Location: New England, United States

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Our modern dictionaries describe fundamentalism as : a strict adherence to religious tradition or belief. However, the original meaning of fundamentalism stems from the word fundamental meaning: primary, original, pertaining to the foundation. So practicing fundamentalism to foment a relationship with God is actually a blatant perversion.

"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:33-37 RSV

Throughout history people have sought God. Why? Why is the search for something larger than ourselves so fundamental to our lives? When my son was very small and something hurt him, or he was frustrated, he would cry, "I want to go home." This statement was confusing to me as many times when he shouted this declaration - we were at home. When I would respond that we are at home, he would look straight into my eye with exasperation and say, "Not this home; my other home". It was as though at his tender age, he could still remember the place he came from where this type of pain or frustration never plagued him. It made me sad that I could not remember that place.

Throughout history men, governments and yes, even churches have stolen that fundamental memory and craving from us by distortion. In their desire to manipulate and control others, they have robbed us of the very thing they promise to deliver - A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

Abraham had a personal relationship with God and he did so without the benefit of sacraments, rituals, or prescribed prayers at prescribed times. His relationship was not based on religious holidays, holy days, laws, or the worship of saints or prophets. His relationship was based solely on one man believing in where he came from and from whom.

Jesus came to stop the perversion of this relationship. He came to set us free from the law and rituals. "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 1-3 RSV

Fundamentalism has less to do with the spirituality of men and more to do with the ego of one man.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Call to Intercession

Dear Father -

This morning you called me to intercession - prayer on behalf of others. Father, you know my heart and my willingness to serve you, but I do not know the needs of your people. Please lay on my heart the people and their needs so I may obey.

Show me who to lift up in prayer. Show me their pain, their dis-ease, their loss and their hope. You know each of them as well as you know me, so show me where they have laid their faith so I may join them with one voice in their petition. In Jesus' name - Amen.

"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Matthew 18:19-20 RSV

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Hand of God

The hand of God is as protective as a soldier's and as free as a friend's.

The hand of God is as healing as a nurse's and as commanding as a mentor's.

The hand of God is as comforting as a mother's and as disciplined as a father's.

Yet -

The hand of God is as open as a child's.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Be Humble or Be Humbled

"God Counts The Tears of Women"

As I was driving to work the other day, I remembered a scene from a movie I had recently watched on television. I cannot recall the name of the movie, but one scene came to me with poignant clarity.

In the scene, one male Hebrew student was reading out the scriptures to another male Hebrew student. He read, "God counts the tears of women." Then he looked up at as fellow student and asked, "What does that mean?" The other student replied, "I don't have a clue."

As I recalled that scene, I played a rerun of all I had done that morning before sitting behind the wheel of my car to drive to work. I had fed two cats and one dog. I had folded laundry, made beds, fixed breakfast for my son, packed lunches, vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom, showered and dressed. I also had spent time in prayer and studying the Word. Recalling all that I had done that morning pressed upon me and I said to God "I know what that means."

Armed with my understanding, I determined to quiz some of the men in my office to find out what they accomplished that morning before coming to work. Certain that they readied only themselves while their wives struggled with the children, I asked two male co-workers my question.

The first man - S - has a wife and four children. He described making their breakfast, packing lunches, dressing the children, and picking up the dry cleaning before he came to work.

The second man - J - was just as industrious. He dressed the children and took their dirty clothes down to the laundry, made his wife's coffee and even rubbed her back before leaving for work.

I was humbled. I have long stood in confusion between the bold Christian and the humble Christian, but that day, I remembered a favorite saying of one of my sisters. "Be humble or be humbled."

I had just eaten humble pie, and I realized that when we stand in ourselves - we should do so in humility, but when we stand in God - we can do so in boldness.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Trinity - Three Gods or One?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19 RSV

Most Christians believe in a triune God as stated in the scriptures, but many other religions-including fellow Christians - question this unity believing that the distinction of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is based on polytheism. Even I, though accepting the concept of three persons in one, had a hard time explaining how this triune was in fact worship of the one God.

Then - a genesis from Genesis. "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" Genesis 1:26 RSV We are created in God's image; therefore, we are a triune being, as well.

Let's begin with the most obvious - our body. We can see our body - we can touch, smell and hear it, as well. Our body is created from the elements of this world and will return to this world after our death by decomposition.

Deep inside of each person there exists a tiny kernel that has always belonged to God - whether you are a believer or not. It is similar to an egg kept safe in a woman's ovaries. This egg is our spirit. This egg may remain in the 'spiritual ovary' for years or decades waiting to be fertilized. Once the egg is fertilized, it moves from the ovaries to the womb where it begins to grow.

Our soul is who we are. All our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, judgments, love, hate, anger, bias, humor belongs to our soul. Our very best resides in our soul - but too - our very worst resides here. This is the battle ground. Whereas our body is predestined to the earth and our spirit is predestined to God - it is in our soul where we make the decision for the other two. Our soul is our free will.

Now first let us correlate our triune being with the trinity of God, for if we were made in his image, then by definition he is composed of a body, spirit and soul. The first two are easy for obviously, Jesus represents our bodies and the Holy Spirit represents our spirit. So who represents our soul? God - the Father represents our soul.

It is the Father that loves (feelings). It is the Father that will judge us (judgment). It is the Father that mourns our sin, or corrects us, remembers David and Abraham, empathic, etc.

So we see that we also are triune beings - made in the image of God. Now the questions is how do we unite this triune being into one?

Holiness means Oneness
We know that God is Holy. As I mentioned in a previous post, the word Holy comes from the Saxon word Halig meaning made whole, healthy. So if God is Holy, then he is whole and healthy.
So how are we made whole; a triune being made into one?

The soul is the battleground - both God and Satan are fighting for our soul - it is in play and the decision of who will win our soul rests with ourselves. We decide who will rule our soul and unlike other decisions we make in our life, it is a decision of default. We can choose God - by speaking that decision through The Word, or by default, we have chosen to side with Satan.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dependence to Dependence

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. " Matthew 18:1-4

My office window at work looks out over a day care playground. At times, when I hear the the children playing with screams of delight, I turn from my computer to watch their play. Two little boys are waddling up and down the sidewalk - back and forth with no apparent destination. Another little boy is trekking furiously around and around in circles, and a group of four girls (determined by their pink and purple coats) are sitting in the bottom of a sand box in a lively exchange that I cannot hear.

Each time I watch this parade of energy and abandon, I remember what Jesus said and I know that he is referring to their joy, peace and faith. Yesterday was different. This time watching the children, I wondered why they have such joy, peace and faith while those in my office were stressed, concerned and worried. A word hit me - Dependence.

We all start our lives dependent. We don't worry how our food will come - we know if we cry - it will be provided. When we are cold - we cry. When we need to be held - we cry. When we are scared - we cry. When we are hurt - we cry, knowing and expecting someone will respond.

As we age, we are taught to become more independent - to do these things for ourselves. This is good, but with independence comes arrogance. "I can do it myself!", is a favorite tune of small children. As we lose our dependence, we forget the faith we once had that our needs will met when we cry out. We begin to place our faith in ourselves instead of our parents.

So too as we grow spiritually, we place less and less faith in our Heavenly Father and more faith in our own abilities. Relying on ourselves alone steals our joy and abandon - or courage - as these are replaced with stress, concern and worry.

There is salvation, though. It is ironic that as we mature spiritually, our bodies decline until we are once again dependent on others to supply our needs. It is as though we are once again returned to childhood where our learned independence is replaced by dependence in preparation for the meeting with our Father.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Survival Instinct

Did you ever have a situation where you came away wondering how things could have gone so wrong; as though everyone was bouncing off each other - but never connecting?

This illustrates my whole week. Co-workers, friends, family - they all seemed to be bouncing around me and I could not get any connection, so today reviewing this awful week, I tried to weigh how things could have been different.

In my prayers this morning, I asked God what happened - what could I have done to change things. Well, that prayer was my first mistake, for his answer was - nothing. "Why do you believe you can affect others in such profound way; could it be pride and arrogance?"

"Aha!", I chortled. "You caught me!"

Then God gave me Matthew 12:7 "And, if you had know what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless." So I thought about all those troubling situations that plagued me this week through the lens of this scripture. It made the understanding crystal clear.

We were created with a potent survival instinct - not only for our physical well being, but also for the well being of 'self'. When others are needy, we tend to pull in our emotional storehouses to protect them for our future well being. When others are honored, we point out our own accomplishments, as well, to protect our image. When others are angry, we quickly set up our defenses in the event of an attack. We turn our backs to changes to allow us time to digest how these changes will affect us. Us, we, me, myself, I - we can always see our survival instinct rearing up.

So, how does all this pertain to Matthew 12:7? When we do something for someone else - which is it? Is it a sacrifice or a mercy? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people made many sacrifices to God, but these sacrifices served themselves. Jesus changed the sacrificial Economy to one of Mercy.

The object of sacrifice is ourselves and our sin; the object of mercy is others. So we see that sacrifice is about our survival instinct - but - mercy is about love.

Remember, God does not give us sacrifice - he gives us mercy so we can pass this onto those around us.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Thank You

Dear Father,

When I ponder our relationship, I am amazed that I have such a personal relationship with the Creator - the King of everything.

I see you sitting on top of a small hill waiting for me to walk through the garden to sit with you in silence.

When I am distressed by this exile, I see you on your throne, and you allow me to sit at your feet - close, safe - where no one can hurt me.

When I am fearful, I am sitting on your lap, rocking, and I can feel your arms encircle me while your melodious song is whispered gently in my ear.

At work you stand behind me with cheering or chiding, and at home you push me off my couch to get one more thing accomplished.

And when I lay my head on my pillow, you stay to watch me sleep - as though you loved only me.

Thank you.

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