Tag Archives: Incarnation

Shadowlands: This Real Life illustration pictures ‘Divine Love’

old spice guy

Old Spice gives us a great take on manliness; über coup for Isaiah Mustafa today!
link

Is God manly?

We live in the shadowlands. The goodness and love we find is a shadow of perfection, of the Eternal Mind. God, the Divine. The source of pure love and goodness, or mercy and grace.

God is not the father you had, God is the Father (or mother) you wish you had, and still need.

At the moment, I don’t think it can be better shown than in this clip of precious love that sees us through. (Olympian, Derek Redmond and his dad. It’s great stuff.)
Friends, let us love each other this way.
VIDEO LINK

(Change the channel or take a walk?) “The Show About Me” (part 2)


One of the most common responses people have when they get fed up with the re-runs of living their own small show is that they try to flip to a different channel. That is, they somehow realize a kind of radical change in life is necessary, so they try to re-make themselves.

Perhaps they start a new relationship, change careers, adopt a baby, buy a vehicle or expensive toy, go back to school, get plastic surgery, switch churches, move away, or in some way try to live out a better story. You’ve probably tried it, I know I have.

Maybe a person gets into religion, or he gets away from it. Maybe they start to need anti-depressants or anti-anxeity medication. Some abuse substances or live more dangerously. Something just seems wrong–and one tries to fix it.

Plenty of the time, these efforts do bring some distraction and change, and therefore a certain kind of freedom or renewal is felt (at least for a bit); but down deep, nothing important has changed at all. After a little while, the person still feels frustrated or undone. (Or something else unpleasant.) The channel may have changed, but what is lived out is just a Spin-off of “The Show About Me”. Sadly, very few fully realize that their perceptive, and how they live out reality, is fairly the same even after a massive change. The same troubles will assail them, in some way. However, the baggage gets heavier.

Our Creator is the true center of the Show (not us). The Supreme Being is irresistibly calling out, wooing us, and our thirst deepens.

It’s a fact that when a person is too dehydrated they may actually stop craving what they truly need-water/hydration and replenishment of nutrients. They may feel tired, ill, hungry, or numb, instead of thirsty. In an ironic twist, the person doesn’t desire what will make them healthy again. It’s a perilous situation. Without help, people die this way.

This kind of confusion happens spiritually too. Often, in fact. A common (household) term often used for what turns out to be a spiritual problem like this is most often called a “midlife crisis” or sometimes an “identity crisis.” It’s common for people to get a point where they need to “find themselves,” or re-define themselves, sometimes multiple times throughout one’s life. This “want to” to change is healthy, though many times misread. An identity shift like this may happen once or several times in one’s life where a person tries hard to better one’s circumstances, and find relief.

If you haven’t enter a stage like this yourself, I’m sure you can think of someone who has. For instance, in the last 18 months seven marriages at our church have spun out of control or failed. I believe a misunderstanding of this spiritual opportunity is a big reason why.

What must happen to be truly free, and on a full path to growth? Something more like a walk has to happen rather than a small show we create. A walk with God and changing one’s perspective to surrender to God and “his” Big Show (the authentic one “Reality”) is a path few take, or attempt for all that long. It just isn’t a simple or smooth road. It is a mysterious, sometimes troubling one, where the answers are rarely simple or pat. This is the path of faith (believing in what you can’t see, but still know is quite real). Sometimes changing the channel, multiple times, seems like the only sensible thing to do. The negative part is that we only get more of the same when we do that. It’s still our story we want to control, and our story stays small and frustrating.

As many who have done the enormous personal work to recover from drugs or alcohol can attest, one usually has to hit “rock bottom,” (or be fully ready), before surrender to a new, and bigger Show occurs (a life centered in God’s Reality). It all starts by doing something very rare and counter-intuitive. It’s something we all fear: Losing control and Humbly yielding to the Higher Power, and admitting that without grace, and true dependence on God and others, a better way cannot be possible. Perhaps the scripture comes to mind, …”if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life (yourself) for my sake, you will find it…”

In contrast, we wish to be self-made.… yet, only a small show about “me” is self-made. Transformation, growth, and sturdy happiness (joy) comes instead through the bravery of surrender to the greater Reality, and taking the more treacherous but rewarding path that comes with this decision.

In part III installment on this topic, I’ll mention some things that happen once this pivotal choice is made. A person’s attitude and outlook change; and how one orders one’s life undergoes critical and unavoidable development with radical shifts in thinking, acting, and relating to others–for the better! We’re talking here about spiritual formation.

I’ll describe that a bit more, soon, in part III. Check back in the next few days and see.

This is a lot to chew on, especially if this is a new concept, and you’ve never encountered these ideas before. Some people call it “being born again”…. and in a real sense, a new life starts for the person who is ready: A whole new life begins.

…to be continued…

Reflections questions:

Have I been living my own small story?

Have I longed for a richer life, but have really only being encountering re-runs or spin offs of a short-changed Show?

What is stopping me from walking a new life?

What are your responses, insights, or thoughts on this topic?

Today’s Prayer

From The Book of Common Prayer, 1662

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit , one God, for ever and ever. -Amen.

Taken from page 70, Epiphany, Week 4,

“Holy Bible: Mosaic” (Tyndale 2009)

Christmas Spirit (in July)

snowmansand

 

It’s July 25th. Christmas day is exactly 6 months behind us. It seems far away from my mind now. Time has shot by, but the happenings of the day are sort of fuzzy. Every year I hear people say, “I wish the season of Christmas spirit lasted all year.” Or, maybe they even claim it does in their hearts. It does in some ways for me, but the greater reality is that I go from season to season, and at different times certain things stand out as more special. In the summer, I enjoy the outdoors more probably for the simple reason that I spend more time outdoors because of good weather. In the winter, I appreciate my close ties with immediate family and working on my interior life in substantial ways that play out in the months that follow the hard work of that time.

Defining what is the Christmas spirit can be slippery, because each person may hold a bit of a different emphasis. The gift of the Incarnation is celebrated that day, and the love, goodwill, grace, and peace of that event can inspire us to live that out toward, God, others, and hopefully ourselves.

What is the “Christmas Spirit” to you? What of it can play out in July?

What one (or more) thing/s will you do to fill your life with this spirit this weekend?

Let’s try a concerted effort at a Christmas in July experiment for the next day or so, and see what happens.

Thanks for coming by.

God with a Spatula

spankingWhen I was in under my parent’s care, I was hit with a spatula among other things, in what my parents called discipline with “the rod”. This was picked over “time outs,” or being grounded, and my back side broke many a spanking implement–wooden rulers and cooking spoons, frosting spatulas, pancake spatulas, and probably other stuff I’ve blocked out psychologically. (I won’t even go into the things that didn’t or couldn’t brake on my backside!)

I guess you could say it sort of got pounded into my mind that God must operate the same way. To me, it seemed he would get peeved, and then, lower the boom. So, when bad things would happen, it was probably because of some kind of Divine spatula. I thought God was like a human, and most likely like a human parent who spanks.

Well, nope. God is “Other.” How we’ve interpreted Scripture has often reflected how we’ve been parented. In other words, we figure that God gets ticked off, and gets out the belt, and begins whipping his kids, until they “get it,” or have been punished sufficiently. Actually he usually lets them get away with murder, if you want to know the truth. But I won’t digress on that right here, and now.

Some years ago I heard a visiting pastor in my church say, “God will sometimes need to give you a whipping. You probably need it, and deserve it.” I maced him. Okay, I didn’t, but I thought if I hadn’t already known God through the character of the Incarnation (Jesus), and fully accepted the fleshly God/man, as the same God, I would have decided then and there to become Buddhist, or something other than whatever this guy was. What a crappy religion if this is the God he describes! This way, God sounds like a craptastic, unloving parent who needs medication. I thought this preacher guy was probably trying to manipulate the audience, and I wasn’t going to fall for his weirdness. I had already encountered God deeply, and I wasn’t going to throw it all away because this preacher pictured God as punitive, and wielding a spatula, or perhaps a thick belt, as I bent over to get my beating. God doesn’t have a spatula. He’s gracious.