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Posts Tagged ‘inner life’

 

hocus pocusWe can’t understand everything. In fact, we can’t understand most things. When life moves along logically, the idea of “why” we choose to go one way or another might make perfect sense in the moment. But as soon as circumstances drop a bomb in our midst or we look back with 20-20, no answer to “why” explains or justifies the outcome. Not now, not ever. Whether the events are good or traumatic, the why this or why now will remain a mystery. Some can accept the miracle and others cannot.

As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he’d been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: “There’s never been anything like this in Israel!” The Pharisees were left sputtering, “Hocus-pocus. It’s nothing but hocus-pocus. He’s probably made a pact with the Devil.” [Matthew 9:32-33, The Message]

Personally, I would say it’s equally miraculous to make a pact with the devil as it would be to make a pact with the Lord. Both require a leap of faith. But what these Pharisees were really doing was rejecting something that was  “not-I.” They did not enter into the event; they remained aloof and thereby guarded.

It’s a negative view of the world: It’s a trick! The devil made me do it. My glass is half-empty. Fake! Liar! Thief!

All of these possibilities may be true since I would be the last to say that evil does not exist and people can be less than altruistic.

miracle02But, when a person crosses the line into faith, the potential for good manifesting out of the seemingly bad circumstances goes up exponentially. When a person accepts the Presence of God in the universe (both macro and micro), then why becomes less important. (Please, scientists, I’m not blasting your world at all, you grace our world with understanding.) I simply believe that there will always be inexplicable events and human decisions that cannot be explained away by what we know now, or more likely, ever. Our reality is not driven by 3-D but by an unseen realm we cannot fathom.

Miracles are possible because this world is fleeting. And in the same vein, sorrows happen too.

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promises of GodJust a quick look in Google yields a number of websites people have created to lay out a full list of the promises of Christ, primarily based on things Jesus said, such as John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” [Of course, that verse seems to be a combination verse, a promise and a consequence. Or are they the same?]

Near the end of the book of Joshua, it is written,The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. [Joshua 21:44-45, NIV] Most of these promises dealt with the land and conquering the pagan peoples who lived in those lands. All was fulfilled in that time. But we know how the story goes; not long afterward, the people jettisoned the plan and the covenant once Joshua passed and the last of the generation that saw God’s miracle-working power from Egypt to the promised land.

We are no different.

The words are still out there for us to embrace. The promises are still real and concrete. But we hedge our way, like the story of Eve and serpent, we hear these words instead, “Did God really say . . . ?” [Genesis 3:1b] Really? Did God promise this or that? Did Jesus really mean . . . isn’t it more likely that . . . ” And on and on and on we go, further afield of the simplicity of the gospel, either making it too complicated or too simplistic and in both cases, opening a door for doubt and confusion.

Today, I read on Facebook of a woman who was struggling with someone who questioned the “race” of Jesus. Was he white? Was he black? And so on. Is this a worthwhile discussion? Does it do anything for our faith? Or, is it just a surface issue that bypasses the central truth? Also today, I attended a funeral of a 19 year old daughter of a family friend and my own adult daughter was surprised how the young woman in the coffin did not really resemble the girl she knew. I had to remind Lily, the body is but a shell and it is the Spirit that gives the human body dynamics and life. Hannah was no longer there.

Painting by Jonas Gerard

Painting by Jonas Gerard

So it is with all things of God. The promises of God may appear to be about outer things, land and so on, but in reality, they are about the inner truth, the inner person, the relationship between my “self” and the God who lives in us through Christ. God’s promises are about eternity and living outside and beyond the body, the truly promised land. The enemies we face are the challenges of 3-D life: sin and selfishness, distrust and fear, evil from without determined to destroy the good within.

If only we . . . well, I can’t speak for you . . . if only I could engage fully in the truth of the fulfilled promise. It’s all done, completed from the day of Joshua to the day of Jesus, also a Joshua, who fought for my salvation and won. It is finished.

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living godHow lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.” [Psalm 84:1-2; NIV, 1984]

Two things stand out in these verses: God’s dwelling place and God being alive.

The entire idea of a dwelling place must be integrated into our consciousness. Where is the dwelling place? Perhaps in ancient times when the Temple was a designated place for God’s Presence there in Jerusalem, but that is no longer the case. Jesus and his subsequent disciples and teachers have made it clear that the kingdom is within us, the very Presence of the Holy Spirit provides a dwelling for God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” [I Corinthians 3:16]

Where God is, it is lovely. Where God walks, it’s a garden. Where God is sovereign, there is peace. My longing is to dwell within the protective peace of God’s Holy Spirit. To live with abandon, in Christ. This is the greatest paradigm shift of all. We are not alone in this search. People are seeking the same thing but by different routes. I don’t know those outcomes but I do know the promise I have in the Christ: “Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” [Luke 17:21; Amplified]

And so I will dwell with a living God and because God is alive, God is transformative and seasonal and dynamic. God is not static. God is a river, an ocean, a Milky Way. God is a sun, a fire, a volcano. God is wind and cloud and dew. God is breath.

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Photo by Andrea Galluzzo

Photo by Andrea Galluzzo

Pollution is a hot topic. The word itself brings up images of oil-slick waters, trash-strewn woods, and smog-filled air. Pollution contaminates, infects, and even poisons. It moves a place, person, or situation from one state to another, and not for good. So, how is the “world” polluting me? What is this world?

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1:27]

I’m sure there are reams of paper written by clerics and Bible students all over, and I don’t have the time or the inclination to study this topic. I just want to capture a gut reaction.

The world, in Christian circles, always has a negative context: it’s everything from R rated movies to street violence to foul language. It is sexy clothes and sex-filled images “everywhere.” It’s drugs and gambling and porno stores, it’s sexual orientation and alternate lifestyles. Basically, it’s anything that doesn’t line up with the scriptures, according to the folks (and culture and sensibilities) who are reading them. The range of interpretation runs the gambit from the Amish’s “simple life” to left-winger “social justice.”

And there are plenty of scriptures that decry the world in some form or another: John 15:19; John 17:14-16; I John 2:15; Romans 12:2; I Peter 2:11-12; Galatians 3:22.

But perhaps, there’s another way to look at it that might clarify some things. Maybe it’s less important to figure out what the world is doing to us . . . to me . . . and more important to figure out what, in me, is being polluted. Certainly, there are things that I do to my physical body that are not good for me: diet, alcohol, lassitude and inactivity, sleeplessness, disease, etc. But is this my biggest concern or should it be the pollution of my soul? When I invited the Christ spirit to indwell me, then I was (and am) calling forth all that is good to reside within. I am uniting myself with God through Christ. That’s a light, a jewel, a radiance.

What pollutes my spirit? Evil and unproductive thoughts, judgments of others, NOT love, fear, and disdain. It is only the strength of my inner life that can repel the outer influences. Pollution is most dangerous when it seeps into the bone and marrow of a thing, when it permeates the insides. This is where my vigilance needs to be above all. Of course, there will always be controversy on the path that leads to my soul. I know that.

All the same. I’m tired of trying to discern who’s ‘world’ is worst. When I put on all the trappings of being a good Christian, when I followed all the rules, and when I kept myself away from the “appearance of evil,” I don’t believe I was any better off than I am today.

Instead, I want my spirit, my life with the Holy Spirit, to be so robust, that none of those things matter. It is in this way, that I can be neither “in the world” nor “of the world.” And so, I will return to the straightforward words of Jesus himself, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” [Matthew 23:26b]

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life deathJesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” [Luke 13:2-3]

I had to go back and read this verse in context. What was Jesus really saying here? And then I understood. He is reminding the people, again (and again) that the death of the body is one death, but the death of the spirit is far more serious. If the personal spirit is in relationship with the Holy Spirit, if the life force within is right with God, when the body dies, there is more.

Apparently, based on this scripture, death is not a reflection of one’s goodness or evil: death comes when it comes for other reasons. And “like a thief in the night,” [I Thess 5:2] we cannot know the time of death anymore than we can know the  time of Christ’s return. Most of us can’t even fathom an early death. Not really. Who expects a child to die in three days time? Who expects a sister to die in the lobby of a hotel in Europe? Who expects a husband to die in a car accident?

When I was in school, I remember how much I hated pop quizzes. You know why? Because I was a last minute studier. I’d pull all-nighters the day before a big test or when an assignment was due. But a pop quiz? That would show the truth of it. I wasn’t on top of my work. I wasn’t doing a little every day. I was a procrastinator.

But this technique doesn’t work so well in the things of God, in the things of the Spirit, in the things of becoming more Human (that is the real intent for human). That journey is outlined for us all in the scriptures and writings of the ones who have gone before us. What are we waiting for? Granted, if I follow the paradoxes (love your enemy, give and it will be given to you, etc.), and the surrendered lifestyle, I am promised that my life here and now will be better for it. But more importantly, it is the life within that really counts.

How many ways does Jesus (or really, any of the saints and Spirit-led) have to tell us that there is more to “life” than what we see, hear, feel, and touch?

Do you want more? Are you thirsting for more of that promise? I am.

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I understand the command to pray, or to “call out” to God; I understand “asking” for help; I understand the concept of blessings and the intent of intercession. I know there are answered prayers and there are unanswered prayers. I know it is implied and implored. It is a discipline and a state of being. It is a foundation of faith. I know these things. And yet, my prayer life diminished. I am hollow in prayer. My prayer has become relegated to the emergency and no longer the essence of my day and breath. I was there and now I am not. I was deep and now I am shallow again.

I was floating in the deep waters. I am back in the sand and it is low tide, the water of life seeming to retreat.

I have not recovered from the ending of my project in study and prayer and writing. That held me close but once the regimen was removed, my house collapsed. There is a sorrow now in me. And flagging sense of loss once more. An attack of remorse and disappointment that is hard to shake.

I skied up and down some great mountains and hills and my momentum kept me going for a long time. But now, I am on a wide plateau and there is no motor, no synergy, no muse, no battery pack. There is only the craggy rocks before me with no guide wires. I am looking for the first hand hold, the first leap, the first small goal to reach in order to begin with a sense of possibility.

To do first. . . to pray . . . to read . . . to serve . . . to wait . . . ?

Like an alcoholic who was doing so well and then drinks again, so have I been. There is nothing left but to slog back again to authentic sobriety, which for me, is authentic spirituality.

I took a vacation from my inner self, expecting the connection to remain open and instead found my inner spirit roaming like my cell phone, and now, out of power. Plug in, sure. But to what first?

I think it’s prayer. I think it’s stillness. I think. Breathe. Breathe.

Just a little worried. This time.

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Meandering Passage: Light Ahead

After all, peace is fleeting, fragile and easily broken. Peace is readily distracted. Peace is coy, difficult to find and keep. And worst of all, peace is relative to our perceptions and experience. Peace is not simply the absence of violence. Peace is intentional.

Psalm 34:12, 14
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, . . . Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Before I can even consider the pursuit of peace, I must first turn from evil and do good. In other words, peace is impossible in the midst of evil-doing: lying, cheating, gossiping, coveting, envying, gluttony, resenting and hating, just to name a few. And then there are the more obvious crimes of evil among peoples and nations: murder, adultery, stealing, bribery, destruction, uncontrolled ambition.

How badly do I want peace? Am I willing to turn away from bad habits in the name of peace? Or, is it just a kind of talk, a warm fuzzy type of wishful thinking. Is it like hoping to win the lottery. Am I waiting for some outside force to give me the desire to change? If I just had this or that, then I could change. If my husband was better, different, stronger, more loving and attentive, more anything, then I can change? If my children were more obedient, considerate, thoughtful, reliable, or successful in school, then I can change? If I had a better job and a housekeeper, a cook and a complete wardrobe, then I can change?

Then I can exercise every day and stop eating emotionally, then I can stop hiding my “white lies,” then I can stop judging and gossiping, then I can stop envying my contemporaries for their apparent successes. Then…. then…. then?

Here’s the most likely solution. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not turning away from the evils and mistakes all at once. It’s in baby steps. And for each turning, there is a puzzle piece to the mystery of peace. Each time, I choose to walk away from the gravitational pull of sin (error, offense, pride), the path to peace is lit up just a little more.

Do I love life? Real life. Expansive, balanced, thrumming life? Or, have I settled for less?

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