it that you'd rather die than live in it.  But it does happen.  It does.  

And you know, that might seem like a really awful place to be, but it is absolutely necessary to get past all the mindless platitudes and living in shame and constant fear of messing up - and get to the threshold of a love-based relationship with Someone who is totally and completely ga-ga about you. 

Photo "Happy Jumping Child"
courtesy of chrisroll at
In unconditional love, there is unbelievable freedom.  There is no freedom in conditional love, only lots of fear that the love will be removed and the lover must be appeased.  Really.  I'm not sure about you, but doesn't that sound like what most people experience when someone starts talking to them about the Christian life?  Oh no, they don't tell that to the unbeliever - they save it for after you're in the door, to keep you scared enough so that you don't step out of line and go for a big juicy sin steak and fries on the side.  (Huh??)  

These folks are really comfortable talking about right and wrong: who's right and who's wrong, what behavior is and is not allowed, how hard and long you have to pray to get answers to prayer and the reasons God won't say yes (mostly to do with blaming the victim) ... and they get really worked up about it! 

But start talking about the unconditional love of God, and people either get wistful ... or they get scared - scared that you're advocating a lifestyle of license. (Yeah, right, Someone loves me to pieces, so much that He gave everything up for me in order for me to have everything He does, so yeah, the first thing I'm going to do is something that will hurt Him.)  Wow.  Just ... wow.  How warped is that kind of thinking? Better yet, how warped is the kind of thinking that would think you'd even go there? 

Now that I think about it, maybe the saying, "Live free or die" could be a statement of fact in addition to being a clarion call to liberty at all costs.  Think about it.  Unconditional love is already yours.  Whether you accept it or not is your choice.  You either accept it and live in freedom ... or you die.

I want to live.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

He GETS me!

You know those occasions (like Christmas or birthdays or maybe even Father's / Mother's Day or anniversaries) when you get gifts? You hint around at what you would like to get - things you need but you don't really think to get for yourself because you're too busy meeting everyone else's needs. Then the day comes, and you start opening your gifts, and find out that some people got the hints - and you are grateful - but then there is this one gift that you never would have expected, but the moment you lay eyes on it, you know that the giver SO totally "gets" you. 

The last time that happened to me, I had hinted (and sometimes even told) what I was looking for - and I got that (and I was grateful!) But I got more. Someone thought about me, about what I like to do (write!), and gave me a gift that touched my heart. It didn't cost much (didn't have to!) but the thought and love behind it was so evident. 

For the curious among you - it was a bound journal.  I hadn't used one in ages ... and here it was - beautifully bound and decorated, and inside there were what looked like calligraphy designs on the corners of the pages. With the journal was a set of fine-tipped pens with coloured ink. That very night, I started writing in my journal - the beginning of a personal chronicle of a spiritual journey. 

More and more I am seeing spiritual parallels as I ponder the goodness and love of God. Scriptures I have known all of my adult life pop into my head with fresh meaning:

"He has made us accepted in the Beloved [One]." 
"He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think..." 
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..."
"He has [already] given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..."
"We love Him because He first loved us." 
"I have engraved you on the palms of My hands..." 
"Nothing shall separate us from the love of God...no created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is [embodied in] Christ Jesus..."
"No one will be able to pluck [you] out of My hand..."
"God is love."
"For God SO loved he world that He gave His only begotten Son..."
"In this is love - not that we loved Him but that He first loved us, and gave His life..."
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself."

You get the idea. These truths are personalized gifts from Someone who so totally GETS US. He understands our deepest needs and desires, and has already provided for every possibility that will ever exist.  EVERY possibility.  Sin, failure, rejection, rebellion, you name it, He's got it covered. ALL of it. All of your stuff, all of my stuff, forever. Forever. To infinity plus one times infinity! 

The old notion of god as the guy with the club in his hand waiting to punish us if we step out of line is disappearing. In his place is God who is love, reconciling the world to Himself AS JESUS, showing us how much He loves, the lengths to which He would go to get our attention and help us understand how much He has loved us the whole time. He GETS us - He made us and then He became one of us to let us KNOW that He gets us. The more I concentrate on this God, the more the railings and thrashings of those who claim to be His ... just don't make sense.  

Photo "Hand Of Child And Father"
courtesy of winnond at
Could it be that God cares far less about who is running the countries of the world and far more about Who we run to - not out of fear but out of a realization of how much, how deeply He loves us?? has ALWAYS loved us? even before the world began, knowing that humans wouldn't "get" Him, STILL choosing to say, "Let there be light"?? He's a relational God. He wants to be in a love relationship with His creation. He always HAS.

There's a thought. Down through history, there have been people who have grasped this truth of God being relational. Abram knew it - from the moment God spoke to him and told him to leave his roots behind - Abram knew (or perhaps learned shortly thereafter) that God was after relationship - and he was called "the friend of God." Why? because he obeyed? No, not primarily - it was because he 'believed God' (not that he believed God did this or that, but rather that God WAS (is) everything that the human heart desires.)  King David knew it - even with his warmongering attitude (which God called him out on, remember the temple?) - he totally "got" that God loved him, and that He could be talked to, trusted, and loved in return. Because he "got" that, he was called "a man after God's own heart."  Not because he went around killing Philistines or whoever, but because he understood that God loved him, and he had a love relationship with his Creator as a result. 

One day, Jesus told His listeners what the greatest commandment IN THE LAW was - to love God with all one's heart, mind, soul and strength (and the second - as a bonus - was to love one's neighbour as oneself.)  That was the greatest in the LAW. But He also said that He came to fill up the Law ... not to destroy it but to make it unnecessary ... because He would overflow us, to take away the stony hearts and give us hearts of flesh, as when Aslan breathed on the stone statues in the witch's garden and brought them back to life. Again, He also said, "A new commandment I give to you - that you love one another as I have loved you." (emphasis mine).  

Okay, let's look at that. Back up the truck past the commandment (which everyone focuses on) to the way in which He helps us keep it ... "as I have loved you." Put another way, He is saying... "Let Me love you, totally, completely, unconditionally, and once you do, you will [automatically] love one another out of your overflowing love for Me."  Doesn't that resonate, vibrate in your hearts as it does mine? As John (the beloved disciple) said, "...His commandments are not burdensome." (1 Jn 5:13). Now, the only way I know of that the statement, "His commandments are not burdensome" would be true would be if we WANT to do them .. and the only motivation that I can think of that would make me WANT to obey a commandment (because I HATE being told what to do) is if I have experienced His love and goodness for myself - not just a mental assent but a heart-revelation.  

None of this "Well, we're supposed to love so we'll just grit our teeth and do it..." stuff. Contrary to popular Christian myth, love - although it may involve an act of the will - is not primarily so.  Love is a FEELING. (How many of us would have said "Yes" when our spouse proposed marriage if there were no feeling at all? if we had to grit our teeth and let him put the ring on?)

Yikes. There's a radical thought: Jesus as Someone proposing marriage - but that is exactly what He does. It's to that kind of love-relationship that He has called our spirits - the unseen part of us that makes us who we are, that part of us that will leave our bodies when we die. And yet He wants us to open our hearts, our spirits to Him and let Him love us. Now. Eternity is NOW. It's NEVER "later." 

These are some of the thoughts I have been having as I ponder His love for myself.  I challenge you to spend some time today considering the depth, the passion of His unconditional love. Just try it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Search Of Life

It has been an incredibly stressful six months or more.  But finally, we have some peace within.  

Some people already know what I'm about to reveal. Some people - a smaller number, no doubt - even know why. 

My husband and I are leaving the church. There, it's out. 

No, it's nothing that any one particular person has said or done; in fact, if not for the hope we had from the wonderful hearts of a very few people who love deeply, we would have left long ago. No, we are not angry at anyone; disagreement is not anger. No, we will not reconsider; we have put much thought and prayer and soul-searching into this decision and it is made. There is nothing anyone can say or do to change it. No, we are not going anywhere else. The organized church is the same everywhere - we've tried for years to find anything that is like what the first century believers knew and we have found nothing. NOTHING.  And no, most certainly we are not abandoning our faith. 

We are not just leaving a particular assembly. We are leaving a religious system that says it is based on love, grace and good news and instead is based on judgment, rules, and death. While we are in that atmosphere, there is no way that we can pursue Life. 

This conclusion is based on personal experience going back as far as we both can remember, through various denominations, in various life stages, as children, teens, young adults, parents with children of our own, and all of it operating (or trying to operate) in ministry through the vast majority of it. Throughout our Christian lives, we and our loved ones have been subjected to the most insidious types of spiritual abuse possible (and sometimes blatant bullying) by people who are well-placed in various positions of power in boardrooms, Sunday school rooms, kids church programs, youth programs, church suppers, picnics, special services where we felt sucked dry and left to flap in the wind, and more. Yes, we could cite hundreds of scenarios where the expectations of other people have made us feel belittled, used, burnt out, taken advantage of, and taken for granted. And we would still put up with it ... if there was even the slightest spark of Life in it. 

But ... there isn't. HE isn't.

Yes, I know that He lives in us and that wherever we are [the implication is, together] He is. I know that. But when we get together in an organized, structured setting, it becomes more about controlling people's behaviour (making sure they don't "fall away", whatever that is),  being gatekeepers of morality, and perpetuating the upkeep of the building and the programs than it is about letting Jesus love us, and being filled with that love so much that it overflows into the lives of others just because we can't contain it all. As I've said, I have seen individuals whose lives are like that. But the church? 


About a year ago, a friend of ours made a similar move to the one we are making. She felt that she had to leave her church to be able to hear God's voice, to find out who He really is - because all she was hearing from the organized church was condemnation, guilt, shame, manipulation, should-dos and must-dos. It was all based in fear. Fear of losing what God had so freely given by dropping the ball somehow. Fear that people would stop tithing / giving to the church. Fear that the big bad world out there would somehow corrupt the strict code of morality that the church has embraced for centuries.

She had to leave the church to find God. Interesting. (Here's a footnote by the way: she DID find Him ... and she is deliriously happy!!)

Photo "Portrait Of Pointing Male" by
imagerymajestic at
I will ask a question here - haven't there been many times when you've left church more drained than when you went there? More frustrated, more angry, more drained of hope, wondering if this is all there is?  I had times like that once in a while, years ago when I was involved in a community of believers that supplemented what happened at church... and even that group got bogged down in "organizing the organism" (also known as vivisection: now there's a horror story...) 

Since that time, that horrible experience of futility and burnout, that feeling of being beaten up, has happened more and more often until the point where it is so rare that even when the slightest glimmer of the presence of God shows up in a church service - He is doused with ice water after someone decides that we've had "enough worship" and wants to get to the "real" reason for church - the preaching. (WHAAAT??? Where is THAT written???) The preacher stands up (and here I must say that not EVERY preacher is like this) and starts to yell at the people for "not doing enough." He (or she) tries to scare people into toeing the line. Or shame them into getting out there and spreading the good news. (Really? is it good news to tell people that God can't stand to look at them, but He loves them so He killed Jesus for them, and then expects them to toe the line and behave themselves the rest of their lives or they'll end up going to the bad place anyway??)  It's all DO, DO, DO, with no encouragement to BE, BE, BE. It's like folks don't even know HOW to just BE. They think that unless they are out there, full bore, chugging for the Lord, He's not going to be pleased with them. What bondage.

He DIED for them to prove how much He loves - has always loved - the human race. Oh my goodness, do we think that He will stop being crazy about us just because we didn't read three chapters in the Bible today? or didn't sprinkle oil on the living room furniture to chase the demons away? 

Come on. Is our god really that small and petty?

God is LOVE. God is so much LOVE that He went to the ultimate extreme - becoming one of us - to prove that love. Jesus didn't die to make God stop being mad at us. Jesus died because God loved us so much and we were still drowning in our blindness thinking that He needed to be appeased. So He came to prove His love - and WE killed Him - and HE forgave us while we were doing it!! No condemnation, NONE. Just total acceptance and love. He came and died to remove our blindness if we would ask Him to, our blindness to His love, His light, His LIFE. And then He rose from the dead to show us that we would live forever as well.  In that act of pure, eternal, inexhaustible love, He KILLED the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of good and bad, right and wrong. And He opened the door to the tree of Life.

THAT is the Good News. THAT is the gospel. Not this whole system that is based on the same tree that Adam and Eve ate from in the Garden: the tree of "I'm better than you because I do this and don't do that."  That's the morality tree. It's what put Jesus to death!! He came to show us Love and Light and Life - and the religious system of dos and don'ts, shoulds and should nots, musts and must nots, felt threatened by Him... These religious rulers manipulated the political rulers of the day, and turned His message of Love into a capital crime, when Jesus Himself did not say anything against Rome, or against slavery, or against any of the societal ills of His day.  His only scathing rebukes had been against religion - the system - that rules-based, fear-based, politico-religious system that condoned oppressing the poor, and created a spiritual top-down caste society of haves and have-nots, of those who were "in" and those who were "out." 

The kingdom (kingship) of God is not like that. He turned the top-down system upside down and showed us that WE are the pearl of great price that He gave everything to have, that WE are the friends He would lay His life down for, before we even knew what it meant for Him to do that. He placed Himself beneath us, serving us... to show us how very much He loved us. ALL of us, every single soul down through history ... even the ones that have not been conceived yet. Not just the chosen few.

The religious system grinds people to oily dust and uses that dust to oil its cogs to grind more people up. It is an atmosphere that is anti-God, anti-Jesus, anti-Spirit. It is exclusive, not inclusive. It shames and does not accept. It is Ichabod - the glory has departed. We are not willing to be part of that system anymore. To us, it is (always has been, and sadly, probably always will be) death, not Life.  

Photo "Sunrise At First Sight"
courtesy of Keattikorn at
We are searching for Life. We know that light-giving Life is in Him (see John 1) and we have only seen darkness and doubt and despair in the organized church. We are not saying that we will never darken a church door again ... but we are saying that such an oppressive atmosphere - for us - does not lend itself to finding Life or to falling in love with Jesus. 

And we understand - and fully accept and love - those who feel that the organization is the place they need to stay in order to have a feeling of community and purpose. We understand that there are people  -  many people  -  who need that structure, who need that place to call home in order to feel safe.  With rare and extremely notable (but temporary) exceptions, we have not found that feeling for ourselves; in general, we have found ourselves excluded, abused, judged, and at best, tolerated. 

So we are going on our quest - and it must happen outside that atmosphere. There have been definite glimmers - outside the organized church system - where we have experienced the organism of the Church (notice I capitalized it), been uplifted and fed, felt like participants in the good things that God is doing in people's lives. These have led us to believe that finding Life is possible, that God will prepare an accepting and loving community for us, and that it will be so very important for us to refrain from jeopardizing that by taking out the scalpel to dissect it and organize it. That would only kill it. There is no way we would want that.

I don't expect very many people to understand ... or to agree ... but I only wanted for the people who know us best to hear the real reasons from us, rather than speculating or gossiping or judging ... and to understand that it is necessary for us to guard our hearts, which for us (right now) means that we practice self-care by removing ourselves from that which crushes us. 

This is a scary thing we are doing. We are not sure what to expect. We are not sure if we'll find what we're looking for. We are launching out into the unknown. All we know is that if we keep doing what we've always done, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten.  And we are tired of living like that.  If there is not more, then "the abundant Life" Jesus promised is a sham. But if - as we suspect - there IS something more, we are on the lookout for it. We are in search of Life.  And if we find Life - there will be no question that those who know and love us will be the first to know because we won't be able to contain ourselves.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One born blind

There's a modern miracle happening all around the world. A scientist stumbled upon a solution to the problem of red-green colour-blindness and soon thereafter, the company called EnChroma was born.  

My daughter told me about this company that is really doing some good. People who were not allowed to drive a vehicle can now drive when they wear their new sunglasses. They can read signage they never could. And they can see so many things that those with regular colour vision take for granted ... every day.

As she told me about it, I began to understand a very powerful spiritual truth. It's all about darkness and light, and how these have been portrayed in the western church for centuries ... that darkness somehow exists apart from light, and that when the light turns on, the darkness leaves. 

That is not what Scripture says. John chapter 1 says that the Light (of Life, of Love) shines IN the darkness .... AND THE DARKNESS DOES NOT COMPREHEND IT. 

Wait a second... if the Light shines in the darkness, doesn't it dispel the darkness?


It's like being blind. There can be all the light around that you want, but that doesn't mean that the blind person can see it. 

When the blindness is removed, people see the light. The light was always there, but the blindness must be removed first

THIS IS THE GOSPEL. It is entirely the work of God to remove the blindness; we just ask Him to remove it so that we can see the Light that has been there all along - the Light that has been shining in and through our darkness even though we didn't understand or know that it was there, the Love that we always hoped for but never experienced.

And He does. He DOES remove that darkness. And the Light shines through in all of His brilliance.

In a very small way, the video link below shows what being able to "see" something that was always there but the person never perceived, looks like. It's a video of someone who has tried on his EnChroma sunglasses for the first time ... on his birthday.  This man has never been able to truly see red, green, purple, pink, orange, or brown, or even some shades of blue and yellow ... in all of their different hues.  His experience of colour has always been what people might see on a TV with most of the colour (but not all) removed - faded... not gray exactly, but ... just drab. His family has transplanted some flowers at the base of a tree just for the occasion.

Now watch carefully his reaction to his birthday gift.

Watch it, and think ... "He has delivered us from the power of darkness..." 

See if your reaction is the same as mine was.